2:24 a.m.

February 9th, 2011

We never need to make our lives more difficult than they are, but of course we do. Then one day life itself rises up with an irrevocable force and we suddenly find that there is nothing we can do. Here is a message I received from Rose in Amsterdam not long ago. Since then, I’ve been visiting her blog daily, where I’m struck by her elegantly sage and poetic posts about her family. What she writes is more profound than anything I can offer, and proof that compassion and wisdom are indeed self-arising. Please visit her and leave your kindness.

This afternoon I planned to write you regarding your last email almost a year ago. I wanted to tell you how grateful I was about your words and how meaningful they still are to me.

This afternoon the phone rang and my husband told me that he was called to the ER immediately. Something appeared to be wrong with his blood, which had been drawn that morning. He’s a normal healthy person who happened to feel very tired. But which parent isn’t tired? we thought. I found a babysitter for our boys (ages 1 1/2 and 3) and rushed over there. A couple of hours later he was diagnosed with leukemia.

He asked me how to cope with his tremendous fear in facing this disease and the road ahead of him. The pain. But mainly the fear. Of course I’m literally scared to death too, but it isn’t my body that has to do the fighting.

Is there anything I could tell him? Besides the fact that I love him, truly and deeply. We both aren’t religious and always try to take life as realistically as it appears in front of us. But now we feel swept from our feet, and at this time we know we need to be grounded to make the right decisions.

I read your blog daily and read how often people email you with their problems. At 2:24 in the morning, I’m one of them. I simply wish I could have sent you the email I intended to write this afternoon, when I knew my life as it was.

Love from Amsterdam,
Rose Stamet-Geurs


  1. Expecting one of your usual enlightening posts, I click on “2:24 a.m.” and settle in to read, but I soon know you have unapologetically served us up a starkly real serving of some messy unavoidable pain. I visit the blog far away, I read, knowing it could be here, at any time it could be here, and I cry for her and I cry for you and I cry for me. Sometimes there is just the crying, the staring blankly in acceptance of what we never thought would be ours to accept when considering the quality of acceptance theoretically. Those times our sole solace is the sharing of it, the standing shoulder to shoulder to prop each other up so the winds of unwanted change do not blow us into oblivion.

    Comment by Connie Assadi — February 9, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  2. Connie, what a beautiful response.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — February 9, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  3. Yes, what a beautiful response, and a starkly touching post. Thank you for the threads of compassion through it all.

    Comment by Tiffany — February 9, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  4. Thank you, Maezen, for sharing Rose’s story. I just visited her blog and wished her well. Hopefully our words of encouragement can help lift her soul.

    Comment by Angela DiGiovanni | Living Out Loud — February 9, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  5. I’ve been following Rose and Kenji’s story for a while now and am so glad you have brought it to a wider audience.

    Rose writes exquisitely and opens a window into a world that many of us fear we will visit one day. Having been in Kenji’s position – the patient – it has been a real gift for me to se it from the loved one’s point of view

    Thank you.

    Comment by Christa — February 10, 2011 @ 4:34 am

  6. Transported, by your words and by Rose’s words, to Amsterdam, to the incomprehensibly shattering of Life As It Was. The anguish of caring alone for two very little boys–imagining the consequence to my now three year old son the inexplicable disappearance of his father, now or when he was half this age, and the solitary burdens of wife and mother. Where does the capacity come from–to keep giving and caring for others, to meet the immeasurable & ceaseless needs of one’s children, when suffering such a nightmare?

    Yet she manages to make me chuckle at the preschool mommy scene, the crossing of the line of what is ‘acceptable’. No culture or language barrier there. It is easily imagined.

    I read the first line of your post again and again. I may need to post it on the bathroom mirror and the fridge. For two weeks I’ve had first, vertigo, and now–evidently–a permanent vestibular disorder requiring testing and treatment that will hopefully restore me to ‘normal’. I was feeling oh so sorry for myself. I told my husband–before opening e-mail that is–that I just wanted to turn back the clock to before the morning I woke up with the room spinning.

    It is nothing, nothing at all, and I was pacing that line between then and now, making my life oh so much harder than it is.

    Comment by Laura — February 10, 2011 @ 6:07 am

  7. The power of love is so awesome and it shines through in Rose’s posts about her family and feeds love in all of us. I thank her for that. She is strong.

    A book, At the Will of the Body by Arthur Frank, is one for anyone who is sharing this kind of experience, so for all of us at some time in our lives. I have read it over and over – part meditation on his own experience of illness, part seeking to understand what we can give and what we need in the midst of suffering with cancer and how life must change with the experience, and ultimately about the importance of sharing these stories, as Rose does.

    Comment by Jen — February 10, 2011 @ 7:09 am

  8. I have much to be grateful for – that you’ve brought Rose and Kenji’s story to a wider audience, yes. More than that, I have you to thank because your support of my journey led Rose to me, and me to her. She has been a warm hand on my shoulder over the last months and now I have the chance to stand with her. Thank you.

    Comment by Alana — February 10, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  9. Rose writes so beautifully… thank you for sharing her, Karen. My heart is a different colour today.

    Comment by sweetsalty kate — February 11, 2011 @ 9:29 am

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