Monday, December 27, 2010

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times...


2010 has been the weirdest year of my life.

It started out well enough. In fact, pretty great. My first book was published in December 2009, and it made a whole slew of e-bestseller lists in January 2010. One of the coolest things I've ever seen is the image of my half-naked Santa Claus book cover next to Stephen King's Under The Dome and Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. I spent the next six months working on my second book, and by July it was finished.

I was looking forward to celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband, and travelling to Jackson Hole for an awesome adventure vacation with the kids.

On August 3, 2010 everything changed.

I had a heart attack, at the ripe old age of 44. I had a bare metal stent inserted into my clogged artery. I spent a week in the hospital with a roommate who was 92 years old. My dream trip to Wyoming was cancelled. My anniversary celebration was postponed. My father fell ill a few nights after my heart attack and died a week later. He knew about my heart attack, but did not regain consciousness before his death, so he never found out I was okay. I really hate that. I pray that somehow he knows now. August 2010 had officially turned into the worst month of my life.

Facing your own mortality is complicated. I am handling it with humor, anger, disbelief, determination, hostility, melancholy, denial. Dealing with the physical recuperation (drugs, diet and exercise, fatigue, myriad doctor appointments, etc) has been far easier to handle than the emotional and mental process. I am still struggling with this part, and I'm not sure when, if ever, I will come to terms with why this happened. Why I got a second chance when others have not been so lucky. Who I am, why I am here, what my purpose is. Sound heavy? Yeah, well almost dying has the unfortunate side effect of making you introspective, even if you fight it.

So, as I face the close of this shocking year, I really have no answers. My will to live is strong. Strong enough to change unhealthy habits and restructure my life. My identity is up in the air. I feel as though I've pulled myself into a cocoon and am awaiting metamorphosis, unsure when I will emerge, and what exactly I will become. The person staring back at me in the mirror looks like a stranger. Fifty pounds lighter, with a starkness etched on her face, I don't recognize who she is.

All I know is I got a second chance. It's an incredible gift. It's more time with my husband, more time with my children, more time with my friends and family. Time to write more stories. Time to see an Orca in the wild? Sip mango margaritas while watching the sun set in Hawaii? Snuggle with my dog. Take a walk around the neighborhood and chat with good people. Simple things, adventurous things, everything.

I am looking forward to a fresh start. I am looking forward to leaving 2010 behind me. The good, the bad....I am ready for new.

I am ready to embrace 2011. Ready to embrace my second chance.

Not knowing what the future holds for me. Just thankful I have a future.

Bring it on.

15 comments:

Mandi said...

Beautiful post Penny. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad..I didn't know he passed away. Such a tough year for you but it sounds like you are determined for a better 2011!!

Penelope said...

Thanks, Mandi! I'm really looking forward to the new year.

KB/KT Grant said...

((PENNY))

2010 was both a combo of good and bad as well for me.

I can see 2011 being an amazing year for you. I'm so sorry about your father.

Kwana said...

What a beautiful post. I'm so happy for your second chance and I'm looking forward to 2011 right along with you.

Penelope said...

Thanks, KB-- I'm hoping 2011 won't be such a crazy rollercoaster...I need some smooth sailing for a while. (Actually, sailing would be fun! :)

Penelope said...

Hi Kwana! I have a good feeling about 2011...for everyone!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

You are an amazing woman and this is a powerful post. Penny, death can come at any age. None of us has a guarantee. You have to live as if there will be a tomorrow anyway. May not be comforting, but it's the truth. I'm quite sure your father knows how you are. In fact, he knows how you are.
I know 2011 will be a good year for you, slim. All that introspection is normal. When stuff like this happens it comes with the territory.
You have lots of people in your corner.

Penelope said...

Thanks, Julia...I know you are in my corner! :) I am typically a live-in-the-moment gal, and not used to being so introspective about things. This whole thing has been too surreal, and I'm hoping that I find a new equilibrium in the new year. Slim! hee hee...oh yeah!

Michelle Picard said...

You're exactly where you need to be, girl! 2011 may bring more of the unexpected, but I know you will find a way to celebrate joy and face your life with grace. It's supposed to be confusing unfortunately.Big hug.

Penelope said...

Love you, Michelle! yeah, you're right...no one said this was going to be easy.

Lindsay Kiernan said...

I hope that you get to go out west soon. I'm from the area (about three hours away from Jackson Hole) and miss it everyday! I'd like to say that 2011 will be quieter, but there are no promises in life.

I understand some of the near death trauma you went through, my husband had a horrible car accident last December and is still recovering from it. For about ten minutes I thought he was dead, it was the worst time in my life. But we heal and if we are lucky we become much stronger. You are one of the lucky ones in so many ways! Good luck in 2011!

Penelope said...

Lindsay, I am so glad your husband is okay...that must have been horrible. You are right...I am lucky, and I think about that every day.

Here's to 2011!

Dalton Diaz said...

The thought of losing you scared the crap out of all of us - one of those horrible moments forever frozen in time where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.

You're one of the strongest, most amazing women I know, and I count my blessings to call you friend.

KMont said...

I'm so sorry, I didn't realuize this happened to you! I've just started to come out of my own cocoon, I guess, and am trying to catch up with people's blogs. I'm so glad you came out of that OK!

Penelope said...

Thanks, DD! Quirky Power is helping with my healing!

KMont--It's been a surreal year for me. So glad it's 2011.