I walked with intention down the tarmac with my eyes and heart ready to see Fern again. I weaved through the crowd around baggage claim and looked up to see him expectantly looking for me. As our eyes locked, I could feel the relief flood through both of our beings. All the more realizing that wherever Fern is, is home.
I spent the last twelve days of 2016 with family in Oregon. The walls of my childhood home once again filled with laughter, jest, and joy. This year was more special than most, as all our lives will soon begin to shift once more. All acutely aware that next year may look very different than this. I soaked up every moment I could, and stuffed my face full of sweets and hot chocolate. Experiencing the unconditional love that my family exudes in their every action.
On Christmas day we traveled down to southern Oregon to spend it with our grandparents and cousins. With talking late into the night, strolls through town, and large feasts for dinner, my heart felt full. Christmas holds a pattern each year as long as I can remember, but the older I get, the more it becomes precious to me. As I said goodbye to family before leaving for Montana, I held back the tears that wanted to escape my heart. It all seemed to rush too fast. But as the holidays came to a close, so did we scatter back to our lives once more.
As I boarded the plane, I thought about what the year taught me. In 2016, I experienced two surgeries and the long recovery process that followed. I stared depression in the face as I had over 100 doctor appointments that felt like a full time job. My mind suffered as my body did when I looked into the mirror to see a body of bruises and beat up veins. I felt the darkness of being alone in my struggle as the days of a cloudy mind overtook my perception of the future. But little did I know what new beginnings would come for me as Spring peaked around the corner of pain.
I wrote letters to a man over the sea, who I thought I may never meet. Yet, fate had a different idea. From the day I found out I had a tumor, to the process of surgery recovery, Fern was there. Just a message away. On March 18th, we locked eyes beyond a screen, but even then we were unaware of what our year would be. The months to follow turned my age to 22, and my strife to a mere memory. I focused more on my writing, my friendships, and my desire to travel.
Once July came, I took a big leap and decided to live on the road and travel to National Parks. Fern and I lived the van life to its full extent. We camped off the grid, met many travelers, and discovered the secret scenery of America that few see. I found a new appreciation for this country and my heritage embedded in it. Our trip came to a close as we backpacked with friends to the top of South Sisters in Bend, Oregon. Six days later I went in for my second surgery of the year.
On September 12th, I was under for three hours of surgery. When I awoke, I had an eye full of stitches and blurry vision that would soon clear to the most I have seen in my entire life. The recovery process was painful, yet tender in nature. Fern never left my side, and my parents patient watching moved from concern to relief. I grew up with my brain only using one eye, but now I can see with two eyes looking forward. As my vision began to improve, Fern and I made the decision to move for the winter season.
The breeze of an October afternoon brought our new season in Montana. We packed the faithful mini van full of our belongings and drove to the winter cold of a new state. For the first time since a child, I found myself settling in. Appreciating every step of a new life in a place so different from the cities that brought my heart caved in pain. I could finally live my life outside others expectation and fill my days with new adventure. But every move comes with sacrifice. I left my support system of Oregon to seek a new place. I had to establish new doctors and specialists that could help me stay functional. With a slower pace of life out in the country, my body is finally healing.
I suffered in 2016, but it taught me to appreciate living. Thank you to my friends and family that believed in me when I was ready to give up. To my friend Alexis, who sat with me after surgery just to keep me company, even though you were crazy busy. To my friend Lacey, who is up for any adventure and kept my soul alive during my recovery. To my friend Lyle, whose constant friendship is such a precious gift to me. To my friend Mia, who reveals to me the strength in love and perseverance to become who we truly are. To my friend Nicky, for joining the adventure crew and being a support since the age of four. To my brothers Nathan and Isaac, who are there for me even miles away. To my aunties and uncles, who have supported me near and far away since I was born. To my grandparents, who always lovingly checked up on me after every travel, surgery, and life happening. To my parents, who sheltered me with their love, drove me to appointments, and kept me alive when my body was failing me. And to my dear Fern, whose love never faltered even when things got tough. Thank you my friends and family, for making 2016 a year of growth, love, and adventure.
As 2017 came with the tick of a clock, I sat with Fern and merely whispered tiredly Happy New Year. A less flashy start to the soon to be flashy year. Many travels and adventures are brewing with the coming of Spring. As I work hard to make my dreams come to life, I know each dream comes with sacrifice. But wherever I am in the world, I still carry with me the love and growth that each and every person I come to know has shown me.
I embrace 2017 for what it will be. Another year of growth, of sacrifice, and of love. 2016 was a whirlwind, but 2017 promises to be an adventure.
Love and Light,