Wow what an amazing trip back to my hometown have we had. It had been almost 6 years since our last visit to Quebec city. Lots happened during those 6 years amongst which life changing moments such as encephalitis and its resulting brain injury. People back home knew I had been sick but I’m not sure many had realized how much life had changed for us.
I was very nervous about meeting family and friends again. I knew they wouldn’t care about my new limitations or judge me, but see, I am still learning to deal with all those changes that occurred and the remaining residual effects. I don’t always like the “new me” and I always feel quite vulnerable when I have to show this new version of my weird wonderful brain. I’m always worried about this version not being good enough anymore, I feel very self conscious and showing up in spite of those limitations takes a lot of efforts and I’ll also say courage. I know I’m not weak per say, but I feel weak, wonky, awkward and showing to people the effects that this illness has had on me is not easy...I feel very exposed, as if I am walking around naked. Although it’s been 2 1/2 years, recovery is an ongoing process. Accepting those changes is definitely still work in progress and at times, it is all very raw and painful for my heart and soul.
I won’t hide that it’s been hard to see so many people going through a new phase of their lives with such vibrancy and hope for what awaits them in this new decade we have just embarked. I am not jealous of what they have or of their hopes and dreams (actually I am so genuinely happy for them), but you can’t help being confronted by what it is that you may not be likely to achieve or for now having scaled down versions for our own family hopes and dreams.
This feeling of being reminded of your new reality isn’t a new thing for me as it is something I’ve had to deal with in my country of adoption for the last 2 1/2 years. However, during that time I’ve also learnt that some friendships come and go. Some friendship are there to serve a purpose and it’s OK. However, to be completely open and honest, I was desperately hoping, I was crossing all my fingers and toes hoping and wishing that relationships with family and friends from my home country would be solid as rock and that they would be there to stay regardless of what the “new me” puts on offer.
Sickness makes you worry about lots of stuff that would ordinarily not cross your mind. In hindsight, I was so silly to worry about not being good enough...all I got in return was acceptance, compassion and a good reminder by many of how much the core Véro hasn’t changed one little bit, and some of these guys have known me for a long long time!
I was reminded of all the strength that I am displaying day in day out, of the courage it takes to face this challenge head on, of my determination to keep trying to find my way in all this in spite of all the unknowns it represents for us in the future and that I am still just as clever as I used to be. A few have been shaken up to see the effects that this illness has had on me. A reminder that life is fragile and that you only live once. Some have also been moved by how I keep going through life with positivism in spite of the burden that was put upon us. There was no point telling them that although they now got to see first hand the effects of encephalitis, that they still saw me on a good day. I mean how could it have not been a good day when you rekindle with family and friends that you haven't seen in years!
Having someone acknowledge our hardship and recognize how hard the last few years have been has also been very comforting for me. It’s helped me realize that I am indeed strong, it’s proven to me that it is absolutely worth it to keep trying my hardest at every step of recovery (undertaking this huge trip is definitely proof of that) and that people do care. I’m not sure that I clearly see this side of myself yet, but some find my will to be the best person that I can be in spite of the ongoing limitations very inspiring. I still think of myself as of an ordinary person, but I'm taking on board their kind words. Perhaps it's an opportunity for me to take a good look at myself and explore what it is that they see that I can't quite grasp yet.
Dear family and friends, I don’t think that you can understand how grateful I am to have been honored by your presence, humbled by your kind words, the laughs, the few tears we shed and for having been given a reminder of all our memories together...old and new. You have given me so many reasons to keep advancing through this process. This isn’t an “au revoir” my friends, it’s definitely an “à la prochaine”.
Lots of love to you all and look after yourselves...one life to live, make it a happy and positive one.