“Yeah I think I got to the limit of my bargaining … getting to end of May, and when I didn’t seem to get past my last best day which was 2 weeks ago” It was May 25th, the day I remember grieving for my lost life, text chatting with my flu buddy about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“I think the thing is that I have to learn to live with this — I can’t just keep expecting, waiting to suddenly get better.” I stopped making plans beyond “rest, walk a little, rest, eat a little, rest…” in achingly slow motion, on a good day I could send an email and talk on the phone to a friend.

It’s not that I gave up hope, it’s just that thinking about any specific hope for the future was just not helpful. Recently, my brother shared a poem that captured this experience well:

My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

— Elena Mikhalkova, The Room of Ancient Keys

I couldn’t find anything else written by Elena Mikhalkova that has been translated into English. I’d love to hear about it if her books or any of her other poems is ever translated.