Today it was hard to get out of bed. Chemo was an anchor.
But I wanted to be at work. I love my job. My husband brought me tea and toast, kissed my forehead, and got the boys out the door. I was still stuck under the covers willing myself to move.
I was late and started crying on the way there. I had to park down the street to get myself together before walking in my classroom. I forced myself through the door and begged myself to smile.
My students are all survivors. They have been through worse than breast cancer. They have survived rape, abandonment, poverty, addiction, and abuse. Some of them have lost parents, some of them sleep on the couch, some of them are battling depression. They are all survivors of something worse than breast cancer. When I am with them, I feel compelled to be strong.
Today I barely made it to 11 o’clock. I had to leave early because my body ached everywhere and demanded sleep.
I cried on the way home, too. Back to my empty house.
And then I checked my phone. Facebook notifications. A lot of them. My high school classmates were all posting “slivers of green” for me. Pictures containing images of hope, their beautiful children in green, landscapes, flowers, old high school pictures in our green Nerinx wear, art projects, selfies, even street tacos with bright green lettuce. Each picture contained the hashtag #sliverofgreen. For me. Slivers of hope, for me.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond. How to say thank you – when “thank you” isn’t enough. I got out my high school yearbook. Next to my senior year picture I wrote: “Everyone be the best tree you can be: Keep your feet on the ground, your hands in the sky, and always change with the seasons.”
I’ve written about how cancer feels like fall, like the loss of my leaves, the anticipation of winter, and the deeply rooted hope that spring will find me again. During my four years at Nerinx Hall High School I developed my roots, my sense of self — my inner voice. It has been 18 years since we graduated. 18 years! And these women have rallied around me as if I was still standing next to them in the hallway.
I’m getting ready to go back to bed now — to end my day. And I will go to sleep thinking about these beautiful visions of green, about all this hope that has been shared with me. I will look at these images again, and again, and again. My little slivers of green. They will keep me dreaming of spring.