We've all had THAT moment. A moment in time on a particular date where something special happens which marks a clear "before" and "after" in our lives. We remember where we were, what we were doing, who we were with in that moment...and just like that, the date sticks with us for good! As time passes, we get nostalgic about these little boxes on the calendar, cherishing their significance and what they still mean years later.
July 14th is that date for me.
Receiving my long-awaited approval for SDR surgery in St. Louis back in 2017. By now, you know the importance of this date -- the story behind it and the struggle that brought it to fruition -- as I blogged about that last year and have spoken about it often, since.
This day two years later though, I'm not thinking about all I've gained physically since becoming spasticity-free thanks to my "YES!"
It's not about that for me this time through.
As I type this, two especially close friends I've met through SDR are in the midst of their own very early recoveries from surgery; the nitty-gritty tough recovery that you only understand and have a deep reverence for once you've been through it. These women - one from New York and one from Romania - I've come to care for them in the same ways you do for the people you've grown up with your entire life. These ladies mean so much to me, and I am honoured to be witness to their SDR dreams each coming true at long last!
My YES gave me the opportunity to meet these women, and a few special others who are now among those most dear to me. (Two of us even share the same joy for this exact date!) That YES also gave me a chance to connect with a global community that has forever changed how I navigate through this life with Cerebral Palsy that I didn't initially ask for, but am now so glad is mine. That YES has made it possible for me to help others get to (and through!) St. Louis, and it's this piece that I'm especially grateful for today because from the very beginning of this wild ride, that's what I always hoped I could do through my own journey.
To hear this week, that I've helped my two friends find the belief in themselves to make their own surgeries happen against formidable odds, was special. To know that I played some small role in helping them summon the courage to fundraise as adults and see that through to completion --it made me tear up.
(When I took the leap of faith back in October 2017 to fundraise and was scared out of my mind to do it...well, there were no other international adults I could turn to who had done it before me on the scale we would need to. And so to now realize that my journey sparked, encouraged and sometimes sustained theirs? It makes my July 14th carry that much more significance.)
More meaningful still, is that I've been blessed to walk my beautiful friends through their recoveries, when they've been momentarily convinced that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't exist. I now know what a privilege it is to fill this role, and this makes me all the more grateful to the friends who walked me through my own recovery back in March...sticking with me especially when I was not at my best in the days and weeks that followed! Having people who are rock-solid by your side in this whether you shine or struggle is an absolute must. And now, I know just how true that is. Particularly for the long-haul.
In the adult SDR community, we talk often about the "ripple effect" of using our stories and experiences to help the next person who takes on this daunting path. We talk about "passing the baton" in the sense that we give these next adults ALL of our hope, our courage and the key SDR survival tips and tricks we've picked up along the way, in order to help them get across their own finish line. As adult patients we're often forced to lean on each other, figuring out the immediate recovery on our own and this online community becomes a lifeline of sorts. So it's special to reach that point in my journey where I can now be part of this lifeline, passing off the baton...knowing that soon, my friends will come to do the same in the future.
Two years ago on this day, YES meant relief and hope for a brighter future.
Last year, YES meant a steadfast belief that we could complete our fundraising and make this thing happen in time, despite the doubters and critics. We were only half-way to goal at that point. There were obstacles a-plenty. It was "impossible" they said. And yet...here we are.
Today, YES signifies the joy, excitement and peace in my heart that comes from knowing my friends are now each on their way -- spasticity-free at long last, too!! I'm endlessly proud of these women for making their own impossible happen. And I'm honoured that I can encourage them forward on the path to progress.
A year from now, I know their lives will be entirely different, just as mine has become thanks to that one "YES!"