Friday, October 11, 2013

Breath by Aaron Tardie (Part 3 of 3)

Later today I will announce the winner of our first ever giveaway but for now here if the last segment of Aaron's short story...

Sometimes she has a way of creeping into my life without me taking notice of her. She comes and sits with me for a moment, but just as I feel her she is gone again. I have to learn how to live each day. I had to learn that in order to grow I must let go of her for a while. I can allow her to creep in, but I cannot let her consume. It took a lot of messing up for me to learn that. I remember when I first learned to function without her, when I learned how to survive. I neglected my feelings out of fear that I would be constantly broken down. Being numb is what kept me alive. 

I moved on from the numb stage and progressed into surviving and breathing on my own, but I was still not alive. I thought I had moved into a place where I was able to create once again, but each time I had arrived I caught the next train backwards. I kept taking that train for some time without realizing it. This happened for months, and eventually it turned into years. After a while I was able to realize I had stepped onto the train, but I had no idea how to convince myself to not get on that damn train. At least I knew I was getting on it—at least I was aware of what I was doing to myself. 

I learned that it was okay for me to go backwards, that it was a part of the whole process, but that realization came only after I let go of all the control I thought I had over the situation. I realized that my emotions were going to come no matter what I thought I could do about it, and my only real option was to choose how I was going to respond to those emotions. I learned that I am not my feelings. Feelings are as transient as the clouds; while they move in and out, I remain the same. Sometimes a storm moved in, but eventually, the storm and the clouds move out. 

Those setbacks became a growing experience; they were a chance to learn about myself. There was a specific time about two years after she had passed away, and I remembered taking out my journal and writing down all the things I loved about myself. I scribbled down everything I thought was important to me and I tried to do it without thinking about her—I found that most of what I valued was because of her. But this was about my own journey, my own discovery, of what I loved. I picked out everything I loved on this page in my journal and decided if it was really something I valued, or if it was something I thought she valued. That process, that car wreck, was beautiful. It was so horrible, so painful, and so foreign, that it bled beauty. 

That journal turned into my journey without her, and from it I was able to learn the two most important things I would ever come know in this life—that I was worth something apart from her and I could create. Accepting those two things changed my life.  

How you doing Wesley?
You know, I’m doing good Tim.
What you working on there?
It’s just side project. I started it years ago, but I just picked it back up. 
You’ve been in the garage quite a bit lately. Just wanted to make sure everything was all right.
I’m fine. It’s a guitar Tim. The wood got here yesterday. It’s going to be a beautiful red mahogany top with a warm spruce backing. The ebony piece for the neck is coming soon too.  
It has been seven years since she went and each night since then Jack and I sit out here next to the fire and sing together hoping that she can hear us and that she will look down at us and laugh as we pee together on the trees. I think about the time I have spent without her here, and how I changed. 

I got up and walked over to smell the berries in the yard, and I felt the fresh dew on my feet. The rhythm in my chest started again. It felt different this time, stronger than before and it hurt a little, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t done looking at my yard. The pounding kept growing, but I ignored it and continued walking around the yard—I liked the way the dew made the soles of my feet wet. The pounding persisted and then it consumed me and I couldn’t find Jack. 

“Jack! Jack! Here boy, come on. I need you buddy. Where did you go?” I said. 
The pounding was getting louder and the pain kept rising. The noise from the hatchet crushing the wood was echoing in my head. I kept hearing the noise and calling out for Jack but he wouldn’t come. Where had he gone? I had stumbled back towards the fire and found myself lying on the bricks. I couldn’t stand up any longer. The noise kept growing and even if Jack had found me I wouldn’t be able to hear him coming. But I still cried out for him. 

“Jack I need you buddy! Come on buddy, I need you!” I said, but still no Jack. 
Maybe he went to pee I thought. Damn dog. The sound from the hatchet breaking the wood remained inside of me but it was fading now. It was quiet in my head. It was still. I was still. I cried out for Jack again but my breath was slow to come out. It was choppy. It hurt as it slipped through the cracks in my lips, and I could no longer cry out. My body collapsed and I lay with my arms and legs sprawled out across the patio, and my fingers curled around the lip of the bricks as I tried to cling to this life. But in this moment I felt safe. And I let go. 

As I lay there I thought I heard whimpering and felt something furry on my arm.

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