I’m not a person who has had to cope with many serious illnesses during my life, so when a lung cancer diagnosis popped up early in 2004, it presented a whole new set of adjustments. Not the least of which was facing how I felt about the prospect of dying, and possibly doing it fairly soon.
Amazingly enough, I discovered I didn’t fear dying. What I feared was dying leaving my affairs in a mess. After 48 years of ups and downs with Meher Baba, dying didn’t seem like a big deal, but leaving my precious Baba possessions to the vagaries of chance and family whim was a big deal. So was the possibility of simply accepting the inevitability of imminent death and being willing to sit down in a corner and wait for it. I concluded that Baba wouldn’t really like that. He would expect me to fight, to dare to take every chance available to beat this thing, at least temporarily.
Once I’d made the decision to fight, Meher Baba flooded me with help from every direction, imaginable and unimaginable, from a top hospital’s diagnostic assistance arranged by a Baba lover with connections, to someone cleaning my apartment on a regular basis because I was too tired to do it., to the support and advice from other Baba lover cancer survivors, to food brought in so I wouldn’t have to cook; to a friend who insists on driving me to every appointment; to an oncologist whom another Baba lover had good reason to call “saint,” and whose amazing staff includes a Baba lover psychologist;and most of all to the love and concern and caring expressed by Baba lovers around the world.
I remember Adi Irani talking about what is different for a Baba lover in trouble and anyone else. Baba doesn’t change our karma, he said, but he moves mountains to modify it. For instance, a Baba lover is critically hurt in an auto accident, but there’s an ambulance right behind him. When he gets to the hospital, the chief surgeon is in the emergency room. And it goes on from there. So one must, it seems to me, leave the outcome totally in Baba’s hands and must also be completely comfortable with that decision. Am I? To my own surprise, yes.
At this point, in mid-October, I am a little more than halfway through my months of chemotherapy and the prognosis is excellent. The “beast” in my lungs has shrunk “a lot” and that is expected to continue. This process has certainly had its ups and downs, but Baba has daily sent people, both his lovers and people who know nothing about him, to help and to steer me to other people and agencies that can help.
At the end of the chemotherapy, probably in December, the oncologist expects to release me from chemo but to keep checking up on me. I will go on to live one day at a time, knowing full well this thing will return, but not knowing when, a month, several months, a year, several years? No way to tell. So it leaves me exactly where Meher Baba means to leave us: living one day at a time, with both hands clinging to his damaan, accepting his timing, no longer just assuming that all is in his hands, but knowing for sure now that it is, and being completely accepting of that. This is learning that lesson the hard way, but I expect it’s what we all have to do, each in our own way, in our own time and in his.