Has it really been two years?

Yup, it has 🙁

As I write this right now, the physical copy of this picture that I took along with me to the medium is sitting here just staring at me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part of me doesn’t understand how it’s only been two years since Laura passed away, and another part of me wonders how it hasn’t been longer. I’m sure a large portion of that has to do with the changes that one goes through over the course of two years – especially the two years that I’ve lived through.

I have a completely different job and, barring anything crazy, will have another one. I’ve planned my wedding and taken that plunge. I’ve dived into pet parenthood. My sister is pregnant again – and I have a whole new (to me at least) sister and brother to get to know. I’ve let go of one set of family for another set while beginning to explore my spirituality. I’ve participated in panels, met with politicians, and traveled on my own to Washington, DC. My hair has been a couple of different colors.

Laura’s death was hard in so many ways, but two most notably.

Losing one of your closest friends is always hard, but Laura was also the first person who really understood how I was feeling. She knew what I was talking about without any explanation needed. She accepted me for who I was and tried to help me through whatever I was going through, whether that was illness related or not.

Her passing was also a huge wake up call that this illness can take a turn for the worse at any moment. That should’ve forced me into a mindset of 100% compliance and going to PT every week, etc. Instead, I freaked out at the realization of my own mortality and kind of dropped everything. A bit of survivor’s guilt in there you say? Perhaps.

At the same time, her death has done some things that have really benefited me. That seems wrong to say, but hear me out.

I met and got close to a number of people, namely Emily at Chronic Curve along with Laura’s mother in law (almost). The two of them have helped see me through a lot and I can’t imagine my life without either of them.

I became aggressive in my activism, to the point that I was able to go and speak with politicians several times about the dangerous diseases in the arthritis umbrella and how we MUST fund research for a cure. Now I’m balancing the aggressiveness out with optimism and love, which were both much needed.

I miss her like you wouldn’t believe, especially knowing that she would soon be getting married. The fact that she didn’t give to have her perfect day is incredibly hard to know now that I’ve been through it. She deserved that day – so did Matt. I also know that she helped with my day and the people involved in it, too though, and for that I’m forever grateful.

Maybe someday I’ll stop marking these next two days more with sadness and reverence, swapping those out for celebratory wake-like days. I know one thing this year – I’m glad to be in a place where I can practice self-love and compassion… and have tissues!

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