I remember 2 weeks before I was diagnosed with the tumor, I was sitting on our tired & sandy living room couch with Luke, basking in how sweet everything was and had been for months. We were recently engaged. Work was slow and easy. We had the most incredible support system. We lived near the water. Life was good. Life was great.

I wondered aloud to him what the storm would be when it hit. I said to him, “I hope it’s something shallow. I hope no one gets sick.”

Naively, I hoped that when the next storm hit us it would be something “small”. Something easier to talk about. A broken down car. A really difficult season at work.  A stumbling block in a friendship. Even a lost job. Then came November. Then came the tumor.

And now, you are here. You made it. You made it out of the valley. The valley not even your worst nightmares could muster the thought of. And from here? Where do we go? What do you do?

What do you do with the grace extended to you to keep living?

To keep moving forward? You live.

Sometimes the guilt will try to cripple you. It will try to tell you you should feel guilty for being able to laugh. To be able to walk. On the worst of days, it’ll try to tell you you should feel guilty for even being able to have the worst of days. It will try to tell you every time you see someone else struggling, yours wasn’t that bad. And why weren’t you picked to bear that burden? How quickly we forget how terrible our burdens actually were when we were sitting in the thick of it…

Worst of all…sometimes, with the voices of outsiders probbing, “Why did this happen to you??? Do you not eat enough? Have you taken vitamins throughout your life??? Why didn’t you notice sooner???”, it will try to tell you this is your fault. It. Is. Not.

Just as your loved ones have grieved through it and reached a level of acceptance, your mind has just gained its footing.

Adrenaline fueled me throughout the experience. And when it wasn’t that, I was on entirely too many medications to even know what day it was, let alone process or grieve. When everyone else is sinking back into normalcy, you are catching up completely. Wait a second…WHAT just happened?

Everyone will tell you how brave you are. How strong you are. All the while you’re wondering, “Did I even have a choice? I had to do what I had to do.”

So we are left with the question: What do I do now? Where do we go from here? We go up. Onward and upward. And you? You keep living. Fully.

Carry on and keep living with this season tucked into your heart with new found beauty and a deepened sense of gratitude tying it all up-keeping it safe and sound to be unwrapped and taken out when you’re called to help. And trust me, you will be called to help. Just make sure you are listening for those calls. Because goodness, they are the sweetest gift. They make every single bit of your valley worth the trek.

Fully Alive. Onward and very, very gratefully upward.


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