I happen to be a big fan of the saying “Everything happens for a reason”.
I especially love the one that says “Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is you’re stupid and make bad decisions”.
When I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease I was really optimistic. I kept my head up high, my spirits lifted, and I knew one day I’d look back on all of this as one of life’s challenges. A challenge that I accepted and defeated. Yeah, back then I was a bit naive… Not to say I’m no longer optimistic… But I have a better understanding of my disease these days and a better grip on reality (or my impending doom as I sometimes think of it).
Everything happens for a reason.
So for the longest time this was my mantra. I grumpily looked in the mirror every morning, ignoring the blooming gray hairs, the dark circles under my eyes, my pale peeky skin, and said aloud “everything happens for a reason”.
I’m not a religious person. Agnostic on a good day, Atheist on a bad one. But I started to think that the powers that be must have something really cool lined up for me since I had to go through all this awfulness so early in life. I mean come on, aggressive pain disease at 31? Two years of mind numbing pain, dizzying nausea, exhaustion blackouts after days if not weeks of medicine induced insomnia…. I gotta have something pretty wicked coming my way!
Maybe an unknown relative dies and leaves me some ridiculous inheritance and I live the rest of my days as a woman of leisure. Or in my suffering scientists cure my disease and my name is immortalized forever in textbooks and medical journals. Ooh ooh or while a famous actor is visiting the island he spots me attempting my six thousand steps on the beach one day and falls madly in love with me and we ride off into the sunset together…if Gerard Butler isn’t available I’m ok with Ian Somerhalder or Joe Manganiello. The point is that I was enduring all this for a reason. That something great was waiting for me and I just had to stay strong and overcome this disease.
But then I was reading this article online this weekend about a woman who was dying from terminal cancer (the irony of my most recent diagnosis was not lost on me). She was saying that even though she was sad that her time had come to an end and that she hadn’t done everything on her bucket list, she was happy that she had experienced many wonderful things early on in her life. She’d been married, was passionate about her career, seen art and many beautiful things, travelled…. And that’s when it hit me.. Oh, shit.
I too have experienced many amazing things. At the young age of only 23 I won the lottery when living in Auckland, New Zealand! $50,000 (tax free) NZD on a scratch and win crossword. That doesn’t happen to just ANYONE. With that money I had done so many extraordinary things: I gave my mom a large chunk for putting me through private school and college and raising me, mostly, on her own. We took a fantastic 10 day cruise to the Caribbean together. I went on a shopping spree that young girls dream of! I visited a friend in Australia. And most importantly, I went to Europe for two months and travelled to 17 countries! I drank champagne under the Eiffel Tower, ate strudel next to Maria’s chapel from The Sound of Music, I strolled through the tulip fields in Holland, and sunbathed naked on a beach in Mykonos!
I had lived. I had already lived such and extraordinary life that many people my age could only dream of. And here I am wondering what the world has in store for me? Geez, I sound selfish.
So in realizing this I started to wonder… Had I lived the life I was supposed to and that’s why my disease was getting worse? I had experienced beauty, art, travel, leisure, foods from around the world, friendships in many countries, memories that would live forever in my head. I had experienced life on a level that would be envious for many. What was I waiting for still? I should be thankful of what life had given me at all.
I told my mom yesterday that I wanted to win. That I didn’t want to accept defeat, that the cancer wasn’t allowed to have my body, and neither was the Rheumatoid Disease. But if it is to have it, I can’t be sad for a life I never had. I’ve had quite a life already, more than most.
But, if everything happens for a reason, I wouldn’t mind jumping in a time machine and not buying that second scratchy crossword. I’ll take a healthy long life instead of the glamorous one I had for just a few short months. Nothing is worth a life not lived.