I love a new year. There is so much potential, so much possibility, so many opportunities ahead. I love looking at my new blank diary and imagining all of the excitement that 2017 will contain. 365 days to be filled with craft and books and writing. Four seasons to be filled with catch ups over cups of tea. Twelve whole months to be filled with days out, weekends away and holidays. One year to be filled with new memories.
For the first thirty-odd years of my life, I always assumed that one day I would have the opportunity to do everything I wanted to. I assumed that I would one day be an old Granny in a rocking chair, looking back on many decades of life, with satisfaction that I’d ticked off a few dreams. But then when my illness arrived and it seemed I wouldn’t have decades left to live life through… living life now became a new priority. I had a new urgency to have experiences and create memories. A new need to see people and spend more time with the ones I love. A new desire to tick off some of the wishes on my bucket list. A new want to make the most of each day. Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and makes you see things differently. One lesson my curveball taught me, was that life is for living, not plodding through, but living now.
So every year in January, Phil and I sit down over a bottle of wine (water for me!) and start to plan our year. I love it. I aim to have one fun event planned for every week, counterbalanced with many many days of rest and recovery. Phil wants us to watch England play cricket, take a tour in the Bumblebee campervan, go to Wimbledon. I want to watch another musical, attend my first ever festival, babysit my nephews overnight. As the wine flows, the talk gets more excited. Decisions are made, dates are arranged, and our dreams are put in to the diary.
But the reality of my situation, is that some of the entries written in my diary, might never happen. I know that. Maybe 2017 will see my health spiral down again. I have no back up plan when my PH worsens and my PVOD next dramatically declines. Maybe 2017 will be the end for me. I’m already beating the statistics, how much longer will my good luck continue? Maybe 2017 will be the year I get my transplant call. For many months afterwards, life will revolve around the hospital and recovery. Whichever way life takes me this year, there is a strong chance that I won’t be able to do all of the things we have planned in 2017. Therefore should I still make plans, or not?
I could stop booking holidays so I don’t lose my deposit if I have to cancel it. I could stop arranging meet ups with friends so I don’t annoy them if I have to abort the plans. I could stop buying tickets so I don’t waste money if I have to call it off. I could spend every day worrying about my health. I could just sit by the phone and wait for the call. But to quote one of my transplant friends: “Life Is For The Living”. And like her, I intend to live my life now. Without worrying about the future. Without thinking about the what ifs and the maybes. Without second guessing how 2017 will turn out. I consciously don’t think about decline or death or transplant; because I have no control over what is to be. For my sanity, I have to carry on as if these events are not likely to feature in my immediate future. For my sanity I have to have hope that I will get to experience my dreams. For my sanity I have to just carry on as if I am normal and there is not a big question mark hanging over me.
So still I book my tickets in advance. Still I arrange holidays and sporting matches and theatre visits. Still I arrange cups of tea and weekends away with my friends. Still I fill my blank diary with entries that make me happy. Regardless of what 2017 brings, I want to be able to look back with a smile, and be full of thanks for my wonderful new memories.