The following is a short story I wrote a couple years ago for one of my writers groups. Here is a link to our website:
Included in this story is a poem that I also wrote. The poem is about cancer and the fight that has waged in the past, today, and will continue to go on tomorrow.
I am a cancer survivor, as is my son. We hold our heads high and pray for all those afflicted by this ruthless monster.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope this story brings home the strength and passion for life that exists all around us today.
The speaker stepped up to the podium to adjust the microphone. He glanced at the empty chair to his left. He anxiously checked his watch, frowning at the results. He licked his lips and tugged at his left ear. His eyes found the clock on the back wall. His heart rate speeded up as he realized the chair to his left was still empty.
Moving to his right, he grabbed hold of a glass of water on the table beside another chair. Nervously, he sipped the water, while tugging at the neck of his dress shirt. As he moved back to the podium, he looked up at the banner behind him. It read, “Cancer Awareness and prevention week”.
He adjusted the microphone once more as he glanced at the clock at the back of the room again. It was 7:04 pm. He leaned into the microphone, “Good evening ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Charles Moody, and I would like to thank you all for joining us tonight for this evenings annual support meeting of The National Cancer Awareness and Prevention Week, which has become a very important yearly event for our community.” He looked at his watch one more time. “We have scheduled a very special speaker for you tonight, but first I would ask you all to join me in looking over some of the printed materials that were handed out to you all tonight. Let’s start with the orange colored pamphlet that is titled,”
The large double doors at the back of the hall suddenly clicked and swung open. A slender middle aged woman entered the room, accompanied on either side by two taller, younger men. The heavy wooden doors clicked shut behind them as all heads in the room turned and followed their progress to the front of the hall , and up to the left side of the podium.
The speaker backed away from the podium and stared intensely at the woman as she made her way towards him. The two younger men stood at her side.
The speaker and the woman exchanged whispered words for a few moments . He bent down and hugged the woman, then took turns shaking the hands of the young gentlemen accompanying her. He stepped up to the microphone once again. “Ladies and gentlemen, at this time I would like to turn the meeting over to a dear friend of mine,” He turned to look at the woman, then faced the crowd again. “Please help me welcome, Mrs. Eleanor Johnston.”
The room applauded as Speaker Moody retreated to the right side of the podium. He lowered his head , and stared at the floor, while Mrs. Johnston slowly moved up to the microphone. The two tall young men that had accompanied her into the hall, now stood at either side of her, staring straight ahead.
In a soft, searching voice, the woman began to speak.
“Thank you Charles.” She smiled at Mr. Moody.
With hands clasped tightly together in front of him, his eyes never lifted from the floor.
She continued, “Good evening everyone. As most of you know, I am Eleanor Johnston. These two handsome men with me tonight are my sons, Avery, and Samuel. We are blessed to be here tonight in support of this wonderful cause, and hope that all of you will join us in the ongoing fight against this ruthless disease that we call cancer.”
She paused, looking back over each shoulder, smiling at her two sons. Turning back to the audience, she reached up onto the podium and placed a standing picture of a handsome, gray haired man. She continued speaking, “It was our original intensions to have my dear husband, Roland Johnston, speak to you tonight. As some of you know, Roland has been battling bone cancer for some time now.”
She paused again, looking down in front of her. The hands of her sons graced her shoulders as she slowly picked up her head once more. She reached out and ran her fingers around the gold frame of the picture. “Although he had been in remission these past few weeks, my husband, their Dad, Roland, unfortunately lost his battle with cancer early this morning.” The room sighed with collective grief as she bravely continued. “He moved through and past this life with dignity, strength, honor and grace.” She paused as her son on her right bent towards her and gently kissed her cheek, as she leaned back into him.
The Roland that we all lived and loved with gave us all strength to endure his struggles. He gave us all a sense of purpose, a gift of hope, and as he bid farewell to us, his passion for family shone brightly for all of us to see.”
As silence strolled through the room, the faint tears could be heard throughout the crowd.
She reached into the front pocket of her sweater, pulling out a piece of paper. Unfolding it, she laid it flat on the podium, and slowly smoothed it with her hands. Taking a deep breath, her eyes lifted again to the onlookers of the room. “Roland Johnston always had a passion to write. Although he hardly ever found the time to do so, his written words graced my soul and found their way into my heart for all our years.” She cleared her throat, looking down at the paper. “This is a poem that my darling Roland wrote, just a few short weeks ago.”
As the audience dried their tears, her soft gentle voice filled the room. She read,
“With whispered silence, you enter our lives.
Meek and mild, so cleverly disguised
Like dust trailing in the breeze, you slowly settle in.
With unfamiliar guest, the Unknowing victims overlook.
Crouching and waiting, you poise patiently through the night.
Never asking, never worrying, never confused.
The goal you seek is written firmly in darkened script.
Unsuspecting, we make our way around you.
Our passion for life becomes your fuel of rage.
So it begins, therefore we change.
Tiny warriors of our lives slowly do battle with you.
You inject your painful sarcasm into our lifelong tales.
Our stories stolen, our memories misplaced.
With relentless hunger, you feed from ravaged hearts.
The Recipes of souls pour out and cry for mercy.
Dwelling deep inside, your endless pillage moves through.
You claim what is not yours, and rip away so much more.
You remain forever mute to our merciful plea.
You remain selfish to our plea.
You remain emotionless to our plea.
Hear our sorrow through our tears.”
With tears streaming down her face, she reached into her other sweater pocket and pulled out a handful of tissues. Her sons moved in closer to her, cradling her shoulders as she looked at each of them, smiling through her sorrow.
Looking back down at the podium, she cleared her throat, and forged on.
“Overcome with question, we search for the answer.
Overcome with doubt, we will always believe.
Overcome with fear, we remain standing brave and tall.
Your burden, though heavy, will not end the love that surrounds us.
We will carry on the names and savor the smiles of tomorrow.
We will carry on with fists full of beating heart.
We will overcome, as we conquer your pitiful cause.
We will endure your spiteful, grayed ashes of doom.
We will hold tight to the love of all from deep within.
We will find our way through your twisted, cancerous root.
You may not ask for one thing more.
You have taken far more than enough.
It is time for you to pack your things and leave.
It is time for you to be on your way.
It is time for us to live once again.”
The room sat mesmerized in silence as she quietly folded the paper and placed it carefully back in her sweater pocket.
Again she spoke, “Roland Douglas Johnston fought the cause. He was living the example for all to see. His brave, continued struggle to beat back this monster will not die with him. His courage and determination will live on in the faces and voices of those that are, and will continue to face the struggles that go hand in hand with the armies of darkness that surround this evil beast.”
Her voice became stronger, as her eyes beamed, “With God’s strength and guidance, I will live the rest of my life fighting for this cause, and I welcome you to join me!” She reached to her shoulders, and clutched tightly to her sons hands. “I welcome you to join, us. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all.”
As she stepped away from the podium, she breathed a sigh of relief. The speaker stepped towards her, and hugged her, then strongly shook the hands of her two sons as he whispered in their ears
She, and her sons, made their way down from the podium, and through the main aisle. The crowd silently stood and quietly reached out to her as she walked by. Spreading her arms out, she graced them all with her touch, slowly moving towards the exit.
Her sons slowly open the double doors, and the three exited the hall. As the metal latches of the doors clicked shut, the audience slowly returned to their seats.
The room was frozen in silence.
Speaker Moody stood at the podium, reached into his coat pocket, pulled out his handkerchief, and wiped away a tear rolling down his cheek.