• Ateeya Manzoor

Covid 11:11

Hey friends, acquaintances and the odd weirdo. Happy Wednesday.

Today is my 41st birthday. For those of you who know, this year I almost didn’t make it thanks to a little virus.

What you will not know is that for the last 10 years, and maybe even a few times in my 20s, I had visions that I was going to die before my 40th birthday. The visions came in the form of dreams, feelings and sometimes a deep knowing.

When Ms. Covid arrived and it was clear that it was serious, I figured, “oh so this is how the story ends.” As my condition went from yellow card (an aggressive flu) to red card (cerebral spinal fluid leak and oxygen from a machine and worse), I increasingly accepted my fate. Always figured if I it was my time to go, it was time to go, and frankly my pups would move on, no sweat.

I was alone in the U.K. and terrified. Had just picked up my puppy Lanikai and found myself too sick to care for her. Work shut down abruptly and the things that made me feel useful and were like my oxygen were no longer accessible. At best, it sucked. At worst, it felt inhumane.

The universe has a sense of humour. Sometimes the path it leads you on is twisted, but if you hang in there long enough and trust the process, you’ll realize it has been conspiring for you the entire time.

The virus forced me to slow down and reflect. On everything. It left no stone unturned and slowly chipped away at masks, identities, where I hurt, where I may have inflicted hurt, what was aligned and true and what was false and needed to go. It forced a serious life inventory and a careful look at where my energy was spent. When oxygen is limited, where you need to expend it becomes glaringly obvious.

When I returned to Toronto, after my 10 months of hell, and what felt like a return to civilization, I parked myself in a hotel room for two months to just be. Most days I would grieve and let it all out. Other days, I would slowly get up and dance to some music and start to rediscover the things that made me happy. And here and there I would reconnect with loved ones and start remembering who I was to them and that my life, in fact, did matter.

And then, slowly, but surely, I started to feel different. Like a 600 pound gorilla had finally gotten off my back and I was free for the first time. It’s an unnerving feeling, especially when you didn’t realize you were in bondage.

I see the world through a different lens. My entire life all I wanted to do was be useful and this little virus made me understand, despite all of the accomplishments, how low of a bar I set for myself. How many more chapters I have to go. How what I fill in those chapters matters. How my life matters and how my time needs to be focused on the important, and less on the trivial.

Today at 11:11, after the Veterans get their much deserved moment of silence, I’m going to meditate. To be clear, I am unworthy of standing with the veterans, as my war was not something I went into willingly. But my birthday just happens to fall on their day.

Will be sending everyone who showed up love and even those who didn’t. Will pause and say thank you to the virus for helping me face and take out some cancers.

Friends, I’m not going to pretend that all of the lessons have become evident. Or that a near death experience has suddenly turned me into some guru or Yoda. You’re not going to see me do a Ted Talk anytime soon. The only thing I know for sure is that I did die in 2020. The rest of the mysteries will reveal themselves in time and on time.

Love you all. Make everyday count, you only live once, blah blah blah and all that jazz.

Thank you for the messages, calls, texts and special deliveries. My heart is full.

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