I woke up this morning feeling depressed. This isn’t exactly something new for me—there’s a reason why I’m on Wellbutrin AND Prozac (even if they are super low doses)—it’s just that it’s New Year’s Day and aren’t you supposed to be happy on January 1?

The thing is, it’s hard to feel happy when your husband’s thoughts heading into the new year are along the lines of, “I’m just wasting away on dialysis” and “I’m not going to get a kidney. I had my one chance and I blew it.”

Fun times, right?

Not really, but that’s our reality. I try to reassure him that he’s not wasting away on dialysis—that dialysis is allowing him to live and it’s up to him and us how we utilize the time we do have. I try to be positive and hopeful and tell him that of course he’ll get another kidney, because even though I struggle with depression I can be a weirdly positive person. And, to be honest, if I allowed myself to stop being positive it would just send me—us—into a downward spiral that takes months to crawl out of. I tell him all the time that he did nothing to lose that kidney—nothing. It was a series of really unfortunate events, but he did everything he was supposed to to take care of that kidney. In the end, the stupid BK Virus just got to it, though.

I know some people would say, “I guess God had other plans.” And sometimes I even think that. But then I wonder, what purpose could any of this possibly serve? I’ve never understood why bad things—tragic things, even—happen to good people. And I hate the platitude, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Because, seriously, the God I believe in isn’t a masochist.

So sometimes I wonder if maybe God isn’t actually a fiction writer. I mean, we fiction writers are taught to put our characters through hell and to push them as far as they could possibly be pushed before giving them their happy ending. And in romance, our Black Moment is usually that moment when it looks like maybe (but everyone knows not really, because romance) the hero and heroine won’t manage to work their shit out and won’t find a Happy Ever After (or even a Happy For Now) when it’s all said and done. So if God is a fiction writer, and we’re all just characters in this massive novel He’s writing, our Black Moment has to be close to concluding, right? Because I don’t think even Stephen King would torture his characters this much.

I really do wonder, though, what purpose this all serves. I mean, most of our friends have abandoned us and the people who haven’t abandoned us just try to act like nothing’s really wrong. Because let’s face it, Phillip doesn’t actually look like he’s sick. Sometimes people will notice his fistula and ask him what happened to his arm, but other than that he looks like a fairly healthy 30-something year old man who just happens to be blind. He’s not in a wheelchair or having to use a walker or cane. He still has all of his limbs and appendages (thank God). Basically, he can’t see and he can’t pee (Phillip came up with that one, just FYI), but it’s not like he was in the habit of peeing in front of people other than me anyway.

But that’s the problem with chronic illnesses—you often CAN’T see them. I mean, you can’t see fibromyalgia or Crohn’s disease or thyroid disease or PCOS. You can see some of the indicators (like being overweight thanks to thyroid disease and PCOS, or extra body hair thanks to PCOS, or super dry skin thanks to thyroid disease…) but overall, that person looks fairly healthy. If someone’s lost a leg you can SEE that. If a woman’s had a mastectomy thanks to breast cancer, you can see that. If someone’s on chemo and has lost all their hair? Yup, you can see it. But you can’t see kidney disease.

So it’s easy for people to brush it aside, pretend like it doesn’t exist, or just forget (although how you forget that I have no idea, but whatever). People don’t understand why you’re tired all the time or why you don’t want to be hugged sometimes (because smells are getting to you and you’re trying not to puke your brains out) or why you prefer to sit outside during family gatherings rather than inside where there are dozens of strong, competing smells.

No one likes to feel forgotten.

So I’m sitting here on New Year’s Day, thinking about all the shit I have to get done before I go back to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to do any of it. I’m trying to think of different things I can do to find a kidney for husband, to give him some hope. And right now I’ve got nothing, other than the small flame of hope that I never let die.

Because even though I might question what purpose this all serves and why God would put us through this, I do know that as long as you have hope you have SOMETHING.