Susan MacGregor passed away this past week.
Over the past year Susan and I have exchanged emails as she lived through her “deathing life” and this week she completed that process.
I got to know Susan through our Auckland Holistic Writer’s Group in New Zealand. We met monthly at Time Out Books in Mt Eden in Auckland.
Susan wrote sweet poetry that was very spiritual and she shared this with us in the group, but she dropped out of the group due to some health problems that eventually turned out to be Glioblastoma Multiforme brain cancer. She lived way past the usual time frame for such a tumor and she maintained a positive outlook, although it was clear she had great struggles at times. I hadn’t heard back from her over the past few weeks and a few weeks before that she typed only brief messages and often had many typos in them, a change from her previous communications.
As time went on, I would just send Susan pictures of flowers from our yard and tell her that I was thinking of her.
Please find here some of our final conversations. Even though this is a bit long for a blog post, I will make a long post and include some extra photos…
24 May, 2016 (Susan)
Feeling I am starting to walk in the light now. Last night had these dreams:
Mahmoud & I were sitting in hilly country having a cup of tea together whilst watching a man chisel away at the outer covering of a large boulder, the covering was a greyish white. As he struck away the last chunk of stone there was a brilliant blinding release of amber coloured light. When we looked again we could see the man had found a huge boulder of citrine crystal, it was a massive boulder of very clear bright colour.
A large brilliant white Angel stood in front of me with a sword of white light. It turned the sword point toward the earth then plunged it into the ground. It stood there still holding the hilt of the sword as if on guard.
I was joined by someone in white, emitting light who gave me their hand & invited me to walk with them.
I was thinking about the way you seemed to be able to move above things & continued to be inclusive & responsive to all of us when we were in the writers group. Thus I think the man in the first dream was you. I believe the citrine showed you have a huge power of creativity & will be highly successful in your writing work. I believe it also showed the immense level of protection around you & your ability to rise beyond negativity. Also that citrine’s light was helping me to release my negative energy.
Then the Angel & the offer to walk with a light being. The Angel felt protective, & both felt like signs that my death is not far off. I feel that Angel will be beside me all the way. When I got up today all the negativity was gone.
May 24 (David)
Susan, thank you for sharing such amazing dreams. I have had a very active dream life this week as well and was in New Zealand and US last night.
We all labour through our lives to release the brilliance within us!
Thank you for your kind words and your blessings and being an angel of my work!
May 25 (Susan)
Hope you are making headway with your latest project. Do you keep a dream journal? Maybe that could be an interesting addition to your own biography one day?
I am mindful that if something causes a ripple on my inner calm there is inner work for me to do as otherwise it couldn’t take root in me. That doesn’t mean other’s energy & negative thoughts can’t impact me, nor that their issue is mine, but rather that the negativity can’t cause turmoil or remain in me when there is nothing for it to attach to. The only fully self realized being I believe has walked this earth is Jesus, whom was Christed. Thus though endeavouring to improve myself I find I also need “outside” help.
Love from Susan xx
25 May, 2016 (Susan)
The rose is such a pretty colour & full of new buds, looks like it will be covered in blooms soon.
My function is deteriorating, some difficulty talking, tripping over words, some stuttering. Getting some laughs out of that currently.
Mild nausea, blurred vision, breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue, tremors. Had lots of lovely visitors, 16x peeps over past 6 days. Stopping visitors except family & extended family now as most others have had opportunity to come whilst I could still talk to them.
Poems were sent last Sat. Mail is lot slower than it used to be so probably arrived to destination midway through this week. Hoping there is some merit to them. If not I will ask someone to bind them into a soft cover for family & friends.
In light & love,
Susan x x
25 May, 2016 (David)
Hi Susan, thank you for sharing with me how you are doing. I was thinking about the roses, how each one is so beautiful and bursts into the world, bringing sweet fragrance and beauty (these Angel Face variety roses have a nice scent). And then the flower gradually fades, loses a few petals and then passes away, yet in each individual flower’s passing, new space is created for the other buds that are overflowing with desire to burst forth into the world, giving of themselves and becoming themselves. Even once the flower blossom is gone, though, then the not so beautiful work begins of transforming dead flower into seed – for the rose, it turns into a bright red rose hip berry and becomes beautiful again, until once again, at its ripest, falls from the plant and begins to decay, which allows the seeds of new life to sprout and take root. It seems so beautiful with plants, with people it is a bit harder to stretch the metaphor…
When you say you sent the poems, whom did you send them too?
I have a batch that you sent me some time ago electronically. At first you said you didn’t want them posted as they were copyrighted and you were looking to publish, later, you said to go ahead and publish. I haven’t put any up yet. I’ll do a blog now and put maybe a poem, an update from you and a picture.
Here are some pictures of my little shrine on my desk where I write. I probably have a solid day or two left of editing the manuscript.
May God’s Blessings sustain and surround You,
28 May, 2016 (Susan)
That’s wonderful, again my appreciation & thanks. Metaphor about roses very apt.
My friend from Perth is here, we are having a lot of laughs together. Having known each other from babies we have covered a lot of territory together, I will forward her contact details. Such a special person I think it will be a good link.
Re tripping up on words, in saying goodnite to Mahmoud last nite I said byebye banana, getting stuck on the ‘b’of the byebye his name then becoming banana. A bit like when I called my friend Pam Lamb, then blamed it on her having moved to a farm, lol, but of course it was pressure build up in the language areas of the brain.
You asked about the poetry I have sent it to the NZ poetry Association for review, to see what needs to be done to prep them for sending to a publisher or competitions. I have put copyright on them but don’t mind people reading them just they wouldn’t be able to use them or copy them. I don’t know how this would work for you except for me to give you permission to post them?
1 June, 2016 (Susan)
Feedback arrived from the reviewer, very useful. My “poetry” doesn’t fit into the current definition of poetry & is more akin in layout & content to 19th Century poetry. Not suitable for competitions nor publishers. It fits into rhyme, & bush poetry, but would be more accurately titled selected rhymes.
On the plus side I’m told I have an exceptional gift for rhythm & on the whole not too bad with rhyme. I am excited by the creative challenge of reworking a few of my rhymes into a modern layout & writing style. Not sure how far I’ll get but will just keep it going until I can’t do anymore. Really the most time consuming part is done, which was cataloging the key experiences in some way. Any leftover rhymes can easily be made into a booklet for family. Well worth getting the review.
Recently been told another friend is being investigated for stomach cancer. Same age as me. And my friend Kay, from Perth, who is visiting me daily lost another friend in the past few months from brain cancer & her hubby about 2yrs ago, started in his 40’s. Don’t know if I’m just more cued into things like this now due to my own experience or if its a life stage thing due to age, but seems getting more common. Also wished to ask, my friends hubby was from Polish immigrants The names Pak & Kopacz sound similar? M just arrived.
3 June, 2016 (David)
Hi Susan, editing more today…but it is a beautiful day here! Very summery.
One of the things I like about your poems is the elegant language. I remember Jung said that when the archetypes were speaking, they would often use Victorian language or old formal usages. It gives a kind of timeless quality and stature to language. It is not always a good thing to be accepted by contemporary society, most great artists are not great until time passes….
[Here is one of the first poems that I remember Susan sharing with our Auckland Holistic Writers’ Group in New Zealand]
Misty Lake Magic
Behold, your ethereal waters wrapped around
In a cloak of soft white fairy down
Oh spell-cast land of watery hues
Helpless, I am enraptured by your views
Mossy garlands festoon verdant banks
Sentinel trees guard watery flanks
Ensconced in hues; green, gold and red
Persephone to you has surely fled
Willows, with heads bent in respectful bows
Send tendrils to caress you from their boughs
Whilst gossamer threads of droplets fall
Down soft green leaves into your thrall
Gliding effortlessly, propelled by unseen hands
Snow white swans dance in your watery land
Slicing through mists which then quickly enfold
Them once again in your wispy hold
A hush has fallen, I dare not breathe
Lest this vista before me depart & leave
Or your stillness echo a disquieting sound
Dispersing this magic, exquisitely profound
Should something now disrupt this scene
I would wake violently, as if from a dream
For this vision, disconcertingly surreal
Has me fully lost within its appeal
A myriad soft lights begin to appear
Creating a shimmery stratosphere
A magical mirage before my eyes
Promising some deeper watery surprise
Continuing to look with transfixed gaze
Upon your mystical watery maze
I think I see, in your soft misty light
A fairy citadel of beauty bright
And a glimpse of creatures from another world
Messengers of magic who seemingly herald
The coming of a miracle dawn
In which all the world as this be born
And then the vision begins to fade
Your mossy banks now reveal a glade
The mists enfolding you vanish away
But not my memory of your splendour today
Copyright: 2011, S. D.Mac Gregor
MP’s birthday today! We’re off to one of the local pubs in a bit…
Sending some extra sunshine your way….
12 June, 2016 (David)
I think I commented on the comments of the reviewers in another email, but I think you are from a different time, or perhaps timeless…I think the 19th Century suits you…
11 June, 2016 (Susan)
Following small seizure last Friday am unable to stand or walk without 2x staff. Although previously being averse to having a catheter I have accepted the need & looked for a positive to help me adapt, the positive is I can now drink as much coffee as I like. Previously I limited coffee as it made me need to pee too much & sometimes I wasn’t able to make the toilet in time. Hope that’s not too much information?
Mahmoud stayed over one night this weekend he plans to do that once a week now. I had hoped to make my next birthday, on 25th Aug, but going by my current status predict mid-July which is ok. Have really enjoyed spending time with my life-long friend from Perth, Kay, she has been in every day until recently when she had to go to Matatmata to sort out some things for her mother who is in a Private Hospital there. Kay returns to Perth on the 17th July. We have reminisced at length, laughed, cried, listened to favoured music from our past. I am so lucky to have such a great friend!
Susan x x
11 June 2016 (David)
Hi Susan, you are an unfailing optimist – seizure and then can’t stand, but you are able to drink as much coffee as you like! Well, I hear you on the coffee, I would really miss that if I couldn’t have it. That is not too much information about the catheter. I had to go through medical school to become a psychiatrist.
I am glad you had such a good visit with Kay.
Every day is your birthday now…
I am so happy to see your paintings. Please keep sending them.
I have been bogged down in editing for weeks now. I thought we were getting close with the book after it went through these last edits, but there are still substantial conceptual and structural issues that need to get sorted with the book, so I have been doing long days on the weekends editing…
I did my first presentation that was starting to introduce the book a little bit. I was on a national VA conference call for the Post-Deployment Integrative Care Initiative. My talk was on “Pathways to Moral Healing.” I’ll send the PowerPoint if you can open that…
It is always so nice to hear from you, thank you for sharing yourself and your journey. Mary Pat and I were talking about you this morning and thinking we probably met about 5 years ago. I can’t remember when we started the writing group, I think maybe 2011?
14 June, 2016 (Susan)
Hope you are making headway with the editing? I am doing ok, not suffering, started morphine syrup…. Yuk taste but so lucky to have this option, staggered with panadol for consistent pain relief. Was nervous about taking morphine as never taken much other than panadol or Brufen so didn’t know what to expect. Wouldn’t know except no pain & slept well.
Mahmoud is staying over once a week. It is reassuring to have him with me & he does so many extra little things that make life more comfortable like massaging my feet, legs & bringing me my favourite foods. He is being strong but I see him crying when he thinks no one is watching. It breaks my heart to see his grief but be powerless to help. He, at least, will have the support of my brother whose experience of losing his first wife Ann unexpectedly at 50yrs old has given him a real understanding of the impact things will be having on Mahmoud.
Going back to the morphine I find it is rather weird, as if the Death Eaters from Harry Potter have swooped in & withdrawn life & emotion causing everything to be bland, dampened down, monotone from my norm. Not sure if that is typical. Am wondering how it will impact on the experience of dying.
Have you got someone who can give you help to edit your book?
All the best.
Love & bless,
14 June, 2016 (David)
Hi Susan, that is interesting with the Morphine. I think it can cause some of that emotional blunting for people. A lot of people who get addicted to it use it for that purpose to dull emotional pain as well as physical pain.
I’m sorry for you going through all this, but I see how you are worrying about Mahmoud, too. How difficult this deathing life can be at times. It is quite an initiation process you are going through and it changes those around you as well.
With my book, Mary Pat is doing some of the editing. It is gradually shaping up. How nice it would be for us all to get together again at Time Out Books and talk over our writing and our lives…
Love & Blessings for you
14 June, 2016 (Susan)
Yes indeed re the meetings at Time Out. Those were good times, a great venue plus group of people. Yes it is that blunting I’m not used to. I’m glad I’ve never felt the need to do that to myself deliberately as have been able to experience so much emotionally both ups & downs that it has opened the door to being able to experience more joy, more love, more sensory pleasure.
I’m sure Mary Pat is invaluable help with editing.
As always my best wishes to you and yours.
Love & light.
21 June, 2016 (Susan)
Congratulations on birthing your latest work. Thank you for forwarding to me, what a treasure…I recall Chris James singing peoples’ stories to them surrounding them in a circle of voices, how moving that was for each person, used for healing from physical health issues. Also singing their names along with personal qualities. I used that in some of the group work too within mental health rehabilitation services. It’s a shame I had to hide what I was doing from more traditionally trained workers as results were good. What I hope is that mental health workers move toward a more encompassing approach of methodologies that do produce results even though they may not be mainstream. It seems easier for some people to do that within a cultural context than apply same principles to every, living being, I hope Joseph’s explanation of the principles convinces these people of the universality of the approach. Surely it will.
When added to better outcomes for the veterans you are working with.
19 June, 2016 (Susan)
I’ve had the worst day of all today since being diagnosed, nausea, constipation pain in neck from old neck injury being disturbed by being pulled up the bed etc…Getting into grapes, kiwifruit etc as lactulose is disgusting. My room mate puss is now dubbed Beethoven as keeps rattling his collar bells throughout the night…his Moonlight Sonata perhaps, I would love to try him on keyboards. He is such a treasure.
21 June, 2016 (David)
Hi Susan, sorry to hear it is such a rough time at the Solstice.
Beethoven makes me smile.
I am just finishing the acknowledgements. Do you prefer your surname as:
Mac Gregor (with a space)?
Prayers, love, and lots of sunshine on this longest N Hemisphere day down to your darkest S Hemisphere day…
Glad to hear you are at the other end with editing. The no space option is preferable for my surname “MacGregor,” thanks. Feel much better now no nausea kiwifruit are working. Thank God for Mahmoud who thinks nothing of going all over town to find what I need. Yes interesting I had my darkest day on the darkest day in our hemisphere. Weather is still very mild. Supporting a friend & wife currently, just been diagnosed with stomach lymphoma. 58yrs old, comparatively I’ve had it easy. Had good role models too, a friends hubby used to be in the room opposite me same diagnosis but worse than me couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk or move independently but always kept good sense of humor, loved a joke, & exceptional self management of frustration, I used to watch over him for my friend, it seems his gift to me is in showing that even on dark days I can still be better off than others & can always access fun & laughter to lift stress. Such an exceptional person.
Lts of love,
Susan x x
21 June, 2016 (David)
Hi Susan, glad to hear the nausea is better. Those kiwi fruit are good for everything, eh?
I’m just sending out the manuscript to potential endorsers tonight – it being the Solstice and the Full Moon, seems like a good time for that….
Here is the possibly final version of the manuscript for you to skim if you have the interest and energy, no worries if it is too taxing.
Keep on Susan-ing, as Joseph Rael would say….
24 June, 2016 (Susan)
Getting lots of rain, which I am enjoying being wrapped up warm & cosy. As the song goes… “I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night”… good there are so many things to be enjoyed still as slowly my world is becoming flatter with side effects from meds causing issues plus unpleasant aftertaste so not enjoying food at all…Nausea, constipation dealing with daily but that’s ok they are easy enough to modify with other preparations. Don’t know what to do re the unpleasant taste, except finding hot milky milo [hot chocolate] helps for short while. Picked that up from friend who died from bladder cancer, the only thing she could keep down. Thank you Erina.
12 July, 2016 (David)
Can you see the
Angel of the
17 July, 2016 (David)
Lilly from Madison, Wisconsin
18 July, 2016 (Susan)
Thanku, this is wat M & I call the Susan Lilly as Susan means lilly. M buys these ones for me regularly. Having sum fun he feel bit better each day. xx
20 July, 2016 (Susan)
21 July, 2016 (David)
31 July, 2016 (David)
Sunny here today, will send some your way…
4 August 2016 (David)
I think of you often and send my thoughts and prayers to you…
4 August 2016 (Susan)
Tha k nk youDazvid those thought s &
Prayershelp me through my worst days I am certain I Wouldn’t cope sometimes otherwise.
Love & blesz .xx
[Susan’s emails ended and I received a couple updates from her brother, Rob. He wrote that she passed away peacefully on 23 August, 2016. Susan had said that she hoped to make it to her next birthday of 25 August, which she very nearly did. She lived through what she called her deathing life far longer than is generally predicted for her type of cancer. We’ll close with one of Susan’s poems, which seems very appropriate around her death. I sent Susan a painting a few weeks ago, I’ll also include a photo of that as it was in progress.]
If I can’t hear you
Does it mean you’re not there?
If I can’t see you
Does it mean you’re not near?
If I can’t feel you
Does it mean you are gone?
If I believe I am alone
Would that perception be wrong?
How may I reach you
Without sight, touch, or sound?
Is there another truth
Perhaps, much more profound?
Do we all have a connection
Beyond what appears
To be a continual resurrection
Of endings and tears?
2011, S. D. Mac Gregor