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“And she don't fade, the ghost in you, she don't fade. Inside you the time moves, and she don't fade.” - Psychedelic Furs, “The Ghost in You”

It’s the beginning of a new year and my husband has finally begun shredding the boxes of old tax documents that were threatening to overtake our tiny garage.

I’ve nagged him for a little over a year now because you know ... men . Anyhoo, since it’s been more than 10 years since my first dx there were a few boxes going back to the early days of my diagnosis and treatment and within those folders were some interesting relics. Among our finalized tax documents were folders that held the business plan from my now defunct ceramic business, ticket stubs from a trip to Washington DC, letters to Santa from my boys, and copay receipts ... so. many. copay receipts. And in the bottom of the box an long ago expired drivers license.

My husband held it up and said, “hey, look at this!” I turned, saw it and told him without pause to toss it.

I didn’t even want to look at it. I had to explain, in the simplest of terms, that I don’t recognize that woman. I don’t know her anymore. He was puzzled and thought this was some mid-life crisis thing because I’m going to be 50 soon and the young woman on that license was just 38.

He couldn’t have been more wrong. I love the fact that I’m going to be 50. I’m lucky that I’m going to be 50. Mid-life crisis? Ain’t nobody got time for that kind of indulgence.

The woman in that government issued picture was different. She had bigger hopes, exciting dreams, and a secure future. She was the ghost of who I used to be. She was untainted by illness. Her hair was thick and beautiful and her body unscarred; there was no fear behind her eyes. It hurt to look at her the way it hurts to look at the sun. I missed her, or at least the idea of her.

“I buried her” I sobbed.

“Buried? You’re right here. Don’t be so morbid.”

“I’m not morbid. I’m different.”

“Well, I remember her,” Pete said, “and she’s not half the woman you are now. And you’d have never been you without her. There are old pictures of you all around the house. Are you telling me you never look at them?”

“No, I do, they don’t bother me - but that one does because it was taken just a few months before I found out I was sick. I was so naive.”

“Well, it was this young woman that had an unwritten book inside of her. It’s this young woman that had the dynamic to barrel through treatment and then in turn had enough fire inside of her to help others. Hundreds of others. Don’t dismiss her.”

“Dammit, I hate when you’re right.”

“I know, and I’m keeping this picture.” He said with a smile as he walked toward his dresser.

I’m going to let the light in. I’m not going to let my ghosts haunt me anymore - they made me who I am, and though sometimes it’s scary to see them hiding in the periphery, unexpected and unannounced, facing them head on makes all the difference in the world.

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