The most unrealistic part of the Harry Potter books was Ron and Hermione.
Your friends finally warned you. If you don’t stop, we can’t be friends.
They say that we fear abandonment and loneliness among all social terrors. Whoever they are, they must not be flipping through the same Netflix queue again on a Friday night. I don’t know, what do you want to watch? Wait, there’s still no one else here? Fine.
Check Instagram. Anything new on your Facebook newsfeed? OMFG, the Kardashian sisters have the dumbest tweets! Wait, which girls did The Bachelor vote off the island this week? I’m so glad I’m not like some people.
Check the liquor cabinet–or as you used to call it, the entire freezer. It’s empty again. That’s right, you quit your addictions. Sure felt like there were more people around back in those darker days, though. What happened to that comradery? At least if my hair’s on fire, people will talk to me and tell me to put the fire out.
Remember how you used to scream at your mom when she beat you so you could barely walk? At least getting attention that way always worked. You could never make her love you, but at least you got her full, viciously undivided focus.
We all know that, in a choice between love and rage, rage is so addictive.
In fact, wasn’t it because of your addictive behavior and unwillingness to positively change your life that your friends said they’d leave you? It doesn’t make sense. You made amazing life changes. You’re happier now than every before. You can converse happily with Mom.
Somehow everyone didn’t get the memo. It’s like they kept warning you that you’re dying from cancer, but then… you got better.
Your friends had no clue about how to deal with The Boy Who Lived.
They tried to be nice and show interest: “What was it like to be dead for a little while? Did you see the white light?”
You: Uh… there is no white light. There is no God. Being dead was the best thing I ever felt. Then the nurse’s alarms went off, scramble and CLEAR, and I was somehow back in the hospital again. Sorry, but it’s not like what you think. Or hope for. It’s just relief.
Long-ish term illness changes everyone except for those afflicted. We all define ourselves around immovable objects, whether it’s grandpa’s cancer or young Janie’s horrific meth problem or Mom’s insistence we take a group photo. The entire social group is affected by it, learns to fight it or operate around it, and deals with it.
It’s especially cruel when God/luck then suddenly heals the sick and raises the dead. Remember Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life? The dead guy was nonplussed; his sisters freaked the fuck out.
“I thought you were dead” really means “I counted on you being dead.”
You emptied the bottle. You started getting into shape. Got a better job. You beat the illness. You made true, genuine, progress. You are happy.
But your wife, your friends, you parents, your co-workers… they aren’t. “Didn’t we pick out a nice tomb and bury him already??” Lazarus’ sisters whispered. They were most angry because Jesus could have saved Lazarus via WiFi, but instead derped around until they paid for the whole damn funeral.
That’s the terrible true life story of being The Boy Who Lived. People had already accepted your death. They came to terms. They grew as human beings. They maybe even made poignant speeches about never forgetting you. They had closure, goddamn it!
Then you got better and their lives got worse. They couldn’t bear to live with a miracle. You practically sweated water from the fountain of youth. You had a peace that comes only from spending time dead, and then snapping back to reality. Oops, there goes gravity.
Actual thing a guy told me recently that shattered me: “Some people can’t stand to see more than a certain amount of healing.” I can’t say I did it for the marriage, then. That’s not the freedom talking.
I did it for me.
The angel of death looks like a little boy without eyes, all of her the color of liquid black. She waited hours until I knew I’d win the fight. I could never hate her.
From this, I emerged a trifle thinner, a great deal wiser, and an ocean sadder.