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Illustration by Jacqueline Dooley

According to the American Cancer Society, about 600 adolescents, aged 15 to 19, die from cancer each year.

In 2017, my daughter, Ana, was one of them.

Ana was sick for four and a half years. During most of that time, even as her cancer progressed, I didn’t think that she was going to die from her disease.

I thought that she would beat it. I thought that her tenacious will to live would help her overcome the odds, and that scientists or doctors would invent something miraculous to shrink her tumors and restore her health.

When it eventually became obvious that a miracle wasn’t going to happen for Ana, I turned my focus to helping her die. …


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The World Trade Center Burning on 9/11 — Source: Wikimedia Commons

I was at work on the morning of September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I was sitting in my office in Kingston, New York, a town located about 90 miles north of Manhattan, when a colleague told me about it. I’d initially assumed it was a small plane that had flown into the building by mistake.

Eighteen minutes later a second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. …


It took me 19 years to love my house and now I may lose it.

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Photo by David Gonzales from Pexels

I don’t know when the ash trees died. By my estimate, it was at least eight years ago, maybe longer. That means we let them stand, dead, for nearly a decade because we could not afford to remove them.

This past spring, I finally called the town to see if there was anything they could do. Two of the trees were precariously balanced near the road. I could scarcely afford to have them both removed, but luckily I didn’t have to come up with the money. …


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Drawing by Ana Dooley

An email from my daughter’s school arrived in my inbox at 1:19 pm on October 1st that took my breath away. It was an unsigned announcement notifying parents that, due to severe budget cuts, all students in the district must resume in-person classes on November 9th.

This contradicted what we’d been told (repeatedly) since September. Namely, that her high school would remain completely virtual for the entirety of the 2020–2021 school year.

I’d tried to process the information without panicking and, after reading the email several times, found a link at the very bottom that read, simply, “Remote Instruction Continuation.” …


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Unsplash

At the height of her popularity, Erma Bombeck’s column, At Wit’s End appeared in more than 900 newspapers and was read by an audience of 30 million people. Her pieces were funny and poignant. They shed light on the day-to-day drudgery of being a housewife at a time when the national conversation about gender roles was shifting.

She started writing her column in the late sixties and she quickly became a household name, achieving tremendous success throughout the seventies and eighties.

She would go on to write fifteen books, some of which were collections of her many essays. I read several of them and laughed frequently. Bombeck had the ability to turn suburban life into something fascinating — and funny! Her first book, The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank, was published in 1978 and became a bestseller. …


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Pexels

My road bike is eleven years old. I bought it at a tiny bike shop in Kingston, NY. At about $1200, the bike remains the most expensive piece of exercise gear I’ve ever purchased. That year, I also purchased a magnetic indoor trainer so I could ride my bike indoors during the winter. I can clamp the rear axle of my bike into the trainer which holds the bike upright and applies pressure on the wheel, allowing me to ride in place.

I accumulated these items and a bunch of other equipment in 2011 and 2012 — the peak of my “cycling years.” I started riding on my 38th birthday in May 2009. I’d joined Weight Watchers that year and I needed to do some type of exercise that I didn’t hate. …


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Pixabay

The desire to write a book tends to hit me before I have any solid ideas about how to get started. I want to write a novel about grief. I want it to touch on spirituality and faith in ways that make sense to me, an atheist who wants to believe (must believe) that our consciousness lives on once we die. I want to write it this year.

This must be a book that incorporates magical realism, but it must also be a tale of self-discovery. …


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pixabay

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year. It had months and weeks and endless days and, though it didn’t seem like we’d ever make it this far, it’s about to end. Misplaced optimism about the upcoming year is a ritual that runs deep — like decorating Christmas trees and gathering with friends and family for holiday dinners. Setting New Year’s resolutions is woven into the fabric of American life.

Of course, this year we couldn’t easily gather and there was a Christmas tree shortage, so we had to make due with some alternatives. My family scored a tree, but only after we spent a couple of hours wandering the ravaged fields of our local tree farm — a place we’ve visited every December since 2016. The farm had been picked clean, so we left empty-gloved, and ended up paying too much for a spindly tree that managed to hang on to most of its needles until Christmas Day. …


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Unsplash

It’s the season of joy and platitudes, a time when we may reflexively begin or end our correspondence with phrases, “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” But in this most unusual year, when so many have lost so much, it’s hard to be happy. There is tremendous loss, fear, and anxiety associated with the virus. At this point in the pandemic, if you haven’t lost someone or something directly, then you probably know someone who has.

Even so, it can be difficult to break the habit of forcing holiday spirit into every conversation. I get it. Before my daughter died, I didn’t think twice about wishing someone a Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah or brightly chirping Happy New Year!


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Pixabay

Hi. My name is Jackie and I’m a hypochondriac. COVID-19 has forced me to take a good hard look at myself. After many nights spent lying awake, convinced every wheeze, ache, and sniffle is the harbinger of doom, I can’t deny it anymore. I have a hypochondria problem.

If hypochondria was rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with one being mild anxiety and 10 being Brain Cloud-level paranoia (as per Joe Versus the Volcano), then I think I’d land somewhere in the middle.

When I get worried, anxious, and feel like things are spinning out of control, my hypochondriac tendencies get much worse. Enter 2020, the year of the worst plague in a century. In essence, I’m having a flare up which is inextricably linked to my county’s positivity rates for the virus (between 6 to 8%) . I check the region’s COVID numbers daily. …

About

Jacqueline Dooley

Occasional poet. Writer of sad essays. Novelist. Birder and amateur photographer. I enjoy trees.

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