Poems for Jenny Cooper

Chicago Botanic Garden Copyright 2016 MDMikus

Chicago Botanic Garden, Copyright 2016 MDMikus

A few years ago, I connected on Facebook with Jenny Cooper, another member of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir. She had a breast cancer diagnosis and I sent her my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation, to help if it could. (I wrote the book during my own cancer journey.) She was in her thirties with a loving husband, Chris, and two young sons. She became a vigorous online presence, healthcare advocate and educator, putting up vivid, honest videos of her ongoing journey. Jenny chose to life fully in every way. Despite aggressive treatment, her cancer returned and continued  to grow.

She went on hospice this summer and is now dying. I wrote these poems in the last few months in support and condolence, to help me as much as anyone. (My youngest sister was also dealing with stage 4 cancer, but is holding on at this point.) I stayed connected with both Jenny and her husband as she declined. I do not know why things happen as they do, but I do know that life has meaning. Jenny’s life touched so many and will continue to.


For Jenny Cooper
and Chris

In the mist
of dying
is the living

A hand to hold
is everything
a witness
to all of it

What is meaning
anyway, but
knowing you will be

One way you leave
other ways you stay
no way to not be

Your own personal
flavor of immortality
your peace-heart
expanding out to the sky

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016



For Jenny—One of Our Virtual Choir Family

What did you think
the end would look like?
Not this pain and suffering
more medications not covering
more drugged sleeping.

The bubble you live in
becoming smaller and smaller
time with husband and boys shorter.

Yes, the bucket list accomplished
the daily online posts
that express and convince
connecting still to the outside.
But why is this?
And why you?
A mystery as all of it
unfolds relentlessly.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016



All the Days Are Numbered

Jenny and Chris Cooper

This is what dying looks like
on the good days
like living but sharper
like living but clearer
like living but deeper
the choices and chances more limited now

What is important cuts through the clutter
to take a pain-free breath
to savor a juicy peach
to hear your child’s laugh
to look in the eyes of, talk with,
hold the hand of your beloved

This is what the end looks like up close
at the edge of the unknown
all the love you have gathered to you
all the love you sent back out
This…noticing. This profound…awareness
of the part the path you walk alone…
and never alone, entirely still.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016

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2 thoughts on “Poems for Jenny Cooper

  1. Julia

    They are beautiful poems. How heart wrenchingly bittersweet that they were written because of Jenny’s battle with cancer, which I live in hope that cancer will be a word of the past. She is an amazing human being, that is for sure.

    I particularly loved your last poem, it resonated.
    Thank you.

  2. Margaret Dubay Mikus Post author

    Thank you so much for reading and your generous comment, Julia. Jenny has been a teacher for us all, in the way she chose to live and to include us in the end of her life. You are most welcome.

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