Last year, on my 25th birthday, I was laying in a hospital bed, feverish and in pain (and not just a little angry about being there). So I wrote a list of the things I was grateful for, one for every year I've spend kicking around this planet (can be found here ). The exercise proved to be one of the most meaningful and heartfelt pieces I've ever written. It allowed me to openly express my deep gratitude to those who ought to know and, at a time when I was feeling decidedly unsure of my future, reminded me what a blessed life I lead.
Today, on my 26th birthday, I will start my day doing the same.
*I am grateful for my husband, who stood by me this year, at every doctor's appointment and infusion, patient with every meltdown, hopeful with me for our future together and the life we can now build. I love you.
*I am grateful for my loving parents. You uprooted your lives to support P and I and were always there when we needed you most. As you said 'you were there the first time I was born and can say you were there the second time, too'. I love you
*I am grateful for my brother and sister who came and hung out with me while I was stuck in the house, texted me about daytime TV, stayed calm through it all, become better friends (and climbing partner) than I could ever hope we would be. I love both of you.
*I am grateful for my Nan, with her calm but direct way of knowing. For every note she sent (one for every day I was in Houston) and every phone call, skype and blog comment all with the best advice and tons of love. I love you, Nan.
*I am grateful for my In-Laws, that we share such a wonderful relationship. You are a blessing to us and everyone you meet and you raised a fine young man that I am proud to call 'husband'. I love you and Happy Anniversary.
*I am grateful for my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins (from both sides), for coming to see me in Houston, writing endless cards and letters, commenting on here, ringing me on skype and calling to give love and support. For being positive, loving and generous, always. Oh, and reminding me that I 'don't have to wear that wig around us'! I love all of you.
*I am grateful for the community of teachers, parents and administration with whom I work. You were endlessly supportive and enormously generous with your time, effort and caring last year. You welcomed me back to my classroom with huge smiles which melted away the anxiety and a big ol' chocolate cake to sweeten the deal even more. Thank you
*I am grateful for my students. Your cards, drawings, songs and photographs (of which I've kept every single one for nearly three years- come see me when you're all grown up and I will show you how much you meant) carried me through and your bright smiles welcomed me back. Your love and kindness has taught me more about how to be human than you'll ever know. Thank you, I am thrilled and honored to call myself your teacher again this year.
*I am grateful for my overwhelmingly wonderful friends, especially the ones who have been part of my life for a long time. Your steadfast caring and love taught me so much, I hope to be as good a friend to you as you have been for me. For the benefits, the cards, the visits, the days walking around the mall because that was all we could do, the text messages, for everything. Thank you and I love you.
*I am grateful for new friends who became like old friends so quickly. In the face of your own struggle, you reached out. Watching you heal and flourish and fight and WIN has been humbling and an inspiration. I hope to pay back the love and support to you tenfold. I love you and your families.
*I am grateful for those who fell away over the last few years. You taught me patience and forgiveness. You taught me how to be a better friend and give more of myself in your absence. Thank you
*I am grateful to have known too many sweet friends who are now resting with angels. Craig, Sarah H., Olivia, Montreal: your beautiful lives set an example for what is truly important. Love and family. Thank you for sharing a small piece of your lives with me, I miss you.
*I am grateful for the nurses who helped heal me, both at MD Anderson and at UPenn. You save lives and you do it with compassion. You take care of our bodies and our hearts, sitting by the bedside listening, coming in with a funny story, lingering for a moment or two when you see we're lonely. Thank you for what you do and who you are
*I am grateful for my doctors and nurse practitioners, both northern and southern. Your dedication to healing and to making a difference shows. You are compassionate and witty- not something many in medicine can claim. Thank you for your hard work and vast knowledge.
*I am grateful for the scientists, researchers, pharmacists, nursing assistants, interns and secretaries who keep the whole juggernaut moving and bring about the changes that save lives. You are often forgotten but immensely important pieces of the puzzle. Thank you for saving my life.
*I am grateful for First Descents and the volunteers, counselors, donors, staff, board members, chefs, guides...the list goes on...who dedicate their time and hearts to this organization. You do an indescribably important thing. Thank you for teaching me how to live again, giving me a place to belong and opening up an enormous world of possibility and adventure I didn't know I was missing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
*I am grateful for my FD family from Camp BAMF. In a few short days you became closer friends than some I have known for years. You came with your hearts open and smiles wide and I am so honored to have shared that experience with you. You shattered the illusion of the broken cancer patient and soared sky high, cheering everyone else on along the way. You are stunning and, as I said, AWEsome. Thank you and I love you
*I am grateful for the practice of yoga, that it was there when I needed it most and stayed there and gave me the tools to get through the rough times and rejoice in the good times. For giving me my body back and allowing me to love it again. It truly was the cushion to fall back on, reminding me to breathe and lead from the heart.
* I am grateful for the generations of yogis who came before me who learned and shared their wisdom. For the teachings of old and new, the principles that guide and the traditions that sooth and heal. For reminding me that the learning is never finished, there is always more.
*I am grateful for my teachers. You share you wisdom and open your heart. You are passionate about what you do, and it shows. To my yoga teachers, thank you for your generosity, your encouragement, your warmth and your perseverance. To my harmonium teacher, of which I also thank my yoga teacher, you brought the music back out of me and opened a new world of sound that will hopefully take many lifetimes to explore. To my dance teacher, you helped me unlock my body again. Taught me to feel like a woman and move in a joyful way. Thank you. I am humbled to be your student.
*I am grateful for the sun which warms me, the grass that supports my practice or a nap, the sky that is always promising even if I can only see it through the window, the forest and mountains that call to me and were the place where the real healing started, for the ocean which sooths, the air that sustains me, the rain which washes everything clean. This is a wondrous world and I and grateful to have more time to explore it.
*I am grateful for the small moments. Moments of unexpected but memorable happiness. People can be so good to one another, if given the chance.
*I am grateful for those of you reading this. I grateful for your time and for your kind comments which often move me to tears. You gave me the opportunity to share this journey and learn about myself in the process. This is priceless. Thank you.
*I am grateful for this body. The way it can move, support, heal, change. That it is perfect in its imperfections and I love it. I promise to take care of you, body, because you have taken care of me.
*I am grateful for this beautiful, beautiful life. That I get to live it, breathe the air, dream, explore and love and experience enough to be grateful for is amazing.
*I am grateful for my Donor. For the sacrifice you made so that I may live this beautiful life. I think of you every day and pray that you are also living a beautiful life, for you deserve at least what you gave. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Much, grateful, humble love, friends.
My writing has been sparse as of late, I'll explain in another post but know that everything is wonderful. I hope you are too.