I have a vast collection of digital photos. I keep the current year on my laptop sorted by month, then every so often migrate the batch to my external hard drive. Then I delete the current year on my laptop so I free up some room. It’s an inventory and storage system to help me use my digital resources efficiently and ensure I can find stuff later.
I don’t know exactly when this happened, but I think I have done the same with Owen. Or I should say, my memories of Owen. He has quietly drifted out of my day-to-day consciousness, the physical time and distance between us increasing with each day. Acknowledging this makes me so sad, which then makes me think, or hope, that maybe it isn’t true. But it is. My memories of him sit perched on the fringes, always there for immediate recall when I stop and close my eyes but no longer barging into my everyday thoughts, discolouring conversations and perfectly sunny days.
I don’t like this change–not one bit–but I choose to not fret about it. I tell myself: all relationships change over time, disappointing and inspiring in equal measure, in big ways and small. It’s inevitable and necessary.
The event of Owen’s death was two and a half years ago. It was a horrendous, unthinkable moment but a moment nonetheless. Meaning, it passed. It came and then it went, the impact of it softening and changing over time. It now takes its rightful place on a continuum of change and transformation.
Those oddly golden months after Owen’s death were like a cocoon. I could suspend my nagging thoughts of unfulfilled ambitions and dreams and instead hide away with my grief and sadness. There was something kind of satisfying and indulgent about allowing mysterious inner forces to overtake me. But, the mass and weight of those emotions has ebbed away enough that I have no choice but to gather myself together and answer the question: now what?
I think about ‘moving on’ and get irritated at the very expression, as moving on also suggests to me ‘leaving behind’. Instead I am continuing, knowing that every step I take is preceded by and therefore determined by all the ones that came before. Each moment now, no matter what I do or where I go, contains all of the moments before. It’s so much easier to trace the journey already ventured then the one still to come, yes?
[A bold thought: maybe I simply am the very experiences I have lived. Maybe it’s not even relevant or important to consciously think about or remember them. Maybe being is testament enough?]
So my life thus far has brought me to my next adventure: I’m returning to school part-time this fall. I will be enrolled here, working towards an MSc in Bioethics. (Some of my blogging friends may be recoiling at the thought! The field of bioethics is as-yet unregulated and unorganized–indeed, anyone can call themselves a bioethicist. And some of them say the most appalling things. Rest assured, friends, this is not about a career move.)
My desire is to study and debate the issues I write and think about so much. I want to join a community of learners interested in academic pursuit of these topics, and I want to challenge myself to think more broadly and critically.
I’m so excited thinking about this new experience–about what I stand to learn in general and about myself. I am also taking my interest in doing this as a cautiously optimistic sign that I am indeed ‘continuing’ and appreciating my new, unfamiliar freedoms.
Life goes on, as they say.