2017 was a big year for me. I had two major surgeries and a 3rd minor surgery. I was diagnosed with cancer and received radiation and chemotherapy. As the year concluded lots of people made comments to me about how I must be glad to kick 2017 goodbye after such a crap year.
I refuse to label last year as a crap year. I’m not going to pretend that it was easy. But… How can I possibly label it as crappy when during that year I saw so many bright moments during the darkness or witnessed and experienced some of the kindest, selfless and skilled actions of our world’s amazing humankind?
How could I possibly call 2017 a crap year when I witnessed so much beauty from people, events, resources, moments?
A husband who stays by your side no matter what.
The life changing transformative power of skilled surgeons and their supporting medical teams.
The dedication and care of amazing nurses.
The privilege of exemplary medical facilities and services.
The stupendous power of painkillers.
The excited faces of children each time they are reunited with their Mummy.
Family and friends who visit to cheer you up or just to be present.
A GP who is an amazing support during post-op care.
A church who cheers you on, lifts you up in prayer and helps out in practical ways.
A husband who doesn’t complain with all the extra jobs he needs to do because you can’t do much at all.
People who arrive at your house to scrub your toilet, wash your floors, do your ironing, clean the mould from your bathroom roof, etc. etc. etc.
School teachers who send emails to update you of your child’s progress during your absence and send you a get well card from a class and flowers from the school.
The kindness in the tone of a surgeon who tells you for the first time that there is cancer in your body.
Friends who decipher your gobblededook texts when you are high on meds asking for prayer.
Friends and family who pray.
People who pray for you even though they don’t know you.
A GP who will return your call within 2 minutes after hearing you have been diagnosed with cancer and give you all the advice you need.
People who send little gifts to cheer you up.
People who watch out for your kids and make sure they are OK when you can’t do it.
People who deliver a meal or baked goods that keep you and your family sustained.
Parents, Siblings and In-Laws who pause their lives to be there for myself, the kids and hubby.
People who offer grace when you are being unreasonable or short tempered.
A husband who loves you through the good, bad and the ugly.
Children who are resilient and strong.
2017 proved to me that I am strong. It’s a powerful thing to have your strength proven.
I was strong enough to plan for my temporary absence from family life and set up strategies for my family to carry on in my absence and reduced capacity.
I was strong enough to walk into a hospital and submit my body to painful experiences knowing it would result in greater good.
I was strong enough to lay in ICU and allow myself to be completely cared for knowing that weakness leads to strength.
I was strong enough to be a nice patient.
I was strong enough to sit, stand and start walking (and go to the toilet) only days after a 6 hour operation where two titanium rods were screwed into my spine.
I was strong enough to be genuinely interested in others even when everything was hurting.
I was strong enough to know that laughter is a good medicine.
I was strong enough to know that tears are sometimes necessary for healing.
I was strong enough to have determination to do all I physically could to heal.
I was strong enough to pause and do nothing so I could heal.
I was strong enough to imagine my children without a mother even though I pray it will never happen.
I was strong enough to discuss with my husband what life would be like without me in it.
I was strong enough to accept help.
I was strong enough to gracefully reject offers to help when I knew it wasn’t going to be helpful for my family or I.
I was strong enough to celebrate my children’s birthdays even when I was physically exhausted to the max.
I was strong enough to make super dooper birthday cakes and presentable costumes for school despite being in the midst of tiring chemo and radiation regimes.
I was strong enough to apologise for the times I did things the wrong way.
I was strong enough to laugh.
I was strong enough to never stop loving fiercely.
I was strong enough to never stop believing and find strength in my faith.
There were multitudes of challenges throughout that year. Not only myself, but also for my family to walk through. Cancer and major health issues don’t affect just an individual, especially when you’re a Mum. We muddled through them together. The name on this blog rings true. My heart is happy. (But I am grateful that 2018 hasn’t been as challenging as last year!)
If you are walking alongside a loved one who is having a hard time right now or watching someone from afar. Be assured that there is so much you can do to help. Don’t underestimate the power of kindness. Be encouraged that sometimes all you need to do is turn up listen, help or do your job well and it will make all the difference in somebody’s life. Go the extra mile to show kindness even when it’s inconvenient.
If you are going through a rough time, be reassured. Suffering can be a gift. It makes you realise all the blessings in your life. It can increase your faith or give you faith. It makes you stronger. It can give you hope in Eternity. It can give you confidence in the existence and reality of God.
We are half way through 2018. What can you do to make the world a better place for those around you? Whether 2018 is a remarkable year or a tough year for you, pause. Appreciate the beauty. It is easily found when you stop and look. All around us, every day, there is always enough joy to create some happiness in your heart.