Today, I turn thirty-five years old.
The parochial school that I attended as a teenager had the motto “Grow in Faith and Wisdom”. It has been my motto since those days of uncertainly. Those days when I thought I knew who I was; only to be torn down again and again.
This year, I stop; pause if you will to reflect on my life and where the current heading is directing me.
It has been a year of so much joy, but also of sorrow. This past year, I had the great honor of meeting a woman named Shannon. From the moment, I met her I knew she was dying. Our first meeting was brief; she hugged me and went off to dance. It was one of the best nights in the past year; filled with new friends and lots of good music.
Our friendship was born in the last months of her life. I sat with her and her family while she was dying. I learned so much for her about strength, which may sound trite or like a cliché, but the truth is she never lost her sense of humor. She laughed and wondered at world even when she as she was leaving it. She fought for every moment of life for herself and her children.
I remember how she marveled when she saw my dragonfly tattoo. She touched in such awe; she loved dragonflies. At that time, her illness had taken its toll on her mind, but she was still smiling. I remember her smiles and how they could reach into a person if they were open to it. She left a mark on my soul that will forever enrich me. Shannon passed away this year and it was my great honor to facilitate her memorial service in the manner she requested.
This is also the year in which I have had more fights with my sister, Ree, than ever before in my life. Our inability to find common ground has been a source of stress for both of us. It is, however, a part of life and one that I am sure that we will conquer together in the next year. We love each other too much to do anything else.
In January, my boyfriend and I were in a hit and run accident. Our car was spun around in intersection. The driver of the SUV parked up the road and walked past us. I was still trapped in the vehicle at the time, cradling my neck with tears running down my cheek. The man wasn’t drunk or high, he was just scared. The police arrested him on the same night.
I didn’t go to the hospital, mostly because I was scared. I didn’t want to be disoriented as well as alone. My neck and upper back were injured. I had to learn to let others help me and not to overdo things. The first month after the accident, I had headaches every day. Six months of physical therapy, I am not in pain every day. There are still bad days, but I don’t complain about the pain as much as I accept it. It is proof that I am still alive. Honestly, that was my attitude throughout the whole thing.
It is also the year that I learned the power of no, once again. I said no to letting others just walking over me and no to letting my dreams pass me by as other work on theirs and no to being unhealthy because I was too busy doing what I believed was expected of me to take care of myself. And finally no to playing by the rules that have hurt me time and time again.
I have also accepted that the parts of me that will always remain childlike and believing in love and happy endings as well as the parts of me that will take on the world no matter what the cost. I have grown to love myself more and reconnected with someone I thought was lost forever. It has indeed been a year that I have grown in faith and wisdom.
Thank you for being a part of my journey by reading this…