In the Cold Stillness

The doctor smiles–

He doesn’t have a needle in his vein.

I take a long breath;

A heartbeat and then it comes out again.

The nurses chuckle

As they talk amongst themselves in the hall.

Their hands are steady,

Unlike mine that shake like trees in a storm.

We leave the doctor,

And he tells Mama he’ll call when there’s news.

His face makes me sick;

I release my disgust in his trash bin.

Cara talks softly;

She’s afraid of this and what it all means.

I swallow my tears;

I am just as scared, if not more, than she.

Life goes right along,

But there is apprehension in my gut.

Something is so wrong,

But I have absolutely no clue what.

The call came today;

Mama is crying in her bedroom now.

I tremble and wait,

But I think I already know the truth.

When Mama tells me,

I don’t cry or scream or fall to pieces.

I give her a hug,

And go sit on the swing on our front porch.

The word frightens me;

Cancer used to be someone else’s mess.

Now that mess is mine,

A mess that I have to face on my own.

Cara finds me soon,

And puts a shaky hand on my shoulder.

Her breath fogs the air

As she sits with me in the cold stillness.

We count cars that pass,

Like we did when we were little and bored.

Soon we are laughing,

Like cancer hasn’t invaded our lives.

Months pass by slowly,

Filled with doctor’s appointments and waiting.

Winter melts away,

And cheery, golden Springtime is brought forth.

Cancer claims my hair;

I stare in the mirror at a blanch face.

I’ve become fragile,

Merely a reflection of my past self.

The kids at school stare,

And my friends become more and more distant.

They have lives to live,

And they just can’t be bothered to see me.

My shelves grow dusty,

My vision seems dirty and dim these days.

Life is tinted gray;

My breath is a painful jolt in the side.

They say I have months–

Three lousy months to live out all my dreams.

But dreams are hopeless

When you have nothing left to dream about.

I lie on my bed,

With my arm drooped over my eyes sadly.

I am in the dark,

With the white light of Death awaiting me.

Cara is knocking;

I ignore her and lie here silently.

At last she comes in,

Sits on the edge of my bed and smiles.

She has brought a pad,

And asks me to write down my bucketlist.

She smiles through tears

As she reads my final wishes and hopes.

They were my secrets,

But there will be no use for secrets now.

And what is my life,

But a tangle of riddles and what-ifs?

I might have grown old,

Fallen deep in love, had my heart broken.

Cancer has crushed me;

Now I lay here, shattered, like a mirror.

The door creaks open,

The floorboards groan and soft footsteps follow.

It’s a lanky boy

With a white bald head and eyes like marble.

He sits on my bed,

Telling me that his name is Christopher.

So I shake his hand,

Shocked and delighted by the company.

He comes back each day,

With a genuine smile and kind words.

And for a moment,

I forget my damn expiration date.

My lights all flicker,

Every single day they try to burn out.

But I won’t let them!

I will continue fighting and fighting.

Cancer is my mess–

But it’s a weight they will help me carry.

I will keep this up,

Until oblivion dares to claim me.


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