Black milk of daybreak we drink it at evening
we drink it at midday and morning we drink it at night
we drink and we drink
So begins Deathfugue by Paul Celan a poem by a survivor of Auschwitz. No, I by no means would dare to compare that horror to anything endured by myself. I use it with reverence and respect to convey a feeling most helpless and without reprieve. The black milk of cancer once again descends into our midst and begins to consume the flesh of my ‘sister in cause’.
Once again, in our monthly visit, I am again reassured as to our special place within the world at this time.
Yes, I was sitting there feeling the pain. Feeling that for some reason, I had to atone for some sin committed. Reassured by those around me that sin was not the cause. Not the reason. It just happens; I sat and waited my turn to share. As best I could, I told of my pain, not knowing of the darkness that was to come. We all, no matter our calling, can not refrain from the black milk. God, why? My sister in cause has no crime to confess. She has brought nothing but support, happiness and respect. I look around me and see several mementoes of her giving heart in my life. The cards of hope within my medical chronicle. There, on my desk, a herald of her thoughts and best wishes, for me. Known to her only by affliction, I at those times mattered. Thank you!
Like a punch to my stomach, my mouth already dry began to crack. Her words were said. Simple, yet full of dread. They hurt and made me sad, those words, as they took away a wonderful acquaintance and left a ‘sister in cause’ in their stead. I spent that night hurting and the next day in question. I could only hope that my frail hug had conveyed my pause.
Now, a few days upon reflection I can only pass to you this little attempt at words of encouragement as you now know the taste of the black milk of daybreak.
Almost everyone does it. Scratch that, we all do it. It is defining.
To just watch the time pass by and see what it brings. I use to be guilty of it. Patting myself on the back, saying how clever I was to observe ‘Life’ from the side. Like playing the bass in my band, I never had to step into the brightest part of the beam. I was there, but living a life standing sideways to the rest. It was an excuse, an excuse for having no real relationship.
Well, guess what? You learn nothing by peering at anyone. You learn nothing at all by watching from a safe distance. To quote that wonderful writer from across the pond, Warren Ellis,”Half the literature on Earth could be safely eliminated by banning people who haven’t had sex from writing sex scenes.” This isn’t practice. It is life. We get one shot at it.
But sometimes I sit here still and I watch. I no longer pat myself on the back, because that isn’t clever at all. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it is all the milk I have had to drink. Maybe, just maybe, it is by the Grace of God that I have learned. Life isn’t here to be just watched. It is here to be lived. You have to get up, step into that bright beam and live it; live it for all you are worth. You are my ‘sister in cause’ now. You have delivered yet another valuable testament to my life. A lesson you have taught. I wish you the best, I pray for your safe delivery. I look forward to your living. You have brought smile and comfort after the pain. You live and inspire.