This was written for The Red Dress Club‘s memoir writing project, Remembe(red). Concrit is always welcome, and thanks for taking the time!
This week we want you to recall something in your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful.
A positive from a negative experience.
Word limit: 600 My count: 550
Every life has its high points and low, and it's all too easy to get caught up in the “Why me?” of it all. I've been dealt my fair share of the crap side of things, but try to keep things in perspective and will maintain the belief that it all happens for a reason.
When I was 22, I got sick. Really, really sick. Six weeks in the hospital sick. Emergency rooms and plasmapheresis and blood draws and dialysis consumed all my time. I went from working two jobs, both of which I loved, and partying all weekend with friends, to coughing up blood in my hospital room, doubling my body weight in six weeks due to water retention.
Now, more than ten years past, I'm thankful for those things. Seriously. I'd like to share with you the chain of events that brought me to thankful.
When I was first admitted to the hospital, I wasn't entirely clear on what my final diagnosis would be, or how they would go about fixing my ailments. All I knew was that I wasn't OK. Going to what I thought was a standard doctor's appointment to “Oh, we need to admit you NOW” and then not seeing the outdoors for six weeks was a shock to say the least. (Positive side note number one, that first hospital stay forced me to quit my pack-a-day cigarette habit. I was so busy trying not to die, I didn't even realize I wasn't smoking.)
At the end of that stay, my doctor told me that he was going to write me out of work “for a while” so I could recover fully. I was looking forward to another month of freedom before going back to work. He wrote me out for six months instead. I was a little bit thrilled and more than a little bit terrified. They couldn't hold my job for me that long; it's a small company and I'm too needed… they'd have to replace me permanently. During that six months off work, I found out that I'd need a transplant, and my leave was extended indefinitely, while I waited.
Not having to work, but feeling pretty OK most of the time, left me with quite a bit of free time, and that eventually brought me back to youth ministry. I returned to volunteering with the organization that had been so important to me in high school, the Episcopal Diocese of California.
It was while staffing a diocesan event that I reconnected with an old friend, Jane, who was in the middle of planning her wedding to another old friend, Austin. Austin's best friend is Jamie. (See where this is going?) With all of this non-working time, I spent much of that summer helping Jane with wedding planning; she and I ended up on many double dates with Austin and Jamie, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Would Jamie and I have ended up together if I hadn't gotten sick? Who knows? There are some who would say what's meant to be will happen no matter what, but looking back, seeing the path my life has taken and where I've gotten thus far, I often stop and give thanks for the seemingly negative parts that have brought me here.