You always hear people talk about that moment that their life changed forever. Often, it’s the moment they lock eyes with the person they know they instantly love. Or, the AHA moment they have when they realize that they’ve found the perfect career. These moments shift the course that life was taking and propel it unto another trajectory. A direction that we may not have anticipated and never expected. That’s what happened to me three years ago today.
I’ve never had a simple life. While I grew up in suburban America in an upper middle class home that should have provided me with a cookie cutter existence, my life never really followed that path. From a young age, it was one challenge after another and I had to learn to navigate adversity well. Looking back, I see that all of those experiences prepared me for what my life would be like in my 40’s. It made me strong. Made me a problem solver. And, it also allowed me to look at life from every angle to try to find a sliver of a silver lining. I’ve always been blessed to find something great out of a negative and thank God for giving me that trait.
Three years ago today, my daughter spit up a blob of blood in a parking lot.
That was my life changing moment
Before that, all the moments that I thought were big, were just preparation for a split second at Walmart that would alter our lives forever. At the time, I didn’t recognize that it was a game changer. I thought it was a complication. Something that would have a simple solution that we’d just deal with and move on. It wasn’t. The life we had before that moment was gone and we were about to meet our new normal which was to be constantly evolving and changing.
I’ve written post after post about the minutiae. All the details of our fight to find a diagnosis and get help for our teenager. About the fights with doctors and hospitals and all the bills. I’ve talked about how hard it is to deal with school and peers and other parents. I’ve penned some pretty solid posts to help others navigate this devil that we call chronic illness and I hope this year to piece it all out and start publishing books. Yet, there are so many things that I haven’t written about because there is so much emotion attached to the topic and we at the CB home, try to stay positive at all times. That’s been our mantra but I think it’s time to get some of it off my chest to understand how life changing that moment was for all of us.
When you go to college for a career, you never expect that you’ll one day find yourself in a position that you can’t work outside your home. You can’t even begin to entertain the thought that your child may not be able to attend school or may never dance again. Three years ago, this was the world that we were suddenly thrust into. Everything that was normal was now gone and while we saw glimpses of it at times, it was fleeting. Chronic illness, like cancer, has a dividing line. It has a before and after. It’s how you handle that life changing moment that determines how the rest of life will be.
Life isn’t fair. I firmly believe it and on the very rare occasions when my teen is upset, I wholeheartedly agree with her. This weekend as I watched all the kid’s high school dance pictures, I couldn’t help but think how unfair it is that they all get to a dance and my teen could barely get out of bed. Or that the next day, they could be at the dance studio and my daughter was coming to the realization that it just wasn’t possible. It sucks and I can’t tell you how much my heart hurts sometimes but I don’t stay in that space long.
I am blessed to have a loving child that puts others first no matter how she’s feeling. Rosie has turned her life changing moment into a mission to give to others through her Joy Story program. I’ve watched her the past month, put together spreadsheets and lists. She’s personally shopped or picked out items for all of these kids and she puts together the perfect gift for each one. Despite the fact that she is seriously ill, she continuously focuses on others. She has taken her life changing moment and potentially channeled it into something amazing. I’m proud of her.
I’m also proud of me. I’m not sure that we’d all be doing as well as we are if it wasn’t for my strength and my outlook on life. At no time have I ever felt sorry for us. I call it like I see it and move on. I’ve taught my teen that kind of attitude and it shows. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan and when it doesn’t, we need to learn to pivot and move another direction. We need to find that sliver of a silver lining.