You sit, looking at your hands and realize that there is a sheer gloss of sweat covering your palms. You take your hands and wipe them across your jeans. You go over to the table in the center of the room pick up a magazine, and slowly thumb through the pages of beautiful celebrities and the gossip surrounding their lives. This does not calm your nerves, so you take a deep breath in and hold 1,2,3 and let it out 1,2,3. You think, about Christmas, remember the smell of pine and hot cocoa, you think of egg nog and holiday sweaters. You think, about Easter, the taste of chocolate on your tongue, the green plastic grass miscellaneously spread across the floor. You think, of Valentine’s Day, remember that note, it was simple, sloppily written on notebook paper, "I will always love you." You remember how in elementary school you gave your crush a card that told them you thought they were handsome and they laughed at you. You think of how much that hurt, and you hold it 1,2,3. You hold that pain, it might help you get through this. The room you're sitting in smells like medicine and Clorox, a woman sitting across from you breathes heavily into her oxygen machine and smiles up at you, you delicately smile back. A doctor walks in to greet her, she slowly gets up her legs shaking, the doctor helps her steady herself and they walk through the giant metal doors leading to the various rooms filled with patients, patients like you, who were all waiting. Waiting for the results, the results which could change your life, and these results which could possibly tell you that your time line will be cut short. You bite your nails, nervously twiddle your thumbs, and finally stand up and begin to pace. A man sitting on the opposite side of the room watches you, this makes you uncomfortable so you sit back down. You think, remember that day after school when you held your first hand remember how warm it felt, and how like now your palms were sweating, this was embarrassing, but she still smiled at you so it was okay. You were happy, you hold it 1,2,3. You hold this memory in hopes that it will help you get through this. You remember the smell of your best friend’s perfume, pomegranates. You remember how after you got your first F she told you "F stands for fantastic effort, not failure" and you smile. You hold that smile 1,2,3. You hope that this will help you to remember to smile despite what the man in the white jacket reads off his paper. The man who was staring at you earlier moves closer, you watch him as he stumbles over to the seat that was once occupied by the old woman. He sits down and smiles at you. He opens his mouth to talk "Life is not measure in time, it's measure in how we spend it" he smiled again, he raises himself out of the chair and walks back to his old seat. You think about how you have spent your time. You remember a young girl with bruises on her face walks into her class. Her shirt torn, her eyes are swollen; her cheeks are red and puffy. After class you walk over to her, you take her hand and push hair out of her face "Come with me" you lead her into the school's counseling office and hold her as she cries into your shoulder. A year later you receive a letter, sloppily written on notebook paper, its simple "Thank you." You hold 1,2,3 that was the moment you fell in love. You remember, her hair, how it felt when you ran your fingers through. You remember her kiss, light as she placed her lips to your cheek. You remember, valentine’s day. You remember the day she left you, mascara pouring down her face, she smelt like cherries. You hold, you remember that love is not universal, that the most we can hope for is to be well liked. Finally a doctor walks through the heavy doors, he gives you an understanding nod, before he reads the paper, and you know that the results are not good. He tells you to follow him, so you do; you get up and realize just how unsteady you are. As you walked past the other rooms, you become aware of how complex walking is as you struggle to move along the hallway. You arrive in the room and the doctor holds the door open for you. You take note of the white walls, and consider the prison like atmosphere it gives off. You sit down on the hard bed, the white paper you're sitting on crinkles as you fidget. The doctor takes out his pad; he flips the sheet over and mumbles to himself as he hastily writes something down. "I’m sure you’ve already come to the same conclusion that your doctors have, but before I tell you the results, I’d like to tell you how lucky you are to be sick in the 21st century, as we speak thousands of the best minds in the world are working on finding a cure and new and improved treatments come out annually. You have breast cancer, and a team of doctors will be dedicated your case, and insuring that your life can continue on as long…” His voice trails off, your ears are filled a quiet buzzing that you can’t seem to shake, you watch as the doctors mouth continues to move but the room remains silent. Everything you held in comes pouring out in bits, the kiss, the hand, the chocolate, the smells, the notes, the love. The memories turn to tears, down your face they run. You try to wipe them away, but you realize your hands are shaking. You fall over, convulsing; you're out of control, memories, cherries, pomegranate, teacher, students, grass. The doctor gives you a sympathetic look, "We've caught it early, that's good news, there is so much we can do, don't lose hope, it's not that time." You remember, waiting for college mail, you gave up and thought to yourself, "I'm useless, no university will want me." A week later, you receive a letter, "Congratulations, we are happy to inform you that we would be delighted to have you attend our school next fall." Hope, you close your eyes, and you hold 1, smells, 2, love 3, smiles, 4, chocolates. Hope you hoped that you would find love and you did. You hoped for that dress you saw while shopping in New York City, on your birthday you tour open a box and there it was. You thank the doctor for his time, you ask him if you can schedule an appointment at a later date to discuss treatment options, he looks at you again with the same sympathetic stare, he says okay. You walk out of the office with your head held high, you decide that there is no need to burden any one with your problems, and you close it, you keep it in until it's completely necessary. You try something new, jump out of planes, you swim with sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, you eat, a lot, you smile at everyone who passes by and despite your burden you live. You live for yourself, and you remember what the old man said "Life is not measured in time, it's measured in how we spend our time." so you help, you fly to Africa, and bottle feed a baby tiger, you fly to Somalia, and help the first woman's rights group fight an oppressive government. Your disease worsens and you decide to not seek treatment, you tell your family that you will be leaving them soon with a smile. During your last moments on this earth, you smile, you hope for the betterment of humanity, and you love your family. You have accepted your fate as the flat line beeps and doctors run in to try to resuscitate you, but you are gone and you are happy. Your family mourns the loss of a great soul but you embrace a new beginning.
February 28, 2011