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Stage 4
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We keep these feelings in the dark; they frighten us with how sharp they are– with just a small twitch we feel disemboweled– and we have been struggling to protect ourselves at all costs. These feelings fight to come out of the shadows, and in the stark, bright light of day they leave us raw and gasping, unsure of ourselves, unsure of anything.
We try and put on a brave face, not only for ourselves, but for him. We used to think he was maybe the strongest of us all, and to see how he has begun to wither under the touch of the disease (and ironically, under the punishing blows of its treatment, chemo), folding into himself, because every movement is pain, every conversation is cancer, every look is pity and thinly-veiled sadness.
We all refuse to speak aloud what we fear most, that which in our darkest, most private moments feels like a dead certainty, because we believe that to speak those words aloud is to will them into being, to hasten the outcome. So we orbit around him, forcing smiles, trying out how words of comfort feel in our mouths when we don’t feel them in our hearts, offering support we don’t know how to give, and desperately need ourselves. We suppress our rawest emotions, and we become like ghouls, numb and suspended in limbo, not fully living and waiting for death.
Can we embrace our pain, inhabit it and learn the lessons it is trying to teach us so that we can knit ourselves around him, a web of life, because if we cannot do this one thing out of love for him and ourselves, then there is truly nothing else to love.


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