Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.
Three years ago I was desperately homesick and an opportunity opened up for Johnie and me to move back to Kentucky. It would mean leaving his family, leaving our Kansas friends and Johnie leaving a comfortable, fulfilling, rewarding, enjoyable job.
Thinking about the sacrifice involved made me physically ill. I was afraid it would be a decision we would end up regretting.
But Johnie assured me he had weighed the options and was confident we should move despite those we would be leaving, despite the career and financial risks involved.
I wasn't certain we made the right decision until I was blessed with the privilege of living close to my grandfather in his final days. I had two years of memories we couldn't have made from Kansas. And I had sweet, sweet final moments that were so much easier because we lived nearby.
I know a lot of people have gone through a lot more than I have, but it has been a hard year. Struggling with sickness for months and months before getting any meaningful relief. Then learning that sickness is not something to tackle or beat, but to manage and adjust to. Then saying goodbye to the man who had always provided shelter through life's storms.
I'm still adjusting but I'm already changed.
I have trouble accepting the lupus diagnosis. (To put it mildly.) I would prefer to pretend that it doesn't actually exist. But it won't be ignored.
A few years ago, I gave no thought to the repercussions of my lifestyle on my body. I did work that I loved and spent time with people I loved. My days were filled with productivity and laughter and diversions -- morning to night. I would push through illness, push through tiredness, push through whatever.
But lupus isn't something that can be pushed through. I tried. It limits my body, my mind and my time in inescapable ways.
Though it has chained me down, it has also freed me. While waiting in bed to feel better, life's priorities come more clearly into focus. Time and energy are worth more. A good day is more meaningful. After weeks and weeks of feeling sick, waking up one blessed random Wednesday morning and feeling like my "old self" again is a gift.
I do not believe I can accurately convey the joy I feel on those days when my health is fully restored. I feel like running and jumping. (I refrain from doing either.) I have never done a cartwheel or a backflip in my life, but the way I feel must be the way one feels seconds before leaping and tumbling in the air. Those who have suffered from prolonged illness without any relief could probably imagine how wonderful it would feel to be completely healthy again.
But if it is a random Wednesday, I am scheduled to go to work. And I've already used up all my time off for being sick (and taking a couple trips). And I feel like I have missed my chance to hike, to savor every delicious bite of food, to be fully present, fully myself with family and friends. Sometimes the good days come on the weekend. Sometimes they don't.
And when those days are at a premium, it is hard to spend them in a lackluster way.
I love my job. I can't explain that either. It doesn't even make sense to me, so I can't make it make sense to other people. I just love it. It is rewarding to me on many different levels. I am one of the few people in the world who loves speech writing above any other vocation and who also has the blessing to write speeches in exchange for money.
In a better world, I would have enough energy to be the wife, the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the friend, the person I want to be and the writer I want to be at work. Maybe in another time or in another way I will be able to someday. I hope that is the case. But for now, I feel like I must choose. I feel like on most days I only have a shot at one.
And I have learned well that people, loved ones, relationships are more important than any job could ever be. I do not want to choose, but if I must I choose quality time with my husband, my family, my friends. It is a stupid career move, but I have decided to do it anyway. I have also learned well that stupid career moves sometimes turn out wonderfully.
I am blessed to have the option of leaving a job with no other one lined up. And Johnie and I are also blessed to have the flexibility to move even closer to friends and family I hope to spend many good days with.
With a bundle of emotions, I am quitting my job at the end of this month and we are moving to London, KY, where I plan to sleep more and play more. And maybe someday write professionally again.
We'll see what the future holds.