The Year Mark.
As I rub my fingers across your engraved initials on my necklace and gaze up at the sky I imagine your face smiling down upon me. No matter where I am in the world there comes a time in each day where I do this without thinking about it, I give the charm a little kiss and continue on my way. This daily act for some reason comforts me like your hugs used to.
It’s almost been one year. Three hundred and sixty five days without you living and breathing on this earth. Fifty two weeks without our daily phone call chats and the hilarious selfies you used to send me on a daily basis. One year without your sweet good night messages and waking up to an even better good morning FaceTime. It’s been 31536000 seconds and there hasn’t been one that has passed by without you on my mind.
I haven’t written about my personal life in a while because I’ve been trying to turn over a new leaf. I’ve been trying to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the reality of his passing. I’m trying to be strong and prove to myself that I can muster the strength to get through this. I’ve been trying to appreciate the beauty in my everyday life, but sometimes I feel like I’m hiding behind this facade of traveling the world and pretending to be happier than I truly am. Although I haven’t been writing about it as often I’m still going through the motions in my crazed brain everyday.
The truth is, about a month ago the nightmares that had dwindled down to once or twice a month came back with a vengeance. I don’t know if it’s because the year anniversary of his death is upon us or whether it’s because I still haven’t truly forgiven myself for letting him slip between my fingers, but I feel them. I wake up drenched in sweat with tears rolling down my cheeks or screaming while the other individuals in my hostel room just stare as if I’m possessed by something.
The nightmares vary day to day. Sometimes it’s him committing the act and me not making it in time to save him. Other times it’s him pushing me away and choosing someone else to live his life with. Some nights it’s his ghost that revisits me and protects me from people who weren’t good to him in his life and have come to attack me for revenge. A few times it’s me having to break the news to his ghost that he isn’t living anymore. There have also been a handful of times where he’s been in my dreams, but act as more of a bystander. Unfortunately there have been very few dreams that have been good, but I hold those ones close because seeing him smile in my dreams is one of my favorite things.
What I’m trying to say is no matter how hard one tries to heal themselves, you can’t force it. I have constantly tried to think of the happy times and put myself in his shoes. He would want me to be happy, but it’s not that simple. Nothing in life is. Grieving is a process. I still cry sometimes and after a year of tears, my eyes are finally beginning to dry up or so I thought. Sometimes it hits me all of a sudden and other times it creeps up and washes over me slowly. Less tears doesn’t mean I miss him any less, I just feel as though I have very little left.
I get angry some days especially when I start to think about how my life has changed in this past year, but then I remind myself there is so much to be grateful for. I try to not get frustrated by my own lack of acknowledgement that he was hurting so bad, but it’s hard not too. He needed help and I wasn’t there. I’m still working on forgiving myself and that will be an ever evolving battle. No matter how much I try to focus my positive energy on moving forward, I wake up somedays stuck, thrown right back to the moment I found out he was gone.
I get flashbacks sometimes when I’m going about my daily life. Some of them are happy, but others are traumatizing. After practicing yoga or listening to a song I’ll get a reel of happy memories like Jesse doing the shower dance or shaking that crazy head of hair on the dance floor, picking me up for one of those epic bear hugs or my favorite, just laying next to him while he whispers hilarious little one liners in my ear. I smile and remind myself how lucky I am to have met him and been loved by him. The others vary from heart wrenching to surprising. I realize that my memories are blurred for quite some time after losing him due to the shock and countless emotions. My brain pushed out many memories and sometimes they come back to haunt me at times when I least expect it. The moment I first saw him lying in the casket or walking back into our apartment where he took his last breath makes my stomach hurt. The overwhelming sensation of utter shock when I first found out he had left us floods through my brain and trembles through my body at random times.
I don’t write these things to prove to people that I am compassionate or that I loved him. I write them to remind others who are struggling in any life battle that they are not alone. Grief is a wild animal and cannot be tamed no matter how hard you try to tie it up. Writing is what I do when I feel like I can’t speak out loud. It’s how I articulate my emotions and try to understand the depth to which they control me. I stopped writing for a little while because I thought maybe that’s why I wasn’t healing as fast as I thought I should be, but I was wrong. Writing is cathartic.
The past two months in the Philippines were very testing. It was my first time traveling alone since his passing and unfortunately it is very romantic and couplely. Everyone asks where my boyfriend is or why I’m alone and I proceed to be bitter even when I know they have good intentions. I had a near death experience with decompression sickness at the end of my time there (which I will write about sometime in the near future) and it shook me. I don’t want to die, I’m not ready for it and it continues to blow my mind that he chose it.
The Philippines was a beautiful country, but my time there brought forth many emotions I have never had before when traveling. Nepal, India and Sri Lanka were healing and just what I needed at the time, but that next step felt like I was running away. Trying to escape or throw a band aid over the reality of it all. I used to love travel, I used to soak in meeting new people and exploring a different spot each day, but with the Philippines I felt as though it was more of an effort, I couldn’t be bothered to have a conversation with that random person sitting next to me, all I wanted to do was read my book or listen to music and go to bed early. I believe the world is trying to send me a very important message: GO HOME.
It’s been three years and three months since I first left and the past two months proved to me I’m ready. I’m ready to spend some time with family and friends back in America. It’s time for a bit of structure and consistency. I used to believe that going home was giving up on my goal of traveling to fifty countries before I’m thirty, but now I realize there should not be an end date to my travels, I should do what makes me the happiest in this moment. There will always be more places I want to visit, but for now it’s time to go home.
I miss him and I don’t think that will ever change, but I have been trying to do what’s best for me. I have been trying to find peace and some days are better than others. This year has been testing to say the least, but also very fullfilling. I attended many weddings throughout the states with my family and friends, trekked the Himalayas in Nepal, explored the magic of India, wandered the tea plantations of Sri Lanka, dove in the most beautiful waters of the Philippines, had a holiday with two of my best friends in Malta, and ventured back to where it all started three years ago in the United Kingdom. This past year has been full of experiences and I’ve learned a lot about trusting the process. I’m grateful for all the wonderful people that have supported me along the way and the beautiful souls that have continued to come into my life just at the right time. I thank my lucky stars for the journey I’ve been able to have. Losing Jesse has taught me that life is short and we can’t take the time we have with each other for granted. It has shown me that even in the darkest of times there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up and always move forward.
Thank you for all the signs this past year to remind me you’re always around. MISS YA HEAPS JB.