When I was eight years old, after many years and countless doctor's appointments where my mother insisted that there had to be something wrong with her daughter, I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. We were all told that my life expectancy was basically another four years. I'd die at or around twelve years old. As medicines improved it was upgraded to sixteen years, then twenty-six, and finally when I turned eighteen they thought I'd make it to thirty if my disease kept on its current course.
In June of 2013 I turned thirty. Still reasonably healthy (though declining steadily as predicted), not been hospitalized (knock wood for luck!), and I finally put life expectancy behind me (though their estimates are now that I'll reach fifty). What I learned from reaching this milestone that I never, ever planned for was that the rest of this time, whatever I have left on this Earth, is cake. I've been fortunate in my life. I've had a family that cares for me above everything, I've friends that have nearly literally been life-long (25 of 30 years for some), I met and married the love of my life at seventeen, I have three beautiful fur kids, I have a home, and a comfortable life being a housewife within that home. My life has already been fortunate, privileged even, and now that I've reached and exceeded my supposed expiration date the rest of this life is just a gift.
I had a good 2013. I got to see and do things that were once only imagined, or dreamed. I got to celebrate 12 and 10 year anniversaries with Mike. I got to accomplish difficult tasks like successfully training a Service Dog. I got to meet absolutely wonderful people and stay connected to even more wonderful people. I got to expand my art and my creativity without restriction. The year was very good to me. As a natural realist/pessimist such a good year and success bring me trepidation. The wondering if I should perhaps fear the coming year and what it might bring. That the tides may unexpectedly turn. But then I remind myself: the rest of this life is just a gift. I was not meant to be here. I was not meant to survive this disease for this long, and yet I have. For whatever time I have, with whatever comes, whatever happens, and whatever trials or triumphs we go through, the rest of this life is a gift.
It is with that sentiment that I will be entering the new year and with hope in my heart that there are more triumphs than trials. More gladness than sadness. And more love than ever before.