When I finished radiation, I sank into grief, and became acutely aware of the fragility of life, and the human heart. It was clear that my body had suffered a great deal. But I also viscerally realized that my heart had been beaten up and terrified by cancer treatment. One night, I felt inspired to write a letter to my heart. Perhaps it will resonate with your own experience.
You and I have a lot of catch up to do.
Half a life of taking you for granted
Of thinking you will always be there,
Beating faithfully, through thick and thin.
You’ve been a loyal friend all my life
And yet I’ve never thanked you.
I had to get a life-threatening illness
To pay attention to you at last,
To realize that you are not eternal.
All these years I assumed
That you could take it all,
The blows, the stress, the grief,
The overwork, the heartbreaks.
How blind I was
And how neglectful I was.
Can you ever forgive me
For my ignorance, for my neglect?
Life has been hard on you
And I didn’t make it easier.
I thought I was invincible,
Proud of my tolerance for pain.
Can you accept my apologies?
Can you let us start a new?
A new friendship, a new path.
I will care for you,
Make sure to give you rest.
I will listen to your sorrows
When you cry at night and I silence you,
Mainly because I’m too afraid
To ask what’s ailing you.
It was easier to soldier on.
That’s what we learn as children.
We get rewarded for being strong
And for letting our hearts down.
But now I know that real strength
Is to have the courage to pause,
And listen to our hearts
With kind receptive awareness.
This poem was published in Months to Years Winter 2019 Journal.