January is the strangest month.
This year everyone has not only been reflecting on the year past but also on the last decade. Sometimes it’s hard to read constant reviews and posts about the last ten years but we have both been guilty of this reflection too. For us, the past ten years account for the full length of our relationship, as Andy asked me to be his girlfriend in January 2010 after a few weeks of dating. I’ll be really honest- it felt a little too soon for us to be “official” but I figured that it would have happened in a couple of weeks anyway, so what’s the harm? He’s clearly keen so let’s go with it. I obviously never told him this and found out during a “Mr and Mrs” quiz at my hen party that he didn’t want to ask me out in the first place. In this video he states how he was told by his parents to “either ask her out or stop stringing her along”, clearly not as keen as I thought. So here we are, ten years later and only together because we felt we had to be. Obviously somewhere along the line we decided we did actually like each other, but Andy fell first of course.
Andy has the best memory, he remembers every little detail, no matter how insignificant it may be and it does my head in as I remember nothing. I just don’t think that it’s necessary to point out the petrol station that we stopped at eight years ago to have a pee, every time we pass it. We often have a ten minute discussion about random things like this because Andy is trying for ages to find the words to tell me something and I’m trying super hard to guess (making it worse most of the time). I hate when he just gives up trying to say what he wants so I try to encourage him to keep going, but see when after ten minutes I realise he is telling me more pointless memories about things that weren’t even exciting at the time, I’m cracking up!! Patience. I think that is a word that can describe the past 3.5 years, patience, patience and when you feel like cracking up, paaaaatience!!
It is definitely good to reflect, I think I used to disagree with that a little and didn’t like this point in January for that reason but I recently read a post from my friend Ashlee (@still_a_sister on IG) and I just love her reflections.
“What can I say about the last decade ? It was hard, like proper painful hard. It was truely beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Did I survive ? Yes. It’s incredible the amount of times a heart can break and piece itself back together in just a handful of years. But it does. Bit by bit. Slowly but surely. What have I learnt? I’ve learnt to loosen my grip on the things I have no control over. I’ve learnt to forgive and forgive quick because people are too important to hold grudges against & nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. I’ve learnt that you can journey great suffering but experience great blessing at the very same time. I’ve learnt that every day is a special occasion and is worth celebrating. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to be happy 1 second & sad the next, you would not know one without the other. I’ve learnt that crying is not weakness but rather an outpouring of the love I have been so fortunate to experience in my life. I have learnt that there is gold in everyone if you take the time to see it. I have learnt that if someone wants to be in your life- they will be and it’s always that simple. I’ve learnt that nobody gets through this life easy so be kind to everyone. Ive learnt that everyone has a story worth listening to and time is the greatest gift you can give them. I’ve learnt that getting up and out into the fresh air is always better than being locked in your room, nomatter how you might be feeling. I’ve learnt that you should never be afraid to be yourself and that often that gives others the courage to be themselves too. The list goes on and on but lastly I’ve learnt that I am strong, like super- power, amazing strong and that although life can get the better of me some days- I can always get the better of it in the end. Theres so much more out there for me (good and bad) but no matter what it brings me or takes from me I can still be overflowing by the grace of God. So in the words of the last song my mum ever sang to me- “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”, right into the next decade. ☀️ 2020 you’ll be a rollercoaster I’m sure, but I’m ready for your adventures”
Sometimes people will say to me that something I have written has been exactly how they were feeling, but unable to articulate themselves and this is how I feel about Ashlee’s posts. The past decade has looked very different for both of us but I can identify with so many of her points, I hope you also find it helpful today.
I spoke last year about feeling as though we were in the winter. It was a profound moment for me when I realised that our winter will pass, I had no idea when this would be but suddenly I had hope for the burning sun of summer. 2019 showed snippets of heat, albeit short lived and so we continued to battle everything life was throwing at us. In August of last year we started to see a little light poke through again but I never wanted to get myself too excited. We had been getting bad news after bad news and it was exhausting. We longed for something good and then slowly came these little pockets of goodness that brought hope. We allowed ourselves to celebrate whilst also guarding our hearts as they have been so fragile and life has been so hard. I would never wish anyone to experience what we did in 2018-beginning 2019.
September seen the end of Andy’s intense bedrest and we gained some normality back. Although life is still hard at times, it’s been feeling like just the normal level of hard that comes with our life and that we could handle it for a while. Just before Christmas I heard the same song that induced that profound moment the year before and I was excited. I thought right I am going to be overwhelmed by the difference in how I feel a year later and I was welcoming all the emotions to give me all the feels but in fact I didn’t feel much. Life was looking different yes and I definitely do not feel as overwhelmed as I did last year but just as Ashlee said “it’s okay to be happy 1 second & sad the next, you would not know one without the other” and I do just think this is the reality of living life with a spinal cord injury (SCI), a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the loss of a life you were living into. Even when we aren’t in the thick of winter it can be hard, just as you can find little gold moments of joy in the hardship. Even just now, I’ve had to leave the warmth of the duvet in our newly cleaned spare room to help Andy, who found himself caught somewhere in between his wheelchair and the bed. This life interrupts our blissful moments and that’s just the way it is going to be, we just need to find ways to encourage our own resilience and lean on our Father in heaven, our living hope.
This has been a strange post for me as I started it on a great day and I’m finishing it now after a really tough week. I’m hopeful for sure but I normally avoid writing in times like this and therefore I don’t know how to finish, so I think I’ll just say this. Over the past few weeks I have been given so much encouragement surrounding this blog and I just want to say thank you for being kind. Thank you for encouraging me to step into this again and again, I love it and apparently it’s helpful to lots of you which is just the best thing I can hear. I hope you have a great week and if like me you can’t wait for January to be over… we are so close!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” 1 Peter 1:3-4