161 Comments
Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

Oh, Andrea. I am so glad that I found you and your work. A friend sent me "A Different Kind of Bucket List" and I now read your words daily. I remember the stress of waiting for scan results. No more scans for me. My cancer has metastasized to the bone. It's under control now but it it only a matter of time. I'm turning 71 in a few weeks and I don't need a filter to see what an old Jim looks like but you helped me think of a new way to look at all of these wrinkles. I want to look into my husband's eyes now, to see if I see myself in them. Much love to you. You are a gift.

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Jan 24·edited Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

(First comment on here!)

The fierce eloquence that rings out from you like a bell in the fog in these big-feeling-moments is a huge gift to the world, Andrea Gibson. It is a huge gift to me and your community here and beyond. Thank you for letting your heart blast out what it longs and needs to say - the truths that so many of us are needing and longing to hear...and remember.

I will never forget the MRI which revealed that the cancer with which I have been contending had spread to my lumbar spine. "Stage IV" - a word and number that one does not want to hear uttered together. It was a lot of work to keep greeting it all fully, to keep treating it all; to live a life with no promises. And yet my days since then have been the most stunning experience of learning to take nothing for granted and the gifts of presence and aliveness that have come from it have carried me with a quality of life and love that quantity only hopes to deliver.

I share this because I join you in celebrating the gifts of getting older every single day as the greatest of privileges, and because I join you in knowing that it is possible to pack more awe and appreciation into 24 hours than I ever imagined a year could hold, much less a decade. And I share this (tears dripping like icicles down my cheeks) because somehow I think it is important for you to know, and perhaps others as well, that it was 30 years - three decades of unexpected days - ago that I first heard that word and number spoken together. No one could predict my future and still no one can. I cannot help but ferociously hope that life keeps unfolding many more unexpected days for you to savor with Meg and your loved ones, and for the rest of us (and many more waiting) to keep being deeply and desperately blessed by your big heart and big important voice in the world. A grateful bow to you today and always, Andrea. I hold you close in the bones of my heart.

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

Thank you for sharing this. Ever since my cancer diagnosis in late 2022 I have been grappling with the idea that I might not get to be old. Something that I dreaded for so long has since become my greatest wish. Please know that when you share your journey, you are inspiring those of us who are on a similar path. 💗

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Andrea, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your wide open heart. I was feeling disconnected to my self, my heart, this morning. Then I read your post and the tear ducts opened.

I joined your Substack having discovered your poetry and then your journey with cancer. Your candid honesty takes my breath away. And the depth of your love and commitment to your partner weaves its way through your writing.

I lost my wife suddenly in October 2019. She had been struggling with neuroendocrine cancer for almost two years. The most dramatic and painful consequence over those months was her steady weight loss. At the time of her death, she went from a robust 190 lbs. to about 77 lbs. She was seventy-one.

In the last months of her life I took care of her in our small house in the forest. I remember how translucent and sensitive her skin had become -- how her veins stood out on her hands and arms. How sometimes my touch, when helping her shower or dress or when changing her pick line, was a bit rough. Then she would admonish me and I would dial in to a new level of gentleness.

Her body so tender and fragile then, like fine porcelain with the large, sunken brown eyes of an infant. I learned how to be as tender as I had ever been with my wife in those days. And so much had become this relationship with her new body and it’s radically different capacities. Over those last weeks she was sleeping more, our conversations less. Our intimacy had shifted to those simple acts of touch and care and being attentive and gentle.

I have learned to hold and cherish this transformation of my wife. My deepest sorrow at root in my absolute inability to take her suffering away. And my greatest gift and blessing as witness to her precious “becoming like a child” again.

Barbara’s last fierce and courageous act, as result of her inability to speak, was reaching up from the bed and pulling me down to her for our last hug. Moments later she took her last breath.

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

Thank you. I have spots on my PET scan that have grown. We do another CT scan in early March. Most likely a biopsy then.

I’m not worried. But I’m just not done doing what I need to do. Want to do. The journey awaits. And continues.

Love your writing. When I was 19 I was told by my kidney specialist I’d be luck to make it to 45 w my disease. I have lived every day to the fullest I can. I go to bed every night happy for that day. I’m lucky. I’m 68 and pressing on.

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

I'm almost 28, so forgive my age or lack thereof in my comments. But I'm THRILLED to get wrinkles. See, I was born 3.5 months early, at 25 weeks. People didn't think I'd last the day, let alone this much. I've had a lot of things go wrong medically. Life has had plenty of tries to cut my act short. But as my mom said when I was little, I've got "places to go, people to see, and things to do"!

Every wrinkle, every sun spot, is proof to people that I've lived. How beautiful is that?! And for my NICU roomies who didn't get to graduate the NICU, who didn't make it to their proms or graduations or first kisses, all of those wrinkles are for them. It's like a tattoo on my face in memory of those times and in memory of those people.

Bring on the wrinkles!

-Mandy

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

Thank you for sharing this post. Since my cancer diagnosis in 2019 with all the treatments and complications, I often feel very alone and jealous, yes jealous of strangers, watching them move through their days as we push our shopping carts through parking lots, checking the expiration dates on food. Planning for a future I may not have. Your post reminds me that I'm not alone, that I can find joy in the what ifs of today, imaginings of possibilities bubbling up in a moment. Thank you, thank you.

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Thank you so much. I cried at this. I have been navigating my own cancer diagnosis and growing old has become something that I long for as well. I am a single parent to two young kids and I just want to see them grow up. Growing old is a blessing. I wish old age for you! I wish you so many wrinkles from laughing and loving too deeply. I wish you so much time that it carves your face like the precise hands of a master sculptor. I wish you life. I wish you knobby hands covered in spots that number all the days you have loved, hands you place trembling over your heart to say « I do » when life asks if you find peace there. I wish you old age.

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

Crying. This is so beautiful. You and Meg are such a gift. ♥️

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

It's such a blessing to read your perspective, so beautifully written. Grateful for the magic of poetry and mindful loving. There's nothing more beautiful than feeling alone in a moment, and reading something so enigmatic and transcendent, that the lonliness slips away by a shared energy of gratitude for the here and now, which you and Meg express and model with no pretense or agenda.

My father fractured his spine New Year's Day, and he lives with me and my youngest son here in Colorado. As a divorced mama of two boys, and the caregiver (happily I might add) of a father with Alzheimer's, there are moments of pure gratitude and moments of isolation that are fleeting. I have fibromyalgia and CFS, so every hour I'm able to be of service has been reframed.

The yesteryears of moving about able bodied without pain or exhaustion are well remembered, but no longer my current reality. The gifts of once overlooked privileges (a warm bed, healthy food, kind friends, loving four legged family members, clean water, a beautiful view, a good book, a smile from a stranger, a hug, a postcard received in the mail) are amplified. The pain does not eclipse the joy.

Sending blessings and lots of good juju to you and Meg. ~ 💙🌈🙏🏽 Steph

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Thanks so much for your everything. I found you through Glennon in the midst of my best friend’s ovarian cancer journey. We also did healing work together. Struggling to find my place with my friend’s recent (3 weeks today) death. I think I might put my favorite picture of us both in the old age filter and frame it. To know she is still and always with me. Growing with me. Older. Wiser. Stronger. Thanks to you and Meg for letting me into your open hearts through your writing.

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Old Andrea just made my whole damn day. She broke my heart wide open. I LOVE HER.

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

Dear Andrea, Thank you for sharing this. So many thoughts going through my 67 year old mind. First, I am wondering if you've read Kate Bowler's book, "Everything Happens for a Reason and other lies I've been told". She's been on the cancer road, and one line of hers sticks in my mind, "Aging is a fucking privilege." And getting to see your lovely face as an older person is also a fun, impactful, wonderful experience and privilege due to this age of technology, which is often not positive. Another note, my 47 year old daughter-in-law has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and it is in several places in her bones. She is now in her 3rd year of treatment and no new bone occurrences! Thank you for your poetry. I am a poet, too. Best to you always. Mary Strong Jackson

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

I love this piece so much and I am so in love with this line "I knew that every wrinkle on my face had the name of someone I loved". My 78 year old mom is the most beautiful person I know and she loves with an openness and a wholeheartedness that I've always envied. Now when I look at her face, I will know that every line and wrinkle carries the name of all the people she loves. Sending you and Meg so much love.

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Jan 25Liked by Andrea Gibson

May you and Meg be adorned with so many wrinkles and silver strands in your hair… A crown of aging and love that you can wear with pride for as long as you are in your physical body. You walk through this world, spreading so much goodness and giving me so much hope in how we all might be able to embody our beautifully messy humanness. Thank you. Endlessly.

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Jan 24Liked by Andrea Gibson

I had a really powerful experience with the aging filter too. Reading about your reaction/experience, I found myself recalling that perfect little scene in Barbie..where Barbie tells the older woman text to her that she's beautiful and she replies "I know it!" I saw an interview where Greta said producers wanted that scene cut but she insisted it stay because "without that scene, I don't know what this movie is about".

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