Reflecting back, I realise that at times, life became pretty overwhelming that year. Looking back on some of the journal entries I kept that year is pretty sobering stuff to read back five years later. But reading back on those journals, there was one thing that never faltered – my friends and my family. The recovery from the jaw surgery certainly took its time, and one of the key requirements in the recovery is a pureed diet, later followed by a soft diet. The puree weeks were a hard slog (I’m sure you can make wonderful soup, but honestly, I’d be happy to not have to eat soup again), but eventually, after what seemed like far longer than 6 weeks, I was able to progress to a soft diet (pasta and bread were now on the menu, can I get a hallelujah?!) By this point, I was also starting to feel a lot perkier, and able to reflect on all the love and kindness I’d received from people that year. One beautiful thing that comes from difficult times, is people demonstrate that they really do care a great deal.
I decided to recognise this by holding a Big Softie Party – a party where only soft diet foods were served as an entry into my world, whilst also being a pun of the big soft spot I had for all the people who were there who had picked me up when I was struggling to pick myself up that year.
Like all good parties, it came with a playlist. Like all good playlists, every song tells a story.
Jump Rope – Blue October
This one I listened to extensively following my discharge from hospital as I was becoming frustrated at the pain and what I could not do yet. The lyrics “It will get hard, remember life’s like a jump rope, up, down, up, down, don’t ever be ashamed to cry, so keep pushing through it all, don’t follow, lead the way, don’t lose yourself or your hope.” This song is from Blue October’s album “Approaching Normal”, which very much described my state post discharge.
Pompeii – Bastille
Throughout the year, before and after August 11, this one was one that I listened to when I needed a bit of a boost. In the darkest hours, “How am I going to be an optimist about this?” was the only question often worth pondering.
Believer – American Authors
“I’m just a believer that things are going to get better. I’m a little bit scared. I’m a little bit nervous. I get a little bit lonely when no-one’s out.” Yeah, all those things. This was a huge hit in 2014, and the first song to come on the radio as I was being taken home from hospital, and naturally became the anthem for my recovery.
Titanium – David Guetta & Sia
“I am Titanium.” My face is now held together by titanium plates. Therefore I am titanium. Not everyone can say that. And I cause a ruckus at the airport. Boo-yah!
Hero – Mariah Carey
“It’s a long road and you face the world alone. But when one reaches out a hand for you to hold…you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive. And you finally see the truth that a hero lies in you.” And you means you, my friend, the one who managed to get the truth out of me when I wanted to share it but just didn’t know how.
Move Along – All American Rejects
“When all you’ve got to keep is strong, move along, move along just to make it through. When everything is wrong, we move along.” And move along I did as standing still never achieved anything but sore feet.
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
Back in 2014, I had this tune as my morning alarm. “What doesn’t kill you makes you a fighter, footsteps even lighter.” You know when you’re in a situation that you’d rather not be in, those first few seconds each morning are bliss before memory kicks in and reminds you of what is on the horizon. Well Kelly Clarkson got to get in before my memory did and remind me that I’ll get through today!
Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
“I don’t want the world to see me, because I don’t think that they’d understand.” Friday 23 May 2014 was the first day that I realised I was feeling depressed and I was contemplating thoughts in my head I had never found myself contemplating before. Perhaps naively, I thought I was the only person in the world who had ever felt like this, and did not want to face the world anymore – I didn’t really understand what was going on myself, so how could the world begin to understand? The Goo Goo dolls understood that.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
“I’m walking down the line that divides me somewhere in my mind, on the borderline of the edge and where I walk alone.” Before August 11, I frequently walked that line, but fortunately following August 11 they “checked my vital signs and know I’m still alive and I walk alone”.
The Cave – Mumford & Sons
“And I’ll find strength in pain and I will change my ways and know my name as it’s called again.” This was a good one to give a boost when faced with being unable to do something just yet – the time will come. Pain is good – it means you’re alive and have sensation.
Below my Feet – Mumford & Sons
“Keep the earth below my feet. Let me learn from where I have been. Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.” I love being on earth, there’s nowhere I’d rather be, and so long as earth is below my feet rather than me below the earth, things are going alright!
Far Away – Nickelback
Perhaps the most poignant of all the songs and I shed many a tear to this song in 2014. “Stop breathing, if I don’t see you anymore. So far away, so far away for far too long.” In 2014, as a 22 year old, I was very distressed following one pre-surgical appointment/assessment session where I had signed a bit of paper indemnifying the hospital of any responsibility should something go badly wrong. I did not (and still do not) feel that I am ready to yet be ‘so far away’ so this thought distressed me. Of course, it was a ridiculous fear to hold as the chance of anything going wrong was so incredibly small which is why I could not tell anyone about this irrational fear. Which is why it’s nice when a song can talk to you instead.