My sister died this morning, I am posting photos of her below.
In Orange, Virginia with husband Sam.
Warrenton Virginia with Sam and her childhood dog Atlas.
Sam, Gray and Sam in California
Sam Coale, Gray Coale and Captain Emory on the bank of the River Ouse
with her adult hound, Ariel.
visiting in Charlottesville
In the seat of of happiness, Jane’s kitchen
Gray was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in November of ’09.
Gray never asked the Doctor about prognosis, never Googled. She went about her life. I had a lot of ideas early on about how she should deal with her cancer but I managed to keep my mouth shut and follow her lead.
Lead she did. Gray worked her way through chemo (Gemzar, Tarceva and Cisplatin), never lost any hair, never lost her appetite, managed to fold all the medical appointments into her approach to life. (Made a lot of new friends, chemo-suite folk, doctors, nurses, custodians, ultra-sound and radiation therapy techs, she’d ask them about themselves and remember their info.)
We all think of denial as a bad thing, I think Freud taught us to do that, and then Elisabeth Kubler-Ross didn’t exactly promote the value of denial. But I read an article recently in the Washington Post which touted the benefit of denial with a diagnosis that borders on a death sentence.
I wanted to tell my friends and family about Gray’s diagnosis, asked her if that was all right, she said no. She wanted the same interaction with the world that she’d always had. I largely honored her request.
Gray’s quality of life was good for 13 months after diagnosis, but a month ago, the pancreatic cancer figured out the mechanics of metastasis, spread to her liver, stomach, lungs and bone. Secondary to that spread, she got massive edema in her legs. For the first time her mobility was compromised.
She went in to consult with her oncologist February 7 and understood there was nothing curative left in the pharmacopoeia to try. She went to hospice that same day, switching from curative to palliative care. She said she felt safe in hospice.
No pain, no fear.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Gray E. Coale Memorial Garden at Swan Point. Please make checks payable to Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Boulevard, Providence, RI 02906. The idea is a grove of sourwoods (Oxydendrum arboreum), some other natives, and a place to sit and listen to the wind.
The funeral will be held at St. Martin’s Church, 50 Orchard Avenue, Providence, RI on Thursday, March 3, at 11:00 AM.