I am a couple of years behind on what has become an annual tradition—writing a note to myself on my birthday (apparently, the last note I wrote was when I turned 33). The past two years were nothing like what I thought they would be. A lingering pandemic created ups and downs in my career, friendships shifted as I prioritized my own personal development, and most significantly, my relationship with my grandmother changed as her dementia, and my caregiving duties, progressed.
The last couple of years felt like a wild ride, only one happening in slow motion. There’s a part of me that can’t fathom turning 36 today. One minute, I was in my early 30s, and now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, I’m slowly passing through my mid-30s. This last year in particular has probably been the most drastic in terms of life changes—my grandmother transitioned from living independently to moving to long-term care, I packed up and sold her condo, I rebranded the blog, I started The Hospital Bar with an amazing co-founder, I joined Camp Clarity with Diana Davis, I returned to horseback riding, I left a full-time job, I enrolled in the Patients Rising Advocacy Masterclass, and I created my agency.
Despite the challenges and changes of the past year, I’ve continued to move forward (which hasn’t always been easy or possible for me when I feel like my world is in turmoil). I’ve developed a stronger sense of self, continued to bet on myself, and learned to relinquish control more than I ever have before. A lot of this, I credit with being a caregiver. As a caregiver, there is a certain amount of trust that you must place in yourself—and in the Universe. It may feel like a lot (and at times be overwhelming), but trusting your gut is an important part of caregiving and one that comes into play in many aspects of life.
But what stands out to me most about the past year is that I learned the true meaning of both love and grief. My heart has broken into a million little pieces so many times, and with each occasion, all the love my grandmother has for me and the love my partner instills in me, I’m made whole again.
As I embark on my 36th trip around the sun, I know it won’t look like the others. The upcoming holidays won’t be like those of past years, this next year won’t resemble the last year, and I’ll never get to live my 36th year of life again. I hope that this next year brings continued strength, that I can truly make a difference with the work that I’m doing, and that I continue to write my story in a way that fulfills me.