The Unforeseen Irony of Choice


Writing boxes
Writing boxes (Photo credit: practicalowl)

After much agonizing, insecurity & fear that others would judge me as harshly as I judge myself, on January 25, 2012 I decided to begin my blog.
It was a good morning & having had several communications with my beloved cousin and pillar of strength, I started out. On this particularly crisp & sunny morning in the Pacific N.W.,  filled with the “mantra” that she gifted to me for the year: FEARLESS.

In a half-decade of loss, illness, death & every challenge life could throw at me, I have suffered as though beaten witless…more about that later. On this lovely morning, I reflected on a belief born of unintentional but valid experience…that for every horrendous, tragic and seemingly insurmountable life event, we eventually find that it was that very thing, whatever it was, that brought us to an equally unexpected moment of amazing experience. My certainty in this goes to the core of my soul but when faced with another inconceivable challenge, that certainty hides in a dark corner that I cannot reach. This was the case on January 25th as I wrote my first blog post and actually felt good about it…I was in yet another new-found realm where I really believed I had written from a place of confidence in my writing and expressed this dichotomy that has been my life in a way that made sense.

Just as I finished the last words and prepared to design my blog layout, this triumph so long in coming is disrupted by activity at my dear neighbors home. Whatever was happening grew more dreadful by the moment, with police arriving, followed by detectives and, finally, the Coroner’s van. I immediately began silently praying that this was not what it appeared while simultaneously felling the rapid onset of a

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.
Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/panic attack and the triggers of every anxiety rapid-firing throughout every part of me. This could not be happening! Worse yet, again. Please not again! Soon, the familiar faces of the Coroner’s team exited the front of the lovely old Craftsmen home ,a place that sat empty for 2 years before this most wonderful of neighbors moving in…a joy to know and a perfect antidote to the darkness & isolation that seemed to bond me to the dark & hulking home. When Ken moved in, he brought life with his compassion, humor and easy nature. He also brought life in the form of flowers, vegetable gardens, chickens and the wonderful aroma of his barbecue or smoker in the evening. Then there was the silly over-the fence-gossip.

It couldn’t be! It’s not that I would wish anyone dead, but not Ken. I could not grasp that this person of joy, life & purpose could be gone.My mind flooded with a thousand questions and no plausible answers. At the same time, I was carried back four and a half years when , after 2 weeks of living in our lovely new apartment, I stayed up late to watch a movie while my significant other went to rest for a bit. Two hours later I entered our room and even as my unconscious knew what my conscious mind denied, I moved forward to make her comfortable & prattled something about how getting ready for bed would’ve been best. My brain was shrieking denials and pleas as I was simultaneously positioning her for CPR while calling 911. It was far too late. I knew without even seeing . I don’t know how long it took all the Police, EMT’s, Coroner’s staff and some woman far too old to be out, volunteering for this, to leave. All was silent. Deafeningly silent; numbingly unreal. I sat staring at the wall. Our 7-year-old cat was let out of our home office, aware of the flurry of activity & voices and then the solitude of just the two of us. The ability to perceive and grieve, as I learned in months to come, is not exclusive to humans. Mumford grew lethargic, cried loudly in the night and worried me as much as I am certain that I worried him. Time passed without meaning. Daily actiivities…eating, dressing…forgotten.

Ken’s death triggered flashbacks of that awful night and, worse yet, the old questions that haunted me in the past. How  long had I sat oblivious? Was there a cry for help, a signal of something amiss? The first death came in the very next room. This time it was over the fence, outdoors. This time, I wasn’t alone & absorbed in my own banal activity. This time, I was with my fiancé (yes, I have moved on) and some guests. Equally unaware and, once again, wondering at how silently, how insidiously and how unreasonably life can draw to a close. Good and promising lives.

I had suffered over a couple of years  depression that began about 6 months before the loss of my partner. I have spent the last 5 working to overcome all the previously named damages to my psyche. Upon reflection, I realize that I have suffered these sporadic bouts for years following traumatic events, interspersed with hilarity & greatness. As always, there is the awakening. Two years, almost to the day, I met the man who would become my fiancé. In a life of absurdities, the circumstances were no less. In spite of myself, in spite of a cargo hold of baggage I carried, this man saw inside to where my true self exists and loved me. I found that I could still love in return.

This is not a fair tale ending. There are good days, great days and dark days when I wonder why anyone would stay. I can radiate light and laughter one moment and spiral into the dark, lashing storm the next. If I thought I were not growing, healing and still had my own unpredictable adventures ahead, I would go it alone. I take baby steps, wrapped in the unconditional love of a fine man; a chubby & now 11-year-old happier cat and a 4 lb. teacup Chihuahua…this from a woman for whom a pair of Great Danes meant “real” dogs….all of whom are the family I never knew I wanted but now cannot imagine being without.

I will close by saying to my darling cousin that this is the writing she cajoled me into doing. This is, in years of fearlessness and fecklessness, my greatest fear brought to life. Now it is time…when I hit the key that will take 40 years of hidden words and release them to the world.

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2 thoughts on “The Unforeseen Irony of Choice

  1. I empathize with you. For me the memories are the horrors of too much war yet I too find solace in my writings. We cannot unlive the past, nor perhaps should we. But we can learn to incorporate those experiences into who we are today to give us a broader perspective and greater understanding and appreciation of ourselves and our fellow man. Keep on writing and making the most of each day, despite the tribulations, life is beautiful.

    1. I could not agree more! I often tell people who are fighting their way through a difficult time or situation that, in retrospect, they will be able to use that experience and also find gratitude in the fact that it contributed to who they are. Remove any one of our experiences & we would be different people….I wouldn’t trade any of it because the paths I’ve travelled as a result have been amazing! I wouldn’t have even begun writing in my youth had it not been for a nightmare of an experience that changed my life forever…

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