It comes in pieces and each one hurts,
Acquaintances, relatives, an aunt or a cousin.
News follows diagnosis but from a distance,
Positive news – the spin we choose
filters through life’s projects & errands, truths & lies
The damage is limited, the treatment severe,
As the distance between shields us from the fear in their eyes.
The small shadow cast fades with successes relief
And we remark on progress made, odds improved.
Yet in a small way the shadow seeps in.
We internalize doubt
and falter momentarily in our confidence,
Of following Aunt Mary’s eternal existence
Kicking and screaming at 96
But no. Never mind. I am fine.
Then comes another blow – closer this time,
A mother, a sister.
The fear grows closer and life holds its breath
With luck – that uncertain chance – the damage is contained
Cut out, treated.
Life resumes warily,
Holidays become more important
And communication dearer.
Fix those things you can control.
The treatment is clear yet
the low note of fear is audible and
the flash of nerves in the eyes visible.
Like a shot through the buffer
Like a breeze through a cloud
Realization sets in.
The shadow spreads.
Then there’s the news – a gene gone astray
The genetic component considered, explored, confirmed.
The shadow spreads, creating a familial silence, and unwanted bond
A background realized,
Grey against the horizon.
Yet the assumptions of life remain.
Testing confirms vulnerabilities.
Mom didn’t get it till midlife,
No need to worry yet. Be vigilant.
It’s what you don’t consider
Time’s twisted irony,
that comes back
And bites you.
The visit that shatters.
Not a parent, or an aunt, but my daughter.
My daughter, who holds my heart in her hand.
My daughter, my love.