Six months without you
It’s been six months without you. Six months since I last looked into your eyes that never failed to give me butterflies every time I stared into them, since I last held your hands that locked so perfectly with mine, since I last heard your beautifully soothing, deep voice tell me you loved me… Six months since you were here with me. Six months since my world suddenly became so dark and empty and lonely.
I miss you so much.
The number of hours I spent sobbing in your closet, muffling my sobs into your clothes so you wouldn’t hear my pain (because I knew that even in spite of your immense pain you would find the time to worry about me) didn’t prepare me for the pain of losing you. I imagined my life without you more often than I wanted to when you were sick. I hated thinking about it because I wanted to have hope that maybe, by some miracle, you would make it through, and it felt like a betrayal of hope whenever I thought about losing you. So I tried not to think about it, but even when I did, I didn’t fully understand how I would feel. And then I felt completely unprepared to lose you only three months into that life-shattering day when we sat in the doctor’s office listening to this unbelievably horrible news, me desperately clutching your hand and already crying so much that the doctor asked if I was going to be okay. Even then you were my source of comfort, the way you’ve always been for me.
Bear, I miss you so much. Everything is so hard without you. I never wanted to spend a single day of my life without you, but somehow, now I’ve spent 184 days without you. Remember when I cried almost every day the one year I was stuck in New Haven and you were stuck in Chicago because I missed you so much? Being young and naïve, I thought that would be the hardest year of our lives together, but we told each other we could make it through it because we would never again be separated like that. We told each other we had the rest of our lives together to make up for that year we were apart.
But now, you’re gone forever, and I have to spend the rest of my life without you, and it’s just so hard to wrap my mind around that. It’s so hard to come to terms with the permanence of your absence.
I feel like the past six months have gone by so quickly, and yet, so slowly. Every day seems like a blur — much of the same of willing myself to get out of bed and do what I have to do, willing myself to make it through the day, willing myself to act normal around other people, willing myself to try to not think about you too much during the day so that I’m not crying all the time, and then finally, at night when I’m in bed alone, letting myself be filled with thoughts and longings of you and allowing myself to finally cry, falling asleep hoping to talk to you in my dreams. And honestly, I don’t know how I’ve made it to six months without you. It’s been six months of taking it day by day. Six months of just willing myself to survive — but I did it because I know this is what you would have wanted for me. Every time I feel like it’s just too hard and I feel like I can’t do this anymore, I think about the last smile you gave me — the one just between the two of us while I held your hand. You looked into my eyes, the way that you had done for so many years and that made me fall more and more in love with you every time, and smiled a smile of relief, encouragement, and love. I felt it — I felt you telling me that I was going to be okay, and that you were going to be okay now. That the worst was over. But then you were gone, and I spent so much of the past six months without you trying to hold onto this moment and trying to remind myself of what you would have wanted for me.
So I’ve survived the past six months because of you. And a lot has actually happened in the past six months —
1. Our first birthday without each other in a long time, and honestly, it was a terrible week, and I don’t know how it’ll ever get better. Remember how the first April we were together and we realized our birthdays were three days apart, you joked about how that meant we were soulmates and I immediately freaked out that you said that and made you feel really awkward? Oops… but I guess you were right. Every birthday I spent with you was amazing and I loved celebrating our birthdays together. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’m celebrating my birthday again without you. But even this birthday week I made it through, even though it was so painful especially so soon after I lost you, and it gave me a little bit of encouragement that maybe I can make it through harder times.
2. I took Step 1, which we talked about the entire time you were sick because I kept telling you I was going to take a break from school to be with you and not take the exam this year and you kept insisting that I do. Well, Bear, I did it, for you. It wasn’t easy — I spent probably half the time I should’ve been studying crying or visiting your grave. The day before the test, I cried all day because I just missed you so much. I couldn’t stop thinking about what you would have said to me: “Come on, Bear, you can do it!” I couldn’t stop thinking about what would’ve been if you had still been here and none of this had happened — we had been so excited to go to Hawaii together and I had made you promise to finally teach me how to swim. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to make it through the test, but I did, and I somehow felt like you were with me cheering me on. Making it through this gave me hope that maybe I am strong enough for this like you always tried to convince me I was.
3. I went to Korea, which was hard, because we were supposed to go together for Christmas last year until you got sick. I went to all the places that I had been planning on taking you. I thought about you all the time, and I know my parents did too. My dad told me about how he had been planning on talking to you about our future because he wanted you to know we had his blessing. It would’ve meant so much to me for you to have had that conversation with him and I can only imagine how nervous and shy you would’ve been. I really wish we could’ve gone on this trip together.
4. I started third year — remember how excited I was about this for the past two years? I wish you could’ve seen me start third year, because I know how proud you would’ve been. You probably also would’ve made fun of how stupid I look in scrubs and would’ve wanted to try them on too. It’s been so hard being back in the hospital because everything brings me back to when I wasn’t on the side of the healthcare providers but on the patient side as your caregiver. I’ve cried so many times in the hospital in the past 4 weeks but I bet you would be impressed with how sneakily good I’ve gotten at doing it so that no one ever notices. I really think about you all the time because everything reminds me of you, and even when I have a positive moment, I immediately think about how I wish I could tell you about it. But I remember how you found it within you to joke about how at least you getting sick would probably make me a better doctor since I’ve seen the side of the patient’s experience, and you’re right. I hate that this had to happen, and I wish so desperately that you had never gotten sick, but I know I’m more empathetic because of it, and I know that’ll ultimately make me a better doctor. Even though every day is tough and facing sickness and death so soon after losing you is so, so, so hard, I remind myself of how you wanted me to continue to pursue my dreams, so I work hard every day to make you proud and try to learn how to become the best doctor I can possibly be. Maybe one day I can help patients like you, and maybe I can find a way to gain something positive out of this horrible experience.
The grass has started to grow over your grave and it looks less unfinished and lonely now, even though you still don’t have a tombstone and the only thing marking your grave is a small plastic sign with your name on it. I’ve spent so many hours sitting on the ground there in my desperate attempts to feel closer to you, and watching the grass grow little by little and each time I go reminds me of how much farther I get away from the last time since I held you. Time is all relative now — everything is all relative to when I lost you and everything changed. I don’t know where you are now, and that’s been confusing and hard for me to think about. Is it possible that you can somehow see what I’m doing all the time? A lot of times I hope that’s not true, because I don’t want you to see me when I’m in my lowest moments. But then other times, I hope that you can see me and I hope that I’m making you proud, because you really are the reason why I’ve been able to survive these six months, and why I feel like maybe I can continue to survive. Because I know that we were a part of each other, and your physical absence doesn’t mean that you’re absent from my heart and soul. I feel that a part of you will always live on through me, just like how I feel like a part of me was lost with you. But even though I don’t feel whole now, and maybe I won’t totally feel whole ever again without you, I know I have to do my best to keep living my life to the fullest because a part of your legacy lies within me. You changed my life completely when I met you, and you made me who I am today. It’s hard to exist without you, and I miss you more than I can express in words, but I’m still here today because I’m doing this for you, just the way you wanted me to. You might not be physically here with me and we won’t have the forever together that we always talked about having, but you and the love that we had together are still here with me in my heart, forever and always, and that gives me the strength to go on.
I miss you, and I love you so, so much.
Love always and forever,