Wednesday, February 15, 2017

crumpled & rebuilt.

I remember where I was standing when i got the first call. I was too many states away, with too much time separating me. It was a calm morning in Brea, CA we had just finished packing and I answered the phone, I was next to the pool table in the room we had called home for the last three days. I had run away to find brighter days and more vibrant skies but in an instant my perfect blue skies lost their color, and everything I was running from seemed unimportant. "9 hours" I said. "I will be home in 9 hours"

We barely made it to Barstow by the time I got the second call. It was time. 7 1/2 hours. 7 1/2 hours separated me from my good bye. She was unresponsive by the time they put the phone up to her and I told her I loved her one last time. I don't even know if she heard me. I hung up the phone and I crumpled. 70 miles an hour, wailing in the backseat of a white Subaru surrounded by strangers. Alfred patted my back, Bronson offered a tissue. I could feel their concern, even though I knew they didn't fully understand.

We pulled off the freeway and I couldn't get out of the car fast enough. My suntanned skin was tear-stained. Everything seemed so insignificant in that moment. I didn't get to hold her hand, I didn't get to say goodbye. I stared in the gas station bathroom mirror at my broken shell of a body. It was too much. How could she really be gone? What I felt next was a humming in my whole body. It was like I was surrounded by tar. It was too much.

My Aunt and second mother took her last breaths as I was at a gas station 540 miles away. She lived with my family for 13 years. She gave me a book for my sixteenth birthday and told me to never give up on my dreams. She lent me her car to go meet my very first boyfriend. She bought me luggage for my high school graduation so I could go see the world. She used to take us to the movies, or shopping, she made me smile. A few weeks before she passed I bought her favorite bath and body works lotion, because she said treatment made her hands dry. It was the last thing I ever gave to her. 3 years before her death she was diagnosed with cancer. And though she put up a hell of a fight, it metastasized and took her from us. She had impacted my life so deeply, and I felt that I couldn't give her the proper send off she deserved, I was too far away, sunken on the floor of dirty gas station bathroom.

I needed to drive, I needed to do anything to get my mind off everything. So I took the wheel, and no one challenged me on it. I was surround by eggshells, and no one wanted to set me off. for the next 6 hours I didn't speak, everyone took turns sleeping as I fixed my gaze on the road only stopping once for gas in St. George. My fatigue started catching up to me, and by Fillmore my best friend finally told me it was time to stop.

I didn't sleep that night, or the next. For a long time after that day, i felt numb, empty. I didn't feel pain, or joy. I was just floating in tar, humanity switch off. I have never felt that way before. and it has been to this day one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced.  I've never been close to death. I've lost people in my family, but never this close. I didn't know how to handle it. I wanted for her to still feel near, so until graduation I carried around the book she gave me in my backpack, I never took it out.

I knew she was happy, I knew she was in a better place, I knew I'd see her again, but it was still hard. I used to sit in the temple pleading with my Father to help me feel again, to let my heart soak up the pain and let it go. But it took awhile, I was in my feelingless state for quite a time afterwards. Seemingly stuck. But I was lucky though. My senior piece was called From Deepest Wounds. And it delved into human resiliency and our ability to come out stronger when life hits us hard. Through crafting this dance, I began to heal. It was a gift. And I started to feel again. There was never an exact moment for me, it just started fading in so quiet I didn't even realize what was going on.

I think that is how we heal sometimes. Not in one, big, fast monumental fixing. But with distress slowly trickling away little by little, until you realize one day that you've been okay. Just like rebuilding one brick at a time. In time, with many bricks, we are strong and supported again. I'm not the same as I was, and I never will be. But the person that has been left through my experiences is strong. She has been able to use her experiences to better understand and empathize with others. She has been able to stand and move forward in times of trial. She has been able to smile again, and know that happiness is attainable in this life.

This time of year is still always hard for me. it's hard to think that just one year ago, my entire foundation was crumbled beneath me. But I know that there was something better built in its place. There is always something better. So, chin up. Times are hard, but never let life take away your vibrance.