For the longest time, you and I weren’t friends. My soul rejected you in every way it could. It screamed at you. It hurt you. It tried to ignore you, to deny you. And yet, no matter what I did, I couldn’t escape you. You and me, we are stuck together, and for the longest time, I thought it was in the way that gum sticks to the bottom of a shoe. But now I see that it’s more like a conjoined twin thing we have going on here. One day, hopefully in the far, far, far future, we will be separated forever, but until that time, we might as well be friends, right? I think I am ready now – for you to be my friend instead of my enemy. You never were my enemy, were you? You were just biding your time, waiting for me to mature up, waiting for me to accept you the way you’ve accepted me from day one.
The first physical scar I ever got was when I was 16 months old, going under a surgeon’s knife. I had a kind of cancer called neuroblastoma, or rather you did. I know a lot of people would call me lucky, for I am alive, and so many children, of both yesterday and today, are not. The scar I got that time is just above my belly button, for the tumor was attached to my right kidney. I was lucky. Both times they opened me up because of the cancer in me, they were able to go in the exact same place, open the exact same wound. You’ve bled so much for me, dearest body. And I know now that you are a temporary vehicle, my anchor to this world. Without you, I would not be here today. So thanks for being tough when I needed you to be.
You’ve taken all the blows for me, and the surface of you shows it. The viral encephalitis weakened you permanently. It took away so much. Our ability to walk independently, to hear all that there is to hear, and to open our mouth and to be understood. What many people take for granted we will never have again. And the scars… Our right hand and arm, our legs, our torso… The four back surgeries we’ve had totally marked up our torso. You may appear weak to the world, but to me, the soul, you are strong, because you are still standing, even after all we’ve been through. I remember the summer after eighth grade, when you had that palate lift, how you kept retching and throwing up all the blood you’d swallowed during the surgery, often in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t know what was happening. I was bewildered. But of course I would be, because I was somewhere else while the surgery was taking place, as I always am. Where I go during these times is a secret, but it isn’t far, because I’m still tethered to you. Your beating heart is what ties us together.
Once upon a time, this letter would have gone in a different direction. There was a time when I rejected you so fiercely, and yet you stayed with me. I’ve hated you, but you’ve always loved me. It may be because without me, life wouldn’t be possible for you. And there were a gazillion times, and I admit, still are, times when I wish you could just be normal. Not different. Just normal, like everyone else. I’ll wish you were stronger. I’ll wish your right hand obeyed me more. Some of my reasons are selfish… I want to leave the past behind, and it would be so easy if only… Just if only… But the rest of my reasons? They’re not for me. The suffering of this world goes beyond my own. And I just want to help… That is all I ever want to do. Maybe together, we can find a way.