Dear Jack

March 15th, 2016

Ryann Chantrell

Dear Jack,

I’ve wanted to write to you for quite a while, but, to be honest, I didn’t know what to say. I can’t really seem to feel anything at this moment, but to articulate “numbness” wouldn’t be correct either. Sometimes I still expect to wake up, as if I’m dreaming. That’s such a strange concept to ponder, because I’m not sure which version of reality I’d truly expect to find. Either I’d wake up to learn the last couple months have been an awe-inducing dream, and I’m still lying in bed, alone. Isolated. Or, on the flipside, I’d awake and determine that the last five years have been a nightmare and I was never sick at all.

While I initially cling to the idea of the latter, I can’t wrap my brain around what I might be without these experiences. While they’re nothing anyone should have to endure, I’ve pressed tirelessly to make sure I squeeze every last bit of value out of it—create growth from the destruction. To find . . . something, where others see nothing. I’m sure you can empathize. Keeping this mindset is helping me to cope. Granted, a self-constructed ideal from a random sequence of events probably isn’t as firm a grip on reality as my shrink would prefer… but if it’s working, what’s wrong with it? People crave purpose.

I should probably be going to sleep, because tomorrow is a full day. I have so much to do, which is so awesome, because a couple months ago I wasn’t sure if I’d be working again. I don’t sleep a lot though. I have too much to do. I want to do it all and I want to do it now. I know that isn’t a sustainable method of production, but it’s a sense that has been woven into my core. Almost like a side effect. What if this is my only opportunity?

I know I shouldn’t think that way, and truthfully, I don’t. My mind is filled with nothing but an inexplicable sense of optimism and gratitude. It’s my subconscious that hinders me. My subconscious waits until I’m relaxed and silently pushes me in the direction of something else that I want to do—now. Because I’m fully and deeply aware that tomorrow is only hypothetical. But, you know, why shouldn’t I do everything now?

I’ve spent the last few years incapable. My energy is coming so effortlessly, to the point that I realize that I had previously forgotten what it really felt like to be human. What it felt like to want to go out into this great wide world and see, and make, and do. So now I remember. Honestly, Jack, it’s a strange form of enlightenment to appreciate something so innate that you once took for granted. I don’t wish it on a soul, but I’m glad I know. I can use it. I can help others . . . and that’s all the sense I need to make [of it].

— Ryann

Author: Ryann Chantrell, AYA Leukemia Survivor

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