On December 8 years ago I came face-to-face with death. On December 8 this year I came face-to-face with life.
Even more than my birthday, I think of December 8 as my day. It’s the day I circle on the calendar; the day I make plans for. My parents give me chocolates. A college roommate thought it quite bizarre that I celebrate the day I was hit by a car. I’m sure others think so, too. But every December 8 I put on my shoes and think: I’m still here. I’m still putting on my shoes.
For reasons making perfect sense in my mind, I spent most of my life after that December 8 believing I would only live to twenty-six. By this same unique brand of logic, at twenty-six I got the distinct impression that I hadn’t completed my life mission yet—to be an author—and I had five more years to do so. That gave me until thirty-one to get the book(s) out there I needed to. I was confident I could get it done. And I was fine with the idea that by thirty-one, I too would be done.
What I didn’t count on was getting sick just shy of my thirtieth birthday. I always assumed (you know, like you do) that I’d suffer brain death: that at some point, my brain would just stop working. I hadn’t counted on that happening slowly, but each day my mind betrayed me more and more. The end was coming—I could feel it, and I was prepared. I was almost thirty-one, and I was tired of suffering. God had promised me—had PROMISED me—it would be over soon.
And then it was over. But not in the way I expected.
I started getting better.
When my brain told me right hand to move, it would move. When I wanted to sit up and look down at the same time, I did it without dizziness. I walked down grocery store aisles unafraid of collapsing. I could type again. I could write again.
And then another December 8 rolled around. I was invited to a Christmas party at a local bookstore where I signed my two books. I mingled with friends and remembered how many good, good people I know, and how much I love them. I heard about a long-distance friend’s good news and was so genuinely thrilled for him it felt as though I were experiencing the joy as my own (MM, this is to you) . It hit me real and tangible: I need more time with these people. I’m not done living yet.
It’s a mixed blessing. I’d grown accustomed to not wanting more for myself, I had learned to be content, I was at peace with finishing my life. And now that my life isn’t finished, I need to keep going. And it isn’t easy to keep going, especially when you’re anyone, but especially especially when you’re an author and writing is HARD, and finding the strength to finish that next book can look impossible.
But I’ve found that some pretty strange things are possible, and not just for other people, but for me, so for now I am just going to put my shoes on and think: I’m still here. I’m still putting on my shoes, and remember just what a lucky thing that is.