The Claws of the Beast
The vigil continues, all of them waiting to learn if my end has come.
My battle long and brave will soon give way to my rebirth beyond the veil where the claws cannot reach.
This battle rips the never fully healed scar from my first war with this uncaring beast.
My children were not at my side the first time, even though I held them in my heart from the moment I battled the beast, and how it digs its claws in and shreds without mercy.
Teenagers, I wondered this time. Are they better equipped to handle watching a parent succumb to the ravages of the beast?
My daughter was fourteen the first time I stepped into the arena with cancer. She tried very hard not to show me her fear, her anguish, her tears, but I’m her Mom. We moms recognize the smudges of pain our children try very hard to mask beneath layers of concealing cosmetics and dousings of icy cold water.
My first battle rendered me incapable of dressing in the usual garb my age and maturity would suggest, because control was gone and diapers something I would not be able to put off until the winter years of my life, to my profound shame.
I so did not want my children knowing the claws had embedded themselves so deeply inside my body, but cancer does not ravage in silence. The beast roars with every swipe of its relentless talons.
I admit, for a while I deluded myself into thinking I had kept the worst from my loved ones. I’d wait until they’d left for school before submitting to the chemo and radiation my cancer required. Whatever vomiting and weeping I did was during the hours they were safely within the walls of their classrooms. And they pretended not to notice the clumps of hair that fell like hairy snowballs onto my pillow each night.
But the beast will not be denied its audience. It will not be ignored. It wants its accolades, its kudos, and its attentions. One clump of hair waiting upon your pillow one morning is just the beginning, just as one blister arising from the spot where the radiation sears into the sensitive flesh cannot resist the ravage of the fiery maw of the beast’s breath, that spreads like a bonfire.
Too soon blisters elongate, claws dig deeper, and resistance gives way to defeat. The battle is relentless, especially when you have no army stepping up to raise shields and swords beside you.
Unlike the Crusader’s of the Lionhearted, the war has no face to swipe at, no bone to cleave one’s saber towards, no marrow to slice surely through, unless it’s your own being devoured without mercy by the beast.
Day after day, the beast’s claws stretch more deeply, curving, sharper, without need of honing on some stone, relentlessly focused on destroying all that you are and all that you can ever hope to be.
In your head, you can hear the steady, staccato, drip, drip, dripping succulence of the beast’s enjoyment of your flavor. In your heart, the beat of your spirit seems to catch every time those rapier sharp talons extend that one millimeter deeper making you wish it would stop, give up the battle, cease the stop and go sound that echoes all the way up and inside your ears.
The beast…when the war started, you believed the beast was conquerable; now you’re not so sure…at least you’re not so sure you can do it. Hours, days, weeks, months, how long can one hold out? You’re about out of time, out of energy…and then…
A voice…your loved one…the child who holds your heart in her hands…energy like a beam of light comes from that voice, from everywhere…could it be ultimately love is stronger than even the beast…and the weakness…?
God grant me the strength to fight the beast and live for those I love. I cannot do it alone. Help me…fill me with the love of my child and the love of the Universe…
Our Father Who Art In Heaven…Together we will win this War.