…Today is a difficult day I feel overwhelmed by pain: emotional waves of grief and emptiness that keep on breaching my foundations; foundations weak from physical pain-migraine! I’m angry at myself for being a mess today. I’m angry that I feel so broken and I’m doing all I can to hold onto the broken pieces…but really I just want to throw away all the brokenness and wipe the slate clean and start again, build myself back up…I’m still in Migraine Hell. The pain has dulled but the nausea is now kicking in with full force. I slept better last night but took a while to fall asleep…too much noise in my brain again. But I put on my headset and drowned the noise with music. There is a numbness today after all the emotion that poured out of me yesterday…This is not the End of me…This is the beginning…For so long I had caged my heart, told it to keep quiet. I have lead solely with my head. But I have only survived, I have lived a life half-lived. But losing A so soon, too soon, opened that dark lock-box where I had hidden my heart. Suddenly it was no longer just a lock-box but it had transformed into Pandora’s Box. Suddenly I couldn’t contain, couldn’t constrain, couldn’t control all the emotion that came pouring out of this hidden place. Grief, rage, death, loss skinned me of all my protective layers. I was left unformed, raw, vulnerable, unprotected from the elements, all my dam walls broken in millions of pieces…this journey was a part of my destiny. It would take something tragic, something devastating to move me from the grey places I had walked into when I shut away my heart. The worst thing happened. Someone I loved, someone who was part of my history, part of my story, part of my identity…Left. Not only did she leave but I lost my chance to see her in person once again. She was ripped from my life, taken away with not enough warning. There are moments in life and death that define us, shake the very core of us, change us. There are moments in life that are defined by what came before and what came after. This is my moment. This is the moment, the fragment in time, where I decide to either stay the same or change direction. This journey has freed my heart from the martingale I had constrained it with. Then my heart, now raw, free and untethered suddenly found a reason to wake up…It was both the most painful trip I have ever had to make but also the most clarifying journey filled with sweet pockets of unexpected joy…I cannot help but think that A is still being my BFF and arranging circumstances and moments to bring me joy, to remind me what it means to truly live, not just survive but thrive. Seeing A go through the Cancer with courage and yes even with joy and still believing in love, in spite of the Cancer or perhaps because for her the Cancer clarified how short and precious life is and how rare joy and love is…| excerpted from my journal ~ 2016
I’ve been away, both from this blog and from my own life. I’ve come back from a life-changing, life-altering journey. A journey that I never wanted to take but one that is now part of my story. The journey started 26 years ago when two adolescent girls met one morning waiting for a school bus and said “hello”. One of these girls is me at 12, just moved to a new town with no friends. The other girl is A: a girl who stands with her ballet dancer’s elegance, her feet meeting at the heels and toes pointed in opposite directions. That first “hello” changed my story and opened the chapter of a life-long friendship. In 2016 that long chapter changed with the last words I told my friend, the ballet dancer, the daughter, the sister, the mother, the woman, the nurturer, the compassionate one, the warrior, my anchor; when I told her she could let go now, she could rest.
In 2016 I lost one of the cartographers of my past. In 2016 I lost my oldest friend, my soul-sister to Cancer. I then travelled thousands of miles, a journey that was delayed and complicated by a category 8 typhoon, to do my final duty as a best friend. We had been best friends for 26 years but for 20 of these years we had lived many thousands of miles and two oceans apart. This distance did not weaken our bond. Instead it deepened our bond because holding onto each other was a part of holding onto our youth, our land left behind, our past. I was planning on going to visit A in 2016 anyway because I wanted to help her fight Cancer by holding her close and being in the same physical space together. But we ran out of time. On July 1st, A’s journey ended. On August 1st, I left on a journey I never wanted to take. A journey that would bring a close to a 26 year long chapter of my story.
“Give it all or don’t do it” | Celine Cassone, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal
2016 has changed forever who I am. In a way I am learning to discover this new version of me. I am back “home” and have been for a month; seeing out both the dying breath of 2016 and welcoming the new breath of 2017. But I feel untethered in so many ways. I am not the same person who started the year in January 2016. I am not the same person who left on a journey both physical, emotional, and mental on August 1st. There has been a plot-twist to my story. But I am the same person who was best friends with A for 26 years. And now I need to continue on my journey wherever it may yet take me. I need to map out the altered, changed, new cartography of the next chapters of my life-journey. There are massive exciting plot-twists ahead for me in 2017. Chapters that will end and new chapters to begin. Old spaces to farewell and new spaces to welcome. Old words to end and new words that have already begun. There are many changes ahead but I am ready to put the Bitter away and to embrace the Sweet. I am ready to continue living out my story and to continue writing. I am ready to chase after, cherish and embrace joy, love and friendship, unafraid of the risks but to embrace them in spite of the risks and because of the risks. I am ready to truly live each present moment boldly and to own each chapter of my story. For that I know is what A wanted.
*Feature Image courtesy of NYC Dance Project | Celine Cassone *