A table of weeds and a heave of grace…..

Four years into life with adequate bosoms there came an aching under my arm,
a numbness to my fingers that would come when I played hard with my kids
or worked vigorous in the yard.
Eventually I could feel it, a tumor the size of a tennis ball.
I was scheduled for surgery and waited eager after for the biopsy report.
The young general surgeon was flippant with his quick share –
not cancer;  it’s a reaction to silicone.


I’m 34 now and where is my voice?  My questions?
I remember only the speed at which I escaped his office,
shaken with shame.

What have I done?
My body made a tumor because I got fixed?
Never did I imagine this was a possibility- certainly no one said.
I’m thinking of the couple of kid’s ball games I missed while my arm dangles in a sling,
of the concern my faith community is showing for me while I recover,
how completely undeserved now feels all this care.
People have brought us food – what can I even say to this?
“It’s not cancer,” I fake-smile to those who ask,  and pretend to share their relief.
Part of me wishes that it was,  so deep is the shame that hushes my voice
and compels me to swallow the secret.
I live in a new town, new community, and I don’t want anyone to know
that it’s all really my fault,
how much more I may really be less than.

I want the implants out but that takes three more years of living,
three more years of also wanting to keep this emboldened beauty
that gives me leverage in the coming from way behind.
I want them out but I grieve how will I ever see him looking at me
and not dissect his glance for traces of disappointment.
I want them out but how will I hide it?
Who won’t wince shame that I’m not what I seem?
So, yeah, I want them out but it takes some more living.

We reside in a new town when I travel back to Raleigh for the surgery to remove them,
back to the same place and smells and feels and my skin crawls mad
but I’m ridiculously pleasant
when the nurse wakes me up in recovery to tell me that the implants have ruptured
and, what a mess,  they did the best they could.
It took a while to clean up the silicone
and I feel sorry for their trouble.
Like clean up on aisle nine;  sorry for the spill.
Sorry to be a bother.

I lay flat on the gurney in a fog, wrapped in heavy bandages
and squeak the only one question I can tug free
before the busy nurse hurries me into my clothes:
“Will it be okay?”
“Mm-hmm,” she chirps,
and then, “you just need to get some rest,
let those sutures heal
and let us know if you want to size up next time.”
The suggestion stirs my stomach queasy
and I groan something about never again
and gather myself up for the ride home.
It’s finally over.

And with a heave of grace,  it was okay.
Until it wasn’t.

“A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with it’s own heave and grace.”
– Mary Oliver

I hate leaving the story here!  I started this series last post and will
keep on telling until my pen runs clear;
Always there is risk in the telling because I want to say it true
but can’t tell it fast enough to say all the colors.
I won’t leave you here in the weeds:)
(I promise this girl gets free:))
I appreciate your kind words, each and every one.

Congratulations to Maureen Blake;  I drew your name:)
I’m thrilled to send a book your way.
I want to give away another book this week;
leave a comment and you’re in the hat!


  1. Elephants Child on April 8, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    And the hugs from me to you keep flowing…

    • jennifer on April 9, 2022 at 7:44 pm

      Like a soothing ocean:)
      Thanks Sue – I feel them,

  2. Suzanne McRae on April 8, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Thank you for your courageous share Jennifer. I’m so sorry for all you have had to go through on so many levels. xx

    • jennifer on April 9, 2022 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks, Suzanne:) I think sometimes reading someone’s pain is harder than actually living it
      because there is grace for the growing that only that person can feel. There was also joy
      and hope right alongside of the shame and angst. I wish I could paint it better but it was there:)
      Big thanks for your tenderness,

  3. Jane Brocious on April 9, 2022 at 6:41 am

    You express heave and grace, enlightenment and inspiration, forgiveness and dignity like no other, Young One. Thank you!

    • jennifer on April 9, 2022 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks for your always encouraging words, Jane;
      I appreciate the visit and the share,

  4. JULIA on April 9, 2022 at 7:30 am

    You are very courageous, strong, and inspiring, Jennifer. I’m so glad that you are sharing those deep secrets that hurt and you’re speaking for so many women who went the same route you did. I pray that you continue healing as you facilitate the way for other women to heal also.

    Now the same voice that so many young people and very young are hearing is about gender identity. This is sadder than sad.

    Take care
    Hugs, Julia

    • jennifer on April 9, 2022 at 7:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Julia;
      I appreciate your perspective.
      I love how we can be both a masterpiece and a work in process:)
      Healing happening and grace plenty and sweet:)

  5. jeanie on April 9, 2022 at 8:45 am

    Guilt is such an evil creature, creeping into places where it really doesn’t belong, degrading us for what needn’t be apologized for. I’m so sorry you had to face an already challenging and difficult experience with that monkey on your back as well. We KNOW it shouldn’t be there, but that’s rarely enough to shake it off. Thank you for being able to share your story so openly, so boldly. I hope the writing helps heal.

    • jennifer on April 9, 2022 at 7:37 pm

      Guilt and shame – exactly. The writing helps and the story gets brighter
      and the grace sings thick and the saying makes it lighter:)
      I have to share the ugly but the help is on the way;)
      Thanks so much for your wise words and your tender listen,

  6. Susan on April 12, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    Man, living life can be so very hard, can’t it? and with all you were going through to get ask that question about letting us know if you want to size up next time! I feel such love and concern for that girl but see that she grew up into a strong, fierce, smart, caring woman … so proud of you.


    • jennifer on May 18, 2022 at 10:29 am

      Life is a hard, hard thing, isn’t it. Mostly negative, but gosh those moments
      of pure joy and beauty seem to weigh a whole lot more. I’m so grateful we
      don’t have to go it alone!
      Thanks for being there:)
      – Jennifer

  7. Cathy B Davis on April 13, 2022 at 8:35 am

    Bravo to you Jenny!! you have made it through so much and are a stronger person for it!!!You are Amazing my sweet cousin!! Love you bunches!!!!

    • jennifer on May 18, 2022 at 10:28 am

      Thanks for your sweet, sweet words, Cathy.
      Always I’ve looked up to you:)
      Big joy to you in all of your life-living,

  8. Eva on June 17, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Like clean up on aisle nine; sorry for the spill.
    Sorry to be a bother.

    These words jumped out to me…how many of us have had spills on aisle nine? Some small and easy to clean up…some big and messy and still not totally clean. More to come, without a doubt. Your words help to process these spills and help me to remember, we are all in this together. AND, yes, we will be ok.
    I love you my friend.

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