Rowing Without Oars

I’m not sure what to “title” today’s (out) post, the last day of May 2007. Rowing Without Oars: a Memoir of Living and Dying is the best I can come up with.

After having seen our psychotherapists, my husband drove me to Fiskebäcks Missionskyrka where I attended the second half of Britt-Marie’s funeral, who died May 22nd just three days prior to her 55th birthday. When I climbed the stairs I could here people singing:

“…Änglar den sjöngo först för markens herdar. Skönt från själ till själ det ljöd: Människa, gläd dig, Frälsarn är kommen, frid över jorden Herren bjöd…”

I walked towards the music and I could see that the back door to the church was open. Outside a black and well polished funeral car was about to roll away carrying a white coffin in bloom. It was Britt-Marie, one of my family’s closest friends. I froze for I realised that even positive people die. I loved that woman for she was everything I wish I could be. She chose her attitude, she laughed and smiled even when she had trouble communicating to the world. She looked radiant and fresh even though she could hardly move. I try to be like her every day and then I realise that even I may end up in one of those wooded coffins, leaving people behind singing:

“…Angels they sing to the shepherds. Beautifully from souls to souls it can be heard: Feel joy for Salvation has come, granting peace on earth…”

I had trouble getting into the mood and I didn’t want to join in at first, for I was scared that I was going to burst out laughing. Then I saw my mother in the crowd and I was afraid of weeping and not being able to stop. I took refuge and walked with my Jerusalem friend’s mother, Gunnel, and the pastor’s wife, Irene, for I could hardly stand when I saw Britt-Marie’s three sons’ tear-stricken faces. I’ve known those boys my entire life.

The strange thing is that I can still hear the sound of Britt-Marie’s voice in my head. All the memories come flying by as well: skiing in Loftsdalen, days on the beach, mushroom picking, walks in the forest, picnics, candle lit dinners, strawberries and vanilla ice-cream…

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I’m not afraid of dying; I’m afraid of not living. There’s a huge difference. Swedish TV made a documentary about Ulla-Carin Lindqvist, who was a famous TV reporter here in Sweden. This is another woman who ended her days with ALS and wrote the amazing book Rowing Withouth Oars.

Introduction to  “Rowing Without Oars” (Swedish)
”Det här är min debut och min final. Det handlar om min final.
Ingen memoarbok som man tänker sig en sådan. Mer som en dagbok med nedtecknade tankar och dopp i minnet. Dessutom en del intervjuer och dokumentära iakttagelser. Jag har, ”mitt i livet”, invaderats av en ovanlig sjukdom. ”amyotrofisk lateralskleros”, ALS. Den har ett snabbt och aggressivt förlopp. Det finns bara en utgång: döden. Ingen bot. Ingen bättring.

Vad händer med en människa då? För ett år sedan var jag en heltidsarbetande tv-reporter. Idag kan jag inte äta själv, inte gå och inte tvätta mig.Jag känner en djup sorg över allt jag inte kommer at få uppleva. Jag är bedrövad för att jag snart kommer att lämna mina fyra barn. Samtidigt känner jag en stor lycka och glädje över allt jag upplever just nu. Flera gånger varje dag fylls mitt hus med skratt.
Låter det märkligt? []

Kråkudden, januari 2004”

Britt-Marie Areblom (1952-2007)

On a possibly more positive note, Zaman and I just came home from a terrific “date night” at  Jungman Janson. In my mind, it’s one of Gothenburg’s best fish restaurants and we are fortunate to be able to walk there. Half the walk is along beautiful coast line and the sunsets on the WEST coast of Sweden are sublime. How is it possible to be so happy and sad at the same time?

Feel free to click here, for this is for you who have taken the time to read this far. It is in Norwegian and sent by one of my best mates, Anna L. She has taught me to love Joutenheimen, Norway where my family envisages to go week 33, and I hope she’ll accompany us. If you don’t understand Norwegian, enjoy the photos and music.

Me? I’m Sailing Without Oars… to live.


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