Throughout the tumult of the last four months – betrayal of trust, instability and almost not completing the PhD as a result – I had been thinking of her. My friend Janette. A beautiful soul, so gentle, intense, refined and deeply kind. Our last communication was a hastily written email about my traumatic hurried return to homeland to write up my thesis. She wished me good luck, and we planned to catch up after my submission. Janette died a few days afterwards. Caught in the flurry of fear, anxiety and desperation of PhD dissertation writing, I did not email Janette, until early this morning. I had been thinking of her throughout, but that email never was sent, just like the other important email to the university library (see below) – everything got swallowed up and lost inside the terrifying whorl of survival… and now, I shall never see her again.
Major fail in executive function – in the stressful madness leading up to the submission of my PhD, I forgot to request for an official email from faculty admin to be sent to the library, informing of the extension. Library books – all 9 of them – still with me. No overdue reminder notices were sent out to me, and so it slipped my mind completely. Last night, I received an email informing me that I had run up a $1,395 bill in overdue fines! The cosmos churns, heaves and spits, as it guffaws at me, as once more, it offers me grace while toying with the small tiny rug that I try to rest my weary body upon.
Inside my continuing whirlwind, I am unable to gather my thoughts and emotions. I have bravely fought the fight to live on. My one mission was to complete that PhD dissertation. No matter that I was betrayed by misplaced trust, no matter that I had to move four times in four months, no matter that I was trapped for two of those months in the steely velvet-gloved smiling-faced grip of grandiose munificence while slave to everything else but my PhD task at hand, no matter that I had to scrape through the final weeks in the midst of the most horrific mess and chaos that I have ever set foot in – I just had to FINISH IT! And that I have done.
Now, in the aftermath, the sensorial assault is finally getting to me. The kindness of my friend, with whom I am staying at present, is a cosmic gift of grace. But the disorder, and overwhelming mess, battling the constant aggression of olfactory dissonance and its physical effects (nausea, pain, headache) is wearing me down. I am losing my grip and being irritable towards my friend. This is just not right. I don’t want to hurt a good person, especially not someone who has stood in to offer me support at a time when the rug was pulled from underneath me. It is so frustratingly unfair, that I have spent all my energies on another so unworthy in comparison, and have little left to accord to this friend in terms of social energy and reciprocity.
Down, down, down the spiral of sensory overload. Smells hanging onto the heaviness in the air, like dancing mocking monkeys, assault my nerves. The chaotic mess keeps churning back like vomit swallowed and regurgitated. Social interaction throughout the day, peppering the desperate attempts at peace and isolation, shoot through me like hard metal-plated BB gun pellets. Screaming panic rushing forth from the deep trenches in a silent roaring stretto-crescendo.
And then, this morning, a few hours after the dreadful email from the library about my shocking fine, I received another email telling me of Janette’s passing. The loss of two friends within a short space of time (Janette is the second), both from brain aneurysms… is tipping me over the edge. I did not have the chance to see or communicate with either, so caught up in my maelstrom as I have been.
Lucy. I have Lucy. Once again, just like that moment when she saved me from the literal abyss (when my wee little rug was ripped from under me), she is saving me now. I will persist. Simply, because Lucy persists. And I am responsible for her.
I was not as good a friend to Janette as I wanted to be. I spent the last four months wrapped in a flurry of hapless commotion, struggling to channel limited energies towards my PhD thesis, but failing miserably, because of too many extraneous obligations that I just could not say NO! to. I did not pay any worthy attention to friends that mattered, so engulfed by the oleaginous folds of stifling largesse, a forlorn and foolish charity-doll plaything to the pinguid force of volatile philanthropic whims. So spent was I in the final days that I had no strength to type out a gentle email to my dear friend.
Let this be yet another sobre reminder to me: don’t spend your too-limited resources on people that do not and will not offer the same level of honesty and support given to them. Extricate as soon as your innate senses tell you something is very wrong, as soon as you find yourself being pushed towards non-native modalities out of a sense of oppressive obligation. Bunny dear, run away from kissy-wissy-pissy-fishy superficial social types, who speak one thing and do another, who offer verbal platitudes, dangling carrots in times of hunger and help-on-a-noose. Depart quickly from those whose speech do not match their deeds. That is for them, not for you. Not less or better, just different. Run run run, far away, because what is medicine for some, is poison for you. And spend wisely, Bunny, on the true, the loyal, the constant, the dependable, and offer gratitude to those who do not extract it out of you. Someday, they too will be gone. No goodbyes.