Yesterday I turned 26 years of age.
It was Father's Day that year...June 21, 1987.
I don't talk about my brother Philip much because, at the heart, I couldn't accept the fact that he has passed on.
In this last year, I would argue against doctors and other professionals on my team: I am not dying. Nope. Not me!
This illness hijacked my brain. This...whatever you want to call it. POTS. Dysautonomia. DTP. It doesn't matter. They are only words.
I look at Philip's plaque every day. Sometimes I can't stop crying.
Others? I slam my palms against the wall, shrieking, angry with him. I want to slap him because our family, I feel, has fallen apart.
A good friend of mine told me I need a tether. Philip WAS MY TETHER.
Because before anything...there was us.
What is different now?
I feel as though I've been given a second chance. And I've taken to it greedily, never to miss an opportunity to further myself from "illness". Being "sick". It is a race against my own shadow, the fear of failure forcing adrenaline into my legs to stand when weak and walk though my joints crack and ache in protest.
In my family, we work. We push ourselves very hard and can party even harder. There are inadequacies I feel constantly...just relearning walking. Eating. Battling to remain in forward movement. No room for stagnation. No days off.
If I stop, the nightmare repeats itself.
In the end, Philip couldn't have made it much further. Whatever thoughts and events were strangling him I will never know.
Or maybe, he is merely just like me: insistence that he would not die...just as I stated this whole past year about myself.
Age twenty-six will be different in the following ways:
*Addressing chronic conditions and improving management: becoming as ill as I have makes just living difficult. Thriving, however, is second nature. "Just living" or "surviving" seems pointless. And it is. All who walk this earth are called to do SOMETHING. I chose to throw myself into Life. I dropped all my doubts and fears and worries like two cement blocks I didn't realize I was carrying. When I did this, I discovered just how strong I'd become. So I will use this strength and use it for good: to get well. To continue to THRIVE.
*Thriving: this is what thriving means to me -- spontaneous laughter, random jokes, taking note of the rising and setting sun, dancing in to the warm summer rain, loving my friends and family, and always, always, always receptive to grow and change. To never, ever stop learning. But to stop yearning for what I will never have...none of us can have it all.
As this book is coming along...I am realizing the only way I want to continue this project is only if there is "resolution of conflict". No cliff hangers. No wondering what happened to me by the reader.
*And then there is the rest of my life. I am getting clearer direction all the time of this map...my life. Right now things are well...and I will keep it that way. At least the parts I have control over.
I teetered on the edge of death and am backing away slowly, so as not to disrupt the fragile ground of this cliff.
Because, you see, there are rolling hills of the softest green grass behind me. Where Happiness and Joy may come together...at long last. Sure I have restrictions. Limits. I don't care that my health is in questionable shape. I am determined to do something that really matters. I'm not thinking Nobel Prize or anything, but I have some ideas.
However...I have to do this without my brother. My first friend.
And my first loss.
So I dedicate my life to him instead. To be the voice he didn't have. To speak up when being pushed around.
To he honest and true to my word.
This life of Danielle Nicole Peterson, her health, wellness, goals, and dreams are fully dedicated to Philip Nicolas Peterson and the man he would have been.
With this heavy heart not of burden or unhappiness -- but of determination and promise -- these tears stream down my cheeks.
So now even with us being on the opposite ends of the Universe...we still share our lives together.
ad memoriam: Philip Nicolas Peterson (10/25/88 -- 1/5/09).