Poetry

A Letter To My 13 Year Old Self

To my 13 year old self,
There is so much I wish you could know as you lay there on the couch, the first rounds of chemo already wearing you down. There is so much I wish you could know as the Prednisone starts to swell your cheeks and your hair starts to fall out. There is so much I wish I could tell you as cancer starts to eat away at your soul.

You have days that aren’t so bad, you can stomach food, your heart is light. You have days where food is the last thing you want and you and Mom just hold each other and cry. You have days where you have the energy to sit at the table and eat with the family. You have days where you can barely lift your head and lay on the couch as you listen to your family gathered at the table.

Near the end of it, you get an infection that knocks you flat. You spend 12 days in the hospital, barely able to take the smallest sip of water, your legs weak as you stumble into the bathroom.

You’re ready to die.

And as you lay there in that bed, ready to let the cancer win, I wish you could have known the following:

You get a boyfriend! He loves you just as fiercely as you love him.

You find your best friend on the internet of all places. Eight years later, you’re still talking to her daily and you finally meet her.

WE’RE GONNA GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE. You’re an art major! You make some pieces you’re incredibly proud of and you start using your art to shamelessly incorporate the things you love. You even surprise yourself with a few political pieces.

You’re still writing too (and let me tell you, your writing has come so far. Your four main characters, Kai, Kaia (now Natalie), Hilary, and Ray have grown so much with you.

You learn to love yourself. You still have some problems, but you love yourself a hell of a lot more than you did when you were 13. You love books and characters shamelessly, you actually call yourself cute some days, and you find your voice. You start speaking up and you stop finding fault and shame in the way you want to live.

To my 13 year old self,
We have come so far. We have come so far from the days of throwing up and no energy. We have come so far from the days of quietly, shamefully loving things fiercely. We have come so far so far from the days where you hated yourself.

To my 13 year old self,
We made it. Here I am, at 21, it’s late at night, I am near tears thinking about how far you’ve come, and I wish you could have known what your strength leads us to.

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