12:15am, January 1st, 2015:
I was feeling the warmness of the wine when we left my place to head down to our local watering hole. I was with my brother and sister in law, my dad and some close friends. We had just popped some champs to ring in the new year, I was in a good mood, feeling somewhat positive about 2015 and ready to go out and socialize. We braved the -20 and walked into the chaos on Banff Ave. The street was blocked off and littered with people as the fire works exploded in the air celebrating the beginning of 2015 (or the end of 2014- depending on how bad your year was). It was crazy and exciting. We made it to the pub, where a friend manning the door let us in right away and inched our way to the bar for a drink. It was jam packed with humans, knocking into one another, spilling drinks, dancing, hugging and kissing; The usual. And I was fine.
It wasn’t until (after a bar brawl broke out) I started to slowly remove myself, finding a stool alone, avoiding eye contact with the overly friendly strangers and my mind and heart started to wander right out of the building. I tried to stay present, pleasant and social, but I just couldn’t. I could feel my heart start to sink, my anxiety start to rise and my eyes start to well up. I. Have. To. Get. Out.
As swiftly as I could, with only a word to my dad, I shrugged on my coat and slipped out of the pub. I barely made it two steps into the street when the flood of tears broke through the barrier pouring down my cheeks. I found my way off the main road, and onto one with dimmer lights and less people, and as the tears started to freeze against my cheeks, as the brutally cold wind bit at the tip of my nose and the bottom of my ears I started to lose it. Whatever I thought I had, it was gone. Any progress I thought I had made had vanished and as I made my way through the snow covered streets I felt like I was crumbing into a million pieces. I ended up inside of my car in our underground parking lot KNOWING I couldn’t survive another year without Lilee. It wasn’t a matter of asking “How could I”, or saying “its too hard”, In that moment I KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t do it. I woke up in the morning on the couch inside, with red eyes, surrounded by my family, trying to keep a smile on my face. I felt like a bomb had gone off the night before, Right in my heart, destroying me. Destroyed isn’t aggressive enough; Obliterating.
It was like the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, where the dust is so thick you can’t see 5 feet ahead of you, you walk out of your bunker looking around for survivors and seeing only carnage. There is this heaviness that wont go away, like you’re carrying 100lbs on your back. Then, after you have blinked away the initial confusion and the reality starts to sink in you realize, even though you survived the blast, the odds are against you. Even though you survived, your demise feels imminent.
I realized in that moment that I am truly fighting for my life. I knew it before, i’m sure i’ve even acknowledged it before, but I don’t think I had ever been in such a dark place both emotionally, mentally and physically. I felt like I was done, like no matter what I had in store for myself, no matter what dreams I have been chasing, that this beast called grief was at my heels and this time he would win.
The next couple days, as I waded through the proverbial carnage( and came down from the Holidays them selves) I took inventory of myself. “What would make me happy.. or less sad” I thought…
*not in order of importance- except the first one…
Lilee (obviously.. and obviously not an option)
Love (from a man.. a good one. with a good heart and a good soul)
Love (from myself… to myself. Unconditionally)
Success (for me, that is finishing my book and being able to write for a living)
Increased physically ability (so I can do all the crazy things I want without feeling like I CANT)
Understanding (which I don’t think really ever happens)
Travel (I want to see this world, every corner, every mountain top, EVERY ocean shore)
and i’m sure a few more things came to mind.. but weren’t strong enough to make the list.
ALL of these things are things I can work towards. ALL of these things will take a lot of time, if not most of my life. and I know that ALL of these things have steps that I can take today. What is stopping me? Emptiness? Exhaustion? Excuses?
This is how I see the past week:
I Died. I have been crawling towards this for a year and 4 months (possibly even before), but on January 1, 2015, I died. and now I have a choice to make:
To be reborn-like back in September when I vowed I would fight for life.
or give up and get swallowed by the darkness.
There is no kit, no guide, no guarantee.
Survival is just that; Life or Death. And for someone who’s entire world has been taken away, each day, each hour, we make that choice. Keep going, or don’t.
Today i’m choosing to survive.
I hope tomorrow gives me the strength to choose the same.
Learning to live,