When I became ill, I was so afraid that I would miss out on seeing all of the beauty in the world. My heart ached over the idea that I might not be able to travel to places I always wanted to see. I wondered if I would become the person I was supposed to be, and if I would know as much as others who had opportunities I could not have anymore. My whole life, I wanted answers. I wanted to learn about the world-about why things existed. I wanted to see all of the beautiful things everyone talked about-the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the colosseum in Rome, a safari in Africa. I wanted to soak up all of the beauty in the world. I wanted to take pictures of the things I saw so I could remember them forever. I wanted to KNOW things.
Well, I haven’t traveled the world. But, amazingly, I have found many of the answers I have been searching for, and all of the beauty I could ever know.
Through my journey with this illness, I have met so many amazing individuals who share this pain with me. Through reading their blogs, watching their YouTube videos, speaking with them, crying with them, rooting for them, and sitting quietly with them-both on the phone or on the computer, or by myself, in my room, closing my eyes and praying for their relief-I have learned all I will ever need to know about life.
And this is what I know:
The greatest beauty I will ever see exists in the souls of human beings. The human beings that have known suffering and have come out the other side, grateful for life, with a quiet courage that they carry with them, and an undying attitude of “ok, I’m still going, bring it on”- these are the people that carry with them a spark, a light that cannot be diminished, a light that shines across states, countries and oceans. Their light, their words, their strength stays with me through every single moment of my life-whether I am aware they are in pain and on my knees praying for their relief, or if I am out and I see something beautiful and think “I wish they could see this”-they are with me. Their words of strength and encouragement are the photographs of beauty I keep inside my mind. These are the things I will remember forever. These things. The words of individuals who have known true suffering yet still see the world as a place of hope, who are in their own hell but reach out to pull others out of their suffering, who will remember to wish you well on a day that is difficult for you. I have learned everything I ever needed to know from those who have known suffering, from those who are in this world, this Chronically Ill world with me.
I wanted to see the world. I have. I have seen the best and worst parts of it. And the best parts? Way worth going through the bad parts.
Here’s what I know:
Without even realizing it, I was given everything I have ever asked for. It just didn’t present itself in lavish adventures, but in the life challenges of the deep pain that wakes me in the middle of the night, the extreme loss of a life I had to leave behind, and the search for answers that keeps my mind awake and alive, every moment of every day. I was given a world of beauty I always wanted to see. Who’s to say when I asked for a world of beauty, it would be the world of beauty that included traveling to exotic places, and looking at monuments? What I asked for was answers about life. What I wanted was to see the most beautiful things in the world. What I asked for was the deepest understanding of life a person can feel.
I got it. I got through the stories of others. I got it by being catapulted out of that world and into this one. And this world? It’s not so bad. In fact, I must say, I think it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Funny, how when you look around, you may just realize you have gotten everything you have ever wanted. It might not come in the form you thought it would-tied up in pretty paper with a bow-but it will come to you.
I certainly did travel to find it. I didn’t travel across oceans, but I left one life and was dropped into another. Well, I got my answers. I see the beauty. I have my answers now. Beauty- beauty is found in the souls of the suffering.
So, my friend, do not be afraid. If you are searching for beauty- look in the mirror. It exists inside you, inside the fight in your heart. The very fact that you keep going, that you make that choice, that you hold that hope, that you are looking for answers-those thoughts that run through your mind before you go to sleep at night-these are the things that make you beautiful. These are the things that make you add beauty to the world. Not just beauty-the most beauty. The most important and meaningful beauty that has ever been known. Keep fighting. Keep going. Keep being you. Don’t ever stop searching for your answers, but know that they can be found in the souls of those that share this world with you. We’re here together. We’re here with you.
I’m glad that this trip so far has been a one way ticket. How could I go back to that other world, when this one holds the most beautiful souls I have ever known?
**This blog is dedicated to anyone who has a chronic illness, to anyone that has suffered a loss, to anyone that is searching for who they are. It is dedicated to the individuals who have changed my life forever-some I speak with every day, and some who have no idea how much they have touched my heart.
To you, reading this blog. Even if we don’t know each other, I keep you close. I keep you in my heart. I pray for you ever day. I hope you get answers. I hope you find peace. And I hope you know, you are not alone.
To Dave, for watching me crumble in my moments of pain and remaining a rock of strength. For not judging me in my weak moments, and for encouraging me through my strong ones. For showing me I am worthy of love. For showing me that love is not a night out on the town, but being content anywhere with this person-even if that place is the emergency room at midnight on a Friday. Several times. And, for never giving up hope that there will be a cure, and for being one of the people trying to find it.
You are the beauty you thought you’d miss.