• Emily Cashel

Who I Once Was

I once was blissfully

and naively oblivious,

a little girl who was unaware

and who didn't peak around corners

or tip-toe through the world

and I often look back with

a sense of longing for that innocent life

I once laid in the grass,

barefoot and carefree,

no fear of the roots or hidden catastrophes

lurking beneath the surface

and seeing everything

that could go wrong

before seeing everything

that could go right

I once wore make-up and big hoops,

a girl who loved getting all dressed up

with somewhere to go

and driving in my car

I couldn't help but to sing-along

with the melody of an open road

Like most, I didn't know the meaning

of words like Babesia or Bartonella,

and I hadn't considered the possibility

of being chronically ill

because even a head cold that lasted

only four days was seen

as a nuisance

And while such a reality now seems worlds away,

there had been a time when my head

didn't always feel like

it would float off into space

and when my brain wasn't overstuffed

with cotton fuzz

It once felt like my

life was just beginning

and not as though,

at the age of eighteen,

it was about to end

I used to be more than

just a host for a parasite,

the home to a bacteria

that wanted to play

Oh, but what am I good for now?

Who I am has become so

closely entwined with this disease

I fear we will never be separated,

I will never be free

The anger in me boils over

and the burden of such sadness

threatens to drag me down,

these emotions like a ball and chain,

one never without the other

and their combined weight enough

to pull me under

I think of this girl I was

and the woman she could have become

were it not for the interference

of a monster called Lyme,

and I mourn for her

But I also strive to embrace

the new person I see reflected in the mirror,

the one who is stronger because of it

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