birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Cancer

I've had enough friends diagnosed with cancer to change my life. I can't think about my day without appreciating that, for some friends, that day is part of a short count down to zero.

I am still processing this new awareness of short time, that time can come up short, be founding wanting, limited.

Life has phases, each following one after the other in predictable order. Birth, school, more school, jobs, marriage, children. Then the cycle starts again with our children at the center. Our work is an overlay, a bit of personal connective tissue during this second go-round of the continuum. Work is the big ideas and outside pressure that keeps the machine of life moving. Thank god for work.

Now I know the machine can stop, unexpectedly, suddenly. I don't know what to do with that knowledge.

I'm not actually the person who chokes back tears and rushes to the side of my friend. Only my children would get that from me. I would rather be useful. Let me run errands for you. Let me house visiting friends and relatives. Give me a job. Leave the grieving for death junkies, the people who seem to thrive on crisis and pain.

My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor once, a good one, it turns out. I was fine as long as I had things to do, things to help him feel better. When he was well, the dark thoughts flooded the void. That was the hard part. Thank god, I got busy at work.

My dying friends remind me that we are all dying, some quickly, some slowly. The joy is in the living our days, how ever many we have.

Sounds trite. Is trite. I have to move on now. Work to do. Thank god, there is work to do.

Accepted

QOL