As weeks went by my life settled back into a normal rhythm. Except it didn’t feel normal. There was no longer an urgency in my life. I didn’t need to worry about missing work, planning flights, scans, prescriptions, surgeries, etc. You would think I should have begun to float through life in a tranquil sea of calm. You would think that, but you’d be wrong.
Now there was anxiety.
Anxiety that at any moment the bottom could drop out. I never knew if I would wake up and feel the familiar pressure inside my head or not be able to see in my periphery. The future is always uncertain, but once you have had an event pick up your life and shake it like a snow globe, after the particles settle, you begin to hold your breath waiting for the next upheaval.
I felt like I had been given a reprieve and for that I was so grateful but I also knew I shouldn’t get too comfortable because it could get rescinded at any moment. As a result I was having a hard time relaxing and enjoying life.
One night while talking with Sean I blurted out a question. To this day I’m not sure what possessed me to ask him, but he gave me a piece of advice that I now live by. He probably didn’t even know he was giving me a gift so profound but that’s the thing about advice I guess. The best kind is usually from people who are not even aware that they are giving it.
The two of us were being lazy, dozing on the couch, I had just woken up from a bad dream that thankfully he did not notice. (he has rescued me many times from night terrors. Shaking me awake when I can’t tear myself away from the negative images that sometimes swim around in my head at night). I shifted my body towards him to bury my head in his chest and I knew he was awake so I asked him…
“Sean how do you not worry?
“Not worry about what?” he murmured groggily
“That. You know. Something bad is gonna happen.”
He took a deep breath and without even opening his eyes, “Something bad will always happen Steph. You can’t live your life being afraid that it will. You just have to accept it and know that you are strong enough to handle it when it gets here. Your strength is one of the reasons I like you so much.”
I hugged him tighter. It was the perfect answer to what in hindsight was kind of an awkward and difficult question. Being afraid of something that was beyond my control was unproductive. There was no way to keep it from happening but accepting the fact that life was not always “good” and that “bad” things were going to happen took some of the fear out of the equation. Everyone fears the unknown. But knowing that there will be challenges down the road and deciding to prepare yourself to be strong enough to get through them made me feel less anxious. It was time to seize these six months and become the strongest person I could so that when my next challenge came along I would be ready. This thought was somehow energizing. As he drifted back to sleep I found myself wide awake staring at the ceiling.
hmmmm how did I want to get stronger?
I looked over at my bike…