If you could delete one year of your life-or change how you went through it-what would it be and why?
Aw man, shit’s about to get real personal. Thanks, Meg :P
I’m sorry to everyone that there’s no read more when replying to asks, too, but this is going to be a long one. Really long.
I mean, there’s a lot of stuff I sometimes wish I could just erase, but it’s kind of contested by this personal justification that whatever you go through makes you who you are later and can turn out to be an okay thing- but then again, I haven’t had to experience a lot of really traumatic, fucked up shit, so it’s really just a way of coping personally, not something I would apply to other people’s lives.
So, trigger warning for self-harm, suicide, and if this is a trigger, cancer
The first thing I thought of when I read this was the death of my best friend, Laura, this past February. The second thing was all the years in middle school when I really wanted to kill myself and when I self-harmed and stuff.
But I’m gonna go with the first one, because while I’m not proud of my burn scars and really unhappy with the way I thought about myself and dealt with life when I was struggling through puberty, that little self justification I mentioned takes over.
So, my friend Laura was diagnosed with leukemia in March of 2011. It was totally from left field- she’d had this cold for months and everyone played it off like it was no big deal. Then she went into the hospital because they thought she had pneumonia.
And my brother and I bought her all this stuff to keep her occupied and my mom kept saying we should get more stuff and my brother and I were joking about it because pneumonia can be serious- a friend of mine passed away from it in 2009- but in the young and relatively healthy, well
Anyway, it turned out it was cancer, like I said, and her family had no history of it. And it was really bad. She had to get heart surgeries and she started chemo and lost her hair and everything.
And then that summer she got a bone marrow transplant and was in remission. Her hair started to come back in.
I lived three hours away when all this happened. I hadn’t gotten back a lot since I moved. We lost touch the way you do in those situations. But I’d known this amazing, beautiful young woman since I was fifteen years old, shared my soul with her, could tell her anything. She was, like, the most self-deprecating but least judgmental person I knew.
And so then I had to watch her waste away, in incredible pain. Nineteen years old, right? Nineteen and with a whole host of unresolved mental health issues. And while she was in remission, her boyfriend broke up with her. I didn’t know him that well, but I and a lot of people who were close to her always thought he was verbally/emotionally abusive as fuck.
I didn’t come back to see her often enough, I felt. I was in college and living on my own and everything. For my birthday I came back and we went to the mall and hung out and it was really awesome.
And then, like, a week later or so, she was back in the hospital.
I got to see her one last time in January, and she had an oxygen mask and was totally out of it, and I was in town for a biopsy to make sure I didn’t have cervical cancer.
And anyway, the last thing I said to her in person was, “I love you, good luck” and I kissed her on the forehead and walked away.
And you know what? I might have been able to see her right before she passed away. The updates her family made online after the cancer came back, every week it was just things were getting worse and worse.
And then on Valentine’s Day my family was texting and calling like crazy while I was at work, telling me she really wasn’t doing too well at all and I should come back. So I got in the car that night.
And we were going to go to the hospital then, but it was around ten o’clock at night and I was worried about disturbing anyone, her or her family or whatever, but instead of going to sleep, I stayed up all night, freaking out, talking to people online about it.
And this is what really gets me if I let myself think about it.
I slept in the next morning.
I was just waking up as she died.
I didn’t check the website or text anyone, my brother and I went to the hospital and he got a phone call from someone who I didn’t even fucking know saying she had passed already.
We went up anyway, with another friend I didn’t know, to see if anyone in her family was still there- of course they weren’t.
Then I called my work and told them I wouldn’t be coming in for a few days because of the funeral and wake.
I don’t know. I would maybe change the year before she was diagnosed. I would go out to see her and hang out every chance I had, to build a whole bunch of memories that aren’t stale like the ones from high school feel.
This woman saved my life, you know? I was in deep depression, like I mentioned in the beginning, and meeting her and becoming friends with her, it changed my life.
I feel guilty. I think that’s one of the stages of mourning, but I’ve learned through her death more than anyone else’s that those five stages of mourning happen all at the same time.
I feel like I owed her more than I gave her and like I owed her family more. I mean, perfectly honest, I wish I could take away that year of her cancer and have her alive and well and sarcastic as ever, but I don’t think this question gives you the option to change the stars, just your own life.
I mean, considering, like, I know someone whose last words to someone who died was “I hate you,” so my last goodbye wasn’t terrible.
But I wish I’d taken her illness more seriously and I wish I could deal with her being gone better. I almost failed one of my classes at school, which would have kept me from graduating. My work slacked off, I stopped taking care of myself, I didn’t sleep right. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to break this pattern of sleepless nights and sleep deprived days. It’s only recently that every morning isn’t completely colored by her not being in the world anymore.
But I woke up this morning thinking about her, flashing back in way to some of my final moments with her and then after her death. I would go to visit her while she was alive and felt awkward and weird, like there wasn’t really a place for me in her life anymore, and that made me feel guilty too, like, here was my best friend, someone who I relied on and relied on me for years, and then just a few years apart and we’d both grown up so much and it wasn’t growing up together anymore. I hate myself for cutting ties with her as much as I did more than anything.
The irony is, if she was still alive, I’m back in town most of the time, we’d be able to see each other all we wanted, now.
If if if.
Ugh, sorry, Meg, and everybody else; this is all deep and intense and self loathing and I’m frankly embarrassed and ashamed of myself.
Like, cancer isn’t some great romantic thing, you know? I got John Green’s book “The Fault in Our Stars” in the mail practically the same day Laura went back into the hospital. I don’t know for sure how much impact that book had on me while everything sped towards Laura’s end and then after. But I think it helped, helped me put into words a lot of what I was feeling and thinking. I mean, I could point to a thousand, gazillion moments in that book and say “yup.”
like, ““The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” ”
Ugh. Okay, now I’m just rambling about this friend who died who hardly any of my followers knew (except a few of you, hey loves). I feel like I always vomit some of this information all over people, people I don’t even know, and then I try to make jokes about it and I end up sounding like a freak or something.
Okay. I think I answered the question.