Alison Piepmeier, “Thank You for My Beautiful Life”

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Alison Piepmeier, currently receiving hospice care for brain cancer, has written a beautiful column for the Charleston City Paper.  Here is an excerpt:

What does it mean when the rest of your life may be measured in weeks? My brain tumor is growing. I am in hospice care. I am surrounded, constantly, by family and friends.

There are too many acts of kindness to report. People send me meals, cookies, and delicious treats from Charleston and all over the country. I receive prayers and poems. There are volunteers teaching Maybelle to ride a bike, because I can’t. Maybelle, Brian, and I have more loving offers of support than we can possibly accept.

Of course, I know what’s up. All this amazing generosity is, sadly, another sign of my imminent death. How can I exist in this place, where I’m so grateful and so sad? * * *

I am a tenured full professor who can’t pee without help. A scholar of feminist disability studies who now lives in disability’s embrace.

In a future that may only be days away, I will lose the ability to communicate before losing the ability to live. For now, my constant failures to understand and to make meaning are signs of things to come. The simplest conversation drags on as I struggle to find the right words. Dictating the first draft of this column took two hours, as my mother patiently typed.

Little by little, I’m learning that who I thought I was is sliding away. I’m sitting at the table holding coffee someone else made for me. Someone else is feeding Maybelle, putting her lunch together, getting her dressed and ready for summer camp. I’m just sitting there, no longer the mother helping Maybelle prepare for her day. * * *

I hope this won’t be my last column. Perhaps, though, knowing that it might be is a gift I should accept.

Because I should not go without saying thank you to all those whose caring has sustained me and whose kind words have created many moments of joy and beauty. Even as I feel myself slipping away, I know that Maybelle will be held up, supported for the rest of her life by a community’s love more deep, more powerful, more transcendent than any I could supply. * * *

To my brothers, parents, friends, teachers, students, co-workers, lovers, and readers, I ask forgiveness for anything I’ve done to hurt you. Thank you for my beautiful life.

If there’s a heaven, or whatever, I’ll see you there.

Read the full column here.

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