“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.

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.”

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 (5/5/2015):

  • got a little emotional today, missing you, as one does. I was trying to find your chemo playlist on spotify and I couldn’t, and I got so freaked out like, what if it was deleted? because that would mean another little part of you was gone. T sent me the link to it but it wouldn’t open and I just got so frustrated and in that mood where you just feel like howling out of injury and tiredness. it didn’t help that I had a long working day. well sort of a long working week. sort of a long working career. I make bad choices. wish I’d done film like you did. well, like you didn’t.
  • we did come up with a new safe word though, me and T. “Russell Howard” means “I want to say something to do with Flo but I don’t want to catch you off guard in case you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable,” and then you can say if it’s okay to proceed. like, “Russell Howard?” “yeah don’t worry go ahead.” I’m pretty sure you’d find this hilarious.
  • Mad Men gets me all worked up about gender inequality. it’s probably good you never watched much of it, with your tendency to explode with all-consuming rage. always for a good cause though. always raging against some injustice or another. I’ve inherited that part of you at least. and the way they treat Joan on Mad Men. and the way the mathletes treat R at Cambridge!! eurgh you’d be so cross.
  • I miss Rev B. or I miss having some spiritual guidance. I don’t really want to bother her though. plus the last time I emailed her just to rekindle contact she emailed back with condolences because you died that afternoon. I won’t do it again, no, no jinx.
  • I was actually talking to a friend here at uni about the weird anti-abortion lecture I accidentally went to the day before you died and how shitty and long that day was, and I almost told her too that the next day turned out to be even longer and shittier. I kind of just swallowed my words and mumbled my way out of the sentence. after all this time I still don’t know if it’s fucked up not to be able to share or if it’s healthy not to talk about my dead friends to my living friends all the time. is it that I can’t confide or that I’m sensibly choosing not to? thoughts? just kidding.

what I wanted to tell Flo today (1/5/15):

I can’t believe one of my best friends died of cancer. and one died of suicide. I’m 19 years old. I’ve never even lost a pet before. I mean I can remember it, you were in my life and then you were sick and then you were gone, but I never thought it would happen and I still kind of can’t believe. it feels like someone else’s life.

I reckon this is the calm before the storm, before one of those big breakdowns when I realise how much I lost and it’s the worst pain in the world for 45 minutes and after that I don’t forget again for a while. it’s the ebbs and flows of this thing that are killing me – sharp pain, dull pain, surreal relief, sharp pain, dull pain, all over again.