A short memoir written by Erin Pushman, Associate Professor of English at Limestone College, is included in the latest issue of the literary magazine Confrontation.
With October serving as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pushman's segmented essay "Intercourse, Recall" is especially topical as it further explores her mother's battle with the disease from a personal perspective.
The Confrontation publication marks the second time that an article by Pushman about her mother's condition has been published during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In October 2011, the online literary journal Segue published "Revolving Glass" which took the reader along with Pushman and her mother through the ups and downs of the battle including hospital trips for screenings and ultimately a radical mastectomy. In "Intercourse, Recall," Pushman vividly writes about two separate childhood memories from observations of intimate moments shared by her parents; one before the breast cancer diagnoses as the two enjoy a sexual encounter and the other post-diagnosis when actual intercourse seemed to be a problem.
Of the first encounter, Pushman writes "I did not know the word for what I was seeing, but I had the sense I had walked up to something secret and should turn away. But I didn't—not until I heard the sudden sound of my father's voice. 'Erin, it's okay. Go back to bed now. We're just doing what two people do when they're in love.'"
The second encounter was far different as Pushman watched secretly as her father and mother—who had undergone the mastectomy and a recent biopsy—sat opposite to one another on the bed. "This time I knew I should not watch," she writes. "What I was seeing between my parents seemed not only secret but also sad and shameful. They were not having sex, and the not I understood, or intuited, was a wrong thing. I cannot say which of my parents failed the other that night, or whether what came between them was, as I imagine now, my mother's cancer or something else."
About the memoirs she has written concerning her mother's battle, Pushman says that she is "sharing what it's like to be reflecting as an adult on childhood experiences. I am just a few years younger than my mother was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and although she is still living, she never really got her life back after the diagnosis. Now that I have a child, I am often thinking about what my family and I would experience if I were to be diagnosed with breast cancer."
The memoir written by Pushman can be found online here .