Letter from me at 16

Dear everyone,

I know you’ve been watching my every move. I know you are scared. I understand you’re not sure how to be around me. I’m your friend. I’m your brother. I’m your son. I’m the kid at school that you didn’t know but you heard I was sick so you’re curious.

I’m aware of the impact this is having on you. I see my mom eating more. I watch my dad missing hours of work each week. I’m fully aware that when you come to the hospital or to the house to see me you’re not sure what to do. The silence sucks. It makes me stand out and makes it even more obvious how uncomfortable this is for everyone.

So I make a joke. I tell a story. I make you laugh. Then we are all good again. Yes, some of this is for me. I see no point in wallowing in my sorrows. I don’t see any need to be sad all day. The laughter and the noise is good. It helps me forget as much as it helps you.

But can we have an honest moment? Can I be real and transparent and let you in on a secret that I’m not sure you can handle? I’m terrified. Not just scared. I am terrified by what is happening to me. When you leave I cry. When I’m alone in the hospital bed or my bed at home I worry and question God. I worry if I’ll live. I wonder if why I got sick. I question God and if he really sees what’s going on. Honestly, I question if he’s really even there. I hate the pain in my stomach. I hate how tired I am all of the time. I hate throwing up but I hate how it feels when I don’t throw up.

But I don’t share that with you. It doesn’t help the situation and there’s nothing you can do. Instead, I’ll share all the good that is happening because of this pain. I’ll play pranks, I’ll tell jokes, and I’ll make you laugh. It’s easier on you which actually makes it easier on me. I do wonder what would happen if I shared more of how hard this whole thing is. Would you know what to do? Would you think you need to show me the “upside” to this pain? Would you be able to just sit with me? Would I be able to let you just sit with me? That I doubt.

I don’t do well with uncomfortable moments. Especially when the eyes are on me. I think that’s what’s really hard. Everyone is watching. It feels like we’re all just waiting. Waiting to see if I’ll beat it or it will beat me. I am determined to win. I’m determined for there to be purpose in this. I’m determined everyone will see the purpose. My hope is this will inspire and help someone else. That’s really true. If I don’t live I want it to mean something. And if I do, I want it to mean something as well.

That’s it. That’s the truth. I’m not as strong as I may be acting. I’m not as happy as my smile may show. I’m definitely not as brave as everyone keeps saying. And my faith isn’t as grand as you all think.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m laughing and joking right along with you. The laughter is good. There is no point in crying over lost hair. There’s no good that comes from just laying in bed. So of course I’ll play poker with my good looking nurse at 2 in the morning. I want to make the most of this experience cause I’m committed to only doing it once if I have my way! I want to think about things other than chemo. I want to win this battle and look back on the experience remembering the good. I just need to be honest that this is hard. There is a lot of bad about this. I am sad and it’s not fair. I hope you can handle that. Cause that’s really how I feel. Full of hope and full of sad and doubt all at once.

Is that even possible? I guess so cause it’s really how I feel.