I still remember

A good friend of mine left today, she flew back to her home in Berlin. I thought about her today as the hours went by. Then as I was walking out of work, I picked up the phone to call and leave her a voice mail and she answered! Lufthansa had been delayed, she was boarding about 20 minutes late. We talked one more time before she boarded and then she texted me right before the doors closed. As we talked I remembered the day I got on a plane with two suitcases, I remember seeing the mountains of my home disappear beneath me. I remember thinking, wow will I ever come back to this country? Will I be the same? What will change in my life? Will I be successful? To a 16 year old college freshman, the world seemed overwhelming. I was headed to the United States, a country I never knew as home. I was determined to be someone, I was determined to be successful. Now almost 12 years later, I look at what I have done in my life. I look at the things I have accomplished and wonder have I reached the success I hoped for when I was a child.

I have earned two degrees, and I have a third degree about 90% complete. I have a home that I call for the most part my own, I have a car, a cell phone, furry kids, and yes most importantly a husband. I think back to when I was a 16 year old kid in Honduras….did I ever expect to make it this far? In 12 years would I have guessed that I would have made it this far?

I know I would not have guessed that for the past 5 years I would have been battling RA, Lupus, and Fibromyalgia. I know I would never have thought I would have suffered the intense pain daily that I suffer now. I know for sure I would never have thought I would make chemotherapy and biologic injectable meds my life. As a child you would have to chase me to give me a shot, never in a million years would I ever have guessed that I would be self-injecting a medicine (a biologic no less!). WOW! What I have experienced in these years.

As I said good bye to my friend, I remember telling her “you will be successful, don’t be defined by what life has throw at you to this point. Be defined by the future you make for yourself.” Her home is Berlin, she is returning home and for that I am happy! I am happy she is going back to family and friends that are her normal. When will she return to me, I have no idea! I do know that I was blessed to know her for the time I did know her. She taught me many things, and by the time her flight lands in Frankfurt tomorrow morning…I will have spend considerable time thinking of her traveling. As she and I said when we said good-bye via phone today. It is not good-bye it is a see you later!

I said “see you later” to my home country! And yes I do think I am going back one day! I am definitely proud of what I have done. I am proud that I have worked hard, I am proud that I am advocating for myself. Too often it is easy to hide the pain, mostly because others don’t see it. You can look amazing, yet feel so rotten. And while I tried to do that myself..I realized the value of others knowing your pain so they might understand ONE DAY how much of a fighter you are in life. So I am thankful that I remember where I came from, I remember life’s lessons, and yes I remember the feeling of urgency that I must bring awareness to the life of some one with an invisible illness. It is hard to bring awareness, it is a bareness that sometimes I wish I could hide. It is a weakness that I wish I didn’t have, a weakness because I have to be honest that I am not a tank, I am not mighty and strong all the time. Nope instead there are many days that even zipping up a skirt brings so much pain that I cry. Sometime brushing my teeth make my fingers hurt so bad. Sometimes just rolling out of bed pops both hips and bring such pain. BUT I will refuse to let these pains win! I will remember where I came from, and not be defined by where I am today. I will be defined by what I do tomorrow.

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