I met a woman in a car shop as few weeks back.We were both waiting while burly men in the other room hammered and tinkered on our respective heaps of metal. I never learned her name, but we spent a good hour of small talk on each other. The woman had retired from a federally funded job early and was 58 and like most strangers she became interested when I mentioned that I was a 24 year-old Freshman attending Bible College. We talked about school and majors and about how ridiculous I felt most of the time sitting in class with a bunch of 18 year-old children. This woman said something to me, something that I didn’t really think much about at the time, but she told me that every 5 years she takes a few minutes to think about her life; that she’ll sit down and remember where she was 5 years ago and then spend a few more minutes thinking about the possibilities of where she might be in 5 years time and that by doing this it makes birthdays less painful and also really helps her put her life into perspective and feel grateful for where she is.
5 years ago I was turning 20 and I was pretty convinced that it was going to take a miracle for me to see my 25th birthday. I was in a struggle for what seemed to be my life at the time, and quite honestly most of the time it felt like I was on the losing end. It’s something that I don’t talk a lot of and when I do it’s usually just a skeleton version of the story; I got sick, went to a lot of hospitals, had a lot of tests done, was pretty sure I was dying, turns out I wasn’t. I’m not exactly sure how that version comes across, whether it becomes obvious that it was a life altering experience or if it minimizes it to the point that everyone except for me has forgotten about it entirely, but regardless that time period quite possibly altered my life and it’s direction more than any other speed bump that life has thrown in my way.
It all started in November of 2006 when I woke up in the middle of the night sick with what I thought was the stomach flu. My memories from that night are spotty, but what I do remember is at one point I got up to get something to drink. I remember standing at the kitchen sink in my parents’ house and feeling this weird sensation, the closest thing I could describe it to was feeling like a million tiny hands were poking you all at once and then sounds of the TV in the background became distorted and the only thing I could hear was this loud ringing sound. After that I blacked out and when I came to it felt like my body had been hit by a train. I had no energy and no strength and I spent the whole day sleeping it off.
Growing up I never really had any medical emergencies, other than a cold or the flu or maybe a few sprained wrists or ankles, I rarely spent time with Doctors. So on that night in November I thought it was safe to assume that I just had a flu bug, that it wasn’t anything serious and there was no need for me to even considered talking to a medical professional about it. What I didn’t know was that it wasn’t the flu but that in reality I had had a seizure. I never had another one quite like that night, but over the next couple of months my seizures continued to happen. When most people read the word ‘seizure’ I know they picture someone convulsing with their eyes rolled back in their head, but what I suffered from was far different. I suffered from Partial Seizures, which meant that I was conscious through them. I would just be going about my day when I would randomly get this weird sensation. It would start in my lower torso and then work it’s way through my whole body and within a matter of minutes my entire body would just break out into these muscle spasms. Sometimes they would last just a few seconds and other times they would last 15 or 20 minutes, but because I wasn’t on the ground foaming at the mouth I convinced myself it wasn’t anything serious and would try to work through them.
Eventually it just got worse, and finally in February of 2007 my Mother forced me to go into the ER. In the next 2 months of my life I spent more time in and out of Hospitals, Doctor’s appointments, MRI’s, Scans, and tests than I would wish on any other human being because there is absolutely nothing worse than not knowing what’s wrong with you except when the Doctors don’t know either. I was pushed from one doctor to the next until finally I ended up with a Neurologist. I remember sitting in the appointment with my Mom discussing my medical history and scheduling more tests and I remember that my Mom left the room. The doctor asked me if I had any questions and so I asked if she thought she knew what was wrong with me, she responded with the typical ‘I want to wait until I see your test results…blah blah blah’ until I stopped her and said point blank “I need to know what’s wrong with me, am I going to die? Do I have a brain tumor?” and the doctor looked and me and responded “Jennifer, I’m not going to say either way until I see the results of these new tests, but yes, that’s a very real possibility.”
The world that I lived in, the life that I lived, the person who I was…all those things died in that moment. Everything stopped and the only thing I could hear was the beating of my own heart. In the few seconds that I sat there stunned I made a choice; I knew I could tell my Mother who was waiting in the lobby for me and her life as well as the rest of my family’s would be temporarily destroyed or I could not say anything at all and make the best of a really awful situation…I chose the latter. I didn’t tell my Mom, I didn’t tell my co-workers, and I didn’t tell my friends…I didn’t tell anyone. In the 2 hour car ride home from that appointment I accepted the fact that I was most likely going to die. I accepted the fact that I was never going to go to college, I was never going to get married and have children, I was never going to see all the places I wanted to see, I was never even going to see my 25thbirthday. I realized that in the story of life I was the character who was supposed to die halfway through the story, that I wasn’t meant to have a happy ending. I didn’t know why it was all happening or why God had even bothered putting me here when it was so obvious that my life would have such a little impact but I clung to the belief that there was some divine reason to it all with desperation.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been told that you were going to die, but it changes your priorities. Suddenly it wasn’t going there or doing that and it wasn’t about next week or next month or even tomorrow…it was all here and now. I remember in an episode of Lost how one of the main characters said that he only allowed himself to be terrified for 5 seconds, I guess that’s sort of what happened to me. On the car ride home I mourned for everything that I could mourn, for everything that I knew I was going to lose and for everything that I knew I would never have and then I stepped out of the car and onto my driveway and I let it go.Even now, when something bad happens, I’ll let myself be sad but only for a few hours. I’ll sulk and whine and cry about it but as soon as those 2 hours are over I get back up and move through it. I spent the next month wearing the bravest and most positive face I could regardless of whatever medical test or scan I was facing. When things were bad at work I tried to smile and when friends were having a bad day I tried to make them laugh, all while I was still unsure of my own fate. I decided that if my impact in this world was going to be short that I was going to try to make it as positive and big as I could, because when I left I wanted to make sure that my life had actually mattered. So I smiled, I laughed, I encouraged, I loved and whenever I could feel that sadness start to creep back in I’d just push it right back out.
Obviously, I’m turning 25 at the end of the month and I’m not dead. I don’t have a brain tumor, and it was by some miracle that my seizures were being triggered by an allergic reaction to Chlorine. Crazy, I know, but so much more easier to live with than dying . Going through those few months changed my life for forever. It made me grow up and realize that life is short and that it’s stupid to sit around and wait for it to happen, so I packed up my stuff and I moved…a lot. I saved up a bunch of money and I spent all of it. I traveled. I went to a million concerts and read just as many books. I joined a bunch of really awful bands and then quit all of them when I realized how bad they all were. I found God, dropped God, and then found Him again. I fell in love. I fell out of love. I partied and drank…a lot. I became homeless…a few times. I made a million new friends and then dropped most of them and now, finally, I’m going to college. I’m sitting here and thinking about where I was in life 5 years ago and I’m recalling how bleak it truly was, and then I look back and see where I’m sitting now and the contrast is just so overwhelming.
I am so incredibly blessed and God has been so amazingly good to me, and if you would have told me 5 years ago that I’d be saying that now I probably would have laughed at you. Where I’m trying to go with this is that, I have no idea why things happen the way they do. Let’s be honest, people suck and really bad things happen to really good people…but somehow, there’s still goodness. I don’t know what’s happening in your life right now, but if you’re struggling and somehow you find this…just know that life is good. Know that you can still find happiness even on the darkest days and that sometimes in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel you just have to take a few more steps. Remember that even though it might not seem like it, your life has purpose and meaning and most importantly just know that everything is going to be okay.
BANDS EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT:
The Rolling Stones, do I really need to explain why? They’re more than just a T-shirt logo, they’re one of cornerstones of Rock. Seriously.
Fashion Truth #1
Wear clothes that fit. You wouldn’t try and shove your foot into a size 7 shoe if you wore a size 8, would you? Yeah, maybe we should apply that logic to denim too. Also, just because you can button up a pair of pants or zip up a dress that doesn’t mean that it necessarily fits and/or looks good. Just saying.
We all like Music. Music is kind of like Quiche. You like Quiche, right? Of course you do, everyone loves Quiche, but in order for you to enjoy that savory breakfast favorite someone first had to figure out how to scramble an egg. These bands are just like that, they’re the guys (and gals) who figured out how to take Music and scramble it up. I was fortunate in that I grew up in a home where I had a Father who held Music with the same esteem that some do the Law. I grew up listening to vinyl records and blistering guitar riffs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Flo-Rida dance parties and Miley Cyrus sing-a-longs, but in a culture where the Top 100 changes about as frequently as I change my clothes I think it’s really easy for the people who made the music we have today possible to sort of become forgotten along the sidelines. So ladies, if you will please, take this stroll with me down memory lane and let’s talk about some of the greatest musicians that have ever graced this earth.
BANDS THAT EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
Ladies, if I were to say “Ozzy Osbourne” I’m sure most of you would know who I’m talking about either because you’re old enough to remember the Osbourne family’s short lived MTV reality show or because of his wife Sharon who’s known for shows like America’s Got Talent and CBS’s The Talk, or maybe it’s because his daughter Kelly has been kicking it with E’s Fashion Police for some time now. Regardless, you know who the guy is, but long before TV cameras invaded his home and the Osbourne women launched a full out assault on our cable boxes, Ozzy was the lead singer of a little band by the name of Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath formed in the United Kingdom in the late 1960’s and took over the scene with their blues drenched heavy sound. Black Sabbath is widely considered one of the main pioneering forces behind Heavy Metal and forged the way for so many of the artists we love and adore today. Black Sabbath was selling out stadiums decades before their song played during the end credits of the movie Iron Man. To date, Black Sabbath has sold over 70 Million records worldwide, so whether you like jamming to the Black Eyed Peas or Maroon 5, it is pretty much certain that every artist that has existed in the last 4 decades has been influenced by this band in some way, and that is pure and honest truth.
I’m redoing my Tumblr…get stoked.
I miss home…a lot.
32 Cats and Counting…
I’m actually excited for Halloween this year…weird.
People who are homeless aren’t any different than we are. They have the same hopes and dreams, they have the same worries and the same needs that need to be met, and most importantly they have the exact same problems that we do…they just don’t have a big house to hide them in. People that are homeless can’t hide they’re brokenness and maybe that’s why we chose to ignore them and treat them the way we do, because we look at these people and when we do we see the pieces of our own lives that we’re trying to hide.