Week Fifty-one: Amanda Kasper

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Write about anything.

may you feel celebrated today,

may you know that you are loved. 

..to write love on her arms..

When you’re in the hospital for days on end, you try to find kindness and inspiration and love wherever you can. Whether it’s in the words of the patient care technicians in the middle of the night, the titles your friends use to sign up for your blog (hereandreal, imbarefoot, abeliever), comfort in re-watched episodes of your favorite tv show, or the email confirmations you find in your inbox tracking care packages and other things your friends and family have sent your way; feeling loved, feeling the effects of kindness, feeling inspired is the only thing that keeps you on your feet; or even ready to stand again. 

Since the first week of May, I have been in the Emergency Room 4 times, I have been admitted to the hospital for a total of 8 days across two different weeks, and I have seen a series of doctors – too many to remember or list in one place. I have been trying desperately to manage my health and the physical pain tormenting me through twists and turns, days and nights and moments I’d prefer to never remember – turns out with or without a diagnosis, my body is infinitely challenging to understand and even harder to control.

In addition to my regular fun, I have passed kidney stones and broken two bones in my foot, leaving me with an air-cast and crutches, a picc line, and about 2,000 questions, including “Will I make it to commencement on Friday, or will I simply take photos in my backyard with my cap and gown and remember that without or without the ceremony, I met my goal, I reached the end, I accomplished everything I wished for?”

In an email I exchanged with the Merchandise team at TWLOHA regarding a recent order, they signed their response “with hope,” and I found myself amidst tears of reality.

If you know me, you know I’ve never been one to pray. It hasn’t felt real to me, since the spring of 2008. Prior to that, adventures at camp, nights under the stars, and living abroad in the holiest city of the world kept me at peace with my feelings about a higher power; a brighter spirit, a connection through friends and family and loved ones with something bigger than big.

The turn of events that left me without breath, full of fear and pain and guilt and other emotions that I may never be able to process, I lost my faith.

I lost my ability to believe. 

For years, every single person I know has said they will pray for me, they have prayed for me, etc. While the words and sentiments have felt real, larger than life, and more important to me than nearly anything else, I have been unable to fully understand or believe them. All this time, I thought if there was a higher power, and if everyone in my life was truly offering words up to it, that I would get better. That life would get better. That it would stop being so damn unfair.

But the truth of the matter is, hope is on us. It’s within us. It has to be. 

There were six-year olds in Connecticut who lost their lives one fateful day in the middle of their routine. Teenagers at a movie theater who never returned home. There were college students on multiple campuses across the country who never reached their diploma. There are children and teenagers and adults with the biggest hearts in the world fighting every day for life. To live through whatever hells they’ve been faced with. And it is with them, from them, I am filled with eternal gratitude.

To the one who has reminded me, time and time again, that I have to find strength and hope within, I finally understand.

Without hope, there is nothing. There is no reason to push forward. To continue reaching, to keep moving forward.

It is only with hope that we can continue. It is only with hope that we can believe there’s more for us to do than suffer. That our suffering can turn into something bigger than we are. Something that can change others, or change the world even. That’s still who I want to be. That’s still what I want to do.

Whether or not I join the procession on Friday at Ryan Field, I reached my goal. I pulled through. I kept reaching, I kept fighting, even when I felt like there was nothing left.

There’s something left. There’s always something left. It’s up to us to find it.

With hope,

A

____________________

Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”

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