I’m shaking so much I can hardly stand. 

Trying not to think…

Trying not to remember…

Trying not to panic…

Trying not to assume the worst…

Trying not to give in…

Trying not to run away…

Trying not to throw up…

Trying not to draw more blood…

Trying not to be scared…

Trying…

Trying…

Trying to survive.

I haven’t had to be alone much in the past couple days.  It’s been nice.  But now I am awake at night, alone again, and I am feeling very small.

Two days.

I have two full days, and then the next day, I head to residential.

I know I’ve said this before, but…

 

I’m terrified.

 

As I’ve worked through the process of packing and planning, I keep thinking of so many ways that I could get around everything.  I could still hurt myself there.  I could still kill myself there.  It would be harder, and it would require more planning.  But it could be done.

How will they react when they find out what goes on in my head?  That suicidal thoughts aren’t just things that come and go… they’re always there.

I feel so ashamed.  I shouldn’t be going.  Those other women will have all gone through so much more than I have.

I just want to crawl into a hole and hide.  I want to hide from everyone and everything.  To lie with my body pressing into the cool mud, being nothing, being dirt.  I want to disappear.  I have been invisible before… I want to run away again.  I’m so scared.  I don’t want to do this.

Daddy, Daddy in heaven, don’t make me go.  Please don’t make me go.  I know you want me to be strong and brave… but I can’t help the shaking.  I don’t want to leave everything that’s familiar and trusted and safe.  I have people to talk to still, I have places to go and hide.  I can go off by myself when I can’t hold the tears in anymore.  But there, Daddy, there, I’ll be alone.  No one I trust, nothing familiar, nothing to hold on to.  No place to run away to.  Always on display, always being watched… never safe.

What if they don’t like me?  What if the other women don’t like me?  What if they hate me because I have a perfect life, but I’m still complaining?  What if they think I’m stuck up because I’m quiet?

Daddy, Daddy in heaven, I don’t think I can do this.  They talk about it being hard work, and we have to participate, and we have to try really hard.  But Daddy, I don’t think I can.  I mean, sometimes I can stand and laugh and focus and participate.  But that’s usually when I’m able to ignore the things in my head and on my heart.  If we’re going to be addressing it all the time, and trying to work through it… God, I don’t know if I’ll even be able to stand.  My legs wobble, and my mind goes blank, and everything around me turns to darkness.  I just want to run away and hide.

Daddy, Daddy in heaven, I’m so scared.  I can’t do this, I can’t do anything.  I’m falling apart in the dark.  I’m sorry, I’m sorry for complaining, I should be stronger, this shouldn’t be such a big deal.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.

Daddy…

Daddy… please hold me.  I know I can’t feel you right now, not for real, but Daddy, I need something.  I don’t want to just cry until there are no tears left, and then live numbly until I can cry again.  I want to feel better!  Is that allowed?  For me?  I shouldn’t ask… I should be grateful for what I have… I’m sorry…

Daddy help me!  You adopted me.  You call me yours, your very own daughter. 

I’m sorry… I shouldn’t ask… I already have so much… you have blessed me so much, so very much.

Wonderful friends, loving family, a home, a diploma, an opportunity to make a living.  And so much more.  You have provided for me so generously.  I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t want more.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry…

 

Maybe one of the devil’s lies is that we shouldn’t ask God for help.  But is it a lie?  Is it really?  Aren’t we supposed to be thankful in all circumstances, to be content, like the apostle Paul?  When we pray, isn’t it supposed to always be for boldness to share the gospel?  Like that’s the only point of life.  To tell people something, so they can tell people something, so they can tell people something.  Is there nothing more than that, right here and now, on this earth?  God’s not a vending machine.  We’re supposed to praise him and thank him and glorify him and all that.  People say we shouldn’t be asking for things all the time.  But where’s the line?  What is too much?  When should we stop asking for things and just praise him?

I feel like I’m doing everything wrong.  And I never will do it right. 

So I want to leave, and fail once and for all, and never again.  I want to die.  I want to be done.  I give up, I quit, I can’t do this anymore.  This is my last chance to die, to force death early… I’m a coward, and I don’t want to face the failures I have still ahead.  I can’t do this.

 

God in heaven, you have to help me.  Whatever they all say, you have to help me.  I can’t do this without you.  Don’t leave me here, alone.  Help me somehow get through these next two days, these last three nights.  I need you, I need you now.  Don’t abandon me.  Don’t forget.  Don’t leave me to suffer through and grow up.  I won’t make it, Daddy.  I need you to hold my hand.

 

… this song… my song right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkXbzffVl44&feature=player_detailpage

I used to think that my own pain, struggle, battle didn’t matter so much, because it was all in my head.  I didn’t have a reason for it.  I wasn’t abused.  I wasn’t abandoned.  I wasn’t hurt, physically.  There was no really traumatic event, ever.  I didn’t lose any family or close friends to death while I was young.  I didn’t have to move, not for as long as I can remember.  My parents and family stayed intact.  I was never bullied.  I always had enough to eat.  I always had enough of every physical thing.

I thought that my pain couldn’t be real, because I came from a good home.  I thought that by hurting, I was being ungrateful and disloyal to my family and all the love they had shown me.  Yeah, they messed up.  They messed up a lot.  But not in the ways I thought should matter. 

I thought that there was something horribly wrong with me, because I wanted more than what I had.  I felt guilty every time I got discouraged or tired.  I shouldn’t feel depressed; I had gone through nothing that should make me depressed.

But the truth is… I hurt.  I have had pain in my heart for a very long time. 

I cannot identify how much of it is spiritual, biological, environmental, or from my own decisions.  It’s a mixture of everything.  But however it got here, there is pain in me.  Lots of pain.

I still feel guilty for expressing it.  I feel like everyone else has gone through so much more than I have.  I have no right to speak up.  It would be like complaining about a scraped knee to someone who’s been hit by a car.  It would be like rubbing salt in their wounds.  I feel like they would give so much to have my pain instead of their own.  I have no right to let it bother me.

Everyone around me has so much pain.  It’s always been that way.  I’ve always been sensitive to it.  I remember passing cars at stop lights, and looking into the faces of the drivers, and seeing their pain.  There would always be stress and worry and anger and sometimes real tears on their faces.  They had pain.  They all had pain.  And my family, they all had pain.  My parents grew up with a lot of pain, much more than I’ve ever experienced.  Then of course they had to deal with the pain of having me, and all the rest of my siblings.  My siblings, they had pain.  Pain from the blades of mocking words.  Pain from the wounds we caused each other, the wounds caused by me.  I can never forget their faces, every single time I hurt them.  They had a lot of pain.  And my friends… they’ve all been through so much.  So very much.

In comparison, my own pain is nothing.

But maybe pain is not something that is meant to be compared.

Pain is pain, and it hurts.  Whatever caused it, whatever form it takes, it’s still real. 

My pain is overwhelming, and that means that everyone else’s must be—

But wait.  What if I just left it there?  My pain is overwhelming.

It’s okay to just say that.  It’s okay to acknowledge how I’m feeling.  It’s okay to let it hurt.  It’s not selfish.  It’s not wrong.

 

Just… closing my eyes, and looking at only me for a second… that’s so, so hard… I am hurting.

I am hurting.  Scared.  Lonely.  Terrified.  Weak.  Vulnerable.  Tired.  Exhausted.  Confused.  Guilty.  I feel awful.  I feel like crying all the time, even when I’m laughing and talking and acting fine.  I don’t remember when I last had a day when I didn’t cry.  My heart hurts.  It aches, and I’m scared, so scared.  I’m longing to be safe and warm and loved on.  But the thing is, I’m not a little girl.  I can’t climb up on anyone’s lap when I’m hurting.  I never actually did, when I was little… but I always wanted to.

I’m scared.  Scared of staying alive.  Scared of being alone.  Scared of getting worse.  Scared of falling deeper and having to endure the torture of an entire lifetime of despair.  I’m scared that if I let go of everything I have to hold on to, there won’t be anything left.  I’m scared God’s just going to leave me here, leave me alone, and I’ll never feel him, never see him, and I’ll always have to walk with blind faith.  I’m not strong enough for that.  It hurts to be alone.

It hurts… and it never stops.  There’s always that ache in my throat, always that pressure around my eyes.  It sometimes gets distracted, when I hurt myself physically.  Physical pain feel so much better than this.  It feels alright to be sad then, if I’m bleeding.  It’s alright to cry if I have relentless pressure constantly rubbing against open cuts, making them sting, making them bleed, making them never heal.  It’s alright… because then it’s not in my head.  Then it’s something worth crying about.

I feel discouraged.  I feel despair.  I feel angry, angry that I’m still alive.  I feel so much hurt, there are not enough words to describe it.  My heart shudders every time it beats.  My lungs scream every time I force breath into them.  My stomach cringes every time nutrients reach it.  My head pounds until there is so much pressure it cannot even pound anymore. 

Sometimes my heart stops for a second.  Sometimes I don’t breathe.  Sometimes I don’t eat, or I puke up what I do eat.  Sometimes I hold my head as tight as I possibly can, hoping that it will break, and the pressure would end.  And I think, over and over, it would be so much nicer if my heart didn’t beat, if my lungs didn’t breathe, my stomach didn’t eat, and my brain didn’t think.  It would hurt so much less if I were dead.  There’s no other escape.  There’s nothing else that works.  It always comes back.  Always.  If I were to kill myself, I would be taking a chance that all I believe is true, but at least I would know.  At least it would all be over.

In a little over one week, I’ll be in residential.  I have to make it till then.  I’m just scared, so scared of staying alive.  And I don’t know how to ask for help.  Because there’s nothing anyone can do.

 

This pain is real.  It hurts.  I don’t need to compare it to everyone else’s.  I don’t need to prove that it’s real.  It is real.  It hurts a lot. 

And it does matter.

Gentle patter of raindrops on leaves.  So steady, so reassuring.  Gentle rumble of thunder in the distance.  A low yet powerful music.

The darkness has been so strong of late.  It seeps into my mind, and I’m finding more and more that I don’t even try to fight it anymore.  I am tired, tired of wearing myself out trying and failing.  I am exhausted, and even the thought of sorting through the murkiness of my mind to find some fragment of truth and reality… even the thought of this discourages me.

I’m tired of hiding in corners until the flow of tears stops.  I’m tired of covering all traces of pain, of faking energy and life and hope.  I was fine, I was actually doing very well when I was away from home.  And the week that I was home before, that was pretty good.  But now I am home again, and I feel like I’m spinning dizzy and out of control, looking for the path, looking for the light, looking for a direction to walk in, anything to hold on to, anything at all.

It has been so dark… I fought for hours last night, trying to decide whether to end my life or keep it.  Eventually I decided to settle for coming as close as I could to death without dying, and without anyone ever knowing.  A very, very familiar place to be… but not one that holds any comfort for me.  And then my plan wouldn’t work… my sister, whom I share a bedroom with… she kept waking up.  I couldn’t find the tool I wanted, and things kept falling and making noise.  I had to do something, but I couldn’t get caught… and then it was rusted and corroded… scratching and hurting was never enough… I needed to bleed…

Today I purged.  Intentionally, as much as I could, and I hadn’t even eaten that much.  But it hurt, and that felt good.  The weariness, the feeling of my body crashing, that felt good.  I calmed down a little, maybe because I didn’t have the energy to fight with myself anymore.

And then the rain.

I was curled up on my bed, again, trying to rest, trying to sleep, willing to risk the nightmares that sleep brought for the chance of an escape.  My body wouldn’t let up on me, though.  It hurt and ached everywhere, and I could not get comfortable.  I hugged my teddy bear against my chest, held him tight, tried to imagine myself away.  And then… the rain.

It started softly, softly tapping and pattering on the leaves.  It had been sunny only a little while before, and at first I thought it must just be the sound of the wind in the trees.  But then a tiny drop leaked through the window and fell on my cheek.  I turned and watched it, not even blinking as more drops fell on me.  The cold breath of the storm blew in, and I took it in. 

The more I listened, the more I watched and breathed and felt, something within me calmed.  I curled up tight… and I slept. 

It was real sleep, with only a few dreams.

It was restful, even with all the times I woke up.

It made my head heavy, my eyes relax, and my chest release its constricting. 

It made my heart stop fluttering and skipping beats, settling instead back into a normal rhythm.

As the hours passed, I didn’t care that it was day time, and I was supposed to be being productive, and I was developing unhealthy sleeping patterns.  I was truly resting.  And the rest that finally settled in my mind was worth it all.

I am alive.  I will make it through the next hours of this day.  Beyond that, I will not worry about yet.  Moment by moment, we’ll make it through.

Listen to the rain.

There is a song that plays in my head sometimes.  Over and over, like a chilling children’s tune, mocking me, light and taunting, endlessly and ironically cheerful.

There is no hope for me, my friend, no hope for me at all. 

No hope for now, no hope for then, no hope for evermore. 

Do not try to save me now, there is no hope for that.

Do not cry, and do not weep, you will not miss me once I’m gone.

All will be over, soon enough, soon when I am dead.

There is no hope for me, my friend, no hope for me at all.

No hope for now, no hope for then, no hope for evermore.

 

It plays over and over.  I’m going crazy.  I can’t turn it off.  When I’m with friends, it would stop.  Sometimes it would only quiet to a whisper, but at least then I could ignore it.

Why must the darkness attack so hard now?  I’ll be in residential within a couple weeks.  I’ll be safe from myself, I’ll be able to work all this out, figure out how to think properly, how to live this life, how to be.  But I have to make it through til then.  I have to stay alive.  I have to fight through.

It’s so hard.  And I am such a baby, complaining about stuff in my head when other people are dealing with so much sorrow and pain and hardship, so much more than even a fraction of what I have faced.  This should not be such a big deal.  I have a wonderful life and a wonderful family and a wonderful home and wonderful friends.  I have food to eat for the next week, and a home to stay in, and a bed, a wonderful warm bed, and trees in my backyard that sing to me… and myself… destroying myself… from the inside.

I feel like I honestly could go crazy.  If I let myself.  Completely lose grip on reality, and myself, and all knowledge of how to function.  But I feel like I can still stop it right now.  I just have to keep fighting.

For two more weeks.

Then I’ll be safe.

Then I can fall apart.

It was just a dream.  It wasn’t real.  You don’t need to worry about it.  It’s never going to happen.

But then why can’t I stop shaking?  Why can’t I breathe regularly?  Why can’t I feel it when I’m tearing open my own skin?

I can’t get it out of my head.  Running, chasing, being chased.  Putting my family in danger.  Hiding, trying to get away, always being found.  By friends, by people I know, by people I used to see every day… and they would be mocking me, staring at me, trying to make me leave.  I didn’t belong.  I didn’t belong anywhere.  Even the kids didn’t like me.

I was climbing, climbing trees, and even that didn’t help.  They found me there.  I was running, running through the woods… I love the woods… but even the woods wasn’t safe.  They followed me there.  They saw me.  They called each other, so that they could run me down, chase me away, make me leave.

Hiding places, safe places, places I come to a lot in my dreams… they were destroyed, compromised, taken over.  They were not mine anymore.  Some were destroyed, or worse… made into centers of abuse and torture and dehumanization.

My family was not my family anymore.  They had been changed, turned against me… I was alone.

I would hide, everywhere, anywhere, but it was never enough.  I would scrape my body, cut into my skin… I would bleed, but I could not feel it.  I was constantly trying to force everything down, to force the fear, the emotions down, to think logically, to figure out how to ward everyone off.  I was abusing my body, getting more and more desperate, because nothing was working.  Nothing was helping.  Nothing was calming me down.  I couldn’t feel any of it.  It wasn’t enough.  I had to keep going, cutting deeper.  I had to find more and more things, tools, I could abuse myself with.  But there wasn’t enough, there was never enough.

And then I was high, looking down, and if I jumped, I would die.  It was high enough, I could get away, I could be free, I could be free.  But then they were there again, chasing me, mocking me, telling me how I failed.  I could hear them talking to each other, telling stories about how terrible I was.  I could hear them talking to my closest friends.  I could see their faces changing, from love and trust to disgust and horror.  They were turned against me.

I didn’t know how to defend myself.  What if the words they were saying were true?  How could I deny it?  How could I deny my own corrupted heart?  Yes, I was selfish.  Maybe I really didn’t care about other people… maybe I just wanted attention, I just cared about what people thought of me, what people could give me… maybe it was true.

I wanted to die.  I wanted to reach the poison, to climb the tree, or the top of that building… I longed for a knife, a sword, a gun… anything that would end it all… but I could never get to it.  Always, they came and chased me away, mocking me, laughing at me, never letting me go, never letting me be free.

 

And now I am awake again.  It was only a dream.  Just another dream.  I can forget it, and it will be gone. 

But then why… why am I still searching for that escape?  Why am I still torturing my body, hoping to sometime feel pain, feel something, so I can calm down?  Why am I still longing for a knife, a sword, a gun?

I’m curling up, in the corner of my bed, in the corner of my room, trying to make it stop, trying to shut out the mocking voices.  But no matter how tightly I squeeze my body, no matter how hard I press and pound on my head, it never goes away.  It never stops. 

I just have to wait for it to quiet enough that I can get up and pretend it’s not there, pretend I’m fine, pretend I’m happy and calm and safe and strong…

My fingers brushed the baby leaves still so soft against my skin.  The wind pulled around me, and I leaned back against the rough tree bark and looked up at the sky.  It was beautiful.  The sunlight glancing through the new leaves, the breeze tugging them gently, the smell of spring and flowers and life… it was all so perfect.  Even the birds were singing, joining the chorus of the whispering leaves.

“Look at that sunlight, Rach.  That’s for you.”  My friend called up to me, and I glanced down at her.  Her voice held a sense of awe and appreciation.  I looked back at the sun shining through the leaves, and I smiled.  It was for me.  Of course it was.  He always did that; he kept showering me with love, no matter how I was doing, or what was going through my head.  He knows the things that warm my heart and make me smile, and sometimes he just pours them out on me without holding back.

“Thanks, Daddy,” I whispered, smiling gently toward the sky.  The wind tugged around me, and I nodded.  I guess it’s part of the child within me, but I sometimes look at things differently than most people.  Sunshine is like a hug from God.  Wind is him playing with me, especially playing with my hair.  Everything is from him, and this wonderful day showed that beautifully.

Stress and tension and depression and cutting and anorexia and suicide had all been racing through me all day.  It was finally sinking in that I was leaving, and I was panicking.  I was questioning decisions I had been so sure about making, and doubting myself and my worth, and of course wondering if it would matter to anyone if I really left, not just college and that whole stage of life… but leaving life itself.  I was exhausted beyond what seemed humanly possible.  Sickness had drained my body of physical energy, and depression had drained the rest of my being from whatever else was left.  I was shaking so much that I had to be very intentional about holding on and not losing my balance.

They had told me that afternoon.  It’s official.  I’m going into treatment.  Residential, a home for women who struggle with various things… women like me.  I’ll be there within a month.  I was terrified… am terrified.  I had never doubted that this was what I needed to do… not until that afternoon.  Was it really?  What if there was a better way?  What if it doesn’t work?  What if it makes it worse?  How can I leave my family and friends like this?  Am I just running away from the responsibilities of real life?

My emotions were heightened to the point where I was hurting myself.  I wasn’t careful.  Scratches and scrapes had been happening all day.  I kept purposely rubbing and opening my cuts, so that they would hurt more… anything to calm myself down.  I wasn’t talking, kept getting lost in my head.  I couldn’t think properly, couldn’t make decisions.  We were going to have a bonfire, but it started raining.  I tried climbing one tree, but I didn’t get very far.  I did scrape up my arms a lot, and that fresh pain gave me a burst of hyper energy.

Then… the rain stopped.  The sun came out and lit the raindrops like glowing jewels all over the grass.  One of my friends got the fire going, and it was real and alive and warm.  I let myself become mesmerized by the dancing flames, sinking deep into their enchantment.  Sometimes I would hear a bit of the conversation around me, and I would smile or laugh or say something.  But then I’d be lost again.  I burnt my fingers in the fire, and again, the pain calmed me a little.

I looked up at the trees… they were dancing.  It had long been one of my own little beliefs that trees danced.  They sing and whisper to each other and to God in a language we don’t understand, and they love to dance.  Bowing and swinging and swaying and spinning, they dance the day and night away, and it is beautiful.  Sometimes I join them, when nobody’s looking.  I watched them, then got up and went to a big one and started climbing it.  Higher and higher, closer to the sun and sky, branch by branch, danger rising, spirit calming.  And then I was there, among the leaves and sunlight, feeling the strength of the tree as he danced all around me.  And the sunlight… the sunlight shone through closer and more beautiful than ever, and it really was just for me.  This moment was mine.

I thought about falling.  I thought about letting go.  But in order to die from this height, I’d have to fall and land specifically in a way that broke my neck, and the chance of that happening was too small to risk it.  So I stayed and breathed and existed, and I whispered prayers to my dear God.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I call him “Daddy,” and it feels nice.

Leaves and sunshine and softness and glowing raindrops spun all around me.  The sky gleamed blue, and the clouds seemed a very pale gold.  Green grass stretched out below me, catching the sunlight and brightening the world.  Lilacs were blooming in a huge bush that could’ve been called a tree in the next yard over.  My friends were laughing and talking around the fire, and every once in a while, they’d look up and call to me, and I’d answer back.  A hint of peace was starting to breathe into my being.

But it wasn’t there yet.  I climbed down and sat again by the fire.  I ate a little, but not much.  I wasn’t hungry.  Everyone was talking and laughing.  For a while, I tried to participate.  Someone asked me about my plans for the summer, about camp and jobs and career plans.  I gave my memorized vague answers, and a lump rose in my throat as I remembered I probably wouldn’t actually be working at camp this summer.  People asked how I felt about graduating, if I was excited.  I said I didn’t know. 

The thing is, graduation IS a really big deal for me.  I didn’t think I would make it.  I was so sure that I’d have killed myself by then, or at least dropped out or been expelled.  But… I made it.  I am a college graduate.  I am surprised, and there’s a warmth of pride in my heart too.  I really did it.  But at the same time… I was terrified to leave this place that had become my home.  I was terrified to leave the family I’d found there.  I was afraid of the world, or real life, of failing.  I was afraid of myself, and what I’d do.

“Do you wanna go walk on the train tracks?”  I asked a friend.  She said yes, and we went.  I had to get away from the cheerfulness and questions.  The tracks were just beyond the property line.  We had to walk across a bed of rocks to get to them, and my bare feet welcomed the pain.  It didn’t even hurt much, because I’ve been going barefoot for so long, and my feet have toughened. 

It was beautiful there.  It was nearing dusk, and the tracks gleamed gold in the soft sunlight.  I closed my eyes and breathed in.  Beauty and wildness and sunlight seeped into me, whispering peace to my soul.  We walked a little ways, balancing on the rails, and I wondered how long it would be before a train came by… and if I’d be able to jump in front without anyone stopping me.

My friend eventually went back to the fire.  I almost followed, but I didn’t.  I stood on the tracks and thought about just following them as far as they went, following them into the sunset until a train hit me or I collapsed from exhaustion.  But I didn’t.  I sat down, and as I did, that resigned depression set in deeper and deeper.  I thought about lying down on the tracks, but I thought that would be too obvious.  I watched the sunlight hit the grass and new baby leaves on the trees, and I watched the world dance.  And I hoped that a train would come. 

The stones were different shades of pale and dark gray.  I selected a flat-ish dark one and a small light one, and I scratched the white outline of a heart on the dark stone.  Then I filled it in, and it didn’t look right, so I kept rubbing the white stone against it, trying to fill the gaps.  But I still wasn’t satisfied.  So I scratched a deep line through the heart, and then I scribbled all over it until it didn’t look anything like anything anymore.  My throat was hurting.  The lump was there, and it wouldn’t go away.  I glanced down the tracks… still no trains.  On the rusted metal bit at my feet, I began to write.  I hesitated at first, wondering if anyone would see it.  But no one was there, only me.  So I lightly scratched the words “Let me never be alone again” onto the rough surface.  But as I was finishing, I heard someone approaching.

I looked up, and there she was, my princess sister, arms out like a ballerina, tiptoeing down the rail towards me.  I shifted, rubbing the words with my fingers, but they didn’t go away.  So I picked up the dark and light stones and began rubbing them together as if that’s what I’d been doing all along.  She came and sat by me, and we admired the beauty and talked about nothing.  Little bunnies nosed around in the grass, and we watched them.  Then she stood up.

“Come on.  Let’s go back to the fire now,” she invited me.  But I pulled in toward the ground and shook my head. 

“Why?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Why?”

I shook my head and crouched lower.

“Rachel.  Why?”

“Because.”

“Because why?”

I shook my head, refusing to meet her eyes.  She came and sat across from me.  “What’s wrong?”

I stiffened and stared at the ground.  The battle raged inside me, the same battle that’s always there.  She shouldn’t be here with me.  She should be with the others, having fun and enjoying the night.  I was keeping her from that.  I was keeping her from being happy.  But at the same time… I really, really wanted her to stay.  I wanted the comfort of her presence and the reassurance of her love.  I wanted to open up and let her in, and tell her about how scared I was, and how I was hoping for a train.  I wanted to let it out.  I wanted to tell her.  But I didn’t want to burden her.

I don’t remember how long we sat there, or how many times she asked me “why?”, but eventually, I did speak.  She was going to leave.  She wanted to go back to the fire.  But her kindness had comforted me, and I wanted her to stay.  I called her name, and she turned.

“Don’t leave me,” I said quietly.  I could feel the desperate emotion show through on my face, and suddenly I felt very vulnerable.  But I didn’t look away.

But she told me that she wanted to be with our other friends too.  “You could come back to the fire, and then I’d be with all of you.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Why?”

And this time I answered.  “Because I don’t feel like being all happy and excited about everything.  I feel like crying.”  And I ducked my head and forced back the tears that threatened to come when I said those words.

“You can cry with them.  They won’t mind.  They love you.”

“But they’ll be sad, because I’m sad, and then they won’t be having a good time anymore.”

“That’s okay.”

“No it’s not.  They need to have a good time.”

“They love you too much to have a good time all the time.”

I couldn’t talk anymore.  I stared at the ground, the sky, the grass, anything but her face, and tried to keep myself steady.  But I couldn’t.  One tear, one little tear, leaked out and ran down my cheek.  My princess-sister came and sat beside me.  We said nothing.  I just cried, and she sat with me.  The tears kept coming.

She started sorting through the rocks.  “Look, I found you a fossil!”  I laughed a little through my tears.  She found another, and I took it.  My heart felt lighter.  After a little while more, I could breathe again, and the tears had slowed. 

My friend stood.  “I’m going back to the fire.”  I took in a deep breath and nodded.  I would go with her. 

“Does it look like I’ve been crying?” I asked.

“It just looks like you sneezed.”

“But I didn’t sneeze.”  But I smiled a little as I said it.  And we walked back.  I took my time, half hoping that all traces of tears would be gone by the time I got there.  I picked pretty curls of grass and wildflowers.  I even found a couple daffodils still blooming.  Daffodils are some of my favorite flowers.  By the time I got there, I had enough of a little bouquet to give me something to talk cheerfully about, and act like nothing was wrong.

Then… they gave me my graduation present.

Each of my closest friends had gotten together and given me a book from the “How to train your dragon” series.  They’d written notes to go along with them, notes of encouragement and love and truth.  It was so perfect.  They knew me so well.  Kids’ books with pictures… these have always been my favorite.  My friends really knew me, and they loved me.  That gift and those words completely blew to bits my fears of what was going to happen.  My family loved me, and they always would.  And I’d get through this, and things were going to be okay.  I almost started crying again, because it was all so wonderful.

And then the peace was there, and it was real.  The night and the conversation moved on, but I hugged those books to my chest, still feeling comfort and reassurance ease into my being.  A train whistle blew, and a couple minutes later, a train rumbled by.  I watched it and thought about how I wanted to jump in front.  It was probably going fast enough that it could’ve killed me, too, as long as I got it to hit me right. 

But I didn’t move.  I just sat there with my friends, hugging those precious books to my heart.  And the train passed on, and I smiled.  I was still alive.

“Wow, even the stars are out for you, Rach.  This night really is for you,” my friend commented, looking up at the sky.  She knew how much I love stars.  I smiled and nodded.  They were bright and beautiful.  Peace settled in my soul.  I even ate a little more when my friend asked me to.

Daddy has taken care of me.  He made the rain stop so that we could have this fire, even though it was supposed to be storming.  He gave me so many things that I love that night… gentle rain, climbing trees, fire, sunshine, baby leaves, bunnies, books, stars… and the love of the dearest friends I could ever ask for.

I still ended up crying again later.  I still will cry many times in the next couple weeks before treatment starts.  I still shake and tremble, and I’m still so scared about this life.

But I am alive. 

And I’m doing what I need to do.

My Daddy’s taking care of me.

And everything’s going to be alright.

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