I’ve written three major stories for Chatelaine magazine, Canada’s biggest circulation weekly: one about how animals got me through a terrible loss; another about adults who’ve lost both their parents; and the last about searching for spiritual answers when you’re not religious.
Peace at Last
©2001 Marie-Lynn Hammond
First published in Chatelaine, December 2001
The woman was on a quest. She had left her bustling village and travelled hundreds of miles (okay, kilometres, if you insist) to arrive at a white house at the foot of a mountain. Like countless travellers before her, she was seeking spiritual enlightenment. Unlike those pilgrims of yore, though, she had found this place through the Internet. She was also on a tight schedule. She had exactly three days to achieve inner peace.
That woman is me, and such are the contradictions of soul quests in the modern age. I was searching because I had come to a point in my life where I could no longer deal with suffering – not my own so much as the suffering of others, both human and animal. Not that this was anything new. When I was a kid, my family made fun of me for refusing to swat flies. As an adult, I found that the sight of a homeless woman could haunt me for weeks.
The Orphan Age
©2001 Marie-Lynn Hammond
First published in Chatelaine, July 2001
I’m walking up the hill again to the hospital in Summerland, B.C., where my mother is dying. It’s a chilly April morning, but the sun carries a brilliant promise of spring, a spring that we know she will not see, because the doctors told us, after discovering an unsuspected, virulent cancer, that she would be lucky to last a few days. It’s been 12 days now, and she is still alive, still conscious, still suffering.
My two sisters and I are suffering too. Not physically, but we’re all crazed, in shock. My mother is in her late 70s, but up until a month ago she had been healthy, vibrant, full of that joie de vivre that French Canadians are stereotypically famous for. My sisters and I have always assumed she would live into her 90s, as her parents did. And we love her very much. (more…)
©2000 Marie-Lynn Hammond
First published in Chatelaine, July 2000
Oligodendroglioma. What an ugly word, I thought, when the doctor first pronounced it: an ugly word for an ugly thing that had just been found in my beautiful sister’s brain. We – the doctor, a nurse, my sister and her partner, my other sister and I – were all crowded into a small, windowless examining room at Toronto’s Princess Margaret hospital. I was already feeling claustrophobic. Now, that huge word, like the tumour it described, seemed to swell malevolently and swallow up whatever space remained between us. (more…)