Thank you to the rest of my family, those of you who were there. I love you all too.
All day, I have been feeling the most amazing spectrum of emotions. I feel like I can't talk smack about 2013. After all, it brought me the most amazing gift I have ever been given, my son, Jack. It made me a mommy and it made me an orphan. It brought me to a new place in my relationship with my husband's family. My mother in law, Sandy and I became tied together by an invisible, unbreakable cord when she was in the room as my son took his first breath. With that first breath, that first beat of Jack's heart, we all became a little more complete. He is truly the best thing I have ever done.
This year made me stronger and it brought me literally to my knees with weakness. I broke into a million tiny pieces, and slowly began to piece them back together. I remember the days and weeks following my diagnosis where my husband and I would just look to each other and stare. We didn't know what was going to happen. I was so afraid I was going to die.
This year, this journey has taught me that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, and no matter who I am, my husband will continue to love me. Maybe I was afraid before that he was not, but I'm not anymore.
On my third wedding anniversary, bleary eyed and terrified, clutching my husbands hand, I met Doctor Sehbai. This began a relationship with the kindest, gentlest, most amazing physician I have ever known. His compassion and understanding, and the kind staff he is surrounded by made the process bearable. Some days, I even felt like I was having fun. If I had to have cancer to meet this amazing man, then I'm ok with that.
I lost all of my hair and got puffy and weird and my skin was red all over, and I felt like the ugliest person on earth, and realized that everyone I love still thought I was pretty on the inside, which is what matters most. Of course, thank you to those of you who lied to me and told me how pretty I still looked. Skin deep, indeed.
I met people online and in support groups where I shared things that, believe it or not, I was not even able to share with you. These women have lifted me up every single time I felt down. For that I am eternally grateful. Especially to Laura, Crystal and Emily, who feel like my soul sisters, thank you all for helping me not to feel so alone. Laura sent me a card every single week, and on the days when I could barely walk, I still made it to that damn mailbox to see the cards and letters that she (and many others) sent. It meant more to me than any of you could ever know.
I tried to reply to each and every one of you with holiday cards. If I missed you, please tell me in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find me on Facebook. I was too sick to respond to most everything this summer, but I am obsessive about correspondence and would love to share the card with you, even belated.
I reconnected with friends from home that were going through things that were even harder than what I was, and we found strength in each other. Here's looking at you, Melissa and Sabrina. Here's to Dan, whom I totally let down by not going to my high school reunion (mainly because I could not get drunk, as I was pregnant,) who shaved his head on a whim after seeing my YouTube video while sitting in traffic. Hometown love... Buffalove.
I turned thirty and felt grateful for every breath of air I have been allowed to take. In the words of Sara Bareilles: "and the gift of my heartbeat sounds like a symphony." I stopped taking everything - stopped taking anything for granted and learned to start living again now. But I also learned that its ok to simply try again tomorrow. I see so much love and promise in the eyes of my son and I can't wait for the rest of my life.
I learned more about myself in this past year than I did in the entire 29 years I spent on this earth before Jack and my choriocarcinoma. And I would not change one single thing. I would walk through hell and back a million times to see this little boy smile just once.
Early in my journey, I was having a conversation with my brother. He told me that by the time this year was over, I was going to have had a brand new baby, and beaten cancer's ass. He said that I would look back on this, and look to others and say, well, what did you do with your life this year?
And he was right.
Bring it, 2014!