"Maybe, when you're in it, you just get through it, and it seems so much scarier to everyone else," she said.
"Maybe," I replied.
My friend Ann put it best: When someone tells you that you have cancer, it's like you're plunged into the deep end of the pool. Nobody can see you, nobody can help you. There's water in your eyes and your ears and your nose, and there's nothing in your world but the water; you can't see or think about anything but the water.
And then ... you hit the surface. Everyone around you is floating on a raft. They hand you a beer. The sun is shining, and the world is beautiful.
And you think ... did that seriously just happen, that part where I almost drowned?
This time last year I was unemployed, desperately hunting for my next thing. I realized I'd have to make a career pivot and reinvent myself away from the dying star that is paid journalism. All but abondoning social media after a decade of living with both ankles constantly submerged in that rushing river. Wondering who I am if none of what I worked so hard to achieve in the past means anything to the hiring managers I met with in the yawning maw of job sites into which for six months I poured four different versions of my resume? And why do I have more Twitter followers now when I never go over there? What does any of that mean? I don't know half of those people and there are more people following me on Twitter than there were in my hometown in 1992. And I know damn well none of those Twitter people listen to anything I say. It's all just Black Mirror until you start believing in it.
Then, suddenly, I surfaced. There were health benefits and a 401(k).
And then, less than 90 days later, breast cancer.
As I end 2017, I'm in a way better place than I was in 2016. It's not because I'm stronger -- I think I was just as strong before as I am now and will probably hover at approximately this strength level until age or accident calls my endgame. It's more that I've started to accept the bad times a little easier.
It's tempting when all the things mount up to ask, why? I suprised myself by not doing a lot of this in 2017. I'm trying to ask, instead, why not me? Why shouldn't I read 50 books a year and let Drunk History replace everything I learned in high school? The next good thing is coming. And so is the next bad thing. Sometimes they'll take turns. Sometimes they'll pile on.
But they will never stop coming, because this is life, and strangely, life is not personal.
So if at the end of 2016 I was praying for resilience, at the end of 2017, I'm praying for a little luck. I've spent 2017 working on me, trying to teach myself some new skills so I can be ready if luck wants to find me in 2018. I've actively prepared for a good thing to happen to me. Hi, good thing. Just standing here, looking cute.
I WILL A GOOD THING TO HAPPEN TO ME IN 2018. I've prepared. I'm ready.
Come on, dammit.