Today the Dr. Terrence Kim at Cedar’s Sinai in LA will read my new MRI and speak to me by phone. He is the doctor who saw the tumor and saved my life.I can’t even remember what it is like to be free of pain, and can hardly remember what it is like to have a leg that works properly, and this morning I wondered how I would find the strength I need to go on. Yet part of me knows, I might be just an epidural injection, or a minimally invasive surgery away from being able to take care of myself and my daughter again, and to finally be able to fully recover. Sometime it is the last few miles that are the hardest, and I may be closer to the finish line than I think. This poem helped me to remember that even in the midst of great pain and sorrow, Beauty is always available.
Relax by Ellen Bass
Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat –
the one you never really liked — will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours for a month.
Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
your refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up — drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice — one white, one black — scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.
Much thanks to the great Kim Rosen (Saved by a Poem) Kim Rosen.net and the amazing poet, Ellen Bass for helping to hold me up.