by Calista Ogburn

i was 9 years old when i found out what cancer was. my mama explained it to me after my aunt got diagnosed with cancer. we went to the beach to come to terms with it. mama always told me that the ocean would heal the wounds. but the salt water felt like burns. it was stinging more into what seemed like years but it only lasted a few months. she tried to describe to me what it felt like for my aunt to have cancer. it was hot outside and my toes dug deep into the sunburnt beige sand. i stared down at it. i didnt look up. i didn’t look at the ocean. i didn’t look at her. i didn’t look at the clouds. i didn’t move.

i watched the ocean waves hug the sandy shore as it poured over my toes. the salt water didn’t burn anymore. i finally understood. i hugged my aunt later that night.