frozen two is better than frozen one. again, change my mind. just under two years ago- i published a blog post with that exact first line. UNKNOWN. and today, that was the first word that came to my mind. unknown. and i knew that i couldn’t have possibly made it this far in life without publishing something with a title like unknown. because the last two, almost three years of my life has been laden with unknowns. unknown viruses. unknown side effects. unknown cancers. unknown challenges. unknown recoveries. unknown battles. unknown wins. unknown curves. unknown tears. unknown fears. it’s been just a massive series of all these things that are never announced and never planned.
hey. how’s it going? oh me? nah, it’s a lot. okay fine, i will just go ahead & spill it. my rollercoaster of a life just keeps throwing loops and turns at all angles and points. and this week ahead will hopefully either rule some mysteries out or truly rope me into another set of diagnoses. and then a big, important all day affair of scans happened today. right now, i am trying to understand all of things that are happening to this new version of my body. these new symptoms and issues and hurdles that keep presenting themselves at terrible times. and while it may seem like i am just chugging along- i am actually have quite a hard time with it all. and this week was definitely not my favorite. it was long and tiring. and it felt like every single day had some new bullshit delivery for me. and tonight as i was driving home, the song ‘ghost’ by justin bieber came on. and i found myself pulling apart the lyrics. and replaying the song over and over again. until i was crying, parked in my driveway at ten o’clock at night. dead tired from teaching the youth of america but truly exhausted from just existing. and here they are; the lyrics that just sank me into a place of new found grief.
“i need more time but time can’t be borrowed;
i’d leave it all behind if i could follow.
since the love that you left is all that i get,
i want you to know- that if i can’t be close to you, i’ll settle for the ghost of you. i miss you more than life.”
i just kept clicking repeat on the stereo touchscreen. to hear those lyrics over and over and over. as this new ocean of grief consumed me. it clicked. this is what it’s like. this is how i can explain it to the people who keep saying toxic shit to me. this is how you can make life after cancer seem less like a dream and more like a reality. these lyrics. everything from my life before is now this ghost. gone. leaving me with just memories. and i can never have my life back or my body back or anything from the former place back. and so i have to settle for the ghosts. the remains. the faintest ideas of what it once was. and i am forced to miss it all. for the rest of my life. and i realize how silly that might sound. but the truth is that i miss all of it. i miss how sure and safe it felt. i miss the security of an undiagnosed body. of a frame that could exist outside of an mri tunnel. i miss all the things attached to that. i miss being comfortable in my own existence. and sometimes i look back on photos and wonder if i would’ve done things differently if i knew i had an expiration date on my body. on my identity. on all of it. and i have been working on finding myself better acquainted with the word WHOLE. it’s been my mission since entering remission. and honestly, it’s not going according to plan. it has not been easy. not very successful. because i have been sitting here; waiting for my life after cancer to be more like my life before cancer. and each day, i come to the realization that it just can’t be that simple. because i am not the same person i was before cancer. and that’s okay, i guess. meh. still on the fence if i am being truthful. there’s this grief and bitterness that still exists. and maybe it stems from the fact that remission has not been even slightly close to how it is painted. it is easily just as hard as battling cancer. yes- surviving cancer is just as hard as battling cancer. and here’s my hot take- when you’re battling cancer, you have a guide. the whole freaking time. there’s a nurse at every corner. you don’t eat, sleep, breathe, swallow without someone there to chart it. and it’s incredible. you don’t feel alone. you have a plan. it’s out of your hands. it has answers. but on the other side- it is suddenly ALL me. and this side, well, it’s a lot. like a lottttt. more than navigating the woes of chemotherapy. more than side effects. more than the big c. it’s living the rest of my life on the outside of myself. settling for the ghosts of the first thirty years of my life. stuck with this massive filing cabinet of memories that are slowly fading. grasping the fact that eventually, i won’t remember the first version at all. that there will be more photos of me in this body than my first one. that this is the body that gets to move on. that it’s just me and the ghost. and part of me feels like there are pieces of me somewhere else. that not everything carried over. that in my trauma filled two years; not everything fully healed. because the truth is- there are nights when all i want is the warmth of the body that held me for years before i was diagnosed. there are nights where my brain refuses to forget the memories held in that body. there are nights where i quietly sob, wishing it was different. and every single day, i worry about being heard, being loved, being seen in this frame. because i worked for what felt like forever in the old body to find peace and love and acceptance. and now, everything feels off. and unsure. and unknown.
and if i can’t be close to you, i’ll settle for the ghost of you. i miss you more than life.
it’s true. even on the best days, i miss you. i miss the body that i was born into. i miss the body that carried me through the darkest times. i miss how sure and safe it felt. it feels so hollow. it feels so empty. it feels so unfinished and unfair and unfulfilled. it feels different and stitched. feels like we are never on the same page. i feel like i can’t get it right this time. i feel like a failure in remission. i feel like i don’t deserve this space. i feel broken. i feel scared. i feel unheard. i feel guilty. i feel like a part of me is missing.
so right now, i am settling for the ghost of everything i have said goodbye to in the last two years.
but particularly myself. i miss you more than life.