It was another giggly night on the phone, battery flashing, mother banging, think of the phone bill, they shrieked. We were in love. Someone loved me. Despite everything, someone loved me.
I was talking to my mate today. He thinks I am amazing dating someone like you; no one else reckons they could date someone like you, with all the care and stuff you need. It made me feel pretty good.
Talk ceases, and silence fills the hundreds of kilometres between us. I cannot move. I cannot breathe.
I’m sorry Jess. I shouldn’t have told you.
But I won’t let him; he may not apologise to me. It is too late for apologies.
After 6 years, I finally understand what my body has been trying to tell me.
It’s too hard to love someone like me
Shortly after, our love splinters and cracks. The emails and love notes rot with the flowers that once made me squeal with delight. My last words to him were ‘What you did to me is not ok’
But the truth is, none of it matters.
He will be ok, and I will continue to fight for life.
And that is ok too.
But I just want to know
Why is it so hard to love me?
You want to know; you always do. What were you like before?
And you don’t need to explain. There is only one before, and we all know how beautiful it was. It’s the one place everyone seems so desperate to go, as though if you were to know me, before all this, before the machines and the blood, maybe you could understand. Maybe you could see my potential, and understand how I can be loved.
Before, I was beautiful. Young. Too young for love, unless you are that way inclined. I would have made a vivacious lover one day. You know the type; bitten lips and shrieks of laughter. My legs stretch into forever. They would have curled around you, tight and adamant. You would have thrown me over your shoulders, and raced with me along the path, the sky upside down and dizzy with bliss. We would have drunk wine from glasses too big for my piano fingers. There would have been trips. How you would have loved the lank of my body in those little hiking shorts. There would be a tent and stars. And that would be all. We would never have thought about needing a hospital.
Before is a dangerous place. It is my ashes. That land burnt down a long time ago, silently in the night, leaving me completely unaware, until I woke up to find the smouldering coals at my pinky toes. I want to know, why do you have to go there, to love me?
Why do you have to know before?
Is now too much?
I think you try to hold onto what was, so that you can pretend that one day it might be. It makes the present all the more bearable.
And then the next question. What about later?
You want to say remission, I can sit it sitting fat and languid on your tongue. It throbs, unsure of it’s next move. You are yet to learn the customs of this strange land you have been thrust upon.
But I can’t blame you. I used to ask the same question, searching with such fever and desperation it would surely destroy me. Morn and night and any place in between, I would wonder. Would it be next month? Six months? A year? Maybe, god forbid, two? I stopped asking after 6 years.
It’s not because I have given up; I just know that it doesn’t matter anymore.
Or at least not to me.
It always matters to you though.
Perhaps if you have your light at the end of the tunnel, you can bare the crush of rocks in the meantime. You just need to know that it’s going to stop. And then, you dream we will build our home from the rubble, and it will make a terrible, beautiful story of how things once were. Our home will forever remind us of how hard we fought.
My body failed again this week.
There was too much blood. Too much vomit. I was too tired.
We never had to wait in the brittle waiting room. And it began.
Injection after injection. They told me to choose. Where do you want this one? They needed to find some fat. They soon realised that they wouldn’t. The IV soon followed. Doctor screamed. Why did the nurse choose this setting? It’s too noisy. You will never sleep with this.
I was too sick to ask him if I could sleep forever.
Hours passed. Mummy held my hand. Baby brother ate food, read dirty magazines, paled at more injections.
This stint was a week. Mummy just called. She said if I keep vomiting, I have to go back tonight. I lost count of the bags of fluids. My veins ached from the IV. She held my hair as I vomited the precious water that had only touched my lips a moment ago.
And I cried. I sobbed and I wept and I clawed at the bed.
I needed you, and you weren’t there.
It’s hardly your fault. We haven’t met yet.
But when we do, would you be there?
Or am I still too hard to love?
You can ask about before, you can ask about after, and every other possibility that is not indicative of a living nightmare. But I am not a fairy tale, I do not have my happily ever after waiting for me in script.
I just have now.
So let me show you how you can love me now. Let me show you that I am not so bad.
I am beautiful. And do not call me vain. I remain confused as to why self hatred is a desirable trait, yet our own love remains a sin, vanity and too many pictures of Paris Hilton. My lips are full, my nose soft and my chin gentle. My teeth are a perfect stretch of ivory keys and my hair light and free.
When you wake next to me in the morning, you can open lace curtains. Kiss my cheek, and see my lashes flutter. These eyes change colour. See what colour they will be for you. And I am broken of course, for it is morning. My bones stick, my heart is lazy. Wake it. Open your mouth against my skin, let your hot tongue find the sore points. Kiss them better for our beautiful day.
Feed me the tablets that are saving me and killing me all at once. Sit across from me with your coffee and paper. When I race to the sink, continue to read. Soak up each black and white tale, never hearing my retching. And afterwards, plant your lips on mine, and tell me that I make retching pretty.
Peel my clothes off, one by one. You are never undressing me, you are never caring for me. It is not me needing your help. You are not robotic, nor are you my nurse. You are just showering with your lover. Scrub my hair, and nuzzle my neck. We don’t do this because I need help, because I must be cared for. No. We do this because we are in love.
When we are with your friends, you will understand that a person can fade in front of you. I will be brave for an hour, maybe two. And with this you will be content. You shall drink beer, and I shall engross your friends in my best stories. And then when you know that I can go no paler, you shall sling me over your shoulder. You will march me out of the pub, announcing that you must leave, for you are due to have sex with a gorgeous woman. And we will laugh hysterically.
And when your friends can’t see anymore, you will gingerly place me in the car, with all the care of a cat. You will kiss the top of my head, and will watch me sleep as you drive me to safety. At home, you will do no such thing as you so boldly announced. That was never your intention. You will place me, fully dressed, beneath the covers. You will kick off your shoes, and we will sleep another Saturday night away.
And you will know that you couldn’t be happier.
And our nights will be rich and spiced. We never have sex. For, when your soul has so much to say, a person can only make love. And you will never ask if I am too sick, because you will always know the answer. You won’t ever make me choose between stability and love. And for hour upon the hour, we will kiss and touch and stretch. We will giggle and gasp and my lips will draw your heart into mine.
And then, when you know every scar and I can count every freckle, we will sleep. And tomorrow we will start all over again.
I vomit and I scream and I bleed. My wrists fuck against IV’s and there is no cure, there is no before, and there is no after.
There is just now.
And now is terrible and beautiful and fervent in my heart.
So when we finally meet, do not listen to your friends. Do not hear society, and do not share the world’s understanding.
Look at my green eyes. See my freckles in the shape of the southern cross. Know that we will make beautiful love, and that I will crumple your newspaper. Lay beneath the sheets with me, and know that my kisses sting of pain and hope.
But for gods sakes, just love me.
Know how easy it is to do so.