Jennifer Pettit, author of Understanding Invisible Illnesses blog, has written a guest post at my request. I'm very appreciative of her efforts in spite of the fact that she totally ignored my specific instructions NOT to write about me.
It's been such fun having Shawn and Jennifer here. As y'all read this they are winging their way back home to Philadelphia. I'll miss them. Come back soon, you two!
Enjoy Jennifer's post:
The great northwest is home to a legend. Bigfoot is a humanoid primate of lore, said to roam many areas of the Earth including the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He is celebrated in local art, oral history, and advertising. But most importantly, his legacy and fame is celebrated in the much-loved social hotspot, The Big Foot Inn in Washougal, WA.
|I may be using the term "loved" loosely.|
I cannot say that I share in this passion. Whether "bigfoot" exists or not - and I have no idea if it does - I am not the least bit interested in tracking it down. So what would bring me to this epic venue for dinner on a Monday night? Who else but our own legendary Julia!
Four years to the day since I last saw our Sjogren's Shaman for a few brief hours during her visit to Philadelphia, I arrived on the west coast to spend nearly a week enjoying her loving hospitality. And believe me, my husband and I have been fed, feted, and fussed over by an entire entourage. We have feasted on local fare and climbed waterfalls, been educated about how the area was settled and even learned to drive a Prius (Goldie was well behaved for her nervous newbies).
Four years is a long time, and a lot has changed. Both Julia and I have begrudgingly received several additional diagnoses. I recently had surgery and Julia will be having one this week. I've had two job changes and Julia had weddings for two of her children. Julia loyally maintains her blog, and I've drifted into a phase of my life where I'm taking a break from the activism world.
Four years also allows time for relationships to deepen. Shawn and I had been dating four years when he decided to propose. High school is four years, as is college (in most cases). And in the past four years Julia and I have grown closer and closer. I may be less actively involved in the Sjogren's world these days but that doesn't mean Sjogren's is less involved in mine, and having Julia around - who not only understands living with Sjogren's but also gets that Sjogren's isn't my whole life - means the world to me. It amazes me that we even connected in the first place, and I never imagined the way our relationship would develop.
Four years ago an offer was made to play host for us if we ever found ourselves westward-bound, and we finally took Julia up on it with this trip. Spending time with her, her husband, and her friends has been thrilling. I'm so happy to see the great people she has in her life, who have been all too eager to warmly welcome us into their fold. I think these type of people are just drawn to Julia's side, as was I.
There is no consensus on the existence of bigfoot. He may be real, maybe he's a hoax, or maybe someone unwittingly pulled a hoax about something that's actually real. There are a lot of things in this world we can't know to be truths which is why it's all that much more special when we can see evidence that some things are real. So I am happy, even relieved, to report that support is real. Love and concern and kinship are real. They don't exist everywhere, they're not in present in every relationship we have, but they are out there. It is true that we can have them in our lives, and I'm grateful for all the people in my life who remind me of this truth, from Shawn to my parents, and in our unique bond, to Julia.