When I was eighteen, one of my oldest friends died. I’d known Jamie since primary school and suddenly, he was gone. He was epileptic and he’d had a seizure, hitting his head and dying. Just like that. He was just gone.
I was already sad, lost and confused but losing Jamie would untether me. I would spend the next few years searching for something to make me feel something, moving through the motions, feeling the weight of such an unexpected loss.
My grandfather had died when I was twelve or thirteen but he was elderly, it was sad but I knew to expect that kind of loss and death. I didn’t know to expect the loss of someone my own age. He’d text me hours before he died to say that he’ll see me on the weekend.
I don’t know if it had truly occurred to me before Jamie died that not everyone gets to grow old. And actually, what a huge privilege it is.
In an attempt to bounce back from Jamie’s loss and the darkness in my life, I volunteered as a ‘be-friender’, where I spent time with children that were in hospital, from dressing up as a princess and reading stories to just being a person to talk to. This was where I met Jacque; funny, smart, and incredibly sick, Jacque was sixteen when I met him and seventeen when he died.
I would spend the next four or five years feeling like I was wading through the world. Trying to find some meaning in this strange place that just didn’t make sense to me.
Sometimes I wanted to die, sometimes I just couldn’t comprehend being alive. Which, unless you’ve reached these low points or experienced them yourself, you might not understand the difference. I wasn’t always actively suicidal, I was just not always quite tethered to the living.
Somehow, I dragged myself through my early twenties, through a relationship that was toxic, full of gaslighting, love bombing and emotional manipulation. I continued to feel sad, lost and completely detached from myself. Somewhere around 24/25, I started to feel a bit more real. And when I was 25, I met Scott.
Scott isn’t the cure here. He wasn’t some bridge back to the living. Around the same time, I also started my Masters Degree, in something that really interests me, I quit my job working in-house and worked as a freelance writer, topped up by waitressing. But he is a huge part of my life and the life that we’ve built together is worth everything to me.
I recently turned thirty, an age that I honestly never expected to reach. Somewhere along the way to getting here, I just wasn’t that sad anymore. I wanted to be alive, I wanted to do things and experience things. It crept up on me.
I wouldn’t say that I’m fixed, I still have sad days, I still have days where the tiniest disappointment leaves me spiralling. But I have so much to live for that I’m running from Death, saying not yet, not today. I’m hoping that all of the times that I tried to meet Death doesn’t come back to haunt me, that as he’s continued to slip his cloak around the shoulders of the other loved ones that I’ve lost over the past ten years, that he leaves me be and where I am for now. For a long time. I am not ready, I want to be firmly in the world of the living.
However, from all of this sadness I’ve learnt that the most special occasion is right now, so:
- burn that fancy candle
- use the crockery that you usually save for Christmas
- wear clothes that make you happy
- turn every bath into a full blown spa experience
- wear white shoes outside, even when it’s raining
Because honestly, there is no best time. There is only now. We have this one life and opportunity to fill up with as much love, happiness and fulfilment as we can. So, live your best live, full of lovely, lovely things that absolutely fill you with all of the soul joy in the world. All we have is now.