ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Monday, 15 September 2014

THE BIG C BLOG HOP FOR MELISSA BRADLEY - My cancer story, After the Storm.

Hi everyone!

Today is a sobering post. I responded to the call on Michael de Gesu's blog to write a cancer story to be included in an anthology. All sales will benefit blogger Melissa Bradley's fight, as with losing her job and undergoing chemotherapy, the cost of staying alive is sky high. She  needs our help. There is also a medical fund to help raise money for the expensive treatment. Go here if you feel you could spare a few dollars for Melissa.

Melissa is fighting cancer with a very upbeat spirit, a heavy dose of sass. I admire that as I follow her journey on facebook. Now, Michael and Melissa would prefer funny stories, and I tried, but funny and cancer is like an oxymoron to me. We have the choice to be inspirational and uplifting too, so I think my story fits somewhere around there.

The story came to me as I lay in bed thinking about Melissa, then thinking about all the lights in the house for our various electronics. That got me started...and I always like to write about the beach. With a bit more time I may have polished this to say exactly what I wanted it to say about the beach/thunderstorms/journey, and I know it doesn't quite. However, I hope it's entertaining and fits the bill for the cancer anthology.

Perhaps you could suggest ways I could improve it for the anthology. I'd love that.




AFTER THE STORM

That night, a thunderstorm struck. 

Sitting up in bed, Ellie clutched her hands over her heart, pushing it back into her chest. Each clap felt like the judgment of an angry God. But she was the one who was angry. At God. And scared. Her own ragged breaths, in and out, in and out. She leant forward and smothered her face in the pillow beside her.

Thunderstorms were her biggest nightmare. Or her second biggest. Her biggest was losing Steve. But…how could all that power in the heavens not strike her little home, sending what was left of her shattering to the four winds?

The wind moaned, rattling her windows, driving sheets of rain against the glass. A bolt of yellow struck the old wreck near the beach, sending sparks to the heavens. Would she be next?

Night turned to day with another humongous flash. Outside, the waves crashed again and again, eating hungrily at the rocky headland. Tomorrow the beach would be different. The dunes would be pushed back. The torn grasses and broken branches would be floating adrift on the tide. 

Everything looked different in the morning.

What a night!

There was a time when Steve held her. With his strong arms around her, she always felt safe. But now the terror was hers to deal with alone. Steve was gone. Two years ago today. She should have died with him. Anything but being left alone here by the beach, in a house that could topple into the water with the next gigantic wave, just like she wanted to topple out of her life…

Between lightning flashes, her room was as black as the inside of a cave, especially when she squeezed her eyes shut. The fear on her tongue was a metallic fluid, killing her drop by drop.
Was this all that remained of her life? Cringing in her bed, paralyzed by fear, alone?

She opened her eyes. No. It wasn’t pitch black. There were flickering lights throughout her room—the white light from her modem in the corner, her mobile phone flashing messages in blue pinpoints of light, her laptop showing green, fully charged—comforting her, showing her that life goes on. She wasn’t completely disconnected.

Staring at the flashing lights, it brought Steve’s hospital room into full focus,  and the terror threatened to overwhelm her again as it did that night. The machines beeped, the lights flashed, the green figures showed what was happening, until, finally, there was just a long green flat line…

They dragged her away in the end. They didn’t understand that she couldn’t leave Steve there, all alone. Doctors, nurses, social workers—all tried to reason with her, but who could reason with someone who had lost her reason for living? She couldn’t take it; she’d died with Steve, just like she’d lived with him. Twenty years together. That’s a lot of years to get over.

Another thunderclap sent her darting under the covers. She held the sheet over her head and prayed. Please God, take away my fears…of thunderstorms, of being alone, of unbelief. Forgive me for thinking You didn’t make me strong enough to go on. I will go on. Starting now.

Maybe her beach house would fall onto its knees into the water, but that was out of her control, like Steve’s cancer. Maybe she’d have to move away, start a new life…whatever. She would if she had to. Steve would have wanted that. He’d whispered to her before he left her: ‘Wipe away those tears. Don’t let cancer claim us both.’

Her phone beeped. She checked the messages. Several, all from the same person, Tom, the coastguard who lived in the next cottage:

YOU OKAY?

She messaged back:

I WILL BE.



 Please click on the links here, on on the badge in my sidebar for other cancer stories. Monday 15th is well underway in Australia, so you may have to wait until tomorrow for most of the posts.

Thank you for reading my story.  Please consider posting a story if you can manage it. I'm sure the anthology will take some time to be collated.

And any suggestions for improvement, I'm open.

 



65 comments:

  1. I have no feedback, Denise, because you've captured how I felt when hubs had his heart attack. All of a sudden, you feel so alone. . . But I couldn't panic, I had to drive to the hospital where the ambulance had taken him. It helped me focus.

    I couldn't come up with any cancer story at all, just too stressed because of my own problems. I'm sure the anthology will be a great success, and I will hope for an upturn in Melissa's recovery.

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    1. I'm often thinking of you and your hubs D.G. I hope the recovery is ongoing and that you're finding ways to work with the stress.

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  2. While I can't imagine the horror of losing someone I loved, of losing my wife, I think you nailed it with the urge to die with them.
    I do like that there was a ray of hope at the end.

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    1. Yes Alex, I don't like to imagine it happening, but it must one day. As D.G. says, you just have to get through it.

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  3. Thanks for letting us know.
    I'd like to help by contributing.

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  4. My wife is a caregiver. We often see on go, then the other a few short months later.

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    1. Yes, I've heard this. Recently I saw on tv that it is something to do with high blood pressure and stress which really means we can die of a broken heart.

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  5. A fine post and story. Sometimes when the knife of cancer kills there is precious little comfort except in the memory of a life well-lived. Each of us comes with a shelf-life that is unknown but only certain in that one day the shelf will be cleared of our presence. It is a cold world. It is our job to light fires as long as we are in it. My Stetson's off to you on a job well done.

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    1. I like the idea of lighting fires on this earth Roland. Thanks.

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  6. You story says what a lot of people think after losing a partner but can't articulate. I'm glad there is somebody else who is looking out for her, maybe it will advance into something more at a later stage.

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    1. Thanks Sally. i hope it does eventuate.

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  8. Great tonic for a Monday morning, Denise. There's always someone out there who's having a tougher time. Helps to put things in perspective. I love her determination at the end of the story. Hope the anthology raises lots of money for Melissa's treatment, and the medical fund too.

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    1. There is, Adura. I too hope enough is raised to help Melissa.

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  9. Very awesome story, Denise. I really enjoyed it and can relate so much after losing my husband this year. You really captured some of the feelings. And it's for such a great cause.

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    1. It must have been very raw for you Natalie. I hope it's getting a little better.

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  10. SO beautifully done and it's for such a great cause. Thank you Denise :)

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  11. What a lovely story, Denise. You've captured the roller coaster of emotions a person goes through when cancer claims a loved one's life. Thank you.

    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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    1. Thanks for coming by Elizabeth. And for your kind comments.

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  12. A very moving and emotional story. Well done.

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  13. So beautiful, the hope you left us with. Thank you!

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  14. This was beautiful, Denise. Sad and heartjerking, but with hope at the end. Very nice.

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  15. What a beautiful story, Denise. It really tugs at the heartstrings.
    Love the mixture of poignancy...frustration...hope...

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  16. Hi, Denise...
    Thank you for this wonderful story! It will be a beautiful part of the anthology!

    Each new piece you write gets stronger and stronger. We both have come such a long way in our writing....

    As for me... nothing needs improving.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful, kind words Michael.

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  17. What a piece! It was so full of emotion that I had to hold back tears. But I like the hope you gave us at the end. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. You did a beautiful job of capturing the emotions that must go along with losing someone you love. Not wanting to live without my dad was the very first sentiment my mom expressed when we found out he was sick. But sometimes we need a lightning storm to remind us of all the other things we have to live for.

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  19. Beautiful story, Denise. You've captured both the void of loss that can never be filled and nascent hope struggling to break free. Life goes on —changed though it may be—and we owe it to both ourselves and those we've lost to live it.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Thank you VR. Life does go on, as hard as it may be.

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  20. Such a beautiful story, Denise. Thank you so very much for participating. Huge Hugs!!

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    1. Thank you for popping by Melissa. It was my pleasure. Hope you are getting some of your energy back after the chemo.

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  21. That's a great story, Denise. Wonderful descriptions of both her surroundings and her anxieties. And I love the ending.

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    1. Yes, that ending sort of takes a lot of the depression out of it I think. I hope she has a HEA.

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  22. Heartwarming story Denise! I loved the play of emotions, love and loss, and how both gives us so much joy and sadness at the same time.

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    1. Yes they do Anne. Lovely to see you again.

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  23. I really like this story, Denise. I'm glad Melissa likes it, too.

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  24. That's an awesome story with a spectacular ending!

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  25. A different take on The Big C Hop. I like the last line!

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  26. Great character arc there. I love that there was someone checking on her, she just had to open her eyes to the fact. So reflective of life.

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  27. Amazing story packed into a tight space, Denise!

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  28. Loved the heart-warming story Denise.

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  29. a very real story. I could feel the thunder and the loneliness. Cancer can and is devastating to everyone in the vicinity, like a thunderstorm, but everything does look different in the morning.

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  30. This is a well written story, Denise. I like the flicker of hope in the end. If Ellie lives on, Steve will too. I believe this is the only way of thinking that would help someone go on after a great loss.
    I wish Melissa all the best with all my heart.

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  31. Excellent story. I liked how the lights in the darkness reminded her of both the loss and the future hope. Great depth and complexity.

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  32. Testing a new blog address for Donna Hole. Not sure it is working like I want. I'm so lost here. Liked your story partner :)

    ......dhole

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    1. Loved that you visited me wearing your new clothes.:)

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  33. Hi Denise - sorry I'm very late getting here ... I can feel the storms and know the sands, the dunes, the wave destruction ... I can feel her loss, but feel the storm is sweeping away the dark two years and perhaps a new light is nearby ...

    Great story for Melissa's anthology ... cheers Hilary

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  34. Very well done, Denise. You had me tearing up at the part her husband told her not to let cancer claim them both.

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    1. Yes, I've heard that used and it sticks in my head.

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  35. That was beautiful, Denise. I love all the support for Melissa. It's such an honor to be among such good, caring people.

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  36. Aww, I'm so glad the scene ended on a hopeful note! Love that line about her pushing her heart back in her chest.

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