Because playing in the ocean doesn’t have to be scary

There are so many battles I’ve faced in life that I never want to relive.

More specifically, the flu.

I don’t know when my immune system became such a pansy. When I was a teacher, I had an immune system like a champ. But I kicked off this month with strep throat, and I ended it with the flu. I will say that it’s quite a fitting end to the year that was pretty hellish for me—a broken heart that acts like it doesn’t know how to mend and three kidney surgeries that caused my body all sorts of pain. Good riddance, 2017.

I’ve only had the flu one other time, and it was miserable. (I know I just made a humble brag about not getting sick a lot while I was a teacher, but I actually got the flu during my last year of teaching, thanks to one of my precious little darlings coming to school with the wretched virus and spreading it throughout my classroom.) This time around was no better—in fact, it might have been worse.

I was feeling really tired last Friday night, and I credited it to all of the travel and Christmas festivities. I didn’t feel that great when I woke up on Saturday morning, but I figured running would make everything better. It didn’t. I decided to go for a walk outside before getting froyo, and I barely survived—every single muscle in my body felt so ridiculously sore. I couldn’t think of anything significant I’d done that would make me feel that way (other than getting old), so I just did what I do best in these types of situations, and I ignored all of my symptoms.

Two of my friends from Dallas were in town for a wedding, and I was supposed to babysit for their sweet little girls that night. I started to feel a bit delirious, though, and my temperature kept rising. I found a thermometer I forgot I owned that I received from one of my stays in the hospital earlier in the year, and my temp was a little more than 100 degrees. Less than 30 minutes later, it was more than 101 degrees. I didn’t think that was a good thing. My friend and I agreed that it was best that I didn’t watch their kids that night (I felt awful about that, but I’m pretty sure I was also highly contagious), so I took some NyQuil and got in bed around 3:30 p.m.

Other than getting up to use the restroom and take more NyQuil and Advil, I didn’t get out of bed until after 7 a.m. the next day. I needed to run to Target for a couple of things but felt really dizzy (turns out that I had misread the dosage of NyQuil and had taken it more often than you’re supposed to—oopsies). I called my sister as I was driving there just in case something happened in my drugged-up state. At least someone would know.

I can’t explain what happened. I didn’t even know it was bleeding.

I spent most of Sunday in bed and fell asleep for the night around 6:30 p.m. (yes, on New Year’s Eve). There were many moments when I was in bed for those two days that I wished there were someone there to take care of me. I’m normally a very independent woman, but every once in a while, it would be nice to have someone there to get me more water or a cold (or warm—I don’t even know which is better) towel for my head or monitor my NyQuil intake when I really need it.

On Monday, though I wasn’t feeling much better, I went for a run (bad idea—my whole body was weak and hurt) and came back to a shoe full of blood. I guess I had a cut on my foot that had bled like crazy when I went running. With the way my life has been going lately, it seemed like such a fitting way to ring in 2018.

A little later, I got froyo and then went for a walk on my favorite beach to go sit on my lifeguard tower, which has quickly become my go-to spot—it brings me peace and clarity. And the view is absolutely beautiful. Every once in a while, I even see dolphins (well, their dorsal fins) swimming in the distance.

I didn’t capture a pic of dolphins. Sorry.

As I was sitting on my tower, I saw two young kids playing in the water. My initial thought was that those youngins were crazy—it was WAY too cold to be in the ocean! First of all, the Pacific always feels pretty frigid, but it was also now January and barely 60 degrees outside. The more I watched them, though, the more I realized they didn’t care at all. Their parents were definitely avoiding getting in there with them, but those kids didn’t mind because they weren’t worried about anything.

There’s something about being young and carefree that makes you forget about all of the possible things that could go wrong with the good things. You’re so caught up in having fun and exploring the ocean and all of its shells and waves and sea life that you don’t really acknowledge just how much of an ice cube your body could become from spending more than four seconds in there.

This tower has become a very important part of my life.

In that moment, I was reminded that life doesn’t always get easier when we want it to—in fact, sometimes the opposite occurs. It doesn’t mean the trials will last forever, but they can certainly endure for much longer than we’d ever prefer. Those are the times I wish I were more like a kid again—so resilient and unconcerned with what comes my way but, instead, enjoying every moment I have and embracing the newness and exciting opportunities I’m given on a daily basis.

I don’t need to worry about not having anyone to care for me when I’m sick or dwell on the heartache that one person has caused me. I’ve been given the chance to live in a beautiful place where I’m surrounded by God’s constant reminders of His presence, and I know that He’s enough. Maybe one day I’ll love someone who will love me back. Maybe I won’t. Either way, it’s OK. I’d rather live like I’m playing in the ocean without caring about the temperature. It’s much more enjoyable that way.

And perhaps someone else on a lifeguard tower will see me running fearlessly in the water and be inspired to do something brave.

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