There should be a word
for the feeling you get
when bad news sucker punches you in the gut;
taking your breath with it,
leaving you winded and speechless.
Not the sharp blade cutting through skin,
but a fist leaving you battered and bruised.
Yet somehow you must regain your composure,
quietly show your support;
provide kind words that will soothe and comfort,
a balm against the bad days.
Three times this week I learned of the illnesses of others.
(Tragedies always come grouped in sets of three it seems–
those kettle-stirring hags come to life.)
One instance was a disease that had spread.
One was an illness that had worsened in a friend’s mother.
One was a cancer that had reawakened,
like a beast that would no longer be kept at bay.
Somehow it had returned
and the world for my friends will revert
to the life they knew before~
the tests, the treatments, the hopes and fears.
I stop and think of all
they have experienced in the years in between.
The children that have been born
who have brought with them
(as new babies always do)
the hope for the future.
But what will life be like if their grandfather
is no longer among the living,
or if a grandmother isn’t around
to let them stay up late;
or allow them to have cocoa and popcorn
in front of the television.
My friend spoke of her mom this week
and of her diagnosis in January.
Of low white counts and
all the measures they were taking to keep her well.
Isolation and phones wiped down.
There was less contact with her granddaughter–
a giggleless existence
A conscious decision
and one that was difficult to make.
But they all thought is was for the best.
I wish I could offer something.
I wish that Scooby-doo band aids, ginger ale and
chicken soup would do the trick.
That getting a good night’s sleep would
make everything seem brighter in the morning.
All I can offer is support.
Meals that could soothe and comfort,
but no magic pill to cure it all.
I wonder how there can be so much illness,
so much sadness in the world
I wonder how these cells become dangerous.
How your body can quietly betray you.
How “malignant” and “malingers”
echo each other.
Neither is wanted or desired.
We all want to be safe and warm,
loved and celebrated,
free from worry and despair.
Yet these tragedies befall us all.
Everyone we see carries with them secrets–
both good and bad.
We can’t allow them to dictate how we live our lives
or be defined by our illnesses, disabilities or diseases.
Instead we look for ways
to let our desires and wishes
take hold and grow.
May they flourish in the face of adversity.