Saturday, June 28, 2014


I've been making a ring as a gift for someone who has been such an important part of Ivaan's and my life.  I've learned a lot from her.  When someone you love is dying, it's hard not to fixate on the impending death, trying to protect them from pain and fear, trying to distract them from what is inevitable, trying to soothe them and make them comfortable - and, in doing so, insulating them and making their life become smaller and smaller.

It's really only in retrospect that I've come to realize that the braver, kinder way is to help them have a bigger and bigger life.  I don't mean the "bucket list" sort of life, where you're helping them tick off items on a list of external achievements: hiking to Machu Picchu, swimming with dolphins, winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I mean a life that is not defined by physical, medical or mental limitations, where one's biggest fear does not involve being too cold, or hungry, or tired, or having one's prescription run out.  I mean a life where there is hope, an opportunity and a reason to dream.

I'm making this ring for someone who for eight years inspired Ivaan to recover from each stroke, to live large, to plan the impossible by envisioning a recovery that was his if only he would reach for it - by telling him with the full authority of medical expertise that the impossible was indeed possible, and that it lay within his grasp.

I'm proud to have been able to keep Ivaan feeling safe, comfortable, loved, protected and fed, but I'm even prouder to know that someone else was inspiring him to live the fullest, most satisfying, bravest life, to face hardships, to surmount obstacles, and to continue to contribute to the lives of the people he loved, mine especially, until his last day on earth.

Cheryl, I hope this ring reminds you of Ivaan, because it reminds me of the two of you.
(c) 2008 Estate of Ivaan Kotulsky

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