Dear Innocence,

I don’t know when I started drifting away from you.  Was it when I was two and a half?  That day when the fever started, when my legs began to hurt?  I am glad I don’t remember that pain.  I wonder if I could, if I really tried.  But I don’t want to.  There is nothing good to be gained from that.  Nothing.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to remember being just like everyone else, but in the end, I’m just me.  I cannot be anyone else but who I am.  So thanks for allowing me to learn that lesson.

I know it wasn’t immediate, my drifting away from you.  I lost you by degrees.  When I was nine years old, getting my first back brace made – that was a big one.  They put me on a stretcher like thing, but it wasn’t a solid bed…  it was a stretcher frame with a thin strip of material down the middle.  I was terrified, despite how many pairs of hands were keeping me in place.  Looking back now, I only see the hands.  I don’t see the people attached to them.  And when they started to wrap my torso in wet plaster, I had the feeling of being suffocated.  It was hot, the plaster, and they had put a tube stocking on me so that it wouldn’t stick to my skin and burn me.  I cried all the same.  I didn’t want the kids at school to know I was anymore different than I already was, so I vowed not to let the other kids know about the brace.  But the first day back at school, I lifted my shirt so that everybody could see.  I still don’t know why I did that.  Maybe to get it over with?  Nine is also the age where I finally realized that I was different – that I wasn’t like anybody else I knew.  I pestered my mom with questions.  She told me the truth.  Cancer.  Neuroblastoma.  Viral encephalitis.  I didn’t understand.  They were big words.  Why did it happen to me?  And then later, much, much later, I began thinking, why not me?

Today, I am still imaginative, still a dreamer, despite all that I’ve been through.  I still believe in good things even though my life has been hard.  But I think…  I know we are not put into this world to have an easy time of it.  We are to hold on to whatever part of you – innocence – we can.  Some moments are harder than others, but that doesn’t mean we should give up.  No – instead, we should fight to preserve the goodness in life.  A baby doesn’t know what can hurt him/her – it is only through trial and error that he/she learns.  That is life.  Sometimes it really sucks, but it’s life.  And so, I thank you for being there to balance everything out.  You protect people from things they are not ready to know.  If you weren’t there, then everything would come rushing at us at once, and that would be too much.

Sometimes, I miss you though…




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