Always True

Sandra Isbell Wiley, Sandra Carlson, Sandra Isbell Carlson
Sandra Isbell Wiley, New York Foundling Hospital
Sandra Isbell Wiley
Sandy Carlson, Sandra Carlson, Sandra Isbell Carlson
Sandra Isbell Wilely Carlson, Marjorie Wiley, Marjorie Tamburri
Sandra Carlson, Sandra Wiley, Adella Carlson

Cancer is a cruel circus master driving its subjects through flaming hoops just to see how they will respond at the crack of the whip we call false promises, hope, and escape the burn.

But cancer also gives us time to assess our lives, how we have affected others, what needs fixing, and then making things right. We call this grace.

The last two years of my Mom’s life were a time of extreme grace. Her sense of humor, her generous warmth, her desire for everyone around her to be OK and to get on with things shone as bright as her blue eyes and her ready smile. She was a marvel even as her doctors delivered bad news time and time again.

During this time, my parents lived two and a half hours away from me in Pennsylvania, so visits came at the weekends and school holidays. I went as often as I could, happy to help with housework, gardening, and whatever other chores they needed done so that they could stay in their home. I take comfort from my memories of those visits. Often, I would go down on a Friday after school, spend the night, share Saturday with them, and then come back. The routine of this offered its own brand of comfort to a family that likes its routines and the pleasure of being at home.

Always True is a collection of poems about the experience of these two years–taking comfort from the natural world, noticing the raw feeling that cancer news and cancer pain relentlessly wash onto the shore of daily life. A tribute to my mother, this little book explores the experience of trying to cope with an inevitable loss that seems as impossible as it is inevitable.

The book opens with a deeply personal tribute to my Mom, the ultimate people person who wanted her family around her, who kept an eye on the grandkids by following them on social media (and who knew more about my daughter and her friends’ college lives than I did), and who–and I only just learned this–kept every card or note I ever gave her.

I miss my Mom. Always True comes from a broken heart, but it tells the story of the wholeness of a mother’s love.