This is the final day of 2009. For many of us, it has been a difficult year. For others, it has been mostly filled with health and happiness, although no one manages 365 days without troubles. For me, it has been primarily a year of grace and thanksgiving. My younger daughter was married in September, and I was there. Everyone else whom I love is doing well, and we certainly have had days and nights of celebration and delight. Of course, I have been greatly saddened by the loss of a few women whom I held dear, and there have been the usual complications of a busy life.
As I write, I think of the women I have come to know in 2009 who, a year ago, had no idea that their lives would be forced to include breast cancer. No doubt, there are hundreds, thousands, in that spot today, not yet aware ofthe enormous shift that is coming. So often, I wish that I had met women in other circumstances. Always, however, I am grateful for the relationships and honored to be part of their experience and struggle.
This is one of my favorite poems. Written by Joy Veandry, a breast cancer survivor, it expresses what we do: we survive. I wish you all, us all, a year of health and happiness and grace to bend.
by Joy Veandry
Willow has the grace to bend
When life presses hard.
Though she loses bits of branch and leaf,
She clings to the ground with tenacity.
She knows, in time, wind will stop
And she will stand upright and catch her breath.
She knows she can manage whatever contortion is needed
For a while.
A long while.
And if the torrents of storm-driven rain
So soak the earth
That her roots, like muddy hands, become too slippery
To hold the lifeline of planting,
She knows she will root again where she falls.
She knows each scattered, snapped off twig
Carries the possibility of a new beginning.