- 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.
did you say it? ‘I love you. I don’t ever want to live without you. you changed my life,’ did you say it? make a plan, set a goal, work towards it. but every now and then, look around. drink it in. take your time, because this is it. it could all be gone tomorrow.
– Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy
- 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.”
I can’t help it. I mean, every time I look at her, I get this hollow feeling in my chest and it’s like… it’s like someone literally took a shovel and dug a hole in me.
– Scott McCall, Teen Wolf
You’re a son of a bitch, You know that? she bought her first new car and You hit her with a drunk driver. what, was that supposed to be funny? “you can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God,” says Graham Greene. I don’t know whose ass he was kissing there, ’cause I think You’re just vindictive. what was Josh Lyman – a warning shot? that was my son. what did I ever do to Yours but praise His glory and praise His name? there’s a tropical storm that’s gaining speed and power. they say we haven’t had a storm this bad since You took out that tender ship of mine in the North Atlantic last year. Sixty-eight crew. You know what a tender ship does? fixes the other ships. it doesn’t even carry guns. it just goes around, fixes the other ships and delivers the mail. that’s all it can do. gratias tibi ago, Domine.yes, I lied. it was a sin. I’ve committed many sins. have I displeased You, You feckless thug? 3.8 million new jobs, that wasn’t good?bailed out Mexico. increased foreign trade. thirty million new acres of land for conservation. put Mendoza on the bench. we’re not fighting a war. I’ve raised three children. that’s not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? haec credam a Deo pio, a Deo iusto, a Deo scito? cruciatus in crucem. trus in terra servus, nuntius fui, officium perfeci. cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem!
President Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing
(I think about this rant a lot when it comes to you and Zoe. you never watched it, I know, but Bartlet calls out God in the National Cathedral and it’s so awesome because he’s so right. he just yells and yells at God, “I did good and you’d take my family from me?” anyway, it’s been five months without you. hope you’re resting easy. miss you, Flo.)
- 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.
- Game of Thrones starts again tonight and I’ve got a couple problems. first, they’ve run out of books which means they’ll be making stuff up and the stuff they make up is usually just more rape, which I really feel there’s enough of to begin with. I also have that achey thing where I used to watch it with you, and you were all excited for the new season, and now you don’t get to see it and I don’t want to see it without you. and then there’s the heavy themes of loss, especially with Jon and Sansa who are my faves, and I don’t want to feel their grief vicariously, I’ve got my own. I couldn’t even finish Agent Carter, because she missed Steve and I miss you and you never got to see Agent Carter; I swear to God, Flo, I’ll be mad about that my whole life. so I’ll probably still watch Game of Thrones, and I’ll tell you what happens, but I’ll be thinking of that big card I made for the wall of your hospital room with Jon and Ygritte on the front.
- I wonder what happened to that stuff on your wall, all the cards and the pictures. what about that binder that had letters in? and the Downton Abbey puzzle? do your nurses from the first hospital know you didn’t make it? is the one who had breast cancer doing okay? the one who talked to me on skype about Pickman line placement? those nurses adored you, you were there total favourite patient. I’m glad you moved hospitals and they didn’t have to watch you go.
- I’m really mad at God right now. I know that’s some basic shit, like of course kid cancer makes you question your faith. of course the death of a brilliant individual with more drive and potential to have an amazing life than anybody I know would make me question a benevolent creator. but I still believe in God. I just don’t trust the bastard.