The Small Things: A Reminder for Today

By Surakshya Kiju (Coco) | Featured Contributor


The small things in life aren’t really all that small.
They’re the things that make life real.
Takes your happiness to a whole new level.
Keeps you from feeling lost in an empty world.

We try so hard but we’re only human.
We can’t help it. We’re always on the run.
Always trying to meet expectations.
To label you as rose and not the thorn.

But when you find something that makes you forget it all;
A passion, a hobby or even alcohol
that pulls you through the tragedies that befall,
then how can you label that something as small?

Something that makes you live in the now.
Something you connect with without any vows.
Something that you think the world of.
Something that gives you meaning of love.


We only have one life. One chance to do it all. To do everything that we want, to enjoy living to the fullest. So why are we wasting it on the worries of tomorrow? Especially when we know that worrying isn’t gonna change anything at all. Most of the things we worry about end up not happening at all. All worrying about tomorrow does is steal away your present. So why don’t we live in the now instead and leave tomorrow’s worry for tomorrow?

Continue reading “The Small Things: A Reminder for Today”

Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 1)

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


As we grow and develop, we learn how to identify with many labels or roles, such as daughter/son, aunt/uncle, mother/father, and grandmother/grandfather, to name a few. It seems as though our stories are written before we are born to conform to these labels. In a way, these roles become rituals that comfort us as we agree to them and even expect our lives to go “as planned” based on our social codes and blueprints for survival.

I know I certainly expected my life to unfold much like my mother’s life did with marriage and family. She had seven children, and being the second oldest and oldest girl, I was able to help with all the babies she had. It never occurred to me that I would never be able to have my own children. Little did I know that my helping her at the ages of 9 and 10 with my youngest siblings would be my only times to experience at least part of what a mother does for her kids. I am not sure I appreciated this time because as much as I loved playing mommy, I also wanted to be with my friends.

Continue reading “Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 1)”

Get Featured on PhoebeMD!

Do you currently live with a chronic health condition or care for someone who does? Have you overcome a significant health event in the past? Would you like to use your experience to inspire others who may be going through similar circumstances while simultaneously expanding your own blog readership?

If so, PhoebeMD would like to invite you to submit your story to be considered for publication!

Continue reading “Get Featured on PhoebeMD!”

Storm.

 

A yearning
as sirens of
autumn’s breath
whisper words
of anticipation.
A rhythmic contralto
an echo to the soul
a welcomed unrest
as the valley chants 
its familiar tune.

Mesmerized
is she as gleams
of heaven incensed
unveil a sight divine.
A prelude
as skies yield to
nature’s command–
a foretaste of the
promised cleansing
of her deliverance.

Simple Moments.

Meet little Mialy, Mia, and their father…known simply as Baba. They—along with 15 other siblings—made up my host family during a time spent in the arid region of southern Madagascar, where I was doing research on the Antandroy communities. 

I often think back to this family with bittersweet fondness. When I was there, I was profoundly inspired by their love for life and their appreciation of the simple joys it brings…while endlessly cheered by their wide grins and generous laughter.

But now, when I glance at this photo, their visage seems to reveal a truth much deeper…and my heart aches a little. 

Nevertheless, the sound of their laughter will remain with me forever, and I am thankful to have met them…and grateful for the lessons they taught me in treasuring the simple moments in life. 

ambarofamilyl

Departure.

Liberated
into the haven
of a mausoleum
lies a dove deceived-
its tattered pinions
a reminder of
a pledge riven,
a reverie tainted,

an innocence
betrayed.

Save her.
Let the shadows
of her present
console with
saccharine lies,
warm her with
tinned caresses
of boughs
freshly severed-
a revival of 
splintered promises 
of a new day–
as verdant hues
decay to dust.

Restored.

Immortalized
within counterfeit fibers
of a petrified forest
are your sorrows
weighed with silt,
swallowed by shadows
of its own valley,
silenced beneath
the porcelain surface
of a visage pristine.

Banish them.
Let your tears cathartic
burn
these cheeks of mine.
Scour them with scars
of an ancient past
of an ache relived.
Let me bear the dusk
until from the womb,
emerged pure as
the morning dew,
is a love renewed.

Deliverance.

deliverance

Caressed
by the hush
of a wayward tear
emerged
from flames
that once
scalded her eyes
is an innocence lost
a wistfulness retained
a longing diffused
within the brine
of memories.

Weighted
like the dew
upon a thorn
to the force
of an ethereal call
she surrenders.
With strengthened hope
through moistened gaze
down meandered path
she searches
until finally
upon her lips
does she taste
the bittersweetness
of her deliverance.

Metamorphosis.

Swathed
within the confines
of her tendrils
Cocooned
by the veins
of trepidation

the constraint
of knowledge

of an image
of that which
she was meant to be.

Achingly
she fights
sinews stretched
tendons taut
‘tween flesh and bone
Shattered
is her strength
Dissolved
are her fears
and the form
she once knew.
She awakens.

With wings spread, she flies away…

…and does not look back.

A Caregiver’s Heart.

I cared for you even before we met.

As letters meandering the page
sketched the contours of a portrait,
I looked forward to meeting you.

As I enter the room,
I sense a fragrance of time past,
of struggles endured years before–
silent whispers of a mind’s unrest
reflected through misted eyes.

As we talk,
of a soul’s facade you steadily disrobe.
Words of suffering and pain, joy and pride-
each syllable a silvered twine
weaving your life’s story.

I examine you.
Your heart-
that fulcrum deeply hinged.
A bittersweet thrum
of a battery strong but worn.
Your lungs-
that which sing
their own melodious song,
a lulling carol
invigorated with each exhale.

From there a journey it becomes
to strengthen you, to make you whole.
A disease conquered, a valley bridged.
A hollow filled, a life restored.

We work together.
As ripples in a wake,
your life affects mine,
for the same heart that aches
when you suffer
rejoices with you
in your victories.

Because this is what I treasure–
the chance to care for you,
to walk with you.

It is a privilege.

So thank you for letting me.

The Waning.

You already knew.
Gaze unflinching, 

you told us to say the words.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

A. L. S.

Despite sparse questions,
your eyes revealed
an understanding far deeper
than our answers-

that with one moment,
robbed were you

of the years ahead,
of memories awaiting,
of stories belonging to you.
Now lost.

Strength dissolving,
your conviction remains
unscathed.

You savor
each passing sunrise.

Each caress, each step.
For you know.
As your legs cease to support,
arms stop to comply,
you still feel
your child’s touch.

Absorbing her love.
Pretending
you don’t care the roles
have been reversed

as you yearn
to return her embrace.

As its hunger ascends,
You treasure
the remaining days.

Every word, every smile.
For you know.
Soon it
consumes your voice,

drains your visage,
until all that is left is
the silence
of a vacant mask.

Unable to reflect
your thought’s grin,

your heart’s laugh,
your soul tears
as you blink away the moisture.

As your breaths
increasingly betray you,

you are not defeated,
for the flames
of your bruised spirit
are not quenched,

and you give thanks
for the time you had,

even as your body dims
and you fade away.

A Letter to Grandma.

Fragments of moons past
sketch silhouettes of
a scenery divine.

A daytime reverie.
Fond memory.
A granddaughter missing you.

Do you recall, grandma?
Long ago, a grandbaby born
into an era of bitter lack,
that enriched by your presence,
comforting embrace,
renewed to an age of precious worth?

Do you suffer, grandma?
Parted by spanning seas,
my tears diffuse beneath the rain.
Had I a wish and a dove I became,
my wings would span,
sealing the distance between us.

Do you remember me, grandma?
Though the crook of time
has stolen your sight,
stripped your mind,
blunted your strength,
with a heavy heart
I still see you as before-

with beauty so simple,
love so pure
to inspire
a nightingale’s lament.

So fear not the season’s change, grandma,
nor the graying sun,
the silvering stream-
as at the end of the road
will glisten a rainbow,
and the mists of tomorrow
will clear away your fog.

And then I will again be your grandbaby.

 

Embraced.

His heart unveiled before me,
descended from fields above,
let him free me with eternal songs
and constrain me with his love.

Lilacs amidst the autumn green,
like lilies among the thorns,
let him hold me up in blossom tides
in whose haven I am reborn.

If come the dawn which want of rain,
the hours of trial and drouth,
let him kiss me now as he kissed me then–
nectared kisses of his mouth.

When moistened rivulets meander down
my cheeks onto my neck,
let him dry the tears and calm my soul
with words of sweet caress.

As cashmere skies dissolve in mist
to lower eve’s curtain from above,
let them come; I fear it not–
for I am sick with love.


A Search Within.

How do I know
the pill won’t seem
bitter to your tongue
through your teeth?

How do I wear
a once white coat
stained with tears
of memories?

How do I compel
my pen to write
scripts to fight
a dimming light?

How do I know
 which waters will flow
to unearth the strength
within me?

How do I persuade
a heart to let go
when it’s my hand
that sets you free?

How do I ensure
my smile won’t be
one of the last
that you’ll see?

How do I force
my ears to hear
a song I fear
of dusk so near?

How do I know
which waters will come
to enshroud the doubts
within me?


A Memory of Ground Beef.

Once when I was on a specialized heart failure service, I took care of a teenage boy. He had a form of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (a weak, enlarged heart), and he had a huge heart…in more ways than one.

He loved baseball, pumpkin pie, and horses. His family owned a farm, so before he got sick, he would often go horseback riding. He also loved to draw.

We—a team of five physicians—took care of him for a month while he was waiting for a heart transplant. He liked us. We liked him. So he drew us as well.

I thought he was clever. But he thought I was even more so. All because he liked my joke:

“What do you call a cow with no legs?”

“Ground beef.”

That was it. He was just a great kid, trying his best to live the life given to him.

It used to be, that at the end of our visits, we would both say to each other, “Ground beef!” with a wink and a huge smile. It perplexed the other physicians, but we knew exactly what we were talking about.

It was just a silly joke. But for the two of us, it somehow meant something more. 

I found out recently that he passed away. And today I found the drawing he gave me. And I wept.

So here’s to you, dear buddy…

Ground beef 😉

Confessions

I am flawed. Those who have read some of my earlier scribbles have seen the somewhat self-critical lens through which I view myself. Despite this, a new year is just upon us, which, like every new day, offers a chance for us to adjust whatever it is we feel we need to adjust…whether it is our daily habits or our perspective on life.

Therefore, Puppydoc would like to share with you a few things about herself by presenting her three big goals for the New Year:

♥ To LIVE more.

Prioritizing her professional and academic endeavors over the past decade has somewhat come at a price for Puppydoc, who feels that she has missed out on life in general as well as many of the people in it. Therefore, she would like to do things differently this year by more fully treasuring what she already has…her dear family and friends…and by putting them first.

To LAUGH more.

Medicine, while it has given her many precious memories, has formed in her a sort of a somber outlook on life, where all she sees is suffering around her. Coupled with an impression that she is rather powerless to really make a difference, she ends up bearing a lingering guilt for not being able to do more for others. For this, Puppydoc will take a dose of what has traditionally been considered the best medicine–laughter–and just try to loosen up a bit.

 To LOVE more.

For most of her life, Puppydoc has guarded her heart closely, almost afraid to feel…experience…embrace that nebulous realm called love. Fearing vulnerability, she has attached herself to the position of caregiver in both her professional and personal life, always caring for others while within remained a daydreaming girl aching to be cared for. But now is the time for her to start taking down the walls surrounding her. And who knows what may happen…

• 

Thank you, dear Liz, for prompting me to think about my goals and to write this post. You are an inspiration to all!

Wishing everyone a lovely week and a wonderful start to the New Year.

Love,
Puppydoc

A Lunch with a Gift.

I had lunch with a homeless man.

But not just any man. An elderly man, a former high school teacher…and a former patient of mine from a charity clinic where I used to work.

It happened as I was driving through downtown, stopped at a light beneath an overpass. Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice. 

“Hi Doc!”

Since we were both hungry, we did the natural thing: we went for lunch at a nearby cafe. Despite intrigued glances from others, we had a lovely lunch. Looking back, it may have been one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve ever had.

A few days later, I was contacted by the clinic who informed me that I had received a letter from a patient. And here I will share it with you—in a form put into verse by me but which maintains its original wording:

Dear doc, you have been so kind to me.
Why, you even took me to lunch.
I wish I could give you something in return,
but I know I don’t have much.

So I write these simple words to you
in hope that on those days
that they’ll make you smile and give you strength
and peace in many ways.

You are a doctor to many,
but an angel you have been to me,
who encouraged, cared, and healed my pain,
and a light you made me see. 

I am sad that you are no longer my doc
but am glad that you are my friend.
And I hope we can keep in touch
until the very end. 

So why did I share this? Because I was “challenged” by Liz to give a gift to someone. But now I realize—I don’t think I succeeded in giving anything to anyone.

Rather, the gift was given to me

 

 

Pearl.

Twilight rent by a glittered moon
betray truth of a latent fear.
A gilded smile, a heart once proud,
joys tarnished by the salt of tears.

Captivate this wearied soul,
serenade her with a love divine.
Let the grains of silt that wounded her
be patterned for a jewel’s design.

Cherished.

Fervid waters of a love unborn
stir shadows in a twilight dance.
Cheek flushed beneath a nectared kiss,
heart ravished with singular glance.

Repose her upon the horizon pure
over blooms of lavender sheen
to be searched beneath an open sky
as she descends into oblivion serene.

Unrequited.

When a smile,
portrayed as guise of fire,
rusts as your presence departs…

When a caress,
lingered with twilight glow,
is but a shadow trailing
scarlet threads…

When a love, unreturned,
plays master calloused
to a fading hope…

Set a seal upon shallow heart,
you whom my soul desires,
and let me be released. 

The Patient.

I met you my intern year. I remember the first thing you said to me.

“I don’t care to be here.”

With a countenance creased from decades of hardship, a gait staggered from illness, eyes steeled by sufferings, your restrained presence betrayed a sheath impervious. I believed you previously had poor experiences in similar settings, because you told me so. I knew you didn’t trust me, because you told me so.

Our first few visits were stippled with formality. I posed questions; you answered. But they weren’t your answers, but perhaps words you knew I wanted to hear. I half expected you to stop coming. But you never did. Instead, you continued to sit there, guarded, a portrait of cordiality and cautiousness. 

And then one day it happened.

Your hard gaze glimmering with moisture, I saw your shell break. I then got to know you. Little by little, visit by visit. I learned of the pain you endure. I learned of your frustrations, your desperation…your despair. I learned of your deep heart. I learned many things. But most importantly, I learned who you were.

Months went by. Gradually a smile seeped through. Your eyes now shined as you shared with me the latest on your life. A life that I was lucky enough to now be a part of. But suddenly three years pass, and as my time with the clinic comes to an end, we now must part. On your last visit, I sense your frustration and anguish again, and I think I understand why. As you cry I reassure you that everything will be okay. But as I comfort you I am struck by a sudden surge of emotion, and I also struggle to keep my composure.

You see, through this experience, I have started to recognize what it is you were talking about. An understanding. A connection. Some may even say a friendship. Because even though you may not know this, I am now happier because you are happier. Because you are now healthier, more satisfied. Full of life. 

Now as we part I feel the tearing of a piece of my soul. As we hug one last time the goodbye is silent and understood. But then you pull back, look me in the eyes, and say simply, “Thank you for helping me live.”

As I hold back my own tears, I realize I am thinking the same thing.

Thank you for helping me live.

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