An unexpected bestseller.

 

I planned each chapter meticulously. Every plot and goal carefully detailed and dictated. It would be a masterpiece, a best-seller. It couldn’t possibly fail, not with this level of attention to detail. There was only one part of the narrative I couldn’t control. One detail I couldn’t write into the climax. The great loss that was my mother would be a bitter, unexpected tragedy, so everything else had to perfect, to allow for this huge demise. I would finish my PhD exactly as planned, on time. It would be a portfolio of meaningful, scientific, impactful work. I would find a job with equal meaning, making a difference, fixing things to make up for the one thing I couldn’t fix. I would always strive for more. Pushing myself to be better, stronger, more determined. I would marry at a reasonable age to a reasonable man, a man with good morals, a man my mother would approve of. I was ready for all of it. I was almost ready to publish when you disrupted my entire plan. I didn’t write you into my story. I didn’t have room for you. Every character had already been accounted for. I didn’t think there was room for you. What I didn’t realise at the time was, you weren’t a character I would write-in last minute. You, you were the entire story, the entire plot. Now, the story I didn’t write or plan for is the only one I care about and you and I are the main characters. And now, none of the other details, storylines or plots are planned. The only thing we can count on, is us, You and I. For the first time in my entire life I am unsure of everything, everything but you.

-Christina.

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.