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I’m beginning to heal. It was a small thing, really, that gave me my first assurance of it. I looked at a week of my calendar and planned for it.

Having a flare up of a chronic illness robs you of so many obvious thing: health, energy, ease of movement, peace of mind, ability to concentrate, but it also silently steals the future. When you can’t move without pain, can’t breathe without panting, can’t seem to follow a conversation, then you don’t think about tomorrow. Tomorrow is an overwhelming onslaught of more of the same. On the worst days, you don’t even think about the next hour. You survive that moment and will yourself on to the next moment. Then one more moment. Breathe. One more moment. It’s not about living anymore; it’s just about survival.

A flare up robs you of…the future

I had been surviving this way for the better part of a year. For months, I lived moment to moment in a desperate crush of inability. I lost a lot of time in trying to deny my weakness. It was in coming to the end of what I could do and letting others into my darkness, that I finally began to turn around. When I was able to live hour to hour, it was like a miracle. Then came day to day. With help, I was conquering whole days! Some days would delve back into moment by moment survival, but others had a semblance of normalcy. I would garden, craft…write. I felt like a person again. Tentative hope pushed up from a long winter dormancy.

Hope pushed up from a long dormancy

Hope can be such a dangerous thing. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and a heart that has been living from moment to moment can’t take any more sickness. Getting whole days, left me with me just enough strength to hope again. I remember being in a small group where they asked everyone what their perfect day would look like. Answers ranged from a day shopping in Paris to a day laying on the beach with a loved one. I longed for a day of the mundane. Let me fold clothes, play with the boys, cook, and then have enough energy to do one thing extra that I might like to do. That was what I hoped for. My mistake had been in thinking that it could happen alone.

The rest of that verse in Proverbs says, “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life,” and it was. Every day that I was able to participate in little taken for granted things was a gift that refreshed my heart. I knew that the next day I might not get that gift. Illness had disabused me of the idea that anything was permanent, but some how the dark scared me less knowing that the people around me would be there regardless.

My mistake had been thinking that it could happen alone

I have begun to heal, to be able to (every now and then) take life a week at a time, and the people around me celebrate even the small victories with me. In allowing them to dip into my suffering, they share in my triumph. I am not in remission. I still have days where all I do is survive and hope is extinguished in the monotony of chronic illness, but now I allow people to come alongside me and hope for me. And I heal, and there is a future again.

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