My dad recently handed me a gift in an envelope labeled “Amanda-Strong-As-A-Horse-M. (lastname)” and told me that the women in our family excel at getting through. Along the same lines, my friend Celina just sent me a book that cracked me wide open with its beauty: “What the Ice Gets: Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition, 1914 – 1916 (A Poem).”
The poem is about an expedition of 28 men, whose boat – The Endurance – gets “lodged in the ice….at the mercy of the floes. Ship and men drift ten months, and then the ice simply stoves everything in, the ship goes under, and the men are left stranded on the shifting floes.” And yes, they live to tell the tale, and what a tale it is.
The back story is equally compelling to me: the author, Melinda Mueller, used to teach at my highschool, and, a while back, she had cancer. The story of the expedition was what got her through chemo. She writes, “I often thought that if the men of The Endurance could do what they had done, I could very well get through what I was facing.”
The book begins with a description of the expedition members:
…All of them posses a wild ability to endure misery. The leaders among them…are built from unflagging will, intelligence, knowledge, resourcefulness, experience, courage, a humor the ice cannot imprison, and yes, the capacity for endurance.
More later I’m sure, but for now, I’m off to read, and to treasure the book word by word.
Oh yes, the update: taxol is better than A/C chemo, but it’s still not fun. In the least. But I’ve had great company (many thanks to Heidi and my brother for coming to visit and take care of me) and that’s what gets me through.