Something Personal

“Say what you will about New York, sometimes, it’s nice living in a city that doesn’t give a shit about your shit.”

I’ve used this line, from Hulk #1 by Mariko Tamaki, to talk about my mental health journey before, because it’s always been relatable to me. This week, however, the uncaring ignorance of this city has been stifling. How can the rest of the world hurry on while mine has paused, lying in wait, with baited breath? But now, when the weight has gotten slightly lighter, I need to talk about it.

About a week and a half ago, one of my best friends, someone who is young and sweet and funny and has been a pillar of support and stability in my life, started having seizures, and the doctors found a rapidly growing lump on her brain. They performed emergency surgery to drain the fluid that had built up, and, a week ago, she had surgery to remove the lump.

Needless to say, I’ve been a wreck. I obsessively checked the update site her parents had set up, and some nights, I was afraid to sleep, worried that I’d wake up to the worst news I could possibly imagine. Now though, almost a week post-op, which went as perfectly as brain surgery can, she’s doing much better, and I’ve gotten to see her, but, as her mom puts it, we can’t stop holding our breath yet. We still need to wait for the biopsy results.

Still, I am celebrating, allowing myself a few deep breaths, and thanking whatever God that there is for the progress she has made in a week. For sparing her. I am not the praying type, but still, I prayed, and as a friend said today at school “even though I don’t really believe in God, sometimes he’s good.”

In the same sort of spiritual sense, a question often asked in times of tragedy is “what have I done to deserve this?” The answer, always, is nothing at all, but specifically when it comes to something that affects someone else when it’s somebody else’s matter of life and death, is absolutely nothing at all. I had a brief moment last week when I asked myself this question, curled up and crying on the bathroom floor (the one night I really let myself cry) before I had to shake myself out of it. It’s nothing I’ve done, it can’t be because she is a person who exists outside of me, she wasn’t put on this earth to be a pawn in my life. This is something that I, along with a lot of teenagers, not just mentally ill ones, struggle with accepting. She is a person, independent, of me and my experience, to have her own. It then shifted to “what could she have done to deserve this?” The answer, again, being absolutely nothing. This isn’t some kind of cosmic punishment, this is something that happens sometimes, and while it’s not completely random, it’s not as methodical as some vengeful God. Sadly though, in this case, it chose an innocent person, who I happen to love.

It’s weird, to be anxious about something worth being anxious about, for a change. This is a different kind of scared, of suffering, then I’ve experienced before. I was young when my Grandma had brain issues, so I don’t remember anything but my mom seeming worried. It’s crazy, over a decade later, to be able to put myself in her shoes, to feel a comradery in something so specific.

This has been disjointed, and long-winded and entirely self-indulgent, but it feels very good.

I am so lucky to be so close to someone who is such a badass, who, in what was probably the scariest moments of her life took time to try and reassure me that it wasn’t a big deal, who is stronger than any other 16 year old on the planet, who has the biggest heart and is so funny and smart and pretty and wonderful. I am so lucky to love and be loved by her.

In your own morphine confused words, Shira, I love you so big time.

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