Four years

Please forgive my self-indulgent, mid-June introspection.

It’s impossible to look back on the past four years without thinking about the very dark days, and what keeps pulling me through when, more than anything, I desperately want to stop and give up.

It isn’t the countless “you’re so strong,” “hang tough,” “you got this,” “you’re an inspiration” comments that I receive along the way. Though well intentioned, these sentiments are filled with pressure to continue being a strong, inspirational person who always goes it alone with her chin up. It’s horribly isolating to someone who is already in the loneliest place.

What really keeps pushing me forward is not, in fact, some magical bottomless fountain of inner strength and fortitude. Not at all. It is gentle, kind, unexpectant love.

Love. From the person who said to me, “there is no doubt that you are strong enough to handle this alone, but you don’t have to.” From the person who kissed me, held my hand and said, “we will get you through this.” From the person who religiously drove me to a pool (there were three of them) when I couldn’t drive myself. From the person who said to me, “you don’t always have to be strong. I am here to help carry you when you are weak.” From the person who allows me to call and cry and be very angry and hasn’t yet been scared out of my life. From the person who sat quietly with me while I shook uncontrollably on the pool deck. From the person who can, without exception, always make me laugh.

This gentle, kind, patient, unflappable love from others continues to teach me how to be how to be gentle, kind, and patient with myself, how to love myself in spite of everything. So, if you perceive me to be unflappable during the toughest of times, it is only because I have the unwavering support of a couple extraordinary people. This is the reason I am able to keep going.

And finally, I guess the biggest, most important lesson that we can ever learn is summed up in a song: Don’t Stop.