A year ago today, we had the nor’easter to end all storms in New York City.
I love a good snowstorm, but I missed that one in its entirety. I was asleep most of the day. Literally, I was under the knife, having brain surgery to place a shunt in my head.
I saw none of it until one of my best friends picked me up at the hospital and shuttled me — and Coop, who was staying with her — home from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Most people tend to beware the ides of March. However, I now embrace the old curse. Hey, Friday the 13th was always my luckiest day, and as far as I’m concerned, March 15 brought a lot of positive changes to my life.
I lost most of my sight last year due to spinal fluid building pressure against my optic nerves. Hence, the shunt to siphon away all that icky stuff. When I went into the surgery, I pretty much couldn’t see anything but a blur of white. I didn’t need the blizzard. I already had one built into my eyes.
Although I’m still legally blind, I gained so much from that day beyond the minimal sight that eventually did return.
Now, I live every single day as if it might be my last. I snuggle Coop a little tighter, and maybe he’s gained a few ounces from too many treats. I don’t just say, “I love you.” I show the people in my life how much they mean to me in whatever small ways I can. And I make the time in my crazy, hectic life to create memories.
Having lost one of my oldest and dearest friends last year to a heart attack at 45 — and having my own dose of my imminent fatality slap me in the face — I know that time is all too fleeting. I do what I want when I want, and I appreciate every second of the joys that life continues to reveal. And I’m glad that I told everyone who means something to me how much I love them before I went under on that wintry March afternoon.
March has always been a strange month for me. My mom passed away twenty years ago at the tender age of 51. I think of her every day, but this month has always been difficult.
This year, though, I think she’s telling me from beyond to celebrate all the good that I still have in my life. And I am, with the people who matter most.
Among other things, living in New York City has taught me resilience. The everyday fight just to exist ain’t easy. I’m used to that. And that mindset made me strong. I’m just lucky that I had some amazing friends over the years who have helped me to understand that endless fight of survival against contentment. There’s a happy medium, and I think I’ve almost found it.
There’s no time for senseless stress in my life anymore. I only allow myself to get anxious over the stuff that really matters — the things I’m most passionate about. In a lot of ways, I’m happier now that I’ve lost most of my vision than before I got sick.
They say that if you’re a year out after shunt surgery with no revisions, you’re doing pretty damn good. Not that there might not be complications in the future, but you’re doing okay. And I’ll take that.
As I head into this next year, I’m sure it will be full of challenges, but I do have so much good in my life, and that needs to be celebrated. Regardless of what the future holds, at least I can say to myself with absolute conviction: I’ve got this. I’ve got this.