At some point, you think you have the power to force time to move slowly, and at times, choke it by the neck until it stands still altogether. That is what I wish for you right now—total asphyxiation of time so that you can take in and enjoy these last strings of moments that harbor some semblance of normalcy. You deserve that, but I don’t have the power to give you what you deserve, so I’ll give you what I can—words from a place I don’t let people reach.
I don’t know if you know this, but I was only twelve when they told me my mother had cancer. It was an idea much bigger than anything my imagination could wrap itself around. There was a possibility that she would die from some stupid thing that I couldn’t even see with my eyes. The fact that there was even a small chance that our days together were numbered sent me plummeting into this eerie wonderland of anger and confusion. I didn’t recognize anything around me anymore as something on which I could depend, and the fear that I felt meticulously disguised itself as bitterness. All of that negativity stemmed only from a small possibility, not a promise, that she was leaving me. When you told me that your father only had as little as six months to live, I knew that was a promise—not a possibility. I imagined you falling down that same terrifying rabbit hole without a single shred of certainty that your feet will hit the ground. I didn’t even attempt to save you, because, I know, it’s an inevitable, unplanned trip that has to be made.
What makes your situation delicate is that you know what’s going to happen. It’s not a question with multiple choice answers. You can see it coming—standing on some railroad tracks out in the middle of a quiet nowhere—a small speck of light in the distance that doesn’t seem to be growing any larger at first. The day will come when that light swells into the size of a freight train, but you won’t know it’s there until it’s right in front of you. You won’t know until it’s too late and you’re unable to dodge it.
I can tell you that watching that train coming right for you twists my heart with an iron fist. It’s a helplessness for me that I can’t crawl out of. Your pain is personal, unique, and something that is unfathomable to anyone else. All I can do is sit back and selfishly hope that I’ll still be able to make you smile after the train has passed.
Our roots don’t run too deep, but they are strong. In the past six years that I’ve known you, I’d like to think an unspoken understanding that we mean quite a bit to one another has developed between us. Your family has treated me like one of their very own, and I will never forget the love and kindness that your mom and dad have always selflessly bestowed upon some weird little writing major that you befriended through work. It’s clear where you’ve gotten that keen sense of compassion and empathetic nature—and I love them for being such creditable role models. As a result of all these treasured qualities, I want to wreck anything that causes you pain, heartache, or unhappiness.
But I cannot wreck this. I cannot get close enough to even touch this. So it goes.
Despite my childish wishing, I cannot give you what you deserve, but I can leave you with this: Just know that with the promise of losing your father comes the promise of these two arms and a surplus of hugs—a promise of an undying effort to make sure you’re supported in the days to come in whatever you do, wherever you go—a promise that I’ll be right where you left me, always.
© Bitsy Sanders, May 2016