I don’t know why I chose to write all this down last night…I guess it chose me. Sometimes I can’t stop it from pouring out…..so much so I kind of just type frantically so I can get it all out before it disappears into thin air **poof**. I was thinking about a conversation that Gale (my MIL) and I had on the drive to Loma Linda Friday about the night I went into surgery 6 weeks ago. She was telling me about the phone conversation when my FIL Barry called her (when I should have been coming OUT of surgery):
Barry: It isn’t good. They are doing an emergency hysterectomy right now.
Gale: What?! So she won’t be able to have a baby?
Barry: Gale, they are working……to save her life.
Every time I think about that conversation I get the wind knocked out of me a little. You know, that feeling like you feel like you might cry but it’s just like a big gasp for air? I can’t believe how much I took for granted as I went in…..almost like I was invincible…..and how much trust I had put in those doctors. I remember being rolled into the OR and the radio was on. They had been waiting on the confirmation of my blood type and I was saying “oh please, like you would ever need blood.” I just took it all so lightly. They put a mask on my face and it was like a game to me: yeah right, they can’t get me to fall asleep…..3, 2…..(lights out). What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when all that changed. I wonder what the doctors said when they realized I was bleeding uncontrollably…..was it “oh sh@t” or was it a calm “we have a change of plans.” I keep meaning to ask Dr. R that. Will this be a story they recount in the OR from time to time? “Remember that young girl we operated on with the crazy tumor who almost bled to death? And she thought she was going to Olive Garden right after surgery? Ha….if only she knew.”
I often think: what if I hadn’t made it through? I imagine my dad talking to God saying “here’s the deal…..you don’t want her here yet….first of all, she’s going to be super mad….second of all, you’ll want to send her back for a while.”
I cry a lot in the shower or when I’m driving by myself. It all comes flooding out. But it’s never a sad or scared cry…..it’s an overwhelming emotional cry. Many times I find myself saying “thank you God, thank you” and I feel like my heart is going to cave in.
Someone wrote me the other day saying that my journey has been helping with their anxiety. I had to write back: “I wasn’t always like this.” I feel like I’m leaving out a huge part of the story. I struggled with a lot of things in my early 20s. I had severe anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve struggled with ADHD and social anxiety. I have very addictive tendencies and I was very aloof about them. It took me a long time to unlearn a lot of things. But I wouldn’t change a thing……I know everyone says that…but it’s true…..I tell myself: anyone who is the least bit interesting has a past. I could write a very colorful memoir…..although I’m not sure I’m ready for my mother to read it yet. I only wish I knew back then what I know now: that life doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it.
The one big turning point for me in my life (before all of this current stuff) is when I learned to embrace “the dark side”…..and I did that through journaling. Journaling became my life for a few years (you can see some of them here).
Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them — if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry. – Catcher in the Rye
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” -Oscar Wilde
And then I think of my new friend Jenny. I’ve only known her for a short time….I met her through her mother Debby and we’ve only chatted through email. But I know I met her for a reason and I know she’s already had a huge impact on my life. I think about her all day long and wonder why we met….when God is going to take her home so soon. Two days ago she made a point to tell me “sure it’s short, but at least we got to know each other, and for some reason we are supposed to know each other.” And then…just like that…..she’s no longer able to physically email. I wonder how she’s feeling. And then I wonder if we have similar handwriting. I wonder what her drawings look like (she’s an artist). If anything could make me lose faith it would be this….but I won’t. I think of my dad greeting her in heaven and how welcome he’ll make her feel. He’ll know we had a connection.
“I by no means have given up on life, I still have days ahead of me but they are different. The life that I am living here are coming to an end and I am still enjoying what breaths I have left in my body up until that place where Steve Jobs kept saying “Wow”. I have accepted the life I was given, I have learned to cherish what wonderful things that have come my way and share it with others.” -Jenny Swett
Out of all of this……I have a new project I am starting:
The Li’l Journal Project
I’ll be mailing journals all over the world one-by-one to random people…..if you get one all you have to do is complete one page….in any way you like. You can add a quote, write a letter, draw something, paint something, paste a photo, insert a leaf inside, embroider a page, staple your business card to it etc. Then you pass it on to someone else. As people receive them they can share it on the Facebook page…..and I’ll share some on the blog too. You can read about those before you. It will be fun to track the travels of each journal. Once they fill up there will be an address to send it back to so we can scan in pages to share.
I hope that the journals will become thick and worn and full of history. I hope that those who randomly get them can learn something from the people before them.