A stuffed animal was perched in her lap, where she sat up in bed looking like a beautiful 40-something biker chick whose ride had mistakenly landed her there.
In the hospital.
On the hospice floor.
With a bassinet sitting at the foot of her bed.
A tattoo made of words, rendered in simple calligraphy, graced her right foot. Her coal black hair was stylishly short and shiny as patent leather. Her face was round and flawless, as ready to beam with a smile as it was to break into tears.
Though I had trouble understanding the scene in front of me, I told her I was there to turn something about her experience into a piece of art that would bring her comfort. All I needed was one word that meant a lot to her.
In one long breath she told me she had just given birth to her son
two weeks ago and while trying to figure out whether she was having a reaction to an antibiotic they discovered her leukemia was back even though supposedly once you have it as she did 15 years ago it doesn’t come back and now of all times when she has found more happiness than ever did it have to show its ugly face and get between her and this unbelievable child who is so special there are literally no words to describe him.
I gasped at this heartbreaking cruelty.
Just one word
She knew I was looking for a word from her, but she didn’t know if she could find just one. I asked her to tell me what going through leukemia the last time had taught her.
She said she learned then that the only thing that matters is NOW. Right NOW.
In all the words I've illustrated for patients, I’m not sure I ever did one that meant more than this. Just making the shapes of the letters put me profoundly in the moment. With her. We occupied it, together. And soon the room filled up to the brim with it.
What is a room filled to the brim with NOW like?
It oozes love and warmth. It crackles with the electricity of possibility. It shines with the joy of new life. It radiates wisdom borne of surviving challenges. It breaks open with the vulnerability of being human. It just simply IS.
Living in the NOW with no guarantees
We looked at each other after she saw her word, and neither of us could talk. We were both smiling with our mouths and crying with our eyes.
In the presence of no guarantees in life,
there is this moment,
and it is all we have,
and it is everything.
May 2024 be full of the most magnificent NOWs you can imagine for yourself. My hope is that some of them will be spent in the company of Kathy Curtis Ink.
If so, you'll discover new ways to experience hope, healing, beauty, and inspiration - in a year that could ask you to tap into your inner resources more than ever before.
We'll do it together through the power of our collective pens.
Happy New Year to you from the voices of wisdom that offer their stories to help guide us forward. My thanks today go to a stunningly beautiful biker chick with the most important word any of us can ever fully know - NOW.
Do it NOW. Be it NOW. See it NOW. Manifest it NOW.
There now, that was lovely, wasn't it?