Monday, November 20, 2023


 A Monobon by Rachielle Ragasa Sheffler


Last Word


The day I imagined my last moments on earth, I prayed, “Lord, I am not yet ready to die.” I refrained from Googling the mammogram report until I spoke with a human: calcifications and developing asymmetry. Need diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. I calmed my nerves by browsing The Art of X-Ray Reading. The author posits that the last word in a sentence is the most important. "The Queen, my Lord, is dead." Shakespeare gives gravitas not to the Lady or Macbeth but to death, which prevails. The X-Ray tech gave me a gown with a pretty pastel pattern. I looked like a butterfly, on the way to the chopping block. She instructed: "Hold still, don't breathe, breathe" in rapid succession. I marveled at the attachments she clicked onto the machine and humored her detailed explanation of magnification and 3-D imaging, tomography, and synthesis. She beamed with affection for her toy, "Just like Kitchen-Aid.” I felt a macerating feeling in my squeezed breast. I had a few hours to kill before the next step. Again, I distracted myself with the book, “Use the same words, move them around to see how the placement of the word changes the sentence.” How about this? “I am not yet ready to die, Lord.” The ultrasonographer pressed her goopy wand, "Sorry if I'm hurting you." I focused on the screen. Breast tissue looks like ocean waves, rising and falling with the breath. "Wait here for the radiologist." Instead, it was she who came back, and with a smile, "We need to follow the calcifications in six months, but there is nothing to worry about. Hardening of the veins is common with age." Asymmetry, she explained earlier, was a difference in the appearance of the tissue from its surroundings or in a corresponding area in the other breast. "I could not find any asymmetry on the ultrasound.” Where did it go? "Maybe it got cleared with the pressing." Like a rolling pin? "Yes.”


Lord, I am ready to die. Not. Yet.





Rachielle Ragasa Sheffler is working on a memoir on her family’s immigration, and translating her late father’s short stories published in Bannawag, from Ilocano to English. When not writing, she works as a clinical laboratory scientist in San Diego, CA.



  1. Wonderful Manang!! You are an inspiration to us all. Maybe, just maybe I can follow behind barracks you are trotting now 😍

    1. Thanks! Why not? Everyone has a creative spirit waiting to be freed.

  2. I love reading your pieces, Ate! ❤️