My favorite part of every day is right after waking up in the morning. During my first cup of coffee, Ella knows it’s time to leave mommy alone to read her bible and sip in peace. The absolute best part of this tradition is seeing her imagination develop as she plays solo. I can’t get enough of seeing how she cares for her baby, runs away from a monster (“Don’t worry mom, he’s nice to me!”), or dresses up as a princess.

This morning, while Ella counted farm animals and determined they were eating all the apples in the trees, I was thinking about how much has happened in one year. Toddlers have a way of making you realize how quickly time goes by, since they are such sponges, absorbing everything you teach them (accidentally or not) in such a short period.

Exactly one year ago, I had my first symptoms of RA and Lupus. It is surreal to look back and think that 52 weeks ago I had no idea what was going to happen, and how this unwelcome guest inside my body was going to decide to be a squatter for the rest of my days.

But this squatter has become more of an annoying guest that daily graces me with his presence rather than the all-consuming monster that ate my life. That monster was left in 2017 and there I intend for him to stay. I’ve had enough of him.

I will never be grateful for this disease. Never. But in coming out of a year that was my darkest, each day feels like a gift. “Gift” sounds so cheesy, but I literally cannot think of a more accurate descriptor.

When I awake I am thankful that I was able to sleep. A year ago marks the point where sleep became very truly next to impossible. I would cry until my body was so exhausted it had no choice but to ignore the pain and finally pass out. Now my crying is strictly for sappy movies and seeing how quickly Ella is growing. And the Cowboys not making playoffs.

When I awake, I sit up. Without wincing. And I am so thankful. Then, I get to place two feet on the floor and bear weight on them, stand all by myself, and walk myself down the stairs. These simple actions required two strong hands to support me through them all, and at least twenty more minutes.

I get to pick up my daughter, snuggle her close, and ask how she slept. I get to sit on the floor and help change baby’s outfit for the seventh time because this outfit matches the stroller much better, Mom.

I get to walk over to my coffee pot and make a cup of my favorite vice, inhale deeply, and praise God that I was physically able to get there. Not long ago, my incredible tribe of friends used to come over each day, make me coffee and help with Ella because my body could not do it. My hands and wrists did not have the strength to hold the pot. My legs could not support the ten steps to get there.

There are truly hundreds of moments in my day that I remember how big of a difference a year can make. I pray that my next flare up isn’t as lengthy or severe, but living each day knowing anything can happen helps keep so many priorities in line.

Yeah, yeah there’s still some stiffness and I’m getting strength back veeerrrrry slooooowly, but I cannot contain the joy that I have in finding a treatment that is working.

So thank you for a full year of prayers, happy thoughts, and sweet messages. Thank you for coming to my house and still being my friend, even though I was mostly a lump. Thank you for bringing us food, picking up our ClickList at Kroger, watching Ella, buying me wine, sharing books to read, bringing dessert, smiling and laughing and making me feel normal. I only hope I can pay forward the deluge of good things from this past year to someone else who needs it.


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