On December 8, 2016, I woke up at 0430hrs and the first thing I thought about was the fact that I was officially older than Nick. I don’t even really know what it means when a person dies. My faith and beliefs have been up and down like a roller coaster, and I immediately thought; what will Nick be doing for his first heavenly birthday.
My birthday was one of those days that I had to make a conscious choice to enjoy it. I had to decide that today I WILL be happy, I WILL celebrate, and I WILL make it the best birthday for Nick and for me because I refuse to fall. This day 31 years ago Nick and I both entered this world, and I knew I needed to honor that, and rather than be sad that he’s not here anymore, I needed to be happy that at least at one point he was.
Nick and I spent three memorable birthdays together, and although I wanted there to be so many more, I can’t tell you how happy I am that we chose to make our birthdays special when we had the chance. Sharing a birthday with your best friend and your lover is the coolest gift and so much fun. I will honor that for the rest of my life. I will choose to embrace the beauty of it instead of the sadness, and that’s exactly what I did.
We pulled away from my house at 0530hrs and made our way out to Golden. I was exhausted, nervous, numb, happy, but most of all so grateful to have friends who were a part of making sure this day was exactly how I imagined. The drive out was beautiful. The sky looked like cotton candy, and the mountains were majestic. The mountains have never spoken to me more than they did that morning. Kathy and I were both completely taken back by how peaceful and tranquil the drive was.
It felt so right, and we knew our angels were with us.
At 11:11hrs myself, Kyle, and Jeff took off from the staging area. That’s right, 11:11hrs. It was most definitely a blue bird day, but my god was it cold. As you know, I work in a profession where you get very used to having to brave the cold, and you have no choice but to suck it up. I like to believe I have a pretty high tolerance to it but WOW, it was frigid.
When we arrived at Gorman Lake, we were cold. Don’t get me wrong; we were enjoying every minute of it, but we definitely wondered if we would make it through the day without frost bite. It didn’t matter, though; we were going to visit Nick, and we weren’t coming back down that mountain until we did. Kyle went up ahead to double check the conditions and when he came back down he told us it was a billion times colder up there but we decided we made it this far and we were going.
We made our way up, and I instantly remembered again why Nick loved this location so much. It was breathtaking. The best part was, when we got to the area we buried Nick’s ashes, the sun came out and we were warm. Kyle and Jeff shared their individual stories of when they were with Nick up there, and I have to tell you; that was the best birthday present I could have ever received. There is nothing I love more than hearing Nick’s friends share memories that they hold dear to their heart. I felt Nick with us, and I knew that braving the cold was without a doubt worth it.
While we were there, I jumped on Jeff’s sled and took it for a rip. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. I am not going to lie; I was a bit heavy on the throttle, and at one point I just about lost Kyle off the back of the sled, but when I was on my own; I was a free bird. I didn’t want to hold back, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the machine. I will tell you this, though, give me a few more times out there, and I will be riding like a champ, and I can’t wait to be riding Nick’s sled once it’s fixed. It was very therapeutic, and I felt closer to him than ever. No doubt he was grinning from ear to ear.
When we came back down the mountain, Kyle dropped me off at the condo where I stayed with four of my best friends for three nights. I am not going to share too much because it was a bit of a runaway, but I am honestly the luckiest girl in the world. Kathy, Josie, Maggie, and Karyn, you all went above and beyond to make this milestone special and perfect.
We had a few conversations about mine and Kathy’s journeys of being widows, and the one thing we both agreed on was how important it was to not only honor your sad days, but also to honor the days when your heart is full, and my heart was overflowing the last few days.
I had no doubt this group of girls would get along even though they had never met, but I had no idea how well everyone would click and how comfortable and right it would feel.
I have been blessed in my life to have so many different groups of close girlfriends, and I am always so incredibly touched when I see some of them meet for the first time and gracefully welcome each other with open arms. This has happened a lot over the last ten months, under horribly shitty circumstances, but each time it happens I can’t help but smile. If you don’t have friends like this, please call me, and I will hook you up with mine.
I am so lucky.
The first night we were there we had an absolute blast and had a beautifully classy toast to Nick with his amazingly delicious twisted teas. (Insert sarcasm here) ;). We had a little bit too much to drink, but it was a great first birthday without my Nick, and we belly laughed so hard the last few days, that my stomach hurts.
Driving out of Golden today, and heading back to Calgary felt so wrong. Nick and I always felt an immense weight off our shoulders every time we left the city and drove out to the mountains. We always talked about ways to make it on a minimal wage and simpler lives. Each time I have gone to the mountains since Nick died I feel safe, at peace, and alive. It just makes sense.
This time coming back to Calgary wasn’t quite as bad as the other times because I know it’s only for a short period, but why do I keep questioning my path?? Why do I keep worrying? Why do I keep trying to do the “right” thing? What the hell is the right thing?
Sometimes I think we put way to much pressure on ourselves to do what’s right, when in reality there is no right answer there is only right now.
There are only 20 days left in 2016, and I want you all to ask yourselves something before the new year. What is it you want right now? What change do you want to see? What can make you healthier, happier, or more at peace? If there is something coming to your heart right now, I want you to ask yourself this; why aren’t you reaching for it? Fear? Will you do it later? Someone else said you couldn’t?
The closer I get to the anniversary date of Nick’s death, and the more milestones I reach, the more I think about how oblivious I was this time last year to the fact that my time with Nick was coming to an end.
This time last year I thought we had our entire lives ahead of us.
I am not saying live in fear or anxiety with the thought of death constantly lingering in your head, but more so, live life fully and believe that you can do anything in the world, and let nothing stop you. Here is the thing, if someone had told me on our birthday last year that it would be the last one together, I would have said kill me now because there is no way I could survive without Nick. So when you think about your dreams and aspirations, stop convincing yourself you can’t. I am here to tell you; YOU CAN, and you need to.
I have managed to get through the last ten months, and even though I have fallen multiple times, I have always found a way to get myself back up. Every time I approach a milestone I am terrified. Please don’t let my positive attitude fool you. I am a raging basket case inside, and I am scared as hell 95% of the time.
As you approach 2017 promise me this one thing; don’t let fear stand in the way of anything. I am making decisions and life changes now that I never thought in a million years I would ever be able to do on my own, but now I know that I can, and that it will be okay. I don’t want you to have to wait for a tragedy to realize that you are strong enough and capable enough to make your life exactly as you want it.
On my birthday this year I woke up at 0430hrs, and I said to myself, how the hell am I going to get through this day without Nick. I had no idea how I was going to do it, I had a good long melt down in the shower, pulled up my big girl pants and went on with the day.
I had no idea how the hell I was going to get through it, but the bottom line is; I did.
“We have only two options: fear or believe, and fear is useless” – Tim Lyons-
Nick my love,
You wrote in my birthday card last year the following:
I am excited to celebrate this next year of us entering our thirties with you. I can see lots of exciting things in our future, and can’t wait for all the adventures we are going to have. There is no one I want to share this day with more than you.
Saying it would be an adventure was an understatement but I know even though you are gone we are still in this together, so maybe you weren’t entirely wrong.
Happy heavenly birthday my love. xoxoxo