Dear illness,

You always thought people were your downfall. That strength came from you and you alone, and when you didn’t have strength, there was nothing you could do but break and rot into nothingness.

But you know what I learned in your absence? Sometimes people can be your strength, your roots, grounding you when you cannot flourish on your own.

He was your roots.

He continues to be mine.

I jumped in our car today as he said “the sky is just perfect for you!” Oh, illness was it ever! The tender springtime wind felt like a solace tea and the blue sky held up white, perfectly imperfect clouds.

Years ago, even during a scene such as this, you would wonder when it would all get taken away. Then a paralyzed fear would flood your body and brain as thoughts of leaving caught momentum and spun out of control.

My heart hurts for you now that you couldn’t see what was right before you; him and this big, gorgeous world.

But now illness, my eyes are open to it all, even the bad days. I’m rooted, I’m strong. Illness, you were never broken, but so, so very lost, fighting the wrong battles, some not even yours.

So, when you let go, I held on to all the good of this world and trust fell into this thing called hope. I needed to see what living could and should be. And darling, it is more than you could have ever imagined in that messy brain of yours.

It’s hard, you know, missing you and not. Because you are so entwined in me, so it’s strange you’re not here to see this fierce woman claiming the path you lost your way on.

But that’s the way it has to be.

You lost your way. It’s not all your fault. Other components played a part. People, places, things and a disorder that grew into your brain before authentic happiness could blossom.

Some days, I can’t help to think, I lost so much time to you, but you helped me realize the value of my world. I suppose that’s why I bring my camera and notebook everywhere, to chronicle it all in case you come back. You can look at my achievements and see proof the world is more than your sad pin hole view.

Today illness I was by the tree, the one you loved and I love still. The one that seems so strong and fragile, that every year when I think it may not come back, it does.

I do.

I guess because you lived so long losing, it’s still hard for me to accept the good people, places and things stay.

But they do.

I have stood by this tree in every season, but as you know, spring is my favorite, and once upon a time yours. It’s the freshness of new beginnings that gets me every time.

This tree that lives behind the hospital holds memories for both of us illness and as I snap photographs, think about you choking on panic.

You would lean your chaotic head on the slightly opened window in the car’s sanctuary as he talked to you like the slow-moving clouds I look at now, until the boom, boom, boom inside you slowed to a natural rhythm.

“I got you, always,” he would say, and start the drive home. You would say you were sorry for this, for your sickness. You didn’t think you warranted love in your state and he would respond, “nothing to be sorry about. “

Did you hear that illness? You are not to be sorry for something that isn’t your fault and everyone is worthy of love, sickness or not.

He showed you over the years that love is an action. His embrace and words have always felt like home, like roots, grounding, enabling this ongoing growth.

And with that, you took on the responsibly of my healing.

Now when I feel that rise of panic, I calm myself, and say, “This is temporary”. I root myself and think of these clouds and everything good in my life. My first dance with him, our children, grandchild. I think how hard you fought to climb out of the darkness you thought was forever…

No, darling illness forever belongs to words such as love, beauty, belonging and hope.

I turn to the car; He smiles that smile with hidden teeth and a furrowed brow. He watches for you illness in everything I do and that saddens me you created that worry for him. But I can’t change your past, so I continue to heal my future.

I smile back, that one that is specifically for him and turn away, look at the sky and click, click, click and sigh.

Gosh, I wish you saw how magnificent this world is through my eyes now.

He knows, like I do, this isn’t just about taking a picture, but the bigger picture. It is about the dichotomy of love, of life, of healing and growth, all the sides merging into this complete human I am now.

I jump in the car. “I got so many good ones”, and smile wide while showing him my shots. He nods and looks at me in that soft contemplative way he does, and says, “anymore views you need to see today”?

“Nope, I’m all good “, and I truly am.

In this car, with my roots, I feel the balmy wind as I watch clouds zoom by. I look at him driving steady, a man who saw more than you illness. He saw this me and worked relentlessly until I saw it too.

I accept you illness, because in acceptance I have found myself.

I have found the freedom you always searched for.

Please look after yourself illness wherever you are because I know in time you will see the beauty and value of this life too.

Love always, Wellness