Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life Lessons at 30

Well, today is my 30th birthday. How in the hell did that happen? Wasn't I just in high school? Where my biggest concerns were studying for tests and practicing for an upcoming tennis match? Wow. Life was so incredibly simple back then, even if it didn't seem that way at the time. My education, my sports teams, my friends and my family were what my entire life revolved around. I could easily sit here and say, "Life was so easy back then. If only I could be 16 again." But in all honestly, there is something so beautiful about being thirty. About ME being thirty. I feel as though my life is so much richer at this point in time. Sure it has its varying degree of difficulty and stress. But my twenties taught me so much to help bring me to this place. They taught me things that can't be learned in school, or by reading a book. I have narrowed down what I think are the three most important things that I have learned thus far in life: 1) To always trust your gut 2) To rely on others and not be afraid to ask for help and 3) To love fiercely, and without abandon.

Trusting my gut is something that I never did growing up, or even early on in my adult years. I had a blissful ignorance about me, where I thought everything was going to be fine, and that it was all going to work out. So even when my gut was saying one thing, my mind was sweeping it under the rug and thinking glass-half-full. And in my situation, my gut is most always right, and it is most always telling me that something big, and often bad, is going to happen. When I was diagnosed with cancer, both times, I knew. Deep in my gut I knew that the original mass they found was something more. And when  my cancer returned, my gut told me to go to this appointment solo because it wasn't good. I wanted to absorb the news alone, before I told anyone that my sickness had returned. And sure enough, those scans lit up with cancer, just as I suspected. And even with my wonderful husband, Dan, I had a gut feeling that something bad was going to happen to him at some point in his Air Force Career. Which of course made each goodbye grueling and painful. I so wanted to be positive and annoyingly bright and sunny about his deployments, but I just knew that something was going to happen that would change our lives forever. It wasn't a strong sense that Dan was going to lose his life, but I knew that war was going to change him, change us, for the worse. And we all know how that ended. And lastly, the one time my gut told me something positive. Meeting my amazing boyfriend, Kris. Something felt so right immediately with him. It was a weird sense of comfort and safety. My gut was most definitely telling me that he was going to play a huge role in my life. And once again, my gut was right. He is my best friend, and my Love.

Relying on others. Asking people for help. Letting people see me in an extreme moment of weakness and vulnerability. This is not something that I was ever used to doing, because I never had to. But my twenties forced me to do this. Funnily enough, my twenties (referring mostly to losing Dan and two bouts of cancer) turned me into an extremely independent person with an "I do what I want" attitude. But along with that came the need to rely on others. Weird how two such extremes occurred at the exact same time. Starting with Dan's deployments, I had to rely on others when I needed support. Whenever I was worrying about his safety, or feeling lonely, I had to reach out to family and friends. And they were there. And after losing Dan, relying on others is what allowed me to survive. Even if they didn't know it, I relied on them to pick up the pieces on my bad days, or weeks for that matter. I relied on them to watch out for me if I was feeling a bit sad or depressed about losing my Husband. And again, they were there. My battles with cancer is when I really needed to rely on them, let them help me, and became the most vulnerable version of myself. There was a point where I couldn't even use the restroom or shower without assistance from my family. Even sitting up in bed took help at times. I needed someone with me 24/7 in the beginning phases of my recovery. I had to let go of all the pride and integrity I had and just let them take care of me. This was extremely hard at times, but it was necessary. My family and friends are a huge reason for my success, or survival, rather. Whether it be asking for a little company on a rough night, or asking for help walking up my stairs because I was too weak to do it alone. They were there. And they still are. Being pregnant and giving birth all while Kris was deployed took a village. The same village that has been there since day one. I sure do love my village.

Ah, my last and favorite life lesson. To love fiercely and without abandon. This is by far the most important thing that my twenties have taught me. From losing Dan, to dealing with my own illness, to giving birth to my little miracle, I learned how to love. To love hard. Not that I didn't know how to love or let others in before all of this, but I learned how important love is after experiencing the past ten years of my life. Loving someone so much and sending them off on numerous deployments is so incredibly scary. Because being without that person during those deployments hurts so badly. Worrying about that person's safety is incredibly overwhelming. And losing that someone is painful. Numbing. But the love that all of that takes is a strong one. And doing it again now with Kris just solidifies how strongly I love him. It is all worth it. And FEELING that strong sense of love and outpouring during my sickness was incredible. You really feel how much your family loves you as they are helping you clean your feeding tubes in your arm and stomach. Or holding your wig as your vomit. Or picking up any type of food that sounds good just to get you to eat even a bite. That level of love is one that I am so very thankful for. And my little family of three. I get chocked up event thinking about the love that I have for Evelynn and Kris. The way I feel for her is something I could have never imagined and I can't explain. Together, Kris and I created this perfect little miracle. I have experienced so many different types of love. And that is what has kept me going when I wanted to quit. I have learned to love with my entire being, my entire soul. Because this life is short. And although strong love can come with incredible hurt, it is worth it. Every second of it. So love those around you. Tell them. Show them. And do it often.

So as I approach this new decade in my life, I can only imagine the new life lessons that my thirties will teach me. I am sure there will be ups and downs, good times and bad. However, I can't wait. I can't wait to watch Evelynn grown and learn new things. I can't wait to make new memories with my family and friends. I can't wait to see what is in store for Kris and I, and our life together. My twenties were filled with some of the absolute best and worst times of my life. Marrying Dan. Losing Dan. Battling cancer. Twice. Falling in love with Kris. Giving birth to our beautiful daughter. Wow. What a whirlwind. I am aware that my thirties may bring change. Big change. Perhaps a reoccurrence of my cancer. Maybe a move for Kris and I to wherever the Air Force sends us. Either way. I am ready. I feel like a better person for what I have learned thus far in this life. So am I ready to turn 30? Absolutely.