Archive for April, 2016|Monthly archive page

Saying Goodbye to Pixelated Friends

In Bards Suck, Guild Wars 2, Small Joys on April 29, 2016 at 11:19 am

For those who are not online gamers this post will probably seem odd and frivolous and perhaps even stupid. You can all leave now, you are excused.

An activity that I have been involved in, slowly, over the course of the last 4 plus months that I have been preparing for my death is to bequeath various small items I own to people I love.  Things of remembrance. I am a sentimental old woman, and  I have a strong memory.   I believe even my sister Denise, who knows me better than anyone, and knew I hoarded a lot of little things from various members of our family down to 3 generations back, is even surprised by the number of things I am pulling out of boxes and the  number of stories I can tell just by going through a box of little things.

There are problems though in the technological age.  Many things that I own are not tangible. They exist in pixelated form and only have value in imaginary worlds.  But they do have value. And because I am an RPG gamer from way back, (I began playing 3rd ED DnD in 1978 ) My characters in the games I play are my most valued possessions. I made them all with great care and each has a back story and reason for everything they wear and own, and over the course of time and playing them, you adventure forth and they each have their own memories of various quests and accomplishments they have achieved.  So leaving your game account to someone is kind of a big deal. The game I play (because I finally made it a rule that I will only have one MMORPG that will be my time sink online) is Guild Wars (Now Guild Wars 2) I have played this game 13 years. Being a hoarder in real life, I am also a hoarder in game. I save everything, and I am especially fond of collecting crafting materials. I finally gave in last week and went in game and gave my guild a few stacks (250 pieces is one stack) of some of my most valuable crafting materials.  I should point out that because I am 59 years old and a woman I am kind of a rare thing in online gaming anyway, but also, I am not a min-maxxer and my game play usually consists of me solo going around killing things and collecting mats and occasional teaming with someone to do a few adventures.  I am not a power gamer, and I have more fun exploring and goofing off than most other things.

For the first month of my illness I did not log on much. In fact before I was diagnosed, it was my deteriorating skills in negotiating my keyboard and my powers and chat in game which clued me in that something very bad was happening to my brain. I had begun to lose the power of language at this time, the ability to type, knowing the alphabet, etc. I would look down at the keyboard, recognize nothing, and just turn off the computer in frustration.  However, once the steroids and the radiation kicked in and got the swelling down, I was once again able to read and write and recognize words and so I set about writing and also communicating with my friends in the only game I play: Guild Wars. And playing my characters and giving them a long last look of goodbye.

This is my ranger, her name is Sage Laurel. I have had her as a character since Guild Wars 1, and my explanation for her having the same name as my main in the original is that she is named for her great great grandmother.

This is my main character I play, Nalora. She is a guardian. I enjoy playing her because she is easy to play solo.


This is Zalez Wyvernspur. She is my warrior. I always give one character my Aunt’s name because I love her name so much.


This is Late Night Snacks, my necromancer.

This is Pinkipii, my engineer.

This is Meepers, my elementalist.

This is Datura Moonflower, my mesmer.

Old friends in make believe lands. There is also the dilemma of leaving my account to someone. They would have to respect my characters and not change or delete them. I know that sounds silly…they are just pixels. Little colored squares. But to gamers who have played the character a long time…years and years they are kind of real to you after a while.

This happened with my avatar too. I gave it to one guy and then heard he was going to change her and I completely freaked out. I had actually originally thought the only person right to own my avatar would be my friend Nina, but I was not sure she even got into the game any more. When I heard she was there, I took my avatar back and gave it to her, because I knew she would just keep her as she was, forever.

This is actually something I have done on the internet for a long time. Kept everything there, never erasing anything. Blogs, journals, social media. I do not delete. I leave it as internet history, for future internet archaeologists. And I only spent one year with an “online name” From the second year on I took my own name: Nalora.  Because like my Aunt Zalez. I kind of like it.



Sometimes the Choice is Not to Fight

In Deep Thoughts, Faith, Real Life on April 20, 2016 at 5:50 pm


January 8, 2016 was the day I got the news I was dying.  Of course everyone is dying. Most people do just do not accept or acknowledge this fact. We are all on our way to the grave. We just get there at different times and in various ways. But we all arrive at this destination eventually. So far, over the course of human history this is the one indisputable fact: Humanity has a 100% mortality rate.

I have always been pretty realistic about death, especially my own, and even to many seemed somewhat morbid with my obsession about it. I made many decisions about my own death while I was still in my 20’s. Pre-paid for my funeral while I was in my 30’s. Had my will in place before I was 40, Talked openly with the people I wanted to be in charge of things once I was incapacitated regarding my advanced directives and continue to discuss those things as the state of my health deteriorates currently.   I believe people who ignore these basic things are foolish. As a nurse I have seen many people die, and it is not pretty when all these things are left undone.  My niece Mysi, since she was 4 years old, (She is 37 now) has known that she will be the one to “take care of me” when I am old. I have no children. I was not sure what marital status I would be in, and in truth it is probably better in my opinion if someone other than a spouse is an executor of end of life matters.  But this blog is not about all that, in fact I may have already covered all this previously, but the cancer also makes my short term memory boggled and I now have a tendency to repeat myself. Some would say this is just old age–so be it.

But what I really wanted to talk about is the reaction of other people to my cancer. There seems to be a prevalent thought that everyone who has cancer is in some noble battle to beat the cancer and live. If you are not clutching white knuckled to every minute of life you can steal back from it, or following every single avenue of treatment then you are somehow failing at the whole “cancer thing”.

I was not given this kind of choice. They could not operate and remove them. There is no chemo that can find and reach them.  They could diminish the swelling and perhaps with full brain radiation reduce a couple of the small ones and give me back some function.  Everything from this point on is palliative.  From the get-go my diagnosis is  FATAL. The median survival is 6 months.  1 year at best.  In other words, most people are dead at 6 months. Some people live for a year.  This is Stage 4 brain cancer with large tumors in my brain growing rapidly. Because I am a Christian, my initial response was somewhat surprising I suppose to those who have not given their lives over to Jesus Christ and trust that God is ultimately in control of everything in one’s life. I was going home. I was closer to the goal that is the goal of all Christians. To meet my Lord and Savior face to face. There was joy in it. I was also called upon to suffer for the Lord. This too, to most would seem a ludicrous thing to see as a blessing but it is not. Jesus suffered for the Love of me. I can now suffer for love of Him, and to him give all the glory. This was a gift.

So my thoughts turned immediately to “How do I wish to die? How can I give this meaning, not only to me, but to others who are now in the unfortunate position of watching me die? My goal is to die with dignity, in the arms of my beloved family. To not prolong their pain and to not cling to life that would ultimately only prolong my own suffering and that of my family and friends.  All decisions I make are based on this goal.  But again, many people, for whatever reasons, do not accept this. They continue to ask questions of me based on THEIR goals or expectations of how I should be treating this. I am daily given some new advice on how I can cure myself. How I can grab a little more time on earth.

This is NOT my goal. That fight is not mine. I want only peace and strength for the fight I am in, which is to die with dignity and peace and to go to heaven. Adding more time is the equivalent of extending my time of suffering, and it is ludicrous to me to spend the short time I have fighting for extra days of suffering. Spending precious days hunting down ways to extend my time has nothing to do with where I am or wish to be.  My most fervent prayer is for it to be soon and let me not linger long.  Let my love for God shine through to others in the end, and let my family be at peace when I am gone.  Knowing what the battle truly is helps. I am not “giving up”, I just know the battle I am in, and accept it.  And…I have my ticket to another and better place. I hope to see you there someday.