Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Endings. And beginnings.

I'm writing this at 5am on the last day of the most difficult year of my life so far. I wanted to go away somewhere quiet, somewhere peaceful. A place with no distractions, where I could look back at everything that's happened. Try and package it all up somehow, the good and bad, and try and find a touchstone - some sort of marker for where I've been, where I'm at and where I'm hoping to end up.

In March, when the life I knew, and loved, came to an abrupt end, I fell apart. Piece by agonizing piece. I groped through the darkness, searching for answers, trying to fight off the panic, trying to breathe through the next five seconds, five minutes. My sense of self completely obliterated, my place in the world just...gone. A black hole. I slammed face first into a wall of grief, and terror. I floundered. My friends and family were there for me, as much as they could be. But the truth is, I was alone. I had to figure out a way forward, one slow stumbling step at a time. I felt like I was looking at the world through a pane of glass - part of it, but completely removed from it.

I thought - mistakenly - that grief was like running a marathon. I'd lace up my shoes, and put one foot in front of the other, and eventually I'd make it to the finish line. Break through the ribbon, and come out stronger, braver, kinder on the other side. Of course, it's nothing like that. It's an ebb and flow, a single grey thread of sorrow woven through the tapestry of my days. An undercurrent, always there. It's been almost 10 months, and I still cry all the time. For the life I've lost, and the dreams I took for granted. For how the very foundation of everything I believed in, every thing I thought to be true and real and safe, was snatched away in an instant. The regrets that follow me, always pulling at me from the shadows. Could I have done something different? If I'd been better, kinder, smarter, more compassionate, could I have saved this life I loved? For Immy, and the dreams I had for her that won't come true. For the memories that surface at the most unexpected times, because sixteen years and a life built with someone doesn't magically vanish when the end comes.

But time brings perspective, and life limps on. I've learned to notice the small things that can bring disproportionate happiness. The light and open spaces in our new home. The way colour finds its way into my soul every single time I hear Immy laugh. Exploring new places with her. That first perfect cup of coffee when I get to work in the morning. The list is endless, really.

I've learned so many things about myself too. Good things, and bad. Each one a small step towards becoming the person I'd like to be at the end of all of this. Most importantly, time has given me the courage to see the role I played in how things turned out. To take responsibility for my part in all of this, as hard as it is to face.

And finally, to hold onto the simple truths that get me through each day. Just do the next small thing. Breathe. This will be ok, I will be ok, Immy will be ok. Pain can't actually swallow me whole. Hold it, feel it, let it go.

I am glad this year is drawing to a close.One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Of the many many things I've learned this year, this one has, oddly, brought me the most peace: we don't get to choose our tomorrows. Just live through them as best we can, and hold on to the hope that they will be better than our todays.

Happy New Year.

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