My friend is dead. She has been dead since Thanksgiving.
I am terrified of the monsters that roar inside of me, waiting for the right moment to strike. I hate the parallels in our stories. I hate the word cancer. I fucking hate seeing it everywhere. I get sweaty and nauseous. I fucking hate that word. Why does it have to be everywhere? Can't it be like You Know Who? Why do we have to say the word so much? Voldemort, cancer, Voldemort. It's put a trace on me, that word. It's everywhere.
I visited Lauren's mom with my old coworkers yesterday and at times the silence was thick with our own memories and recollections. The copier in the blue room where she told me she had melanoma. The ninth floor of 16 W 22nd Street, New York, NY. A place I'll never be again.
We talked about it, a lot. I was her "cancer mentor," we joked. We hated the word, we hated the smell of hospitals, we hated the shitty food and the steroids and the ways our bodies were carved and shaped into something we didn't recognize.
I miss my friend. I miss our little community. The two of us and a tie that would bond us forever.
Sometimes I see a really cheesy "beat cancer" ad and I want to laugh maliciously at it with her. We made fun of those things.
We wanted to believe we were as real as we could be about cancer, but we were both terrified and sometimes we could not speak of it.
Some days I can't believe she's gone. I worry about the monsters. I feel guilty telling her mom I'm doing well because her daughter is dead.
No matter what my troubles, my pain, struggles, I get to live. I get to fall in love and eat and sing into my hairbrush and drink and tattoo my body and live.
Lauren doesn't. All of her memories have been made. They're for us now. And it's so fucking unfair, because I never knew someone who wanted to live as much as she did. I survived and some days I don't move from my bed. Lauren would understand but I should be doing more.
I have to live more, because she can't. I have to be kind and live big and write, like she always bugged me to. I need to write about cancer and the word and how heavy it hangs around your neck.
I miss my friend. But I'm going to keep on.
I'm going to Be Kind and Live Big.