Later that evening, I pause in my laundry room,
debating over whose bodily wastes to attend to first.
My mother will need her sheets and nightgown soon, and
besides, she discretely stashed the evidence in the machine,
ready to go. My husband’s dark clothes can wait until
I catch myself giggling as I walk down the hall.
“What’s so funny?” My husband calls out from
the living room where he and my mother watch TV.
I wish I could share the joke. “Life is what’s funny,” I
tell them, continuing to laugh. Maybe I’ll cry later. But
for now, I relish the irony, recognizing the parallel
accidents that have befallen two people I love dearly, and
that must remain a secret from one another.
I measure out the soap while I imagine my husband’s and
mother’s puzzled expressions. I can’t make out their
conversation as the washing machine whirls into action.
Knowing they are united by their love for me brings me joy,
As long as I’m able to laugh, I think I’ll get by. I’m
one of the lucky ones.
Later, I get ready for bed, hoping I won’t have to go
through the same exercise again tomorrow.
Tomorrow will likely bring new unanticipated tests,
challenging my ability to tumble, like my mom, without
breaking my bones or to respond to an emergency like my
husband, without having to wear poop on my shoes.
Marcie Beyatte became a cancer
survivor in 2003. She created and produced the program,
Cancer in So Many Words, whose mission is to empower cancer
survivors to use the written word to express themselves.
Marcie’s essays have appeared in the Contra Costa Times and
The East Bay Monthly as well as the soon-to-be-published
anthology,”Voices of Breast Cancer.”Her husband is now
thriving after finishing treatment for colon cancer. She can
be reached at