My Hibiscus – Metaphor of Loss And Life, and Cancer

In Shock, Dormant and Going to Rebirth, or Dead

Life Lessons and My Poor Hibiscus

My HIBISCUS ….. I did everything I could…. and it still died (or, someone said to cut it waaaaay back and it might show regrowth from the base…at this point…I question that, although it sounds verrrry metaphorical which I like)… there is something so sad about this…and then…there is yet another damn life lesson…about letting go…damn those life lessons…some of them hurt to the core…

You want to know what the hell I am talking about, right?

Okay… I took care of it, I brought it in for the winter, I babied it, I gave it nourishment, light, water, feeding, and sprayed it for bugs…and when I brought it back outside, I thought at one point, as it was failing, that if I put it in the ground…… it would at least have ONE MORE SEASON TO LIVE…because next winter it would die.

That thought alone gave me ponder. No, I did not put it in the ground but I did put it in a bigger pot. It still died. But here is what I thought about ONE MORE SEASON TO LIVE.
If she had only one more season to live

and I was aware of that

how much would I enjoy her relish her

marvel at her beauty

gaze and ponder and meditate upon her

inhale her lovely leaves and her blooms of magical wonder

how many moments would I drink her colors and dream her scent


when you know your time is running out

and your clock is almost finished ticking

as opposed to most of us whose road trip entails more than one season

and we don’t know when our final moment will be

and we live moments without death in our consciousness

but what if you know you do not have MORE than one season

or you start to live your life that way

throwing caution and procrastination and all sorts of bullshit nonsense to the wind


makes me think of not getting FLUMBASTED (my creation for today)

that means to get bogged down with distracting stuff

getting disorganized and losing focus

allowing entropy or chaos to take over

which leads to confusion and loss of concentration,

which is what I am doing when I get too disorganized and too messy and I need to clean up my papers, my files, my everything

get it together and stop getting FLUMBASTED (nice ring to that word) and live,

like I have one more season

oh, the poor sad HIBISCUS, my life lesson for the moment


Sometimes, no matter what I do, the GREAT SPIRIT has determined, it is not so much that I didn’t give it my ALL because I did, it is just that it is not meant to be, my ALL just was not enough in this case, and, that in itself is a humbling lesson…always metaphors…it points to the issue of CONTROL…every cancer patient wrestles with this…another topic for another day.

For reasons unknown to this infinitesimal being that is me that is part of this soooo much larger entity

This amorphous floating energy of the universe…

It is just not meant to be…and maybe….

Through the incredible tangle of intricate spider web silk that is woven throughout our world like some maze, some bizarre other worldly matrix that connects us all unknowingly and unseen to our singularly human capacity and capability…some other connection will occur because of this life lesson that I could never have predicted or foreseen or even imagined….

Something good will come of this life lesson, something good will come of this tear in my shirt,

The rip that is made in the ribbon that is worn when a dear loved one dies…(the rabbi tears it on the day of the funeral, and you wear it for the first 30 days)

To show you have been torn, torn, yesssss, you now wear a tear in your heart, on your sleeve, a ripped article of clothing…you wear it so others can see, so they know you have suffered a loss…you wear it, as if you really need the reminder, that you are torn, shattered, cracked…

And it is okay for them to touch your hand, your arm, your sleeve, your tear, (or teeeeer) if they want to …

To let you know, they feel your pain, they sense your loss, your sadness, maybe your “beginning to feel the light again” …. and somehow…

Somehow…something good comes of this loss…something you could not have dreamed…something….out of the web of intricate connections in the universe… somehow you connect with something, someone, something AND someone…if, yessss, the big IF…

IF you can be open to it, for it is not EASY to stay open that way when you have been ripped open already and you want ….so want…to close up and close that wound……that open wound is what connects you to every living being, thing, animal and human…

THAT is what I felt when SHE first died…this open connection to humanity…I still feel it…. it is much more conscious now…I can see how not everyone stays open that way…it could be exhausting, but it can also be exhilarating and energizing, sometimes it is both exhilarating AND exhausting.

And let me not forget the poor Hibiscus in all this stream of consciousness rambling… at one point I cried, for it seemed a metaphor to me, and it made me really, really sad, but then, after feeling that sadness, I felt the openness that these things often lead to…

I will interact with someone in some way, shape or form because of this, and I will learn something or connect with someone that I wouldn’t have otherwise…

Emilee has died but so much is opening in my life it is difficult to take it all in… I am the same in some ways, and becoming so very different in other ways…so pain, life lessons, new growth…like someone cut me down to the ground, so I could start to grow again (yes….I tried it with the hibiscus, I trimmed it back, and no….lol…it did not work, not yet, and I must finally discard the barren tree that is cut back and has no leaves, as sad as it is, I cannot look at it any more)…

Okay, okay, I will give it a little more time to see if any growth starts to sprout after I cut it back more…but I can’t wait too long…it hurts to keep seeing it look like that…

I imagine many a cancer patient has felt that way (looked at themselves in the mirror…they see weary on their backs and in their bones…WEARY…and also STRENGTH…they see a barren tree with NO leaves, but many see life about to sprout out of that barrenness…new growth…) during and after treatment, and even after the medical people have said you are cancer free…guess what?…There is no cancer free after you have had cancer…NEVER.

I don’t like the word “never” but in this case…in your mind, you are always waiting for it to come back or rear its head that is dormant in your body…it is such a horrible feeling it is hard for words to describe what that feels like…

And…only those who have had cancer really understand that and “get it”, difficult for those close to the one with cancer to comprehend what their spouse or loved one feels…easy to be scared of what they are feeling, easy to not want to go there and also easy to feel shut out because she or he won’t tell you about her private hell. Sometimes too scary for the person going through it to open themselves up and tell about it, or they are tortured because there is no one to listen or that is what they think.

So many who have had or have cancer can’t even share this feeling with their spouse or family…for a multitude of reasons…sometimes the spouse is too terrified to confront the thought of losing their loved one, and/or the one with cancer doesn’t want to scare them anymore or burden them…and on and on…

And they feel terribly alone at times…terribly, terribly alone…so unbelievably achingly alone…(I found a note of Emilee’s in which she described how scared, how out of her mind scared she was…and she couldn’t tell me…or did not think I wanted to listen…I will never know… I just have a note…a piercingly nakedly openly rawfully painful note, whose sole purpose at this point, is to be shared so maybe someone else can be spared that isolation, and someone else can LISTEN to their loved one…Listen to what they say, and especially, LISTEN to what they DO NOT say…listen, listen between the lines…IT IS THERE…IF YOU LISTEN… with love).

Yes thankfully, some can share with their spouse or someone else…sometimes with a friend who also has gone through this…

For, it is traumatic DURING the cancer, and it is PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) “after” the cancer, so it is never gone even when they say it is…you wait for the six (or whatever) months till the next scan, get out of your mind before the scan and then out of your mind waiting for the results of the scan. The well-known feeling of “SCANXIETY”, and no, that word is NOT my creation. Okay, major subject for another day…major…note taken, tears wiped.

It is time for new life and I will get another hibiscus if I need to, and it will make me smile thinking how much Emilee enjoyed that prolific flowering plant the last season of her life…It was amazing, it just kept flowering, it was as if the plant knew how much pleasure it was bringing to someone who had only one more season to live.

Maybe it too, knew it’s life was only a season of joy… and yes…that still brings tears…ONE MORE SEASON TO LIVE…that is how I want to live…and yes… I can still type my best stuff when I am crying…and NO… I don’t really know how to end this…


Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.