“legacy is planting seeds in a garden you never get to see”

– Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda


this is going to be my last post on this blog, although my last proper post was months ago. I’d like to leave this up indefinitely but I’m spooked somebody would identify me and I’d be in trouble, so in a month’s time I’m going to save all my posts and delete my account. I just didn’t want anyone to worry where I’d gone.

(where I’ve gone is a good place. or I guess it’s the same place but a different time, because it’s been almost a year now since Flo died. I think of it like with collagen remodelling at the site of a wound, where new material fills up the hole; and the tissue never regains its prior strength but it has other properties now, unique to scar tissue. I don’t feel that Flo-shaped hole in the matrix of my life because the content of my life has changed so much since her death; and I’ll never have her arms around me again and that knowledge still destroys me but the good I’ve got since her death have come from consciously acting more like her. I still think about her every day and I still cry over her a lot, and I consider that evidence of scarring, but it’s okay! scar formation is the mechanism of wound healing! I’m not scarred because I am wounded, I’m scarred because I’m healing.)

I didn’t really know what this project would be when I started it. now I’m finishing it I see it as a journal, the first and only one I’ve ever kept. this site has been a record of my experience of bereavement, a means of plotting my messy non-linear course through grief, a perceived channel of communication to the friend I lost, a way to remember her and share my memories to spread appreciation for this one-of-a-kind girl and the injustice of her fate, a kind of prayer, a kind of catharsis, and a kind of dumping ground for all the terrible emotional garbage that was making me weird to be around. and being around other people with similar experiences on here, reading their posts, made me feel like I wasn’t so weird and isolated after all. I can’t express how grateful I am for the messages of encouragement I received up in here. I can only hope something I wrote helped somebody else back in the same way.

thank you for having me. and Flo.

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what I wanted to tell Flo today (18/6/15):

  • I’ve been back from uni about a week and it’s been lovely. really nice weather, park hopping around London, cocktails in the sunshine, playing Cards Against Humanity. sometimes someone shares a memory of you and we get that bittersweet thing where it’s achey to be without you but really good to be with other people who remember you and have good stories. it’s hard too because I was with you all of last summer until you went into hospital. scary to think it’s coming up on a year since your diagnosis.
  • you would laugh so hard at my current ‘set list’ for prayers. I mean, you have complete contempt for religion so you would laugh anyway, and my family aren’t so religious and never really taught me how to do it so I’m sure it’s totally abnormal. but I’m aiming for once a day at the minute and I’m asking:
    • God, please look after Flo and Zoe for me.
    • please look after L and L, and K (Zoe’s family)
    • please look after R and A, F and F (your family)
    • and please look after Truly and Ziggy Stardust, amen. (yes, I pray daily for your dogs.)
  • my mum won’t let me meet her sort-of boyfriend yet, and I really want to. I’m so judgemental though, I think she’s nervous I’ll reject him as Unworthy. if you thought I was bad with our friends’ boyfriends just imagine how protective I am of my mother. we’re getting on pretty good because she likes that I’m a helpful adult now, but I do feel the responsibility and it makes me a little scared and tense and snappy.
  • my sister, meanwhile, claims she can commune with the dead. she said some benevolent spirits helped her through her maths A level, and there were lots of ghosts at Exeter when she went for an open day. she even claims to have seen one today. so I’m 87% sure she’s full of shit, but you know I run anxious and she is such a little weirdo there’s part of me that worries she’s psychotic and having hallucinations. but I’ve probably just got schizophrenia on my mind because I’ve been watching too much Criminal Minds and because of Zoe, right?
  • idk Flo, I should probably sort out this constant pervasive anxiety thing. it’s weird because I feel like I’ve always lived like this in a way, calculating worst case scenarios, feeling real fear that they’ll come to pass, and navigating my life to avoid that worst outcome. it’s just that all that fear was validated by losing two very close friends one after the other, so now it’s less easy to dismiss those fears as irrational. but I have always sort of lived with mad high anxiety and I probably would have kept on contently if I hadn’t started this – letter writing, journalling, blogging, whatever you want to call it. doing a real honest inventory of myself as I grieve. and thinking about who I want to grow up to be. I don’t want to live like this forever, you know, I want to be brave and not held back by fears. my experience of counselling was so shitty, but it’s probably worth trying again. anyway, thanks for being a sounding board for all this garbage. I love you.

6 months / what I wanted to tell Flo today (9/6/15):

6 months ago, I assumed the rest of my life would be horrible, but I couldn’t imagine anything more specific than that. I literally couldn’t imagine a future without you. you used to say, “we lived through our senior school, we can make it through anything.” it wasn’t true. you died from one of the few completely curable cancers. there were times I honestly thought I’d die from grief, but I didn’t. and I’ve been doing this life that I couldn’t imagine for 6 months now.

I’m proud of myself, but it’s pride in you that got me here. the memories of your inspiring bravery, your kind generosity, your complete lack of self-pity, your goofy, excitable, compassionate, uninhibited, totally genuine nature. I stayed okay (if we’re calling baseline human function okay, and I think we ought to when we’re talking about somebody who’s lost somebody) because I love you so much, and I’m so proud of who you became in just 19 years and 2 months. it’s not fair that you didn’t get any longer than that. and I can’t fulfil what you would have done – I can’t act or direct, I can’t speak French, I can’t take care of your dog. I can’t fill the you-shaped hole in the world. but I can patch the hole in me, by trying to be more brave, more kind, more honest, more like you. by becoming who I would have become, in 19 years and 6 months plus, if you were still by my side, influencing me with your shiny loveliness. and effectively you still are. I don’t know why I was ever worried about living without you, Flo. I never will.

I love you, I miss you, I hope you’re somewhere good, and any higher power isn’t really homophobic or else you guys are gonna fight. here’s your song. ❤

what I wanted to tell Flo today (2/6/15):

  • my first exam is tomorrow. I’ve been working really hard and I think I might pass. obviously I don’t fully think, because it’s me and I don’t do academic confidence, but I feel hopeful that I might be able to leave uni in a week and not come back until September, and put this shitty fucking year behind me.
  • thinking about immunity or acute kidney damage or septic shock still gets me freaked out. I know sepsis and renal failure had a role in your death even though I don’t know all the details. most of them came from the newspaper article with the selfies in (amazing by the way, only you could get an in memoriam selfie with a sick bucket on your head in the national news). there was one time a couple weeks ago when I started having a panic attack in a lecture on renal failure and T and G had to talk me down over text. it’s a big fear right now that there will be a question on immunodeficiency or leukaemia in one of my papers, and I’ll melt down right there in the exam. I could count on one hand the number of panic attacks I had before you died. I’d need 2 hands and maybe a foot for the number since.
  • I’m making it sound like it’s all very bleak right now but it’s really not. the school we went to, I know how to push myself all the way up until the finish line. everything’s just gonna be so much better once I get to stop studying and sleep like normal.
  • I moved house again. I wasn’t there, but my belongings have been moved. I wish I could give you a skype tour of the new place, like I did the last couple times I moved. maybe I’ll send you pictures. although I do kind of like the idea that, if you’re hovering around me in the ether, when I go home next weekend we’ll both get to see it for the first time. of course, this is another rental place and I’m moving 2 more times before August because there’s not one element of constancy in my life besides the support of T, G, sometimes I, and my mum and sister.
  • you held me up when my family fell apart, and you said all the right things and were the exact perfect person to turn to. I keep wondering what you’d say now absolutely everything’s fallen apart. you’d probably put it in tv terms, same as always, like, “the theme of this season is clearly loss, and you’ve been given the major storyline. it means you must be a well-loved character, and the writers and putting emotional focus on you to keep the viewers hooked. it’ll give you great character development. your actress will win an Emmy for this sesason. and then you will live happily ever after.” and then you’d smack me on the bum and tell me to “stop moaning, bloody hell! get me some toast.”