Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn


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22 seconds

I have 22 seconds of treatment left… ever… forever. This cancer is gone; everything I’ve done is enough, and tomorrow I close the book on this chapter. I will go in for my last radiation at 2:00. Sometimes it takes a while to wait my turn to go into the room. Then I get situated on the table while the x-ray techs line up the radiation machine with the tattoos and marks on my body. And then they all exit the room to officially start the treatment. It’s always a little strange at that moment because the “buzzing around” and chit-chat is suddenly gone- leaving me alone in the silence until the machine starts. I do, however (since I have done since my first MRI) imagine that I am not just holding onto the bar above my head, but holding Jesus’s hand… and it gives me a sense of peace in an otherwise sterile and unnerving environment. Then once that machine starts it radiates me for 22 seconds. For these last 8 shorter “boost” sessions, I’ve laid there and counted so that I know. Slow and consistent… 1 Mississippi… 2 Mississippi… 3 Mississippi- as the daughter of Larry Caldwell would surely do correctly. The last 2 times I’ve held back tears knowing that I wouldn’t have to do it for many more days. I’m sure tomorrow’s emotions will be too strong to hold back. I imagine tears will roll down my temples for those last 22 seconds of treatment. And if they do, I’ll be proud to have reached a point that I can wipe them away and cross my finish line with my hands held high. I’ve rounded third and am making my way home. I’m attacking the volleyball for one last spike. I’m about to plow through the defense in Bettis-like fashion to score a touchdown. Insert whichever sport analogy you’d like… tomorrow I WIN!