My sister has her twenty year high school reunion tonight. I am happy for her.

I remember before mine, I was so apprehensive. I had gone through so much since the last time I had seen most of the people I knew would be there.

These are some of the thoughts that I was having in the days leading up to the reunion;

Conversation may not come as easy to me as they did the last time you saw me. I will be wondering if  you know or not? If you don’t , should I tell you when you ask me what has been going on in my life? Or is that depressing? If I tell you, will your eyes automatically track to where my surgeries have been? Will we both be uncomfortable?

My body may look different from the last time you saw me. I have had many surgeries and they have altered my body in lots of ways.

I have some scars, that I can’t hide, that weren’t there the last time you saw me.

I may not be as thin as I was the last time you saw me. I have been on and off steroids and am on Tamoxifen, which causes weight gain.

Since the last time you saw me, I may not be able to hold a note as long when I sing, or walk or dance as long without resting, because the radiation I had also affected one of my lungs.

I may look more tired than the last time you saw me. I may look older than some of you here. Sometimes, I can’t sleep through the night, because my thoughts race about things like recurrence, and death, and leaving my kids without a mother.  On the nights when my mind is not racing, if the weather is right, I may be up all night because my scars ache beyond belief.

I may cry more easily than you remember. Most of my reserve of “toughness” has been used up. My lip quivers much more easily these days.

I might get uncomfortable if you compliment me. I probably won’t believe it. I may just think that you are trying to be nice and make me feel better. I might think that you just feel sorry for me.

Despite all of these thoughts leading up to the reunion, I decided to go anyway. I also decided that, if I was to go, I would be “all in”. I would just be me, with all of my new strengths and weaknesses.

Because, believe me, I am stronger than I was the last time you saw me.

I am more empathetic, a better mother, a better wife and a better friend since the last time you saw me.

I appreciate life more than the last time you saw me. I value every second of it.

I went to my reunion. It was one of the best nights of my life. I realized that people loved me for me, and not for what I looked like, or how many friends I had, or how many awards I won or solos I sang. I left there feeling even more special than before. I have learned that I like the person I have become since the last time you saw me.