This is a big year for momentous anniversaries and events. It is 3.1 leap years since the DH and I got married. The first time.
There was a big, if perhaps under-celebrated, graduation.
Then, the big 4-0, and we all know how that turned out.
Now in just 16 days, I will celebrate the 5th anniversary of Stroke Day. I don’t have a snappy picture for that, just some very fuzzy memories and a traumatized husband.
The other thing I do not have from Stroke Day, or its immediate aftermath, is some great inspirational quotation for you. Yes. My recovery was amazing, a gift really. Yes. I am thankful for it, nearly every day. The only thing I am more thankful for than my recovery, are the friends and family who visited me in the hospital, those who visited despite their deep unease in that environment, and particularly those who cared for me during my recovery and babysat me afterwards. (Ouiser, I’m looking at you.)
Yes. It is probably a little twisted to celebrate a day on which you almost died, but I do. I do it because it helps me to remember. To remember what it is like to learn to walk again, to do laps around the floor in my wheelchair, to make pudding with the 80 year old men, to be forced to do everything with my left hand, to need help going up and down stairs, to walk with a cane, to any number of things …
It is easy to forget all those details because unlike the dominant narrative about major illness and/or near death experiences my life didn’t suddenly change overnight. I didn’t get to walk away from the terribly hard work of dissertation writing, or teaching, to chase some long repressed dream or “true calling.” There were bills to pay and work to be done, so like any good working class woman I went back to work. I started writing. I found a full-time job. To this day people ask me, “How?” “How did you recover so well?” “How did you recover so quickly?” And I say, “Because I had to.”
So, I celebrate. I celebrate because I had to and I did, and that is – in and of itself – a blessing.
I’d help you down a flight of stairs anytime, Claree.
I prefer to remember the first anniversary of the stroke. You and B and I sat around with wine and marveled at the fact that the three of us could sit around and do that a year out.