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Dear Healthy Me: I Forgive You for Hurting Me

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I miss you. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about you or the life you had before you got sick. You used to leap out of bed with enthusiasm each morning, eager to start your day. It’s OK that you’re moving a little bit slower now. Life will patiently wait for you. 

I loved your fearlessness in wearing bright, multi-colored outfits. Your image reminded me of a happy rainbow. Although dressing flashy isn’t as comfortable now, I’m proud of you for continuing to wear your cheerful colors… even when your body told you not to. Life is hard, but you’ve always tried to find the rainbow after every storm. Nothing has changed.     

Your favorite quote was, and still is, “Live well, laugh often, love much.” You shared that verse over the years with others when they were feeling down. It’s sentimental that they are now sharing it with you. I love that your chronic illness didn’t change your character, and it never will. Nothing has changed.

Showing your vulnerability to others, whether you felt sick or healthy, is a gift you’ve always treasured about yourself. You still have a contagious laughter that fills up an entire room. You’re finding your way like you always have, and your strength never ceases to amaze me. Nothing has changed.   

Life seemed complicated at times but you never truly understood what “difficulty” meant until illness came. You thought being a mother by the age of 20 was tough, but you were wrong. It was a blessing to give birth early on in life because the “new you” wouldn’t be able to bear children at all. You gave the gift of life to another and nurtured your child into adulthood. You’re a wonderful mom, and I’m proud of you. Nothing has changed.

mother and son young and now
Melissa and her son when he was born and now

Remember when being a hairstylist was your first choice of careers? Had you chosen that path, you’d be testing the limitations of your body every day. But it’s nice that you find joy in making others feel beautiful. That never changed about you. I’m glad you decided on an office job because it’s easier on you physically. You’re still employed, and you refuse to give up. Nothing has changed. 

It’s funny to think back on all the times you felt stressed over rush hour traffic or having to hit the grocery store after a long day at work. I wonder if you’re the only mother who followed a recipe, tried a bite, then ended up at McDonald’s? You were a terrible cook, and you still are! You can laugh about it. Nothing has changed.

Words that terrified you in the past no longer hold the same authority over your mind: pain, handicapped, disability, disease, and incurable. You may be disabled now, but your reflection in the mirror is still as lovely as ever. It’s never been about the mountain; it’s the climb. Nothing has changed. 

You’re learning to live some of your life through the joys of others, which still brings you much happiness. You haven’t given up hope for your healthy return, but you can’t mourn it forever. Life is about taking one step at a time. I’m pleased with your baby steps in embracing the “new you” with open arms. Most of all, I forgive “you” for hurting “me.”

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself on the day of the diagnosis. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 17, 2016
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