Almost everyone has expectations of how their life is going to turn out and what they’re going to do. When I was a little girl, it was easy to imagine all the wonderful things I could do with my life, and how exciting it was all going to be. I planned to fall in love with an amazing man who loved me and my scars, raise a family, have a successful career and a life free of illness.
But I learned early that even the best laid plans have a way of changing. I also learned that while plans can often change on their own, changing expectations is something that requires effort.
For me, this past weekend was a long one, literally and figuratively. Nine to ten months ago my boyfriend and I had been planning to get married during this Victoria Day weekend. Except six months ago he became my ex boyfriend, and Friday night I ended up in the hospital dealing with a case of CMV. I did find it amusing when Sunday rolled around and I realised we would have had to pospone the wedding anyway even if we were still together because I would have been unable to attend.
I never expected to be twenty-seven years old, six months post-heart transplant and still not married, but I am. Picking up CMV from my donor and having to spend time in the hospital was also not in my plans or expectations, but that too is a reality. And the gaps between reality and my expectations leave me feeling frustration, grief and a lack of control.
“Wouldn’t it be great if things just turned out the way I planned and expected them to?” I think. Except then I’d currently be married to a man who lied constantly to me. I would have never gone into heart failure or had a heart transplant, which means I also would never have met a lot of my current friends. I’d be a hospital social worker, and I probably never would have written The Phoenix Pages or The Phoenix Zine, because both developed out of my reaction to my heart failure.
In other words, I’d be a completely different person. I can’t really judge whether that’s a good or a bad thing, but I do know a lot of things have happened that I never expected to, and a lot of things I love about my life have resulted from the unanticipated.
I am a person who enjoys the orderliness of making plans. I think endlessly about how my life might turn out and what I want to accomplish. But I do enjoy the unpredictability of life. To me, life’s unpredictability is what makes it worth living. The game of life is always changing with new rules and new scenarios, and the challenge of adjusting to change after change is what keeps me on my toes.
So while I’m here in the hospital, I’ll grieve, because let’s face it, this does suck. But I will also use this time to write my blog, work on The Phoenix Pages and do other stuff that I enjoy like listening to my music and knitting. And I’ll get through this with the help of my friends and family. Those are my new expectations anyway, but I’m open to adjustment.