Cancer journey co-pilot's log 9.15.23. At 6:36 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, Kara Picante Muir died with her No. 1 Hussy, her surrogate mom, and her co-pilot at her bedside. After slamming six shots of coconut water, telling me which minimal pain pills she wanted, and going to sleep, she eased into the final stage as if she had written the playbook on how to leave the body. She needed no permission, no special music, no encouragement of release. Not that there is anything wrong with these expedients, but they were not her way.
Kara once wrote in this blog ("Well, I guess that was an adventure..." Feb. 25, 2021), "I am just doing all the things until I determine that I am done." After trying everything she could think of to feel better for twelve straight weeks, including little to no pain medication (yes, you read that right), she had finally determined she was done. She could still pop pills, swallow, talk smack at her flight crew, and on her own insistence chug water from her 64-ounce "Kara Picante" thermos despite having lost all the muscle in her arms, but her body was shutting down and she facilitated it as soon as I sat by her side, panicking in a very un-co-pilot-like manner. Some people wish to die when their loved ones are away. Kara waited for three of her teammates to return to her bedside. Then in three minutes or less, she was gone.
As her co-pilot on a journey no one wants to face, I have loved every moment we have had together. In every pain, grief, anguish, terror, in every body fluid that can leak from a malignant wound, in every failure and every achievement, in every kiss and every argument, I have learned more about myself and about the indomitability of the human spirit than I would have ever known without living on the edge with my wife all the time. While I was rolling her over for nursing on one of her final days, out of nowhere, Kara said to me, "Without you, I would have been more lonely." And I feel that way about her, too, But more importantly, as far as this blog is concerned, this is also how she felt about all of you who have followed her adventures since she got the worst phone call of her life over four years ago.
You have helped Kara shine, and hopefully she has ignited a spark in you, too, as she wanted from the beginning.
Until next time.
--Charles Austin Muir