At the age of 15, Christine Mulvihill completed her poetic novel, Life is One Tough Pill to Swallow, the story of her lifelong fight with cancer. Her story begins at the age of 3 in the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and ends tragically, again at CHEO at the age of 17. This is the introduction to her poetic novel which can be found at Childhood-Cancer-Survivor.com;
I thought that after I was discharged from the hospital everything would be normal or even sort of normal, but that’s not how this story goes. You see, somewhere through all this my soul has been scared and a curse cast upon myself, a curse I will take to my grave.
Her poetic novel includes several stories and over 40 poems, some about misery, depression, pain, life and poems about death.
This is one of her poems.
So Now I Lay Me Down to Cry
My daughter Christine has been on chemo for more than a year now, she’s 4 years old. She fell very low on the chemo the first month we were here and has remained more or less there since then. God it’s hard to see her like this all the time. I’m always with her except when my wife or other family members come to spell me off.
When we first came to CHEO Christine was a frightened little girl all the time, you could see it in her face and eyes even at a distance. She would put up a big fight when ever she had to take prednisone because she had to chew it to get it down and it was difficult for her to actually get it down, and it tastes terrible. Then one day, several weeks after her only friend Sarah died in the room across the hall, she took the prednisone, chewed it and swallowed without a word. The fear in her eyes is gone now and she’s an active participant in all her treatments.
Christine’s grandmother, a retired nurse, was a very special person; she always knew that Christine would overcome her illness.
Every day she would take me to the chapel in the church and I would stare at the enormously realistic wood carved statue of Jesus. I would ask “even though you look like you are in more pain than me, can you ask your father to help me.”
Then my grandmother and I would go back to the room and say this prayer together;
And now I lay me down to sleep and I pray you lord my soul to keep, but if I shall die before I wake, I pray you Lord my soul to take.
Now she has relapsed and radiation is the only way forward. With death waiting around the corner she prays, dreams and cries.
What If Faith is Not Enough
A Childhood Cancer Survivor Poem
© 2016 Christine Mulvihill
When reality finally hits you it hurts
When the truth comes into focus it’s brutally painful.
Hope isn't always enough
It’s not always a happy ending.
What happens when faith is not enough?
I get hot flashes
My depression splashes
My soul is cold like stone,
The fear of being alone.
So now I lay me down to sleep
I pray you lord my soul to keep
Don’t let me die before I wake
I pray you lord my soul do not take.
I barely have a past
And may have no future
Empty pages of a book
A story left unwritten
A life left unlived
A hope left in the dust.
Please don't take me yet
Your mercy you won't regret
I am down on my knees
Begging you please
Don’t take me away.
At night I dream a misty graveyard
A tombstone the name I cannot see
A flashlight in the darkness
A figure so lifeless I cannot breathe,
Then I awake not as fearless as I may seem.
If this is my future
And if it comes to pass
And this breath be my last
Then this thought to you I cast.
What if faith is not enough?
Then life would be rather tough
With nothing to believe in
And nothing to justify
Nothing to keep you sane
Nothing to grasp when you fall
You will have nothing, nothing at all.
Sometimes that is how I am
Falling in the darkness
With nothing to take hold
This feeling leaves me cold
hearted, soulless, empty.
All I feel is the pain of being unreal
No one knows how this life feels,
When you are so lifeless.
So now I lay me down to cry
I pray you lord you can't let me die.
Now I lay me down to sleep
Close my eyes without a peep
Never to be opened again.