I don’t know what you are doing right now. Maybe you are watching TV. You could be reading a book. You may be cooking dinner, at work, cuddling your naked, beautiful wife. You could be arguing with a relative, wrapping a present, cleaning the bookshelf. You may be setting a mouse trap, doing shots, brushing the dog. I don’t know what you are doing right now.
But I know what a teenage boy or girl is doing right now. They are lying in a hospital bed. They are lying in their own bed. They are sitting in a waiting room chair. Their heart is pounding so quickly, it hurts. They can hear nothing but the beat of their own heart. The world has gone silent. It is spinning. And they are putting their hand to their heart. And they are thinking one thing
You are not supposed to swear. It’s rude. It’s unnecessary. But they are allowed to swear. Because someone has just told them they are sick. Maybe they have been told they have Arthritis, Leukaemia, Diabetes, Lung disease. Their bodies have betrayed them. Their bodies are trying to kill them. So they are allowed to swear.
They know they are sick. They will stare at their wrists, at their veins, at their toes. Sick. Sick. It’s all they are thinking.
Sick. Life. Death. Fight
They know they are sick. But they have no idea. No idea what lays ahead. They are marching blind. They have no idea what they are in for. And that makes me cry, just a little.
I wonder if I could tell them.
I wonder. I do not know if they are a boy, or a girl. I do not know how old they are. I do not know their name. What I do know is that we are now the same. And I wish we weren’t.
They will know they are sick. They know the name of their condition. They know the treatment they will require. Side effects. Medications. Their chances. This is what they told me too, you know. When I was laying in that bed. I just kept staring at my wrists, gently tracing my finger over my veins.
On the outside they appear blue. And yet inside, they are red. Blood red. And I couldn’t stop thinking that this was my body. On the outside I looked tanned and blonde and green eyed. On the inside, my body was black with disease and failure. I couldn’t understand how things could be so different. How easily the outside can lie. I was so tempted to slice those veins, just to make sure I really did have red underneath that blue.
I wish I could tell them. To hold them in my arms lay with them under the stars, and whisper the horrors into their ear, under the comfort of night. But they probably don’t want to know.
You are going to have to fight, you know. These are the words which would leave my bloodied, swollen lips. Fight harder than any living creature should. And you have no choice about this. I would tell them the truth. If you do not fight with everything, you will die. It is that tragic. But it is also reality. I always thought it to be an ugly word.
It is easy to fight now. I can hear their whispers echoing. “I can do this. I can win this”. The same as mine once did. But right now, you can breathe without mucus covering your tongue. Right now, you aren’t vomiting over yourself, to the point of your throat bleeding. Right now, you are not being engulfed by pain so great, you wish you were no longer on this earth. Right now, you aren’t fighting to remain conscious. Right now, you are ok.
My eyes snap shut with the knowledge of all that they will see. All that they will feel. All that they will suffer. I want you to know, they are going to stab you with needles. They are going to put foreign objects into your arms, your chest, and your groin. They are going to attach you to beeping machines, pumping all sorts of awful poisons into your little broken body. They are going to make you try to walk, try to sit up, try to cough. They swallow tablets in every colour of the sickest rainbow.
I see them lose their friends. They will stop calling. Stop visiting. Not all of them, no. But a lot of them. Perhaps most of them. They may stop calling because they don’t know what to say. Because they no longer care. Or because they are no longer on this earth. Youare going to meet friends in hospital, at groups. And they are going to pass away. And there is nothing you can do to stop that. Together we will grieve and howl for our angels. You will see their losing battle. And you can’t help them. You have to watch them lose.
And they don’t have a choice. They are going to be forced to fight. They are going to connect your veins to those machines, they are going to make you swallow those tablets, revive your muscles. You cannot run. You cannot hide. I hear them begging. Please, no. Make them stop, Mummy. Don’t let them, Daddy. But Mummy and Daddy won’t listen. Because they know they have to hurt you, in order to save you.
And you will hate them for this.
Their family is going to break. Daddy will cry, all the time. You will see him mowing the lawns, with tears streaming down his face. Mummy will howl. You will hear her, when she thinks you are in the world of dreams and nightmares. She will howl and scream and vomit. Your brothers and sisters, they probably won’t cry. But they won’t laugh either. They won’t know what to do.
You are going to be so, so tired. Everything is going to hurt. You will be tired, physically. You will be tired, emotionally. You will be exhausted of fighting. Some nights, you will beg the universe to take you, so that you don’t have to wake up in the morning and still be here.
Tears are going to live in the hollows of their cheeks. You will try so hard, and sometimes it won’t be enough. You will be too tired to sleep. You will continue to slip, continue you to go backwards, despite your best efforts. You will dig your nails into your own skin, red making a tragic contrast against your translucent complexion. Just to know you are alive. You will be holding onto themselves, for dear life. Too terrified to take another step.
But I would also tell them. There will be times when you will be so happy. You will lay in the green grass, with your bald head, with your tubes, with your tiny wrists. You will lie in the rain, look into the sky and scream with delight. These moments will make you soar, higher than anything or anyone. During these moments, you will just close your eyes, and smile. These are the moments worth fighting for.
And I would tell them.You can win. You can beat this. Right now, your battle is stretching into eternity. You cannot yet see the end. You don’t know how long you will fight for. How many years. I am not yet there. But I promise you, one day, we will have won. And we can lie in the grass, we can stare into the rain, and we can smile.
Because one day, everything will be ok again.
It has to be.