I feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world. To have grown up on one of the most beautiful islands on the planet, to wander down to our pond with Kaal watching tadpoles morph into frogs, to collect beach glass on sunny days walking along South Beach. To be influenced by the gracious and reprimanding adults of the community that helped mold me. To learn from teachers who watched me grow from the time I was a toddler, pushing me to always challenge myself, to never settle. To get to experience Costa Rica as an exchange student in high school; realizing how amazingly different cultures are, yet noticing the similarities of human nature. That I was able to travel to Texas for college, experiencing the unique world of Southern Charm. That in my late 20's I was able to explore Thailand with only a backpack strapped over my shoulders. That I was nurtured by Friday Harbor and West Seattle friends who happened to live there, softening the blow of fear as I traveled alone. I was able to analyze who I was, who I wanted to be, what I believed in, and I spent a lot of time questioning the purpose of life. It was a time of epiphanies, of self growth. Then came deep love. True love. The partnering with my soul's mate. Which too soon, came the headache, the demanding of a MRI, and ultimately the moment that turned our lives upside down. That I survived the first tumor resection, then almost died from the blood clot in the tumor cavity. That I learned how to speak again, and read, and write, and walk, then run. That I have survived a second brain tumor, and now I'm fortunate enough to travel for medical care. That I am here, that I'm able to fight for my health. That I currently am without a tumor mass in my brain. It's amazing!
Last night my buddy Jess and I were laughing about my body. We laughed because Dan and I may not have fancy things, or expensive cars. We don't own a house, or have any assets. Instead, last year alone, we had just shy of $90,000 of medical deductions for our taxes. And that's only the amount that the government recognizes as tax deductable, we had more that we could not write-off. Essentially, in one year, my body cost us over $100,000. It's weird, I'm not draped in name brands, or fancy jewelry, but I probably cost more than 90% of the outfits walking around even the most expensive stores. I am invisibly expensive. Like a diamond in the rough.
It's humorous, the expense of my body, but at the same time it's kind of sad. I wish Dan didn't have to spend every extra dollar on my health. I wish he could fix up his car, or have a vacation that wasn't centered around a medical shot, or Dopa PET scan. I wish I could give him the wedding he deserves, or shoot, just provide the honeymoon (hubba, hubba). But we will never spend the money. We can't.
I am deeply happy to be alive, to be able to walk outside and brush my fingertips across our beautiful blue hydreangeas, or kneel down to trace the back of my had across our soft lambs ears (yes, yes I know, technically they're weeds, but the bees and butterflies love them so much). I'm am immensely grateful to be alive, and when I feel disappointed by the inevitable burden that is placed on Danny and my parents (who provide the venom and help with the cherry sales and many things during surgery times and so much of my emotional support), I try to remind myself that we can always get 'things' later. That life won't wait. That my medical care isn't an option. We work so hard to get to the place that most people take for granted. It's not their fault, it's human nature. Young people aren't supposed to get sick. We're supposed to hearty, and healthy and invincible.
When I feel sad about the things that Dan doesn't get to do, or how his life is changed by my health, I try and picture myself on the west side of the island being whipped by the salty air, or I anticipate the sweet scent of native blackberries that will permeate the air very soon. I just change the subject, and hope that my health will continue so that burden of me, and my care, will lessen. That someday we will be more normal. To not have such financial demands. That I will be able to someday fulfill Dan and my dream of owning a home, and for me to bear him children. It's scary to dream, especially in a world like ours that is so fluid, and unstable, but if you aren't dreaming, then you aren't living. And if you aren't living, you're just not dying.
Here's a delicious drink I created yesterday on my quest to survive this Seattle heat spell. My favorite part is the froth on the top, but if you don't like that just give it a quick swirl with a spoon before you poor. This is not a smoothie, it's light, and meant to be poored over ice.
1 liter coconut water
1/2 cucumber (with peel)
5 large kale leaves (stems removed)
1 celery heart & leaves (I eat a lot of celery as snacks so I keep the hearts and leaves for my smoothies.)
1/3-1/4 cup mint (stems removed)
1-2 inches of ginger root (peeled)
Here's the nutritional information for the whole pitcher:
The total calories for the entire pitcher: 348. You can add extra water to dilute and the concoction will go even further. I like to drink a full, regular glass, then I keep filling the cup with water because it retains some of the green goodness as flavor.
Don't just not die. Do something that makes you feel alive today.