She was trying to get pregnant with my ex when they found out the ovarian cancer. Having her own kids had been her life’s dream and being forced to give up on that dream threw everything into the whirlwind, including their relationship. That was a few years back. A few weeks ago, she called my ex up. The cancer the doctors thought they’d nipped out has metastasized, invading even her lungs. I don’t know all the details but the docs give her a year. She’s 27, one year older than me.

I meet sick and suffering people day in and day out through work. There’s no shortage of sobering or heart-breaking stories. Yet this time, I think about her often. A woman I don’t know and have only seen a few photos of.

Is it because I read her poems? I found her notebook in a pile at a corner in my ex’s cabin. Folded inside were a couple of loose sheets where she scrambled down her works. I cried. English is not my first language so it’s rare that I have a gut reaction when I read poems. But I did with hers. Finding a warm hand to hold in this cold artificial world; being the light that shines and scares away all the roaches. They were raw, sincere, and speak to my desire to be true to myself and to find one to be true with.

As the rate of cancer shoots up in Vietnam, many relatives and acquaintances have fallen to illness. And many of them have turned to Buddhism, especially praying and meditation, to turn away from suffering and despair to find their peace of mind. I hope you, somehow, will find your peace too.