Drusilla Campbell, 1940-2014

Drusilla’s Death


(Written by Art on 27 October 2014)


At 3 a.m. on 24 October 2014 Dru peacefully stopped breathing. According to her wishes, she expired at Crickety (her home), without pain, dying in my arms, with her son Rocky beside her. My last words to her were, “I love you, but you must feel free to let go of your riddled body. Wherever you go, I’ll find you.” Also as she wished, I bathed and dressed her body before consigning it for cremation. When her body was carried from Crickety she had one arm curled around her first doll and the other embraced a childhood toy koala. God be with you, my Timeless Bride and Queen of Joy.

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(Written by Dru 1998, reviewed by Dru Sept 16, 2014, and discovered by Art, October 20th, 2014)


For you my dearest ones in the world, those with whom I hope to spend many more lifetimes, I want you to know what I am most grateful for at this moment, now, as I sit writing this with tears streaming down my face. That way, when I am dying you will know that I have loved my life and learned from it.


I am grateful…


— That I got to have a marriage to my soul mate.

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Bad News

(Dictated By Dru to Art on Oct. 11)


What do you do when the news is bad? You’re having a day that began in a fairly normal way: Juice, pills, cottage cheese. Then you get into a car and are driven to see your oncologist. Somehow you felt the bad news was coming. It was the prickle of hairs on the back of your neck, a tightness of breathing that you can’t explain. The news is only slightly less difficult to hear when it’s from your favorite doctor.

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Urgent Care

(Dictated by Dru to Art on Oct. 4)


Where am I now at 9 p.m.? In urgent care. Again. Last week it was for a bunch of blood clots that had migrated from my swollen left leg to my heart and lungs. This time it was for acute shortness of breath plus a pulse of 130 beats per minute.

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(Dictated by Dru to Art Oct. 2, 2014)


The other day Art handed me a story about a homeless man called Wilbur who had died of cancer, sitting in a thrown-away chair.  He got no memorial, no headstone, just a pauper’s grave.  He hadn’t died like that because of being a drunk or a crook or mean-spirited; he’d been a sober, honest, friendly guy.  His closest friend said, “He died that way because he’d never married or had children– and kin was how a man like Wilbur made it through the final years of his life.”


The image of Wilbur dying alone with no one at his side is one that will stay with me for a long time.

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Reading, Writing, Observing

(Dictated by Dru to Art)


When I was five my mother, three-year-old brother, and I sailed from New York to Melbourne on the Merchant Marine Freighter, S.S. Rattler. This was the first U.S. ship to go through the Panama Canal and across the South Pacific after the Second World War. My Australian grandfather, who was at the time an executive working for British United Shoe Machinery, had secured passage for the three of us while my dad finished out his Navy stint in Australia. We’d be gone six months.


The Rattler sailed out of New York Harbor on a foggy night. The Statue of Liberty loomed off to one side but became partially obscured by another ship, plowing toward the sea. Passengers were lined up on its deck, waving. We watched as it maneuvered behind us, its outlines growing dimmer in the swirling fog.

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(Dictated by Dru to Art)


I remember a song from the Eighth Grade Music Book: “Over the river and through the woods/ To grandmother’s house we go/ The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh….”


Yesterday– Sunday– wasn’t quite like that. No snow or horse or sleigh, and what passed for woods were acres of desiccated chaparral north of San Diego. We were in the midst of a hellish heat wave, over a week of century-plus record temperatures, and no relief in sight. In town the Chargers were beginning to lay waste to the Seahawks and the temp on the field was around one-hundred-eighteen degrees.

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My Second Fear

(Dictated by Dru to Art)


Everyone suffers cancer differently. I have no idea if my experience is typical, but it doesn’t really matter. I promised in this blog to tell the truth, and today my truth is about two fears that torment me.


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The Most Important People

(Dictated by Dru to Art)


The most important people in a hospital get the least attention. The custodial staff mops up our vomit, our shit, and our piss and learns to hold their gag reflex at the worst smells imaginable. This is a cancer blog; now’s the time to be honest. I don’t know how much they’re paid— probably a lot less than they’re worth. Honestly, would you give up the services of the woman who cleans the toilets for the opportunity to do it yourself?
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The Chemo Lab

(Dictated by Dru to Art)


In one way the chemo clinic at Scripps Green Cancer Center is like Ruth’s Chris steakhouse downtown on San Diego’s marina: There’s not a bad table in the house. Everyone’s gets a view of either the Torrey Pines Golf Course, groves of Torrey Pines, or the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes one glimpses a hang-glider, like a red or yellow petal cast in the breeze. Of course, there are some differences: recliners and gurney-style beds, not tables; no steaks with slathered mash potatoes; the help wears cute scrubs, not crisp tuxedo shirts. But each nurse and aide at Green would beat out the wait-staff at Chris for my tips any day.
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