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“I want them to know I was here.”
“I want them to know I was here.”

A story about chronic illness, trauma, and a conference that changed everything.

I’m freezing. I don’t know why I didn’t think to bring a warmer jacket to the Oregon coast in October. I blame it on my having only ever lived in sunny places – Florida and California. But now I’m on the beach in Florence, Oregon, getting pelted by icy rain because the winds blew back my turquoise umbrella, rendering it useless.

To my left walks Jessica Peña on a sand dune, umbrella-less, wearing a knit maroon hat and an open smile. This is her happy place. She always dreamed of living by the ocean in Florence, and just a few weeks ago she made that dream come true – coming to Florence with nothing but her newly purchased RV and some bravery.


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