Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Reflections Selected Short

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Literary Reflections is pleased to present our featured writing prompt response from October. We asked, "Is there a character -- dead or alive -- who acts as your muse? Does this character make frequent appearances in your writing or does he or she merely serve as a cattle prod in your everyday activities?"

Kirsten Butler wrote:

"Spend time every day listening to what your muse is trying to tell you."

--Saint Bartholomew

It is said that each of us has a muse, someone or something that inspires us, drives us, and guides our lives. I have a muse and her name is Cancer. Not just any cancer but Childhood Cancer (CC).

CC and I are relatively new acquaintances, I must say. Oh, I had heard of her a few times before. But generally speaking, her name was only whispered in a far away corner or talked about on a quickly turned TV "children’s marathon." I honestly meant to spend a lifetime without ever having met her. After all, her name is so powerful, it strikes fear and dread into the strongest of hearts. And for good reason. So, when I tell you I wanted nothing to do with her, I'm being honest.

However, fate and CC had other ideas. And so, on a dreary morning in January, in a cold hard hospital room, CC sought me out. She wasn't to be denied this meeting. No! She intruded in my life and broke down my walls and demanded to be heard. And hear her, I did.

Since that fateful day, CC and I have become inseparable. She is always dreaming up new and interesting ways to keep me and my family on our toes. She has, indeed, been a vicious task master. Just when I think I have her figured out, she turns and throws a new "curve ball" our way.

But, knowing CC hasn't been without its advantages. As with any muse, CC has flashes of brilliance and I am privileged to watch her work. She has shown me beauty and sorrow, humor, agony, and blessings. Most of all, my muse has shown me myself. She has held up a looking glass, and I have bravely gazed into it.

What I find is not always pretty, not always comfortable. But, it is always insightful. She inspires me every day to never, ever, ever forget that this moment, right now is all we have in this life. All of our human plans for the future and all of our longings for yesterdays do not exist. We work towards them. We dream about them. We spend entirely too much time focused on them. But the only time we truly have is right here, right now.

My muse touches every part of every day that I live. She inspires. She degrades. She brings me to my knees. I like to wonder what life would be like right now if I had not met her. And yet . . . I cannot now imagine myself without her.

Kirsten Butler can be reached at dayspringjoy(at)msn(dot)com.

Merle Huerta, an army chaplain’s wife, is the mother of a blended family of thirteen children. During her husband’s combat deployments, she co-authored articles appearing in the Jerusalem Post and National Review. She has a Master�s from Columbia University in Instructional Media and Technology and a Certificate in Nonfiction from The Writers Institute at CUNY. She lives at the U.S. Military Academy in New York. “Tuesday Mornings” is her first solo publication.

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