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The end of an era...

As the new year begins, it is the end of an era for me. I spent eight years in this wonderful apartment and I will miss it terribly. We packed up the last of the boxes today, vacuumed the carpets for the final time, looked out over the beautiful river view, took a lot of pictures and sadly closed the door behind us as we left with tears in our eyes.

There were lots of memories in this apartment and when I had to leave solely due to financial reasons, that makes it even more difficult. I wasn’t moving because I had a great job opportunity waiting for me in some other town or a budding romance calling me to relocate into my lover’s arms of solace. I was leaving this apartment that I cherished simply because I got sick, went on disability and can’t afford to stay here anymore. It is a very heartbreaking way to leave a home.

As the time drew closer to actually leaving, it got more and more difficult to walk away. This was the place that I moved to when I was going to begin my new career in medicine. It was the place where my beloved cat and my mother’s precious dog spent the final days of their lives with us before crossing the Rainbow Bridge. This home was where I spent three years fighting to save my own life from Chronic Lyme Disease. I was bedridden in a small room for days upon days hooked up to an IV pole, suffering in pain, crying and wondering if I would die there. Those four walls watched me face my own mortality. I truly believed at times that I would leave that apartment on a coroner’s stretcher. I planned my funeral in that small bedroom.

There were also good times that happened in that apartment. Many holidays were celebrated there before I got sick. Numerous Christmas mornings were spent opening presents around the tree with my mother, Sundays watching football games and yelling at the television screen, community cookouts by the pool or the dock, countless fireworks displays from downtown which were just around the corner, Mom walking the dog that everyone knew in the park because he “hippity-hopped” when he walked and laughing with our friends whenever they would come to visit.

We enjoyed the balcony overlooking the river as much as possible and I can’t even begin to count the photographs that I have taken of that gorgeous view. I even remember getting up at 4:30 in the morning with my mother to watch a space shuttle take off as we stood on the balcony in our pajamas, trying to photograph the bright orange glow in the distance. It is the river that I will miss the most. For a photographer, it was a canvas that was always changing. I have shot lightning bolts that could take your breath away, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the angry river during tropical storms, people enjoying quiet mornings fishing on a placid sheet of glass, and rescues in progress. I have lived on a body of water for the past fifteen years and it will be hard to give that up now.

This was our final sunset as we were leaving tonight. I am sure that if we had stayed for another 30 minutes, the clouds would have parted and the sky would have lit up with the most electrifying shades of pink and red like it always does. We just didn’t have the time or the heart to stay. It was already too heartbreaking to leave. The decision had been made and it was time to go. The car was packed, the girls were waiting for us in the office to go down and turn in our keys and our new life was waiting for us.

The place has already been rented. Apparently, there was a waiting list for our apartment and the new tenants had been waiting for six months. They are a transfer from another apartment in the complex. It doesn’t surprise me. After living there for eight years, surviving three severe tropical storms (I’m sure the new tenants don’t realize how scary it is to live in that apartment during a tropical storm!), changing management companies three times, living through construction where they wrapped the entire outer surface of the building in scaffolding for eighteen months, then wrapping the inside of our apartment in plastic for another twelve months…management probably thought that we would NEVER leave! The truth is, we never intended to leave.

Until Chronic Lyme Disease changed all of that.

So, here we are, three hours into the year 2014. We are finally moved into our cheaper apartment at a different complex, surrounded by boxes which will take us a long time to sort through and all I am thinking tonight is, “Thank God that 2013 is over.” I am watching everyone celebrate the new year on television as they talk about resolutions and all the wonderful things that happened to them in 2013. Forgive me but it all seems so trivial.

I am finding it very difficult to be cheerful and positive. The best that I can muster is to be hopeful. I am holding out hope that 2014 will be a little bit kinder to us than last year. In 2013, I spent seven months on home IVs with a PICC line in my left upper arm, bedridden, homebound and nearly died a couple of times. My poor mother was recovering from a terrible knee replacement while trying to be a full time caregiver to me. Her beloved dog passed away and we came to the realization that we could no longer afford to stay in our home. We began a two month search for a new place to live, began packing and then spent eight days moving, including on Christmas Day and on New Years. This was a year that I am very glad to have behind us.

Outside my bedroom window right now people are coming home from whatever party they went to or they are starting their cars to head home from the party they were at here in our complex. I sincerely hope that they had a nice time tonight and that they have things in their lives to celebrate. My wish is that they drive safely and no one has made the irresponsible decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. People who have good health often take for granted, when things are going well for them, that it can all end in an instant. I never imagined that the bite of a tick fourteen years ago would alter my life so severely.

Today I had to say goodbye to one more thing that I cherished so much, my home on the river. Chronic Lyme Disease first took my health which led to losing my career, my income, my ballroom dancing, my figure skating, my competitive billiards, a lot of my friends, my ability to take care of my mother in her golden years, my retirement savings, and now my beloved apartment. I am getting used to the “losses” in my life but it is never easy.

What I have to do now is figure out what I am still capable of doing, even though I am sick. Leaving that apartment may have been the end of an era but it was not the end of my life. I will find a way to make a new life with what I still have in my arsenal. I believe that there was a reason it was time to go, I just don’t know what that reason is right now. The next step is to rest a little bit to recover from the move and then I will start unpacking boxes. Maybe the answer will lie in the bottom of one of them.

Wherever the road of Chronic Lyme Disease takes me in 2014, I simply hope that it contains less suffering, pain and risk of death than it did in 2013. I am not sure that we can handle another year like that again. My best to all of you out there who are following my blog and I hope that your 2014 is filled with blessings. Happy New Year to you!

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