On January 5, 2005, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Ten glorious, active years later, I am still going strong. It’s time to party!
I want to dine, drink a toast, sing and dance endlessly with all of you who have been on the journey with me, prayed for me, supported my husband and me, sent me home when I was tired, helped me decorate for parties, rejoiced, cried, and laughed with me. Thank you for dancing this new dance of life with me.
In December, when I realized that my tenth anniversary was around the corner, I decided this event is worth an entire month of celebration. I gave flowers to my doctor’s staff and high-fived my doctor as his eyes glistened. I planned to get together for coffee and meals with friends–old and new–who have danced this new dance with me. January 2015 was going to be a wonderful contrast to the somber tones of January 2005: This January would be full of celebration, energy, and joy.
But January didn’t happen the way I planned. Air pollution hung over the Los Angeles Basin for days at a time. Instead of partying, I spent most weeks sedentary and cooped up in my house to keep my lungs healthy. This was not the January I anticipated, dreamed about and wanted.
After weeks of trying to keep a good attitude (not always successfully), I realized that no rule book says the celebrations have to happen in January. I can just postpone them by a month. I dreamed up the idea of celebrating all month in the first place and I can change it. I just needed to think about it in a new way. Here is the new plan: party in February.
Yes, I would have preferred being out-and-about this month, seeing friends, hiking in the hills, and celebrating life with toasts and a broad smile. On the other hand, since that wasn’t possible, I will consider this latest experience an ironic reminder of how my life and plans turned upside down ten years ago this month. Maybe January 2015 was an appropriate anniversary, after all. Postponing my wining and dining for a month is a small adjustment compared to what I have already done. I can do this one, too.
Get ready to celebrate, wherever you are. February is coming. Salute!
In a box of dusty papers lay a treasure buried years ago: a poem from Mother on the importance of both strength and courage. Her hand-written note across the top of the page made this an even greater treasure, “For Barbara, who exemplifies this better than anyone I know. Lovingly, Mom.”
From Mother’s hand and my dusty box, from my heart to your eyes, words on strength and courage:
Strength and Courage
It takes strength to be firm.
It takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard.
It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to hide your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.
It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live. (Author Unknown)
*Personal Update: Some people tour national parks during the summer. I toured emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, instead. I recovered quickly from a round of pneumonia, thanks to care I received in an Omaha hospital. Outpatient cataract surgery gave me better vision than I’ve had since high school. My recently broken foot has mended. An adrenal deficiency is still problematic and its cause undiagnosed. Heart and lungs are behaving well. Next summer I want to visit parks.