November 29th, 2008, I didn\’t die, no, but my family and friends did, in fact, lose me. Even more scarring, I lost me. My stroke was only supposed to massacre me physically, but somehow, it also devastated me socially, academically and emotionally. I don\’t even recognize myself, and I\’m not just talking about just a reflection in the mirror. I was an outgoing intellectual (aka nerd) with an infectious smile and an annoyingly happy heart. Now, I\’m a shy, insecure cripple, with a \”life\” that has sad written all over it. The old me is now just..somebody that i used to know. People used to love me and respect me. Now they \”love\” me, and, pity me. I totally, totally understand feeling bad for me, hell, I even feel bad for me. But I want people to be in my life not because they feel bad for me, but because they want ME. There are people who aren\’t in my life, who damn well should be in my life, but it balances out, because there are people in my life who are dam well incredible. But, I\’m not sure if I\’m that great company. Let me explain, I\’ve forgotten how to be a friend. Because I was locked inside my head for so long, unable to speak or interact with anyone, I\’m, we\’ll, out of practice. I\’m so used to being by myself, entertained with my own fascinating internal monologue, I often forget to participate in conversations. Im so involved in my own world, it makes me kind of…selfish. My newly discovered insecurities get the best of me sometimes, leaving behind awkward silences. I dont want to sound like a broken record, but people don\’t necessarily understand me, so that disrupts any kind of rapport and keeps me from sharing my thoughts, deciding what I have to say isn\’t worth the effort. On top of all of this, I don\’t know how to let my friends be my friends, how to let them be there for me. I know none of my friends can really relate to most of my problems and worries, they just make them feel guilty and uncomfortable, which leaves me embarrassed, and definitely not comforted. It is weird keeping 99% of your thoughts away from your friends. It makes me feel so distant, so different. My five year college reunion is coming up, and I\’m obviously not going. But, not even for a second have I felt like I will be missing out, like I\’m not even connected to it all anymore. Maybe it\’s because I know the alternative, going, would be an unbearably humiliating, painful experience. Great friends, crazy parties, unforgettable memories – that is a little slice of heaven for the old me, not now. I\’m just a mere shadow of who I used to be, not even a reflection, just an outline, an echo, a memory. My stroke ripped away from me everything from my dignity to my personality. Someone told me the other day that I had the \”best smile.\” I guess that\’s the only thing my stroke left me. My smile and my memories are what\’s keeping me together, getting me through every interaction, pushing forward to tomorrow. Well, one more thing helps me along – the one good thing my stroke gave me… Determination. Drive. Resolve. Ferocity. You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, or you can find something in it that makes you fly… Watch me fly.