Its midday Saturday 1st October and I’m lying on our bed with a little plate of cut up cheese, celery, grapes etc etc “resting”…. I don’t like it. What I mean is I HATE it.
Downstairs my mum, sister and fiancé are racing around preparing the house and food - and trying to prevent Toastie from undoing all their work in a single bound - like mad people. Why am I “resting”??? Why am I not helping??? This is what I’m good at; organising, planning, even occasionally cooking! But no, my body is killing itself and I take weird-ass drugs and get stupidly overtired and I struggle to make it through a whole day without an old lady style nap and that is why.
They all say “it’s a long day, you need to rest up” “let us handle this, you just rest.” So actually that is why I am here because they told me to be and I’ve the feeling the manic preparation and even to some extent the magnitude of the party itself is for me; to make me happy. Now don’t get me wrong or think of all me ungrateful but I love hard work and I was always the one behind the scenes and throwing the bash for someone else, not lying on a bed like some kind of diva expecting things to get sorted for me! More than anything I hate the fact that everyone is so tired and stressed essentially because of me… I know, I know … I’m not exactly doing this on purpose but the last thing I want is the effect my illness is having on those I love.
Later … People are arriving and I’m not ready… all that stupid resting and I’ve hair straighteners in one hand and mascara in the other… arg! But I get there and eventually I manage a half fake, half sincere and a definitely nervous skip down the stairs in my new dress and bare feet… again Vicky (previously of the stupid I cant afford and cant walk in these heels “but they are sooooo pretty!!!”, Is rocking the (well what I hope is the hippy/surfer-y) barefoot look cos, y’know it’s a barbeque. Have I changed so much I’ve lost myself? Sometimes I’m worried I am no more than an NHS number, others that it would be impossible to be me again now anyway but hang on a second… my toenails are immaculately painted… so maybe just maybe Vicky of old is here just a little more mature?
Even later…. So many family, new people and the friends are here, in fact our house and garden are packed! The bbq is producing all kinds of meats and fish, the chilli nachos have disappeared and the beer and vino are flowing. There is a general sense of celebration and merriment that I’m positively revelling in! For once the shadows are taking a real back seat and I am being myself again, actually if I’m honest I’m probably being a better version of me because if the shadows are having any effect at all its that I am wholly in the moment and enjoying every second.
You see I’ve forgotten the white dress I’m wearing (you can tell because I’ve made pink cocktails for the girls), that I haven’t got any shoes on or that my hair is not the length it was before I got sick. Somewhere in the back of mind I still remember that immense feeling of abandonment when friends ignored my plight a year ago, I remember the pain and indignity I suffered in a hospital bed and the feeling of utter loss when my life changed beyond all comprehension. That is the reason that having all these people here to celebrate with me and D for our engagement is so unbelievably overwhelming; in this moment the word Joy could never convey what I am feeling. Every time I become conscious of it I gravitate towards D. I can’t help feeling that this is all because of his presence in my world; so when he gathers everyone’s attention and makes a speech about how happy I make him I find the tears rolling uncontrollably down my cheeks.
There’s a simple lesson to be learnt here: it’s the people in your life that make it what it is; be they family, friends or the love of your life. Your relationships with others are what will bring you the purest form of happiness. So take a moment and consider who loves you and who you love … now go hug them, kiss them, call them and tell them that they are your world.