LBBC blogger Jenny Burkholder shares her thoughts on the novel Oz, by Nancy Eimers and how she feels it relates to her personal story and journey with breast cancer…
The last time I saw Jessica alive, we had just watched our 3 and 4 year old daughters perform in their winter concert. Our daughters, like all of the other preschool students, were adorable, and the whole audience melted when they paraded onto the stage sang songs in Spanish. At the time, we were both bald, clearly cancer patients. At that point, I was Stage II and done with chemo and treatment; she was Stage IV and dying. As we walked out into the winter cold, we talked about cancer. At one point she said to me, “If licking the sidewalk would cure me of cancer, I would do it.”
In her 2011 book, Oz, Nancy Eimers, one of my former poetry teachers, imagines a conversation in a parking lot with her friend and colleague, Julie. The poem titled, “Long Gone Conversation about Cancer” is –for Julie. Julie died in 2008 after a 16-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In the first two stanzas, Eimers writes, “The certain dark of a parking lot/not going anywhere: yeah we have to go/and maybe there’s even/ a future awaiting us like two tin cans/on the ends of a string,/maybe we’re both worried soon there won’t be anything/rippling in the string/but we stay a little while.” The image of these two women, lingering in a dark parking lot, a parking lot that will exist after both have driven away, after one has died, is beautiful and heartbreaking. (more…)