I happened upon meeting a young lady the other day. A mutual acquaintance set us up because this girl, let's call her Jane, hasn't been feeling well for a couple of months now. Our friend assumed I may have some advice to give so Jane and I went to lunch. As I watched this darling girl tell me about her life, her symptoms and her concern I couldn't help but remember myself at her age. In large part because she is the exact age I was when I got sick. Twenty-eight. No stranger to her list of complaints, I could not help but wonder if I had "pre-cursor" symptoms to Fibromyalgia I ignored before actual onset of this horrible illness? Alarms my body was clanging to get my attention, but I ignored because I was too busy living life. Who would have known back then, that this was to come?
As Jane told me about her job and planning her wedding, her lethargy and rapid weight gain, I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to jump up and down and stomp and bang pots and pans and clang symbols and beat bongos or do anything else to get her to take notice. I wanted to shout "Pay attention!" at the top of my lungs. Scream at her to eat her vegetables and get eight full hours of sleep every night. I wanted to drop onto my knees before her and beg and plead with her to educate herself on matters of health and wellness, and to not take one precious moment of her vitality for granted. Tell her how bad life with chronic illness sucks and if there is any way to prevent it, do it! But short of scaring the girl or coming off like a complete lunatic, I could not do any of this.
But I wonder. If I had known my whole life long, or even just a few years before, sickness was to one day consume me, what would I do different? Would I have stopped to smell the roses or taken a drive just because it was a pretty day out? Not stressed about money, knowing true financial devastation was on its way but not yet here? Would I have stayed all those extra hours at work investing in a career that went up like a puff of smoke once I got sick? Or fought with my husband less, and over far more important things? Criticized my criticalness instead of my own self? Would forgiveness and acceptance have played a more prominent role in the way I conducted my affairs? And would I ever have learned life is about what you give, not get?
So with all honesty I answered myself. I think no. I don't suppose I would ever have slowed down on the train track I was speeding down, taken a look at the bigger picture, the fundamental truths of life. Why would I? It took losing it all before I could grasp what it really meant. Working so freakin' hard for every inch of my quality of life before I understood how precious it truly is. The only way I got here was to live my life, fight this fight, walk the walk. Sadly there is no way I can save Jane. I could tell her little more than to get her thyroid checked and take her vitamins. And to pay attention to her body, because it wants to be healthy so if it is telling her something, listen to it! The rest is up to her. And I can't go back in time and save myself either. Do it all different, with more caution and care. A premonition of things to come slanting my vision, tainting my trajectory. That is just not how life works. So forward I go, making the most of what I got and finding gratefulness in my heart. For there are still plenty of roses to smell and drives to take on a pretty day. So much love to share with those who love me. And when life hands me a bowl of lemons, plenty of kick ass margaritas to make before I call it a day.
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