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Kana and I
“Kana, listen to me. I love you, but I can’t help you. You need to see someone who can help you.” Kana sat crying in the corner, not willing to glance back at me for even a second. Kana Maria Ortiz, my best friend forever. I promised her I would always stay by her side and be their for her, but right here, right now, this was beyond anything I could help with. “Kana, please! Look at me! Your condition is only going to get worse if you don’t see someone. I’ve been begging you for years and it hurts me to see you like this.”
“Go! Cece just go! I’m fine!” Kana was gasping between sobs as all the emotions she had been bottling up flooded out. “I hate you! I hate y-”
“Kana this isn’t like you! You can’t treat yourself this way! Please! Just for me see somebody! Anybody!” For years Kana has been struggling with her mental health. Her parents divorced when she was 4, and don’t pay much attention to her. More often than not I have to be her parent because she is so alone, so afraid. “Kana, please, I know you say you hate me, but I love you and care about you more than you could ever possibly imagine.” I was sobbing now too. Kana always has emotional outbursts, but never before had I seen them reach this level.
“No! You don’t understand! You’ve always had this perfect life with a perfect family with perfect everything.” Then she went silent. Horrified at what she had just said, she burst into more tears and ran over and hugged me. “Cece I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. What is wrong with me? Why am I like this?!”
“Kana, it’s ok. I’m here for you.” I said, while stroking her back as a mother would her child. “Just please talk to someone. There are people who can help.”
“Cece, I’m scared. What are they going to do to me? I’m going to have to get all these pills. And what if they don’t understand me? What if I’m too broken to fix? What if the help doesn’t work? What if I can’t afford it? What if my parents won’t help me pay? What if-?” Kana paused a moment. The words she said next hung in the air like a lead balloon. “What if I’m not allowed to see you?”
“Kana, it’s ok. You’re going to be ok. These people know what they’re doing. And i promise you’ll be able to see me. Forever.” Deep inside I was crying harder than I ever had before, but I had to hold it in. I needed to show Kana how to be strong, even if strength is only an illusion.
“Ok, I’ll go. For you.”
After that we didn’t say another word. Wem stood there hugging each for what felt like centuries. I let her cry on my shoulder. I let her squeeze me so hard I was sure she just might suffocate me. I let her know that there is always a person in her life who cares about her so deeply that no mental illness could ever break this bond. I let her know how much I love her.
A few days later Kana went to her first appointment. I went with her to be moral support. The doctor we were going to was named Dr. Genevieve P. Shrevewood. She was supposed to be one of the best doctors in the state, and luckily her office was only an hour away. I went into the lobby and sat next to Kana while she waited to be called in for her appointment.
“Kana Ortiz? Is there a Kana Ortiz here?” A friendly looking woman poked her head out of a door. Her smile was so warm and comforting it felt like a cup of hot chocolate on the coldest day of the year. Kana went into her appointment looking nervous. I knew she was scared and extremely anxious. She’s always been afraid of her mental illness. We don’t know what she has, or at least not yet, and not knowing has terrified her. She’s afraid of her emotional outbursts. She’s afraid of who she might accidentally hurt when she isn’t herself. That’s why she’s here: to finally get the help she’s needed for years.
As I sat in the lobby, a man who smelled of alcohol and cigars came in. Beside him was a woman who I could only assume must have been his wife. I could tell that she loved him, but was also afraid of him and was the one who probably convinced him to come here. The couple sat down right next to me, but didn’t say a word to me let alone even acknowledge that I was there. The man kept leaning into my space and at first it didn’t bother me, but after 5 minutes of him not moving i decided to say something.
“Excuse me, I hope you don’t mind, but could you please move your arm? I’m sitting here and you’re leaning into my personal space.” The man said nothing nor did anything. “Excuse me, sir?” He still didn’t respond so I decided to move to a different chair in the lobby. I couldn’t believe how rude that man was to blatantly ignore me like that. I decided to let it go though because I didn’t want to cause a scene.
After about what must have been around 30 minutes Kana finally came out. I couldn’t read the emotions on her face, which was unusual because I know Kana so well. “Kana, how are you?”
“I- I- I don’t want to talk.” she stuttered, a little quieter than usual. I decided not to push her for now, and save my questions for later. “Cece, I feel kinda dazed could you drive home for once.” Suddenly I turned bright red. This was my darkest secret that even Kana didn’t know, but I guess she had to find out eventually.
“Um, well, uh, Kana, uh about that…” I said nervously.
“What is it? Do you not know how to drive?”
“Well, uh, it’s not that, it’s uh, well,” I paused for a moment. I didn’t want to admit to Kana that I had never driven a car in my life. “Well, uh… I didn’t pass my drivers test!” I blurted out. This was a lie. I instantly felt horrible inside. I never lie to Kana.
“Oh ok. Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Kana, sounding a little bit hurt, though not very much.
“I was just so embarrassed because everyone passes it and I didn’t…” I trailed off, feeling thoroughly sick inside. I hate it when I lie.
“Oh, well, I’ll drive us home then.” said Kana.
When we got to her home, we both went straight up to Kana’s room, and she revealed to me what the doctor had told her.
“Well, we talked for a while, she asked me a lot of questions. She listened a lot. She’s a lot like you Cece, except she gets paid. You do it for free. And so Dr. Gen, as she goes by, she just had me tell her everything. And well,” She stopped and glanced away unable to hold eye contact. Tears started to drip down her face. As each one hit the floor it sounded like an anvil in the deafening silence. “And well, Dr. Gen, said she doesn’t know what’s wrong with me! I’m such a mess! Not even my mental illnesses can be regular! She said I could have a mix of being bipolar, multiple personality disorder, and so much other stuff.” It was hurricane Kana now and there was nothing I could do. I hugged her again and reminded her that she had other appointments and I was sure Dr. Gen could help her.
That first appointment was by far the worst. After that, Kana slowly became used to the appointments. Dr. Gen diagnosed her with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. At first I was confused about why Dr. Gen said she had OCD, but then I slowly realized all those “stress relieving rituals” that Kana did every single day were more than just that. I finally understood why she freaked out I was using her fancy gel pens and didn’t put them back the way she always kept them. Having order made life feel more under control for her.
Now that we knew what Kana had, she started to get better. It wasn’t noticeable at first. For a weeks she seemed the same, but as those weeks became months I noticed that seemed happier. She was still stressed and had outbursts every now and then, but she was more in control. Her brain wasn’t magically cured, but she was getting a little bit better every appointment.
One day, about 6 months later during one of Kana’s appointments, Dr. Gen came out into the lobby. “Is there a Cecily Tawn here?” she asked.
“Yes, why?” I responded.
I must have said it quieter than I realised because she once more repeated: “Hello? Is there a Cecily “Cece” Tawn?
“Yes, that is me.”
She seemed to glance at me with confused eyes and then went back into her office. I was confused as to why whenever I was in this office people seemed to completely ignore me as though I didn’t exist. It really bothered me a lot. This had happened other times outside the office before, and I never understood why. A few moment later Dr. Gen came out with Kana.
“So tell me, which one is your friend Cece?” she said to Kana.
Kana, of course pointed and waved at me. I smiled and back waved at the two of them.
“Oh, I see.” said Dr. Gen. I noticed she wrote something down in this little black notebook she had. I hadn’t noticed it before. “Alright well come back inside with me now Kana.”
A little bit later Kana came out, her eyes were red and bloodshot and her cheeks flushed a bright pink. She ran out of the office without saying anything to me. I ran after her.
“Kana! Kana, what’s wrong?” I yelled at her. She continued running. “Kana, answer me!” She ran faster. She went to the car and started the engine. “Kana, what are you doing? You can’t just leave me here! Kana!” But it was too late. Kana drove away. My best friend forever left me an hour away from home. Luckily for me, I had my wallet and was able to catch a few buses and with a little bit of walking I made it to Kana’s house. I found her in her backyard on the old tire swing.
“Kana, please talk to me. What’s wrong?” I asked, gently.
“Go away!” She said, choking on tears. “You told me you would always be here for me and it’s all a lie! My whole dang life is a lie”
“What are you talking about?” I said, very confused now as to what was going on. Everything had been going fine until now.
“Can’t you see! Haven’t you put it all together! When I first met you and mother was confused and said she couldn’t see you! All those times people have ignored you! When that man didn’t even realize he was practically sitting on you! The fact that you can’t drive! Dr. Gen can’t see you! Don’t you get it!” She was bawling uncontrollably now. “Don’t you get it! You aren’t real!”
Those three words hit me straight in the chest. All the life was knocked out of me. Everything came to me. I came into Kana’s life because she had no one in her life. All those memories of my childhood before Kana were merely a clever construct of her brain. Everything was an illusion. This means as Kana gets better she won’t need me. She can’t need me. I’m not real. I’m Kana’s imaginary friend. I have been for 12 years. And now that I know I don’t have long.
“Kana wait! No! This can’t be true! No!” But I knew it was true. I had always known it was true, but I decided not to tell myself. Now I was the one sobbing. But my tears aren’t real. Kana’s are. I can’t save her. I never could. I can’t save anyone. I’m Kana’s imaginary friend. I am nothing.