The old year has come to a close, the new year begun. Always a time for speculation, introspection, review. It is also the 5 Year Anniversary of moving into my own little house. My home is the ultimate symbol of self-reliance and freedom. It marks a turning point in my life that was monumental, painful, explosive, inevitable, insane, and empowering. I stepped out of the shadows, into darkness, and climbed out of the abyss into a glorious independence and emancipation. Funny thing, as the years pass, I know that I cherish my solitude and autonomy more with the passing of time.
But this was the year I began to feel the weight of mortality. Early in the year, my friend James, killed on his motorcycle. Father of 2 young sons, with a third on the way. My friend and mentor, Angus, killed by the cancer that had dogged him for years. I found out that a good friend from my youth, a goofy, loveable guy, committed suicide a few years ago after a long struggle with mental illness.
Last month my Station Captain let us all know he was diagnosed with cancer. He won't be specific, just says it is in his abdomen, that is a tough one, and he is pursuing treatment that will likely leave him fatigued, and immune suppressed. This guy is 10 years younger than I am. Four kids ranging from 12 to 17. He is a farmer by trade, and a volunteer firefighter for 25 years. It is likely that exposure to the carcinogens on the fireground are a contributing factor to his current dilemma. This is a guy full of energy, strong, active. He has taught me much of what I know about being a firefighter. Between him and Cap'n Eddie, they have taught me almost everything I know. All I can do is wish him well, and try to silently send him energy to make it through his illness.
I don't even want to get into the list of the idols of my youth, and celebrities that were lost this year: Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michaels, Patty Duke, Muhammed Ali, John Glenn, Leonard Cohen, Anton Yelchin, Janet Reno... the list seems endless.
The most vicious reminder was the sudden death of my young friend Bryony. A beautiful light cut down far too early. I was blindsided by it. An in-your-face reminder of how fragile life is, what a tenuous grip we have, and how we will never know what moment could be our last.
It solidified the path I have chosen these last few years, to stop wasting time where it doesn't matter. Stop burning energy in relationships and work that suck me dry. Spend time where it matters; with family, with friends, with myself. I have wasted too many years in toxic situations, although my past is what has made me who I am, so I will turn my back on regrets, and turn my face to the future. I am trying to live in The Now, live within the loving circle of family and friends.
This has been a rough post to write. I have started and stopped multiple times. Writing, closing, coming back to write some more. It has been painful to think back over the losses of the year. It does reinforce my need to look forward, keep my eyes to the future, and surround myself with what I love.