Four Years.

I was only fifteen years old while watching my freshman English teacher scribble inside of a John Lennon book that she decided to give to me while repeating, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” She said this often, and as fascinated as I was with the quote, I had no grasp of the concept. I mean, doesn’t every fifteen year old know exactly what they are doing with their life? I did. Mrs. Hepler had spent that year critiquing short stories I wrote in private, and we continually bonded over the Beatles, writing, and feminism. She saw something I guess, and felt the need to repeatedly say that quote to me. Its been seven years since I put that book on my shelf, and since I’ve sat in a desk in Mrs. Hepler’s class.

seventeen2Two weeks pre-diagnosis.

You see, my life was all planned out at one point. I was graduated, eighteen, had a fabulous relationship, and even though I was walking into a hospital at five in the morning well aware of what was about to happen…I still thought I was in full control. I remember the nurse having me sign “death papers” in case anything happened. That sting of reality hit hard because I had been eighteen maybe two weeks. I mean, werent my parents supposed to be signing these? I recall the same nurse taking literally eight tries to start my IV, and feeling the frustration of my family standing around telling me their goodbyes before I was wheeled off. But I had to remind myself that this was surgery, I would be asleep soon, and it was all no big deal. The masked female telling me that I had to be awake took another hack into my control theory, and soon I watched it crumble when they injected me, and slowed my breathing. I felt a giant tube squeeze its way through my throat, and watched a cord weave its way into my beating heart on a glowing screen. Doctors chatted around me in professional gibberish that I was too tired to comprehend, and soon I was being yelled at because I was losing consciousness, and bleeding out. Then with blinding lights flipped on, and nothing but silence filling this tiled blue room, I heard my doctor say, “Its your lungs.” My control was shattered.

At first I was told I was physically dying, and then I was just mad. Later, I felt like mentally I was dying, and wanted to actually physically die along with my broken heart, and my life was a collage of unidentifiable direction, misleading information, and trying to fight for control. I’ve been PHighting for a long time. I’ve taken pills, had more tubes shoved into arteries, scans of my organs, and oxygen crammed up my nose. Four years has gone by quick especially when you are told you only have two years left to live. At times I really thought I would rather take my own life, than to continue to fight this tiring disease.

The blue prints in which I thought I had planned my life out perfectly went through the shredder a long time ago. At one point, you just have to sit back and think, “what the hell happened?” But this weird, and unpredictable road has been painful, but as I’ve said before, there is an odd beauty in pain. I saw this John Lennon book collecting dust on my shelf the other day, opened it and read a little message from Mrs. Hepler. I smiled, and soon everything fell exactly into place. I’m still me…but my life really did happen despite my other plans.

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Four years strong.

This is dedicated to Tricia Hepler, who without, I probably would have a ridiculous amount of comma’s on this page. In fact, I bet I still do. What a fantastic person, writer, and general artist you are. Thank you.

-haley.

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