I feel all that sadness. I feel the tears and I know where they’re from. You see I know you better than anyone else in this world. I always have and I always will, you just didn’t realise. I want to clone myself and be that best friend by your side, forever. I don’t need to sympathise or empathise with you, I just know. I know what you’ve been through. In detail. I know every tear you’ve cried. And I know every prayer that you’ve prayed. I know when you want a hug and when you just want your hand held in silence. I know when you need to laugh and when you just need a shoulder to bury your face in.
I wish I could have been more present for you all those days when you were stuck in bed. On your own. Tears rolling down your temples and into your ears. You didn’t care. You just wanted it to end. You wanted an out, but you knew that wasn’t an option. I wish you had given me the opportunity then to just lie in that bed with you and simple hold your hand. Not said a word, just held your warm damp hand in mine. I would have listened without saying a word. Without giving us the opportunity to argue. I would have known just how to keep myself safe from being a scapegoat for your despair. Your rage. Your confusion.
I was there. But you didn’t know it and I was silenced.
I wish I could have made you cups of warm healing tea. Even just brought you water. You couldn’t move from the bed without all-encompassing pain. Your bum ached and throbbed and raged. When gravity kicked in you wanted to kick out. Kick the tyre and leave. I know, I felt it too. But you stayed. I’m proud of you for that. You’re a strong woman! I could have been a soft gentle presence for you on all those deeply lonely days. stuck. in. bed.
You wanted company, but you didn’t. You knew if someone close came to be with you that you would argue and rage and dump all those messy feelings on them. You didn’t want to do that, but you didn’t know how to control it either. Everything was so out of control already. You craved company. Inside you begged for company, but you didn’t tell anyone. For fear of the mess that would spew out of you when they were there. The vulnerability.
What you didn’t realise is that you were craving my company the most.
Mostly you didn’t want people to see you that way either. You still wanted to maintain the façade that you were kind of OK. That you coped with this all so well. That you didn’t need pity. That you didn’t need fussing over. You were in control.
But you knew you weren’t. When the front door closed and you were on your own, things got raw. I know, because I was there. With you crumbling onto the floor half way between the bedroom and the toilet, because 3 metres sometimes felt too hard. Curling up into a ball on the carpet and sobbing. Rocking your body from side to side, inconsolable. Some days you sobbed so hard that your chest hurt. It felt like your heart was going explode inside your rib cage.
I wish I could have put my hand on your back then. Not saying a word. I know it would have comforted you. You would never have let anyone else do it. Not a soul. I think it made you feel like your pain was too real. That you needed comforting, and God help an independent woman who wants to go it alone. But of course you didn’t want to go it alone. But who else could fully know the depth and vastness of your pain? Your confusion? Your deep and utter despair?
Me. I knew it. But to be honest, sometimes it even felt too hard for me!
Eventually you’d get a grip on yourself. Say some stern words and force yourself up and back to bed. To your soft warm bed that sometimes felt like the most jagged and cruel trap you could be in. Some people crave soft beds. Not you back then. All you wanted was your freedom. To be able to walk easily. To be able to move comfortably, but you couldn’t. What you would have given then to be able to go out and do some hard labour.
I saw those flashes in your eyes when someone tried to console you, tried to tell you their story of how being sick in bed was so hard. They were like steel blades that you wanted to throw at them. To shut them up. But you’re far too polite for that, and you knew it was only them trying to be kind. What you felt like yelling to them was “You don’t understand! You can’t possibly ever understand! So please, oh please, don’t try!” The only people who could come close to understanding were Harlan and me. Your parents too, but even they didn’t see the days’ ins and outs, ups and downs.
Over time it did bring you some invaluable realisations though. Like the fact that judging someone else’s situation is impossible. You can never truly know what someone is living with and going through unless you live that life yourself. Some things, maybe most things, are invisible.
I wish I could have wiped those tears off your cheeks and laughed with you when insanity sometimes crept too close. I wish I could have been your mediator when you wanted to say one thing from your heart, but because of pride, frustration or the fear of vulnerability you didn’t. And then it felt messy. Or false.
I’m glad we’re closer now. I’m glad I’m more present in your life, because it’s brought with it a gentleness. Since I’m the one person in the world who knows you best, I’m glad you’ve let me in more. Of course we’ll still disagree sometimes. And some days I will still be invisible to you. But I know that deep down inside you now know I’m always here. Things have changed. You’ve finally, slowly let me in. And together, we are stronger.