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A Letter to the Illness I Thought I Was Too Young and Healthy to Get

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Dear illness,

I never knew you would come for me.

We all know about illness. It’s the elephant in the room. Yet somehow we always assume it will happen to someone else. The trouble is, we’re all “someone else” to the rest of the world.

When I joined the ranks of those forced to shoulder you, I realized I shouldn’t depend on this life happening to others.

You came at an unfortunate time. I was at the cusp of life. I was supposed to be healthy and free. No one imagines someone this young getting sick.

You aren’t fair.

You aren’t right.

But you’re what happened.

My life today is different from my peers, but that’s OK. I’ve learned to savor the moments where I can breathe without pain. I walk when I can, and when I can’t, that’s OK too. You’ve taught me that sometimes crying is the only way to heal.

You took so much that I’d give a lot to get back. You took my love of sports, my ability to eat, some days even my ability to move. You’ve taken so much more, and I hate you for that. But because of this, I’m grateful for the little things. In a few years, those are the things I want to remember. How, despite you, I found hope, happiness and joy. I’ve learned to find the silver lining even when it never seemed to stop raining.


You’ve shown me how fast life changes.

You’ve shown me how to live. Sometimes you should take the hurt later if it means you get to walk on the beach. When you’re living seconds at a time because of how much it hurts, remember that you will make it out to the other side. Life isn’t measured in years, and months, or even days; it’s measured in heartbeats, and kisses, and prayers.

So illness? Thank you. Because of you I know what it is to be brave.



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Originally published: March 11, 2015
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