On October 22, 2009 my life, it changed forever. I woke up that morning as a healthy 26 year old and within hours I was admitted to the ICU at Woodwinds. I almost died five days before my 27th birthday. This life that I live, is an incredible borrowed gift.
I have lived 10 borrowed years on this earth and it hasn’t been easy. Surviving is the easy part. Living as a survivor is the hard part. To this day I still have immense survivor’s guilt. According to statistics four people had to die so that I could be the one out of five who lived. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Because I know anyone of those four if given a chance would take my seat. This life I live is not for me, it is for the four who no longer have a life. I carry those four wherever I go and thank God every day that I got to be the one out of five.
Ten years ago I asked God constantly “why the fuck me? What did I do to deserve this? Do you not like me?” To this day those questions remain unanswered. Not getting an answer allowed me to flip my perspective and ask God “why not me?” God put me through my darkest hour in order to break me so that I could shine. In that one moment of disaster he birthed my purpose…. “to find myself and to fight for a healthier tomorrow.” I had to break, before she could SHINE.
Tomorrow is not a given. Since October 22, 2009 I have lived 3,665 borrowed tomorrows. Every morning I wake up and face the sun, I thank God. Seeing the sun means he’s not done with me yet. I still have a purpose and we still have work to do.
I have lived 5,263,200 borrowed minutes. Those minutes turned into hours, which turned into days, that turned into years. Ten years of survivorhood. I wish I could say it’s been all rainbows and unicorns. But it hasn’t, I’ve had really good days along with terribly bad days too. It’s the bad days that allow me to dance on the good days. The bad days allow me to heal and savor all that is good in my life. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything in the world.
Life, I have shoved a large amount of life into the past ten years. I am that friend who always says yes to new adventures and days where we just gossip on the couch with wine. The slow moments are where I find my zen. In the busy moments I’m thankful for every beat of my heart. I’m thankful for what my body can still do and savor the smallest of victories.
I am more than a survivor. All to often we forget that survivors are human just like everyone else. We are not invincible nor do we strive to be. I have hopes and dreams just like you. The only difference is, I’ve lived through the unthinkable and came out on the other side. God broke me, before I could shine.
I’ve learned to live in my skin and not hope for what society says I should be. I’m a girl who likes her cheese curds, brats, whiskey and cupcakes. I am more than the number on my waist band. This size 18 body of mine has been through hell and back. It survived the impossible and continues to defy the odds. She may be scarred, battered, and bruised, but she is 100% mine. Every scar tells a story, every bruise has meaning, and we found beauty in the fight. The fight to survive another day in this borrowed life.
I live this life for my sons Lucia, Baby E and Emmett who went to soon. There leaving changed my life forever and it’s in their names that I choose to live to the fullest. They are with me always, my sons they will always be. They have given me the strength to not give up on this thing we call motherhood. I have faith that my turn is still coming and that one day this weary body of mine will hold a baby in her arms.
This life that I live is to honor the four who lost theirs, so that I could be the one who walked away. Those four allowed me to become a mom to 3 babies in heaven. Because of their leaving, I got to live to be an auntie to Sophia & Jack. I got to live to love again. Because of them I got to live the life I was always meant to live. A life filled with love, adventure, and more laughter than one soul could handle.
Laughter is what got me through the bad days. Cullen my trusty muppet like dog keeps me laughing. Cullen’s antics and chirp like bark will make anyone giggle. Getting a dog was the best medicine that I ever took. He gave me purpose and was the reason I kept going. Because without me, he would have no one in this world. He got me out of the house and together we broke through our shells to become the souls we were always meant to be. We are an unstoppable team of underdogs with a big bite. This little dog of mine rescued me and for that I am grateful. He is mine and I will always be his.
This borrowed life of mine has filled me to the brim with gratitude. I’ve spent the past 10 years advocating for our healthy tomorrows. I’ve stood on the steps of the capital building giving my testimony to the nation that affordable quality health care should be a right and not for the privileged. I’ve wept in front of congressmen/women asking them to ensure that someone else gets a tomorrow just like I did. I’ve held the hands of survivors as they shared their journey. I have hugged the parents of the warriors who left this world to soon. I’ve been on billboards, in TV commercials, fashion shows, and I will not stop until there are none. I will not stop until there are none, because no woman deserves to fight alone. My one moment of disaster sparked my purpose and I’m not done yet.
To sum it up the past 10 years have taught me one thing: to live boldly. Time is a great teacher, she taught me to be strong and to dig deep for that last little shred of courage. I look back and think “wow, I lived all of it and each stone led me to where I was always meant to be.” The good, the bad, the ugly, and down right funny moments all belong to me. My Pulmonary Embolism and stroke taught me strength. My first marriage taught me to never compromise who you are for a man. Charlie, Charlie taught me that when the darkness fades love finds away in. Charlie loved me until his last breath and he prepared my heart to love again. My heart though broken loves Jay unconditionally and without question. He is my exact opposite yet equal. Jay can calm me within seconds and make me laugh until I can’t breathe. Jay held me during the loss of our babies and believes in my little dream called parenthood. He dares me to push myself into the unknown and for that I am grateful. This love that we live was always meant to be.
If anything my borrowed time on this earth has taught me one thing: I’m not in control. Just when I think I have all my ducks in a row, one wanders off to the bar. For awhile I was afraid to just be in the here and now. That quiet voice would whisper, “this is to good, the bottom is going to fall out .” I wasted so much time waiting and plotting for the good to end. I did this because I didn’t believe that I deserved to be happy and at peace with everything. I found the strength to quiet that voice and to allow myself to just be. I as a human have to do my best to soak in every moment like it’s my last. For this life I live is not a guarantee for my years are borrowed. It’s a beautiful disaster, a disaster that’s mine and mine alone.
Be bold and live without fear. Take that trip. Fall in love. Adopt a dog. Drink that glass of wine. Call your parents and check in with your besties. This life is yours to live and you can either do it boldly or you can hide in your own shadow. The choice is yours my friend.