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When you fall, make sure you fall forward

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

It is so easy to look around and find things in my life I wish were different. There could always be a little more money, a little more food in the pantry, a little more gas in the truck, a little more time off work, a little more time to write, five more minutes to sleep.

I could make a list a mile long of all the things I want.

This week as I attempted to write my column I thought a lot about what I am thankful for and the list ranges from my health, a roof over my head, family and friends to the sand in my bed and the meowing of my cats.

The more and more I pondered the question, the longer my thankful list grew and the more menial my wish list became.

In the end it boils down to a handful of things that are truly important.

Family and friends top the list of things I am thankful for and this year I almost lost more than one. As the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated, I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed as I reflect on the struggles for health that have been battled this year.

As my best friend continues to fight for her life against her diagnosis of stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we celebrate together the small things in life, for which we are grateful.

She has reminded me often these last few months it is the small things we often take for granted that have come to mean the most to her like the drops of dew on the grass or the stars in the sky.

She lives almost eight hours away. I have not been able to be with her in person as much as I would like, but we have had numerous marathon phone conversations where we are both thankful for the changes in long distance plans so we aren’t being charged by the minute.

We have talked about everything from what the most comfortable shoes are to the color of the sky. Sometimes when we hang up the phone, I feel like the two of us could solve all the world’s problems.

In one of our last conversations, we talked about her chemotherapy treatments. They are becoming increasingly more difficult. Every other Wednesday, I know she is putting on her brave face and doing what has to be done, but it is not without its toll. She spends the next three days sleeping, followed by feeling weak and exhausted for the remainder of the week.

Just as she starts to regain her strength, it’s time to go again.

The process has been brutal—both physically and mentally for her and her family.

But she has grabbed onto a mindset of strength, courage and change. Everything in her life has changed.

She and I have re-evaluated many aspects of our lives in our often three- to four-hour conversations. There has been no stone left unturned. Together we are working toward figuring out what truly matters. The next time we can spend time together in person, we have a plan to write our bucket lists and also to cross at least one item off both lists.

The consensus we have come to about life is that one goal should be to never stop changing and growing.

“Isn’t that the point?” she wrote in a recent blog. “Evolving, falling down and getting back up and moving forward with courage. To question our existence and then to truly live. To recognize our weaknesses but to overcome them. To KNOW you are strong even when your mind says no. To NEVER give up. To know when to say I’m sorry and know when to stand your ground. To see the beauty in every moment you have, every hug you give, every tear you cry, every step you take.”

I am thankful for every moment of life. Whether good or bad, it is an experience that carries with it the opportunity for forward momentum and growth and positive change.

She reminded me just today, “Remember when you fall, fall forward.”