This day last year I realized I actually made it to 46, I was alive for my birthday, which for the first time in my life was something I accepted was not a given, and almost didn’t happen.

Today instead of celebrating that I have (merely) survived the attack of last year, I am thankful that I’ve (mostly) recovered.

this year was full of many things unusual and unexpected

I’m sure many of you are probably growing tired of hearing of our attack, the PTSD, the recovery, the trauma, the counseling – because I sure am tired of it. But it definitely has been the central theme of my 46th tour around the sun. The reason I feel better bringing it up again on my birthday is this time, I honestly think I am through the majority of a recovery.

Our trauma counselor kept referring to the stat that most victims of intense life-threatening trauma take about 18 months to recover. For so long that seemed like a disappointing thing to hear, wanting recovery to go faster. But now, it feels like some consolation, some validation that this time when I think I’m mostly better, I really am. Sitting about 17 months after our attack, I’m more confident to say I’m about as ‘recovered’ as I may ever be – as opposed to all the other times I thought it.

The idea of stress giving someone grey hair is a pretty funny way to joke about the constant movement of raising toddlers or a tough season at work. But I’m pretty sure if you compare pictures of me from 2 years ago to now it’s not really just a clever way of joking about it – yup, that’s real.

In a place like Canada or France – using average life expectancy – I’m 50% done my life, here in Burundi I’ve just reached 77%. For me – this year has been one of more than usual taking stock of life kinds of thoughts. More than ever before I do honestly feel like I have been given a new lease on life- a second chapter that almost was never written. Even right after the attack, I felt my life was broken into these two parts. The way history is broken into BC and AD, I felt my life had a division point last February. I felt as though I had been given an extra life in Super Mario – and this time I don’t want to waste it.

So although it’s been a strange year – I am super grateful for it. I am so glad I get to be the husband to the most incredible woman, the father to four fantastic children, and all the other roles I’ve been given that are complete, unmerited, undeserved gifts.