May 23, 2024

on the fear that kills

My friend died because
he thought he would be fired
if he admitted he was deathly sick.
He died of cancer,
but he died faster
of fear, stress, overwhelm,
and the isolation
of believing honesty
was not an option.

I do not know the fear
of a cancer diagnosis,
but I know my own fear,
stress, overwhelm, and such.

The important thing
is to stay positive,
people often tell me.

Yes, but it is also important
to be heard, to be honest,
to have someone who is willing
to sit with your frustration,
knowing it can’t be fixed.

At least it isn’t cancer,
a doctor said when
I was diagnosed with
lifelong pain at 25.
At least it isn’t.

Cancer killed my friend
way too fast, faster
than his prognosis.

I teach myself every day
how to live with pain
that will never be
completely defeated.

I am glad to be alive,
though even now,
on this page,
without seeing your face
expecting me to say
I am much better today,
I know I cannot afford to be
honest about how difficult
and painful this is.

Don’t worry, though.
I’m okay, you’re okay,
and tomorrow we will
have this conversation again.
You will ask me if I feel better,
and I will say yes,
and if you are still with me
in 10 years or in 25,
I will say the same again.

It is not cancer.
It is okay.
At least.

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