How does your life move on? Does it just take off running, or lumbering, from start to finish without a blip or a break? Or are there chapters, like in a book, marked by characters and events coming and going?
I returned from a two week trip to Australia where I traveled alone to scatter my daughter’s ashes. A million things could’ve gone wrong and they didn’t. I came home feeling strong, at peace, and ready to begin a new chapter of my life.
Barely twelve hours after landing in New York, I fell into my front door and broke my nose.
It rained blood. Stars shot up before my eyes as my fingers fumbled over my cell phone in an effort to reach a friend for help. As I held onto my face for hours in the emergency room, all my renewed spirit and energies evaporated into a small cloud that hung around where my nose should have been.
For the next three weeks, with my movement restricted, I finished the first draft of my book manuscript. So even a stupid mistake or an accident can be a gift. Because of a broken nose, I got the manuscript done and my nose looks a bit better than before. So now it’s time to tiptoe back to beginning the next chapter of my life.
I lost my daughter but I have not lost my life. Each morning her dog and cat wake me, reminding me that she is no longer here. But I am and that next chapter of life is not going to piece itself together and conveniently land in my lap. This is where I get to challenge myself, try new things, kick myself out of the house and out of my comfort zone.
That’s what I did the other night when I went alone to a new friend’s birthday party at a local bar. I don’t often go to bars or easily engage in conversation with strangers over loud music, so I promptly embarrassed myself choking on small talk and hurried home mortified without even a drink. Trying new things can be empowering, exhilarating, embarrassing or even disastrous. But days later, on two different occasions, I heard I’d been seen at that party looking great. An embarrassing moment became another gift. I’m prepared for a million things to go wrong and embarrass me in the process of finding my new role in life. Each day brings an opportunity for another challenge. So how will you challenge yourself today?
Marika wrote this poem after her first summer of being unconscious and nearly dying three times in the Intensive Care Unit at Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital. Then, on a strict chemo regimen, with a compromised immune system, no hair and little energy, she picked up the pieces of her life and traipsed off to begin college.
Marika Warden, August 2008
A year ago, who would have guessed?
So many tears ago,
From boys, from putting my strength to the test.
A sickness found a new romance
A skewed wishlist round
Family, love, saved my life by chance.
Now after all that I’ve gone through
The biggest trip and fall,
Now I can start my life anew.
This summer: my worst, my best.
Swimmer or runner?
Once it’s over I can re-progress
Back to the life that I once knew,
And though I can strive,
That life will be different through and through.
And I’ll miss you.
I just don’t know who.