Deborah Armenti

Mike Bowler

August 19, 1992|By Mike Bowler

DEBORAH Armenti wrote twice on this page about her impending death.

On May 22, 1991, she had just discovered she had cancer. "But I can't have cancer!" she wrote. "I'm only 35. I have two young children and a husband who needs me. I need me. I have a life! . . .

"And behind all the denials is guilt. I smoked cigarettes for 20 years. I don't exercise. I eat meat and eggs and refined sugar and flour. I use chemicals to clean my house and manage my garden. It's my fault. I'm 35. I'm going to die, and it's my fault."

By last April 9, Ms. Armenti was resigned. "Something," she wrote, "maybe the love of friends or God's grace, gives me the strength to endure these last days peacefully. I see an end to my pain, but those who love me will continue to hurt after I am gone. It hurts me now to think of the pain they will continue to feel.

"I've quit wondering why so many people love me. I know I'm just an ordinary woman, but the world is made up of ordinary people, and we cleave to each other. What's so wonderful or tragic is how intimately connected our lives are. There are so many who do love me that I feel quite enveloped in affection. For this I am thankful.

"People don't write very much about dying. There are far more books about fighting cancer or living with cancer than there are about dying from cancer. . . Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is another day."

Ms. Armenti's essays were carried by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service and elicited sympathetic letters and telephone calls from around the country.

She died Monday at Stella Maris Hospice, leaving her husband, Robert, and two children.

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