I'm used to injury. After several bad burns and any number of sprains and a couple of bouts with crutches, I've gotten used it. I was a sick kid. I don't like it. I can take it, though.
Well, so I thought.
In October, a sneaking suspicion of mine was confirmed: I had mononucleosis. In the great scheme of things, this is nothing. I get that. People deal with so much worse. People have had it hit harder and at much less opportune times. I won't defend how I acted or if I blew it out of proportion, but perspective was not something I was receptive to while it was happening. I was bewildered by my total lack of control. Pain, difficulty breathing, zero control over energy levels, and all learned healthy diet patterns shattered to pieces. The acute throat swelling and fever subsided after a week and change. The aftermath of this lovely illness, as anyone who's suffered it can tell you, is one that endures for months. To describe the experience, it was like there was a destination circled on my map, a place I needed to reach by some period of time, and my only mode of transportation to this already tough-to-reach location was a car whose tachometer and gas gauge were broken and misleading. I could burn through my energy on a given day in 45 minutes and then have to get through the rest of the day on the meanest of fumes. It left me exhausted. It left me short-tempered and emotionally unhinged. It left me empty.
I think that was my first experience feeling powerless to such a degree and so internally. I had little energy to muster toward positive thinking, charitable thinking and a kind sense of humor.
To be honest, I am walking out of that experience with an overwhelming feeling of failure. I am ashamed of how many friendships I put on hold, how many people I hurt either directly or indirectly, how sloppily I did my job, how unintentional I've been toward the activities and habits that will help me feel more and more myself. I'm saddened that there's an element of myself that came to light that was not one of patient suffering and honest dialogue, but of irascibility, impatience with all things, and ugliness. I'm left shaken by the imperfections thrown into such strong relief by that negative experience.
I won't bore you with any more of my inner turmoil; that's for my prayer life and my personal reflection that finds its way into writings outside the blogosphere. In lieu of that, I offer you something else, hopefully of some meaning.
This will seem a very strange thing, perhaps...but here are some memories.
Firstly, I remember a time when people used AIM.
I remember ridiculous and intense conversations held over AIM.
Like the time my mom walked in and read the chatroom convo with one of my friends repeating something vulgar over and over again.
Or the time I had a conversation that would establish my best and closest friendship certainly for the duration of high school, though extending beyond it, too.
Or the times we would have "away message fights" because we had no delusions about being cool.
I remember how much those conversations have meant to me by virtue of their establishing and/or augmenting formational and foundational relationships in my life.
I remember the countless long walks, coffee dates, conversations held with dear friends, whether I communicate with them or not.
I remember the powerful sense of having people truly like brothers and sisters.
I remember how thinking of them still wrenches my heart in gratitude and joy, if not sadness that drifting has happened.
I remember hanging on friends' words. I remember being awed by their spontaneity, their humor, their selflessness.
As I start being a grown-up, my face remembers the smiles and the immense amount of laughter in its pre-wrinkles and dimples.
I remember the humbled awe that I have had such wonderful friends.
I remember you.
I don't say this as an appeal to pathos. I'm too poor a writer to successfully do that, anyway. I like writing far too long-windedly and with flourishes to be effective. The point is rather...quite simply, while communication might be sparse, and despite my failings made all the more apparent to me throughout this past year, I hold you all dearly in my thoughts and my prayers. Some days it's an interiorly tearful and mangled nonverbal utterance of gratitude. Other days it's more profound. Some days, good and bad, I'm conflicted as to whether to pay it forward or to live it through calling somebody up. I don't do either enough. Regardless, though, for whatever it's worth...you're remembered.
If it's agreeable to you, in some little way, please remember me, too...perhaps I don't deserve it, but I need it. And whatever good qualities you've had the grace to see (because I generally don't see them), please pay those forward.
That was fairly self-indulgent even by blog standards...