Cancer

The Octopus on Your Face. A few months after Maayan was… | by Yaara Writes | Dec, 2021

Yaara Writes

A few months after Maayan was diagnosed, she sent me this image that she found somewhere online, adding to it: “You’re my octopus!”

Friends come and go like the waves of the ocean. But true ones stay, like an octopus on your face.

We lolled, as one does in reaction to funny internet memes, but it was also one of those things that felt *right*. The octopus emoji on WhatsApp, followed by a heart, became our shorthand for “I love you.” for “Thank you for being there”, for “Always”.

When things got worse (because, cancer. They always get worse), Maayan and I decided that we should get an octopus tattoo together. We talked about the different options, and where we would get it — what would be the style, etc. We decided the “watercolor” look was something we both thought was awesome, and we found an image online of a watercolor print of an octopus that seemed to fit both our tastes. We talked about tweaking it to match our favorite colors, where we would get it done, and discussed options of flying to Europe to do it there and make a trip out of it — one more hurrah, so to speak.

Things didn’t work out that way, and it was getting obvious that that wouldn’t happen. In my letter to her, a few months before she died, I talked about all the things we wouldn’t have time to do. Maayan, wanting to make me feel better — and probably also wanting to feel like she would have the ability to be a part of these things, suggested a photo shoot, where we would “act out” the various scenes in our alternate futures. We’d put on white wigs and dress up in old lady clothes, and sit on rocking chairs, shaking our fists. We’d pose in a coffee shop, heads together, gossiping and people watching, being judge-y together. We’d get temporary tattoos of “our” octopus, so that it would still be as if we did it together. The last one was the most important one, and the only one we ended up doing:

Maayan would have hated me putting up this picture, but I kinda like it, despite the depressing tube and lack of proper focus. We’re both cracking up, because Maayan was poking me in the ribs and tickling me. And I couldn’t “fight back” of course — wanting to stay still for the camera, and also because at that point already any physical contact was painful for her. But that didn’t matter — we were both happy there, and excited to be doing this thing we planned, in whatever way we could.

I’m also sad, and Maayan is super high, but that too was part of our lives then. And while I hate thinking about her last few months, I’m still grateful we had them, despite the shittiness of it all.


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