a friend of mine asked me how i was feeling. not just about life or anything. specifically how i was feeling as the one year loop came to a close. one year. a year. a whole freaking twelve months. it’s a significant period of time. for basically anything. we celebrate another year of life. we celebrate a year married or a year with a partner. a year sober or a year completed in school. we pause to commemorate a year at at job or we reflect back on a year of memories. so for me, this was a year that brought a lot of feeling. and honestly, much of the day went by without giving much thought to the week we are currently in or the days that i am finding myself getting through. but it’s been a year. one year ago, i was unknowingly exposed and infected with what would set my year ablaze. and it wasn’t until like three forty this afternoon that it hit me. a year. a whole freaking year. and honestly the only emotion i can truly place a word on is overwhelmed. not in the way you might think. no, it’s just overwhelming to look back on the last three hundred and sixty five days and not flinch a little. and so when i broke down in the shower just four hours ago, it was because the weight of the year had finally tipped me. i found myself in near gut wrenching tears holding the shower wall. because the year was heavy and massive. because the year was sad and full of obstacles. because the year was filled with fear and anxiety and true exhaustion. and it pushed me into a reflective space [i am letting y’all know that ‘it pushed me into a reflexive space’ better be on my tombstone]. and there i was. flooded with all that the last year had been. awful and miserable and painful and terrifying. the last year had been a massive loss of independence and identity and pushed me into the cracks and crevices of my very own existence. and as i am standing there in the shower, tears pouring down my face, one year after being infected by a deadly virus, it hits me. a whole yearly flashback. of the early days of quarantine. of the crippling back pain. of the scars from failed iv attempts. of the consent forms. of the coding of the patient across the hall. the one who died while i fought to live. of the forty two days of isolation. of the walks alone every day to regain my lung capacity. of the biopsies. each one coming back worse and worse. of the three fateful words. ‘you have cancer.’ of the chemo treatments and infections. the mrsa. the hair loss. the blistering skin. the sheer pain and exhaustion. the toll on my body. the white flag after a horrific november. a killer surgery and twelve hours under the knife. the sheer agony coming off pain medications and the absolute meltdowns in an open back hospital gown. learning to walk upright and get in and out of bed. facing my own skin and skeleton everyday and coming to a place of acceptance. spending the year advocating every day. for my health and for my body. working tirelessly to build a safe space for my body and mind. healing slowly and doing it all. the whole year flooded to me in just a matter of moments.
and i realized in that whole year. in that whole span of time. that horrific season. in that whole year. i never gave up. in the moments that i wanted to throw in the towel. in the moments that made me want to hurl a brick at the universe or scream into a pillow. in the moments that literally shaved me down to the barest base. in the moments that crushed me. in the moments that broke my heart and tore my spirit. i still rose. and did it. for what felt like a lifetime. a year of hard moments. a year of sadness and grief. and as the days ahead show some brightness and glimmers of hope, i find myself looking at a whole lot of healing. emotional and physical. the medical trauma stops me in my tracks most days. the reminders of the days when my health was in crisis mode. when the fever raged for weeks on end and the pain was crippling. but i didn’t give in to the noise. to the parts of my body that wanted to stop. to the scared and tired parts of me that were on their knees, begging for a break. i crawled forward. inched my way through it. because one of the things i have come to discover in all of this is that HEALING. IS. NOT. LINEAR. caps lock baby. healing doesn’t happen overnight. healing doesn’t happen in such a way that you can mark the checkpoints off as you go. nope. healing is up and then it’s down. sometimes it feels like you are pedaling and going absolutely nowhere. sometimes you reach a milestone and then you cry for three days. healing meets no one‘s expectations. and it can feel excruciating even on the best of days. but it ain’t linear. and it ain’t fun. and i am in the new stages of healing. the days are filled with processing trauma, welcoming self acceptance, finding grace in the process, unpacking the layers of self discovery and healing from the year. some days look beautiful. with routines and walks and healthy habits. where it almost feels like my life before illness. and other days, i cry before i even make it out of my bed. where anger and grief and sadness cover me before i can even open my eyes. where the pain of the hard year clouds the sky and everything feels heavy. and there are moments of light and glimmers of hope. and it’s a messy mix. but in this, i remind myself that i can do hard things. i have done hard things. and even though healing is hard and even though this part of the journey brings pain and sadness too; i refuse to give up. i refuse to give in. i refuse to break down. because even when the going got tough, i got tougher.
a year. a whole freaking year. one in which i learned that i am more than i ever thought possible. i lost more than i ever imagined. i buried so much of myself. i said goodbyes to parts of myself that built me and held me and carried me. i broke down so many times and stumbled too many times to count. i was battered and bruised and shattered. and all in a year. but i kept going. i kept going. and i made it here. one full year later. and the healing process is hard. it’s painful and it’s gruesome and it shoves me into hard corners and uncomfortable spaces. where i am forced to confront the demons from the year. where i struggle to look at it all head on but know i have to make space for it. so that i can walk forward carrying it more comfortably. it makes me tear up. the arrival of a year on the mark. to acknowledge the hardness of a year. to recognize the year that broke me and built me. and to be able to say to myself ‘i am so proud of you. for not giving up. even when you wanted to. even when it felt like the only option. you never gave up.’ giving up is easy. pushing forward is hard. but it brought me here. to heal. and maybe that’s what’s worth it.
a year. measured by so many stumbles and falls. so many pricks and prods. so many tears and sleepless nights. but more importantly, a year. measured in strength. in immense courage. in small steps and big victories. measured in all the hard moments when i didn’t give up. measured by the footsteps forward. and the fight it took to take each step. i never gave up. and that, that is incredible.
if you’re still here after one year, you’re the real mvp. and i hope you know how grateful i am for you. xoxo.