“things will come out right now, we can make it so. someone is on your side, no one is alone.”

– Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim

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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 (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 ❤

what I wanted to tell Flo today (22/4/15):

I know this is the same shit I always always always post but, Flo, I don’t want to see Age of Ultron without you. I have to go with a bunch of dumb boys, and okay I like some of them but there’s a couple real dicks in the group whom I did not invite, and I don’t want to go any more. I mean, Jesus, they won’t even clear out of the hallway in front of my room so I can cry in peace. I don’t want the things you were looking forward to to happen without you, I don’t want to see this movie without you, I don’t want to live without you. you deserve to be here. this is so shitty.

“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.)

what I wanted to tell Flo today (5/4/15):

  • so this is a weird one because it’s not the sort of thing I would have admitted to you when you were alive. but my mum wants me to see a counsellor. we went away together and she said I’ve got all dark and spooky and negative. I kind of thought I was doing okay, but I guess we only have our perspective, and especially since I live alone and my uni friends don’t know how I was before and my home friends are fucked up too. I’ll do what she says though. you always sung the praises of counselling, and your recovery was amazing. you went running! I’d like to go running. I’d like someone to teach me how to be okay again.
  • I actually remember your dad saying the regular exercise you’d been doing, post-depression pre-cancer, was probably what kept you alive for so long in those weeks when things were dicey. you took care of your body so it put up a fight for you. I’d like to be able to rely on that, if I was ever dying. which obviously I’m regularly paranoid I am.
  • I’m afraid to fly now. that one’s new. I’ve been on so many flights in my life I can’t count and never been nervous, but there was a plane crash a few weeks ago where the depressed co-pilot purposely crashed the plane to kill himself and everyone on it. and a plane crash is so statistically improbable… but so is a healthy young person dying of ALL, and so is the death of two best friends in 2 months when you’re all 19 years old, so I don’t have much faith in favourable statistics. my in-flight entertainment on the way out was just panicking for 8 straight hours, but it wasn’t as bad on the way home so maybe (fingers crossed) this will be a short-lived symptom.
  • I also watched Pride on the plane and that made me cry hard because I get all sad and bitter when I see media you would have loved and you’re missing. there’s no wifi in the air, obviously, and I was in this weird panicky state because of my new-found fear of flying and I was just so distressed I couldn’t google when Pride came out and so I didn’t know if you had seen it. I genuinely considered asking a flight attendant when in 2014 it was released. because if you hadn’t been in hospital you would definitely have gone to see it, and you would have loved it. but it came out in September I found out, so you didn’t I guess. maybe your dad’s seen it. I’d recommend it to him if he hasn’t.
  • I actually haven’t talked to your parents since January. it’s so bad of me I know, but I don’t even know how to start that conversation. maybe I’ll ask a counsellor.

what I wanted to tell Flo today (13/2/15):

  • Flo, I’m really sorry I haven’t written to you in a while. my best friend from primary school, Zoe, committed suicide on 25/1/15. for a while I felt like I would have to mourn for her the same way as I mourn for you, and like it would be rude to keep writing to you if I didn’t write to her. nearly three weeks later I’m coming to understand that that’s just not possible. the circumstances are too different. I knew you in my recent years, in my hardest years, and yours too, and I feel the absence more keenly because your presence was constant. I knew Zoe in my easiest years, and hers, but she was sick for a long time before she died and I hadn’t seen her in about 4 years; I am used to living without her. I have great tangible memories of you, and my memories of Zoe are old and corrupt. she didn’t want to live and you didn’t get to live, and they’re both fucking tragic circumstances. I love you both differently. I miss you both differently. the greatest similarity is that you were hugely important people in my life, at one time or another, and changed my life for the better.
  • I’ve stopped praying sort of, and I always used to pray for your protection, and I don’t know if there is an afterlife or if you need protection in it, and I don’t know what the point of praying for it is which might be why I stopped. but that was one time every day I always thought of you and I feel guilty not to be doing it, because I’m so scared of moving on and forgetting. maybe I should pick it back up again. and your family still needs protection certainly, and Zoe’s too.
  • it’s still achy to be without you. I still compare my new friends to you and they come off the worse for it, and then I get antisocial and isolate and the aching gets worse.
  • god, Flo, you would love Agent Carter so much. Hayley Atwell is so beautiful, and the cinematography is so beautiful, and the vintage costume and the vintage music. it was “perfect transplant recovery tv,” I remember the exact words, and I was right, it would have been.  the fact that it isn’t and I’m watching it without you hurts like fiction shouldn’t.
  • and Flo, they’re recasting Spider-Man because Marvel got the rights back from Sony, and I know you’d be upset that Andrew Garfield is out but you’d be so happy that they’re considering Dylan O’Brien for the replacement.
  • I’m having a little melt-down. I forgot how good it feels to talk to you. I’ve really missed this. I won’t leave it so long next time. I love you.