Death; what is normal?

The last time I posted it was about the normalcy of life and how we’re in a simple yet satisfying routine of sorts. And then, because the philosophical side of my mind is always hard at work, I started to wonder what really quantifies normal?

Several months ago I went into the hospital for a minor, planned procedure. The procedure went terribly wrong and I was not only in the hospital for several weeks, but at times, there was the question of whether or not I would actually make it. I recall being transported to the local trauma center where I was certain I was being taken because I was dying. I felt as though I were dying. I can’t think of better words to describe it other than I simply had no energy left to fight. I could feel anything that once resembled me slipping away. I remember telling the Nurse if I were there to die that was fine, I could handle that, but that I needed her to contact my family as I wanted to see them all one last time. It was my way of accepting what I felt was inevitable, but also being allowed to take everyone’s face with me when I left. Several months later, here I am. Home. Healthy. And feeling about 90% ‘normal’ again.

On the left column of my blog home page, I have a ‘blogroll’ or a list of blogs I followed often. I created that list when I first started the blog and haven’t updated it in a few years. Some of those blogs still exist, others don’t.

When a person starts a blog (something that has been replaced by vlogging) we generally do so because we love to write, find our minds are often filled with random thoughts; sometimes important, others not at all. But most importantly, I think many of us started blogs as a way to not just vent our frustrations, but to share our experiences with others. Perhaps it was our way of offering guidance or advice even if no one was asking for it. Either way, blogging allows random strangers worldwide a glimpse into our lives. And when people follow blogs regularly we begin to feel as though we know the writer on some level. We can identify with some of their ideas or thoughts, or even accidentally find solutions to our own problems through their mistakes. We often feel some kind of ‘like’ towards the writer even if we’ve never communicated with them at all.

memory

A couple of years ago one of the bloggers I followed religiously passed away from cancer (Americanbedu.com). She was married to a Saudi man, lived in Saudi for years, and moved back to America once her husband passed away. Neither of them was old or unhealthy. They simply both lost a very long, painful battle to cancer. Carol (American Bedu) had friends and family who attempted to keep the blog alive after her passing, but it just wasn’t the same. I believe the domain has since expired and the content is gone. Every one of her thoughts, memories, and life stories — gone.

Just last week another blogger passed away from cancer. Nicole Hunter-Mostafa (thesamerainbowsend.com) was young, also married to a Saudi, and was pregnant with their second little girl when complications started. Because I don’t know her or her family I can only speculate about details, and, well, that’s just disrespectful. So I’ll share what I do know based on her willingness to tell her story to us readers. Nicole appeared to be a very happy person. Her blog posts were always uplifting and upbeat. She wasn’t one to do much ranting, even if she had things to rant about. She was so in love with her husband and their gorgeous little girl Lavender. She was thrilled to be pregnant again but her blogging slowed down immensely. She had a number of complications which resulted in extensive pain for her. She cut her summer USA trip short to get back to Saudi for pain treatment in the last few weeks of her pregnancy. Her last blog post was an overview of all she had endured but no mention of cancer. Her daughter was born not long after and she shared that with everyone on Instagram. Then, suddenly, all of her social media accounts were gone and months went by with no updates on the blog. Obviously, considering we don’t know one another, this shouldn’t have made a difference to me one way or another. But as I said before, we develop a ‘like’ for the writer of the blogs we follow. We wonder about them and hope they’re doing well. Sadly, in Nicole’s case, she wasn’t doing well. And last week, she too lost her battle with cancer.

Perhaps this is incredibly selfish of me, but because Nicole was such a brilliant writer who created beautiful images in my mind with her words, I wish she had blogged. I wish she had shared her last months with us. I wish I had known whether or not she had known. Did she know she had cancer but chose to avoid treatment as a way to save her daughter? I wouldn’t be surprised — she was deeply in love with her babies. Or was the cancer diagnosis as unexpected for her as it was for her readers? Again, I didn’t know Nicole but I am deeply saddened by her death. I loved her style of writing. The way she could create a picture book of stories with just her words. Magnificent. My heart aches for her family.

I’m not going to end this post with a sappy cliché about hugging loved ones, last days, etc. But do that anyway. And do it often. We really never know when our normal may not be recognizable.

6 thoughts on “Death; what is normal?

  1. I recently discovered your blog and enjoyed reading old entries about your days in Kuwait. As one does, I explored your blogroll and visited Nicole’s blog, too. I spent the better part of a day reading through her entries, her writing was that good. I also wondered why her posts had stopped and so went to Facebook looking for more of her writing or news. I was incredibly shocked and sad to see a comment, posted just hours before I visited FB, that she had passed away just a few days before. I’m a cancer survivor and it really effected me more than I expected. I wanted to tell her that I had enjoyed her blog and was worried about her, but I never got the chance. I absolutely understand why you wished she had blogged, her writing was very special.

    So I will take this opportunity to share with you that I enjoy following your blog. I lived in Kuwait as a teenager and am now in a serious relationship with a wonderful Kuwaiti (and yes, he has told his mother all about me, haha.) It took us more than 20 years to find each other, and in China of all places! I blogged as an expat in China for 5 years, and was a regular reader of American Bedu. Thank you for sharing this post, I always loved how through blogging we can share our experiences and make the world a little smaller.

    I am glad you are 90% better and wish you continued recovery!

    • Hi Heather, thank you so much for your comment.

      First, congratulations on being a cancer survivor! Such fabulous news! I’ve recently been diagnosed with Fibromayalgia with some indications of Lupus and a number of the blood tests come back pointing towards Multiple Myeloma (when I Google the results) and I can’t tell you the fear I feel. Probably a sign I should stop trying to decipher the results of my blood work by using Google. But still, it’s scary. So I’m really glad you’re cancer free <3

      I'm so glad you enjoyed Nicole's blog as much as I did. I had been reading it for a few years so her death left a hole in my heart. I was shocked and speechless when I first found out. It hurt, and I didn't even know her. But as you said, blogging definitely creates a connection of sorts while allowing us to share a bit of our world with others. I wish I had known about your blog, surely I would have loved it. I've taken a number of business trips to China and found it to be more culturally different than the Middle East as compared to the US.

      I was also an avid reader of AmericanBedu and hate the idea her blog is no longer there. Her thoughts and experiences helped so many and would have continued to do so for years to come. I suspect her domain expired and perhaps her family wasn't aware or felt it too painful to renew. Either is understandable.

      Again, thank you for your kind words and it's always nice to hear people are still reading my ramblings 🙂

      • Step away from Google!! I went down a really, really dark hole when I first got my diagnosis, thanks to Google. (And as a nurse and librarian I should really have known better!) It will be impossible not to think about it all the time, but try to engage in some enjoyable activities instead and wait for professional advice about your blood work. Sending you much positive energy from afar!

        I am considering starting up my blog again. If I do, I will let you know.

        • Thank you so much, Heather <3

          And you're right; Google wasn't helping. I did have an opportunity to speak with my Doctor and was told I do not have cancer. Definitely a relief.

          Please do keep me posted regarding your blog. I love reading about other's experiences.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Mostafa. I know how difficult life is for you right now and I’m so sorry. I check Nicole’s blog from time to time. Not because I expect a new post, but because I love her words. Please don’t ever take it down.

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