By Jo-Anne Cappeluti

November 14, 2016


She was only 15 and already had lost a leg to bone cancer.

Our high school girls’ Sunday school class had pondered this for a few weeks before we met her one Sunday morning walking in on crutches.

It’s always strange to see someone in the flesh after you’ve talked about them—in our case someone we supposed to be lame or wounded. Her smiling blue eyes didn’t fit that description, although inviting us to a slumber party drew attention to a new possibility of slumbering. We all showed up the next Friday night. She obliged our curiosity by detaching her artificial leg and passing it around so we could feel how light it was. She also told us about something called ghost pains in her missing leg.

Claudia and I were the only ones still awake at midnight and decided to go outside and sit on the roof of their carport, which doubled as a patio right off the kitchen. It was January, and I was so taken with the number and brightness of the stars I forgot she was there and was startled by her voice, telling me she knew she was soon going to die.

At 60-something now, I still remember her voice coming out of the cold and how, aiming my flashlight toward the sound, I framed her blue eyes, smiling, painless, as if from a great distance.

Comments (10) - Post a Comment
JoAnne, This piece completely absorbed me. It is so spare, honest, with such wonderful details: the strange reality of meeting someone you've talked about, the lightness of the leg. By the time Claudia tells the narrator she knows she will die soon, we're invested in Claudia; we know enough about her to grieve her inevitable death. Your story truly is a beautiful thing; in these unbeautiful times, it felt like just what my soul needed.
Cora Schenberg at 8:27am EST - November 14, 2016
Poignant. Straight forward and simple making it all the more moving. Thank you, Cora, for putting this out here for us.
Claudia Geagan at 9:04am EST - November 14, 2016
I meant to say JoAnne. Sorry.
Claudia Geagan at 9:06am EST - November 14, 2016
Such a lovely and powerful piece, Jo-Anne.
Abby Frucht at 9:16am EST - November 14, 2016
Yes, we need to hear these stories of strength and compassion to help us navigate these challenging times.
Kathleen Martin at 9:54am EST - November 14, 2016
Thank you.
Jan Priddy at 12:47pm EST - November 14, 2016
I love this piece. Just perfectly written.
Hayley LeMay at 10:56am EST - November 15, 2016
So well portrayed of emotional truths from both girls. Thank you.
sally showalter at 12:22pm EST - November 15, 2016
So lovely! i like her eyes
Slitherio unblocked at 11:24pm EST - November 24, 2016
this's a beautiful photo! thanks for sharing at 11:25pm EST - November 24, 2016

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