Shortly after the coronavirus lockdown in March of 2020, I started an online writing group called “Corona Chronicles” and invited anyone who wanted to join to write with me. The idea was that every day I would provide a writing prompt, and we would share our stories in a private Facebook group.
One of the first women who emailed me asking to join was Elizabeth Cardona.
“I got your name from Alayne White,” she told me. “We are both Wonder Women.”
I knew what that meant. Alayne, and apparently Elizabeth too, were cancer survivors. “Alayne suggested that you might be able to help me write my story. But I’m not sure if I’m a writer,” she confessed.
Elizabeth joined my Corona Chronicles group, and didn’t miss a beat. She wrote every single day, answered every single writing prompt, and shared every single story she wrote.
There was no question that Elizabeth was a writer. And she wasn’t afraid to dig deep.
On Day 7, the prompt was: I am ready to let go of…
I am ready to let go of the fear of dying. Although death will always be in the back of my mind, right there reminding me each time I have a recurrence of my cancer, how much closer it really is. I’m starting to believe that all I really need to do is invite death in, get to know it, and I should be able to, at the very least, come to terms with it. I will let death know that I am going to let go of the fear of it. Why? Because no matter what, death is part of the process of living. And I won’t let my fear of dying stop me from living.
When the Corona Chronicles program ended, I invited Elizabeth to join my 6-month group program: “From Your Mat to Your Memoir.” This group was for dedicated writers who would meet one weekend a month to write their life stories. I knew Elizabeth was more than ready. “Even though,” she told me, “I’m in quite a lot of pain some days, but I promise I will still write.”
And WRITE, she did! She wrote about everything from her childhood in Puerto Rico, her rebellious teen years, her marriage, divorce, the birth of her children and grandchildren, her job as a teacher (something she was so incredibly proud of) and the pivotal moment when she was first diagnosed with cancer and how that shifted everything in her life.
Our group met online once a month for 6 months, and at the end of the program we met in person at a B&B in Cape Cod. Elizabeth was on a portable oxygen tank but that didn’t slow her down one bit! We wrote together, we shared stories, we took day trips to see lighthouses, we shared meals, and we laughed our asses off! That’s when I saw first hand that Elizabeth truly was a Wonder Woman. Nothing would slow this woman down, or dull her shining spirit and positive outlook on life.
She told us all about her Power of Three (her three children) and her Power of Three Squared (her three grandchildren). During the weekend she wrote and later shared in a packed Zoom room, a beautiful and intimate letter she wrote to each one of her beloved grandsons. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
At the beginning of this year, I had a thought that maybe the people in my original Corona Chronicles groups might like to have a book created and self-published from the writing they did during that strange time in history. I put the offer out to everyone in the original Corona Chronicles group, and only ONE person raised their hand.
Of course it was Elizabeth.
She was fighting another recurrence of her cancer and was in some pain by this time, but she didn’t let that deter her. She and my husband went back and forth by email uploading photos she wanted to include in the book, and I edited some of her entries so that she would have a beautiful self published book titled “My Corona Chronicles,” by Elizabeth Cardona. We were just about ready to send it to the printer, when we heard the news that Elizabeth had passed.
My husband and I are so sad that she won’t be able to see her book in print, but we are, on the other hand, happy that she accomplished what she set out to do on that very first phone call. Now we will do the finishing touches and publish her book for her Power of Three and her Power of Three Squared.
There is a testimonial on my website from Elizabeth that reads:
“Cancer gave me the necessary power to take back my voice. Rebecca Gold and her yogic writing program provided the vehicle I needed to add the power of print to my voice and my life stories.”
Her testimonial means the world to me, and as much as I would love to take credit for providing “the vehicle she needed,” I know that it wasn’t me that gave her the vehicle. She always had everything she needed inside of her. All I did was show her a map.
And then, lucky me, I had the honor and privilege to hitch a ride on a writing journey with Wonder Woman.
Rest in Peace, our dear friend and writer, Elizabeth Cardona.
Day 20: If only I had known…
If only I had known how easy it would be to get myself writing, I would have begun sooner… E.C.