Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Essay Contest Entry

Let me know what you think! I've never entered a writing contest before...I'm totally nervous. It had to be 500-600 words, and start with "If I knew then what I know now, I would have..." So here it is!

Living For Today

By Kerri Sweeris

If I knew then what I know now, I would have lost my mind. I might not even be here. I never would have believed my own story! I would never dream that I would have to quit the job I loved. I couldn’t fathom knowing I would only have one child. I could not manage all the overwhelming things that I have dealt with over the past 15 years if I had known then.

If I had know that it would take eight years to get diagnosed…or that people would think I was crazy…or that two neurologists at a major teaching hospital would stand by my bed and tell me everything was in my head, and if I only accepted that I would get well….

If I had known that I would need a trach to breathe through for the rest of my life I would not have handled that well. If you had told me that my best friend of 12 years would die from cancer 2 years after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I would have been devastated. Best friends, both with chronic illness, diagnosed years apart, and then one dies from cancer?

I just simply would not have believed it. How could one person go through so much? If I had known that most of my friends would not be able to deal with the “sick” me? If I had known that the church I was involved in would abandon me? I would have been emotionally annihilated. Relationships are everything to me.

I am so thankful that I didn’t know. I don’t want to know what tomorrow holds. If I had known what I would be facing, I may have tried to change something, and then I wouldn’t be who I am today. And the who I am today is a lot better than the who I was then.

It’s sad that it took chronic illness to make me appreciate the little things. It makes me heartsick how much I took for granted. A deep breath. Climbing a flight of stairs with ease. Going out with friends whenever I wanted to. Saying no because I just didn’t feel like it, not because I could not physically go out.

If I knew then what I know now, I may not have married my husband, and then I would have missed one of the best things in my life. I also wouldn’t have my precious son Jacob. Even though it almost killed me carrying him, I wouldn’t change it for the world. His face, his eyes, his soul…I am enraptured by this almost-five-year-old version of me.

My faith is forever changed. I have learned of the faithfulness of God, even in the face of my faithlessness. I have developed a deeper understanding of how suffering can bring out the best in people. I have seen it firsthand. People show their true colors. I’m glad I didn’t know who would hurt and disappoint me before they actually did.

Living with chronic illness is difficult. But it is not impossible. I have a good life. I have a wonderful husband and son, and some real, genuine friendships. But best of all, I know that God will always be faithful, therefore I will always have hope.


Trace-n-the-Grace said...

Overall, I liked it Kerri. It's a lot of detail to take in with such a short essay. Your repetition of "If I knew now" pulls us back. However, you do switch to the "If I had known.." and I suppose that bit should be consistent throughout either way. I think your strongest image was of Jacob as a little you. Your piece made me think of that Rich Mullins song, "In this world you will have trouble, but I've given you My peace, that Who I am, you may also be..."

I am always encouraged by your words. Thanks for sharing your heart so openly.

Young Wife said...

I'm with you. I'm glad I didn't know how hard it was going to be.

Rachel said...

There must be a reason we don't get to know ahead of time! Sadly we've had so much illness in my family that we just drifted from one illness to the next. But we learn to handle whatever comes our way, no matter how hard it is.

Good luck with the contest!! You are always an encouragement...

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