And so, at the end of the day, my worst fear was not realized.
Mom was right, what is really important is that the people who know me, know ME, not my inspirational story. I appreciate still, Josh's words, and Peter's, because so long as the people I am closest to look at me and see ME, then I'm doing just fine. I may wince in the moment when I get called out as the visual representation of perseverance or whatever other admirable quality, but I am ultimately damn proud to be making survivorship look so good. I leaped a couple extra hurdles between kindergarten and here, and that is worth acknowledging. I'm glad that I can stick that in my back pocket, and that everyone always knows when I'm getting called up for an award :). I'm also glad that I have achieved enough that I can get honored for what I have done besides survive a bone marrow transplant: organize the band library, make good comments in history, raise money for charity, and lead override walks. If there are people out there who only know the sob story, they are balanced by those who have no idea about any of it. Although I don't think of any of it as having been all that difficult, doing normal was a lot harder for me because of the situations I was in, but I still managed it. That is what I personally celebrate most: how far I am have come since I got "developing skills" in interacting with others, and just how normal I am now.
I am who I am, and aplastic anemia is and always will be a part of that. And I do honor that, I honored it by going to New York, and with everything that I do for the Craft Fair and camp and blood donation.
I'm excited to be a little bit more able to control the way people see it in the context of my life, but at the same time, I know that I will not be leaving it out completely, because it is important.
I guess I hope that I'm not just that kid who had that disease, but, as Sloane said, someone who showed my classmates how to give back, and why it is important to acknowledge those who have helped you.
And, I hope that they all always remember how to pronounce Aplastic Anemia.
I'm going to miss this class of big personalities. Their humor and insight and achievements have made all of my days at school so much richer and more interesting. They all put up with me and my crazy plans and random sayings and they came to the Craft Fair and donated blood. I love them all, and I will remember them for a long time.
It's starting to feel more real, that we are going our separate ways and will not be tied by that place called the Regional anymore. But we have a long summer ahead of us, full of laughter and more fun and craziness and adventures, intellectual and otherwise. And I know I'll be hearing some really good things about them in the future. It will be everyone's actual departure that will make it real, especially my own. I'm looking forward to all the fun between now and those inevitable departures, and starting to get genuinely excited for the adventure ahead. My life is definitely richer for these last four years.