What Smiles Hide

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A Smile Even in Illness

What Smiles Hide


“The cancer has grown,” the oncologist said,

“In eight months, or so, you may be dead,”

“You’ll be good till you’re not, this you should know,”

“Then you’ll swiftly decline, before you go.”


It’s a terminal sentence, but not plain to see,

As the tumor inside you expands by degree,

Tired but still active, trying to “live” while you can,

But the fatigue that is felt, eludes casual scans.



“But you look so well,” I heard him say,

The funeral director who came to visit today,

Yet we need – here and now, this funeral plan,

To speedily arrange it while we can.


Our smiles hide illness, our smiles hide fear,

We quickly don them, when others are near,

They are oft perceived to mean that we have no pain,

But the meanings behind them, are seldom that plain.



The poem was written a few months ago in response to an oncology consultation late last year, and a meeting with the funeral director for advance planning at the beginning of this summer.   My wife throughout all of this kept positive, and tried to be a role model for others.   Many remarked on her positive outlook.   But even when positive, it did not diminish the physical pain and the symptoms of a organ deterioration.   Let’s all try to remember that not every disease is visible, and that some who suffer silently do so with smiles.

The quotes in the poem are paraphrases or actual comments given by the oncologist and the funeral director.


Dedicated to my wife Dianne 1965-2019

6 thoughts on “What Smiles Hide

  1. I echo everyone else in their sentiments and say too your wife had a lovely smile and what looked like a cheery disposition. You will miss her terribly, but relish the memories. Peace be with you and take care of yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

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