Picture of Grace Zhang

Grace Zhang is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen’s University




[For my Grandmother]

we don’t talk much these days
(which is mostly my fault, I know)
but if we were on the phone
right now,
I’d tell you how
when we sat in lecture learning about
tests like MOCA, and MMSE
that at the time, I could not see
the connection between
drawing a clock showing 11:10
and having a grandmother
who might no longer recognize me.

I don’t think I really understood medicine then.

and I still struggle to explain
how the brain that housed
such selfless resilience;
how your brilliance
could be compromised
by mutant tau proteins
and amyloid plaques —
a ruthless attack
and though you may try to battle back
to even the score —
you could never win the war.

but can I just say
that even as age chipped away
at your mind
there was never a time
where I would think of you
and see anything but strength;
you were so stubborn
it drove us near mad,
but still secretly I revered
your need to hold fast
to your identity.

so call me naïve, but
I have this overwhelming belief
that even on the day you wake up
and no longer recall
who you are
that you will still somehow
be standing tall
holding fast
to who you are.

(and I am so sure of this because I will be holding fast to who you have helped me become.)