Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 13

FIGHTERS

Dear Cancer,
I don't recall exactly when I first heard your
name, but I remember when I first listened
to you speak. It was a low murmur, a chilling
reminder that even the loved and the loving
aren't spared. The older neighbor lady who loved
her grandbabies more than life itself abruptly
stopped coming by. Then you got a bit louder
and declared that the youthful aren't safe either.
I brought the young mother across the street jar
after jar of carrot juice - both of us naively and
foolishly hoping it would keep her alive long
enough to see her little ones grow up. It was baby
Cadence, though, that transformed you from a
voice in my head to a shock wave in my soul. As
I watched the devastation of her young parents
as you snuffed out the life of their first and only
child, you finally had broken me.
You must understand, then, why I had to
distance myself from you. Like a jilted ex-lover,
I averted your gaze and took any and every
measure to ensure that you would leave me and
my family alone. For years, I gathered an army
of alternative doctors, books, and bottles to
keep you at bay. If only I had known that, with
my focus so intently upon avoiding you, I was
inadvertently aiming for you all along. I lived
in such fear of you that I created the opening
which you would ultimately burst through.
And burst through you did. You came in
with a bang that day I lie screaming on the
f loor after breaking the hip you had been
snacking on for years. And I fell hard at your
mercy, cowering once again with fear at your
threat of disability and death and recoiling
from your pain. I was sure you were here to
kill me quickly, painfully, and savagely. Like
an intruder with a knife to my throat, you
demanded I pay attention and do what you
said. You showed no mercy and quickly let me
know that my pleas were futile.
How did you feel watching this self-reliant
overachiever join the ranks of the dependent
and disabled? Were you amused, seeing me
flounder in the ocean of relentless uncertainty
after having so cautiously built a life on such a
rock-solid foundation of security and safety?
Like a good hostage, I never attempted an escape. I listened to you and also to the doctors
who plotted to kill you. We both knew it was
all part of your plan.
You must have sensed that I wasn't going to
cause trouble, because I gradually began to feel
you loosen your grip. And as I regained my

What about Cadence,
who would have
turned fourteen today?

strength, I began to wriggle free of the shackles
of shock and terror and grab onto the hope
and acceptance offered by the outstretched
hands of your other prisoners. We discovered solidarity and authenticity and oneness
amidst our common sorrow and suffering.
We shared our stories, our lives, our pain and
our fears. And we became refugees, seeking
freedom from your torment and solace in our
togetherness. We formed a coalition of sorts,
arming ourselves with the hope that we would
survive, faith in a power far beyond ourselves
and gratitude for living at all. I finally began
to see that life was more about relationships
than solitude and more about love than fear.
And as I looked at you through that lens of
love, I discovered that you, my captor, were
also my liberator who would ultimately help
set me free. You turned the lock, but you also
handed me the key. Be blessed or be broken.
Either way, you weren't going anywhere, Wherever I go, there you would be. So, what would
be my answer? Broken or blessed? Don't take
too long. The clock is ticking.
That damn ticking clock. It wakes me up
in the middle of the night and creeps into my
dreams. It reminds me that your remission is
temporary and paralyzes decisions that were
once based on logic and a false but comforting
sense of statistical normalcy. Tell me, how do I
proceed realistically but courageously on this
new, truncated side of normal?
With a growing sense of urgency, I want to

Dear Cancer...
explore the freedom you're offering. As you've
increased my need for safety and protection,
you've elevated my desire to live fearlessly as
well. Tick tock. It's now or never, girl. Go for
what you want. Don't settle. Laugh. Try something new. Forgive yourself. Love yourself.
Figure out who you really are.
You've given me the ticket to travel but a
body that isn't always up for the trip. Many days
I struggle to feel the freedom under the heavy
chains of fatigue and pain, not to mention the
anxiety and desperation that are capable of
paralyzing even the most enthusiastic traveler
with the best laid-out plans.
And how am I supposed to enjoy the scenery
when so many have had to stay behind? What
about my dad and all my new friends? What
about Cadence, who would have turned fourteen today? Your gifts to me are my own, but
their suffering has also become mine.
Such the paradox, dear cancer. You destroy
and you heal. You take lives, and you save them.
You are fear, and you are love. You are death.
You are life. You bring joy and so incredibly
much pain.
I have fixed my fractured femur and chosen
to mend my broken heart. I've lived in the
world of the dying and broken long before
you, but it's a world where I no longer belong.
I still remember the place of terror but hang on
tightly to the key. I will offer it to the others,
whose hands now reach out for me.
Always, Blessed.
RAMAE HAMRIN

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2019

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Elephants And Tea - December 2019

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Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 1
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Contents
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