I Am Still Here Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, has taught me so much about the way that prejudice infiltrates a black person’s life starting from childhood. I never considered how much black parents have to teach their children at an early age such as, to not to look suspicious by putting their hands in their pockets in a store or not to wear a hoodie in a store. Unfortunately, racism only seems to get more prevalent in adulthood in all areas of life. It was particularly eye opening to follow along with the author as she revealed how even when white people, like myself are saying or doing something with good intentions in church settings or work settings, we still may very well be contributing to the problem. It is only through educating myself about white privilege and the ways in which prejudices and oppression functions can I truly be part of the solution.
A lesser form of quarantine is my normal therefore, while my last pre-quarantine picture looks much like everyone else’s my circumstances are vastly different from most. I have a physical disability known as Cerebral Palsy that thankfully, does not affect my intellect or my ability to live independently . However, it does compromise my immune system and my mobility so that I use an electric wheelchair. Also for six and half years now I have been battling a rare form of Leukemia known as Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia, a blood cancer that typically affects men in their late 60s early seventies. Being a female patient far from my 60s, who is in a wheelchair makes me a bit unique in the CLL cancer community so I have had to live very cautiously with regards to social interactions long before corona came to town.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is by now a classic and although, I read it the first time before it became a motion picture, I am most certainly in a different space emotionally and spiritually this time round as I finished it for the second time yesterday . I got so much more out of it and was deeply touched by the magnitude of spiritual teachings, gently integrated into our psyche beginning with Gilbert’s voyage to Italy. The author trying to find refuge after a horrible divorce and treacherous bouts of depression begins a year of travel aboard.
Quarantine Chronicles 2nd Edition
For most people without children quarantine may be uneventful and redundant however, that is not the case for me. I am a woman with cerebral palsy who uses both a push wheelchair and an electric wheelchair, depending on what I’m doing or where I am going. I am also intuitive and a cancer survivor. All of these factors contribute to what is now referred to as the Quarantine Chronicles.
Two months after reaching my fifth year fighting this monster that lives inside of me known as cancer for the second time, I was playing music to drown out the sounds of the IV pumping fluids and antibiotics into my veins, the hustle and bustle of conversations at the near by nurses station and the occasional hollar of some disgruntled patient in the distance. Feeling unmoved by the playlists I had created to help keep me motivated and upbeat when I found myself in the trenches at the hospital, trying to get a handle on the latest infection or whatever other havoc the monster within was causing my body. I decided to listen to a “New Hits”station I found. Moments later, a tribal beat began playing through my headphones that seemed to connect to my heart and bring it back to life slowly in combination with lyrics that also expressed feelings I felt yet unwilling up until that point to acknowledge. I heard the song “Bury A Friend” by Billie Eilish for the first time. The lyrics “What do you want from me? Why don’t you run from me? What do you know?” All questions I had asked myself indirectly to my cancer thinking of it as it’s own entity that had taken up an unwelcomed or wanted residency in my body. To my amusement ironically the title of the entire album and subsequently part of the hook to “ Bury A Friend” was “When we all fall asleep where do we go?” This line seemed particularly poignant because doctors had repeatedly talked about how important it was to get enough sleep because it is during sleep the body truly heals. Often making me wonder, if that’s the case, why can’t they just put me in a constant state of sleep so I don’t have to feel the pain as my body endures the treatments? If only, I could sleep through it. What was this unconscious mysterious space known as sleep? Does my physical body go there or just my spiritual body or both? Only a few phrases later “I wanna I wanna I wanna end me bury a friend I wanna end me” It was the first time that I found a way to express wanting this all to end, not wanting to end my life but wanting the suffering to end, wanting the battle to end wanting the need to fight to end, wanting to end the person I’d become. I could no longer recognized myself this post-diagnosis anxious shell of myself, worried about waking up the next day and feeling worse than the day before, worried about if I was staying hydrated enough or what my numbers looked like or what any little change in my coloring or appearance meant. Before cancer I was laid-back and always thought that life had a way of working out. I never really worried about anything just did what I needed to do trusting fate and destiny with everything else. The worried person I’d become after cancer, I wanted to end that person. I wanted to bury that friend, that timid, check list making person trying to manage the unthinkable. To find myself able go back to being my carefree self with a greater appreciation of who I was before this time of warfare. The next lyrics “staple your tongue step on the glass” would resonate because at times I thought I would like to do anything to myself that might cause greater pain than the pain caused by treatment, that which was supposed to be making me better anything to create a lasting distraction. The song goes on to talk about believing that the monster could do something for you . In truth amidst all of this personal turmoil and struggle there are friends I have made and experiences I got to have, once-in-a-lifetime kind of things occur thanks to this living monster inside of me still, the cost was too much as the song lyrics dictate “I’m too expensive, probably something that shouldn’t be said out loud I thought I’d be dead by now”. As much as I want to live there’s always the reality of astronomical medical bills that won’t be completely covered by insurance and the possibility that after all of this fight, stuggle, and emotional turmoil, death could happen for me sooner than most people my age.