The Night Before

1992

The night before...after your children have taken you out for a special dinner, after the warmth and laughter are over--everyone is in bed asleep--the house is dark and silent, and you are all alone.

I drifted through the house, picking up papers, puffing up pillows, looking carefully, as if for the first time, at pictures and photographs that had sat on tables for decades. This night was a night that I should commemorate. I felt that there was something that I should be doing. I felt that it was important to come to terms with the surgery in the morning, with the loss of my breast. But, I could feel my heart racing with fear as I thought of this confrontation.

I began to prepare for bed--I picked up my usual cotton gown, put it down, and sought out my most sensuous nightgown, one my husband used to like particularly. Then I dropped it to the floor, and I reached for an oversized t-shirt, pulled it over my head, and got into bed, but I left the light on. After about an hour, I got up and took off the t-shirt. Tentatively, I slipped into "my pretty nightgown". I looked down at myself and ran my hands down the sides of my satin gown that held my body. It was a pretty body, and I had liked it.

I went to my mirrored dressing room and picked up a sterling silver hand mirror. I let the straps of my gown fall from my shoulders and looked at my breast in the mirror. I felt as though I wanted to cuddle and comfort that breast and to tell it that I was sorry. Yet, I could not touch it.

We have rituals to say goodbye to parents, friends, and mates, but we have no guidelines for us to say goodbye to a part of our body.

Each woman, in her own way, buries her dead breast in her own heart.

Sculpture and verse by

Alyse Lucas Corcoran

 

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