I few days before the conference I was feeling the excitement already, I was as ready as I would ever have been, I just wanted to be there! After a six hour flight, a night in Miami and long drive (I Drove for the first time since I fractured my femur- it was awesome!) to Jacksonville, WE WERE THERE! As we were crossing the bridge that took us to the hotel, I was feeling like a little girl heading to the princess castle in Disney or a little boy in Legoland, yup, pretty excited!
As we headed into reception to get checked in, the familiar faces started to show, I was there, where a big part of my heart feels like home.
It is hard to explain how I feel while I'm there, is just Magical, that is the word, MAGICAL!
The first day was all about greetings, hugs that fit just perfect, non uncomfortable looks (if someone is looking at you, you know, is not in the wrong way, they just relate to you), seeing old friends and meeting new family.
The opening ceremony the next day was a roller coaster of emotions, I couldn't believe 3 years ago I didn't know this existed, all of this that I was feeling was very new to me, but at the same time very old, it has been with me since the day I was born, but just 3 years ago I got to share experiences with people like me. That night I got to thank Ani (The founder of AMCSI) for all of this. As I told her, I knew what ARTHROGRYPOSIS was, and lived a happy life, I didn't need more information about it, it was just my diagnosis, but what I never expected was the feeling I got when I learned about support, support was all new to me, and let me tell you, IT IS WONDERFUL!
That night was one of the nights of my life, as I went to bed, I couldn't stop thinking about the conversations, there were happening all over again in my head, it was already 2 am and I needed to sleep, as I was speaking the next morning, but my head had none of it, I wouldn't let me sleep! It was perfect that way though, that night we decided to leave the curtains open to wake up with natural light, well that night the full moon payed me a visit before it set, I was lying there with moonlight in my face, looking at the river at twilight from my window, once again it was magical!
With the moon gone, morning came pretty quick, I was there, the day of my talk had arrived, and with that the nerves. At 9 am, I had to moderate the teen and tween female session, which was great because it distracted me from was what coming, I was going to speak in front of people that had gone or are going through what I went through, what if they didn't care about what I had to say, what if no one showed up!? Well, I would just go and have a talk for my mom, her husband and my husband. As the session came to an end, I rushed to the room where I was talking, thinking I had time to prepare everything before people got there, the joke was on me! The room was already full!!!! And people kept coming in, it was AMAZING! I was sitting in my chair, waiting for it to be time, thinking every thought on this planet at the same time, when it was time and lovely Lana introduced me and I stood up in front of all these people, the nerves were gone, there was NOTHING for me to be nervous about, I thought "This is my AMC family I have in front" and I just spoke from my heart. While I was speaking, my heart was filling up with the emotions of the room, I don't think there was one eye dry, all the looks on peoples' faces where one of the best gifts life had for me, this was one of the top moments of my life. When my talk was over, and I had everyone applauding in various ways, I asked myself, am I dreaming? That thought was gone the moment the first person came to hug me, and said "Thank you for opening my eyes, I'm fine just the way I am" I wasn't dreaming, that was even better than a dream. That was MAGICAL!
After this, I was walking on clouds for the rest of the day, to be honest I'm still walking on clouds.
The next day was the last day, as we all know all good things come to an end, and for the conference this was it, we started the day with the most awesome photo shoot, over 500 souls were screaming the words the rest of the world doesn't understand, but it that moment ARTHROGRYPOSIS sounded loud and clear to everyone, we were there all together, where we understood. Nobody had to explain anything and it was all fine.
That day we said goodbye after the fireworks of the 4th of July, the hugs fitted perfectly, the looks and laughs were full of complicity and with tears in our eyes we said: "Until next year my friend"
Ps; Here is the link to my talk if you would like to watch it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-YGOb0aCnM