Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 966: Love in Cancerland

This is my third Valentine's Day since being diagnosed with breast cancer. I've never written a Vday post before, because there's not a lot that the holiday has in common with cancer. I've done my share of writing about how cancer affects marriage, sexuality, and romance.

I'm essentially lazy these days, so I ordered my husband some chocolates, which I have enjoyed as much as he has, and I bought him the one card I could find at Walgreens that didn't suck. And I wrote him this. Happy Valentine's Day, babe. May we always remember the various ways that love shows its face. Oh, and for those who are concerned about what I wrote in the last post, my boobs seem to be calming down these days, and I don't anticipate needing to go to the oncologist anytime soon. And that, my friends, is a good Valentine's Day present.

Summer Love
by Katy Jacob

In the heat, I stripped off my clothes.
You stood behind me,
touched my face, bent over me, got to work.
The kids slept soundly upstairs.
We were alone together,
in the basement, in the bathroom.
Underground but the humidity still seemed to rise.
Even the mirror began to sweat.
I stared straight ahead
at our reflection, an image of ghosts.
You couldn’t help but cry.

Lost in ourselves, a series of vignettes:
You reaching for
a disposable razor and
a 79 cent can of shaving cream.
My eyes getting bigger,
if only in comparison.
Heaps of hair on your arms,
on your shirt, covering the floor.
The virgin skin of my scalp
unmarred by nicks, or blood.
The small clock laboring in the
slow motion eternity of its ticking.
The midsummer darkness descending.

If I were to write a poem,
I would include these details.
But were I to grow old,
I would remember only this:
Your perfectly steady hand,
being as careful with me
as if I were your child.


  1. Damn that's pretty. Soft. Lovely. Warm.

    Well done.

  2. I almost choked to death as I started to read the poem, eating leftover mostacioli.

    There's something in my mind I have never quite been able to express.

    There's that old phrase, "If you love something set it free."

    When we fight and you're upset and walk away… I don't come after you because I don't want you to feel trapped.

    That night as I shaved your head I truly wanted to free you from the trap of cancer, the despairing fear we both felt. I had seen an invincible girl, who seemed always to be guarded by her cloak of hair, made vulnerable in your baldness, threatened by cancer's spectre of death in its forced annexation of your most outwardly defining attribute.

    I wanted to be the one to shave your head, fraught with its implicit mortality and the sorrow that entails. I felt that ME doing it could impart protection on YOU. The eternity that passed, stroke after stroke, sharing the most intimate of tears and bittersweet of laughs. I don't know how I did it with the shards of dread churning my insides into a weepy pulpy mess. But I knew I HAD to do it, for both of us, to lead us out of that trap, to escape the doom we have evaded so far and if luck is with us ever more.

    It was a desperately determined act of love I would repeat every day if I had to… if only dedication alone could shield our love from loss forever. In some sense that night you were my child - the newly vulnerable woman born of cancer birthed into the beginning of a long growth out of cancer survivorhood and into the rest of our lives together no matter how long that may be.

    But this present, a poem of your lovely words from the ever-living YOU, to share the intimate moments of this family with you the rest of my life, this is the only Valentine's present I want ever again.

  3. crap. Now I need a kleenex.

    Funnies aside - Gabe - you are da man.


    *wiping tears*