Wednesday, April 16, 2008


This is a story about Nick.

Nick was born 11 days before me, in the same year. I've since found out that he and I were born in the same hospital, and his family moved to Calgary at about the same time as mine did. I've also found out that he and I shared a number of friends over the years, yet we never actually crossed paths that I am aware of. More about him in a minute though.

Twelve years ago this month, one of my very best friends committed suicide. I've written about this before, so for now I'll just say that even though I went to the church portion of her funeral, I never attended the grave-side services. It was months before I was finally able to bring myself to go visit and try to make peace with her passing, but since I didn't know where she was buried, I was resigned to spend the entire day walking around looking for her grave.

If you've ever walked around an entire cemetery, you will know there are little things you learn along the way. The older sections are very grey - there are very few visitors and an ominous feeling hangs in the air. Not twenty feet away, where the more recently departed rest, there is a kaleidoscope of colors, most graves decorated in flowers or ornaments or small tokens in honor of their memory. There is also a lot of dirt, as the grass hasn't always had time to grow yet. Needless to say, within a few short hours and with very muddy shoes, I narrowed down where her plot would be, and finally came face-to-face with the reality of her death. I sat beside her tombstone and talked to her for quite a long time. I had to make peace with her for choosing to leave us all, and though I had never felt anger over her death, after that day I was able to not quite feel as helpless in dealing with it. When I stood up to leave though, something caught the corner of my eye. It was a gleaming white headstone, about four feet tall, and the way the sun caught it I was compelled to go take a closer look.

This is where I met Nick.

As soon as I read his name on the marble, I felt an unbelievable connection. It was as though I had known him my entire life, and I could almost visualize actual memories of him, helped by the fact that there was a picture of him embedded in the marble. He passed away just before his twentieth birthday, ironically in the same month that I had conceived my daughter. His life was ending, and I was bringing new life into the world. I spent a good two hours there trying to make sense of why I felt such a powerful connection to him, but finally wrote it off as having spent too much time around sadness that day and that my imagination was just working overtime.

Over the years though, every time I went to visit Janet, I was compelled to visit Nick as well. I no longer felt as though I was visiting the grave of a stranger, but rather someone that I had once known. I felt as though I was there to mourn his death as well as that of my own friend. Years later, with the help of old newspapers and the internet, I did some research and found out the coincidences about our birthplaces, about our mutual friends, and everything else.

Yesterday, Kat and I were talking about cemeteries, and I was telling her the story about Nick. Today, I was out of the house and all of a sudden knew that I had to go visit again - it had been far too long.

As I pulled into the cemetery, there was a small, old, Asian man walking very slowly, as though in pain, holding a wrapped bouquet of flowers. It was obvious that he still had a long way to go as the graves don't start for quite a distance, plus from experience in walking around the cemetery I know where the predominantly-Chinese section is located and it was far. I pulled over and asked him if he would like a ride, and though he spoke very little English, he climbed into my car and pointed to direct me where to go. Now I'm not really in the habit of picking up strangers and letting them into my vehicle, but under the circumstances, there was no way I would consider doing otherwise.

When we reached the area he wanted, he turned to me and gave me a sad little smile. He reached out and squeezed my hand in thanks, and exited my car. I watched him for a few moments as he made his way through one of the greyer areas of the graveyard, and I could only imagine that his wife had passed away many years before, and that he still made his way out here once a week to bring her flowers. Hers was the only grave that still had color on it for miles.

After making my way back, I stopped by Janet's grave first. I felt terrible that one of my best friend's final resting place is a mere 40 blocks from my house and I haven't stopped by in years. I spent a considerable amount of time at her plot, silently going over everything that I wished I could say to her, filling her in on everything she has missed, and once again making my peace with her untimely death.

Afterwards, I made my way over to Nick. I spent some time there, thinking about this person who I never met, yet had touched me in such a profound way. I had always thought, with every part of my soul, that he and I were destined to meet, yet we didn't. Was it because death took him before that could happen, or was it because we missed out on the opportunity while he was alive - that is what I didn't know and had always dwelled on. It may sound silly, but I honestly believed there was a portion of my life that he should have been a part of - no matter how big or how small.

I was wrong though. I was never really able to put my finger on it until today, and though I still don't have it all figured out, there is some semblance of reason in my mind now. The thought I couldn't shake today, as I sat in front of his grave, was about all the people that I have met through the strangest of circumstance. Since the inception of this blog, I have met over a hundred people in real life who I never possibly could have crossed paths with otherwise. With that comes hundreds of memories to draw upon. Factor in the chats, the games, and the late night phone conversations, and I now have thousands upon thousands of memories that wouldn't have been there had I not taken the time to start this, or gathered up the nerve to make that first trip to Vegas.

For the past twelve years, I had been trying to figure out what Nick represented to me, and I finally realized today that I had it backwards. It was not what he represented to me, it was how I perceived what I represented to him. I had the chance to live my life still. I had the chance to not miss out on opportunity. I had the chance to go out and meet people and experience new things. Looking at Nick, I was looking at myself, and was reminded that I was still able to go out and grasp every opportunity possible. To me, he represents all the people that I actually HAVE met through strange circumstance, that never expected to and really never should have, had my life played out any different.

I've vowed to myself to take whatever chances life presents to me, because I don't want to look back in twenty or thirty or forty years time and have any regrets. I don't want to miss out on any opportunities. I don't want to miss out on meeting those people who have, and will continue to enhance my life.

I want to be able to go visit Nick, and let him live vicariously through me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Canada Sucks

Highlights of my day so far, and it is only 9am:

- Took me over two and a half hours to drive into work this morning - usually takes 20 min

- Snowflakes are the size of baseballs (no exaggeration)

- I can't see out the window of my office due to a complete and total white-out

- My car has been sitting outside for 10 minutes, and it is completely buried already

- When I stepped out of said car this morning, the snow was up to my calves and the ground underneath was so slippery I wiped out and cracked my head. Bruises are forming as we speak.

Living in Canada sucks.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Finding My Voice

I've been asked repeatedly where the hell I've been for the past year, and though it isn't an easy one to explain, I'm going to try to do my best. This post has been a long time coming, and I've written and re-written it dozens of times. The short answer is - I've been busy. Yes, I know, we are all busy, but trust me when I say that working an average of 70 hours a week and raising my daughter alone has pretty much taken all my time lately.

That is only part of it though, the other reasons involved are where it gets more complicated, and are where this explanation begins. The truth of the matter is, the past few years have been the most difficult years I have ever had to face in my life. I'm not interested in crying a swan song or getting into every single detail, but I have had to set aside an enormous amount of time to heal, mend, rebuild, and rediscover myself. I chose not to bring anyone along for that ride, and though in hindsight I see now that may have been a mistake, it was simply how I needed to deal with it at the time.

Four years ago I got married. From the day we walked down the aisle on though, we never actually lived together again. Honeymoon was over instantly. His work was out-of-province or out-of-country, and he was constantly traveling from one destination to another. Anyone who has actually read my blog in it's entirety will see various references to multiple planned moves that never happened. We had secured places in Toronto, Vegas, and Jersey, and for one reason or another each one of these deals fell through. When you spend two years planning to move at a moment's notice, you are never really able to settle into your life where you are at. When home no longer feels like home, and the person that you chose to spend that life with is no longer there, well....I'm sure you get the picture. Don't get me wrong though, I was certainly not without fault during this time too, but for these and many other reasons, things eventually came to a head and we separated two years ago this month.

Throughout this duration, I slowly slipped into a depression. I hate using that term, because most people instantly mistake it for what it wasn't. I was not suicidal, I did not walk around crying every day and I wasn't miserable all the time. It was deeper than that on a lot of levels, but on others it was very superficial. I'm generally on quite an even keel, but throughout this time period I didn't know what "even" was. I lost my sense of self, only to emerge afterwards wondering if I ever really knew it to begin with. My entire life I felt like I was something to everyone else - a daughter, a mother (at a very young age), a sister, a girlfriend, a wife, an ex-wife. I finally realized I had no idea what my own identity was, and I needed to take some time to figure it out.

Unlike some others who have gone through some very tough times and have worked through it by blogging, I found that I had nothing to say. It wasn't the same as having writer's block, I simply found that I had lost my voice. Nothing really mattered anymore. I had no opinion on anything. I couldn't have told you if I liked a, b, or c, what I thought about current events, or if I preferred steak or chicken for dinner. There was simply nothing there. I more or less coasted for many, many long months, believing that one day I would snap out of my funk, but not being able to see an immediate end to it.

Those who know me well know who I truly am. I have an enormous lust for life, passion, and friendship. I'm very outspoken, have many opinions, and am a type-A personality who needs to work around the clock. I work hard and play harder. I never minded surviving on just three hours sleep each and every night, so long as I didn't miss out on anything the next day. Well, for several years, I missed out on just about everything. I slept for about 12 hours a night and had no energy to do anything the next day. I figuratively pushed the same piece of paper around on my desk until I finally felt like I had accomplished something, and then called it a day.

This past September though, something snapped. I had one of those life-defining moments that I had previously only read about. I literally packed up my depressed state, threw it out the window, and moved on with my life. I found I couldn't work enough. I took on every opportunity that came my way, and I started to actually live again. I had boundless energy, and even better than "finding" myself again, I discovered a whole new me. I am now not only at the point where I am happy, I find that I am ecstatic just to wake up every day and see what is in store for me. I'm in a very good place in my life right now, and though it certainly isn't where I ever expected to be, it is fulfilling in many unexpected ways.

Though my "return" has been slow, I've started to reconnect with those online that I had left behind. It has been a long process, and I still haven't got around to everyone, and for that I have many regrets. I'm working my way around the board, so to speak, but just know that I truly have missed everyone more than you can know.

/life story

Now, I said I was opinionated, and here are my two cents regarding the current state of dissension in our little blogging world. You have to know - these are the people who have been my sounding board through the toughest times in my life. These are the people that - each in their own way - have enhanced my life beyond belief. These are the people who have stayed up late with me while I was upset and listened to every word I needed to get out. These are the people that I have traveled thousands upon thousands of miles to go see, even if I only got to spend five minutes with them one-on-one. These people, each in their own small, huge, or indirect way, are the ones that helped me get through this all. There are those that completely refused to let me fade out of the blogosphere all together, and there are those that never forgot the little things like sending me a quick email to wish my daughter a happy birthday. There are those that truly rock my world, and there are those that I know I will still be friends with in thirty years time. If you have not yet realized how much this fucking community of people truly rocks, then you probably will never get it. Stop bitching about the quality of play in a $10 MTT, and start appreciating what you are a part of. This is beyond anything that any of us ever could have hoped for or expected, so enjoy it and quit yer bitchin!