I hadn’t planned to go. I didn’t have to go. Nothing would happen if I didn’t go. . I planned to spend the day reading a murder mystery on my back porch. I would watch the Cardinals and Jays squabble about the number of cats that resided in the yard. I planned to spend the day selfish and alone in my mindfulness. People were used to me cancelling, no surprise there; after all my illness gives me an ideal excuse to cancel. I really always did prefer to stay home anyway.
It would not be a surprise to anyone. Besides, the day was predictable, I knew how it would go because I had been to this function every year for the last 14 years straight.
Then I remembered the date and it’s funny how dates can do this to you, but I started to remember last year on this date. I had cried when my daughter texted and sent me the pictures.
I am lucky enough to work with my daughter, we both teach. I missed my daughter winning national accolades from her colleagues and National Level governing bodies. She also told me how colleagues had asked for me.
I’m not usually one to look at dates and anniversaries with sadness or fondness but rather something that was just there to mark time. I could care less about celebrating my birthday or anniversary.
But this date just one year ago was fundamental to whom I was now and to the person I would be able to become in the future.
The rest of my life would be based, not on what my family or friends or parents had done in the past but on the very actions and consequences of what happened this time last year.
Last year I didn’t have a choice. I was in hospital after having my second Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), an attack that stopped my heart and almost cost me my life. This was the second arrest in 6 months and doctors felt it was a very serious situation.
When I missed last year I kept thinking what I would have given to be with colleagues on a bus, going to the company AGM. I was not going to let an opportunity like that slip by again. I couldn’t go then but this year there was nothing to stop me. So, I started to review my decision for a day long outing with all of my colleagues and decided that I was more than grateful that I was still alive; I was still participating in life and still able to go.
I decided to be brave enough and strong enough to still do what I used to do and I hadn’t really changed too much, despite the fact that I used a walker, and it would take me a little longer to get where we were going.
So, I went and when I walked into the room it all seemed so familiar and yet this was the first time that I came equipped with my walker. I felt like all eyes were on me as normal people are not used to those of us with disabilities. Funny though, I have found that as soon as the first shock is over, it’s over, there is no more reaction from people. How happy was I that I had attended and not stayed home by myself but instead I pushed myself and joined the land of the living.
Attending events and functions that you used to attend helps you to feel a little more like your old self. You meet people who you don’t see every day or haven’t seen in a long time and you will be surprised that they have thought about you. You touch base; you talk about stuff that isn’t health related or special diets or medications related, just for a change. You do what normal people do, just for a change.
All the preparation that you put into the trip makes for the smooth transition and your thoughts about the bad things that could happen never actually materialize. I don’t mean to minimize it and say it was easy. It wasn’t easy and like most things these days there is a ton of preparation, and lots of bad thoughts and what ifs, but sometimes you have to forgo ‘what if’s’ and all the bad thoughts and push past it.
Am I glad I went? Of course I am. It was a great day.
Will I go again? Maybe, maybe not. It only mattered that I went this time.
Why? It proved to me that I could still do what I did before.
What did I learn? The only thing worse than going is not going.