Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Thousand Sleepless nights

So I normally try to have resolution to my posts.  Kinda like playing chords on a piano- don't end in discord.  But sometimes life doesn't feed you a perfect verse or song to tie it all together, with a "God's still on the throne" thing.  Sometimes life sucks and you hate the world and want to bury your sorrows in sleep and Taco Bell, while also venting to a keyboard.  Which I do a lot.  I looked the other day, and I had 5 draft posts! I read back through them.  And I remembered the moments in which I wrote them.  The stoic face I kept as my fingers flew to pour my heart onto this screen.  Sitting in the labs, with friends, by myself, so many different places, but each time with deep emotion.  So here they are.  Because life isn't golden apples and roses.  It's rotten apples and thorns a lot of the time.  And this is kinda for those who think my life's a perfect little package.  I'm only human y'all.

Unfinished Post 1. - On Friendship
Tonight I helped my friends move.  I say friends, and I've known them less than a year.  But somehow, it seems like I've known them forever, and part of me is being torn apart as they move to Chicago.  All seven of us huddled together for a final prayer.  That was just such a special moment.  Our ages ranged from 19-24. This is what I want.  I want strong friends, who can move boxes, sure, but can get in touch with God.

Follow-up
I still miss Adam and Lindsay.  For knowing them such a short time, they really welcomed me into their lives.  And I'll never forget that feeling of friendship in our prayer circle.  And I've been blessed to have that friendship with others on a regular basis now at school!

Unfinished Post 2. - On Goals
I've never been one for bucket lists.  They always seemed kinda cheezy to me.  But now and again, there will be things that I really want to do.  When I was first diagnosed, the only thing I wanted to do before I potentially died was to drive down our country road, with a bright blue sky, my hair waving in the breeze, in a nice car.  Stupidly corny wish, but hey...I got to do just that that summer;  as soon as I finished the drive, however, I wondered if now that I finished everything I wanted to do, I was going to die.  Since the end of my BMT, I desperately wanted to do two things that terrified me.  I hate pills and needles, but I was forced to learn to deal with it.  I wanted to do these things that maybe would not conquer my fear, but at least allow me the peace of knowing I confronted them.  I wanted to run a race, and visit Cedar Point.  I hate running (as mentioned above), and I hate heights and amusement park rides.  With a passion.  I've cried and unhappy-screamed on kiddy rides at Home Days.  Cedar Point would be my Everest.  But I conquered it.  ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Akron Student Chapter arranged a trip for a bunch of us to tour the engineering side of the park, and enjoy the rides.  It was an absolutely incredible trip.  Seeing the numerous safety precautions taken reassured me that the rides would be fine.  It was so much fun to meet several other senior mechanical engineering students, and also spend time with my friends Annie and T.J., and make new friends like AJ.  Between the group, they convinced me to go on five different rides- all of which I rode with my eyes completely shut! My body really couldn't handle any more of the intense pressure on the rides, or I would have ridden many more.  But overall, it was one of the coolest experiences I've had.  Now that the Cedar Point part of my goals had been accomplished, there was the running part, which I had anticipated would be completed tomorrow.

Follow-up:
Haven't been back yet, but I think I'd be up for another CP trip!  Another semi-happy memory :) 

Unfinished Post 3. On hurting
The heart.  No, not the physical, four-chambered, upside-down pear shaped thing within you, though we will get around to talking about that.  I'm talking about the emotional heart, somewhere deep within you.  I always wondered where this "breaking heart" was in the emotional body.  Then, it hurt.  And suddenly, I knew where it was.  Where that twisting, inwardly pulling, aching mass of emotion lay.  I also found out where the pit of your stomach was, but that's for another time.
I should be happy.  I have been happy.  I'm caught up with my year. In college. In my senior year.  Every hour I have just looked around the room and been so caught up in the blessing of being here.  And I still am.  But my heart hurts. A little.  Actually, a lot.
All my classes this year need groups.  Groups for homework, for projects, for labs. Gone, thank God, are the days of doing the entire group work by myself, for lack of knowing anyone. But today was only slightly better than that.  I had a group- or so I thought.  I had "my people". I had multiple groups. But I was the last kid left on the team.  Minus, of course, the athletes.  Because no one wants to team up with the guys who have a crazy amount of practice to attend.  But they're my group now.  They're great guys, and I'm so grateful to them for having me.
It's hard.  I feel unwanted. Very hurt. Screwed over. Feel like damaged goods.
I'm wounded. I'm damaged, broken beyond repair.  It hurts, so much.

Follow-up:
Yeah, it was rough.  And people can REALLY be jerks.  And hurt you over and over, even though you try to give them a 2nd chance.  And the aesthetes were awesome.  Beyond amazing.  And we've become good friends, and I'm so blessed to have gotten to know them better.  But this is a sad reality. Please don't let the cancer kid be the last one picked for a team. 

Unfinished Post 4.  On death
I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now, and finally had to take the time to write it down.  I have survivor's guilt. I survived. My friends did not. I have no idea why I'm still here, and they aren't.

Jason Jablonski.  Hockey player. US Naval Academy. Senior. Well liked and loved by all who knew him. Leukeumia, this summer. Treated at Walter Reed. I found out about him from my mom, who found out through her Air Force parent's facebook group.  They started praying for him. I heard her sad tones, about how he had a really bad lung infection. He barely lasted a day after that infection.
I never met him. But as I read the posts online, I felt like someone had punched me deep in the gut. My heart rate quickened, and I struggled to breathe. Another fantastic human being, gone.

I remembered Sam. Probably the most wonderful individual in all of time.  Funny, kinda, smart, caring, atheltic, health-conscious, people-person, fun- loving, creative. Engineer with Parker Hannifan. Hard worker. Married 6 weeks. I'll never forget the couch in Guzzetta Hall.  His sister Christina, my closest friend, was siting on the end of her long board, sliding back and forth.  He had been really sick, and she had missed a number of days of school to be with him.  Since she was back in school, I assumed he was getting better.  He had gotten better- he had received his perfect healing. I went to m violin lesson, just feeling numb.  And it seemed ok. But even now, three years later, there are days when the feeling comes back.  The breath-sucking, gut-wrenching, heart-twisting pain. They give you a pain scale at the hospital.  We've all seen it- the little faces, that go from smiling to crying.  You have to tell them which number your pain is at, from 1-10.  I've been in pain.  A lot of pain. A physically can't move or breath type-of-pain.  But I've never told a nurse my pain is at a 10.  No matter how bad my physical pain, it's always a 9 or lower.  Because a 10 is the worst pain imaginable.  And that pain doesn't come from the body- it comes from the heart. It's when your heart is twisted so tight, and you open your mouth and you want to scream, but the anguish can't come out. When you're eyes fill with tears, but you can't cry. Crying makes you feel better.  You release the tears, and 5,10,15 minutes later you feel better.  But your body doesn't let you cry, because you can't feel better.  Nothing will bring them back. You will never feel better, because you have the rest of your life to think about them.
They got it easy.  They're gone.  One of my friends always tells me "Live fast, die young," But I'm still here.  I had a lung infection too.  So bad I got admitted to the PICU.  I had a chest line, a central line, and a thousand other lines and buttons hanging off of me. I was fighting for my life. I should have, could have, would have died.

But. I. Didn't.

WHY? Why am I still here? Why does a top-notch athlete and student, who was going to serve his country, die? Why does a fantastic, friendly engineer who made friends with everyone he met die? Why did a woman who tried so hard to have a child not live past his 6 week birthday? Why did a beautiful little girl not survive endless radiation? Why did a girl, who seemed to be doing really well, suddenly not survive her transplant?
I'm still here.  I still have to get up every morning, and deal with my physical pain, limitations, and medicational roller-coasters.  I should feel lucky, or blessed, or whatever they say.
But I don't. Sometime the pain is so hard- I feel ashamed that I'm here.  I pick in my head which one I should have been switched out too.  Who would have done a better job at life, or for God. And wonder why I'm still stuck in this horrible place.

Follow-up:
Survivor's guilt is real.  And I still deal with this, as do a lot of survivors I know.  But I'm still here because God still has work for me to do! 

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