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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

 

Hands Across the Seas, Part IV (Final Chapter)

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In Memory of Sarah Meyer

Sarah Meyer of Rodmell, East Sussex, died of complications from bladder cancer shortly after 11:00 PM on 3rd March 2010.   She was 73.  Cremation service has been scheduled for 19th March.  In accordance with her wish, ashes will be scattered at the Cornish Coast.

This is a tribute to Sarah, not a lament for her.

From anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common in the 1980's to marching against the war foisted on us by Bush and Blair, Sarah was  a valiant, dedicated fighter against aggression and injustice. In Bosnia, Sarah conducted homeopathic/Jungian clinics for doctors and psychiatrists in Zagreb and Split, as well as two in the war zone.

Her posts under Index Research covered a wide range of topics -- from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to torture; Guantanamo; intrusive surveillance of civilian populations;  Israel's use of cluster bombs in Lebanon; war crimes, including use of white phosphorus shells in highly populated areas in Gaza; the environment, and her own experience of being afflicted with cancer.

A post in January, 2009:
There is talk these days of (new buzz word) “disproportionate” bombing. Tell me, what is proportionate bombing? Are those civilians - women and children - murdered in the Gaza strip, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq or Afghanistan killed by "proportionate" bombs? It is the illegal and unjust wars that are disproportionate. Those who are silent about, or support these criminal actions are themselves criminals.
E-mail dated Jan 11, 2009:
The birds yesterday filled the garden.  I thought of them, perhaps sentimentally, as Gazans in a market, wishing them love and hope.  Today, they are splashing in the water, and drinking ... which Gazans are unable to do.

That was Sarah, scathing in her denunciation of  warmongers.

A lover of Bach, books, and gardening, in one of her last messages Sarah wrote:
I do so love the sound of rain on window panes, and watching
the thrushes in their morning birdbaths. Sometimes sparrows
or coal tits try to muscle in, unsuccessfully. They come back
later for their splash orgies.
And in another:
No sadness, please ... though I appreciate that, too.  I am not sad.
Wistful, however,  with the autumn, wondering if it is symbolic for 
me, or not?
It was a pleasure and privilege to be a friend of Sarah.  To use an Australian expression, she was bonza.

Thanks to all who e-mailed and/or spoke to  Sarah following  publication in TPV of Hands Across the Seas, after she informed us  of  the diagnosis and her decision to forgo conventional medical treatment. 

More and more people are making it known that in case of terminal illness they do not wish to  go through invasive medical procedures and end  their lives hooked up to tubes.  However, not all who believe in the Right to Die and Death With Dignity have Sarah's strength to adhere to that position when faced with the decision to decline treatment.   
 
On January 11, 2009, in an article titled "The Dying of the Light" in The Washington Post, Dr. Craig Bowron (a hospital-based internist in St. Paul, MN, wrote:


Nothing in my medical training qualifies me to judge what kind of life is satisfying or worth living. Many would say that if we were to become paralyzed in an accident, just let us die. But many quadriplegics, once they've gone through an initial period of adjustment, find their lives very satisfying. Patients can and do make enormous efforts and fight precipitous odds to get back to life as they knew it, or even just to go on living. But the difference for many elderly is that what's waiting for them at the end of this illness is just another illness, and another struggle.

And:

This isn't about euthanasia. It's not about spiraling health care costs. It's about the gift of life -- and death. It is about living life and death with dignity, and letting go.


Poem for the Living

When I am dead
Cry for me a little.
Think of me sometimes
But not too much.
It is not good for you
Or for your wife or your husband
Or your children
To allow your thoughts to dwell
Too long on the Dead.
Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moment
it is pleasant to recall.
But not for long.
Leave me in peace
As I shall leave
you, too, in peace.
While you live
Let your thoughts be with
the Living.

---Theodora Kroeber

Anthropologist Theodora Kroeber wrote this before her death from cancer in 1979.  I think that the poem reflects how Sarah felt.  Let us, friends of Sarah, think of her "......now and again". 





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