“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost
It’s a clear night and the stars shine brightly. The air is warm, almost too warm for this time of year, but no one’s complaining. Well, no one else is awake right now and the silence is perfection. Everyone is tucked away in their beds which means the streets are empty and it’s time to play.
A little more pressure on the gas and the engine roars. It’s been a long time since it’s pushed the limits but tonight is the night it comes alive. The steering wheel shakes ever so slightly as the speed increase. Tighten the grip and hold on. Look in the review mirror and smile. The cities lights are fading fast and the open road is calling.
Faster. Faster. The smile widens. Life is good. Life is great. It will never be better than this moment.
There’s a flash of fur. White teeth bare as it crashes into the windshield and its red eyes shatter glass. The brakes lock up and the tires smoke. The seatbelt locks. The airbag deploys. It came out of nowhere. There was no warning. There was no way to prepare. What was that thing? It looked human but…Not.
Does it matter? The moment is lost. Perfection has been shattered. Happiness has been destroyed. Life has come to a complete stop.
Sometimes, when I stand very still, I can feel the earth moving beneath my feet. Is that weird? Maybe my overactive imagination is playing tricks on me, but I swear I feel the ground hum and groan as it’s pulled along by mighty force. As acutely as I feel it move, I feel it stop and my face slams into that airbag with momentums full force.
Uh, I guess for legal reasons I should point out that I’m speaking metaphorically. Don’t get into a real car, drive recklessly, and cause a major motor vehicle accident. That’s just wrong and senseless. Be sensible. Drive safely. There’s my public service announcement for the day.
That should appease the litigious folks. Now, let’s get back on the road…In a manner of speaking.
Have you ever felt the earth stop spinning? You were walking along with a skip in your step. Maybe you were humming a song you heard on the radio. There you are, happily living your life, on a beautiful spring day. Then, in a moment of recklessness, you thought, “What could possibly ruin this perfect moment?”
Well, that woke up that bloody little fairy! It cracks open a cold one, takes a big gulp, burps, and says, “Hold my beer.”
Out of nowhere, that drunk little bastard runs right in front of you and the brakes engage. You come to a complete stop and feel your face cave in as you stick a hard landing. Maybe it’s shock or some psychological defence mechanism, but suddenly you feel like you don’t exist anymore. Worse, it feels like the world has vanished and you’re left stranded on the last remaining patch of earth. Coincidentally, it’s about the size of your home.
Your life comes to an abrupt halt. The earth stops spinning. Everything just stops and it becomes too quiet.
A few years ago a very dear friend of mine passed away. We met when we were little kids and we were both fighting the same illness. We were always in the hospital at the same time and we were usually there for the same reasons so we became very close, very quickly. Her mom called us the Timex Twins because we, “Took a lickin and kept on tickin.”
I called her mom, Ma and she did the same to mine. We played together. Fought together. Argued and forgave each other. She had my back and I had hers. No matter what, I knew I could pick up the phone, and she would be there for me. We were like sisters and losing her felt like I lost a part of myself.
For the first few days, I hunkered down and let the haze cover me like a blanket. I felt restless but I didn’t have the energy to move. My arms and legs felt like they were being weighed down by a thousand pounds of sand. It also felt like I had ants crawling underneath my skin, tugging on my nerve endings, and I needed to run around, shake em off but I was too tired. When I had some energy, I walked around aimlessly, and when I found something to do I’d just stare at it because my ability to comprehend the basics were nonexistent.
Thoughts didn’t register. Feelings couldn’t fully form. I was on autopilot, and I couldn’t flip the switch back on to manual control. After a few days, I had enough strength to give it some elbow grease. The switch didn’t flip all the way and the fog didn’t lift all that much. I just became adept at navigating it. Still, it took months to feel like myself, but at least I wasn’t completely lost in the haze.
It’s the strangest feeling. Going back out into the world after a period of grief-induced hibernation or hibernation for any reason. Have you noticed how everything and everyone just carries on as if nothing has happened? Something big happened, but the world just kept going. What? How’s that possible? I don’t know how to process this information.
There’s this part of me that wanted to stand on a busy street corner and scream at people for acting too normal. That irrational, overemotional, reactionary part of me that’s locked away in a soundproof room, down in the basement. Honestly, it’s better for everyone if she’s kept far away from the control centre. If she had her way, there would be anarchy up in my nervous system.
But it is a strange feeling, isn’t it? Your world is crashing down. It’s imploding. You can barely breathe, let alone take care of your own basic needs. Eating, sleeping, bathing. Everything becomes so much harder, but outside everything carries on like it has for hundreds, thousands, of years.
People get up, get dressed, go to work or school. You watch them walk down the street, smile at familiar faces, wave at old friends. There’s laughter and music. A bus drives by and puffs diesel into your face and the smell is so familiar that’s it’s almost comforting. Everything is the same except everything has changed.
Well, the way we see it has changed because we’ve been changed. Someone we loved has died, or we’ve been given a grim diagnosis. It can be a hundred different things and the exact moment doesn’t matter. What matters is how that moment changes us and what we do after we’ve been changed.
Kinda like a werewolf? I…Well…Yeah okay, sure, kinda like a werewolf. In the stories, they’re defined by this one thing that happened to them. They were changed forever. They tried to go back to life as they knew it but that life was over. They didn’t belong there anymore. So what did they do? They couldn’t go back. They were trapped in that one moment. They can’t go forward, continue on as a monster, so what do they do? They’re stuck until villagers with pitchforks set them free and then they’re at peace.
I’ve spent a good part of my life stuck in moments of grief and pain. The wounds heal and grief dissipates. The scars remain and that spot at the dinner table remains empty. The immediate aftermath dulls, but I haven’t been able to make peace with those moments so I stay inside of them. I don’t let myself walk outside and see that life goes on because I don’t feel like I belong. Maybe, if I see what I’m missing, then I’ll want to move on too?
I’m scared of what moving on means because I don’t know who I am, outside of these moments.
These big moments tend to define us but a lot of the time we’re the ones writing down the definition. Yes, other people contribute and sometimes they instigate it. But we’re the ones who put pen to paper. I’m the one who’s chosen to define myself by these moments. I’m the one who’s accepted their definition of who I am.
I don’t have to define myself by these moments. I don’t have to accept what others think of me. I don’t have to sit here and wait for their pitchforks. Who they say I should be isn’t who I have to be, but I’ve absorbed it, brought it to fruition, way too often. It’s easier to stay in the moment than let life carry on because carrying on means accepting that I’ve changed.
Just when I thought I knew who I was I get bitten by an oversized dog, human, hybrid…thing. Oh, this calls for a very dramatic sigh.
Lately, I’ve noticed a slow change in how I think and feel. It’s new. It’s strange. I don’t know what this change is and that scares me. Change always scares me. I’m not a fan. Too many unknown variables but for once I’m not trying to stop it or fight it.
I think I’m more curious than fearful so maybe I can try acceptance over suppression. Unless, of course, I grow fangs and develop an unnatural thirst for blood. In that case, suppression might be advisable. Since that seems highly unlikely, maybe I can let it ride down the open highway for a few miles.
Slowly, at a reasonable speed for the road conditions, and maybe even a little tentatively. After all, Mr. Frost was right when he said that life goes on and it will carry on whether we’re a part of it or not. I, for one, have spent a little too long sitting on the curb. My reasons were good. I’d go so far as to call them reasonable under the circumstances, but those reasons don’t represent my current state of mind.
I’m changing, evolving, becoming a creature I don’t recognize and that’s a little exciting. The change is happening, and it’s not even a full moon. I don’t know what or who I’ll be tomorrow morning or next year, but for once I’m looking forward more often then I’m looking back.
This time, when life carries on, I’m going along for the adventure. Maybe I will meet a werewolf on a lonely stretch of highway or a fairy by a lake. Maybe I shouldn’t have had six cups of tea over the last three hours. Clearly the caffeine is getting to me.