The Strongest Person I Know

SOL #16

I understand that people like to bond with one another over life’s situations.  I also know that they want to be kind, for the most part.  They want to share their lives with others – especially after a significant life experience.  I guess this is how it goes with cancer “survivors”.

Every once in a while my closest firend, Kathy, is asked a rather personal question. Well-meaning individuals who seem to want, or need, to connect with another individual on a deeper level, walk up to her and ask, “Are you a survivor?”

I don’t know any of this for sure.  I’m just guessing.  Although I was with her for every aspect of this nightmare, I can still never know just what she went through – because in reality she suffered….survived, this bad dream all on her own.

I wasn’t there when she got the call from her doctor with the news.  She was alone in her office at work, getting ready to go to her hundredth meeting of the day.

I wasn’t inside the many machines she sat, stood, laid in for the many  tests she underwent.  She was in there – alone.

I wasn’t the one receiving the “cocktail” of drugs intended to kill all cells that got in their way, including cancer.  She was the one receiving chemo – alone.

I wasn’t there when she first noticed her hair was starting to fall out.  She was there, in the bathroom, in the middle of the night – alone.

I wasn’t there when she was driving to work in the pre-dawn morning, stopping to throw up.  She was in her car – alone.

I wasn’t there, in that hospital bed after surgery, not knowing what physical changes her body underwent for the last 7 hours.  It was she who woke up to see 10 young interns standing over her bed asking, “can we take the bandages off now”? – alone.

I am thinking of the Steely Dan song right now – the line where they say, “I cried when I wrote this song.”  No matter who is with you when you go through the horror, that is cancer, you are still alone.  Maybe that’s why the “Survivors” have such a bond.

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10 thoughts on “The Strongest Person I Know

  1. Your writing is full of feeling, voice and power. The repetition of “alone” surely brings the reader along on your emotional journey. Thanks for sharing today.

  2. This was indeed very powerful. I got emotional reading it. Feeling the alone -ness on both sides. I truly believe that our survivors help to comfort US a lot of the time – they’re strength and resolve is awe inspiring.

  3. Carrie – this is so great. This is your best yet! I know you shared it with Kathy, right??
    I really never thought about the “alone-ness” of a cancer survivor. It’s so true that even though she had you right be her side the whole time, she really was, in essence, alone. Wow.
    The repetition is so powerful here. Definitely a mentor text!
    This is such a great piece and so touching. Well done.

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