Today I turn 29. Today I enter the last year of my twenties. Today I leave behind one of the hardest years of my life, if not the hardest I’ve ever experienced. Today I move past all that 28 brought, good and bad, and embrace a new year ahead.
As I look back at my birthday post from last year, I feel like an entirely different person wrote that than woke up the following day. Last year on my birthday my mom had a mammogram, the next day they called her back in to tell her they had found something. Within a week our world had been turned upside down and with her breast cancer diagnosis, suddenly the Earth had shifted under me and everything changed. I remember to this day how my heart sank when I got that phone call, sitting in a hotel room up in Seattle, a moment I’ll never forget how horrible that felt. I remember feeling in such a haze those next few weeks and throughout my Mom’s battle with cancer last Fall and through the New Year, I remember days passing on the calendar but not really aware of moments, not aware of what I was doing, not aware of what was swirling around me. I wrote this post about a week after we found out and reading it now brings back so many feelings, so many emotions that in many ways feel like it just happened yesterday.
My 28th year didn’t start off well. It followed a couple months later by one of my best friend’s dad’s passing away suddenly shortly before Christmas and then in March, two days into our trip to Spain in March, my grandpa had a massive stroke. There were more moments than I would care to remember where I literally said out loud “can we please catch a break?” It felt as though the walls were closing in, as if it was one test after another, one heartbreak after another, one tear after another and another. We went from emotional highs to emotional lows, we went from seeing each other at our darkest only to grasp at any good news, to then be dragged down yet again. I’ve never in my life felt so adrift as I did during the first 6 months of my 28th year on this planet.
I’ve never felt so in need of hope, so exhausted to the point of not being able to even think about the simplest things, so emotionally drained that just saying a word seemed like too much work. I did learn throughout my 28th year though that life isn’t all about sadness, even when it seems the darkness is surrounding you. I learned there can be a surreal pink sunset at the end of a gray day and that every new day starts with the sun rising. I learned that no matter how hard life may be, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, however small and faint it might seem. I learned that when you love someone, you lay it all on the line for them and that the hardest thing in the world is not being able to help someone you love. I learned that life will always give us challenges, we’ll always have ups and downs, we’ll all feel severe heartbreak at some point, we’ll all feel loss, we’ll all feel extreme sadness and fear. But in those emotions, we get as close to pure humanity as possible on this planet and in those emotions we find our true soul.
Here we are a year later. My mom is completely healthy and back to normal routines, my grandpa with no permanent physical damage from his stroke, still here laughing and telling jokes. Here we are a year later, a year passed, a tough year, a really trying year, a draining year but we’re here. And isn’t that the most important thing? We’re here to love and laugh and live, we’re here to watch every pink sunset and hear the sound the rain makes against the trees outside your window. We’re here to watch as the seasons change, to embrace the changes within ourselves, to acknowledge that what we’ve been through might have changed something in us, but that we can’t grow without change. We’re here to embrace this incredible life we’ve been given.
No one ever said it would be easy. No one ever said it was supposed to be. No one ever said that challenges wouldn’t arise. And after a really hard 28th year on this planet, I can honestly say I’ve never grown so much as a person, or learned as much as a woman, or found so much fulfillment in the ordinary moments than I have this year. So as I turn 29 today, I’m looking forward to embracing each and every moment I have, spending time with those that I love, offering a little help to those who might need it, and to truly take in each and every moment of precious time on this incredibly beautiful planet we call home.