I wanted to tell this story at The Moth in Detroit but, given my current financial situation with the seasonal job and uncertainty for employment after, I couldn’t justify the gas to get there and back.
The theme for the night was: PROGRESS: Prepare a five-minute story about baby steps or giant leaps. Fixing what is wrong. Moving forward, leaving the past, creeping towards success. Change, evolution, development. Slip-ups, u-turns and pit stops on the road to redemption also welcome. Regress, regret, start over.
So here is my story.
In May of 2014 I quit my job and started a new chapter in my life. I moved to a new state with the man I loved. I didn’t have a job lined up and had the opportunity to take some time to go backpacking with my friend Anna, so I hit the trail with her and our dogs.
The Foothills Trail runs along the border of North and South Carolina. It’s 77 miles long and took us 7 days to complete. Along the way there were many small mountains to climb.
At one point along the way Anna commented that I was surprisingly calm about everything in my life being so uncertain.
I told her that the only thing I was concerned about at that moment was getting over the next mountain. And then we’d find a spot to rest.
Fast forward three years.
The man I loved told me he wasn’t happy. He wanted to move on, but we’d try counseling first. He kept telling me he’d set something up, but he didn’t. I didn’t want to nag so I didn’t press the issue. I tried to tackle the issues on my own. Too many dogs in the house. So I sent two of my four dogs to live with the friend who I got them from. A month later things seemed to be getting better. I brought one home and left the other there for continued training.
Six days later he was dead. There was a freak accident and he was gone just like that. There were (and still are) what ifs playing in my head.
And eight days later my dad called. Mom had stage four lung cancer. But they’re starting her on immunotherapy. It’s the same thing President Carter is on, he said. The odds are good she’ll beat it.
But she didn’t.
Nine weeks later she was gone. On Monday she was fine and Dad brought her dinner from home. She was going to go home Wednesday and start treatment. She was looking forward to two of the cousins’ respective weddings this summer. Of using her dream kitchen that they just finished building. Of seeing her grandchildren grow up.
And nothing. Tuesday morning things turned and she was gone.
My brother called me while I was at work. I talked to her on the phone. I told her I was coming and that I loved her. And I’d be there as fast as I could. But there’s no way I could have. It was that quick and I was too far.
A month later the man I loved told me he didn’t love me enough to try to fix the things that were wrong.
Two months later I’m sitting in my dad’s house with my three remaining dogs, my cat, a trailer full of everything I own, a part time job, too many bills, trying to make sense of everything.
And I can’t.
But I have to take it in small steps.
The days add up.
I’ll get over this mountain.
And the next.
And then I’ll find a spot to rest.