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Passing On

by Christianne Kotoff about a month ago in family

Loo Loo's Journey

“Hey there Loo Loo, what are you reading so intensely over there?” Said the exuberant receptionist at the chemo unit of the General Hospital.

“My obituary,” I said in a casual tone to catch her off guard in hopes to get her to stop smiling so much. She did exactly that; she stopped smiling and looked away as if she had just asked nothing at all. I continued to try and conceptualize my first draft of myself-written obituary as I waited to be called in to see if pumping my body full of these chemicals has given me another month or so to live.

Rose Loo Loo Allen, born December 15th, 1984, has died from cancer . . .

Not to start this story off on a dark note but just so you know, I am going to die. That is why I thought I should take on the task of writing about my own life.

“Loo Loo. We’re ready for you.”

I recall walking down this hall after my first chemo session just about four years ago, and I remembered how frightened I was. I also recall walking down these halls when I found out that my cancer had gone into remission a year later. I suppose you tend to lose all kinds of natural human instincts and ambitions when it has become your third time fighting the same fight. I already know the chemo didn’t take this time. After a few years of experience I guess I developed a sixth sense for this. Doctor Hughes doesn’t know yet that, I actually have news for him. I have already decided that this would be my last fight.

“Hi Loo Loo, good to see you. Please, take a seat.”

I always thought Doctor Hughes was an attractive man, a very Gerard Butler type. I gave up on men though, a couple of years ago. Being sick isn’t exactly a desirable quality on those useless dating apps. I see Dr. Hughes tapping his finger over his mouth, he usually does that as he tries to muster up the first words of bad news.

“Loo Loo, I know you don’t like me to sugar coat anything, so I am just going to tell you straight that the chemo didn’t work this time. However, there are other treatments we haven’t tried. We usually do not offer these treatments until it’s . . . “

“Fatal,” I said. It’s funny how Doctor Hughes and I have developed a relationship where we can complete each other's sentences.

“Yes, but Loo Loo there still is hope. Although, I must tell you these treatments are very new and we don’t have any results to compare studies to just yet, and so, in this case, it would be more . . . “


Doctor Hughes, do you know the life expectancy of a Barn Owl? Well, they typically live about five years. I have been sick on and off now for about what‘d you say… five years, right?... Right, and so with that, I realized I have been chasing my prey of life all these years. And to be completely honest I thank you for all that you have done and I mean no offense to you or any of your staff but, I don’t I want to ever see you or anyone from this office ever again!”

I walked out of his office feeling like I finally did something for myself for the first time in my life. I finally knew what it was like to let go. I have been through a few breakups over my short years, and my heart always seemed to hold on to them. I never wanted the relationships to end but they always did. Now here I am telling this beautiful doctor man that I didn’t want to see him anymore. It was all so ironically liberating. I didn’t know where else to go. I only had my career and that ended a year ago, and I pretty much raised myself since I was 15 after bouncing around from foster home to foster home. I only had one family member and he wasn’t my real family. He was the father of one of my many foster mothers, nonetheless, he was my grandfather, I called him Papa Chi. It always warmed my heart to see him. Even though I would go from home to home he would still come to visit me wherever I was and we would walk to our tree just past the koi pond in Golden Gate Park.

It became our tree because one day when we were walking through the park I spotted a feather under a huge oak tree which became our spot to sit and he told me stories of the different and many tribes of native people who walked this land North and South, East and West.

I remember the astonishing perfection of that feather. I was so amazed that something so clean and white could perfectly lay there in the dark dirt and bark covered with shade from the long thick branches. I remember asking Papa Chi if that feather fell off of an angel. He smiled with such delight as he looked into my eyes. His eyes widened and filled with what I can only recall was the only time I ever witnessed true happiness in my life.

He explained to me that the birds above are like angels and that they all have a purpose just like we all do. He told me that whenever a bird would drop a feather it was a message, a gift from the spirits that have passed. He said every bird carries a different meaning therefore, so does every feather. I asked him what bird the feather I had found was from and what might the message be. He told me it was an owl, a barn owl to be more precise. He told me how magnificent they were. And that the message was, that no matter how dark it may seem there is always a bit of light to guide you home. Although, I didn’t truly understand that because I never really had a home. Papa Chi passed away about 6 months after that. When he passed I left that feather with him in the coffin when no one was looking. I realized he was my home.

As I left the hospital I thought I should call a friend or someone to be with me as Doctor Hughes had recommended just before I left. The truth is that I have indirectly ended my friendships a few months ago. I suppose I just didn’t want anyone to remember me this way. It has gotten lonely but for whatever reason, I don’t feel lonely at all anymore especially not at this moment. In-fact I feel the best I have felt in a long time. The wind could just blow me away and I would allow my body to dance with the debris.

The wind did take me away. I found myself under that very oak tree. I decided to give my obituary another pass at my pen.

Rose Loo Loo Allen, born December 15th, 1984, died today, _____, ______, from complications of life and a broken heart. There will be no viewing, and there will be no official ceremony. The location is at Golden Gate Park just past the koi pond under the big oak tree. She welcomes anyone to come and to sit under the branches of that tree and to say a word or tell a story, any story of any journey. This particular spot is where she would come as a young orphaned girl with her surrogate Grandfather to listen to the many stories about the many journeys of the men and women who suffered and rejoiced right here on this land. Come at any time and any day. Bring a friend, bring a loved one, bring your child. Sit and live, listen, and recite, remember and cherish each moment under that tree. It is love, it is light that exists right there. Remember it as long as it shall stand. Aho.

After I wrote my last words. I noticed a shadow pass by. I thought of Papa Chi, and as I looked up there landed the bright beautiful barn owl. Upon its landing, a feather dropped down over me. White, perfect, and clean just like I remembered. I felt at home again, I closed my eyes to endure the unique feeling of joy. Then before I knew it I took flight with the owl and I was dancing in the winds. I looked over to my guide, the magnificent owl I cherished all these years, and his eyes widened in a way so familiar to me, and I knew Papa Chi was soaring right there with me.

Christianne Kotoff
Christianne Kotoff
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Christianne Kotoff

Perhaps, I am living my story or perhaps I am composing it.

See all posts by Christianne Kotoff

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