First Cancer Then The True Self By Kirie Pedersen

April 14, 2014 Comments Off on First Cancer Then The True Self By Kirie Pedersen

Let that feeling bubble up in you, effervescent, almost like euphoria. ~Winifred Wilson

When my husband was dying of cancer, I never once thought I would have cancer. Such is the power of DNA. But when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I developed it that very day. My mind was scrubbed, and I could upload nothing. Nouns slipped away, then verbs, those beloved parts of speech. Then my father suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and I got those, too, often many times a day, and always on the left side.

The ailments that killed my parents, unimaginable before, became my constants.

Now, in Winifred’s class, I often cry. This is quiet crying. I feel a dampness on my cheeks, and when I touch the flesh below my left eye, I find tears.

Almost from birth, I was on guard. My earliest memories are my mother clutching the first three in her eventual litter of six, weeping as my father raged. I envision that infant and then the self I currently occupy, and I want to be my own elder. I want to be effervescent almost euphoric with kind eyes. In a dream last night, the elder kissed my forehead.

I want the tenderness of women and men who aren’t blood.

When I hike in the Los Padres wilderness, a new friend touches my wrist to make a point. Sometimes she holds my hand, stroking my palm as if divining my fortune. Despite warnings of cougar and bear, even when I walk alone along the canyon trails, I feel brave.

© 2013 Kirie Pedersen

Recent work by Kirie Pedersen has appeared in Quiddity, Eleven Eleven, Folly, Chaffey Review, Caper Literary Journal, Avatar Review, Bluestem, Glossolalia, Folly Magazine, The View from Here, r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Review, Laurel Review, and South Jersey Underground. She holds a M.A. in fiction writing and literature and blogs at

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