Monday, January 25, 2016

Fragile Hope

This morning I got out of class early enough to watch the sun rise over the trees as I practiced yoga. Last night I stood around a fire with some of my friends and we told scary stories and laughed until our toes froze and then after I crawled into bed with friends and we read books and listened to accordion music on an old cassette tape. A few days ago I crawled into bed wearing only a bright red, extremely oversized mickey mouse tee shirt I stole from my dad and wouldn't get rid of, knowing that I had saved this shirt for an occasion such as this one, and that perhaps that was my little girl heart refusing to give up on a dream that was now, in the most unlikely of ways, becoming a reality.
I've been thinking for a few days how to write about this part of my life. I spent months in the thick of illness, the rough middle of grief. Life felt like survival, where every action was focused only on keeping me alive and everything narrowed, like a funnel, all pouring into this one thing.
And then there is the magical moment when the treatment begins working. I'm a bit hesitant to write out the word hopeful but I am. For the first time in months, with this new schedule and new drugs and my ability to remain stable for longer than 24 hours, I feel hopeful.
This hope I feel, though, is also dark. It's bright but the light hurts my eyes. At times it is overwhelming. And I wonder what to do with this, as I have emerged from the woods, rubbing my eyes as they adjust to the light and banging the mud off my boots and smoothing out the tears in my clothes, left with only the scars from the battle.
I've learned to operate under extreme amounts of stress (albeit not well) and the changing in that pattern has left me feeling almost empty. I don't know what to do with this space inside of me. On one hand it thrills me, and on the other it leaves chills running up and down my spine.
And are there even words to convey this hopefulness right alongside the intense fear and sadness and grief that still remains? There is this bright new thing unfolding before me, but still when I close my eyes or when I run my fingers across my skin there are scars from what previously unfurled.
I am more aware of it now, like walking with a limp. I was writing an email to a friend today and I realized I can't very well recount the purely scientific details of what happened without feeling emotional. I feel the weight of it on my shoulders still. People ask me how I am and I can only say I'm improving, because I am, but there is no language to convey the state of my heart.
How at times the realization of everything that happened feels like it will suffocate me. How sometimes I still feel sad. How I always feel this empty space inside of me now, and how it will take time for that to become my new normal. How I am still trying to recalculate how I feel in this environment and in this body. How I still feel small, and fragile, and vulnerable, like I need to cling tightly to the people and things around me because if I let go for even one minute, I will drown here.
I am hopeful, yes, but it feels as if even that is made out of glass. Fragile.

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