It’s been a year. The best way I’ve thought to describe it is the feeling you have when the anniversary of the death of a loved one creeps up. This extreme, overwhelming, constant lump in your throat, sometimes even dizzying grief at the life lost envelopes you. Flipping through photos as The Day sneaks up closer and closer, you find it harder and harder to not talk about and tell stories about that life lost. And yet, beneath this all consuming grief, bubbles of incomparable gratitude simmer even stronger. The thankfulness felt knowing that loved one is Home, and that you got the blessing of knowing them and loving them while they were stopping by in their time on earth, brings you to tears; completely at war with the grief striking you and encompassing you with its cold arms. It’s been a year. It’s been a year.

“Are you in?”, the PA said, unmistakably frantic himself with an excitable fear I’ve yet to be able to describe. Yes. Yes. Thank you Jesus. We were in.

1 year ago today, Dr. Robert Hirschl, PA Patrick Houde, and their teams at Orlando Regional Medical Center saved my life. None of this would’ve happened if Luke and I would’ve settled. We joke about it, but in all honesty, without doubt, had I stayed with the first neurosurgeon in South Florida who questioned me constantly, concluded I had kidney stones, then possibly a cyst, until finally concluding what we all knew it to truly be…had we settled and not followed our guts and pushed for more, I would be paralyzed or dead. Period. He would’ve hacked away at the schwannoma, never realizing it was a neurofibroma, striking my nerves all along the way. Had we not been “those people” and questioned the first opinions, that would’ve been the reality we placed ourselves in.

I’ve been so blessed to have many “listening” eyes watch as this story has continued to unfold. The biggest thing I want to shout to the rooftops til the whole universe hears it is this: The little nudge, the little voice, the little pains you feel…they are YOURS. And they are REAL. I believe you. Now, you believe you. Do. Not. Settle. Be it a concerning new medical symptom, a dream you’ve subdued, a new promotion you’re yearning to throw your hat in the ring for, a person you’ve been wanting to reach out to…do it now. If we had listened to everybody else and denied our guts, I would not be here. Not every situation is life or death, but in all reality, if you’re denying yourself of what your soul is so urgently trying to tell you…are you really living, after all?

Go to the doctor. Be “that person”. Ask the question in the staff meeting. Stand up to the toxic person. Say no. Say yes. Write. The. Book. Whatever it is, please, do it. My papa always told me, and still does, “Always trust that gut of yours, girl. It’ll never steer ya wrong!” Honor the life you’ve been given to the fullest. Trust and listen to your gut. It’s. Your. Life. Your one, precious, earthly life. And it’s yours to make. Stop caring what anyone thinks. Chances are, if they’re judging, if they’re questioning, they’re not going to be with you in the journey anyways. In the high points, the low points, and the corkscrew what in the world is going on points. That’s ok. Their stop is elsewhere. Leave them be, and keep going on your track. It’s going to take you the very best of places.

This year has shaken me to the core. It has brought me to tears at the immense beauty of God’s faithfulness and g-r-a-c-e in every single moment. The big ones and the very small. This is Him. All Him.

I want to thank you all. I’ve made and grown so many relationships in this chapter. Thank you for sitting with us in this. Thank you for validating our feelings in this. Thank you for never, ever judging. Thank you for never, ever diminishing. Thank you for praying. Thank you for cheering. Thank you for reading. Thank you for hugging and virtually hugging. We’re grateful for you. Telling my story has made this new normal, with all of its big and small question marks of what is still to come, so much more bearable. I’m not alone. And neither are you. There has been a purpose in my pain. That is all I could ever hope for. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Big hugs. Virtual and real. Always.


Featured Image: Creative Imaginations Photography

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