When I was diagnosed, I choked on fear beyond any I had ever known. It easily surpassed even the terror I felt when I was raped and almost murdered. At least then there was a chance I could make it out alive. At the moment of diagnosis, blood rushed to my face, making my skin burn. My ears rang, both deafening me and heightening my senses so I could hear the doctor’s tears. A black cloud ate up the edges of my vision, and I thought, “This is death. It’s black and nothing and it’s coming for me now.” I had just enough time to notice the absence of Jesus in the hungry darkness when I saw my chiIdhood Christmas tree in perfect detail. I hoped dearly to see it again.
Imagine, all of that in a matter of seconds.
Then, I collapsed against Evan, and an umbrella came over us. I thought of nothing but him as we sobbed together until we were nauseous. My mind spun on this loop: “I don’t want to leave Evan. He will be so sad to lose me. I can’t let this happen to us.” That train of thought possessed me. It still does. I can’t conceive of being separated from Evan. It shouldn’t be allowed. Doesn’t God know that I love Evan more than any human has ever loved another?
But a person can’t feel such an intensity of horror forever. That alone would be fatal.
This is how I live now. The darker feelings come in small chunks, so I am able to understand them as singular dead leaves moving along, unable to do me any real harm. I give them space in my river until they drift on, leaving the water clear. In the clean river, I am strong enough to hope.
Still, sometimes when I lay in the dark waiting for sleep, I remember the blue cinderblock room where I heard the news, and I feel like I never truly left. It has become both my Hell and my home.