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The Grief of Growing Up

"Dropping in" a Poem journaled to me, but shared in case it is

A notebook containing a painting of a skull that has plants growing from its angles and a yellow globe between the eye sockets

meaningful to someone else

January 29 3:58am - A Page a Day

Late at night, moving home to where you grew up feels like moving to a new house built over sacred burial ground.

How can I sleep under these adult color sage green sheets when I am right on top of this plot of barely grassed over soil? Just shut my eyes and pretend that these tiny plants are not glossing over the grave of what was. A glossing over of everything I was. Doesn’t it feel like closure is just too welcome here too soon.

A relapse

never again

a relapse

never again

a relapse

never again

a pandemic

a trauma

a relapse

relief… oh a relief

life in color

a goofy life

an intoxicating love story

a loss

an illness

just arthritis and anxiety nausea



a fat girl with severe malnutrition

a loss

a failure

a surgery

another surgery

a word wide exhaustion

a realization

a resilience


a dog

a loss

24 candles

It just happened.

It just happened. A lot has happened.

But The dandelions in this grave plot of a the solid soil of a foundation of a home of the sweet girl who fought for 24 year old me... they are fed by her decay.

She thought we would change the world in the big city by 22.

A child grappling with shame that runs far deeper than her weak wrists can dig, a kid pushing away an abusive relationship to death but intoxicated by a fear of living in so much depression amongst the alive people for decades to come. A girl busy and bold and still able to loudly and proudly carry and speak such hope... to genuinely hold on to the idea that if this depression doesn’t win.... she will have at least set up plenty of good to do instead.

An obsessive but gorgeous backup plan each day drawn out to fit coping skills and hopes and homework and friend groups. A talent to make space for hell and hair colors and honor rolls in the same week week. A masking that was also a making.

A belief that a story does not need to have a picturesque happy ending to have been one of the best written.

What a daily madness it must have taken for this lost girl to allow herself to hold a space for a version of the story where she is gone tragically at 16 after her next surprise episode, and one where she is destined to save lives of 17 year olds some day as a top social mental health researcher.

How would I tell her that this life as she knows it and the world as she saw it is in a casket now.

A slim one, a bit too light for her age and genetics but not of public concern, lined with award certificates that will biodegrade faster than her tired weak bones ever will.

I feel it in the earth below me now as I lay here, but its presence shines through all over this house and town too. In every mirror I have looked in at my waistline, changed by illness, and every sidewalk spot I once loved on my too-long walks. I feel the grief in every corner of our high school where I now coach speech. I peek into rooms and wonder if the new faces and books and tired girls and wonder if they know they are protected by the hope before them, that I wondered about them once while wearing knee socks and cardigans across the same sacred ground.

How do I tell this lost teenager that I’m none of the big things she is torturing her self for me to become. 

How do I tell her I did recover from the depression but got brutally sick and burdensome in similar ways anyways.

How do I tell her I disagree with her faith and politics but miss her and see so much of her in me and my friends. Do I tell her that I skip so many of her stories and can’t walk past her church on a Sunday without panicking? I think her and I both know she tried everything to god her way away from the hurt of people.

I’m glad to think she helped me find my god in hurting people instead. I think she'd be proud of that.

I grieve her like I grieve opinionated lost grandmas

But she is gone. There is no going back.

Only healing.

Only no longer denying.

Only mess.

Only hoping.


I roll on to my puffy stomach and whisper down towards the ground all I think she needs to hear

All I need to hear

“Katie I’m back, I’m here, I'm grateful for who you are. I won’t abandon you again.”

It’s nothing.

But as a goodbye to someone who feels and does so much,

I hope some nothing turns out to be a gift.

I hope these slowed years of medication and hospitals instead of world-changing research are someday a kind gift to us both.

I hope I write this poem again in ten years

Offering us both a little more nothing.

A little more peace

A little more time to grieve

A reminder that

It takes the quiet of nothing to rest.

And it is okay to allow some parts of who we are

Who we were

Who we could be

to rest in peace.

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