Without Words

My aunt has cancer. It has metastasized and we don’t know how much longer she has to live. Last week, my mom and I went to visit her. This was the first time either of us had gotten to see her since she was diagnosed less than a year ago. It was a powerful, beautiful, wonderful, and painful experience. Most good things are.

I wrote this poem for her: 

There you are.

There you are.
Bones stripped of flesh
Like a plate of chicken wings, post Super Bowl.
You sit, infrared lamp on the tumor.

Smiling at me and eating kale

There you are.
How do I tell you:
How much I love you
How much you mean to me
How sad your imminent death makes me
How do I tell you:
How beautiful you are
How strong you are
How wondrous you are
How do I tell you these things
When I barely speak your language.

You are a small woman
With the spirit of a buffalo
And the heart of an elephant
You endure.
You remember.
You persist.
You care.

You are a force.

Not a tornado or an earthquake,
You. Are a tectonic plate.
You make the earth move
In our family, you are the earth.
You are steadily there. Always moving,
Shaping, pulling apart, drawing together.

You are a force of nature, a steady
enduring, elephantine force
You outlast. You always have

And yet here you are
Down to bones
And the cancer likes sugar
So you eat kale.

And I love you
And I miss you already
And I don’t know how to tell you that
Beyond with these few words
But words never seem like enough
They never seem like enough
And yet
They are what I have to give.

So here they are:
I love you, Aunt Patti.
And I will miss you when you are gone.
I miss you already.
And there are not enough words to say
And there never will be.


If you feel touched by this or want to help my aunt out, she has a Go Fund Me support page here: https://gofund.me/deafcancerjourney

Thanks for reading! -Veronica


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