Friday, February 17, 2012

A Year Ago Today(ish)

A year ago today - February 16, 2011 - my grandfather passed away after a bit of a drawn-out struggle with a head injury. The end snuck up as it always does. It caught him quicker than we expected but not so fast that we didn't see the pages about to turn.

No, this isn't a woeful and lamenting story about how life became an unyielding nightmare of chaos and drama afterward. There's no tales of betrayal, family feuds rekindled, no surprising debts uncovered. Fortunately it was all far from that - for me at least. In fact it was a turning point.

Death has an interesting way of acting as a catalyst sometimes. The loss of someone can bring perspective around: the shared grief, the memories, the pain, the priorities... We look at what is now gone and what we have yet to lose.

And sometimes we see just how much we have left to grab on to.

Up till then there was a LOT weighing in on my soul. The years I lived in New York City still clung to me - fighting for survival, for control of my life. My failures - returning to live with my parents in CA - convinced me I had none, that I didn't deserve them.

Four years or so later and I still carried those demons, skeletons, and wounds around. Further struggles served little but to reinforce this destructive self-hatred: years at a hellish retail job, inadequate income, a lack of health insurance... I'd survived but not really prospered.

And yet life *had* gotten better. In May of 2010 in a rather ironic twist of events I'd finally escaped the dead end world of retail and started a second part time job at the school doing reception work and accounts handling. It's not glorious work (still no benefits for example) but it turns out I have something of a head for it. And I could move upwards.

However my eyes were still backwards. (They *still* are sometimes...) I was only looking at what I once had and how I felt like I'll never have any of it again.

Failure stood taller than future. And cast its shadows out to engulf hope in a cold mouth of futility.

But then there I was: standing in front of the saplings and seedlings my grandfather had been planting up to his dying day. In years they could be glorious and he'd spent so much time on things he'd never get to witness.

So why was I still living like I was dead?

The past year I've re-opened myself to life. I still have my moments of wallowing in the the muck, of course. But my heart is open to new things or things I thought I wasn't good enough for. I'm once again entertaining the idea of enjoying life. I am seeing more things to life *for*.

The scars I bear are still there. There are days when the wounds still ache. But, at the same time, they're my wounds. They're those wonderful little things that make my life *mine* in all the crazy detail they weave. And what's more? All the future wounds and triumphs will be, too! (Though I admit I'm not necessarily looking forward to some of that painful process.... Ah well.)

I'm somewhat disappointed that it took his death to wake up. But... I woke up. That's saying something.

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