Dear My Chronically Ill Friend,
I want you to know that I care. I want to be there for you. I want to know the truth when I ask how you’re feeling. That’s right. I know you’re lying when you say, “I’m fine” or “Good, you?” I wish you wouldn’t lie. There are days when I think you are trying to convince yourself more than you’re trying to convince me. Those days I want to scream at the people who made you feel like it’s wrong to not be okay. The days I wish I could scream so loud that the whole world would hear me when I say, “It’s okay to not be okay.” I want you to not only hear me but to believe me. You deserve more than to feel you have to silence yourself. You deserve more than this.
Then I look at you, I talk to you, I listen to you. I am reminded that you are one of the strongest people I have ever met. That you have so much creative talent that every time you write it flows from you in a way that would amaze some of the best writers in time. I am reminded of how big your heart is. I see it everyday. The way you speak so adamantly about clubs and writing shows more than you know. The way you advocate, not for yourself, but for everyone who has ever felt the way you do and who don’t have the voice to fight for themselves. The way that you encourage those you care about.
You are the bravest person I have ever known, because bravery isn’t fighting your fear. Bravery is facing it. Bravery is the way you let peoples hate and prejudice flow past you instead of letting the waves of their lies and misinformed ideas crash into you, never ceasing to try and stop you from catching your breath. Instead you stand tall and let it recede back into the depths it came from. You feel it as deeply as anyone, but you don’t let yourself be dragged away with it. You never let the waves of their hate drown you.
Now I am reminded that your sickness woke you up to the world around you. No longer do you run from an opportunity but actively seek them. Now you struggle everyday, to learn, to grow, and to experience the world in a way that many don’t feel the need to.
I am reminded that you are a person. Not a diagnosis. I want to hear about your life. The good parts. The social political and trivial daily tasks. I want to know about your friends, hear about your family, talk about your life. I want you to be happy.
When on the rare occasion that you come up with these ‘what if’ eventualities and say things like ‘if something happens’ there are so many mixed feelings that rise up to meet your words. First I am glad to know that you trust me like this. To me it screams that you are aware of how much I mean it when I say “I’m here for you”. Then next the fear swells up to drown the pleasant, friendly moment. I am scared beyond belief that you think those ‘what ifs’ might be closer than I thought. I am scared for you. The fear you must feel at the thought. The way that you promise everything is okay with a smile that doesn’t touch your eyes. The way that suddenly everything seems more serious. That any minute you could be lost to your illness. I am suddenly sad. Selfishly, I am sad for myself. Sad for you. Sad for your family. Sad for the world. A world that without you is suddenly missing a lot. Even if it doesn’t know it.
Then I am happy. Happy because I have had the wonderful and amazing privilege of getting to know you. The privilege of getting to know one of the strongest, bravest, most caring people I have ever met. Happy to have found a friend who understands and listens and can appreciate the smallest moments, and teaches me to everyday.
Never could I have wished for a better friend. I will always be here for you. Even if it means us against the world, because I’d have an amazing friend to battle with.