A survivor (times 2) …

One year ago today I woke up early and headed for the gym. I did some speed-work and clocked my fastest 1/4 mile (7:13). Not to shabby! I went home and continued on with my typical morning routine. Then I headed to my dental cleaning. This would be that last time I would feel like myself for months.

Later that day I would find myself in an ER with symptoms I was all to familiar with. I was sick. And despite the fact that no one believed me I knew my body. I had meningitis. Again.

Today is the one year anniversary of my second round of meningitis. Still with so many questions left unanswered. That alone is a demon I must face every day. I have become obsessed with Facebook memories. Trying to find some clue as to how I got so sick so fast. Again. There is nothing there. Nothing. I finished a week of 100,000 logged on my Fitbit. I mention twitchy legs, crazy fast speed-work and a rest weekend. It was to be a well deserved break from my training that was going better than I ever could have hoped for. I was strong and healthy. Race ready. There was nothing in those memories that would indicate that I would become so sick in just mere hours. How can anyone’s brain be that swollen and they not show any signs or symptoms?!?! It’s baffling. Utterly.

There are days that I still feel like a ticking time-tomb. I’m not sure if that feeling will ever go away. The memory of this experience and the fall-out afterward will always be unsettling. The “unknowns” are worrisome at best. But I refuse to cave into fear and let it immobilize me. Life is too precious for that. I thought battling meningitis once was bad enough. Twice, just seems insulting. But I truly believe that life gives us lessons for reasons. Reasons we might not ever understand. And THAT gives me my peace. Trust me, I can easily focus on all the things that this illness has robbed me of. How disruptive it was to, not just my life, but my family’s and friends’ lives as well. I can resent the fact that I still don’t feel like myself and that I fear it happening all over again. I can focus on the anger I feel when I see my precious kids worrying about my smallest of ailments. Children shouldn’t have to worry like that! OH, if meningitis was a person I would have punched it in the throat long ago!

Anyway, as I see it I have two options. I can choose the road paved with anxiety, fear and bitterness … OR … I can be thankful that I even had a road in the first place.

Let’s face it, life is not always easy. Crap happens through no fault of our own. But life can still be beautiful. I’d be lying if I said this illness hasn’t changed me. It has. I am not the same woman who woke up on this day a year ago. I am, for better or worse, the Jennifer I was supposed to be on this day and in this moment. Meningitis helped shaped me. And I’m OK with that. I am an ever-evolving woman who accepts that change and defeat and pain are an acceptable way to form me into the woman I am meant to be. Meningitis was a pit stop. OK fine, TWO. But it wasn’t my final destination. God and the universe clearly are not done with me yet and that’s good … because I still have dreams. And as long as I have breath, scared or not, I will chase them.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are a survivor (times 2)!!!

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Proud … 

If I had to describe this past school year I would describe it as CHALLENGING. It started off as any other year had … and then craziness ensued. Getting sick is one of the most selfish things I could have ever done to my kids, my family and my friends. It derailed all of us.

Do I really believe it was my fault?

No. Of course not. But I still feel a tremendous sense of guilt especially when it comes to my kids. They needed me and there were days when I could hardly lift my head. My heart broke each time I couldn’t do something for them. I was angry when they had to struggle without me. They had to step it up and do so much on their own. Things that I normally would do for them or with them. They missed out on our talks. Moments that they used to deflate from their day or share their excitements. They handled stress and problems without me. Again. It broke me.

Today my son George graduates from high school. Goodness I love this kid of mine! He is gentle, kind, compassionate and brilliant. And throughout this past school year he grew into so much more. He matured naturally but also because he had to. He didn’t fight it. He never acted out. He wasn’t bitter. He just went with it. He helped so much. He took on so much. And he accomplished so much. As painful (and wonderful) as it is to admit this, my baby boy grew up in what seems like a few short months. He had to.

Today feels surreal. I want to cry because it’s over and cry from a sense of relief. This was a tough school year but George did it. He finished despite the curve balls life threw at us. And he somehow managed to thrive.

If we are lucky, as parents, sometimes we get a glimpse of reassurance that our kids are READY to take on the world. They get it. They can do this. Those moments when we see clearly that they are exactly what God meant them to be in this time and in this place. I gratefully had many of these moments this school year. They came as a result of time and nature but also out of pain and need. I don’t believe anything happens by chance so I cannot look back on this school year bitterly. All the events that unfolded have delivered us to this day. My baby boy’s graduation day. He got here precisely how he needed to and in a way that has left him better and more capable. What an amazing young man he has become. Indeed.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are proud!!!