That’s how long it’s been since I had the surgery that saved my life. Seven! Such a fascinating number. Seven is lucky. It’s the number of days in a week. Seven deadly sins. The seven-year itch in a marriage. Seven Wonders of the World. Seven seas. Seven continents. Seven colors in a rainbow. Seven notes on a musical scale. Seventh son of a seventh son. Seven generations. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The seven evil exes in Scott Pilgrim. You get the point.
This is an extra special year of celebration for me. I just had my twentieth wedding anniversary. I just graduated with my MA from SUNY Albany—something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m writing a collection of short stories. All the stories are written, but now I’m making them less awful. I’m wrapping up my time as Editor in Chief with Barzakh Lit Mag. I interviewed Jennifer Egan in my role with the New York State Writers Institute!!!! Not to mention I was the SUNY Thayer Arts Fellowship finalist for writing! That was huge.
Looking at the years between my college graduation and the surgery, I did some things, but not at the scale I’ve achieved in these last seven years. I know I accomplished a lot, but I’m wicked proud of how I’ve used my time. Even if not everyone understands or approves. I’m grateful for my doctors and nurses who cared for me in those rough years. I also appreciate the coworkers I had at the time who took extraordinary care of me. And, of course, my hubby, David.
At this moment, on the lucky number seven, I feel nothing by love. I could have spent the last seven years angry and bitter at the money, time, and energy that went into not dying. If people only knew, I think they’d understand a wee bit of rage. The level of burnout I reached from balancing my full-time job and medical issues left me broken in a way I can’t yet explain. I stepped back and did something I had wanted to do for twenty-two years: pursue higher education.
These past two years, I took time to heal a few things internally that I couldn’t do while I was always in the service of others. My career has been in human service. Not a bad thing, and I loved it. But it didn’t give me time or space to serve myself and my needs. Because of that, this seventh year was magic. Being able to write and rewrite and rewrite again, editing other people’s work, being a graduate assistant to the New York State Writers Institute, being with Barzakh and those wonderful folks, reading, and filling my soul. What a gift.
It’s important to me to stop, remember, and appreciate. And to be kind and understanding of me. The second reader for my thesis committee was the professor of a class I took in the fall of 2021. We saw each other this spring. He told me I look different. I reminded him we were wearing masks in his class, but he said that wasn’t it. I told him how burned out I was in his class. I’d come into that semester not okay. He nodded thoughtfully and told me he’d grown a beard, which made me laugh. I feel different and happier. It’s making me wicked picky as I job hunt. I’m setting thick boundaries for myself while continuing my motto of saying yes to opportunities (which I started seven years ago.)
I’m excited and nervous. I think nervousness is your body’s way of telling you something is important. I’m teaching a class for Story Circle Network (I hope to teach more.) I’m developmental editing. I’m writing. I’m going to the mountains of NC in a few weeks. I’m looking for a new journal to be involved with post-Barzakh. I’m reading excellent books. I have amazing people in my life. So YES, to lucky number seven!