It wasn’t about admitting that things had gotten out of hand, or that there was going to be more difficult times, sleepless nights, horrid medication and hospital stays. It wasn’t about the money that would be spent, the possibility of having surgery or not or the chances that she’d survive, or not. Life had become that way for her. She had accepted that death happened and it was no big deal. She had accepted that it was okay to be afraid today and be the epitome of strength and bravery tomorrow. She had learned to speak death’s language. So as it coursed through her, she’d tell it to either hurry on by, or take her. Life was a dying process and she only happened to be stuck on the speed lane.  It was about admitting what exactly was killing her, to herself first, then to the world; her world.

She was crouched next to her bed. It was the only way to ease some of the pain and slow her heartbeat down so she wouldn’t feel as though her heart was going to break through her rib cage and fall to the floor, still beating violently. She closed her eyes and smiled, stretching out her hand to pick her phone. It had become a lifeline, almost. She unlocked the screen and went straight to her messages and there they were…a collage of the people that loved her. That night was not one of those nights when she could stay her mind on a conversation so finely that the pain went along without her, because she paid it no attention.

She heard voices from the kitchen; her housemates were still awake and she put the phone back on the bed. The pain shot up again…every single nerve in her body screaming out in pure agony, but her face remained calm. It had needed some practice, to keep the turmoil where it was – inside. She thought of her friends again and this time she cried. Never had she been able to admit it. She stood up and moved to sit in front of her dressing mirror and stared. “I look fine” she told herself. It was a question she had asked several times. “I don’t look sick, do I?” which was her way of making sure no one saw that she wore a timer above her left breast like a nurse’s watch, and the stop was marked with a capital D.

Half her dresser top was filled with her body cream, and trinkets and the other half was a colourful display of bottles and blisters of pills, and capsules and IV medication, then the saline solution, syringes, cotton wool, and the rubbing alcohol. She picked up one bottle and shook it.  “I…” she started and the phone beeped. She got up and went back to lie on her bed. It was one of her friends asking how she was. Said she had been silent all night, which was unusual.

“I’m not okay.” She wanted to type. “I’m never ever okay” she would have added, and would have gone on to say “I’m sorry for not telling it all. For lying to you even when you asked. I have cancer.”

She closed her eyes and tried to think through it. To tell was a luxury she couldn’t afford, for as much as it was going to lift a burden off her, it was going to automatically dump it all on the people she loved and that, knowing that she caused them to feel even a drop of sadness, was going to eat away at her faster than the beast that was at it already.

“Oh I’m fine. You?” she replied and slowly, she lifted the façade, which had grown quite heavy over the years, and fit it on so perfectly, it took over her voice, her thoughts, her words and forced her back into a world where she was a young woman full of life and love and laughter and hope.

Soon she was her talkative, silly, funny, other self again having a bubbly conversation and that was all that mattered to her. She felt the mask melt into her face and merge with her cells, sticking to her bones, then she knew…she was never going to tell.


7 thoughts on “WHAT MATTERS

  1. in the midst of the pain, one has to keep smiling as if all is well. Won’t call it pretense. rather a way of staying alive. a way of not letting others ‘cruel’ sympathies ‘kill’ you faster.


  2. That feeling when something is not going well with you and you decide to shut yourself from the rest of the world yet you feel the love from it….can be heartbreaking….

    Very brave girl.


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