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My Little Blue Book
Author's note: This is the first 3 Chapters, and the beginning of the fourth.
I decided to write this journal. I don’t know how well this is going to work. I’ve never been really good at telling people things that were hard for them to hear, and this isn’t going to be easy on you. You’re scared, confused, and feeling panicky. I get it. This is extremely awkward because I am you and you are me, but it’s like we’re different people. Um, I don’t know how to say this any other way, but you don’t remember anything because you have amnesia from an experimental cancer treatment. I/We/You have brain cancer and the only reason you’re not still taking the medication is because you weren’t getting any better. Now, unfortunately, you’ve got a couple of weeks left to live. I know this is hard to hear, but you shouldn’t be expecting many visitors. To explain this, and hopefully any other questions you might have, I’ve decided to write down our life story so you’re not confused. I’m also afraid of forgetting, so I want to make sure that I get all of this down on paper so it doesn’t disappear. It’s a little weird to do this, I feel like I’m talking to myself. I mean, that’s practically what I’m doing, but it’s still strange.
I scribbled frantically in the small, light blue notebook that my parents had sent to me from Paris. I had been getting better on the medication, so they decided that they wanted to get away from the stress of a teenager with cancer. I didn’t blame them, even though it smarted a little, who likes feeling like their family is depressed because they’re around? I felt tears slipping down my cheeks and wiped them away, frustrated and angry so they didn’t drip onto the paper and smear the black ink more.
I hugged myself tight, and pulled the hood of my favorite grey jacket tighter around my head. It was always cold in my room, or at least that was my excuse for always wearing my hood. Being a cancer patient who had chemotherapy, I had no hair. I was extremely self conscious about being bald and I felt a lot better when I had my hood on. I got bored of talking about myself and started doodling on some of the pages in the back of the book I didn’t think I would end up using.
I have my own room and it’s almost nice, if you can forget about the heart monitors and the constant surveillance. There’s a sliding glass door that leads to a garden with a beautiful view of an evergreen forest. I’ve started sitting there a lot lately and I drew the view in the back of my little book.
I reread everything I’ve written now and I know it’s time to write about the hardest thing. I need to make sure I remember everything about Alex.
This is insanely hard for me to write. I really don’t want to but the idea of forgetting Alex hurts too much to not try to write it all down. You might not remember him, and it would break his heart if he was still here. You’re not going to have a boyfriend come see you. You haven’t thought of a guy in that way since his accident. His entire family was in the car when they got hit by a drunk driver. They all died instantly. Alex was your boyfriend for over three years. You were sure you were in love, and you only fought like once during the entire relationship. He had sandy blonde hair and the most amazing eyes in the world. Even now, you’re not sure what color they actually were. They’re like a kaleidoscope; in one light they seemed blue in another green, and you got lost in them frequently. He was a hopeless romantic, and every date was like an adventure. He took you to movies and dances and on so many picnics or “retreats”. You think, you hope he loved you. Your parents loved him and you got along great with his parents. The two of you were soul mates; you could finish each other’s sentences, but didn’t really need to say anything anyway. He was amazing at reading you instantly, and you learned how to tell what he was thinking pretty fast.
Tears fell onto the page and I put my pen down unable to go on. This line of thought was too painful. I let the sobs come, and I felt myself shake. The idea that I wouldn’t remember who he was hurt just as bad as the fact that he was gone. A tremor shook me, and I curled up onto my side.
I guess I was crying pretty loudly because a nurse came in and sat by my side, stroking my back while I sobbed. It was MiKayla, she was nice. She would sit and talk to me when no one else would. Her dark skin made nursing scrubs look good. Her eyes looked like melted chocolate and she had a beautiful smile. I finally stopped crying and turned to look at her. She sniffed once and I began to think of her as a friend. MiKayla wiped her face on her sleeve the way I had. I forced a hopeless smile that she returned.
“It’s time to get you out of your slump.” She announced.
She presented me with about seven movies to watch. Sometimes we’d actually pay attention and other times I’d tell her stories that she’d write down. MiKayla was nice enough that she put my comfort over medicine, at least for a few hours; I wasn’t connected to the heart monitors or the IV all night and the absence of that noise was extremely comforting. I had scooted over, and we were sharing the small bed. I relaxed and opened up to her like I never had. She wrote everything down that I said, and I trusted her to make it accurate. I made sure that she put something down about tonight even though she wouldn’t let me read it. I ignored that and pretended that I was with MiKayla at her house, and we were watching these movies there. It made the night more fun, and when she left I opened the book to read everything she had written. There was at least a few sentences about nearly everything and I wasn’t afraid of forgetting. I turned the lights off after reconnecting the monitors. The noise faded instantly into the background, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sleep without it.
A bright light wakes me up, and I snicker because I forgot to close the shades on the giant glass door. Sunlight pours in and makes the light, pastel hospital walls look like a normal room: almost. There are two small windows on either side of my bed, and when I get up to go outside, I curl my toes and nearly jump back onto the warm bed instead of the chilly floor. I slide the door open and head outside. There’s dew on the grass and a light mist shrouds the view I normally enjoy. I have plenty of time before the morning nurse comes to check on me, so I take my little blue book and start to write.
MiKayla is one of the nurses here. She’s become more of a friend than a nurse. She works the night shift, and we talk a lot. I have my own “house” so the only people in this condo/apartment like hospice building are the nurses and me. She’s usually here from 5-10 in the afternoon and we hang out and watch movies a lot. She’s pretty cool and normally she keeps her emotions under control, even though I’m pretty sure seeing someone in such a sorry state bothers her. It makes me feel better when she’s around; she’s happy, smiling, and it helps me forget what’s going on when she’s around. I still don’t consider her a visitor because she gets paid while we hang out and I don’t. The rest of the nurses are nice, but MiKayla’s the only one I feel like I can open up too. For some reason I don’t trust Jill, I feel like she tells everyone what I say because after I tell her everyone seems to know. The page might seem a little wet, I’m outside and it’s misty. It smells clean and fresh out here like when it rains, I love the rain. It bothers other people and makes them feel sad, but it usually cheers me up. The sound is relaxing, and I just now realized I’ve gone ADD on you and started talking about something random. (You don’t have ADD it’s just something I say) MiKayla is a good friend, and if you’re confused by the changing handwriting, it’s ‘cause she writes down stories I tell her. Half the time when we’re watching movies we’re not even paying attention, and I’m telling her stories. The first time she wrote them down I didn’t realize what she was doing. Then I saw different handwriting and read the story I had told her. I asked her, and she said “Might as well, right? I know you ain’t been writin’ this stuff.” I laughed, and she punched my shoulder lightly.
“Kailyn? Kailyn? It’s time for your medicine! Kailyn, you shouldn’t be out here!” Janice exclaimed. I pushed my journal into the pocket of my hoodie. Janice had an unnaturally red pixie cut. She looked at me over her reading glasses, and I felt like I little kid caught doing something I know I shouldn’t. I commented on it and she smiled for a moment, but then she was like a stern parent again. She ushered me inside and made me lay down on my bed. She started reconnecting all my wires, and I grimaced at the idea of being stuck in this bed all day, Janice didn’t notice. She injected my pain medicine into the IV and I sighed, she finally noticed my unhappy expression.
“What’s wrong, dear?”
“I can swallow pills,” I grumbled. “You don’t have to give it to me through an IV.”
I crossed my arms and gave her my best grouchy look. She muttered something about taking it up with my doctor, and I rolled my eyes as she walked away. MiKayla had told me that after fifteen minutes I could disconnect the IV and I wouldn’t waste the medicine. I flipped channels for twenty minutes before I disconnected my wires and went outside. I knew it would only be about two minutes before Janice or Jill or even Bethany was back. I sat outside breathing in the fresh air, hoping that maybe I’d soak up some sun and look a little bit less like a shut-in. I didn’t realize how much time had passed because when a nurse came it was already ten and they had my breakfast. I skipped toward the room and Kaleb, the only male nurse that I saw, smiled at me. Kaleb was really nice and I was glad he thought of me as a friend, he had started to confide in me lately.
“It’s amazing what some vitamin D can do, isn’t it?”
I nodded and sat down at the end of my bed to eat. Today, I was having an omelet, but I wished I was having a bowl of cereal for once. Kaleb sat and chatted with me while the fog outside evaporated. It was warming up and we moved outside. He talked about school and his plans for becoming a doctor. He was also glad that I was here and he didn’t have to push someone around in a wheelchair. I smiled at him; I understood that being surrounded by old people who were sick and dying could be depressing. I was sick and dying, but at least I was closer to his age. Most of the nurses that worked with me were in their twenties and then Janice was like thirty-nine. He told me that every now and then he stayed and worked a little bit of overtime to see MiKayla. I nodded and listened, not surprised. I had seen the two of them walking around together.
That night I talked to her about it and set the two of them up on a date. She told me all about it the moment she got back on duty. They were dating now, they had been for nearly as long as I’ve been here, and both of them asked me for advice. I was happy things were working out for them. He left and I went back to writing down things I thought were important. I hadn’t realized how much time had passed until I heard a quiet knock on the door.
“Hey, Kailyn,” MiKayla started walking in, “I’ve got some great news.” I sat up and waited for her to say something. I could tell she was crying and she held up her left hand. I could feel my jaw drop and she smiled at me.
“No way! Omygoodness this is amazing! When did he ask?” I squealed.
She bounced up and down then came and described everything to me. We talked about the wedding for the rest of her shift. When she left, she was still smiling.
I was happy for her and that kept despair from filling me. I didn’t want to think about Alex, but I couldn’t help it. Something told me that I would’ve been the one telling my friends, and they would’ve been freaking out when they saw the ring. Alex would’ve made sure that I had a great story to tell them. He would’ve done something crazy romantic and better than perfect. I stopped that train of thought before I became too sad. I shrunk into my jacket and twisted my bracelet around my wrist again and again. It was a silver bracelet that Alex had given to me when we first started dating and I rarely took it off.
I looked at the picture that was sewn into the lining of the hoodie and ripped it out so I could paste it into the journal on the page that was all about Alex. The sun had set, but I didn’t need light to tell you about the picture; it was the two of us on the beach, and it looked like a Valentine’s Day card. The sun was setting behind us and we were shadows so you couldn’t tell it was us. We had been talking quietly, he was whispering in my ear, and after the lady showed it to us Alex had paid her for the picture. Thinking about Alex made me sad, and being sad made me feel exhausted. I stopped that train of thought in an attempt to preserve some energy, but I was tired anyway, so I curled up with the journal and let myself slip into a light uneasy sleep.
I woke up as the sun rose and sent rays of light across my face. I looked around the room I was in, not recognizing a thing. I was connected to several different machines that were beeping and whirring. I had no idea why I was here. I felt uneasy; I was in some sort of hospital or hospice center and I couldn’t remember anything. I disconnected all the wires, but I didn’t remember learning how to do that. I opened the door and went outside. I heard a thump behind me and saw a little blue journal on the floor. I ignored it and hurried outside. I was cold but I ignored the piercing feeling, and hurried toward the ledge to look over. I was on a cliff overlooking miles and miles of a forest that seemed to be entirely composed of giant evergreens. They seemed menacing and storm clouds were building up on the horizon. The panic was setting in, and I started to pace. The clouds covered the sun, and I could hear thunder in the distance. I was wearing a pale grey jacket over a pair of sweats which wasn’t the usual hospital getup. So I was in hospice. I was dying, and they wanted to make sure I was comfortable for the last few months. I had no idea how much time I had left. I didn’t know what my name was or anything about myself. I couldn’t tell you if I hated the rain or if I was allergic to peanuts. I knew I was afraid of dying, and I felt like it was coming fast. It started to sprinkle lightly, but I couldn’t find the strength to move. I was dying and the doctors couldn’t change it. If they could, wouldn’t I be in a hospital? I could hear footsteps and someone yelling about getting everyone inside. I wanted to move, but I felt like I was frozen in place. The rain dropped off the tree branches above me and splattered onto my head. The rain was cold, so I reached for my hood so my head wouldn’t freeze. I didn’t have hair. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know who I was. Tears and rain mixed on my cheeks, and I started to shiver. I finally managed to convince myself to move and got up and stumbled into my room so I could curl up on my bed.
I saw the little book on the floor and started to ignore it but leaving it on the floor seemed cruel, like I was blaming it for not knowing anything about myself. It was light blue, and the pages were well turned and covered in black ink. I shut the glass door and tossed the book onto the nightstand, flinching a little when it landed. Even with everything going on, mistreating a book like that felt wrong. I fell onto my bed, hopelessness was exhausting. I assumed I had amnesia from whatever had landed me in hospice. The book was lying on the light, oak surface of the nightstand. I had absolutely nothing to do so I picked it up and flipped through the pages.
It was handwritten, and at least two people had contributed to it. The handwriting was vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I read the first page and put it down with shaking hands. I had known this was coming. I had known I would freak out so I wrote down everything I thought I should know about myself. I had read the first note I had written and I laughed at myself. I could tell I felt weird writing a note to myself. It made since, I’m sure I had felt crazy when I first started.
I put the book down and leaned back onto my bed. I knew enough about myself to not be panicking anymore. I closed my eyes and sighed deeply. I took the pen that was by my bed and scribbled “read me” onto a piece of paper that I had torn out of the back. I set it on top of the book and sat it on the nightstand. A nurse with bright red hair walked in with a glass of water and a couple of pills. She smiled at me and I was confused about why pills would make me happy. I hadn’t written anything about this and I was nervous. I guess I didn’t hide my surprise well and she stopped suddenly.
“Kailyn, sweetie, what do you remember?” She asked, a worried look filled her eyes.
“Well, nothing really, but I wrote down things I though were important down in this,” I said holding up the small, lightweight journal. She relaxed a little, I guess the idea of telling me what I was like seemed strange.
“Well, yesterday you complained about having to take medicine through an IV so I talked to your doctor.” She announced, handing me the pills. She looked me over and brought me a fluffy green towel, a pair of sweats and a grey shirt. I went to go change, laughing quietly. She nodded her approval, took my wet clothes and offered to dry my hoodie if I wanted her to. I handed it over a little unwillingly, it was the only thing I had instantly felt comfortable with, and went back to reading my little blue book.