Tenderness

I sit here with Tenderness this afternoon.
Tenderness fills my teacup with calamansi and
honey in hot water, just enough to give me a
hint of taste, without overpowering my palate.
Tenderness invites me to slow down,
to feel the tingling in my hands, my feet, my lips,
and to know that this chemo-induced
peripheral neuropathy and dizziness will stop one day.

Tenderness softly reminds me it’s nearly a dozen years
since our mother died and left five orphans;
her five children spread out across the globe,
each of us more or less unsettled by her departure.
Tenderness holds space for me as I wish I could miss her
more; futilely yearning we had been closer.

Tenderness inspired me today to reread the
touching poem by Heather Plett that this,
my version, is modeled on,
and I hope she doesn’t mind that
Tenderness invited me to focus on self-compassion
today, to ignore my list of to-dos, and
be inspired and prompted by her words.

Tenderness held me over the past couple of weeks
when three different friends,
one right after the other,
shared with me her heartbreaking news
that she is in the final stages of cancer.
Tenderness gives me the strength to love her and
hold her fiercely in my heart, when all I can do
is be there for her if she needs me, to hold space
while being prepared to hear her primal scream.

Tenderness expands my heart, makes room for
compassion for more suffering than my own,
in fact, right now,
as I sit here in front of my screen, typing these words,
Tenderness connects me with all of humanity.

PS. Last Friday I was given my last infusion of paclitaxel. Today is the expected “bag of crap” day and I am soooo anticipating better days ahead. Still, there’s a long way to go. Earlier today I spoke with a radiation oncologist about starting my radiation treatments. He said the clinic in the hospital I want to go to may shut down temporarily because the entire staff has been exposed to covid. I told my oncologist how poorly I was feeling today but together we decided to move ahead with my next herceptin infusion tomorrow… although he may not be able to show up because of possible exposure to covid. What a world we all live in!

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By Francisca

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