Dear Stranger.

 

 

Dear Stranger,

I sat on the old park bench with my two incredibly lazy dogs and people-watched. I saw you run around, laughing, smiling with your adorable son. I’m guessing he is around four. Both of you, in hysterics over your game of peek-a-boo. It made me laugh. It is one of those perfect sights that makes a young woman like me think of herself as a mother one day. It also made me think that you must need boundless energy to keep up with your giggling little munchkin. As soon as he caught sight of my little balls of white fur he ran straight over, you, a few footsteps behind, trying to keep up. He insisted on hugging both of them and asked me if they were twins. Then as I was responding to his many questions he coughed, abruptly and intensely. You were unfazed and apologised insisting he isn’t contagious.

He has “Cystic Fibrosis” we both stated in unison. We spoke about Orkambi and research and you told me about how you encourage as much physical activity as possible. You were so optimistic and enthusiastic, it was contagious. You made me think of how different life is now for people being born with Cystic Fibrosis. A far cry from my mum’s birth and odds in the seventies. You brought me back to a place I hadn’t been in a while. I am in this constant battle of emotions. I am torn between feeling resentful that my mum never lived to avail of the numerous treatment options out there today and also incredibly grateful that so many others lead such different lives and will have different fates. Most days, I focus on the positive. The endless emerging therapies and the stepping stones leading to an eventual cure. Some days, every so often though, I wallow. I wallow in that dark place where those options didn’t exist. Where the light at the end of the tunnel got further and further away from us and every passing day our hope diminished. You know what though? That’s okay. Grief is a complex thing.

 

Thank you, kind stranger, for the reminder that now, there is so much light. So much hope. Even in my dark spaces, people like you interrupt my solitude with your bright lights and music. I hope your son has a life filled with light.

 

Always,

 

Christina.

Moments and memories. Part one.

The place is crowded, loud and obscenely bright. I swear it is one level off interrogation bright. How are all of these people so alert? Trolleys and annoying, repetitive beeping sounds surround us. The atmosphere is strained and everyone seems rushed and in a hurry. The only thing separating us from the harsh, pained coughing beside us is a flimsy curtain. My eyes are sore with fatigue and my temperature is off, my body refusing to be awake at 3am. My mother rocks back and forth on the hospital bed, somewhat incoherent on and off with the pain. Pancreatitis strikes again. This time the pain was unbearable, she needed IV fluids and serious pain relief, not to mention anti-sickness medication. The entire situation was bleak. It was the dead of winter. The roads were icy and dangerous. We drove here, in somewhat of a panic that forced me to switch my brain on. Most people are in warm, cosy beds dreaming right now, listening to the harsh winds outside their windows. I’m in tracksuit bottoms, a pj top and duffel coat. Please kill me. My dad is keeping his cool, as usual. He doesn’t even look tired. Sometimes I wonder where is natural ability to be ready for situations like this comes from. I hate how perky he is. I’m irritable and exhausted. Despite my bad mood, I know how easily stressful situations can escalate. In an attempt to lighten the mood, seeing how my mother is gradually more alert and chirpier I decide to take some photos to remember the night. Fourteen selfies, several photos (some with medical staff) and six, unrepeatable swear words later (all from my mother) the three of us are in stitches of laughter.

I don’t even remember what happened after that really, I just know it was funny and we laughed a lot.

Laughter is the best medicine.

-Christina.

‘If Heaven exists, to know that there’s laughter, that would be a great thing.’ -Robin Williams

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Is there a greater purpose?

My heart was pounding. I could feel it in my mouth. My hands were trembling beyond my control but I didn’t care. I was nervous and excited. My eyes were wide, in awe of the entire situation. I think my palms were sweating but my body was freezing cold. Is this what love feels like? Maybe not love, maybe not yet. I wanted to cry and laugh. I felt like I had just gotten shocking news and had no idea how to take it. He was beautiful. Not even physically (although that too) but his being. His essence. Everything that he was. All that he believed in. All that he had yet to become. I bit the bullet and kissed him. I felt as brave as someone who had just jumped out of a plane without checking the parachute. So is there a greater purpose? That day there was.

I am a scientist. I should lecture about the Big Bang theory and how the existence of God is just an idea to comfort the unintelligent. Maybe ‘God’ exists, maybe not. I have no idea but one thing I am sure of; there is a greater purpose. I know it. I felt it. I feel it. How can we live so ferociously and so fiercely and not attribute it to something greater than us? How can such a beautiful creature exist if he was not created by something with indescribable great-ness? I know I am not making much sense. What I think is more of a feeling than a concrete idea or understanding. I guess what I am saying is that most people want to believe in God because they want to believe that after this. There is more. After life has ended our souls have somewhere else to go. This is not why I believe in God. I believe in God because I feel it. I see it. How can the world be filled with so much beauty and joy if God does not exist?

I know what some of you are thinking ‘If there is a God then why is there so much suffering? Why is your mother dying if there is a God?’ My answer: I really don’t know but what I do know is I have felt the pure love of a woman I am lucky enough to call my mother. I have been able to spend my teenage years with her and learning from her. I have been irrevocably in love with a man that can’t exist by any other explanation other than God. I have watched a stranger in an expensive suit cry next to a homeless man as they shared some chips. I have stood under the Eiffel tower and watched a man get down on one knee in front of a happily shocked young lady who looked like her life was finally complete. I have received kind emails from strangers that reduced me to tears. I have had a stranger on a train ask me if I was okay because I really wasn’t. I have felt the love of a best-friend. I have sat in a café in Italy with my dad and counted our blessings and laughed over our espressos. I have seen a mother comfort her sick little boy as he anxiously waited in a doctor’s waiting room with nothing but pure tenderness and love. TELL ME GOD DOESN’T EXIST?! I won’t believe you. Hey, maybe I am one of those idiots who just need something to cling to but you know what? I have never been happier. There is beauty in everything. I don’t know why people have to suffer but I do know that despite the suffering there is beauty, there is happiness and there is sheer joy. I can’t keep writing because my dog is scratching my leg looking for a hug. I think I will take him to the park, maybe fly a kite. Just because we can.

-Christina.

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