The void

"...for ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, 
we are unspeakably alone..." 
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet #2

Two years ago today, February 28th, I finished treatment for breast cancer. I am doing very well, thank you.

I was very lucky to be treated at one of the best hospitals in Portugal. My family and friends were always there for me, did everything they could to help me, were so very supportive. I was never left on my own. I felt respected in my sickness (if that makes sense…). I felt very loved.

But… when I was at nurses and doctors offices’ waiting to be seen by them; when I had to undress and put on the hospital clothes and disposable slippers; when I was left alone in cold rooms, stuck inside cold machines with robotic movements and strange noises; when I was waiting, for long hours, so that contrasts would spread through my body; when I was lying down on my way to surgery only being able to look at the very bright white lights in the ceiling; when I entered restricted areas where no else was allowed; when I had to surrender my body to the care of doctors and nurses… then was when I was really alone. I never felt lonely but I felt alone in those moments. As if it was a parallel life or dimension, not my real life. In my real life, I felt confident and positive most of the time. In this parallel life, it was about the disease and I, just the two of us, there, dealing with each other, “it” was I, I was “it”.

These pictures were taken during those “when” moments. They reflect the void, the helplessness, the sadness when put face to face with my fragility and my mortality.

The next follow-up appointment is schedule for April. Each time I go back, the smell, the large corridors, the white walls, the comfortable sofas in the waiting rooms, the staff uniforms, all bring back that void, the helplessness. Le’s see if photographies will be different this time.