I’d never understood the old adage “it takes a village”. I’ve always been a pretty independent person; happy to be in the company of others but equally happy to spend time on my own. Lately, I have come to have a much greater understanding of what that saying means.
As most of you know, nearly two years ago now, I left to study at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and, not long after that, I got sick and never got better. Initially, it was hard not having my parents there with me. No matter how old you are, there’s nothing better than a mothers care while you’re sick. But, lucky for me, my great group of friends stepped up to the plate. They’d offer to run to the drug store for me if I needed anything. They’d bring me bagels from dining hall. They’d pick me up from doctors appointments. They’d spend their Friday nights watching movies with me instead of partying. Everyday, they taught me what a true friendship really is.
Soon enough, I had this amazing support system surrounding me. It crazy how we went from being complete strangers at the beginning of the year to feeling like we knew each other forever in just a few short months. I found a village and it felt great. I knew that, no matter what, these people would have my back and still, to this day, they are some of my biggest cheerleaders. But then, the school year ended and my village was ripped apart, all of us going back to our homes thousands of miles away from each other.
For awhile, I was somewhat afraid. I thought I had lost my village when I came home. Fighting a battle with an invisible illness can feel very isolating at times. It can feel like nobody understands what you’re going through because you really don’t understand having an illness that never goes away until you experience it for yourself. And what made it worst was the fact I no longer had my great support system I had built at MUN by my side. It didn’t take long though for me to realize that I had a village right here at home all along.
I knew that my family and friends were part of the village but, the more I talked about my battle, the more I realized how many people were behind me, supporting me along the way. My village is full of a menagerie of people: from the hundreds of people who have shared my several “call-to-action” posts on Facebook, to the fabulous nurses and doctors who have joined my team, to the family I found during my years at JVK Taekwondo, à la communauté francophone qui m’a accueilli à bras ouverts quand j’ai décidé de poursuivre mon education en français, to my fellow EDS and chronic illness fighters I’ve met through the blogging community, to the John, Angela, Christine, and the rest of the team at Credit Counselling Service who so graciously planned this benefit for me. My village is huge.
People often commend me for my strength or my bravery or my positive outlook through all of this and I often hesitate accepting those compliments. Why? Because you all deserve them too. Without all of you, without my village, I couldn’t have made it through all I have and continued on this fight. Without your support, kindness, and friendship, I would’ve been hard pressed to keep my positive outlook. I realize now that it does take a village. You all have been my strength when I couldn’t be strong, my bravery when I couldn’t be brave, and my positivity when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am so lucky and so humbled to have such an enormous village but, most importantly, as shown yesterday, a village full of love.
Thank you for being my village.
(N.B. This is the extended version of my little thank you speech that I gave at the benefit organized for me on June 28, 2016)
3 thoughts on “A Letter to my Village”
Grampy and I are so proud to be part of your Village and are always here for you with the rest of your Village – very well said Kathleen – we are so proud of you – Hugs xo
Kathleen – you are so brave and so positive -we are humbled to be apart of your village. We’re thankful to Tarek and everything he can do to be our voice within the medical society for you and everything we can do to bring awareness to your condition. Keep on, keeping on and we will too – right by your side xo
Thank you Jan xo