I’m just sorting out my Amazon wishlist for Christmas this year (always useful to help particular members of the family out!) and realising what a difference a year makes.
This year has not been without its challenges. Some stroke-related, many not.
But my Amazon wishlist gave me cause to pause this morning.
You see last year, I’d started becoming so concerned about the future and my finances within that, that I put cat food and cat litter on my Amazon wishlist. Nobody got any ‘cat stuff’ for me for Christmas though, and I wasn’t surprised. Even I knew it was a kind of weird thing to put on there. But the subtext of that, for anyone who’d really, really thought about it, was probably, “Please Lord, I’m really getting worried about having enough money to look after my cat. And he’s my best buddy and I don’t think I can cope with losing him too.”
I had just moved cities. To a new place with smaller jobs that I hoped would lead to a smaller life this post-stroke chick could better manage. I had just found a little rental flat for us to live – cat accepted by Landlord – a harder feat than you might imagine. But I didn’t have the connections to even try too hard to freelance, so I needed to get a job. Quickly. And I didn’t know how that would go, seeing as I didn’t even really know how many days a week I could realistically work.
I know I was lucky even then. I may have saved for many, many years, but at least I had the ability to get the job to do that. And I was not going to starve. And I would have spent my last penny on the cat, so neither was he. But I was so scared of having to spend all that money because of a job I could not get post-stroke. So scared that it was the beginning of the end of the post-stroke cushion that my savings and my exit from previous job had provided. And so scared that I’d have to find a new home for my silly-beloved cat because I couldn’t really afford to look after him.
And I do love my cat. He was an accidental rescue on Christmas Eve two years ago. My little post-stroke buddy who hung out with me while everyone else was at work. He still follows me from room to room as I move around the house; waiting for me to come home, and meowing loudly (or ignoring me like a teenager) when my day out has been very long.
And now where are we, a year on?
In a gorgeous little Victorian house that the bank and I own between us (them more than me right now, it has to be said!). With a garden. And a little garage. On a lovely little street where, from the right spot (and only the right spot) you can see rolling hills and church steeples abound. Making new friends. Albeit slowly.
And my cat? Well, he’s curled up in the crook of my knees as I type, belly full and peaceful in his new house that the job I started in January this year paid for, in the house that the savings I didn’t spend enabled, with the mortgage paid by that job I started in January. The job that I started in January isn’t so little after all (um, we even taped a TEDx talk last week!), and takes me back to the old city at least once or twice a week. It’s not easy, and the system it sits within can be utterly lousy, but my closest bosses and colleagues are just amazing people.
So for every moment I spend thinking, “What would have happened if this hadn’t have happened?” I also try to thank my lucky stars for jobs and homes and colleagues and unfailingly marvellous friends – and the cat.
I’m actually a-wondering if he should get his own Amazon wishlist this year.
p.s. I am very aware I need to put up a post about some of the challenges of having a full-time job post stroke, not least the upsetting saga around parking issues which caused so much trauma. I realise that I am doing my stroke-colleagues a disservice by not blogging about these issues, which I think I have to let happen and pass before I blog on them because – remember – I have to protect actually keeping my job! I will do this. I will write about them. But I’m saving it for another day.