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To My Fair-Weather Friend, From Your Chronically Ill Old Bestie

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Dear Friend,

We were young and free together. Do you still remember? How we would go on adventures in the city, not knowing where we would end up? You were always there, ready to jump on our magic carpet and fly with me to the moon. I told you about every crush, every fear and every dream I had. We were like sisters in our own private world, always giggling at inside jokes. Your passion for life always burned bright and brought out the best in me.

Then I got sick and you disappeared. I didn’t understand and I refused to let you go. I had lost my health and the remainder of my youth; I was damned if I was going to lose my best friend too. So, I reminded you to be there for me. You tried and when you remembered, you were great. You helped me out and cheered me on, accommodating my condition as best you could. I explained and you made the effort to understand. You saw that the girl you knew was still there, trapped inside my malfunctioning body. My treatment kicked in and I started to improve. It felt miraculous, and we were both relieved and so happy. We hung out and it was almost like old times. Then I relapsed. This time I was sicker and more depressed than ever before. I withdrew from everyone I knew. You didn’t reach out, and I didn’t have the strength to. You no longer shone your sunlight on me. I made excuses for you and hated myself for being too dull for you and too weak. I should have gotten better by now — I’d failed us. There’s a time to get better or to disappear, and I did neither. I hung around in torturous limbo instead; a fate that to me is worse than death.

You moved on, quite rightly. With photos of my predicament – sitting in my wheelchair or lying in my hospital bed – I tried to stun you into caring. I wanted you to see how brave I had to be. But this time, it didn’t work. Finally, I realized I was not the one who had failed us – it was you. You gave up on me. You couldn’t bear being faced with the reality of sickness and death. You wanted to bathe in the sun’s warmth, not sit with me in the chilly shade. You’d had a small taste of it and that was enough. You were enjoying your youth. You wanted to paddle in the shallows while you could, and no matter how much I begged you, I could see I’d never convince you to join me in the deep end again. And if you did then maybe your light would fade, like mine has – though I’m constantly trying to relight the flame. I don’t blame you, but I don’t have the same choice. Who in their right mind would willingly enter hell? I get it, really, no justification needed. I don’t want to be here either.

So, I’m sorry if I let you down, but you let me down, too. I find it harder to cling onto hope without you by my side. Was our friendship…was I…not worth fighting for? You’ve forced me to find reserves of strength I didn’t know I had. I had to look for willpower inside myself and be my own cheerleader and best friend. I’ll always love you, but now I know your love was conditional all along. So, I’ve decided in my heart to let you go. I hope you get to fulfill our shared dreams and tell me all about it one day. Please never lose your lightheartedness or your idealism. Maybe we’ll meet in the next life and go on some more adventures together. I’ll be waiting for you at our special place.

Your Bestie

Photo credit: m-gucci/Getty Images

Originally published: June 5, 2019
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