Those who know me personally know it has been a rough few months for me. It has taken me some time to find my way to a place of peace as of late, but as usual, the written word has been my salvation.
Here we go…
Spring and Summer 2016 found me working like my hair was on fire as a Senior Public Affairs Advisor for Enbridge. I was a contract worker, employed not by Enbridge but by Kelly Services. I started this position in March 2015. I loved it. I was good at it. I worked hard with passion and fervor. I met people I respected and liked. I met people I loathed and who made my skin crawl I learned a lot about myself during this run, both personally and professionally. My contract came to an end at the end of July. I left feeling disappointed because I knew that I had so much more to offer that needed to be done, I had so much time and energy invested in the projects, and I felt like the rug had been ripped right out from under me. I knew I had no regrets, though, I had given them my very best and that was all I could do. As I watched the news unfold throughout the rest of the summer that the Minnesota projects that Enbridge had so carefully planned were being quite possibly permanently frustrated by the endless red tape of Minnesota politics, I felt very sad. Sad for a company I respected and continue to respect and care about, but most of all sad for the countless lives negatively affected by the cessation of the projects, including mine.
As they say, though, blessings come in disguise. I had been alternately ignoring and realizing that I had some very serious health issues going on for many months. Things really started to get real in June. Within a span of just a few weeks, I was diagnosed with pleurisy, pneumonia, and the shingles. Through all of it, I kept working. I knew that I was expendable, replaceable, just a number. If I even stopped to blink, there would be someone there to call me weak and push me out of the way. So I didn’t blink. I just kept going. Until Enbridge blinked for me and I found myself in a situation that never sits well with me. A situation where I had time on my hands. And when I stopped, my body said that we were going to stay put for a while.
In late July, my niece was in a serious accident and hospitalized. I spent time at the hospital, but was finding myself dealing with new symptoms, burning pains in my stomach and high fevers. I finally left my niece’s hospital room one night and went straight to the emergency room This is not like me. I had a CT scan and was diagnosed with diverticulitis. All I knew about the disease is that my mother had diverticulitis when I was quite young. I remembered mom being hospitalized in Fargo and having surgery. The doctor told me he could admit me or just give me medication to take at home. I was thrilled at what sounded like such an easy fix and I happily went home with my medications.
Things did not improve for me. I ended up back in the ER within a week. That time, they admitted me. I was in the hospital in Grand Forks for 7 days and Fargo for 4 days. During that time I was treated like garbage by some medical professionals, and I owe my life to others. I received more flowers than anyone deserves — I was humbled and moved to tears by each bouquet that was brought in to cheer me. I made it all into a learning experience. I learned that I really am as tough as I hold myself out to be, but even the toughest girls have a breaking point.
One night as I lay in my hospital bed, I received a call from my best friend, Jane. Jane has always been a constant in my life. She’s my true north. There isn’t much we haven’t been through together and the world is a better place just because Jane is in it. She’s a true Walsh County girl — tough as nails, savvy, smart, beautiful, and she takes no bullshit. We’ve always been together, even when we’ve been apart. I once picked a nose ring out of her nose the morning after she regrettably pierced her nose. She once bound up my poor engorged chest with a dish towel after I had my first baby. You can’t break bonds like the ones we share. The message that Jane was calling me with nearly stopped my heart. My Jane was telling me she had cancer. And my Jane was hurting because she had to call me when I was sick to tell me this news. SHE is facing cancer, but is thinking of me. Yep, that’s my Jane.
So now I think of her. I have never seen anyone so brave and beautiful as Jane has been during this nightmare. She is matter-of-fact, humble, and she has inspired me in so many ways that I find myself quite speechless at times because I am so in awe of her. Because of her example, I am able to handle the highs and lows of my own debilitating illness. Because of her, I am choosing to see every minute of every day as gift and I don’t wish the time away like I used to. Because of her, I am following my passions and practicing law full time and writing part time. I choose to be my OWN boss, because I refuse to ever let anyone dictate my time for their benefit ever again. Because of her, I chose to say YES to taking a random Monday off to go eat lunch in the October sunshine on the deck at the Blue Moose and browse through stores and walk and laugh and buy each other little gifts and even new cowboy hats.
I will continue to walk this journey of life with the girl who has been my true north and I will make sure she knows that WE are tougher than cancer or diverticulitis or any other load of crap that life throws at it. TOGETHER we will throw that crap right back. In sickness and in health, we are truly #JANEANDMEGSTRONG.