She sits in her usual spot, the big armchair in the family room. She looks smaller. She has been losing weight. Her face looks thin and drawn from the pain. She looks as if she could float up and away. But she won’t, not yet, because she is tethered there by the long, clear tube attached to an oxygen tank.
She talks about the long life she has had, eighty-one years, so far. It has already been longer, she reflects, than the lives of many of her ten siblings. Longer than the sister who died in her thirties, leaving six young children she helped care for before she was a wife or mother herself. Longer than the brother whose life was taken in his forties, in a car wreck with a drunk driver. Longer than the brother who died in his fifties of heart disease. Longer than the sister who died in her sixties from complications of diabetes. She has outlived two husbands, first the father of her children, and then her soulmate who she expected to always be with her. So many loved ones have gone on, she almost could float up and away to join them.
But she begins talking about graduations coming up in the spring for two grandchildren. And the early summer wedding of her grandson. And the birth of a great-grandchild in the fall. Of another Chirstmas to celebrate. Another new year to welcome. She will not float up and away, not yet, because she is tethered here… tethered here by colorful strands of love and life…and hope.
She had her first battle with cancer 26 years ago. The second round was 8 years ago. Now it is back with a vengeance. Prognosis is grim, yet treatment offers hope…