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  • I teach art at a children's hospital in Winston-salem, North Carolina. Hematology and oncology. One-year-olds with cancer. Hope and loss and fear and uncertainty and all kinds of tension.

    Art provides a release, a redirecting of energy, a distraction, and, perhaps most importantly of all, it is something the patients can control.

    The image above was a visualization of all the things I heard in the last couple of weeks of one of our patients' lives. It happened last summer. And it was painful. And it still is. She wasn't the only patient we lost. It was a year from hell.

    A few weeks ago though, I was being interviewed by a man from a local npr station. He was asking about Arts for Life, the organization I teach with. Halfway through the interview he stopped me, turned off the recorder, and asked why I wasn't crying. He said that was what he had come expecting. Somber faces, tears, and just generally sad people.

    I felt guilty for the smallest of seconds. But the truth is I have cried more in the last two years than in my whole life prior. I have also laughed, played, and danced around hospital rooms more. I've lived more with patients who, despite their disease-ridden and weakened bodies, are more fully alive than most people I encounter.

    I can't explain why I can dance in hospital rooms. But I will continue.
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