I received a rather special gift the other week. It came in the form of one-hundred-and-eighty hand-written, personalised notes in a see-through tupperware box.
These were not just any notes though, these notes are special.
In order to explain just how special these notes are I suppose I should really start at the beginning.
I have a friend called Emma.
Here are some photos of me and Emma.
We have been friends since before either of us can remember. We have both grown up being the ‘Doctor’s Daughters’ in our village, spent bountiful amounts of time running around in the sunshine together and even had an adventurous week traipsing across Snowdonia.
Growing up, it would be fair to say that I was the bossy one, and I am sure that is still the case today. The lovely thing about our relationship is that we don’t need to be in constant contact and yet we always know that we will be there for one another. One aspect that became apparent during my illness was how it highlighted who my true friends really are. When I became unwell Emma was one of a select few of special friends that took the time to visit me in Hospital and stuck by me through my recovery. Not only that, but since then she has been such a huge support to me, cheering me up when I am feeling down and not allowing me to wallow in self-pity.
The reason that I wanted to tell you about Emma is that it is because of her that I received my rather special gift. Emma is a teacher at a Secondary School in Bristol. She wanted to share my story with her tutor group in a lesson about resilience. Just the fact that she thought that my story was appropriate in such a setting made me feel thankful to have her as a friend.
After sharing my story, (with what ended up being the entire year group, rather than just her thirty pupils) the children each sat down and wrote me a little note. And so that was how it came about that I now have one-hundred-and-eighty hand-written, personalised notes. My personal favourite (although choosing just one is almost impossible) is “ Your story is so inspiring. You have taught me to never give up, no matter how difficult life gets. I think you are beautiful. Never give up. Here’s a cupcake”.
I have since been bluetaking a different note onto my mirror each morning to give me the motivation to get through each day. Each and every one of the notes has truly touched my heart. Knowing that going through such a horrible illness has in someway had a positive impact on others helps me to keep going and think about all the encouraging parts that have come from it.
Not only have Emma and her pupils helped raise awareness about encephalitis; they have also helped to raise my self-belief. They have allowed me to realise that even when it feels this illness has taken everything from me, what it has really done is changed the path I was on. It has enabled me to open my eyes to new opportunities and allowed me to realise that life cannot be taken for granted. And for that I am truly grateful.