End Of The Rainbow


Is there gold at the end of this rainbow, glowing just outside our house? I think that it’s safe to say: yes, there is, although it’s the sort of gold that you might prefer to avoid.

The targeted drug that Shel was taking was making him feel terrible, and there was no sign that it was actually making him any better, so he has decided to stop taking it. Today he enrolled in the hospice program, and we will be doing everything we know how to do to make the rest of our life together as full of joy, grace, and peace as it possibly can be.

It’s the hardest decision we’ve ever made in our 20 year quest to manage his cancer. If you’ve been following his story, you know that we’ve tried just about everything available in the U.S. and in France. He’s gotten better, he’s gotten worse, we’ve hoped, we’ve despaired, and we’ve been constantly looking for the Next Good Thing that medical research had to offer him. We’ve finally run out of options, and we’re stepping off that roller coaster.

Now our job is to live as well as we can, knowing that we don’t have all the time in the world. To continue to love in the face of loss, to try to laugh a little every day, and also, to fold the laundry and clean the litter box, because you still have to do all that, while you can.

So I guess the pot of gold may be a new-found peace. I’m not sure, I haven’t had the time to test my theory yet, but I’m thinking this will be true. Since we’re suddenly freed from the constant pressure to search for and try out new treatments, with all the side effects they entail, in theory we’re now fully available to live in the moment, which is supposed to be a sweet place. Maybe we’ll see each other more clearly now, through this final prism. We might even discover new things to love about each other. Maybe there will be rainbows every day. Spring is coming soon, and it’s a beautiful time to be alive.

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27 Comments on “End Of The Rainbow”

  1. Karen Says:

    Abra & Shel — Just this weekend, we had dinner with John & Nancy and Dan & Sandy and we were talking about you and all the Corkheads and CMHC adventures we shared. I have some pictures — an especially good one of Shel — when we went morel hunting at Dan & Sandy’s farm. I’ll send them to you. Your grace and courage and determination through the years is beyond my ability to put into words. Your ability to pen such lovely thoughts even now is proof. I’d like to share this latest post with some of the old CMHC and Corkheads gang, if you don’t mind. Much Love, Karen & David Chrestay

  2. Michel Says:

    Abra and Shel, I think of you every time I am in the South of France and of the warm welcome you extended to me, a complete stranger at the time. Your love and support for each other is an inspiration to me and my wife. We have followed with rapt attention (and not a little jealousy!) your travels and travails over the years. I want you to know we send you our love and admiration and wish you all the best.
    Sincerely, Michel & Veronica.

  3. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that we have never met, that we don’t know each other in “real” life. I have been reading your blog for a long time. I looked forward to your recipes eagerly at PCN. I have followed your adventures, your joys and your heartaches. I am so touched by all that you have bravely shared, and by the relationship that you and your Shel have. I hope for you lots of peace and lots of laughing, lots of sweetness. All my love to both of you. He can know that you have a great big community that holds you both now and will continue to hold you.

  4. Mark Says:

    I know these are challenging times, but they are also a gift. These days, weeks, months or whatever it turns out to be will be a precious time to express your love and a chance for tender gooodbyes that many people don’t get, but wish they had. It doesn’t have to be sad. Make it a celebration! Much love to you both, and thanks for inviting me over last week. It was a wonderful time.

  5. Janan Henry Says:

    I am thinking of you both, and sending all best wishes for grace during this precious time in your lives.

  6. LuAnne Says:

    Abra.. I have few words. Just live with no regrets. As though I have anything to offer in this precious and sensitive time. But I want to say this: YOU were the one my mom was able to focus on when she made that choice to enter into the comforting arms of hospice after years of choices, roller coasters, changes and new drugs. Your writing offered her an escape that she found beautiful and vibrant. I can only wish this and more for you and Shel.. thank you for sharing. and tons of hugs to you both.. (it feels incredibly feeble).

  7. Judy Russell Says:

    Holding you both in my heart and in my thoughts. Wishing for love and laughter and gentleness for you both.

  8. barrytwyman Says:

    Courage mes braves , our thoughts and prayers are with you both . Thanks for the courage to keep all your friends and Family informed, we know it hurts, but we share your hurt with Love and Pride.
    Barry PAtou and the Bands xxx

  9. rebecca Says:

    com-fort: with strength.
    And with softness, tenderness, patience, laughter, tears and the dedication which love brings forth. What a terrible gift we are given, husbands and wives, to traverse the excruciating end. It is a necessary chapter of the shared happiness, I suppose. Please savor the happiness, the day, life itself. I am savoring it with you, dear friends. I am holding you close.

  10. Lucy V Says:

    WIshing you both peace and comfort now.

  11. Alain LAURENT Says:

    Bon courage à tous les deux, nous pensons beaucoup à vous,nous vous embrassons bien fort .

  12. Carrie Says:

    What incredible individuals who, when together, make the most extraordinary couple. I love you.

  13. Hugs and blessings coming your way.

  14. roostamama Says:

    may you have peace and comfort, hospice will be a tremendous help to you both

  15. Mikki Eifert Says:

    Abra, your words are always eloquently written and I’m so touched by your post. I wish you and Shel peace, laugher and love during this time in your life.

  16. Linda Says:

    Abra, even though we were acquainted only a short time, I’ve followed your posts throughout your writing and adventures with Shel. It’s been so wonderful to know of your life together through your beautiful writing. And thank you for that wonderful hospitality you both showed. You have lived life to the fullest. And even if a miracle doesn’t happen and Shel is magically cured, that you found each other, was the miracle.

    Take care and hugs to you both.

  17. andrée Says:

    Dear Abra, Henk and Greta have been keeping me in touch with your news. We have often mentionned Shel during French lessons. It has been such a pleasure to have him with us over the years. The whole group sends their love to him. Shel has been able to leave a very special place in our hearts and in our minds. I just love his sense of humour and his cheeky smile sometimes. Je vous souhaite du courage à tous les deux et surtout de pouvoir profiter de chaque moment ensemble au maximum. Vous êtes tous les deux dans nos prières.

  18. Davis Hall Says:

    You both have had quite a journey over the last 20 years. Shell and I are cousins, of course, and his life is something I celebrate. I’ve been losing family members recently. A few never knew what hit them, like Shell’s dad. You write quite beautifully of this part of the trip. I wish you love and peace.

  19. Sandy Rankin, RN Says:

    I live in Austin Texas and am a retired Trauma ICU nurse. I do not know you just have been following your blog.
    I just want to tell you my heart and thoughts are with you and my daily prayers and meditation will include you. Strength and peace. I am your friend.

  20. Susan Levy Says:

    I’ll never forget meeting Shel for the first time and he telling me about his upbringing in Atlanta. The way he described his mother and the symphony and all the things I remembered from gracious southern living were a treat as they rolled off his tongue with the cadence I so love. Thank you for sharing the intimacy of this part of your journey and life together. I feel honored to read your words and feel your amazing love for one another and the life you have shared for 20 years.

  21. Conni Brownell Says:

    Sending happiness and strength across the water

  22. susan vogt Says:

    Abra and Shel – my husband and I have been reading French Letters for years. We fell in love with your posts from France, a country we both love and which you’ve written about so beautifully and perceptively. We’ve continued to read your blog because your love for each other is so clear and inspiring and it is rare to find this roller-coaster that is life and this fragility that is love conveyed with such clear eyes and such a good heart. You are very much in our thoughts during this phase of your wonderful journey together. Susan and Joel

  23. Richard Hall Says:

    Shel, Abra’s blog was forwarded to me for the first time today. Finding peace in our world is quite dissicult. I too have not enjoyed real peace for many years with Cissy’s illness. More recently with her death, I find glimmers of peace that lead me to believe in the future and that all is well. My God bless and keep you and Abra.

  24. Cape Coop Says:

    Dear Abra and Shel, I know that you have, already, what it takes to appreciate existence and love. May you continue to do so, in whatever form the journey takes.

  25. char Says:

    I’d like to echo the words LINDA wrote on March 5. We met shortly after we moved to WA and, like so many others, I was immediately drawn to you both. Following your writing became a part of my life. You are both inspirations to everyone who knows you or reads French Letters. I hope you feel the warmth from all of us thinking about you in the coming days.

  26. Allene Says:

    Dear Abra and Shel, I hope this isn’t too late. Although we only met once in April 1995, I have never forgotten either of you, and I’ve been following your beautifully written blog, Abra. Ed and I wish you peace and strength and joy during the remainder of your time together. You are both and inspiration.

  27. We send out best wishes for the best to Shel.

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