I shouldn’t even be here.
I was born to parents who were barely 20 years old in the bitter winter of the upper peninsula of Michigan. I was tiny and jaundiced and their first child.
We moved a lot. Eventually they divorced. We settled in a small town in rural Arkansas where it was not unusual to live paycheck to paycheck. Two days after I turned 15 I had surgery to remove a malignant ovarian tumor and I started chemo a few weeks later. We had no medical insurance. I ended up needing two more surgeries.
I missed nearly 50 days of ninth grade.
There was no college fund. There were no funds period to assist me with my college education. Too poor to pay but not poor enough to qualify for grants, I managed to make it work with scholarships, work study, and eventually with my job as an RA.
I graduated with honors.
I also graduated with credit card debt.
I studied theatre because I liked it and had an aptitude for it, not because I was expecting a big paycheck. But when you have credit card debt, a paycheck is required. Seriously lacking employable skills, I managed to get a job in Human Resources. Also seriously lacking relationship skills, I managed to get married.
One of those things didn’t work out. The other one did.
Our partnership and his seriously employable skills helped to eliminate my credit card debt. It also helped to get him through a back log of INS in Miami so we could stay here.
Early in our marriage we’d already had an interesting life together.
We had no idea if I could become pregnant due to my medical history, but after nearly a year of trying, I became pregnant. Twenty-three weeks into my pregnancy I had to have emergency surgery for a condition that would have cost my life and that of my unborn child had we not caught it on time.
She was born two days before her due date, almost at 40 weeks exactly. I chose a natural birth as I’d had enough involuntary drugs in my body for one lifetime. I made the same decision when her sister was born four years later, though it wouldn’t have mattered as we barely made it to the hospital in time for her birth.
The facts of my life show me all the opportunities where things could have gone in another direction. I shouldn’t even be here, yet here I am on my 39th birthday. Healthy. Financially secure. Happily married. And a mother to two amazing girls.
I’ve survived. I’ve overcome. I’ve made it through and it wasn’t easy.
But we all have survival stories, right?
Every day we make choices that affect our future. Finances, relationships, health — these things don’t always go the way we’d like them to. Sometimes we don’t ask to be presented with the choices we have to make, but it is how we react to those situations that defines us.
Today I choose to celebrate all the moments in my life that I was saved and not dwell on the hurt and the struggle that might have preceded those moments.
I choose life. I choose love. I choose today.
What have you overcome to be right where you are right now? Was there a time in your life when everything could have changed? And what have you learned from that experience?