Only Three Words Came to Mind.

I sat at my desk and wrote in my notebook. My mind was scattered and only three words came to mind:

"You'll be okay."

A lump caught in my throat. Was I sure about that? I did know I forgot to take my meds; great start.

I got up, shoved my phone in my pocket; and trudged to the kitchen; hand swirling around in my bag until my hand brushed the familiar plastic prescription bottle. Let me just say that popping an anti psychotic with room temperature water while Basket Case comes up on Spotify shuffle is not an irony lost on me.

Grabbing it to swipe to the next track, I saw the date and came to the crushing realization that it was only a few days away from the six month anniversary of my dad's passing from cancer.

"You'll be okay."

It's been a weird six months. It crawled away from me but my head has been spinning since before dad died. Hell, it's been two weird years.

* June 2018: Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and severe anxiety

* September 2018: Passenger in a major car accident

* October 2018: Dad diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer

* November 2018: Cast of a major docuseries

* January 2019: Officially start autism advocacy work

* July 2019: Mum leaves work to become dad's full time at home caretaker

* Christmas 2019: Accept dad's final Christmas as he is taken by ambulance a little while after dinner. He came home around 1 AM on Boxing Day. His wishes always included no hospital stays.

* January 12th, 2020: He died at approximately 3 AM in his Red Cross bed in the living room

"You'll be okay."

I've been learning how to live without my father.

I had bottled everything up for the two years after his diagnosis. It did nothing but lead to a prescription of two milligrams of generic Abilify a day for the mood swings and fixations. Riding slight waves of hypomania is often easier than looking at the memory altar on the living room bookcase; hypomania gets me moving, the trauma makes my knees crumble as salt pillars. At least the little green pills are enough to keep me vibrating from upset at 2 PM during work.

Writing helps. I still lose the ability to speak about dad sometimes: I'm not sure if it's an autistic trait or an anxious one. I can crack a joke or laugh at one, but my tongue falls into the pit of my jaw if I try to talk about how hard it's been. I told the intake nurse for grief therapy that I don't know how to manage phone appointments around the topic. I never received an appointment date.

"You'll be okay."

I keep myself busy now. Personal projects give me a sense of focus and accomplishment even though some days still feel like drowning.

Conrad was with me in spirit as I was asked by a federal Party member to collaborate on autism strategies on a national level. He was created, hosted, and led the first-ever Pride march in my town back in June. He's with me when I send out emails to set up briefings for documentary interviewees. He sits on my wrist via the bracelet he gave me or at my throat in his memorial necklace. He'll be with me when I upgrade with high school courses and when I graduate with a Masters in mental health specialized Occupational Therapy.

He's with me.

I'll be okay.

Taylor Linloff is a queer they/them femme from Cape Breton Island, Canada. An autistic advocate and freelancer, they started their advocacy journey as a cast member of CBC's "You Can't Ask That" docuseries. Linloff is currently working on "A Strong Name," a passion project documentary exploring the realities of autistic rural life.


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