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Carrie Armstrong Headshot

For My Angels

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From illness to wellness is a journey much like any other in life. It's a road you embark on alone, but if you are lucky enough you meet felllow travellers along the way. And like many journeys, not every traveller gets to see the final destination. For those who fell by the wayside and never reached this place, I send this to you, with all my love, as ever.

It's that time of year again when the nativity scenes start appearing in the windows of those who like to put them up. As ever I get out the insane nativity decoration you gave to me-swearing as ever that I must be the only person I know who's nativity scene takes place inside a hollowed out coconut. Who on earth thought of that? And where the hell you even found it is beyond me. But I remember you giving it to me clear as day.

It took a lot to make me laugh back then. I was so sick and so thin that I would have been too afraid to look in a mirror-even if I'd been able to hold my head up long enough to look in one. But you told me I looked great. A kind lie, (one of so many kindnesses) and you gave me that crazy-assed hollowed out coconut with Jesus in the manger and I laughed til I hurt.

It was my goodbye present from you before you left to go back to your lives in America, because your treatment was over. We swore we would see each other again very soon. That I would be walking by then and working and eating and all sorts of wonderful things. We'd spent the past few weeks in the same treatment centre in Central America and bonded like sisters. When the treatment hurt we would lie there and cry, (it was always nicer to have someone to cry with, we all agreed) and when it didn't hurt we would lie listening to music or the gekko's going mad with each other on the ceiling.

Or we'd talk. Endlessly we would talk about all the amazing things we were going to do with our lives when we were well. All the places we'd go and people we'd see. How happy we would always be and how we'd always feel like the luckiest people alive having made it through this part to the other side.

I'll never understand why I am the one who is still here. Why you both are gone. I who was by far the most average of the three of us. Who physically had the longest journey back to normality. I who will never be described as brilliant, who does not speak 8 languages, nor attended Harvard. Who has nothing remarkable to my name. Why it is I who sit here thinking of you, long after you are gone from this place. About the things we will never do together, The places unseen, the memories we never got the chance to make.

I can do all of the things you always said I'd be able to now. And more. So much more you wouldn't believe. I don't know if you know that, but it's true. It did all turn out really well in the end. The road was quite long, but I got here. You were right about that. Of course you were always both much smarter than me so you would be right.

I don't know about heaven. I'm not sure if it's a place you are both sitting in watching me take out this ridiculous coconut nativity scene, and thinking of you both (as I so often do). I do believe that we are all from love, and that we all return to love when this part of our journey is done. I do know that I love you both now as much as I ever did when you were here with me. That will never change the older I get, and the further time takes me from you, and then.

I hope you are happy. I hope that my attempts to at least try to do your memory justice hit the mark sometimes. I hope that if I try hard enough, a whisper of that brilliance that came so naturally to both of you might bless me from time to time. And as I light a candle for each of you tonight, next to the world's most flamboyant nativity scene. I will tell myself as ever that you are both free now. Wandering but no longer lost. Resting but no longer tired.

Sleep well my angels. I hope I am making you proud

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