A Salute to Breast Cancer Awareness

I lean her tiny frame against my chest as I see her thin reflection in the bathroom mirror. I know she will not ask for help. Still, she has become so weak, so frail, that even the buttons on her shirt have become difficult for her. I slide my arms around her and begin at the top, pulling, twisting, and releasing each taut button through its stitched hole. As I see her profile in the mirror, I recognize the wear on her face, the shine from the vanity light on her head. I pull her shirt down off her shoulders as the water in the shower streams across the tile, beating rain-like patterns on the glass door. My hands move across her back to unhook her bra, and I slide the straps off her shoulders, remove the prosthesis. I run my hands down her shoulders, across her chest, her collarbone, her space where her breast used to be.

The scar from where she fought like a dragon feels smooth–almost silky–on my fingertips. The new form is different, yes, but beautiful still. Even more beautiful.

I help her climb the small step into the steam of the shower. I look through the glass not yet bathed in water vapor, and I see her again for the first time.

These moments catch me off guard.

I feel like I am the one who should fight this monster for her, but she has had to walk a path through darkness and pain I may never know.

My eyes begin to well, but the tears are not full of loss for her breast, her hair; instead a soft smile covers my face as a tiny drop streams down my cheek. I still have the most important thing to me in the entire world.

I still have her.

(This piece was originally posted here. It remains one of my favorite short pieces that I have written, and the images I see when I read it still touch me. I hope you enjoyed it.)

Images of Who We Really Are

Have you heard Colbie Caillat’s new song? Her video is a collection of powerful images of women, with and without faces covered, hair styled (complete with weave or wig), and otherwise “made up” in such a way to form them to society’s definition of beauty. Here is the link, in case you missed it (or wanted to watch it again):

I can’t watch it without crying. It hurts that we spend so much time trying to please other people…that we don’t feel okay with ourselves enough to let others see us the way we are.

So we make something up…we make ourselves up…and we try to become something we aren’t.

What would have to happen for us to begin again? For us to like ourselves the way we are, when we wake up, without hair done, nails done, makeup covering the blemishes that make us who we are?

When did the trend begin that we couldn’t just be individuals? When did we decide that we have to hide behind layers of “foundation” and eye makeup, lip gloss and blush? Are we feeding a bigger problem when we give in to the urge to cover our flaws? Are we putting up our imaginary walls to distance ourselves from others each morning when we create a barrier between us and others with makeup, clothing, and other superficial barriers? Why aren’t we okay being imperfect?

(We are all imperfect.)

When will I decide that I like me? When will you decide that you like you?