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Alex.

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They say that before you die your life flashes before your eyes. I’d know, I’ve been through it enough. The sensation of it, the total serenity is unmistakeable. It’s not what it’s made out to be – the illuminated angel, the white light. None of that. Not so much a timeline either. Last time, in America, the time they nearly lost me, I was happy. I was reminded of everything that was important in my life at the time. My last goodbyes to the people that I loved. This time, I just feel angry.
I’m angry at the world around me, at my stupidity. I’m angry at Xavier and Sally and myself. Angry for the friends I’ve made, angry at how they’ve helped me move on. And all for nothing, all for death.
For the last seventeen years I’ve been at peace with who I was, with what was wrong with me. My defect, my burden. I knew I was going to die and I was alright with that. I had no friends, no ties to keep me in this world. I kept to myself and I focused on school. A model student, a perfect child. I did everything I’d ever been asked to do and I played along with the pathetic façade that was my life.
And then there was Xavier. Xavier and his mates and his problems and his…complexity. He was more than the average footy guy – he thought for himself. The writing competition, that’s where it all started –where he started to change. I should have stayed away, should have just watched from a distance like usual but I couldn’t help myself. Watching him argue with Nuala was fascinating, he was completely out of his depth and yet he stood his ground. I admired him for it and Nuala did too. Xavier McLachlan was just too interesting. Xavier is my best friend and I hate him for it. I hate me for it. He depends on me for too much and me on him and it’s not fair, not on him.
I thought we’d be fine, just the two of us. I was allowed to have friends right? Someone I could talk to? Someone I could trust? I thought it would be good for me, mum and dad did too. They were so ecstatic the day I told them about my new friend, like I was a small child fitting in after so many years. It gave them hope I think, something for them to hold on to, a lifeline, a tether.
Xavier is my tether. I can feel his hands on my body, desperately trying to pull me back into reality. I feel like I’m drowning, drowning in the white noise of the life around me. Xavier’s shouts are echoing around in my aching head, his demands, his pleas are just another force I must battle with. Just another reminder of how I will leave him. I can imagine what he’d say if he could hear my thoughts, “Don’t be ridiculous Alex,” he’d scold, “You know I’d never change a thing.” And that would be the end of it - conversation over. Maybe he’d be right, I don’t know. Maybe he would try and talk me right, fix me. He can’t fix me though, no one can. I’m broken.
I’ve changed in these last few weeks though, I see things differently now. I’m no longer afraid of this disease that’s killing me, no longer angry about how powerless I feel against it. It’s a part of who I am and Xavier’s made me realise that. Footy is a part of him, it’s who he is and what he stands for….. or it was. He used to commend me for my courage, tell me how brave I was. That made me laugh. I remember sitting out on that hill and I told him the story of my third treatment. How I cried and kicked and screamed till I was empty. I’m not brave, I never was. Xavier McLachlan’s brave, he’s one of a kind and I’ve never told him that. I never showed him how he changed me. He reinvented himself, changed who he was to the core and that’s something I could never do. I couldn’t leave behind my life, not like he did.
When I die, when my heart stops beating, it will hit Xavier the hardest and that’s what’s killing me. Mum and dad will be alright – they’ve had seventeen years to prepare for this moment. Not Xave though, he’s only had weeks. He has Nuala I suppose. She will swoop down, brave and strong, and she will forgive him for everything. She’ll forgive herself too. I hope. She will help him through it; it will bring them together again. I like that, my last gift to them both.
I can still hear Xavier’s voice, taste his breath, but it’s getting harder to focus. He keeps slipping away from me and I’m struggling to find my way back. It’s okay though, I can let go now, knowing he’ll be alright. My friend Xavier, the man who changed my world. He’ll be fine, I know he will.



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