Maria Brady-Smith

   |   On the results of genetic testing for Huntington's Disease

You have been my companion
For over thirty years.
I have lived in fear of you,
Tried to ignore you,
And looked obsessively
For every sign of your striking
For years and years and years.

I watched you slowly attack my father
And now my sisters,
As we helplessly watch them fall,
Unable to stop you.

Who is next?
We all try not to wonder.

And yet,
I have been driven by your presence.
All of my decisions have been weighed
By your ability to destroy at any time.
You have kept me humble and focused.
You have taught me that joy and tragedy
Are intertwined.
They strengthen each other.
I have come to value my mind and body.
I have kept them strong in preparation
For the fight.

I brought three daughters into this world,
A huge risk,
But one that meant hope
Was stronger in me
Than you were.

And now,
With a simple blood test,
You are gone.
I no longer hear
Your silent roar.

Joy and astonishment and celebration!
All the love that surrounds me
Rejoices with me.

And my daughters, my daughters!
I tell each of them proudly
That this particular tiger
Will never stalk them.
They will never feel
Your hot breath on their neck
As they try in vain
To protect their young.

Still, I can't help but wonder
If this gift of a blood test
Has taken something away from them.

You have formed me.
Learning to live with you
Has made me strong,
That which was threatened
Has become a treasure.

I don't regret your presence,
I have learned to love you
In the strangest of ways.
But if it is your death or mine,
I am willing to bid you

Maria Brady-Smith lives in Washington, Missouri with her family. She has had poetry and essays published in various journals. Her poems have won awards in the Missouri State Poetry Contest, The St. Louis Writer's Guild Poetry Contest and the Writer's Challenge Poetry Contest. She has recently joined a writer's group that has both motivated and inspired her.