Written in November of the cruel year of 2020
I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia with a FLT-3 mutation on May 17th, 2019. Approximately 270 days and a stem-cell transplant later, I was declared free from that same cancer. And now, about another 270 some-odd days later, I find that can state these facts out loud. I can state them out loud, but I find I have not been able to internalize my experience in a way that leaves me free from cancer’s shadow. I desperately want those close to me to look upon me strongly, not gingerly or cautiously. Yet, I often gaze upon myself gingerly and cautiously. I want to silence the thoughts of relapse. I want the physical experience of my cancer journey to be pulled from my hip flexors, my facia, my neurons, my blood; to be pulled up – into - and through these words and released with a blessing over the waters into cold, night air.
We don't look alike: she's blue-eyed, pale-skinned, and had blonde hair, while I've got dark eyes, skin, and hair - more like my dad. I'm several inches taller, an apparently totally different body type. She has large breasts, and only when I was pregnant with and nursing my daughter did I. We both have longish noses, though - not quite aquiline - and we both wear a lot of thrift store clothes...her thrift store "eyes" are still impeccable. My mother Ruth and I are both hunter-gatherers, collectors of way too much beautiful/weird/objects/textiles...stuff...hers verges on humorous and the human-made - phallic banana and carrot collections in too many media to mention, cats, of course(?), amazing antique (from thrift stores) lace, and, my favorite, a sprawling collection of women- and girl-figures from all parts of the world, flowing from her small fireplace mantle, her "goddesses". My collections veer toward raw nature: broken bird's eggshells, seeds I capture and rarely plant, fantastic found roots and other parts of trees, rocks from every creek I step into, seashells, seaweed, and other extracts from every visit to every seashore, apparently irresistible feathers and bones...