Reply to Meg Pillow's This Is Not the Essay I Meant to Write

I saved this and waited 10 days to read it, which meant I read it exactly when I needed it. The phrase “the aesthetic of uncertainty” is something I sorely need. At the beginning of the year, I decided my phrase for at least the quarter would be “Embrace radical uncertainty.”

At the time, I chose this because as a caregiver and person living with chronic illness, it was something I needed to do to not constantly fight life. On 1/18 (my sister’s 36th birthday), my mom went to the ER & they found all her blood counts were low.

They diagnosed her with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and began putting a treatment plan in place. With the treatment plan in place, followed by the chemo putting her into remission, it seemed the path forward was clear.

The day after she was discharged from the initial chemo, she had a cardiac event. Then she suffered from a bout of colitis. Another cardiac event. Then muscle weakness such that she would fall and be unable to get up.

It felt like each week brought a new complication or side effect. This Wednesday, I took my 5 yo son to visit her, and learned that between preexisting spinal problems and chemo side effects, she is now paraplegic.

I live in a constant vacillation between hope and anxiety, optimistic each time a problem is actually identified and an intervention developed, riddled with anxiety each time a new problem appears.

All of this is to say: I really needed this piece. I thank you for writing it. I’m glad I waited to read it. I’m saving it to read again next time I need it. And maybe soon I’ll write something.

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Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
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I acknowledge that I live and work on unceded Lumbee, Skaruhreh/Tuscarora, and Shakori land. I give respect and reverence to those who came before me. I thank Holisticism for the text of this land acknowledgement.


We must acknowledge that much of what we know of this country today, including its culture, economic growth, and development throughout history and across time, has been made possible by the labor of enslaved Africans and their ascendants who suffered the horror of the transatlantic trafficking of their people, chattel slavery, and Jim Crow. We are indebted to their labor and their sacrifice, and we must acknowledge the tremors of that violence throughout the generations and the resulting impact that can still be felt and witnessed today. I thank Dr. Terah ‘TJ’ Stewart for the text of this labor acknowledgement.