2016 has been one of the hardest years of my life. Between my family, work, my boyfriend moving away, and uni (who knew that three English subjects would equal a lot of reading), my plate was pretty full. I was stressed and busy, but coping. I didn’t have any assignments due, I was getting to know my classrooms, and re-learning a study pattern that suited me. Things were going okay.
And then one Friday night when I was sitting at my boyfriend’s house, watching TV and doing a whole lot of nothing when I got a phone call from my friend Emma. As soon as I saw her name pop up on my screen I felt a stab of nerves shoot through my stomach. Emma was the step-sister of my friend who had been sick with leukaemia for two years. All our updates came through her, but she usually wasn’t one for phone calls. It couldn’t be good.
And that’s how I found out that the doctors had predicted my friend only had two weeks to live.
The next few days were a haze of trying to process feelings that I couldn’t quite grasp, and trying to find out if there was a way to see my friend. But ultimately we found out that she was too sick to travel and that she wasn’t well enough for us to go visit her.
The old high school crew all retreated back to our home town to spend time together, but there was nothing we could do to make each other feel better. There was no precedent for how to deal with that situation, and we were all a little lost.
Ten minutes into my first Thursday writing class, Emma’s name popped up on my screen again. I knew why she was calling. I took the call outside, and then in my weird grief fog I went back inside to finish my class, but I just couldn’t do it, and I went home.
The grief fog hung around for quite a while.
It finally cleared the next week at the funeral, where seeing my all my friends breaking finally let something break inside me. What followed was quite a few days of missing uni and spending all my time in bed.
Luckily for me, I had no assignments due in the first five weeks of uni, which gave me some time to deal with my emotions. But when the first due date came up, I was terrified. I didn’t know how I was supposed to go back to my normal life when someone I loved so much was gone.
I seriously considered quitting uni. I felt that if I had one less thing on my plate I could find some time to fully deal with all the emotions fighting their way around inside me.
But I got through that assignment, and the next one, and the one after that. I’m slowly plodding along, taking things one step at a time in the true sense of the word.
And some days I still spend too much time in bed and don’t do my readings on time, but I know that even though my plate is very full and this is very hard, I’m going to emerge with a degree at the end of this. And I’m going to make my friend very proud.