The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

The Everyday Things

by Meagan SheddBreast CancerJuly 13, 2020View more posts from Meagan Shedd

This piece originally appeared on

His legs are impossibly long, reaching into an endlessness that I cannot fathom when I consider my own. Sometimes I look at his limbs draped across the grey leather of the furniture and wonder how much more he can possibly stretch. If I close my eyes I am back in the space where he was not quite the equivalent size to me, reaching up to prove he was eclipsing me and matting down my chemo curls with the light touch of his hand as I laughed in protest. Always that carefulness with me, then and now.

She has this dimple that only shows when she really smiles, the one where her eyes are lit up and the indentation develops high on the inside of her cheek, close to her nose. While the others are visible and flash at me with nearly every word, this one only comes out with the full onslaught of her wit. Her sense of humor is the one characteristic about her I adore more than anything, and yet I know most people won’t hear, let alone understand, the clever juxtaposition of intellect with comedy.

I don’t remember these things from before. Or perhaps I didn’t take the necessary time to examine them in the way they deserve. But I do now. I notice so many things, tucking them away and then retrieving them again when things feel a bit…when the words won’t come.

Because I find myself glancing up at the evidence of my DNA, replicated from me in ways I hadn’t quite imagined far more often in these last hours, days, weeks, and months of endless togetherness. Suddenly, I have more time with them. Rather than some sense of tragedy of enclosed space and time in forced lockdown, lamenting coerced space or conversation, we are together in all of the ways I did not expect. Places are rearranged and schedules changed, with things moved and accommodated again. This thing I thought I would run out of is inexplicably before us.

We don’t talk about the things we gave up to get to where we are now anymore. We don’t even talk about the little things, the everyday things. They have just assimilated into our shifting landscape and we have let them. Like the unspoken way in which the clatter of dishes from device to cupboard, sink to machine, have become part of the daily metronome. The hands bearing their transfer could be anyone’s, and the sound is part of the background and one of those things that emerged as if a weed in the garden and no one thinks anything of it.

Just as their shadows darken my doorway each night for just a bit longer than necessary. Sometimes I open an eye and notice one of them standing over me, or I feel a hand on my arm and wake to one of them on the other side of the dog curled up next to me, chatting away about something as I yawn and stretch and try to keep an eye open and listen. I might get a hand tucked into mine. And these conversations always end with the “love you” before the quick ducking out of my room for the comfort of their own bed for the night.

I don’t remember these things from before. But I do now. Because I have more time that I didn’t expect, but is suddenly before me. Six years ago, this thing that I thought, that I was told, I would run out of is inexplicably before me and I get to observe and imagine and reflect. All of the little things. The everyday things.


All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at

Join the Conversation!

Leave a comment below. Remember to keep it positive!