The following poem was submitted by Clarissa Shepherd, author of Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living with CFIDS and Fibromyalgia, and founder of the fast-growing Fellow Travelers FMS & ME/CFS support and chat Facebook group. Thank you, Clarissa.
PATH OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
Walk with me?
First take my hand. We'll talk as we go.
Let's take the path less traveled. They'll be few that we know.
Let's try to remember, where we first began.
What were you doing? Where were you in your life?
What kind of person were you? I can see you as you go.
It started so innocent. Seemed only a short jaunt.
This new path that we're on, seems as some kind of a taunt.
Look behind us. Friends are lagging as we travel.
They don't seem to want to go with us.
We must stop working, end a career, halt our life as we go.
Do you feel afraid, unsure, confused?
We're going down a winding road now. Hold my hand tightly.
Do you miss who you were? The road is a slippery slope for us now.
We must cling together as we go.
See over there. The doctors, tests, medications?
We'll get to know this stop well. Do you need to rest?
We can stop and take it all in. Seems so unreal.
This can't be where we should be.
There's hardly anyone on this part of the trail.
We must move forward, somehow.
Together we can go on.
We're learning, as we're on this new journey.
We barely recognize who we were
and have forgotten where the path began.
I feel your grip stronger.
You're learning to twist and turn with the path we're on.
Finding your way through the weeds which have grown.
There are not many people we know with us now.
They stepped off the beaten path.
You seem to be growing, into your own, as we walk.
You understand more, feel more, care more, appreciate more.
What we're leaving behind, doesn't seem to be as important,
as what we see ahead of us.
How creative you're becoming, in the way you're learning to walk.
How courageous and compassionate you've become.
Who is this new you?
You've found so many things inside you,
that you never knew were there before.
Our road is still difficult, yet more passable now.
Can you see the clearing ahead?
I feel your grip lessen, as you learn to maneuver the winding trail.
Pain, sorrow, fear, anger, they're falling away a bit now.
There's a bench at the end of the path. Let's sit a bit.
You're not the same as you were. A bit worn, yet brave as well.
I feel a rebuilding of your spirit. It can be seen in your smile.
There are new faces looking at us. New people who understand.
I feel they'll be important, for our future, as we find our way.
Although our journey is rocky, we're following through.
This path less traveled by me and you.
- Clarissa Shepherd