One Year Later
I am alive. One year ago today, my life came to a crashing halt. Everything changed in a single instant. At first, I didn’t think much of the accident. Soon after, I realized it was more serious than anyone could have imagined, myself and doctors included. Throughout recovery, there were moments when I doubted if I’d survive or who I’d be on the other side. I now know there is no “other side” at which one arrives, no definitive end of a healing journey… yet here I am. Standing, speaking, thinking, eating, loving, living.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I want to be further along, to be what I was, to be normal again, to fix all that still feels broken or off… however ridiculous those statements may sound outside of my brain. Yes, I have grown tremendously at every level, become an infinitely stronger human, forged new depths of connections with friends and strangers, been busted wide open and put back together — literally and figuratively — but I still struggle with the “why” and the “at what cost” of my accident. And I affirm the validity and truth in those innermost, vulnerable questions.
I used to think everything happens for a reason; I don’t anymore. But it happens. And there you are, left to do your damndest to put one foot in front of the other, learning and growing through and despite it all, as every experience shapes the person you are and how you show up in the world today, tomorrow and for all of the days to come. But nothing needs to make sense, especially not in the thick of hellish ordeals, or yield neat and tidy revelations on any set timeline.
These past twelve months have felt like an eternity — for me personally in intense non-linear recovery for six months, followed by the pandemic, and for society at large amid unprecedented tumult. At the same time, I fully recognize that I’m “only” one year out from the most pivotal day of my life to date, and that there is surely much more healing to be done and perspective to be gained.
For the most part, I am now processing internally and in pen to paper as needed (and the more I write, the better I feel), though mostly, I am simply and exquisitely living. I’m increasingly open and ready and moving and doing, able to make sense of things in my own mind once more. Physical and mental health and wellness practices are clear priorities, as well as cultivating happiness and finding inner peace, however fleeting. Nothing is easy, not this, not life; it never was and never will be for anyone. But a functioning, reliable brain and body make a world of difference, as does meaningful connection with phenomenal humans, purpose-driven work, alternative focal points, which can act as welcome and necessary distractions, and the graces of nature.
I am certainly not the Erin of September 5, 2019. I’m also not the Erin of October 31, December 20, January 30 or even July 1. There are an infinite number of markers, milestones and moments throughout the past year that have challenged, lifted and shaped the me of right now, in this place, at this very instant. Tomorrow will inevitably be different, thanks to the blessed, albeit often infuriating, constant of time. Today, however, remains a hard one to swallow.
The widest range of emotions overtook me this morning, as I thought back on the unfathomable 366 days since my accident. I broke down in inconsolable tears of mourning, of disbelief, of pride, of confusion, of release, of gratitude — and, like she has done by my side every step of the way without falter or fail, my mother held me in her arms, honored my present reality, and whispered the precise words of wisdom that she innately knew her daughter needed to hear. “You’re alive. And we’re together. We’re together always. Find that strength, no matter what. You’re resilient and courageous and bold. I love you. Know that. Feel that. And fight, my Buni.”
With the resilience, courage, boldness, love and life-force consciously and subconsciously instilled in me by my momma, my humans, my tribe, community, teachers, and worlds, I will indeed fight on. On some days, that manifests powerfully, potently, publicly — and on others, it means simply waking up, breathing in oxygen, and making it through to see another sunrise. Moment by moment. Hour by hour. Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Then, rather remarkably, the seemingly impossible happens: a full year goes by. And onwards we go… somehow, someway.