Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Melancholy

Just so you know, an explicit post follows.  I am actually feeling quite neutral today (Friday, one week post-surgery), but one of aspect of having become a regular writer, even in blog form, is that one feels compelled to leave notes lying around.  A record of sorts.

Herewith, from last night:

Late Thursday afternoon, and I pick up the camera to take some pictures of the Thanksgiving table.

First, though, I scroll back to the images I took a week ago.  Late at night, after  everyone else was asleep, I went into the bathroom and took some of myself.

I have looked at thousands of images of the female breast over the past two months.  Most of them have been medical diagrams, demonstrating the complexity of breast tissue and various methods of excising and replacing it.

I never gave much thought to the magnificent detail of my anatomy.  My  breasts were 58 years old and they spent those years doing pretty much what a woman's breasts do.  They caused me some consternation in my youth, were a source of pleasure later on, and easily nourished three children, including my twin boys.  They looked ordinary and, as fashions became more revealing, they demanded some effort to cover with a  degree of modesty.

 Now one is badly bruised, a spray of black, purple and yellow, and the other is ~ the same color scheme, but not  geography I want to describe.   I can already disguise the reality, and I am told that by next summer I will be able to wear a t-shirt with no one the wiser. 

One of my friends emailed me yesterday to say that the holidays have increasingly become days on which we mark the  losses.   Hers have been staggering, and so have mine.  And while I am exceedingly grateful for the family that shelters me and the friends who support me, for my work and for my usual energy and for the health I was able to take for granted until recently, I miss my boy with a missing so wide and deep that there are moments on these days of celebration, moments through which I can barely breathe.

And so tonight, before I take the photos of the table, I look at the ones of myself.  Those ordinary, well-used, seldom visible breasts. 

They were very beautiful.


  1. Holidays are always a mixture of emotions.

    Have you read Barbara Brown Taylor's "An Altar in the World"...more specifically her chapter on the body?

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  3. My mom had her mastectomy in 1983 at Tulane, when she was 50. In those days, there was no real commitment to reconstructive therapy. Just an enormous, disfiguring scar. She had struggled all her life with body image and in those days, breast cancer was still such a taboo subject. We talked a bit about all that through the remainder of her life and I don't ever remember her being able to talk openly about that part of her that had been so beautiful. I do remember her looking at herself with even more despair and self-dislike from that point on. Your posting was beautiful, Robin. In case she was never able to say it for herself, I want to say it for her. Ann's breasts too were beautiful. I thank you for giving me the words.

    Hope you are having a good afternoon...

  4. Thank you for that, Rosa.

    I imagine that your mother had more extensive and disabling surgery as well. My heart goes out to her, that she was unable to live her last decades in a world where so much has changed where breast cancer is concerned.

    Now if we could just make similar progress in the next 30 years where mental disorders and suicide are concerned.

  5. As you get your strength back and pick up on the advocacy work you've described in some of your recent posts, let me know how I can help.