The other evening Phil and I had a date night. In our own home. 🙂 We dressed to the nines, decorated the room with (battery operated! 😛 ) candles, and cooked a delicious Mexican feast. Later, over Chocolate Orange fudge cake, we started chatting about our year. Reflecting on 2019. Looking back.It’s become a bit of a tradition. At some point in December, we’ll spend time thinking about the year just ending. Sometimes whilst walking the dog, sometimes whilst very drunk. Sometimes spontaneously, sometimes planned. We’ll look through our photos, reminisce over the memories, laugh about the stories. This year I was super organised, and found some brilliant, thought-provoking ready-written questions on the inter-web. There were some obvious ones like “What was your best adventure?” (Travelling the North Coast 500 in a Campervan) or “What was your favourite concert?” (Rufus Wainwright, we only went to one 😉 ). “What items have you ticked off the bucket list?” (Me = Going to a Michelin Star Restaurant. Phil = Getting a mention on Test Match Special). But the more interesting questions were ones that ignored the easily remembered highlights, and forced us to think more deeply, or made us remember the little things too. “What was the biggest mistake you made?” (I didn’t back up a photo-book I was making, and lost two hundred pages of work! 😦 ) or “What lesson have you learnt this year?” (Back up said photo-book, every day! 😉 ). “What was your best purchase?” (My kitchen chair, I watch the birds on it every morning) or “How did you grow emotionally?” (I realised I’ve become quite resilient when things go wrong). Some really made us think, “When have you showed real gumption?” (Emailing the Tour of Britain about access, and consequently getting a VIP spot by the finishing line 🙂 ), or “What was the kindest thing you did for someone?” (Phil wrote a letter to DK books about their biggest fan, my nephew, and they sent him loads of free books to give away!). I even discovered that Phil had had a secret bike crash whilst we were away on holiday (“What was your scariest moment?”)… that explains why he needed to buy new wheels! It was brilliant fun. Thought-provoking. And really made us remember the year in detail. The bad and scary and difficult stuff as well as the good.
I also rather excitedly, ticked off the last item on my 2019 little list of goals. Last January, I was down in the dumps after a grim couple of months of irritated lungs, A&E visits and the flu. On one particularly grey day, I set myself four challenges for the year. Tour the North Coast 500, Go on a Red Kite Safari, Finish a couple more of my very overdue photo-books, and Stand atop a mountain summit. Four goals that I’d been talking about, dreaming about, yearning to one day do. Things that had long been on my bucket list, but were no nearer to ever being achieved. Too difficult. Too complicated. Too much work. And amazingly, over these past twelve months I’ve achieved them all. And even more amazingly, I actually got to admire the view from three hill tops! Yay! 🙂 Articulating my targets, gave me the focus to do them, a much needed kick up the bottom. And by sharing them with Phil, he helped by researching accessible hills, and enthusiastically planning our Scotland trip. Furthermore, by picking just four, it was manageable and achievable. I had time on my side when things inevitably went wrong, like spotting only one bird on our first red kite safari! 😉 I can’t wait to choose next years’ goals! 🙂
The next evening, I sat in the dark, watching the flickering Christmas lights, listening to Michael Buble, thinking once again about the past twelve months. Smiling at the memories. When it suddenly hit me hard, that I’ve survived another year. I’ve lived and laughed and loved through another 365 days! I am still alive. And that single thought made everything we’d talked about the night before, pale into insignificance. Yes it’s important to be thankful for the wonderful memories, the fabulous adventures, the funny stories of the past year. Yes it’s important to rejoice achieving longed for goals, ticking off bucket list ambitions. But it is much more important to celebrate still being here. Alive. All the other stuff is decoration on the top of the cake. 🙂 When you live in the world of chronic and terminal illness, you know how precious life is. Every year I lose lots of Pulmonary Hypertension Phriends. Lots 😦 So I wanted to spend time sitting by the twinkly lights, thinking of them, thinking of this disease… and thinking about how incredibly incredibly thankful I am to still be here. Surpassing my PVOD sell-by date, defying the odds, beating the statistics. Not just alive, but stable and relatively well. 2019 has been my strongest and healthiest year since developing PH. And by far my happiest since becoming ill. 🙂 So I toasted the NHS and my doctors and my medicines. And silently thanked everything and everyone who keeps me going and keeps me alive. Then I expressed my gratitude to my wonderful wonderful body for surviving for another bonus 365 days, by feeding it ‘Mars’s Celebrations’. 😉
Another year, another wonderful year. Forever thankful.