Looking Into the Abyss


John Wright


About eighteen months ago I wrote an article titled Love and Life: The Main Event. I wrote about the terrible fact that my wife Marie learned she had a brain tumor, and that her prognosis was anywhere from two to twenty years. I further wrote about how we would find strength and love in each other to deal with that most horrible reality. I challenged all readers to look at their own love relationships and to realize how very essential they are in many ways and very different times throughout life.

Tonight I write about the pending loss of my best friend, my lover, my wife. Today I learned that she has about three to six weeks to live. I am so knocked off center that I can’t begin to describe in any reasonable number of words just how lost I feel. And my dear wife … she doesn’t want to die. She is and has been fighting this eventuality with vigor, faith, hope and an unbelievable drive to succeed. Yet fate will dictate otherwise. We find ourselves powerless to control the coming events. Individually we are crushed by the weight of this terrible knowledge and by what the future holds in store. I will go on here, in some manner. She will not.

Our most loving relationship will be forced to end no matter what we do. Life eventually ends for all of us anyway, at least up to this time in history. It is the timing here that seems so cruel. And there is high praise for the medical community that has done everything in their power to stop the tumor. But there is more to say first about our personal situation.

Today it is common for women to live to the age of eighty, so dying at the age of sixty means a loss of a full quarter of a normal life span. That is a lot, and she feels cheated. Today it is common for men to live into their late seventies. That means I may have another fifteen years before my demise. It is the realization for me that living another fifteen years but without Marie seems extremely cruel, for at just the time of life when we expected to have lots of time for fun we instead do not. I am feeling like a boat losing its mooring and starting to drift out to sea with no purpose and no power.

Marie, however, is the one truly looking into the abyss. Like all other people before her she really cannot know what is beyond her life here, if anything. Different people choose different answers and structures to deal with that scary uncertainty. Religious practices and beliefs help comfort a lot of people and their friends and families. For others that comfort is not present based on personal beliefs. I know from years of talking with Marie that she has a strong personal belief in a creator, but not in terms of any organized religion common today or earlier in our history. She knows not what, if anything, that creator might have in store for her, and thus she is afraid. Her intellect and life experiences have led her to this place, and she is not about to forsake her most deeply held and carefully developed beliefs even though the net result is fear and uncertainty. One day I will be in her place too.

For now the only comfort I can give to her comes straight out of Destiny. I am referring specifically to the passages about death. Humanity has yet to learn how to stop disease, aging and death, and too many people follow silly superstitions that attempt to continue our ignorance, so we foolishly continue to die and lose the knowledge and love and personality of each person. At least dying is like falling asleep, in which we lose all awareness of our surroundings, and not in an uncomfortable way.

It is right and fair to note here again, as in Destiny, that life is a wonderful gift. To have experienced nature and each other and the joys of simple play and the pride of deep learning and creativity is simply fantastic. This gift is our opportunity as a species to grow, and while I am appalled at our slowness to appreciate that purpose I am confident that the best minds will prevail. We will evolve to one day know and possibly meet, in gratitude, the source of our existence … and the answer to the presently unfathomable question about first causes. It is in fact our duty to grow, both on our own behalf and to honor the source of our existence.

The only true abyss for our species is continuing ignorance. And for each of us as individuals, the loss of the opportunity to continue to live and to feel awe about the very fact of life.

That pretty much sums up what I have to say about our personal situation. I feel horrible on behalf of my loving wife, and much personal pain and loss of purpose. I hope in time to do more on behalf of all people so that the pain and the loss of death can finally end for Humanity.

Now let me say a few words about the medical community that have done their very best to save Marie. There is simply no substitute for hard science. That we humans are only a small part of the way in our near endless journey to know, to understand and to create is not a reason to despair. Marie and I feel honored to have been allowed to experience the best fruits of our scientists and medical practitioners. For that reason especially, among others, we have decided to dedicate Marie’s body to the advancement of medical science. When she dies her brain, spinal cord and body organs will be used directly for medical research into cancer. Stem cells will be generated to grow her tumor in other mediums, so that better means can be found to kill any tumors like it in other people.

This is our way of returning the gift given to us by so many who have come before us in the name of advancement of science and humanity.

Let the abyss end.