“Otherwise” by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.



Four years and one day ago, I told Ky we would do this one thing, one day at a time.  Today, it’s been 1,461 days.  Four years and a day.

Four years and a day since Ky asked his oncologist in the middle of the emergency room at Maine Med if the cancer would kill him.  It was a hard question; I loved and hated that he had enough courage to ask.  Dr. Weiss, having only known him for a total of ten minutes at that point, said “We are going to do everything we can so that does not happen.”  I loved and hated that he had enough courage to answer.

Four years and a day since Ky pointed the hard question cannon directly at me and said “How will I get thru this?”  I gave him the first collection of words my brain and mouth could collect into a semi-sentence:  one thing, one day at a time.

Beginning May 18th, my social media becomes an alley of anniversaries.  It’s an alternately well-lit and completely dark alley; there are things I remember so well that they might as well have been moments ago, while there are other things I remember only because my words or a photo tell me that it happened.  Memory is funny like that, and, funnier still, is that the edges of Anniversary Alley feel sharper some years than they do others.

I realize that there is luxury in memory.  I don’t have to live in fear that I’m going to open something and find a memory that I can’t escape from by hugging him.  Ky is here.  I can put my arm out and be sure of him.  Tonight as I write, I’m wearing a flannel of his that is huge on me, but won’t fit him for much longer.  He’s growing.  For others whose own footsteps wore a similar path along the hallways of Maine Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital, this is not the case. Tonight I’ll tell him good night and I love him and he’ll respond that he loves me too; Jane Kenyon reminds me it could have been otherwise.


One thought on “Otherwise

  1. I remember the day we heard about Ky. Being part of the BA family and knowing how much they supported us when Dan’s sister was ill. It is amazing how in a short time, a lasting relationship is built. I am with you on the memories that return via social media, fortunately you can hug Ky and I can hug Amanda. The fear remains in the back of my mind, as I am sure it does yours as well, but it is normal. We are their Moms forever. I am happy to hear Ky is still moving along with his health. We will hit the five year mark, this summer for our daughter. Time did not stand still it moved along rather quickly and it amazes me are this far past it.

    Ann-Marie Fontaine P’14


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