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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Poet and Didn't Know It

I spent the weekend at a writer's retreat with 25 brave and inspiring women. It was an incredible experience - one I am continuing to process - and I will post in detail once I return from California. 

In the meantime, I'll share some of my writing from the weekend.

Every woman in attendance had an incredible narrative and I found a connection with each of them. One had a story that particularly resonated because it mirrored all of the things I felt and learned while caring for Reid at St. Jude - specifically the reality of parenting from a hospital chair. 
It's a subject I've written about before - all of the brave mamas and daddies who lovingly save locks of hair lost from chemo, inject healing medicine into microscopic veins, and smooth cotton-soft mops before anesthesia - all while singing soothing songs through the hurt and pain of agonizing symptoms and side effects.

And some who are ultimately - like this woman I met over the weekend - forced to say goodbye way too early. 
A nursery but no sleeping baby. Toys but no hands to guide them.
And so, when Annie Flavin - one of the retreat leaders known for her brevity and ability to reach a profound point with minimal words - asked us to work on an assignment that sounded kind of like (gasp!) poetry, I cringed a little. As a fan of overly long, descriptive prose, I didn't initially connect to the idea of putting a cork in it. 
She assuaged my fear of concision when she asked us to focus our words outward rather than in. We were to write about another retreat participant - one whose story had made an impact on us over the weekend. All of the sudden, it seemed like a gift rather than an assignment. And the words just came.
For my new friend Georgia:
Mamas in chairs
Nobody cares
Hospital beds all that they've seen.
Coming home outfits don't mean a thing
As long as she's healthy 
Seems a cruel joke
A diagnosis in exchange for just one more poke
Please let me hold her
Tell her she's loved
Her hours spent here a gift from above
Never forgotten, tears always spilled
My heart was cracked open but at once truly filled
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