27 days to December 30th. My heart sinks every time I think of that date. I think of getting a text message in the middle of the night from Dad, anxiously waiting on the porch in the cold for him to arrive, then falling apart as the world around us faded out of focus. Will this date always haunt me?

The anniversary of your death is impending and it’s making me reflect on all the things I have learned in a year without you. How the hell have I survived almost a year without you? How the hell has it been almost a year since you passed? How the HELL did I get to where I am now? 

Everything I know has changed. The country I live in, my day-to-day, my relationships with friends and family, and, mainly, my sense of self. Here I go again, another tangent about how loss brought change that I’ve learned to be grateful for…

Deep in my bones, I can feel I am different. Irrevocably so. I will never be who I was before I experienced great loss. Trying to analyze myself and the personal transformation I had in the aftermath of losing you, the one person who I thought would always be around to help me to the next step, I struggle. So, I reached out to some friends to see how this change looked through their eyes. 

My friends said things like “losing Ike gave you eyes to a new perspective.” “You grew into this crazy free spirt who sets her own standards and lives how she wants when she wants.”  “You’re quicker to forgive and less guarded than you were in the past.” “You’ve been more present and conscious about your relationships with people you genuinely care about.” I especially loved hearing “you can see how much you love him in everything you do.” These words made me burst with warmth, gratitude, and all those other words that mean unwavering love. From hearing all of this, I am sure your death had some kind purpose. I can’t wait to keep figuring it out as life goes on. 

Not everything I have learned or that has happened this past year has had a positive impact. For starters, my body is absolutely polluted with nicotine. When you pick up smoking as a nervous tick in the aftershock of death, it makes it hard to let go of (as if that shit wasn’t already addictive). I have crippling anxiety at the thought of losing anyone else I love, so much so that I fight back tears whenever someone I love is sick or hurt. I get anxious without adventure because I constantly feel like I have to throw myself into something new and experience as much as possible because I may not be here for much longer. When you realize life is finite, it makes time speed up and I try to take on maybe more than I can carry.

The people around me who are also grieving you have changed just the same. We are all more fragile, more sensitive, yet more open and appreciative for everything. Everything, everything. I know for me personally, I am appreciative for the good, the bad, the ugly because I know they’re all a part of a larger plan that will take us where we’re supposed to go next. I know that’s true for everyone, even though it’s not always possible to acknowledge.  

Circumstances in which I encounter grief have changed. Though time can never heal the cut of irrevocable loss, you learn to live with it in a way where it’s not uncomfortable to be around. Over time, grief becomes much more civilized. It’s always there but is no longer a dark storm cloud that blocks the view of reality. Like a superpower I had to learn to control, heart-wrenching, cry-my-eyes-out grief is at my disposal. I can push it away. I’m not perpetually on the verge of tears but can choose when I let the deep pain of missing you pulse through me and knock me to my knees (shout out to the zebra rug on my bathroom floor. He has seen some hysteria.)

I no longer entertain surface level friendships. If you don’t want to chat about what your passionate for or makes your skin crawl or breaks your heart into pieces, I’m out. I do not give a shit about where your family vacations or who your favorite football team is if it doesn’t come with enthusiasm or something that stirs you deep inside. What a waste of time, to stay on the surface.

Life has started to fall into place. I’m employed, finally. I’m excited for the future. I don’t know what the next year will bring but, really, who does? For questions about the future, I like to live by the words of David Bowie: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

As I’ve gotten farther away from the regular need to compose paragraphs of emotion to talk to you, I’ve decided to change the format of this blog. This blog will no longer be directed at you, Ike. This blog will be directed at the ones on earth taking the time to read my psychotic rambling. These posts are for the lovers, the broken, the lost, the confused, or the easily entertained. 

No longer writing in a format to you is terrifying. It makes me acknowledge a wider audience. It means I’m no longer being vulnerable to just family but to people who can define me by the words I choose to type out. But, oh well. Life is too short to be scared of perception. People will judge me as they please.

Without further adieu, hello readers. By now, you know a lot about me. I hope I haven’t scared you off just yet. To those of you who reach out when I post, thank you. You inspire me. You make me want to keep writing. You further validate my emotions and make posting my journal online seem somewhat normal. Who the fuck is normal anyway? I don’t know him. I know nothing about you who read my posts except the countries you’re reading from. Whoever you are, I hope you know I appreciate you. Know I am grateful you’re taking the time to read my words. Know the love I feel in the aftermath of loss gave me the confidence to start a blog in the first place. 

Here come those clichés we all hate to love: Loss taught me hard times never last and when they come they have a purpose. It taught me to be present yet hopeful for the future because it’s never guaranteed. I realized the people you love and appreciate need to be reminded. Often. Text them now. Times with them should never be overlooked. It taught me that everyone struggles, all the time, and sometimes reading about others’ experiences let us know we’re not alone in what we’re feeling. If reading about what I go through makes your life any better, or it makes you feel something or see things in a new light, the goal of this blog will be met. Life is a ride. We’re lucky to be here for it. Thank you to Ike for helping me find my voice.

This blog aims to be a space where I share personal experiences or little bits of wisdom I discover while I’m hustling through life’s adventures. I hope you feel enlightened, comforted, entertained, or realize you’re never alone through bad and good times alike. We’re all emotional, unsure, and weird, though often the world around us forces us to keep these things hidden. I won’t. You can count on it. I hope you enjoy what comes next. This is for you, readers. 

Okaaayyyy, and for me too.

Lots of love,