Peggy Murphy ~
I need to see Justin before my workday commences. I'm a social worker at the outpatient cancer center where Justin has been treated for an aggressive colon cancer.
Seeing him today means visiting him in the hospital, up the road from the center.
It's almost surreal.
When I first met Justin, nearly two years ago, he looked every bit the linebacker--well over six feet tall, with a girth to match. A man in his late fifties, he had a booming voice and an engaging personality. He was married, a successful wining-and-dining stockbroker, active in his town and in the local Italian American Society.
Scott Janssen ~
"You ever work with vets?" asks the young man sitting across from me in the hospital waiting room.
He's been sitting there all morning. So have I. Since 5:30 am, my father-in-law, age eighty-eight, has been undergoing surgery to remove a tumor in his lung. The surgeons just sent word that they've finished, and my wife and her mother have gone to the post-op room to see him.
Waiting for them to return, my wife's sister and I have been talking about her son, who's thinking of joining the Air Force.
"Warn him about the recruiters and their shiny promises," I say. "Tell him they're all a bunch of liars."
"That's for damn sure," the man says.
We smile at each other and chat for a bit, then my sister-in-law starts messing with her cellphone, opting out of the conversation.
The man tells me that he was in the Army for twenty years, including combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meg Lindsay ~
After 10 days in a hospital
you regain the ability
to walk albeit with a cane so I put the commode
out in the hall as you are laughing a bit more,
the gleam back, but the chemo starts
and the next morning again pain
in your ribs and sternum
and now it burns
in your chest and again you
can’t make it up the stairs.
A spasm and your body folds into itself,
into the sign of the crab.