Monday, July 15, 2013

A life anniversary

Every year, at this time of year, I feel overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. And the older I get and the more time passes, the more I feel it. I feel my mortality more now that I'm a mother, I think. Life isn't about me, anymore.

On July 14 2001, I had a really big operation. One that saved my life. One that took a team of surgeons 17.5 hours to complete.

My face was cut in two, my tongue cut away, my jaw sawn in half, and my throat opened all the way to my behind my left year. And when that was all stitched and pinned back together with screws and pins and plates, the back of my neck was opened up from midway down my skull to that point on your upper back where you rub when your shoulders ache or a headache begins.

I nearly died. I really nearly died.

But I didn't. I had to learn again how to swallow. How to talk. How to walk.

Anyone who has had an experience like this, I am sure will understand this post.

Above all, I am grateful. So grateful for modern medicine, for skilled surgeons, for rehabilitation, for wonderful nurses, for access to healthcare that is exceptional.

I am grateful for T, who was unwavering. Who refused to let me set him free the night before the surgery because I didn't want him to be forced to give up his dreams and his future because the person he fell in love with as a teenager might become quadriplegic for life.

He held my hands, stared me in the eyes, and told me that a life with me in it was the life he wanted, however it came, whatever it brought, and that he'd push me wherever I wanted to go until I took my last breath.

He slid a wedding band over my finger, even though we weren't married yet. For me, from that moment, we were. Bound to each other for life. Our hearts intertwined. In sickness or in health. We knew we were. We didn't need a witness for it to be true.The formalities came later.

I am more grateful than I can ever articulate for my beautiful boys. My miracles. The two most amazing people I didn't dare to hope for. Who changed me. Who have taught me more about life, love and myself in the past 3.5 years than the previous 33.

I am grateful for my beautiful life. My truly blessed, beautiful life.

But no matter how hard I try, I can't shake the feeling that I've wasted it somehow.

I know how self-indulgent and ridiculous that sounds. I do. Of course it's not wasted. I have love. I have children. I have food and shelter and warmth. I have family and friends. I am happy.

But yet, there it is.

My survival was against the odds. I know that sounds incredibly dramatic, but it's true. This was the second time.

Why am I so lucky? Why was I spared? What is it that I'm supposed to do? Have I missed it? Did my 'purpose' present itself and did I miss it? How will I recognise it if it appears?

I'm worried I've failed to reach its potential. I'm worried I haven't made the most of it. Or that I won't.

In my rational moments, I am happy to concede that actually there is no higher purpose. An amazingly skilled team of medical professionals were able to fix the problem. As simple as that.

Unfortunately I tend towards the emotional more often than I care to admit, and probably spend too long pondering these questions.

So this year, I am going to stop with the introspective guilt.

I am going to stop thinking that a perfectly ordinary life isn't enough. Because it is.

I am determined to stop wasting time and energy being cross or silly about things. I want to be brave enough to stop being sensible all the time and throw caution to the wind every once in a while. To follow my heart. To celebrate life. To stop and enjoy simple moments and take pleasure in the everyday.

I don't have all the answers, but I do have gratitude. And love. And I have my perfectly ordinary life that I nearly didn't get to have.

I don't need to change the world. I just need to make the most of mine, of ours.


  1. Your words = breathtakingly beautiful, inspiring and brave... as are you lovely lady. Just being the wonderful mum you are to your two boys IS enough... What a lot you've had to face in your lifetime. I'm in the middle of reading a book called 'The Gift Of An Ordinary Day' by Katrina Kenison... I think you'd really like it xx

    1. Thank you Amanda. That book sounds right up my alley - off to investigate asap! xxx

  2. Lovely post Jen... I'm sitting here with tears dripping down my face... So lovely to know you and have such a friendly bubbly happy person in our lives. As I grow older the more I begin to acknowledge that life isn't about the big things... It's about the little things... The ordinary things... Those are the things that count. That's what I like to think anyway ;)

    You have a lovely family and two beautiful boys that clearly think you are wonderful! Enjoy your beautiful fortune and happiness! Xxx


Thank you for posting! You've just made my day :)