It feels like forever since I really took the time to sit down at my laptop, open up a new blank document, and just begin typing. There are a few reasons for this. I’m no longer in school and that means my laptop is no longer what feels like an extension of my being. Sometimes I go days without pulling out my laptop and truthfully I can do almost everything I need to on my phone. And for a while last year, I let some events that happened really throw me around and I wasn’t doing a lot of the things that I enjoyed. And I kept telling myself that I was just too busy.
While going through an older hard drive of mine I came across a bunch of writing assignments from my senior year of high school. I took both a normal English class that year as well as a creative writing class, and it was pretty interesting to delve back into my writings from seven years ago. (It also blows my mind that that was seven years ago. Time flies!) But that got me remembering just how much I enjoy writing. And more importantly, it got me remembering just how much I was missing writing. I do miss it. And then the next day I saw a motivational post that said something to the idea that the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The next best time is today. And so I’m writing. Today. Or rather tonight.
I’m coming off of a work week that was more stressful than it needed to be, still recovering from a relapse that I wish I hadn’t had, and altogether just kind of feeling like I was accidentally tied behind my dad’s big blue truck while he decided to go on a long drive. To add to that, in two days I will be upon the two-year anniversary of my diagnosis. And while it was not necessarily that singular day that forever changed my life, it definitely is a day that I will always look back on. And I mean, Facebook would never let me forget it, right?
If I’m being honest, when my first year rolled around I was more bitter than I ever admitted or perhaps even realized. I feel like I’ve managed to stay positive a majority of the time when it comes to having MS. And when I’m with most people it is the positive side that I allow them to see. But I wasn’t doing so hot last year. This year, as I face down this anniversary and look it in the eye, I feel like a completely different person. As I look back there are a few things that really stick out to me as the silver linings to a curve ball that forever changed my life.
And before you read on, just know that these aren’t in any particular order and that there are so many more than I could list tonight or perhaps ever.
1. Family is everything. I simply don’t know where I would be without my family. Honestly? I don’t know a group of people more capable of pushing every button and driving me up the wall more than my family. They are, without a doubt, experts in the art of driving me crazy. But, on the flip side, the thing they excel the most at, once again without a single doubt in my mind, is being nothing but a completely understanding, caring, loving, forgiving group of people who I’ve been blessed to have in my life from day one, and will have in my life forever. I don’t know what I would do without them sometimes.
2. Family is more than blood. I have some pretty amazing friends. And when I talk about these friends I really talk about my family. I talk about the people who have had nothing but chances to meet others and build up their own circle of friends, and yet despite the billions of options to them in the world, have decided to call me friend and brother. These are the people who have shown a level of understanding I never understood in friends before I had multiple sclerosis. They love me in the good times, and even more so in the bad times. They understand when I don’t have energy to do something we had planned, and know when to ignore my excuses and show up. Sometimes they drag me out and sometimes they just come and sit by me on the couch. They remind me that life doesn’t slow down because I do but that they’re willing to help take up the load. They help me find the reason to get up and go in the morning and to hate having to go home at night. They’re amazing. From funny pictures and crappy jokes to long conversations or silent drives. They’re by my side.
3. Different is not bad. Change can always be hard. It isn’t always wanted. It doesn’t always seem needed. But the fact of the matter is that change will always happen. Life moves forward. And if I’ve learned anything at all from having MS, it has been that change will come and things will be different. I am different. And that’s not bad. Sometimes I have to do things differently. Sometimes I can’t do things, at least not yet. But that won’t stop me from trying anymore. In fact, I think, most of the time, that I’m pretty grateful that I find many things more challenging at first. I’m glad I have a good reason to try harder and give my all. And it’s taught me that I can do it. Sometimes that simple lesson is the only thing I have to continue going on. I can do it.
4. And speaking of continuing on- There is no such thing as a small victory. There is just victory. Just accomplishment. Some days the last thing I feel I have energy to do is roll out of bed and drag myself out of my bedroom. Let alone across that room to the couch. Or up the stairs to the kitchen. And other days I come off of a 12 hour shift and I feel ready to keep going. To open up a book and read, or go outside and shovel the driveway. There never seems to be a rhyme or a reason to when these different days will strike – but they have taught me to take any victory that I can. And when I don’t quite make it to what I wanted to do, that’s okay. There is always tomorrow. There is always later. And I’ll be able to get to it then, and I’ll succeed and I’ll move onto whatever comes next.
5. Perhaps the most important single lesson I’ve had from my diagnosis and the adventure I’ve lived since then is just simply that the Lord is always there. I spent two years on a mission and I knew that truth then. I taught that truth to anyone and everyone I could for those two years. I have shared testimony and shared my belief that God loves us and that he is with us for as long as I can remember. But I can really say that I believe that and know that more than ever after the last couple of years. Sometimes it is so hard. Sometimes I feel like no one understands what I face on a day-to-day basis. No one understands the hard days, the tired days. No one understands the pain of needing a cane to get around on my 25th birthday. No one understands the sad and pity looks I would get when I walked around the store, the restaurant, or even church. It was all too easy to fall into that trap and begin to feel that same pity for myself. And when my world began to go gray I was always reminded of one thing. He is there. He loves me. And He understands. I can’t express my gratitude enough for my Saviour and everything he has done for me. And I can’t express adequately in words just how much strength that has given me to be able to pick myself up, sometimes both literally and figuratively, and to keep on going.
Silver linings. The name seems inadequate almost as I sit here and think about it. Because it’s a lot more than just the linings that are silver in my perspective.