has quite literally opened new doors for me and given me access to places that were previously out of reach. On days that I am well enough, I am now able to be wheeled outside for brief moments to look up at the gorgeous blue sky and see our beautiful view of the Rincon mountains in the distance.
|A new view|
I currently can't go beyond the garage door and venture further outdoors, as I am unable to sit up for more than a few minutes and the bumpy gravel can be a difficult ride for me. But I am not about to complain. It's been a wonderful change of scenery. When you have been primarily confined to one or two rooms for over a decade, getting a glimpse of an alternate view for even a few minutes can feel quite liberating.
The ramp has also helped to fulfill another long-held wish of mine. One of the innumerable things I've missed in all these years of illness is the opportunity to gaze at the night sky. I can occasionally see the moon and a few stars twinkling from beyond my bedroom window, of course, but the view is always partially obstructed by the branches of my mesquite tree. And while I used to be a night owl prior to falling ill, my health often now forces me to end my day before the sun has even had a chance to set.
However, this winter, while the days are short and night descends over the desert a bit earlier than usual, my parents have more than once wheeled me outside to gaze up at a brilliant display of sparkling stars. It took my breath away to see all those glittering little diamonds scattered in the darkness. It is the first time I have been outside during evening hours in 15 years.
|Looking up at the stars|
Something else I have missed in all these years of confinement is the wide array of colors you see in the daily experience of simply being out in the world -- in gardens and art museums and in the simple variety and vibrancy of nature. In an effort to add some of those lively colors back into my life, my mom now makes sure that I always have flowering plants in my room to brighten my days. I love watching them burst into form, all radiant and iridescent, as if in celebration of their own beauty.
In addition to these daisies and orchids, a dear friend of mine sends me a new amaryllis plant each year for the holidays. I have several whose bulbs are just now beginning to sprout, and I look forward to getting to see their beautiful display of blossoms in the coming weeks.
This Christmas, I was also given a few of those adult-geared coloring books that are so popular right now. As long as I am careful to pace myself and not overdo, I find they can be a fun way to pass the time when able. Here's a dragonfly I finished a few weeks ago that I thought came out decently, at least compared to some of the others I did. :) I clearly don't have much artistic talent, but it's nice to feel I am doing something even slightly creative. It's another way for me to add some color to my world.
As always, the birds and wildlife also bring me a little beauty each day. While this doesn't technically count in my list of "new experiences," it wouldn't be a proper update without including a few of my favorite photos of my more recent window visitors -- from the usual finches, woodpeckers and doves to the slightly less common black-chinned hummingbird and Cooper's hawk.
|Bird Visitors (click to enlarge)|
Another recent treat was getting to have my annual (always far too brief) visit with my best friend and her two daughters over the holidays. Due to my health, any interaction I have must regretfully be kept to a minimum (generally less than 10 minutes or so) in order to avoid a lengthy setback. However, thanks to very careful pacing, this was one of the first years in quite some time that I wasn't crashed prior to the visit, and it was nice to be able to interact even just a tiny bit more than usual. I especially loved getting those precious hugs from her sweet children. Her youngest, my goddaughter, always comes back into my room for an extra hug before they leave, which never fails to make me smile.
And now for my most exciting news of all!
|Together again at last!|
|Always so sweet, Jim brought me a rose and some chocolates|
In order to help pull this off, one of Jim's brothers kindly offered to fly out from CA to PA and join Jim in his flight here to Arizona (and then back again for the return flight home). This assured that someone would be there to help Jim through every step of the journey in case he needed additional assistance or encountered unexpected issues. Jim also flew first-class (and had a reclining wheelchair) so that he could lie mostly flat for the entirety of the flight. My parents, of course, were also extremely accommodating and went out of their way in order to make the visit as easy and comfortable for both of us as possible. In addition, Jim's parents helped tremendously by caring for him before and after the trip.
I am beyond grateful to all who so graciously offered their assistance and support to make our visit happen. I'm most especially thankful for Jim, who bravely fought through so many hurdles and risked his very health for us to be together.
My time with Jim gave me a newfound sense of hope. Admittedly, there was a part of me that wondered -- without a cure or a new potential treatment -- if I would ever see him again. Our health has been so poor over these last many years, and research for this disease continues to be sparse and lacking in much immediate promise. However, Jim's visit was a reminder to me that, even in the midst of unending struggle, dreams can and do still come true. Undoubtedly, while my body remains confined by illness, my heart, mind and soul can still find ways to soar.
It is on those wings of renewed hope that I forge ahead with even greater resoluteness, knowing that, despite everything, many more moments of joy, love, beauty and wonder await me.