A couple years ago on this day I published a blog post on my old site about why I should be eating cake today. So, considering it’s November 9th again it seemed fitting to re-publish this post to remind myself why this day is so important to me and why I need to celebrate this day.
There are so many things that I have learned and re-learned in the last five years – all kinds of things about grief, maturity, imperfection, beauty, relationships, marriage, motherhood. I used to think I knew all about those things before life instantaneously changed. When my life changed five years ago I was pretty pissed off, resisting the changes, wanting to go back to “normal”, wanting my old self back, wanting to forget everything that had happened. But, after all the months and the years, and all the work and the writing and the therapy, I ask myself now, “Do I really want to be her again?”
The answer is no.
I like myself today so much more than I ever have in my whole life. When I started to really appreciate myself I was reading a memoir about a woman who struggled and survived alcoholism. About finding herself, she writes it much better than I could ever say:
“I don’t know how it happened, or exactly how long it took. But I looked up one day and discovered, to my own shock as much as anyone else’s, that I was something approaching the woman I might like to be.” – Sarah Hepola, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
When I read that, I simultaneously cried and cheered.
Someone once asked me why would I ever want to commemorate the day I had a stroke because, of course, it was a terrible day. There are really dark and desperate memories of that day and I will never forget them. I never asked what happened to me, but sometimes our most precious gifts are given to us in really, really ugly packages. And eventually over time they become the prettiest of them all.
So today is a celebration of life, beauty, recovery and good health and so today we eat cake. And feel fabulous.
(scroll down for original post)
Monday, November 9, 2015
Let Them Eat Cake
On the way home from the gym this morning, sweaty and feeling euphoric from my 30 minute workout on the treadmill, it occurred to me that today I should have cake. I should have cake because today is the day 3 years ago my whole life changed and I should celebrate it.
Today is the day that I couldn’t say my name,
Today is the day that I couldn’t read, write, and
Today is the day that my right side inexplicably went completely numb.
And today is the same kind of day — crisp, cool, sunny, unexceptional — the same kind of November day that I had a stroke.
Over the last 3 years I’ve spent somedays finding myself ready to “move on”, accepting the imperfect future a brain injury provides, but I’ve also spent plenty of time wallowing in my self-pity, pissed off that I’ll never be the same Kate again and that I lost months, even years, re-learning things that I already learned in elementary school. Going through this whole experience it seems that it would be the right time to weave some sappy, histrionic phrase from quote.com to illustrate that I’ve attained some kind of nirvana after all the anguish, but that’s not really life. Rarely are things so buttoned-up. And was it all that bad?
In my experience I’ve met so many extraordinary people that have triumphed over tragedy after the wake of their strokes. I’ve met people that are not able to walk, people that aren’t able to talk, people that aren’t able to write, read or even remember what they did yesterday. I’m amazed by peoples’ will to live, their ability to defy the odds are heroic. And so today they get cake, too.
This has been an extremely emotional journey in the last 3 years, but I’m so grateful that I’ve met so many wonderful healthcare providers, stroke survivors, and caregivers, and I wouldn’t have been able to go through it all without them. I’m still working through all of this, I still have some physical limitations to work on, but again, it is better and it’s not so bad.
But whether or not it is, I don’t care, I will think about it tomorrow. Because today we all get cake.