Wednesday, December 31, 2014

a year in review (of sorts)

Adena: James and I have talked a lot about a "year in review" post. We already mark different milestones throughout the year to acknowledge anniversaries that are separate from the holidays. We continuously reflect on the passage of time at the annual intervals of his transplants, long-term hospitalizations, and of course, homecomings from those transplants and hospitalizations. (We have graduated from monthly intervals to yearly intervals). We remember and honour the passing of dear friends with wonderment at the speed of the world around us. We seek measures for healing and growth. 

The changes are diverse. We celebrate the major events in our lives. James and I find no difficulties in compiling a list of highlights to mark the year, but I also feel a need to acknowledge the small changes. Some of the most subtle differences make the most powerful impact on our lives. We have regained a lot of normalcy in the last year. Our lives no longer revolve around a disease. Our relationship no longer revolves around a disease. We can make plans that extend further into the future, and make decisions that are not based solely in fears about that future. 

James and I are able to share in the responsibilities of the household, and support each other through the ebbs and flows of our daily lives. We are able to shift the weight of those responsibilities back and forth between each other based on both of our needs in a given moment, rather than feeling a need to protect James, because of some level of vulnerability or fragility. His needs took precedence for a long time, and it made it difficult to establish a sense of equity in our lives. Our relationship has become stronger with reciprocity of care for each other. I love that James is able to make tea for me in the morning, and prepare a dinner for after an evening class. I also still relish in being able to walk side-by-side and hold hands, or share a quiet moment together in our own home. It is the normalcy in our lives that holds the most significance in my personal reflections of the past year. The rest is bonus. 

James: When 2014 began, I was still weak and suffering from shell shock. I felt a strange mix of vulnerability and invulnerability. I had nearly died and had suffered so much that my shockingly fast recovery felt surreal; life had a distinctly dreamlike quality. I was struggling with gaps in my memory, trying to figure out what had happened to me; but so much still felt like an open wound that I had to avoid thinking too hard about the darkest moments. I focused instead on enjoying being alive, and I felt like I was glowing with energy. Adena and I started seeing a personal trainer, and my body gained strength until I felt fitter than I have ever felt. I gained weight and lung capacity. 

In February I celebrated my 30th birthday on Saltspring Island with my friends and extended family. I was finally able to thank so many of the people who had been supporting me since before my first transplant! In May, I celebrated my one-year post transplant lungiversary. In the summer, Adena and I finally got to go to my favorite place, our cabin on the West Coast Trail. I had dreamed of taking her there since the day we met, and now my dream has come true. It was a beautiful, emotional experience for the both of us. We thrived in the Victoria summer, raising a bountiful garden and visiting as many parks and beaches as we could. We rode bikes often, and I drew intense joy out of the feeling of my strong legs and the wind in my face. Adena worked hard all summer, then began her career as a grad student at UVIC, and I would ride to campus at her side, then ride back home to feed the cats and cook dinner.

We had the great pleasure of attending my good friend's beautiful wedding, then later had the opportunity to speak at a few events. Adena's beautiful videos were our introduction, and I could feel my eyes welling with tears as we relived our story. Being selected as the keynote speaker for a major CF fundraiser was a great honour, and even though I was so nervous at the podium that I was shaking, I felt strong and proud with Adena by my side.

During the winter, our energy levels waned and we focused on keeping healthy and supporting one another. We celebrated Thanksgiving, Channukah, and Christmas. Tonight we are staying home to cuddle up close and appreciate the wonderful year we have had. We look forward to more big changes in 2015, and as always we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your love and support. May you all have a healthy and joyous 2015!