Today is the last day of my thirties.
Wow, that feels strange to immortalize in print.
One one hand, there is a running narrative where I still don’t feel completely at ease with the fact that I am a grown woman —a sneaking, slithering thought percolating that I am pretending at this game we call adulthood. After all, wasn’t it just yesterday that I was debating prom themes and worrying about extracurricular activities with my friends? Heck, I still have stress dreams about winning Senior year’s Spirit Week.
Then there is the other corner of my mind, the one that feels like that of an eighty year old woman, with a weathered body and an old-soul to match. This is the place where my chronic illness has taken root, filled with appointments, pain and procedures—an endless waiting room where you are always promised, “the doctor will be right with you.”
I should get some kind of refund, right? After all, a huge percentage of my thirties was spent too sick to get out of bed, unable to live the life I’d planned. While friends are getting married and having babies, I’m searching for another specialist who can help stem the tide of new symptoms that continually arise as I battle the onslaught familiar to the rare disease sufferer.
But all is not dire and dreary. Yes, I’m back in my childhood home, but I am surrounded by love and support—something that I wouldn’t trade for the world. And I packed my twenties with so many amazing memories that I am exceedingly thankful for. From working in the White House to walking back and forth on the red carpet, I am forever grateful to have met so many amazing friends and colleagues and made such amazing memories.
When I think back to that young girl leaving home for the first time, hopes and dreams carried on her her sleeve, part of me aches for her, knowing what’s to come. Then I remember that I have made it through three brain surgeries and I’m still standing. Yes, I still hurt. still cry. Still suffer, but honestly no one is immune from life. We all struggle, mine is with my health. And I still have moments of breathlessness when I consider the magnitude of never getting better. Grieving anything takes time, so I will continue to give myself the leeway to mourn when it overwhelms me. I tend to give others the benefit of the doubt, there is no reason I shouldn’t extend that courtesy to myself.
So bring on the forties.
Ready or not, here I come.