“On This Day, The Weight of Chronic Illness” by Michelle Hanlon

Final Girl door in trees
I am going to brush my teeth.

I am going to eat a banana.

Then. I am going to write a to-do list. I will not go overboard and put a whole bunch of things on it because I plan to accomplish all of the things on that list.

I can do this. When I feel hung up today, or in the next hour, or in the next 10 minutes, I will tell myself…I can do this.

I will say, “You can do this.”

I will scrunch my toes on the tile as I stand in front of the fridge to remind myself how awesome it is to walk around. I will feel the tile’s coolness and texture with my toes, and really acknowledge how awesome each of my little piggies are. And legs. Thank you legs.

I will remind myself that this is a marathon, this is the hand I have been dealt, this is a part of my reality.

I will not feel pity for myself because it is the 4th of July and I want to go light things on fire and watch them explode in colors, and I want to be around others and hear the murmur of conversations and waves of laughter swell and fade and swell again. If I need to cry, I will do it. Once. But I will not stay there.

I will take a shower. Because I am gross—I mean really gross.

I am at the bottom of an abandoned well. No one is coming to save me and it’s up to me to claw my way out, all the way to the top. It is gray and dank and there are no places to really grip or any footholds to dig my toes into. The piece of visible sky is overcast and so far away. It is lonely down there, and I feel like I have nothing to draw upon.

The weight of emptiness is heavy.

I will tell myself, “You can do this.”

I am going to enjoy sitting in the shower as the water falls on me. I will stay in that moment and enjoy it and not think about the process of getting out of the shower or getting dressed or the fact that I still need to brush my teeth.

When I am brushing my teeth I will think, you are standing here and that is enough.



Michelle Hanlon is a compulsive list maker. Some of her favorite things: summer nights in West Texas, the first sip of coffee on a dark morning, and the Oxford comma. Her work can be seen in apt. and Burningword Literary Journal.