Look at this photo. Commit it to memory its colors, lights, empty spaces; my kaki’s body – 12 chemos, 5 operations and 4 organs lighter – walking itself out of a hospital, 48 hours after a mastectomy, carrying a bag of blood attached to her. Walking the walk that began 7 years ago, when they took her knee. Right. When they came for a part of the left breast, as if preparing her for the loss of the right. After loosing the hair she prided, the hair he adored, the nails he jinxed by calling them beautiful for 20 years.
While walking she never asked frivolous ‘why’s, just the ‘how’s. She never said no. She walked out of each hospital, sooner than expected, eager daughter-wards. Towards a job, a kitchen and a floor plan of a house to be; with whatever ingredients were left in her basket, always, somehow, ignoring the spilled milk.
Carry this associate – to the bed too hard to get out of, the scars on your wrist/thigh you are made to feel ashamed of, through the pain that feels too heavy and complicated to understand or bear – as a reminder that you will get by. That there will be moments of laughter – in hospitals, at funerals of all places – no matter how evasive they seem right now.
But, consciously, voluntarily : Do not use this story to romanticize valor at avoidable wars. Or with wars fought for reasons. Do not associate it with the smallness of your misfortune. Do not use it to measure or patronize your woes. Or as glue to attach strength to the weight of the troubles a shoulder carries.
Take it to be a gentle reminder of getting by. The humble getting by through big problems and bigger tumors. A tiny – even if false – sense of hope, of reassurance and passing of a time that grew heavy on your chest. Getting by with whatever is left of out body, mind, spirit and courage.