Twenty-seven. Even typing that sounded old.

I can’t believe that I’m twenty-seven-years of age. I mean, I realise it’s not that old. Not that old at all. But looking back at the past year, so much has happened, and I have changed in more ways than I can count.

So, am I happy to be older? Yes. Not because I’m a year closer to death (I mean, let’s be honest, is anyone really happy about that?!) or because of the impending wrinkles that await me as the years pass, but because of who I am as I write this post. And because of all the things that I now hope to do. Things that, a year ago, I didn’t even think I’d dream of, let alone hope to actually do.

Twenty-six was a year of firsts.

It was the year that I continued on my journey of recovery and gained some new diagnoses. If you know me, you’ll know that I collect those like Pokemon. Or, whatever it is that the kids these days collect. With those, came moments of real sadness, but, also, moments of relief. Better the devil you know, I suppose. And, although there are days, weeks sometimes, when my body feels broken, and my heart follows suit, I truly believe that I appreciate things more now than I ever could have, before.

Twenty-six was the year that Paul, Soda and I, came home. We moved into our very own house, and started making it ours. We finally have our nest, our little patch of sunshine, and a place for us to plant our roots.

It was the year that our mom; our best friend, rock, continuous pillar of support, the glue, the one that keeps us all together; was diagnosed with breast-cancer. The woman who has always been the strongest of all of us. The one who always keeps us standing; holds us up; even when she is struggling herself. She dealt with her diagnosis, surgery, and treatment with such grace, and determination. And although I have no doubt it was one of the hardest things she has had to deal with, she stood proud. She was honest, and candid, about the treatment, the surgery, and how scared she was. She laid bare, what she was going through, and let us help her. And through the darkness; the scary; the uncertain; we managed to make it through as we always do; together. And, we had some giggles along the way, didn’t we? We love you, mom. You’re… Well, you’re everything.

Twenty-six was also the year I started saying yes. Yes to travelling, to weekends away in London, to going to gigs. Yes to new friendships. And, it was also the year that I started recognising the person that was looking back at me in the mirror. She’s me. And yes, she’s so wildly imperfect and her body is at times, broken, but, she’s me. And, for the first time I’m aware of, I’ve stopped trying to run away from her.

It was also the year that Paul, the boy, and I set the date for our wedding. We’re getting married, baby. Can you believe it? And if I’ve done anything right, so far, it was in giving my heart to you. I love you.

And then, well, then, there was When Caitie met Soda. Twenty-six was the year that When Caitie met Soda became my full-time job. And, like any job, there have been difficult times; times when it has felt like there are never enough hours in the day. But, predominantly, there has been hope. And dreams. And because of all of you; I’ve started to dream again. I will never, ever be able to put into words just what that means.

The unfaltering support that I have had has floored me. To begin to put into words what my people, and the growing #whencaitiemetsodafamily have done for me is impossible. You have given me everything. You’ve given me my life back. You’ve made me realise, for perhaps the first time ever, that I’m capable of something. And where I’m not yet capable, I’m learning. And beyond that, I’m enjoying it. Enjoying knowing almost nothing about almost everything. There was a time when I really wasn’t okay with that. If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth it. But, here I stand, and, it’s okay. The uncertainty is beautiful. Scary, but oh so beautiful. And to you, all of you; the beautiful people that have held me up, pushed me forward and challenged me; well, I owe you everything. And I’ll spend every day that I have left being thankful, and trying to give some of that, even the smallest amount, back.

And twenty-seven? For the first time I can say that although I don’t know what twenty-seven has in store; I’m excited. I’m excited, and I’m ready for it. To live. To be present. To let the dark times be as significant as the good times. To know that they are as much a part of this journey, and matter as much, however horrible, however scary, however heart-breaking.

So to my friends, to my family, to the ones that I love, the ones I have yet to meet, to the #whencaitiemetsodafamily, and to anyone reading this, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of mine, and Soda’s hearts. You make my life better, each and every single day, often without even knowing it. You are beautiful, each and every one of you. And to you, I owe everything.

Until next time, friends,

And with all of our love,

Caitie, and, of course, Soda xxx