Less afraid of death

Ayla, five months old, fell asleep at my breast,
milk trickling down her chin onto me.
At 33, while nursing this new life,
inside me grew the threat of impending death–
a cancer that would wrend my body from my child
.

I didn’t feel less of a woman
when the chemo took my hair,
and the surgery my ovaries –
my fertility death.
Resilience grew, outpacing my tumor.
When I couldn’t give milk, my baby swallowed love.

I hope I’ll become a little less afraid of death,
that my daughters don’t sense their mother’s ultimate worry.
So they learn the strength to cope
with little deaths of all kinds:
dropping an ice cream, losing a game, saying good-bye.

After treatment, I returned to my childhood home.
Within my yellow bedroom walls I dreamed the woman I would become—
fun, strong, larger-than-life mother.
Now I conjure her amidst the nagging fear of death,
fear that saps my energy,
as blood draining from my breast.

Fear is the hardest part of surviving cancer.

In my mother’s kitchen I see pictures of my younger self.
                                                            My eyes settle on three-year old me, in pigtails, bright, brown eyes staring back.
I want to feel how she felt –unafraid.
I turn away from the fridge to give Ayla her spoon, Yael her water.
Silently shifting from child to adult,
aren’t we all just trying to become
a little less afraid of death?

 

 

 

 

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The Cutting of the Cancer Cord

The life of a survivor can be much harder than the life of a patient, at least in my experience. Recently an image came to mind of what this transition feels like.

I thought back to a year ago. I tried to imagine what it was like to have no hair, how it felt to let the water fall on my bald head in the shower, how I used to tie my scarf before walking out the door every morning. I thought back to what it was like to pull down my shirt so the nurses could have access to my port, the blood flow running through my entire body, the vulnerability of that moment every single time.

I thought back to the slow recline in the infusion chair, the nurses talking me through every single aspect of my health from head (dizziness?) to toe (tingling?). Alongside chemotherapy a life force ran through me as a dear friend or family member sat by my side and the oncology staff gave me every ounce of their attention.

And then the image came to mind: an infant in the womb, umbilical chord lying peacefully beside her attached to a placenta, her life force, everything she needs to survive.

Cancer patients experience some degree of infantilization throughout treatment. We are transported back to the helplessness of an infant, our lifeline connected to an infusion machine dripping a toxic amniotic fluid. We lose our sense of control over our bodies. We give our lives over to our doctors and our community holding us up.

Then, as we transition from patient to survivor, there is a pulling away of this life force. The port comes out, dinner no longer on our doorstep (oh, how I miss all those people who would come do our dishes all the time!), and while we might be grateful that the cancer is gone, our infantile needs are not.

It is the cutting of the cancer cord.

People ask me “how am I doing?” My answer:

I am a newborn, growing brand new hair, living in my mother’s house trying to be a grown up when all I really feel like is a child again. In the evening I tell Yael stories of what it was like to grow up in this house, alongside my siblings. While the time feels far away, the feeling doesn’t.

When my daughters cry out, I want to cry right along with them. I envy that release, the permission to let go emotionally whenever they need to. Yael and I shared a moment like this when we were throwing rocks into Lake Tahoe last September.

I am growing up right alongside my daughters, but for me it’s an abrupt transition from infant to grown up. Since I’ve been living at home I’ve wanted the kind of mother I need to be to my young children.

There are moments when it feels as if I cannot do it, like expecting a baby to handle more than she can. However, there are times when I can see a change and suddenly feel like a grown up again.

Like in this moment:

Ian had just left for Spain. It was a Sunday morning, he had just said good-bye, and I could see that Yael was struggling. She was clinging, irritable, pushing her sister around.

I took her by both hands and sat her down so we could be eye-to-eye. I looked into her face, growing up before my eyes, realizing that there is so much she can understand now that she did not understand when I had cancer. Holding her hands in mine, my face up close to hers I said:

“I want you to know that if you feel sad about daddy leaving, I will be here for you.”

And just like that her face lit up, she leaned in for a big hug, and playfully walked away ready to go about her day.

The realization hits home. I need to cut my tie to the cancer cord, to the intricate web of support, the placenta of life that was around me when I was in treatment. I still do not want to let go. It feels easier to be a patient, a baby again, letting other people worry about me, than to be a grown up and a mother.

I can only hope that I have more moments like the one I had with Yael. When I can face the truth: that the one who is going to cut that cancer umbilical cord is not one of my doctors. It is certainly not my mother.

It is me.

 

 

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The words that meant the most

A few friends have reached out to me recently to ask about how to help a friend or family member just diagnosed with cancer. While I did write a previous post on “what not to say to breast cancer patients,” I’ve realized how important it is to write a more positively framed post that empowers people to say or do something meaningful for someone living with cancer.

The question about what to say really should not be directed to me, but to my family and friends who reached deep inside themselves to find their own unique words. They were brave enough to express themselves not knowing what the impact would be. Here are some quotations from the people in my life, those who were close but also those who I had not been in communication with for years. I offer them with gratitude as examples for us all.

I changed my mind about something I said in my previous post. There are perfect words. They are loving, genuine, and thoughtful. They also can be light-hearted, beautifully awkward, and imperfectly perfect. They are always from the heart.

  1. Images of Wellness

“I know this is a mother’s day you will not forget. I now have an image of the gorgeous mother you are and will be on the other side of this experience, waiting patiently for you. She’s reading in bed with Ian. She’s playing at the park with Yael. She’s pulling you toward her with every day you are closer.”

  1. Memory

I was thinking about the times we used to walk to school together to Hillside. You showed me the way through Emily Heyward’s grandmother’s back yard to Sugar Pond. And I remember after school, timidly walking up to the 5th grade hall, where all the big kids were, to meet you and walk home. I used to enjoy walking home with you, my big sister, showing the way. This memory was inspired by your blog post, and the strength and peace of mind that you got from your memories of your 10 year-old self, so I wanted to think of a memory where your old 10 year-old self made me feel at ease.”

  1. Impact

In the song “For Good,” from Wicked, there’s a line: “You’ll be with me like a hand print on my heart.”  That’s how I feel about my mother.  She left a million hand prints on me.  Just like you’re doing to your children.  And I am doing to mine.  None of us know how much time we have.  So all we can do is leave as many hand prints as we can.  And know that those hand prints matter…they shape and guide and teach and form our children and us.  I’m proof of it.  I’m my mother’s daughter, even though she’s been gone for 20 years.

  1. Honoring life

“I will always remember pushing Ayla in the swing at the playground near your house and holding hands with Yael as we walked along the path from the park, stopping to dump sand out of her shoes. Having dinner with Ian pre and post babies. Visiting you when Yael was born, holding her in my arms in the glider where I now hold my son. Seeing precious Ayla for the first time. Hugging you extra tight when I learned you had cancer.”

  1. FUCK!
  1. Creativity

“Every time we say goodbye to something we make room for something else to begin, to return, to flourish. We are mysterious beings with such a variety of ways to enter and exit our communities and our daily interactions. As we are creatures of habit and habitat (as I like to say), there are many aspects of our daily life that become routine, that we often get attached to, leaving us in conflicting emotions around any sort of change. Adina’s surgeon so wisely reminds us, it is recasting the fear into a positive, life-affirming energy, that helps us move forward. Together we will support each other and Adina in exploring new terrain. Living creatively, actively and courageously. Moving forward together.”

  1. Forging Connection

“On the day of your surgery, I plan on writing a letter to my late Mom, Christine, to tell her all about my daughter, Ruby Christine. Even though I think my Mom may know about Ruby and somehow see her spirit, I plan on telling her all of the details about her incredible, 20-month old granddaughter. I will describe Ruby’s skin, her smell; the new words that emerge from her mouth these days, and her loving personality. I will tell her about where I see resemblances between the two of them and the aspects of her personality that make me marvel the most. The process of writing this letter will make me feel closer to my Mom – I can feel it already.

  1. Setting an intention

“I can’t even fathom how challenging your path has been for you this past year. We don’t have heart to hearts very often (want to try to have more?), so I want to take this occasion to just recognize that you are living your life so genuinely, courageously, and just dang beautifully and down to your core. I admire you so much for that.

Sometimes I think that I should express this sentiment more often – in our oft short, chaotic visits, I worry about sounding trivializing or trite if I only get to mention this kind of thing in passing (“there really are no perfect words…”). Anyway, this moment is me tossing aside hesitation and just letting you know that you really truly *kick* *ass* for shouldering what you’ve been through. It’s nothing short of astounding and I love and support you so much.”

  1. No regrets

“If I cannot express my feelings 100% accurate, better I say nothing in case one day I can. But that day of course never comes and then I am 35 years old.   So maybe I do know what this letter is going to be—some form of expression of how I feel about you.”

10. Marking a moment

“Dear Adina: Here we are at this moment in a journey we embarked upon a year ago that none of us would have chosen to make. Here we are in this arc of time together in this intimate way. Three generations of women living together under the roof of the home you grew up in, celebrating you. The house is filled with song and laughter. Happy 35th birthday. And I am filled with joy and gratitude.”

11.  Freedom to let go

“When you feel too tired to fight, let us do the fighting for you.”

12.  Living with love and uncertainty

“We’ve built a good boat, you and I. If only I could, I would sail us away from all of this, from pain and loss, from uncertainty– no, not that. Life must always hold its uncertainty—but from the rest, I would. Instead we will sail through this sea together as ever, and carrying our daughters and our dreams aboard with us.”

 

 

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The inner and outer world of a cancer survivor

Typing in the Dark

The girls have just gone to sleep and I crash down on my bed. Lying on a heating pad in the dark, I hold up my phone and begin to type in the search field:

“S y m p t o m s   o f”

Don’t do it Adina.  Stop typing now.

“m e t a s t a t i c”

Adina, if you go down this road, you will be up all night worrying. 

“b r e a s t   c a n c e r”

You can still stop now.  It’s not too late.

“i n   t h e   s p i n e”

You will be up all night.  You will feel every symptom you read about. You will not know whether you should worry or not.

“Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer in the spine.”

SEARCH.

You idiot!

  • pain
  • tingling
  • numbness
  • trouble urinating

Oh noTossing and turning for most of the night, my mind spirals into the worst-case scenario.

Cancer survivors lead two parallel lives: the brave face we present to everyone on the outside, and the inner spin we experience under the surface, in the quiet of night, alone with our thoughts, paralyzed by a sense of our own mortality. We have our hair and eyebrows back, but we are learning how to move on, to be ourselves, to appear normal even though we cope with intractable fear. As I approach my first cancerversary, one year since diagnosis, I try to find my footing in my life as a survivor.  In my best moments I’m living freely, in the present, patiently appreciating Yael’s ten-minute pajama process.  In my worst moments, I put my children in front of the TV so I can research what it feels like to have metastatic breast cancer in the spine.

The Backstory

For two months I have experienced lower back pain that seemed to start from wearing a pair of heeled boots, exacerbated by a cross-country move and from picking up increasingly heavy children throughout the day.  Pain, which used to be something I tolerated well, something I would brush off as nothing for 35 years, now signals a potential warning.  After consulting my new East Coast oncologist, equally as cautious as my West Coast one, but with a more conventional wardrobe (read: no fishnet stockings), she says: “I think this is an injury, but I want to do some imaging to make sure.”

The morning of the MRI I get the girls ready for their day, struggling to focus on the parenting tasks at hand.

Outside: To any passer-by I am just a young mother with a cute pixie hair cut driving my toddler to pre-school.  I stop at the red light, feeling the weight of already being up for four hours with young children.

InsideI feel the weight of fear. Fear that the next time it won’t be the boots that cause the pain, but metastatic breast cancer.  I imagine reading the MRI technician’s facial expression while she looks at my MRI.  Haunting memories of my biopsy come flashing back.  The technician foretold the story when she said: “I will be thinking of you.”

After I get home, I send off a work email.

Outside: I just had lunch and now am typing up “next steps from our meeting.”

Inside: I just lay my head down in the cave of an MRI. The idea of cancer in my spine is mind-numbingly terrifying. I fell asleep from sleep deprivation amidst the battle clatter of a massive, godlike machine that seems to dictate my fate.

After getting the “clear of cancer-no mets” verbal from a very well-connected doctor friend one hour post-MRI, my father and I celebrate in a french café on the upper east side.  I remember when I called my dad a year ago to tell him I had cancer.  Before getting off the phone he said: “I’ll be with you every step of the way.” How I wish this could be our last step.

How can I even be the same person now that I was two hours ago?  Two hours ago I was planning my death.  Now I am back to planning my 35th birthday.

 Letting Go

The next day I go to a yoga class.  My back pain is completely gone, which makes me realize how the psychological turmoil affects my mind and body alike. After each clear scan I mark the time by renewing my health and trying to find my balance again.

Outside: I raise my arms for the first salutation, in step with all the other women in the room.

Inside: I am vulnerable, worrying about revealing the scar under my right arm.

The image of me scrolling through the symptoms list comes to mind. Deep breath in. 

I’m so terrified of what I cannot control.  Deep breath out.

What if I cannot hold it together?  Deep breath in.

How do people live in peace alongside life and death? Deep breath out.

I swan dive down and let my head hang low, the gravity, the weight of the world pulling me toward the earth.  I let all fall to the floor, down my legs and toward feet that now, after bouts of neuropathy, have sensation.

And then I look up at the woman in the mirror to greet her.

Every moment is the chance to start again, to let go of fear, and to live.

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Motherhood and Memory

Everyone should have a mother for a long time.  Tonight, after coming home from work and hugging both my girls, I leaned into my own mother and let her hold me up.  Even after everything I’ve been through, part of me still feels safe from any danger when I’m in my mother’s arms.

I just celebrated my dear friend Rachel’s 35th birthday, alongside her closest friends.  One of them is an old, special friend, Maureen, who like Rachel, lost her young mother to cancer.  Maureen came to dinner ready with a series of birthday questions for Rachel, one of which was “What is your birth story?”  Rachel shared the story, which was told by her mother many times when she was alive, but also in great detail in a journal she wrote in her last years.  We were all moved hearing Rachel speak her mother’s memory.

Many women affected by my blog are not actually cancer survivors, but those who lost their mothers too soon to a terminal illness.  I hope that my writing opens a window into what their own mothers might have thought, felt, and possibly kept from them.  The truths I speak, however painful, might bring them closer to their mother, to what their mother experienced, and ultimately help them move through and survive their own fears of death.  I am more connected to those women now and wrote about it in a previous post called “Look for Signs of Me.”

It is with them, all of you, and my daughters in mind that I share these thoughts with you today.

As a mother who has survived cancer, I wish I could say now that I revel in every mothering moment, that every time I look at my children I thank my lucky stars that I am alive and able to be there for them. But just like any other parent, I have moments when I want to shut down, escape, or crawl into bed with the covers over my head.  I try not to feel too guilty about this.  I often tell myself that it is good that I am able to get frustrated with parenthood – it means I am healthy and able to take all the good stuff for granted.

On the other hand, I have moments that most mothers do not have.  Every time I look at Ayla walking, who is now 15 months old, I am in complete awe and gratitude that I lived to see this milestone.  I am also a little angry. This is supposed to be a time when I only think of beginnings.  As she takes her wobbly steps, arms up, beaming a proud smile, it reminds me that I am not only a mother who had cancer, I am such an incredibly young mother who had cancer.  There is so much more I am supposed to see without having to worry about whether or not I will live long enough to see it.

I recently disclosed a dark thought to my mother, one that has been plaguing me for a while.  I told her that if the cancer is going to come back and kill me, I hope that it happens soon, before my daughters really get to know me, remember me, and lose me.   I immediately regretted saying this to anyone, especially her, but through her tears she reassured me:

“No, Adina.  That is not true.  Not at all true.  Their lives would be so much richer for their memories of you.”

I was grateful that my mom did not give me a “don’t worry, honey, you will be fine” response because just like the radiation monster, you cannot tell people that their fears and worries are not real.  You only can help them cope and see their fears in a new light.

I knew my mother was right.  I thought of all of my friends who have lost their beautiful, loving mothers and how not one of them would trade anything for the memories they have.  Those memories hold them up every single day, just as my mother held me up tonight.

So here is a memory for Yael.  Someday she will read this and while I know life is uncertain, I am going to bet on being alive to share it with her.

It starts out as a tough parenting moment, that time of night when we stare at the clock and daydream about our children going to bed on their own.

We have just moved across the country and are staying with our close friends in Boston.  The move has been particularly hard on Yael. She misses her bed, her friends, the only world she has known. The end of the day is often the toughest – she is tired, testing us at every step, and emotionally on edge.

After tripping through every wrong parenting move possible, I finally pull Yael into the bathroom to brush her teeth.  As I squeeze her toothpaste out with one hand, the other holding up her limp body, she starts to cry. Something about her cry sounds desperate.  I get down on my knees and get close to her.

“I want to go home,” she says.  She is no longer a toddler trying to get her way out of bedtime.  Her tears look grown up.  I know that she expresses herself honestly.  I know it is right to stop pushing her to do the next thing.  So there we are on the bathroom floor of our friend’s house.  Yael sits in my lap with my arms wrapped around her tiny body.

I hold her. I tell her that I will be there for her.  But I am also at a loss for words. Her sadness penetrates my being in loud, crashing waves on my heart.  I know that she echoes something I’ve felt now for awhile—that even though I will live in the house I grew up in from birth to college, that even though I will have my own mother every day, I will never be able to go back home either.

In this moment I am profoundly aware that there is nobody else who can comfort her like her mother.  Just me.  I feel alive in my body, my blood moves, the warmth emanating from my skin to hers.  I think about all the times she will break down in the bathroom and need her mother to hold her.  I hope I will be there every. single. time. until I am old, old, old, but even if I miss one time or a few, this memory is there for her to remember how it feels.

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I am in Love with my Editor

Right before my first chemo infusion Ian sat at the end of my hospital bed, out of nurses’ way, as they kept adding different pre-medications to my IV. Both our jaws dropped when we saw the bags of chemotherapy drugs. The first one would be slow-pushed through what looked like a giant version of the medicine dropper we use to give our children amoxicillin.

“Weapons of mass destruction,” I said to him, looking at his wide eyes as he was taking this all in.  “Ian, I cannot imagine what this must be like for you. I would be so terrified if I had to watch you get these crazy-ass drugs injected into your body right now.”

 His response surprised me: 

“As difficult as this is, as much as I wish you didn’t have to be going through cancer treatment, I feel like my life will be richer—both our lives more meaningful—for having experienced this. I think it will make me a better person.”

I had my computer with me that day and had been typing up my thoughts, already trying to capture all my swirling emotions.  I glanced at the computer on the bed and asked a question I would ask many, many more times over the next eight months: “Will you read my blog post before I publish it?”

Without a word Ian grabbed the laptop and started reading, highlighting, deleting, moving paragraphs, adding phrases.  

“Stop!  How could you delete that sentence?  It describes something important.”

He looked up from the silver MacBook.  “Because it had nothing to do with this post.  That sentence belongs in a whole different post.”

Hmph.  He was right.  “But can’t you at least react emotionally to that sentence?  How could you just delete it without telling me how it affected you?”

He looks up again from the screen, this time with frustration because he was already figuring out a much better transition to the next paragraph.  “If you want me to be your editor, then I will be your editor. I cannot be both your editor and your reader.”

Many months later, right after we found out I was in remission, I sat Ian down next to me, held his hand, and said: “You need to go to Spain after I finish treatment, by yourself.   Your life has been on hold for me this past year.  I want it to move forward.”  Ian, my loving husband and unbiased editor, a man who has always worn many hats (literally and figuratively) in his life will leave for Spain in a few days, flying solo, to conduct the research for his PhD in music.  We were all supposed to go with him, but my breast cancer threw a wrench in our plans.

I often make jokes about how lucky he is to get a break from the daily parenting grind.  How many parents of young children get to enjoy tapas and siestas in Spain?  But Ian’s face falls when I make these remarks.  I have come to realize there is a lot I don’t understand about what he experienced since the night I first announced the lump’s presence to him. 

For months he watched his wife, the mother of his children, endure cancer treatment.   I can only imagine what it must have felt like every Monday when I closed the door on him and the girls to spend the day at the cancer center.  One day I remember him saying, “Good-bye mommy.  Go get your life-saving drugs.” 

He never asked for a break from the early mornings and long hours of walking Ayla up and down the stairs.  He doesn’t want a break from teaching Spanish to Yael and getting his girls dressed every morning in mismatching outfits.  The connection he forged with his two little girls while I was waiting in hospitals and doctors’ offices is beyond my reach.  He’s worked for several years to make this trip happen, but he will terribly miss his family.

So there had to be a post about Ian, the father home with his two little daughters, the husband nursing physical and emotional wounds from cancer, and my steadfast editor.

See you soon, my love.  Thank you for taking care of us.

 

[note from the editor: Am I allowed to edit this one?]

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The Parting of the Cancer Sea

On February 28th I sat at my computer trying to concentrate.  Twenty-four more hours to wait for my biopsy results.  My life at a crossroads.  It was late afternoon, right before the girls would come home. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I returned I had a voice mail on my phone from an unknown number.  Could it be my doctor with the news already?  I listened to the message. In an exasperated voice, losing her breath, she announced: “Adina, we need to talk.  You have breast cancer.”

My hand trembled as I wrote down a name and number—I was going to need an oncologist.

Reflecting on that moment eight months ago, I want to reach out to the old me sitting alone at my desk, alone in my apartment.  The palpable absence of her children. The silence filling the empty high chair. The toys lying motionless in the middle of the floor.  The baby blankets folded in cribs without babies. How she kept repeating the word “cancer,” over and over in her mind.  Impossible to feel the gravity of what this would mean for her life.  No one to console her. At least in that moment, she—I—felt utterly alone.

Today is my last day of radiation, the end of my cancer treatment. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that we are still the same person—the woman at her desk seems almost a stranger to me, but I wish I could take care of her now that I have the wisdom to help her.

I look down at the patient bracelet on my wrist. Throughout chemo, surgery, now radiation, I’ve worn dozens of these bracelets. I even came to like them.  They are markers of this experience that are not permanent.  I enjoyed cutting them off.  Sometimes I mutilated them before throwing them away.

Lately I haven’t wanted to take the bracelets off.  Radiation brought a new patient bracelet every day, five days a week.  In these final days of treatment, I catch myself still wearing it on my drive home.  Later in the day, working at the same desk where I was diagnosed, I keep it on. I feel comfort seeing and feeling it there.

As much as I want to let go of being a patient, I can’t help but want to hold on the identity I have forged these last eight months.   It’s going to take time to adjust to not having cancer. With every tiny twinge of pain in my body I panic: “It’s the cancer.  It’s back!” That is why I wear these ridiculous plastic bracelets all day, reminding me that I am in treatment.  I constantly have a team of experts watching over me.  I can’t just cut the bracelets off any more than I can move on from who I’ve become.

As my treatment comes to a close, I want to feel more excited, proud, relieved, but most of the time I just feel sad about what my family, friends, and I have had to endure.

It is not only through the eyes of those closest to me, but through a stranger’s perspective that allows me to feel the weight of what I’ve experienced. I used to see one of my neighbors, a young mother with three children, on my daily walk with Ayla. I never spoke to her about my illness.  We would always exchange that all-knowing look of understanding that bonds all mothers.  Recently, we finally connected at a neighborhood gathering. She told me about how one day she saw me, with hair, walking with Ayla, and the next time saw me I was wearing a scarf.   Seeing it through her eyes, somehow the pain of that sudden switch feels more tangible—the abrupt transition from healthy to sick.  It is at the end of all of this that I can finally grasp the trauma of the beginning.  I found one of my old hairs recently and I cried harder and longer than I did when it fell out.  I just now mourn the loss of breastfeeding and have flashbacks of pumping breast milk with blood after my biopsy.

But similar to other moments when I’ve been stuck, there is one little lady who always seems to move me forward. I lay in my bed with Yael one recent, early afternoon.  She had asked me if she could take her nap with me in my bed.  Normally I turn down this request, but I wanted her to stay.  She fell asleep next to me and I listened to her breathe.  Full of life, sound asleep, she lay there in our giant bed, wrapped in the blue dress Ian brought her back from Morocco.  It was the opposite feeling of the day of diagnosis, when I had so felt her absence.  Now I, her mother, the one who gave her life, felt like she was literally breathing new life back into me.

And so, with her help and all of yours, my readers, I take a leap of faith into a new era of my life. I’m ready. I walk through a maze of corridors to finally exit the building with the scary radiation monster.  I walk with my usual stride—hips swaying, lost in thought, never completely sure of where I am going.  The bracelet feels different, now just a piece of plastic, and I suddenly want it gone.  I turn the corner and see the doors of the hospital ahead of me.  I spot a trashcan near the exit.  When I get there I take a minute.  Pause.  Close my eyes.  Take the bracelet off.  Hold it in my hand.  I feel something rising within me, creating a new path between the the past and the future.

And then, just as Moses lifted his arm to part the Red Sea, I chuck that sucker right in the trash, and bust open the door to the world that awaits me.

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