Monday, May 30, 2016

Sincerely, Hope

Sincerely, Hope
A Poem

Hello, sweet friend.
Can you hear me?
I am hope --
with a lowercase “h.”
Can you find a quiet place?
You’ll find me there.

Hello, dear friend,
I’m glad to meet you.
Although I have been with you
since the day you were born;
you just didn’t notice me until decades later.
It wasn’t negligence, so don’t you worry.
You were lucky --
you didn’t need me until you were 32.

Good morning, dear friend.
I am here.
Can you feel me?
hope!
I’m a hidden lump, discovered.
I’m a doctor’s appointment that you didn’t cancel,
a phone call to your husband from the nurse’s office,
and the strength it took to tell him --
despite your shattered universe --
They think it’s cancer.

I am hope.
Can you hear me?
I’m an explanation to your mother
from your porch
so your kids wouldn’t hear you cry into the receiver.
I am the first first flight she could catch home,
a long embrace on your front step,
tears on your shoulder.

Hello, my precious friend.
I am here.
Can you see me?
I am an appointment on the calendar.
I am Monday,
a plan,
a starting point.

I am hope.
Have you heard about my superpowers?
They are immense,
especially
when
you
have
to
wait ………….

Did you feel my presence while you waited?
When the phone rang with results?
When the doctor opened the door
and looked down at his clipboard?
I sat beside you then --
strong, like Batman,
fragile, like a one-year-old missing her mother.

I was there while you slept --
did I wake you?
I sat right there, like a loyal watchman
in the depth of the night.
I tip-toed upon the prayers you whispered
over the humming of the house --
foreign thoughts of desperation,
a language never spoken.

Good morning, sweet friend.
Can you hear my footsteps?
I am your family pacing in the hallways,
the surgeons’ steady hands.
Did you feel my hug?
We embraced when you first woke up.
I am your chest --
hollow,
full,
and wrapped in gauze.
I am a sample in a laboratory,
a scientist,
a lymph node removed,
a tumor extracted.
An Intruder
convicted.

Hello, sweet girl.
I am here.
Can you feel me in the ridge of your scar?
I healed you there, and elsewhere.
I’m your sister and your husband,
a pen and notepad of times and doses.
I’m your mother’s nervous scribbles
on those same straight lines,
and her clarity --
that what they called poison
would be your ally.

Dear friend, I am hope.
Did you feel me in the needle to your vein?
In that rush of cool liquid through your bloodstream?
Did you hear me in the buzzer that removed your brown hair?
I am your cousin and your aunt and your best friend
poised beside you
while your reflection morphed.
Did you see me at your mother’s elbow,
softly cradling her wailing question --
Why not me?
without an answer.
I am the stranger at the back of your chair
who understood.

I am here and I am hope.
Did you see me in the dust
that gathered beside the wig you never wore?
Did you see me in the fearful stares
of children and their mothers?
I am your father’s watery eyes
and his anger.
I am your son’s hesitance
and his acceptance.
I am your baby girl’s confused cries
and her recognition.
Mama!
A hug.
I am their resilience.

I am here and I am hope.
Did you see me in the code blue,
and the angels who descended?
I am the air you breathed,
the extinguisher to the flames in your heart.
I am the plan that followed the shock,
the protocol you never knew existed
to make a mortal enemy a lifelong friend.

Dear friend, you were tired, I know.
But did you feel me in the white covers
of the open hospital bed?
Did you know I flowed
through the slow, thoughtful drip of a drug
programmed to kill
only what it should kill.
I was there
through it all.

Did you feel me in your cells?
I was there, too --
in the good cells, the ones that regenerated after annihilation!
I am a birthday from a hospital bed,
a mask and around-the-clock antibiotics,
a pack of saltines,
crushed ice when your cheeks were flushed.

Sweet friend,
did you see me in the ink that signed the discharge papers?
Did you feel me in the fresh, cold sheets of your own bed?
I am your Christmas tree, lopsided and bright.
I’m reindeer food sprinkled on the front lawn.
I am a fireplace and a family feast.

I am here and I am hope.
Did you feel me hold your hand
over the last insurmountable ridge?
I squeezed tight, I really did.
Did you feel me in the antibody that entered your veins?
Because I am Herceptin,
and every ounce of sacrifice made for its delivery.
I am
discovery!

I am what I am and I am hope.
Did you see me glisten in the eyes of the friends you met
in the walls you so dreaded?
In their tears and in their smiles?
I am tissues in an exam room
and at a support group.
I am ubiquitous --
there for all of you who need me.

I am here and I am hope.
Did you see me on the computer screen
as you typed your story?
I am a blog and a book and a dream realized!
I am a team and a walk,
yard sales and lemonade stands.
I am a flock of lavender,
sneakers on the pavement of a September morning.
I am strangers who appear as angels.
Can you see me in the movements of young dancers?
I am dancing beside them!

I know I may seem invisible sometimes,
but I’m here,
I promise.
I’m the possibility that tomorrow will be better.
I’m the maybe in a storm of probably not.
I’m the small fraction they don’t anticipate --
the David to your Goliath.

Dear friend,
fear not
in those times
when you can’t touch me
or see me
or hear me.
Because that only makes me
more
real.
Trust me.
I will help you breathe,
one breath at a time.

Dear friend,
Can you hear me?
Can you trust me?
Because I swear it,
one day,
I will even
help you
dance.
Because I am here now
and I am
hope.

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog on the Dana-Farber blog and liked your title so I clicked on this poem. Beautiful. As a Stage IV cancer "thriver" I have to tell you that it's not very often that I read something from another cancer thriver where I feel that moved. Sometimes I just feel numb, or like even those with cancer don't understand me. This was one of the most inspiring and well-written poems that I have ever read. Maybe it's because my favorite word is "hope." Wishing you good health, love, laughter and hope, always. ~ Samantha

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