I’m writing from home. Well, the place that I generally refer to when people ask about ‘home’ anyway. For me, home is much more of an abstract idea comprised of certain people, emotions and memories, rather than a physical place. While, I’m here, at home, I’m still homesick for the ‘home’ that is North Bay. There is a hole in my heart where Nathan and those special people and places live. At the same time, there is a constant yearning for some sort of place that I don’t think really exists for me...well, not at this point in my life anyway. I imagine I will find it along the way, and I hope with everything I have that all of these fragments of my life that I consider ‘home’ will weave themselves together.
I guess before I continue, I should explain why I am here in the first place. I am not sure how much of this I have written about, so I will take you back to frosh week, because that is when things started to become real for me. I had literally just finished muddy Olympics, and I was standing at the bus stop, wearing a garbage bag, covered in mud, when I received the call for my grandmother saying that one of her tumours [she has a few] had let go and she was hemorrhaging. I wasn’t to come home immediately, but she would keep me posted. At this point she was told that she had 3 to 6 months left to live. Now my grandmother redefines ‘trooper’. As it turned out, I didn’t have to go home, and I finished out frosh week, with the best enthusiasm I could muster. Eventually the bleeding slowed down, and she started to regain her strength. It’s been ten months and my grandmother has been keeping herself as busy as possible. She always says that she’d rather spend her last months living rather than laying around waiting to die. She has bled pretty consistently, and sleeps a lot, but she still calls me every week. She’s had girls nights with friends, learned to play rock band, taken a weaving course, gone on numerous road trips, and cashed in her life insurance for a new car and appliances. Her sense of humour remains fully intact and her fierce, fighting spirit continues to be a force to be reckoned with.
The night after my graduation, moments before heading out to the much anticipated porch party at Holly and Lemo’s, I received a call from my grandmother. Her tumour had burst again and she was hemorrhaging worse than ever. The in-home nurse that visits now and then told her she should start making her phone calls and saying her goodbyes. So she did. She also told me that at this point, she still did not want me to come home. We had had such a nice visit for graduation, and she wanted to keep it at that. So I pulled myself together and went to the party and I danced my ass off...because I figured that’s what she would want. At midnight I discovered a message I had missed on my cell phone. I listened to it in a private place, urgent and terrified, only to hear my grandfathers voice assuring me that the bleeding had subsided. I was so overwhelmed with relief and emotion that I could barely catch my breath. I wanted to scream and throw up and cry all at the same time. I opted to do none of the above, and return to dancing.
The following morning, I was told that she seemed to be doing better. I have talked to her regularly over the past few weeks and she has claimed to be regaining strength and getting her life back on track again. Just the same, I knew I had to take this opportunity; this second...or even third chance, to come home and see her and spend time with her. Yesterday evening, she hurt her ankle, to the point that she was barely able to walk. She says she felt like the bones crunched, and my mother, who is a nurse, figures that is exactly what happened. I helped her hobble around, massaged her ankle and have been fetching her everything she will let me. This morning she woke up, dizzy, nauseous and vomiting, and still with a sore ankle. Thankfully, she’s still not bleeding, although she feels crummy and all she can really do is rest at this point. So here I am. Papa has gone to work, and I have the phone and the list of phone numbers beside me. I check in with her often, fetch what she needs, and just pray, for her sake, that she doesn’t fall over, throw up or start bleeding.
Needless to say, I’ve had a lot to think about lately, and my time here at home has given me ample opportunity. When faced with death, one can’t help but think about life; about both its duration and quality...past, present and future. That kind of stuff. My visits home are usually filled with opportunities to mull things over, and reassess my own life, and this visit has been especially like that. There have been a lot of things in my life that I’m not especially pleased with, whether it be on the account of others or myself. I’ve made bad choices, acted irrationally, and have done things that I am not proud of. But, on the other hand, I’ve demonstrated perseverance and strength that has surprised me. I’ve allowed myself to be imaginative, creative and silly. I have learned and loved and lossed in enormous capacities. All of these things have woven together to form...me. And I’m not always perfect, and I do make mistakes, but all in all...I think I have enormous potential, as I continue to drive myself forward and try to better myself.
Furthermore, I must remember, that much like myself, my family are complicated, sometimes irrational and yet, completely incredible people...each dealing with their own demons and personal struggles. THIS is life and we must work with what we are given...and what we have been given is incredible. Life is not about the good or the bad, black or white, optimism or pessimism...it is about accepting all of these things AND that area in between. It is SO much bigger than we have the capacity to understand and we should all be in awe of it [am I being sappy enough for you yet?!].
So, with all of this in mind, I can’t help but look to the future. It’s not the abyss it once was...but it still seems rather foggy. I have completed university and have decided to take a year off to work at the Wall, a place that is not only comfortable, but has the capacity to bridge the gap between my youth and my future, while paying the bills. As of present, my interest in future education has shifted from pursuing my masters in resource management to international development [two fields that are obviously closely related]. I’m not entirely sure where in the world I wish to do this, although I am very flexible. I don’t feel tied to ‘home’ and I certainly don’t feel tied to North Bay. I suppose at this point, I am very...free! It should be liberating, but I can’t help but feel a little unsettled at the same time.
The only thing that seems certain to me is that no matter where I go or what I do...I intend to do so with Nathan in my heart and hopefully by my side whenever possible. Candice asked me a few weeks ago what it was like to have pretty much found my soulmate...well, I assure you, it’s just as excellent as one might hope. He fills me with hope and passion and empowerment beyond my wildest dreams. The future is not an abyss! The future is full of potential! I’m not entirely sure what my calling is. I don’t quite know my place in the world. I’m not sure what I’m destined to achieve, although I feel confident that it’s going to be quite interesting. All I know...is that life is vast, and complicated, and overwhelming, and beautiful, and imperfect...and in the scheme of things, quite short. It will sort itself out. I will forge my own path. I will establish a purpose, and a home and a future that is all of the things that life is. And I hope with every fiber of my being, that my soulmate is by my side throughout the whole damn thing.