An experience that knocks you on your ass is tough to write about. When something is so big that it cannot be contained by words, it refuses being stuffed into a shape. So, I write around it, not about it. It holds a literal negative space that appears only in the shape left behind after I cannot write it.
My best friend and the love of my life for 12 years died May 16th 2009. It broke me. And it left behind a darkness impossible to describe—changing everything.
The day that the doctor told me that I had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was quite surreal. I had not been feeling well and a doctor told me I needed psychiatric help several years prior. The old self prepared for the battle of her life, put on her big girl pants and met cancer head-on. I continued to work and would occasionally tap dance for other patients at the hospital to make them smile; however, as the treatments progressed, my body began to breakdown. It wasn’t being bald that bothered me, or losing the eyelashes, eyebrows, and nose hair. It was the lack of vitality–the pain in my joints with every step taken, the nausea, and every part of my body felt like I was hit by a truck. It was an everyday struggle to live. When I would catch a glimpse of self in the mirror, I wasn’t sure who was looking back.
Scientists report that the sense of smell triggers memory more poignantly than any other; if you are a listener, music boasts the same effect. Sitting on a mat in a yoga room on the fourth of July 2010, all I wanted to do was forget where I had been the year before and the year before that. The class began. The instructor had created a playlist that “celebrated” America’s Independence and Bruce Springsteen came blaring through the speakers—I time warped to the year before. This is where the work happens.