As the night rages on, dark and heartless,
The struggle begins, never ends,
Face my demons, my constant companions,
Silent tigers set to pounce yet again.
There is a battle that erupts from within me,
A fight for my weathered and weary soul,
Between utter acceptance and indignation,
Amidst fragments that long to be whole.
Down to the grave the fight pursues me,
Rears its ugly, unforgiving, wicked head,
It taunts and it taints and it tortures,
Overtakes me and fills me with dread.
They tell me I am not my illness,
But it surely has a death hold on me,
A steely, ice-cold grip beyond measure,
And it refuses to just let me be.
Pretending not to notice its presence,
Resisting it and pushing it away,
Denying its very existence,
Seems to me no great plan of escape.
For no matter my feeble attempts at resistance,
It shapes and molds me in sundry ways,
Pain and misery drop their calling cards,
But mercy and compassion are what remain.
So, though I know it is ever within me,
Waxing and waning, friend and foe,
Still, I struggle with how to address it,
Embrace it or simply wish it weren’t so?
You see, the problem lies in the history,
As I long for days long gone by,
As my heart recalls their splendid beauty,
Their siren song stuck in my mind.
Days of serenity and tranquility,
Times of mental and physical ease,
No cries of despair and desperation,
No opponent that we call “disease.”
I have tried to submerge my old life,
Have buried it way deep down,
But still, my memories haunt me,
They refuse to stay in the ground.
They call me back and drag me under,
Wound and cut, bring me down,
Remind me I now have nothing to offer,
Bits and pieces of me no longer to be found.
I endeavor to savor the moment,
And to future aspirations attend,
But the past still beckons and calls,
It will not allow me to fully mend.
And when I think I have settled on an answer –
To embrace my new life much like a friend,
Just when I believe I am devoted to acceptance,
My anger rises, flares hot once again.
I rant and rave in rebellion,
Wage war against my miserable new fate,
Vow solemnly to destroy this illness,
Filled with vengeance and fury and hate.
And what about the so-called “lessers,”
The glorious souls for whom I also fight?
They did not ask for this doom, this misfortune,
And they do not deserve this dreadful plight.
Though this illness runs rampant, unchecked,
It must dearly pay for all it has taken,
From me, from them, and from those yet to come,
I can’t allow them to be forgotten or forsaken.
But what of all my efforts and labors?
What can I really hope to achieve?
I fear my friends will still struggle and die,
No compassion, no cure, no relief.
Why not remain undisturbed,
Safe in my submission to fate,
Far from the fields of battle,
Close the door, seal it tight, bar the gate?
Yet acceptance resembles resignation,
And the most I can bear to do is accede,
To the momentary passing demands,
Of this heartless, unforgiving disease.
So, slowly I begin to determine,
That I have a choice to make,
Allow the past to paralyze and chain me,
Or march onward and refuse to break.
Step forward when I am able,
Glance back when defenses are down,
Mourn the setbacks and the passings,
And with hope and promise myself surround.
I can stew in my anger and hatred,
I can wallow in sweet misery,
I can focus on the past and all I have lost,
Remain debt-free, no obligations, live for me.
Or though the memories burn and consume me,
I can permit them to flame, fuel the fire,
Rise from the ashes of hopelessness and despair,
Full of passion and drive and desire.
For my greatest foe is not this illness,
Nor the memories to which I still sometimes cling,
It is apathy and inaction that harm and hinder,
The allies, tag-team buddies of this cruel disease.
My recollections of all that is missing,
Since this illness struck my once peaceful life,
They speak of all the magnificent reasons,
I must wield the sword and fight the good fight.
I battle for the reemergence of what I’ve lost,
Can no longer cling to old and faded memories,
But I must once again fill my broken heart,
With a little bit more than mere dreams.
So, down to the grave with apathy, complacency,
With fear and sorrow and regret,
They form the chains that bind and restrain,
Repeat the brutal patterns in which we are set.
I refuse to go gently or tread lightly,
When so much is to be gained and is at stake,
I will gather my forces and take the field,
You can bend me, but I will not break.
Take a moment to mourn my old life,
Pause, but then vow to charge ahead,
Down to the grave I’ll not willingly go,
I choose to bury my grief instead.
The night rages on and the battle again begins,
But the nagging demons I will keep at bay,
For I have a mission, a duty, a goal,
A new dawn, a new day, a clean slate.