Preparing to Retire

A cancer diagnosis creates the need to organize one’s life

When I retired from SMHS, I began preparing for several years – cleansing files and old supplies. Teachers gather tons of supplies. I had numerous file cabinets, closets and a secret key that gave me access to countless wall cabinets. A shamefully huge collection. As technology entered the educational profession, the access to web activities displayed on my interactive Smart Board became available and the need for my hoarder lifestyle disappeared. Thus, the slow purging began. And it was very soothing. 

It helped me prepare to leave a profession, a lifestyle, I adored.

As I know my time here is limited, I feel like I am preparing to retire again. But how does one prepare?

My husband and I attended an outdoor service at United Methodist Church this past Sunday. The parsonage for the church is next door to our home and it was through the grace of the loss of Pastor Tim that we inherited our sweet dog, our Riley. Pastor Don Francis, our new neighbor, gave a sermon on how Jesus prepared for his crucifixion, praying in the garden of Gethsemane as he came to terms with his impending death. Pastor Don also shared a vivid dream he had the night before where he wasn’t prepared to give the sermon, oversleeping, changing shirts, trying to shave.

It’s frightening to not feel prepared.

When I see all those terrible disturbing images of young black men being killed suddenly in a police altercation and other men who are being shot during protests I feel so many emotions, but I am haunted by the fact that they didn’t have an opportunity to prepare. 

But what could they have done to prepare?  

In the true fashion of my Miller family, I have organized my finances, cleaned out the attic, closets and drawers. We are a family of planners! These activities have all been soothing and I feel, in a small way, I am helping my family. But am I really prepared?

My brother Mike shared a story during his visit, that when a very close family friend, Kay, was near death, he visited her with a couple cousins. He described that Kay asked my cousin, Father Phil…. what should I be thinking about? I believe she was asking the same question I am asking – how should I prepare?

I feel really lucky to still be here. I also feel lucky because mostly I feel pretty good. I push myself, even when I don’t feel good to be fully alive each day. I also feel it’s important for me, especially at this time in my life, to remember those who didn’t have the time to prepare.

I make sure I thank God every day for each day. More than my organizational planning, I hope this focus helps me prepare to retire from life.

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This is my blog about living my life with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer—End stage. I joked about writing this imaginary blog when I spent a year on a treatment that allowed me only 10 days to feel well enough to live a fairly normal life. (Actually normal doesn’t even really exist for me anymore!) To earn those good days, I spent the previous 10 days living in post-chemo treatment physical hell – that also became normal in a perverse way. I’m also writing to honor those who are diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. You might live longer than you expect and I want you to have someone who tells you what that’s like. There aren’t many role models for people with this because, well, they’re usually gone. So, this is for you. Maybe your journey will be similar to mine. Actually, it will probably be very different because “everyone is different.” Even still, maybe this will still be a bit of a guide.

3 thoughts on “Preparing to Retire”

  1. Oh Kathy, you nailed it again! Your insight and your ability to communicate that is always spot on. And of course, it makes me cry a little bit, too! I love you, my friend. You are the best!

    Liked by 1 person

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