“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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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 (22/5/15):

  • I figured out you’re 47 days older than me, so on January 25th I became older than you ever got to be. right now when I think of you, you’re still older and wiser and more mature than I am (okay, I mean about life not about dick jokes). not like I imagine you ageing because I can’t, but I guess I haven’t matured much in 5 months and you were more than 47 days more mature than me. it’s my half-birthday today, and in 6 months I’ll be in my twenties. at some point in my twenties, with you frozen at 19, I’m going to start thinking of you like you’re a baby and that’s scary. Zoe is frozen at about 11 in my head, 14 max. because that was the last time I saw her, but she was always kind of my baby even though she was older. what if I get older and I don’t understand you any more, because old people don’t get teenagers, and you’ll always be a teenager to me? I don’t think I could ever forget, but there’s stuff like your laugh that you can’t write down.
  • I still don’t like counselling. in theory it’s great, I think it’s the lady I don’t like because her ‘deep prying questions’ are actually so basic. I’m like, “the last 2 times I watched The Prince of Egypt someone died so I’m probably never gonna watch it again” and she’s like, “do you think that’s rational?” nooo obviously not, sweater lady, but this whole thing has made me a highly irrational person mistrustful of probability. 85% chance you’d be cured of cancer. one in a million million chance you and Zoe would both go, right now, in the year my parents divorced, I started uni and I moved 6 time (ps hello God, anybody ever tell you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater). it’s not rational to wonder who of my friends could be next, or to figure it’ll be someone else born in October, since you both were, or to check my facebook calendar for October birthdays so I can pray for everyone I know born in that month that I don’t kill them by loving them because I’m the spooky bad omen friend. it’s not rational to wonder about fate because the day Zoe died was the day I became older than you were at your oldest. “there’s no such thing as fate,” you’d say. “there’s no such thing as werewolves.”
  • I keep telling people I don’t know that well that I love them, and it’s freaking them out. they don’t know it’s because I’m freaked out that they’ll die without knowing how loved and important they are. it’s like your godfather said at your funeral, “I hope you knew it all along,” but I don’t think you did and that’s just… not right. you are so loved and you are so important but I didn’t tell you enough. so I want to tell other people but it upsets them, or it’s awkward, I don’t know. I might just start telling you instead.
  • here’s one to start: G is one of the most amazing people I know, and I bet she has no idea. she’s so funny, like right up there with you, and just unfailingly kind. she always knows exactly what to say or do to make you feel better, like sending Always Look on the Bright Side of Life to pretty much anyone who’s just been diagnosed with cancer would be such a dodgy move, but it was just right for you and you loved it. and it’s just instinctual! she’s just instinctually good and compassionate! we text every day and I always want to tell her how much I love her, and one of the only memories I have of last term (because I have a 3 month gap in my memory but we can talk about that some other time) was getting her letters, that’s how important they were to me. I think she’d be embarrassed, but I think you’d agree with me. she’s the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.
  • they did something really fucked up on Game of Thrones. I’m not gonna talk about it, because if you don’t know you’re better off not knowing, but you’d be really mad.
  • I think I might pass these exams. annoying counsellor lady pointed out I’d do better in them and in my degree in the long haul if I postponed and took them in the resit period in August, and it was doubly annoying because she’s right. but I just want to get them done and move on with my life. I am so ready for this year to end.
  • I’m not gonna lie, I cried a lot writing this one.

what I wanted to tell Flo today (15/5/15):

I fucking love you, Flo. I’m listening to your chemo playlist while I study, for the first time since you died. I used to play it all the time when you were ill, because imagining we were both listening to it at the same time made me feel like we were together, in a way, like “we’re looking up at the same moon” kind of thing. anyway I was just about to get sentimental about your great taste in music when, with perfect timing, My Enormous Penis came on shuffle. fucking hell did that make me laugh. I mean it’s a very empowering song, I can see why it would be on your positivity playlist, despite you not having a penis of any size. it was just… very you to interrupt my self-pity moment with humour, you know?.love you, Flo.

(PS I’m not nearly as hysterical as I was the other day. see, I knew it would pass.)

what I wanted to tell Flo today (27/4/15):

  • I am sooo wiped, I had 6 hours of lectures today starting at 9am. we’ve got 4 weeks to finish the heart and do all of the kidney. this term is kicking my arse.
  • Age of Ultron was a total disappointment. so not worth the hours I spent crying beforehand because I didn’t want to see it without you – really, you’d be so embarrassed by the emotional turmoil that preceded me seeing this film. it got to the point where I was considering not going, but I made a really good bowl of pasta before I left and that settled me somewhat. cheesey carbs can fix anything.
  • back to the point: Natasha, Clint and Steve were characterised horribly, Bruce boringly, the others not so bad. Joss Whedon threw away all the work The Avengers and The Winter Soldier put into Clint/Natasha and paired her up with Bruce instead. they had no chemistry, possibly because Mark Ruffalo is a lot older than ScarJo, although they have the same birthday (it’s also my birthday, fun fact). I still wish I’d seen it with you. I want to know what you thought of it, like maybe your perspective would change my mind. tell you what, you would have loved Aaron Johnson making snarky comebacks in a vaguely Slavic accent, every bit as handsome as he was in Angus Thongs. but this didn’t hurt like it used to, having to do ‘us’ things alone. maybe because it was a bad movie.
  • I had a lovely facebook convo with your sister yesterday. I was really unsure if I should contact your family at all, I’ve written about that before. I figured they barely knew me before you got sick and they might be disgruntled by me offering support, like what right do I have bringing it up, preventing them from moving on, because I’m a kid and I don’t know them and I don’t know you like they do. at least that’s how I feel when people from school who barely know me and barely knew you try to talk to me about you and how I’m feeling. I should have known better. your whole family are so kind, like I don’t know your brother well but your sister is just about the loveliest woman on the planet, tied for the title with your mum maybe, and your dad is so funny and dadly and sweet. I say it all the time, but they deserve better to have lost you. anyway your sister’s got a job at your old primary school I’m going round to your house when I’m home from uni to hear all about it, and to see your parents’ new puppy. I don’t know what breed it is, but she sent me a picture and he’s absolutely gorgeous, like Truly will be jealous of the new baby no doubt. and they’re calling him Ziggy Stardust, just like you wanted ❤

“poetry, beauty, romance, love: these are what we stay alive for” / what I wanted to tell Flo today (21/4/15):

we don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race! and the human race is filled with passion!and medicine, law, business, engineering: these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. but poetry, beauty, romance, love: these are what we stay alive for. to quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” answer: that you are here – that life exists, and identity. that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. what will your verse be?

– monologue from Dead Poets Society, spoken by Robin Williams

(I’m reading this as the intro for my group’s final piece for medical humanities. it reminds me that even if school and isolation are making life feel very bleak, some good tv or a movie can pick you back up. that was always your philosophy. some movie from 1989 beat you to it, but you’ll never make a movie now so I’m glad somebody put this message out there. it made me think of your yearbook eulogy too. I’ll put that up here some day. actually, I’m getting into embroidery like I said I would, and I’d love to embroider out your yearbook rant and frame it in my new house in London. then I could have the Iron Man plaque you gave me in my new house in Southampton and have a piece of you with me in every new home. would love a stable home. but if there’s one thing I’ve learned you can’t fight it’s the turning of the seasons and the pouring of the sands of time and change change change change change. I don’t want to fight it, to be honest with you. time heals all wounds and it’s healing the divine incision that separated me from you.)

(I tagged this with acceptance. first time I’ve used that tag. change is good.)