Thursday, May 14, 2009

Barb Wilkins- Mondays with Treice

Mondays with Treice I will never forget the day Treice called and told me she had cancer. She was newly married and a new Mom and it didn't seem possible. I remember feeling numb. I remember feeling like my life, as I had known it was changed forever. My life? What about her life?This is not the way it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be early detection, treatment, cures and sighs of relief. Monday, for me became a special day. It was my day and I would spend many, many Mondays with Treice. She would plan a lot of her appointments on Monday, I think she liked my driving and she definitely liked riding in the car with the big pink flowers. The journey I took with this woman that I love and this family that feels like my family was rich and scary and full of laughter and tears. That will continue even though she isn't here to see it. I think she knows.One Monday I arrived at the house and Treice was not having a great day, she was in bed and dealing with a lot of pain. We didn't cry together much but I saw a sad look in her eyes and I asked her if she was having a sad day. She looked at me like I was crazy. She thought I had asked her if she was having a fat day. We laughed about that one for a long time. We played softball together for many years, Treice played first base and me on second. We always tried to make the double play and once and a while we pulled it off. Before every play we would look at each other and say in our best immigrant grandmother voice :"Alone, we are nothing- Together, we are SPECIAL!" I feel really grateful that we were able to share so many great times together. Although she thanked me often in the end I am the one who is thankful. I am so thankful that she let me in. Treice was an amazing woman, courageous and sweet and also one of the most stubborn, bluntest and funniest people I will ever know.
I will miss her dearly and think of her every time it's Monday or just feels like Monday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This was Bill Richie's gift of words....

I was just going to wing it.

At a certain point, I decided I was just writing down stuff that would be impossible to read, so I thought: screw it, I won't write anything down. But then I imagined Treice's reaction.

"You haven't got anything written down? BILL...!"

So, I rewrote. But I made it simpler than it was. So, if it's too simple...well, you know who to blame.

The other day when I went to see Treice, I told her something I'd been thinking about -- a very me thing to say to her, a very her thing to hear from me...and she kind of nodded at it, which was nice. What I wanted to tell her was that I didn't care how her appearance had changed...but it was for a special reason, that I didn't care. It wasn't just that I didn't, if you see what I mean; it was because I had an excellent reason not to, that made caring about that kind of silly. Because I think everyone has a kind of secret face, that's their real face...and the real face never changes anyway. Time may add wrinkles or grey hair, take away teeth or add mottling, to the public face -- but the real face is left completely untouched by such things, and incorruptible.

Here's how we come to see the secret face: in little distances, just a couple of inches, practically nose-to-nose. You can't even get a good look at it while you're standing up, ordinarily: you have to be lying down to really see it, because you have to let it fly up and fill the whole sky, round and unforgettable as the moon. Every parent's seen it, and every child...every husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, most relatives, even some friends. More than anything else, I think, it's like entering a little room only big enough for two at a time...a room outside the whole rest of the ordinary day-to-day universe, where time can't fit because the door is too low for clocks to go under it, and the only music is the breath of those who love one another, and the lamp is always burning...and the door is never locked.

And we're the luckiest people in the world, who've been so privileged as to enter the little room, and I think we know it -- we know our loved one gives us something inside those short precincts of sight that can never be taken away from us, no matter what may happen later. Something of them that is unsummarizable, that can't be boiled-down, eroded, or rusted away. In ordinary life, people's faces are like sketches. Like thumbnails: we recognize them fast, and then go on about our business with them. But the secret face is different -- recognizing IT goes on endlessly, and our eyes don't even get tired.

But of the normal course of events, then, I would have to admit that I never really saw Treice's secret face. Maybe for a minute or two, here and there...but probably not long enough at any given time to have it rise up in front of me like the constellations in the night sky.

In the normal course of events, that is. But that's where I'm luckier than I've got any right to be -- where we're all luckier than we've got any right to be.

Because I don't think she had any other face but that one.

In fact I think she often found this somewhat frustrating -- she just couldn't get the hang of keeping that secret face secret! And I used to get a certain amount of amusement from this, I have to confess -- at the way she just couldn't mask herself the way many of us can, and couldn't figure out what it was we all knew, that she didn't...but I'm grateful beyond words for that now, because it's given me something that even disease and death can't remove: a view of the little room, where the lamp is always lit, and the door is never locked.

Anyway it will never be locked by me. "Beyond words"...that about says it. I told Treice, I don't think I could ever have had an end-of-life conversation with her. Because I wouldn't have known where to begin. I wouldn't even have known how to choose the first word. I couldn't summarize her if I tried; she just fills the sky, for me.

For all of us, I think.

And I don't think a person can leave a more gracious legacy.

Words for Treice

I want to leave the words I prepared for Treice's memorial service and will be taking what others expressed at that time and posting them.....

"I would first like to thank all of you for coming here today to celebrate Treice’s life. I would especially like to show my everlasting gratitude to her great and good friends who have helped her and Max and I in her final days with us.
This has been a difficult time for all of us. Treice was loved by so many, and loved me as no one has loved me before.
Her strength has inspired us and the take no bull attitude she learned from her dad will serve our family well for the years ahead.
I’ve been told that Treice was deserving someone like me for this time in her life and Max is my reward for being with her.
I would finally like to share a letter I wrote for her in November, although I didn’t give it to her until sometime in January after which she taped it to the mirror in our room.

A letter to my wife

This is something no one would ever want to write. The cruel fate of looking for you all my life, only to have this terrible sickness take you from me.
The fearlessness you have shown me in your day to day living will stay with me forever.
I cannot dwell on the things we would have done, but can remember the love/joy/freedom of the things we have done together.
Max will know all the love you have for him, as I have been entrusted to pass it down to him. Every crossroad we reach will bring the question, “What would Treice do?”, and knowing, we will do the right thing.
The loneliness of what you are facing is beyond any words I can offer, knowing I will have to face it myself some day will not help you or me. All I can hope for is you find an inner peace and know how much love surrounds you.
You don’t really know my thoughts on God, I hardly know them myself, but my hope is that we are all small pieces of one larger whole, with our own experiences, and when we leave this world we return to the larger thing we are a part of to share what we have learned.
I will continue to make you proud and will show Max how to be a good man. ( he knows already)
I know tears will come, many of them. I can’t say why they haven’t started yet.

Well, they have now…"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sadest News

Treice has lost her battle. I was blessed to help her find her way at the end and will never forget who she was. On friday May 8th at 2pm we will gather to celebrate her life at First Memorial, 602 Kingsway, one block west of Fraser. We ask that you do not send flowers.