This morning my husband woke me to tell me that the ground was covered in snow, he knows I love that sight. It made the morning peaceful and magical. As Mermaid and I listened to Frank Sinatra on the way to school with flakes falling; I glanced back at her in my rear view mirror gazing at the snow-covered trees and thought to myself, Happiness.
I spent the past few weeks writing down all the moments in my day that made me go Ahhhhh…. those times something really struck me as a moment of gratitude. My list is big to say the least; coffee, warm showers, my readers, my Husbands strength, parents that live close, co-workers that thank me when they don’t need too and so on. It’s certainly proof in itself that I truly am blessed, but towards the middle of the list it says “CLOSURE”, I remember the day I wrote this and I think looking back on my year, closure is absolutely the thing I am most grateful for throughout this chapter in my life.
I speak very little about the struggles I have faced both physically and emotionally over the past 4 years. It hasn’t been all bad, don’t get me wrong, there have been amazing times as well, but a little more difficult to navigate. To save you from a novel I will share the lowlights of this time. I use to work for an extraordinary Physician named Dr. Andrew Lum. Someone I considered more of a Father figure than a co-worker. He taught me skills beyond my ordinary reach, compassion and life lessons I use to this day. He had this infectious laugh and he and I often got carried away in our jokes and joy. Work didn’t feel like work with him, he changed my view of medicine and what it means to help people. Andy fell ill in the fall and was off for a short while as they attempted to find a cause. On Dec 5th 2011 I received a message from him that he would be returning to work that following week. That was the last normal conversation I ever held with Andy; and the beginning of many difficult changes for myself.
Shortly after that message Andy was placed into a medically induced coma, he had complications from a disease called myoendocarditis. Multiple clots, aneurysms, brain surgeries. He never returned. I visited Andy in the hospital, care facilities and then I stopped. As far as I was concerned the man I knew no longer existed, he couldn’t walk, talk, eat, laugh, he was lost; and it only brought me pain and anger to see what he had become.
During this time I was blessed with the gift of my baby girl, despite being told it may never happen. Unfortunately that blessing came with an extremely difficult pregnancy, for those present they can understand just how challenging it really was – and no – I don’t just mean the part about me being an asshole. Though I feel absolutely no regret for throwing away your lunches. I had a tough delivery which resulted in an emergency C-section and despite being over the moon about our new edition to the family, I was struggling to heal and felt ill constantly.
Upon my return from maternity leave I switched positions within my company in hopes to leave some of my sadness surrounding Andy behind and better my hours for our little one; but right after doing so is when Mermaid was diagnosed with LEN. I struggled to come to terms with her condition, an incurable disease just did not sit well with me, and was still fighting a physical illness. I remember my first year in my new position, I sat behind my office door and cried three out of five days a week. I cried about Mermaid, I cried about being sick and in pain. I cried about being somewhere new and not knowing people the way I did at my past clinic, I just cried.
At the beginning of this year I had a hysterectomy. I handled it well, I knew it had to happen and understood its importance for my health. I was strong about it. Until about 2 weeks later. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed and out of nowhere, I lost it. I sobbed. I was completely overwhelmed with grief. I knew I had no other choice in that situation and maybe that’s what it was, the not being in control of my own body and happenings, I wasn’t pining for more children but having that right to decide taken from you… hurts. My Husband held me for a few minutes and told me he understood and I knew he did. I stood up, brushed myself off and never looked back.
Over the next few months I started to heal physically and emotionally. I found my roots in my new office and the idea of this, of Mommy’s Mermaid, started to take shape. Re-directing my negative energy to something positive allowed me to move past the shadows I had been living in for several years and find my happy motivated self again, but something was still lingering.
About a week ago I got see Andy. The progression he had made was nothing short of a miracle in my eyes. He recognized me, we talked, he walked, he laughed – oh did he laugh. We hugged and hugged again, his amazing wife Dale joined in on the hugs and told me all the wonderful things happening in their lives. It dawned on me while visiting that I had turned away when Andy became lost, but he was now found again. Perhaps it was because I was just as lost at that time and had nothing left to give. Despite the reasons, we sat there together again, both with our recent new findings of strength and I walked away with a full and happy heart. That day, below Eddie Vedder, I wrote down “CLOSURE.”
Had I not traveled the road I did the past few years I don’t know how genuine my feeling of “happiness” would have been this morning as I glanced back at Mermaid, but it was. The fight to overcome and come out the other side makes victory sweet.
I now have closure on Andy and I’s rocky journey and know he is happy. I have closure on my families journey to expand and can look to the future with my health, and I have closure to my fear of Mermaid’s disease because I have all of you to walk through it with me.
It’s that time of year where we look back at what we are thankful for and yes, I am thankful for my friends, my family, my home and my job, but this year – I am most thankful for closure. As this chapter closes and another one opens I thank my family and friends for sticking through it all with me, but most of all, I thank my best friend, my husband. For he stood strong as I crumbled and continuously picked me up, He watched my health deteriorate, my happiness disintegrate and yet still, believed in me. He loved me through it all, To you I say: “Il n’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé.” – There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.
“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” ― Ellen Goodman
I asked friends and family to share with me what they are thankful for this year in words or a picture and how joyous it was to hear them share…
“The love of good man, a roof over my head, my family’s health, my adorable nephew and my niece that’s due the day after Thanksgiving, a job I enjoy, the best friend’s a girl could ask for…”
“I’m thankful for peace on earth where there is peace, thankful for coworkers and friends I CAN TRUST, thankful for my daily LITTLE struggles as they keep me going, keeping me thankful and my mind open:)”
“I’m thankful I still have a friend like you in my life. “ (and I for you my little cajun partner)
“Working in health care, particularly Oncology and the kind of illness I see people with day-to-day I am thankful for mine and my family’s health this year.”
My personal favorite…
“Many chances… not just the second but the third, fourth and tenth as well – and possibly more.”
My how we should all be thankful for chances.
And the pictures? Love them… Can you tell were from the Northwest?
I challenge you all to think about what you are REALLY thankful this year.
Looking forward to a year full of joy and adventures!
Hoping this week’s Holiday greets you all with good health and good spirits!
Thanks for walking with us today,