April: Honoring Our Mentors

My heart is heavy with the news that our dear friend is in hospice. This news triggers multiple overwhelming emotions: sadness and fear, empathy and sympathy, and a loss for words. I want to honor these feelings and reach out to tell her how much she means to me. Tell her how much I’ve learned from her, her stories, her vivaciousness. I admire that she learned to use denial, wielding it knowingly when she needed, yet recognizing it for what it is.

I fear of my own death. I fear I will die before my time. I feel this diagnosis is a delayed death sentence and that I am racing against the clock to just live authentically.

And live I must!

Anger boils then, deep in my heart. The “why!”. The longing for an ideal world. The world where we heal the sick, where corporate greed doesn’t kill people. A world where everyone has access to high-quality healthcare and nutritious organic food. A world where people do not die of cancer.

Like I said, multiple overwhelming emotions.

I avoided sitting down to write this out. I got the news at the beginning of March and here it is almost April. It hurts. It’s heavy and it drains my energy. It distracts me and draws me in. I worry that I will see writers come and go and know I will feel the weight of grief every time.

I am still learning to cultivate the strength to face my pain and the wisdom to honor my vulnerability. I’ve searched for my mentors when I didn’t know that was what I was doing. I’ve reached out for clarification and found validation. My fellow writers, my kin of the pen.

I’ve found the strength to state my truth, to be undeniably me. I’ve been uplifted by your words, metaphoric magic, and reflections of resilience. I’ve learned to take inventory, to observe, and to stand witness. I’ve learned to let the release happen, to stain my pages with tears, and take up the pages with scribbled screams and terrors of my heart.

I’ve been given the gift of perspective, each writer showing up just as they are, bringing authenticity and honesty. We don’t lie about our reality here. Here, we ground down and sink in.

I give my heart and hands, my deepest hurt and my highest joy. I’ve shared my rawest self and my professionalism. I’ve given my best to you. I give my whole self to you. My mentors are you strong and vulnerable. My mentors listen and receive without judgment. My mentors give their realness, and they give without asking for something in return.

Prompt 1: Who are your mentors along your path? What have they taught you? What qualities do you admire? What gifts have they brought you? What have you shared with them?

Prompt 2: Write to our friend and fellow writer. Or write to one of your mentors. Write to another survivor who helped you see your own strength and vulnerability by sharing theirs.

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