Death, Taxes and the Sweetness of Life

The inevitability of death and taxes has been repeated so many times as to become a cliche. With my present health status it was even more difficult than usual.

I have no reason to complain. I don’t do my own taxes. I pay someone to do them for me. I only have to organize the forms and find the pertinent information, which I have been saving in a folder throughout the year. Simple! Yet every January this sense of dread descends and I find myself procrastinating.

It is not politics or economics that create this abhorrence. I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. that,”Taxes are what we pay for civilized society”. This is just an irrational fear. We all have inevitable chores that just have to get done. “Do it without liking it”, as my father said. But, combined with the other things going on in my life, I found myself at perhaps the lowest moment of my emotions since my diagnosis last year.

Sitting with Kristina I asked,”Is this it? These mundane tasks that never end? Chores I hate doing but have to get done? Why continue?”

As I said, “Irrational”. The taxes are done. It’s never as hard as I think it will be and it cleared the slate for Kris and I to go on our California trip.

Kris and I both have family in the Bay Area. Kris has a brother in Palo Alto and my sister Janet lives in Northern Marin. We began our trip in Palo Alto and stayed with my brother-in-law Matt and his wonderful family. Matt, Kris and I went on a day trip to Monterrey where we ate lunch on Cannery Row and then visited Tor House, the home of the poet Robinson Jeffers. The house is located on the bluff overlooking the ocean in Carmel by the Sea. The next day we traveled to Janet’s.

Janet had booked a B and B situated on a working cattle ranch in a beautiful green valley. It was idyllic. California is green for a short time of the year and we were fortunate to catch it at its most picturesque. My sister-in-law and her son also came out so we could all celebrate Passover and the First Seder together. Seven of us around the table celebrating the renewal of all good things. We spent the next day visiting some Red Woods and going out to Point Reyes to spend time on the beach.

We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on our way back to Palo Alto in order to meet up with Kristina’s other brother who was visiting with his family. So much family, so many nieces and nephews. I was literally overwhelmed. I felt almost drowned in the sweetness of life and the future loss of family, friends, beauty, love. I had to take a solitary walk at sunset to let all the feelings flow in and out of me. To catch my breath. And, yes, to remember where my emotions were a mere week before.

The trip ended with a visit from Isaac who also happened to be in Southern California and was able to fly north so we could spend some hours with him. We also visited the Filoli House and Gardens before we returned to Shreveport. Two days after our return I had a chemo.

As I replayed and thought about the past month the image of Persephone popped into my head. I realized I feel like Persephone on steroids. My Hades is cancer, chemo, the indignity of sickness and its corresponding lethargy. But, I rise from the underworld to experience the renewal of Spring. The renewal of body and spirit as the Jewish prayer of sickness pleads for. The fact that my cycle is three weeks only intensifies the yo-yo effect. It may be odd to think of all this as a gift from cancer. But death, taxes, the sweetness of life; they aren’t polar opposites but the very fabric of our being. And being is what I am all about right now.

Happy Spring everyone!



8 thoughts on “Death, Taxes and the Sweetness of Life

  1. Pete you are a true soldier and I look up to you and so many ways you can’t imagine I praise her strength and in bed or call much love curvy


  2. Pete your writings remind me that we’re all going to be in a similar situation soon enough, and to better appreciate life now. Thank you for this!


    • Thanks Paul, It was wonderful to visits with you and your lovely family while we were in California. While the circumstances that impelled me to write this blog suck it is gratifying to know people who read it are reminded of what a gift life is. See you in the Summer!


  3. I remember celebrating many Passover Seder’s together! My parents still have the picture of us on the beach in Florida hanging on the wall! As one cancer survivor to another -whatever feels right to you is! Blessings on your journey.


  4. Re. doing taxes – I frequently tell a story about our high school experience with Economics. We took a test at the beginning of the class to find out how much we knew. You got a really high score. At the end of the course. we took the same test – you did considerably worse on that one. I think of it as an example of how some people are not wired to sit in classrooms and be lectured to; they’re much better off self-educating.


  5. Dearest Samson…I have found myself complacent in my thoughts about seeing you this summer…in that I have settled into believing I will share a stand with you once again. For whatever it’s worth, I have not yet accomplished filing my tax return and am filled with fear and loathing about doing so. I now feel that I need to fill my head with vigilant thoughts of turning your pages and to send you powerful positive vibes in that regard. Tons of love from Tig


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