What a remarkable few days. I have been at a loss for words since our return home from Utah last night. I am not sure I will be able to properly describe or express what a gift this trip was to us. We all feel a little bit differently now, in the best kind of way.
Our schedule was packed full, so the days passed quickly, and that was unfortunate. If only we could have stretched out time, created more hours, or paused in every magical moment...
These Utahns. They sure surprised us.
In four short days we managed to complete five interviews and attend a small gathering in Salt Lake City to meet some fellow injured friends from surrounding areas. Most of them travelled far to be there. Going into this trip, we only knew Bri, fellow injured and co-founder of React19, and our friend Jared, the host of the Dearly Discarded podcast. Everyone else was a stranger to us, and yet we were met with warm smiles and open arms. There is something so very special about this group of people, who have been quietly suffering through these injuries for the past two years. Each one has a similar story to Kristin's - they have families, careers, homes, pets, and a life that was once vibrant and full of wonder, with hope for the future. Now they sit, their health in question, searching for support and answers for their unknown illnesses. Ignored by their governments, healthcare practitioners, even some family and friends.
As we met each of them we listened to their stories, hanging on to every word in awe. The strength that it took to endure such hardship, ridicule, and ignorance has turned them all into warriors. Beyond each tale of broken trust and heartache stands a human being reaching out for help. Within every narration there is love, compassion, and the belief that things will get better. No matter how dark things became, they carried on with faith in their hearts.
These people are our tribe. Kristin and I have talked at length about this community, and how the silver lining in all of this madness is them. How we have forged more meaningful and trusted relationships in the last two years than we have in our whole lives. The reason for that is our united fall to rock bottom, where we together (yet separately) dropped from our places in society into a reality that presented us with the truth of our surroundings. What we all once believed to be true, was in fact the opposite.
It's strange when the world you know suddenly shifts and the ground gives way beneath you. When the platform that held you so firmly and confidently is no longer there and your feet have nowhere to land. The confusion and loss you suffer in those experiences is not something easily described. I have been through similar endeavours in my life, however nothing to this depth or extent. We fell hard. And it hurt.
We related to them instantly, without need for words. In the simple look of an eye, we could feel it all. The acknowledgement Kristin felt each time she met another injured is something she will carry with her forever. After living in a state of isolation and invisibility for so long, she was finally seen.
It's so difficult to convey the emotional attachment I feel for these friends. Meeting them in person was unequivocal. There are simply no words to match the astounding depths of our love for them all. Bri and her husband Brian and their lively, adorable kids are now family to us. Jared and Jen as well. How lucky we are to have found them through all of this unbalance. Our souls are lighter because of them, and our hearts bigger.
When there is no bullshit to sift through, or hesitancy with trust, relationships have much more strength. This is what we are a part of now, and it feels like nothing I have ever known.
We have so much more to come, and we cannot wait to see how it all unfolds. To our Utahn family, we thank you. The laughter we shared will fill the air around us for years to come. We know this is just the beginning, and we cannot wait until we see you again.
Love & light,
Jaimie, Kristin & Nate