I wanted to take part in GISHWHES.
It didn’t sit well with me, the idea of joining. I didn’t like the idea of committing to something knowing how likely circumstances would be that I’d be a name on a screen and not a participant. Hels’s days varied from decent, to shitty. Then I remember how much time has passed since their diagnosis. It fits. I wish it didn’t. But I didn’t tag those entries ‘Life’s Inevitability,’ for nothing.
I settled for what I was willing to do in prior years: offer to help, if I could. Someone would post the list somewhere, so it’d be available. I could peruse it and see if there was something I could help with.
Then I got a message with registration’s close fast approaching; asking if I’d perhaps I’d join their team. I relayed my hesitation; it felt unfair to go in knowing I could abruptly be gone. I was assured it’d be OK, and perhaps, maybe there’d be points of light, spots of joy during that week.
I didn’t know how much I needed it.
I knew on some level but like every instance of imagining something, it pales compared to the actual experience.
When GISHWHES was over for this year, I knew.
I needed it.
I didn’t know how much stress I’d been swimming in. I didn’t even know I was swimming. It scares me sometimes; how easily stress does its work, how fast. I figure I’m tired because I’m still trying to shift my night owl hours to rooster hours. I figure I’m tired because I’m trying to stuff so much in a day to whittle down lists of things that need sorting. I figure I’m tired because work is busy,busy, busy. I figure I’m tired for all sorts of reasons except that my stress levels are beyond in the red. And I don’t know why. It’s sounds so easy to throw out a ‘Maybe it’s stress.’
It pretty much has to feel like an epiphany.
‘Oh, hey, maybe it’s that thing. Since you kind of have a lot to be stressed out about.’
‘Uh..yeah. A LOT. Exhibit A, a thought you had not too long ago: ‘Dying requires so much paperwork it’s fucking bullshit.’ See that? -pokes- Stress.’
Hindsight et al.
On one of her good days, Hels snapped my locale rep pic and I let it happen despite how much I don’t like/want pictures of myself (an entry allll on its own). I don’t like the picture. In fact I loathe it. But I like that she was the one that snapped it that day- that’s the thousand words I see when I look at it. I see the look on her face whilst looking at the screen, waiting for everything to be right so she could snap that picture. I see the moment- she’s looking at me via that screen and it’s the look of a parent casting their gaze on their child, proud, happy. I’ll never have to wonder if Hels was proud of me. She told everyone she was. She told me, she was. She said it again looking at me through that screen. I see the smile on her face when she quips at me, knowing she’s gotten me good after I remind her she’s no the boss of me.
‘I’ll ALWAYS be the boss of you.’
I see the satisfied smile when she gets the pics she wanted. I loathe that picture, but I love its words. I can see her taking it as if it happened a moment ago. I’ll have that for the rest of my days. I’ll have that Hels liked seeing me making things again instead of living from work day to work day. I did too. She’d ask about my art projects, smirked a little when I showed her that ‘youed’ was actually a conjugated form when I’d run a poem by her, trying to finalize it for an item.
I’ve gotten the privilege to connect with wonderful people that I easily call my friends. People that cheered each other on. That offered assistance. That have shown great kindness towards each other, let alone turning it out to the world. People that forged a type of motto from combined typos, excitement, and the kinds of silliness that births smiles and feel-good laughter. That when tasks felt like they weren’t goan someone’s way, there were multiple voices sending out reminders we were in it for the fun of it, no stress.
Having the chance to be part of that, is a great kindness in and of itself; one I’ll never forget. And it was gift to someone my team never ‘met.’
‘How did your ‘art projects’ go?’
‘It’ll be a while yet before results are in’
‘Youse lot probably did good. It sounded like it’
Hels died before the counts came in, but she was right. We did good.
Thank you my beloved Banshees and GISHWHES. You gave us that.