I think you can be depressed and flourish, I think you can have cancer and flourish, I think you can be divorced and flourish. When we believed that happiness was only smiling and good mood, that wasn’t very good for people like me, people in the lower half of positive affectivity.
Several years ago, I participated in a program sponsored by Houston Grand Opera called Houston Artists Respond. People from community centers in Houston, Texas, made videos in which they shared their experiences, parts of their lives. These were made available to artists, poets and composers who were asked to respond using their art. I chose three videos from the Baker Ripley Community Center and wove them with my own feelings to make three poems. This is the second of those poems, and tells the story of a brave woman from Cuba who found herself faced with the specter of cancer. She had lived a full and exciting life with ups and downs, and looked forward to a quiet old age. This was not to be, at least not yet.
The poem you see is the result of a communion and merging of understanding between this wonderful woman and myself. I am honored to have been able to use my words to translate and expand her experience. Her story is a tale of courage and resilience, and her sharing of it does not only buoy her spirit, but shines a light to others who tread similar paths. I only hope that I will be able to meet life’s dark places with an ounce of her strength.