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THREE: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DYING

Second essay written

There are really no words to explain the pain I felt yesterday morning when I received a text from my friend that her cancer had progressed and become something that would kill her in the coming weeks. I’m familiar with that news but I’m still not familiar with how I’ll end up responding to it. For S*, I went downstairs and cried to my parents after seeing the Instagram announcement. For M*, it actually ended up hitting me the day before it happened, when I found out she couldn’t speak anymore. I cried the entire day and when she actually passed, I had no sadness left in me. I was numb to her death for weeks. And after this most recent friend, T*, everyone I’ve grown close to with bone cancer will have either died, or relapsed, or in treatment just waiting for the inevitable.


And inevitable is what it feels like to me. I am in awful acceptance of what I can’t deny, which is that death is a part of this community as much as any one of us. And because death walks among my friends and I, I like to pretend I understand it, but I don’t. I cannot know something that I’ve spent four years fighting, because understanding does not happen without a mutual agreement to give and take from one another. I have given nothing to death, I have not let it take me. Without that, I cannot understand it.


So when I find out that another friend is dying, I’m at a loss, not only for words but for what to do with myself. I feel like a tenant in this body. I feel like she has been evicted and I have a notice on the door. My life has not felt this fragile in a long time. My physical body is on fire with anticipation to stand in front of the x-ray tech in 16 days and let her see what’s inside. And I am a child again, turning to everybody for the answers that I’m not able to find within my own mind. I don’t ever ask for those answers, but I do tell what I’m thinking pretty often and I always hope that the words out loud will make more sense, become more real, than when they’re in my head.


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and the essay after this one reads...

16 days unit my next scan, and for every single one I will be afraid. And I know of four people who understand the extent of my personal fear. Two of them, I strongly believe their fear of my future is just as powerful as mine. One of them holds that fear herself. One of them is complicated because after awhile I wasn’t so sure they ever understood. I honestly believe some people don’t have the kind of heart that feels pain like that. I envy those people and I also can no longer be around them. Their world is white and I am no longer willing to be the best-worst part of somebody. My pain will never again feel interesting.


T passed a few short months after these essays were written.


*Initials have been used in place of names.

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