Hi, remember me? I know I said I was never going to speak to you again but some time has passed, I’m not angry any more and I have a few things I want to say.
Every time I look at the scar on my belly I think of you. There was a time it upset me and I kept it hidden but somehow things changed. They changed a lot. I need to tell you something that I’ve never told you and really, never thought I would.
I need to tell you that I appreciate you and I love you.
Now don’t get all excited, let me explain.
I meant it when I said that you are a selfish, control freak, with some serious issues and that we would never work out. You’re nearly impossible to get along with, your ruthless, you don’t fight fair, and your really no fun at all but I love you for all of the amazing things you taught me.
Our time together made me a better person. Who knows who I would be now if you hadn’t charged into my life 16 years ago. I was so young and naive.
I never saw you coming.
You taught me to be patient and to choose my battles wisely. You taught me to be strong. Very strong. You helped me learn to believe in myself. You taught me to be detail oriented and organized and to appreciate the little things. All of them.
You taught me the importance of loving and caring for myself. That was amazing how you helped me quit smoking. Thank you so much for that.
You helped me learn about juicing and locally grown organic food, yoga and meditation. To choose my friends well and to surround myself with love and light and to never ever miss the opportunity to make someone smile. You taught me to stand by those I love, to listen with an open heart, to say “I’m sorry” and to forgive.
You taught me that every single day is a gift. I never wake up grumpy. I’ve become one of those annoying morning people that non-morning people can’t stand. I wake up curious, excited to live, thanks to you.
Being with you taught me to laugh often.
To kiss like I mean it and make love with passion. To fall in love and stay there. To make heart shaped pancakes, do cartwheels and wear glitter in my hair. To listen to old disco and send silly love letters. To sleep under the stars and swim naked in rivers.
Being with you taught me to dream.
You showed me that a little compassion and understanding go a long way, everyone is fighting their own silent battle.
My time with you reminded me to enjoy life’s pleasures, to work hard and to play even harder. It doesn’t matter how busy I am I don’t walk by a Stargazer lily without stopping to smell it and I rarely turn down an adventure.
You taught me to dance. I remember we danced so fast it made me dizzy. I’ve developed so much grace and poise since then, I don’t think you could keep up with me now.
Our relationship was truly toxic and there was no way it could last but it taught me that Love is more important than anything. My friends and loves are more important than food, my joys are more important than water and my daughters are more important than breath.
I learned that love is more important than pain. Love is more important than life.
You taught me to love completely and absolutely—fearlessly—with my whole heart.
Everything any of us do, say or write can change things. We are all artists and teachers and I can be a legend if I live large enough. When we broke up I realized that one day I want them to remember me and smile and laugh and I want their hearts to feel warm and full. I want them to tell stories that inspire others to get up and live and I want some of those stories to leave people asking “did she really do that?”
Ahh Cancer—I don’t miss you but I think of you often.
I want to be clear, this is not an invitation. I am a different woman now, please understand that I am forever grateful and yes, I love you but we are never, ever, ever getting back together.
Authors note: In 1998 at 29 years old I was diagnosed with first stage ovarian cancer. It shaped the rest of my life and I am grateful for the experience. Much of my work as a massage therapist has been with cancer patients. I teach ongoing classes to women on self lymphatic drainage and breast health. I support and advocate for women’s rights and health. I don’t put much faith in statistics but rather in faith itself. I was blessed to have a competent oncologyst, a strong support system and a loving family. Cancer affects all of us somehow, be it through our own personal experience with the disease or through the experiences of those around us. Lets celebrate survivors and remember, cancer or not, if we’ve made it this far we have all survived something.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: courtesy of the author