Conversation + explanation: I ALMOST DIED
It's been incredible to hear some of the stories from people who have purchased an "I ALMOST DIED" shirt in the time since we launched. Short, yet powerful, owning and claiming this statement means something unique for each person. (We hope to start sharing these before long-- please let us know if you're interested in telling part of your story!)
So we have this “I ALMOST DIED” t-shirt in our shop. It's unique. We know because we went to buy a shirt with these 3 words for Emily and couldn't find one. She had a stroke in 2016 and has aphasia so she can't easily write a blog post. Instead, we've got part of a conversation between Emily and I (“E” and “B”) below. We are sisters and co-founders of Like It Or Not Apparel.
B: So, “I almost died.” It’s a direct statement. Kind of an uncomfortable one, without any context.
E: It’s funny.
B: What about it is funny?
E: Aphasia is hard to-- the words are-- (sigh) it’s really wobbly. (shakes head, that's not the intended word)
B: A year ago your speech therapist started joking about putting it on a shirt because you said it so much. What difference does it make, to say “I almost died?”
E: It’s a wide (large gesture)--
B: It fits a lot of different situations?
E: Yes. And it’s cool. Because, I almost died. (shrugs shoulders)
B: It’s dramatic?
E: Yeah. It’s cool.
B: It gives you street cred?
E: Yeah! (laughs) I don’t know when it started (when she started saying it). It’s just there.
B: Why do you think you started saying it?
E: Well, I almost died-- three words. Four words.
B: It’s three words. You thought it was four?
E: I have aphasia! (Early on, counting was especially difficult and it was a big deal as she began moving from speaking 1-2 words at a time to 3 words, then 4 or 5, short sentences, etc.)
When we thought of the LION business, and “I almost died” on a t-shirt, is when “3 words? What!?” (mind blown gesture)
B: So you realized it was 3 words when we came up with the idea to put it on a shirt?
E: Yes. “Stroke” and “aphasia”, it’s really floating (wiggles fingers above her head)
B: Like, fancy medical words?
E: Yeah. And I almost died. A year ago I didn’t know-- aphasia? What is that? (It took many months into Emily’s recovery for the labels for her post-stroke challenges to “click.” But immediately after her stroke, “I almost died” was clear.)
B: So why do you like wearing our "I ALMOST DIED" shirt?
E: Because I have aphasia, and my story-- in 3 words, “I almost died.” People walking on the street (gestures pointing) “Oh, this is new.”
B: It tells your story for you--
E: In three words! It’s kind of “I almost died, dot dot dot.” So someone else might (gestures talking)
B: Others who wear this shirt can explain their story.
E: Yeah. I really can’t.
We know that our “I ALMOST DIED” shirt is not for everyone who could wear it. That’s OK. Since this journey with Emily began we keep meeting people who identify with it and give a little laugh/sigh at the idea of wearing this truth.
If you identify as a survivor, your journey has probably been painful and is far from being over. You've probably learned a lot about yourself, friends, family, and strangers. That you are here today is a victory. If you buy an "I ALMOST DIED" shirt, we hope you wear it with pride.