If I Knew Then What I Know Now

June 17, 2015

by Kate Morell


I am home.

The suitcase is unpacked.

And I am home.


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E. E. Cummings


A black and white picture of a road with trees in the background with an e.e cummings quote that reads"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."

Leaning back, she takes me in.

Realisation sweeps across her face.

I am understood. Relieved.

“Yes.” I had said. “I am holding back.”

Guilty as charged.

“In this one moment, my life changes. Forever.”

Kindly she smiles. Knowingly.

She understood.

“Your body is ready. But your mind is not.”

Take a moment, she adds. And take a moment, I do.

I will my mind to catch up to my body.

One moment passed.

Then another.

But it seems my mind is never going to make it.

“Okay,” interrupts the midwife, voice stern this time. “The baby is getting distressed. You really need to push, now.”

And I did.

Ready or not.

My life changed in that one moment.




Defining life moments.

Ready for them or not.

They come along.

Change me. Challenge me. Confront me.

And sometimes haunt me.


Thirty years earlier, unlike that joyous moment during childbirth, I had another such moment that was not expected, nor was I ready.

And that one moment, it has haunted me forever.

My body is there, ready and doing what it is supposed to be doing.

But my mind, no matter how I tried, refused to accept.

And it has haunted me.




I have run away.

Back home again.

To the place from where I first ran.

All those years ago.

Home. There is no place else to go

But home.

And within.

(If I knew then what I know now.)


“All I do is run. Rather than face the moment. I run. And here I am again. A full circle. Home. I can no longer run.”


I would if I could!

But I can’t.

I now have a family.

I cannot run with them.

And without them, I cannot run.

I have moved from city to city.

Seeking a better family life. For them. For us.

And for me, to run.

I have moved from city to country.

Again, seeking a better family life. For them. For us.

Back home again, for me. A new home, for them.

To the place from where I first ran.

And I can no longer run


What do I run from?

That moment.

That moment which has haunted me forever.

That diagnosis.

Thirty years of packing my suitcase. And off I run.

(If I knew then what I know now.)


A moment in time

Those words, again spoken.

My voice.

“My body is ready. My mind is not. In that one moment, my life is changed. Forever.”

I cannot pack a suitcase. Can no longer run.


There are, apparently, five stages of grief and loss.

And for me, those stages have spanned three decades.

(If I knew then what I know now.)

“I think I have arrived at my destination. That place.


I think my mind has arrived. It has caught up with my body.

I am home.”


Denial and isolation. The first stage of the journey.

Well. The beginning. There is me and my suitcase. The one I pack up and check into left luggage, before I take my backpack, bare essentials within, and run away. Alone and away from anyone who knew anything about me.

“Blind by forty?” I would exclaim. “Forty!”  That seemed a lifetime ahead of me.

Denial and isolation. Is that not?

Anger. The second stage.

Who was I to be angry with? Being adopted meant there wasn’t anyone I could point the finger at and blame. I did, however, jokingly imagine if I ever met my birth parents, I’d wave my finger at them, exclaiming, “oh, you two, you really should not have got it on together!”

But then, I wouldn’t be here now, would I?

I almost wrote off bargaining, stage three, the one that I must have skipped. But then I had a vague flashback of me talking with the big guy up there, and well, saying if he wanted my eyesight, he was going to have to give back my hearing first.

Clearly, bargaining isn’t my forte. Look where it got me? Right into the next stage where I spent far too many years of my life, depression.

Good old depression.


“I think you have arrived.”


Back home again, with nowhere to run, I finally, after thirty years, slowly unpack my suitcase.

Item by item removed, the suitcase became lighter and lighter.

Thoughts. Emotions. Memories.

Piece by piece, I take out the contents, sharing them with my psychologist.

At first, only the smaller contents do I dare reveal, to be examined and tossed aside in the ‘no longer need’ pile.

By the end of that session, that pile is sky high.

“That,” I explained, when I returned for my next session, pointing at his notebook, “that is just the small stuff.”

I shake my head.

I hadn’t been able to feel the lighter load despite tossing all those thoughts, emotions and memories. The big stuff still weighed me down.

But today was the day.

The big stuff. Out they came. Thoughts. Emotions. Memories.

Grateful was I that my silent moments were let be. My introspection uninterrupted.

“Could it be?” I thought to myself.

I look away, so as to not be distracted. So my tears remain unseen.

“This feeling …?” I wonder, out aloud.

My psychologist senses it too.

The weight in the room has lifted.

The suitcase now empty.

“I think you have arrived.”

I stare at him for a moment, still unsure. “Could it be?” I still question, in my mind.

“Acceptance,” he answers.

I nod in agreement.

“My mind. Finally the moment has come. My mind has caught up with my body.”

The last stage.

I have arrived.


My suitcase is unpacked.

No more need to run. No more need to hide. No more need to worry my body is not in sync with my mind. 


I accept.


I am Kate.

I am hearing impaired.

I am vision impaired.

And I am going blind.

There is nothing ordinary about me.

I need to use hearing aides. So be it.

I need to use vision aides. So be it.

For me, extraordinary is my ordinary.

And that, I accept.

Extraordinary is my ordinary.


If I knew then what I know now.

If I knew hiding my disabilities would lead me to this, I shall call it, ‘identity crisis’, I would never have attempted to hide my disabilities.

If I knew sharing my thoughts, emotions, memories would lessen the weight I carried around (or packed away in my suitcase), I would have found someone to confide in years ago.

If I knew that I would never be able to pull off ‘ordinary’, never be able to fit in as ‘ordinary’, never be happy pretending to be ‘ordinary’, years ago I would have added that little bit of ‘extra’ and shown what I really am.

If only …

If only …

If I could do it all again … I really would not change a thing, or I may not be here at this place.



Written by Kate. A wife. A mother. A graphic designer and a wannabe children’s book author. Kate is currently writing her memoir and has a personal blog  ‘From Katie to Kate’ . This is where she writes, learns, accepts and understands. Each post, a chapter in her story. Her journey, from Katie to Kate.

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