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For You, Wherever You Are

It was on my first of many elevator rides 

up from the basement floor

I met a woman with short, red hair and a leather jacket, 

who I only ever saw 

just this once. 


I don’t know whether I ever responded

when she spoke to me

or to God

or to the elevator door 



three years ago, now,

they had given her six months to live. 



three years ago,

and she sure showed them!


I noticed then, and remember now, 

the way her voice sounded–

how she said it.


How she could say it,

and say it 

out loud. 


The way she said, without saying,

she was not sorry for me.


The way she said, without saying, 

“and don’t be sorry for me, either.”


She was not new to this, like me. 

She was no longer afraid of this, like me. 

This was life now, to her, and 

I can remember looking at her 

as if I was still on the outside.


As if I was different from her. 

As if I was not sick like her. 

As if this story was not mine, 

the way that story was hers. 


as if I had not taken the same elevator

 up from the basement floor 

of a cancer hospital.


But she spoke to me from the inside–

spoke to me like I would come to understand:


We were still two people.

Two sick bodies for now, that’s all.


Still two stories.

This, but more than this– 


Still two befores and

still two afters.


Two survivors 

standing side-by-side on an elevator

going up.




◄ So Long


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John Gilbert Ellis

Tue 19th Mar 2024 13:46

Beautifully structured and engaging right to the great last line. Thanks for sharing.

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