Thursday, October 20, 2016

Reader's Diary #1401- Teva Harrison: In-Between Days

I complain a lot about the art in superhero comics and usually it's because it's too generic. One superhero comic tends to look like the rest. I will add, however, that most of this art is technically fine. A million times better than I could do. Interestingly, memoir comics often are not technically fine. Sometimes it's rough as all hell. Still, it makes artistic sense. A lot of these (Tangles, Rosalie Lightning, and Teva Harrison's In-Between Days) have cathartic intentions and that doesn't typically allow a lot of time for intricacies and edits. More curious is the fact that some of these artists have created something beautiful and poignant when it is looked at as a whole.

In-Between Days is a graphic memoir about living with metastatic breast cancer. If you are unclear about what that is, as I was, it's an incurable breast cancer; it will spread and kill you. Treatment is about prolonging a life as much as possible in as much comfort as possible. As one might imagine, the emotional toll this must take can be as rough as the physical.

There are, as you would expect, tremendously sad moments. I found a scene with Harrison going into an MRI incredibly lonely. There were doctors on the other side, but they were on the other side. There's another scene when she's lying awake beside her sleeping husband trying in vain to keep the negative thoughts away. But Harrison ultimately is upbeat, loving and appreciating life. That sleeping husband? Supportive, loving, and loved in return, beyond any doubt. There are even traces of humour in the unlikeliest of places.

One scene that stood out to me finds Harrison in a support group. "There are no atheists among the stage 4 cancer patients," she observes, then adding, "except for me." With an accompanying essay she elaborates by stating how she would like to believe in an afterlife, but just can't. I suppose I could chalk it up as another way cancer can make you lonely-- what if you can't even relate to your support group? But it actually made me admire her more and not out of some kinship to atheism, but because I appreciated how resilient she was, not allowing cancer to change her completely.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

This sounds like a very powerful book, but cannot have been easy to read. Of course, reading is not all about taking the easy path.

Buried In Print said...

This was such a great read. I wholly recommend the interview with the author and Shelagh Rogers on CBC's "The Next Chapter', which is available via podcast: what grace and authenticity. Lovely.