‘You were a million years of work,’
Said God and His angels, with needle and thread.
They kissed your head and said,
‘You’re a good kid and you make us proud.
So just give your best and the rest will come,
And we’ll see you soon.’
– Sleeping At Last, “Needle and Thread”
Today is my 29th birthday.
These are the two thoughts that kept resonating in my mind all day, and although it sounds melodramatic when stated so boldly, when I look back at all that has happened this past year, it feels little less than a miracle. Barely two months ago, I was unable to walk a few yards on my own, the pain so excruciating, the fog so overwhelming, and the fatigue so great that I couldn’t lift my head from my pillow for more than an hour at a time.
There were days when I wanted to give up and give in, so weary and worn from this fight that I began to wonder if it was worth it after all. Every new day became another new battle against this disease that had invaded and assaulted my body; every day I was haunted by memories of my so-called former life, of what it was to be “normal,” of who I used to be and the Susan I longed to be again. Every day, it seemed, I was in conflict without and within — at war with those who questioned this disease and my character, at war with my own feelings of self-worth and deserving, and at war with my own will.
But I couldn’t give up.
You wouldn’t let me.
Every day, while that internal battle waged, you urged me to keep holding on, to trust and find my faith…
To be brave.
You, my Mom and Dad and brothers and family — you lent me your strength and love when I feared I had little left; I owe this life to you, my walking angels. And you, my dear friends and soulmates– you brought inspiration and laughter into my life again when laughter was hard to come by; every smile since has been because of you.
And, I’ve since realized, I wouldn’t have let myself give up, either. Because while I was at my weakest physically and sometimes emotionally, there existed in me a strength — a power, a fighting spirit — like I’ve never before known that urged me onward, that struck a fire in the deepest parts of my soul, that whispered in my darkest moments,
“You are a survivor.”
So when I say I’m alive, I mean it without melodramatics and over-sentimentality, but instead, with purpose. Because I know how easy it would be to take those two simple words for granted; I know that I almost did. But I know just how much meaning those words hold now, how just that simple affirmation can fill the soul once again with hope and promise.
And so I sing those words with every ounce of gratitude that resides within my heart.