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A Letter to My Past, Abled Self

Dear Riya,


I miss you

I grieve for you in every moment

I often think about the future you were building for yourself

And that memory alone illuminates all of my mistakes

All of my shortcomings

All of my barriers

When I think of you

I see you as limitless

I see you as powerful

I wish I had told you that when you were still around


I miss your laughter

It was free

Unafraid of its brevity

It seized the moment and enjoyed it

My laughter is as free as fear lets it be

It is afraid of itself

Because I am afraid of joy

I have taught myself to be content with the anxiety in my stomach

The pain throughout my body

The heaviness of my head

The wetness in my eyes

They make up my unstable, grey life

And whenever joy tries to enter

Everything falls apart

And I think of you


I miss your ideas

They were insightful

They were bold

My ideas have to pass through the turmoil in my head

And sit at the tip of my tongue

Waiting for confidence to grant them approval to enter the world

It rarely does

And when it does

The thought has already lost its passion

And it enters the world broken and flawed


I miss your optimism

You were confident tomorrow will be better

And you always fell asleep excited

Excited for the opportunities you would grasp

Excited for all the wonderful moments you were going to create

A mindset I will always miss and admire

I fall asleep thinking I won’t get to see the sunrise

I fall asleep thinking I will wake up to a harsher reality

I fall asleep worried I will dream of all the things I can never have

I fall asleep feeling unsafe

I haven’t slept peacefully in three years


Sometimes there are moments in which I think you are still here

It feels like you never left

But then I see your dusty tennis trophies

And the medical records saved on my computer

I see your backpack

And I remember you are gone

Leaving behind nothing but memories that become a little hazier every day


People don’t notice that you have left

They see me and think that I am you

Our faces are so similar

Yet our stories are completely different

I wish you were still here to tell yours

To live yours

But no matter how much I pray

No matter how much I wish

No matter how much I sacrifice

I will never be able to bring you back


Part of me finds peace in knowing that you were healthy and happy

What a privilege it is to be healthy

But part of me is also apologetic

Because I didn’t give you love or respect

I’m sorry I didn’t take care of you

I’m sorry I didn’t love you as much as I should have

I’m sorry I didn’t stand up for you

I’m sorry I didn’t cherish you

I’m sorry for it all


I can’t give you the future you deserved

But I can try to accomplish the goals you made for yourself

I can try to be the person you aspired to be

I will do my best for you

I will try to become great in your name





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