"You make your own luck" Ernest Hemingway
I have always considered myself to be extremely lucky.
Don't get me wrong, I've never won a competition in my life, I've never had a single lottery number come up, I miss trains within a whisper on a daily basis, I get caught in the rain without a coat, I smash glasses and lose possessions I really care about, I have been humiliated in public places. But in life, I consider myself lucky.
The freedom I have, born in a country and time where I could more or less do what I wanted to do, to a family who loved me. (Yes my mum and dad divorced when I was young - but to an 8 year old, I now had two houses and two Christmases - life was peachy!)
I knew from a very young age what I wanted to do in life and I know that is extremely rare as I watched family and friends struggle to find their path.
Despite an accident I had when I was 15 which resulted in a fair amount of dental work and then some trips to a Gynae Clinic (thanks to a promiscuous boyfriend). I always considered myself lucky health wise and up until 34 had never even had so much as a broken bone.
I have always surrounded myself with the best of friends from all walks of life, different backgrounds, gender, age, race, sexuality and religions. I love people and I love learning from other people's experiences. The more I learnt about other peoples hardship and struggles the more incredibly aware of my luck (or privilege) I was.
I was then incredibly lucky in love, again I had my dalliances and what were then perceived as heart breaks (surprise, surprise the promiscuous boyfriend). I also spent a good 6 years single or as I like to call that period "learning to love myself" (if I'm looking to get punched). But then I found my best friend and it was just so incredibly easy, we are partners in every sense of the word, we support each other and build each other up. (I could go on but I'm not looking to get punched again).
I remember saying to my friends over Christmas drinks; I feel too lucky, no one can be this lucky. Something is going to happen...
I was diagnosed with ARVC after a close shave with death in the February that followed that conversation. Maybe I'd prepared myself for something like this, but again after seeing my friends go through such hardships with health, I certainly wasn't going to feel hard done by. Especially as the nurses told me; I was lucky to be alive. After overcoming my fear of dying and facing my condition head on, I created my heart project and spoke for The British Heart Foundation, trying to raise awareness of conditions like mine. I met many other women who's lives had been affected by heart conditions, who hadn't been so lucky. Maybe it was brought to their attention by losing a loved one unexpectedly or they had really struggled to get a diagnosis or they suffered heavily with symptoms and it had hugely impacted their lives. So despite this huge change in my life, I still couldn't not realise my luck.
I have recently lost my dad. Which I guess is the real reason for writing this blog. I have many friends who have lost parents, some of them lost them incredibly young, some from diseases some from suicide. My husband lost his mum, just as we got together, something that bonded us quickly. I've seen people go through the pain and eventually come out the other side. I know the pain never really goes away but perhaps we experience it less frequently. I always felt incredibly lucky to have both parents and the older you get the more aware of that you feel.
My dad was diagnosed with cancer, it was found far too late because of this pandemic and because he was just over 70. It was an incredibly quick illness as it had spread far too aggressively. I feel angry that he was overlooked and upset for him losing out on life. And still to help us with the grieving process we look for the positives;
He didn't suffer long, he was ready to go, he didn't have to lose too much dignity.
I know I am genuinely lucky that this happened this side of the pandemic, not in lockdown, that we were able to travel to Cornwall to see him 3 times. We made the most of our time, created some lovely memories, reminisced on times gone by, said anything we needed to say, treated each moment as if it was the last. And still we got to be there at the end to say goodbye when the time came. It may not have all been pleasant at the end, but how many people get to do all of that? I know deep down we are lucky.
I stared at some flowers that my very supportive yoga teacher (and friend) brought round. I suddenly felt guilty as it wasn't the first time I had received something lovely from her, she had brought me a gift when I had keyhole surgery. I suddenly panicked, was I now someone whose luck was changing? Was I having a run of bad luck?
Nobody wants to be unlucky and I certainly don't want to be seen as a victim because I'm not.
I was lucky to have him as a dad, someone who endlessly believed in me. He always said to me "you just need that lucky break"
But I've had my lucky break, I'm alive and I love my life. I want to continue to work hard, harder than before so maybe then the universe will reward me with that magical role so that I can make my dad proud. But until then I will continue to make my own luck.