Updated: Feb 7, 2020
I believe everyone has a story worth telling. This spot right here, this is my story.
Prior to the 29th November 2018, my life was fairly ordinary. I was 40 years old, married to my childhood sweetheart, Nathan (who was also 40), and had two beautiful girls – Taylor and Ashley. Nathan and I had been married for 19 years (after having known each other since about the age
of 11!). We lived married life for 10 years without kids, and really learnt how to ‘adult’ together. All the life I knew up until that point, I knew whilst partnering with him. He was my soul mate, my best friend, my cheerleader – we were ‘one’ in as much as you can imagine two people being. As with any relationship that lasts longer than 3 seconds, we had navigated some pretty dark places in our relationship. But we also both believed we could have it all – the magic of life – and worked hard at making our marriage the best it could be.
Our two daughters were 9 and 7 - both full of the same zest for life their father had - he was their everyday hero and his biggest fans. Nathan was an amazingly present father and took the girls on as many of his outdoor adventures as he could. We lived in the beautiful Blue Mountains, Australia, and he was working in a job he loved as both a General Duties and Rescue Police Officer. I had just resigned from a job I had worked for 18 years as an Occupational Therapist to instead build my own small business as a Young Living essential oils distributor. Life was beautiful, full of potential, and the best we had known it to be. We were strong, happy, and had vision and hope for the future we were planning together.
In late November 2018, Nathan went on a mountaineering holiday to New Zealand, a trek he had made every year for six years. On the 29th - which was just like any other, normal Thursday - I was driving home alone, having just finished my work day to pick up the girls from the school bus - when I received a phone call that would forever change the course of my life. I was told that Nathan had died that afternoon, having been caught and buried in an avalanche on the mountain he and his mountaineering partner had been attempting to climb.
I stopped breathing in that moment. My brain froze and my heart exploded into a thousand pieces whilst looking into the faces of our two daughters, knowing I needed to tell them a truth that would break their little hearts over, and over again. I immediately entered a reality that was completely foreign. That moment in time - it has become a line in the sand of my life. My "pre" life, and my "post" life. The two lives seem to me to be as different as night and day. I felt like I was thrown far, far into space, onto an unknown planet somewhere deep in the galaxy. The pause button was pressed on my usual existence and I become an observer to everything around me, only to be able to focus on one thing: staying alive.
There really aren't words to describe what transpired over the next hour, 24 hours, days, weeks, and months of my life. Pain indescribable and unimaginable. Excruciating, horrendous, suffocating pain. Shock. Trauma. Terror. Grief became my closest, constant companion and I entered the club of 'Widowhood' - not a club I would have ever chosen to belong to, at the age of 40. All the while trying to love and support my two little people through the depths of grief that many adults never have to know. At the time, I could not imagine ever being able to live a single moment without Nathan in our lives, let alone a day, a month, or a year. Everything within me screamed against the reality that had landed on my doorstep, while being forced to start living a life far outside of my own choosing.
The person that I am will always be defined by the loss of the man I loved for 21 years. And yet, I am more than this reality. Somehow amidst the terror, I have continued to live, and breathe, and grow, and change. There are many experiences and emotions since that Day of Darkness that feel impossible to put into words. But here, in this space, I am going to attempt to do just that. Because somewhere during the past 15 months, I've realised that the world needs more people to share their stories. Real stories, of real lives, that collide with the unimaginable. Real people, who somehow keep waking up and choosing to forge on despite looking into the face of a nightmare. Real pain, real heartache, real struggles. And, amongst all of that, real HOPE. Hope that despite the worst, there can still be love. There can still be light. There can still be purpose. There can still be a life worth living, even if Plan A has been decimated and your old, loved, familiar life lies as shrapnel at your feet.
This Thing Called Life is a messy, painful, beautiful, magical, terrifying thing. And we're all in it, together. Thanks for being here with me. A place to gather hearts, and grow together.