Jon was so worried about me in the beginning, knowing what I was potentially getting myself into. And in these emails where I would attempt to convey how much I wanted to be there, the clarity I had was unbelievable. I was absolutely sure that I wanted to be with Jon, and that meant no matter what the circumstances. The messages we sent to one another are powerful, quote-worthy, and expressive in a way that only truth can be.
We both believed that Jon had seen some of the worst aspects of life -- all the pain and ugliness that can exist in life, but that our love displayed the best of what this world had to offer. In one of the emails, I was upset as I had just seen a young patient die and vividly remembered his girlfriend sitting on the floor, crying. It obviously hit very close to home even though the situation was very different. Jon swore to me that that would never be us. He said our story would always be amazing. And although at the time he was doing his best to promise the un-promisable, in a way he was right. Our story will ALWAYS be amazing. It will always be a part of me. I love and hate that at the same time.
On my way home from work today, I felt like all the strength people have been telling me I have got sucked out... in one swift movement, as quickly as a sad melody can make your heart ache, I fell apart. With every step I took toward my apartment, the anger and frustration seemed to get bigger and bigger. No matter how aware of reality I am, and no matter how hard I try, I can never shake the feeling that Jon might be here waiting for me when I get home from work. It's usually just a split second as I turn my key in the door, that I imagine I might see him sitting on the couch ordering dinner for us.
Tonight, I couldn't take that feeling. I came inside, grabbed one of Jon's favorite sweatshirts, and went to the park. Jon always found crying to be cathartic. I sat on a rock, put on a playlist we had made entitled FML, (which we'd created during one particularly awful chemo regimen), and basically, lost it. I cried for everything we did, all the things that I miss with every beat of my heart, and everything we'll never get to do. As I wiped my tears on the sleeve of Jon's sweatshirt, I thought of just how many tears this particular sweatshirt had seen in the course of the last two years. I could remember the feeling vividly, that instantaneous relief I'd feel when he pulled me close to him and wiped my tears. And then we'd laugh about all the snot on his sweatshirt. Without him here, the tears just seemed endless. As I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, a puppy ran over unexpectedly and licked my face. I couldn't help but laugh. It seemed to be Jon's way of telling me, "Ok, enough being sad. Get back to your life."
I think going back to work has been more difficult for me then I'd realized. Not in the way people expect it to be hard. It's not because I'm reminded of Jon or associate him in any way with my patients, or even cancer in general. It's much more internal than that. I want to give my patients and their families hope. The hope I think I instilled in them before -- the hope that truly was my religion the last two years. And I still do have hope. I'm still trying to hold onto the girl I've always been -- the girl who believed in fairy dust and dreams. I know it's something Jon loved about me, and in truth, I think it's what makes me the person I am. I still believe in miracles . . . it's just that a little more reality has been mixed in.
It just frustrates me how changed I am from this experience. I feel like my sparkle faded, or something equally as dramatic-sounding. I want to shine again. And there are times when I think I do. I am lucky enough to have people in my life who bring that out in me. I'll catch myself mid-laugh, or when I'm smiling until my cheeks hurt, or getting an unexpected kiss from a puppy. And those moments are what keep me believing. I'm not broken, just a little bruised. And I'll be damned if I let myself become something dull and faded. I just have to keep surrounding myself with people who can see me. . . people who see me like Jon did . . . people who still think I'm sparkly despite being a mess sometimes.
I believe -- I have to believe -- there are so many more beautiful, sparkling moments that lie ahead.