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“lie awake” by Abbie Langmead

In August of 2023, we released our fourth Open Call: How might we reimagine healing and transformation with cancer through poetry, art, letters, and stories? The following is a poetry submission we received from this open call.

“Exactly one year after my aunt passed away after a five year fight with adenoid cystic carcinoma, my mother was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. My mom’s cancer should have been caught earlier. It shouldn’t have decreased her quality of life so quickly. Yet it did, and I have been grabbling with the fears, stressors, and also cycles of grief that I have been thrown into as a result of cancer. In my poetry, I make space for that pain when combined with compassion. Cancer sucks. “lie awake” isn’t about what is lost, even if the pain is present. It’s about what is already there–a simple abundance of love that family can have in spite of illness. That love can be painful or even bittersweet, but it is profound nonetheless.”

Abbie Langmead

lie awake

i stay up late
to make sure
that you’re still
i know
you did the same
when i was young,
letting the door creak
open, light pouring
down a narrow hall.
i don’t know
when you stopped checking.
i don’t know
when i started to,
when the only way
i could sleep
in your house
was to hear you
breathing through
thin walls, as if
i were your mother.

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