Jay Lake: Writer

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[cancer] The chemo ritual

So we have made a ritual to help me get through chemo. and I dreamed this up from an idea she had, and it was extended and refined by others, with contributions of material support from Mother of the Child and .

We acquired twelve small bottles and jars.


I wrote out a list of twelve of my hopes and twelve of my fears for the chemotherapy process.


and created twenty four small slips of paper, then wrote out each of my hopes and fears on one of the slips. (They also each wrote a separate, bonus hope of their own, which I did not see.)




We randomly inserted one hope and one fear in each bottle. Then the two of them placed their bonus hopes into the bottles, and we arranged them on my mantelpiece.



Now, every time I finish a chemo infusion (which will be the Sunday afternoons after the Friday sessions, when I can remove the pump I’m to wear for 48 hours), I will smash one of the bottles, releasing both the hope and the fear within. We’ll save the shards and scraps inside a larger bottle to remind me later. The diminishing line of bottles on the mantelpiece will be my countdown calendar showing how long I have to go until I’m done.

I’m not normally much for rituals, but this one feels powerful to me. and are marvelous to do this, and I love them both.

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