Faith Must Stay Alive

I saw it as a proof, an odd, awkward
proof, one as disabled as I myself became, but

but proof all the same, this odds-defying
fact that I am still alive after all my attempts

to un-cheat death, if you will.
Your faith in me has proved out,

as if all recipients of faith
must stay alive long enough to either
confirm or at last disprove the merits

of this trust . . . so now I can see it, this trust
you placed in me . . . and I finally realized

if I truly want to die, I must now admit
to myself what you have known
since our childhood.

Artist’s note:

John Henry Holliday (1851-1887), known throughout the West as Doc Holliday,was born in Georgia and educated as a dentist in Pennsylvania.  Diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1873 and given only a half-year to live, he moved west, hoping to extend his life a few months in the dry climate.  Already condemned to a slow, painful death, Holliday knew no fear in dangerous situations, and his fame grew;  he teamed up with the Earp brothers during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and many historians place the amount of men he killed in the 30s.  The only fellow Georgian Holliday continued to contact after he went west was his cousin, Mattie Holliday. Shortly after Doc contracted tuberculosis and left Georgia, Mattie too left their childhood world to become a Sister of Charity, entering an Atlanta convent. No correspondence between the two has survived, but it’s safe to say she had a profound impact on Doc, in that even though he had been raised a Presbyterian, it was revealed after his death at Glenwood Springs, Colorado, that he had recently been baptized in the Catholic faith.

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