Where we left off . . .
In Chapter 5, I described my disappointing summer "romance." The heartbreak that resulted from this let-down was the heaviest I have ever experienced. Thankfully, I pulled through again and managed to thrive in my classes and my job. My thesis was taking form, and I was spending long hours in my research lab. I started blogging and building a following of hundreds of people in a matter of months. I was active on campus with 2 mental health awareness groups, even gaining some counselling experience as a peer counsellor. I was interviewed by my city's paper and by a student organization on campus. I was pushing toward my life purpose, coming alive in a way that I never knew to be possible.
My blog was my passion, and I found myself blogging daily despite how busy I was on campus. I gained a promotion at work to trainer. How I found the time to do so much, I have no idea! What is even stranger is the fact that I was energized rather than exhausted. I think that's what happens when you are in line with your life purpose. My blog followers were sending me messages about mental health, I was part of a thriving mental health awareness community on campus, and I was doing psychology research for my thesis on academic stress. One of my followers sent an anonymous message, claiming that he (or she) loved my positive living views. It turned out that we had a lot of views in common. This anonymous follower came forward soon enough, and it turned out that he was closer to home than I thought he was. This anonymous follower found my blog through a mutual friend, and he was interested in getting to know me.
We messaged each other, but I maintained a safe distance. I didn't want to repeat my Hunter experience, but I also welcomed a new possible crush. When it was time to meet for the first time, I was nervous, but I didn't place the same pressure on myself that I did when I met up with Hunter. This time, I was just looking for something fun. No pressure. No strings. When I met this guy (his alias will be Sean), my first thought was that he was absolutely gay! At the very least, I had a new friend, and I have always loved making new friends. Sean and I connected over our common interests in positive living, the law of attraction, and spiritual principles. Our friendship took off, and I started spending time in his basement apartment in the county. It was so thrilling having a friend who was equally as interested in spiritual living as I was. No one else in my life understood this new way of life that I discovered. Sean and I meditated together, read positive-living material together, and discussed our dreams for the future.
One night, Sean and I went to a party at his friends' house around the corner. I never spent much time in the county, but I was becoming familiar with the long roads as a result of my newfound friendship. Sean's best friend, Tyler lived around the corner from him. Tyler lived with his girlfriend, Holly in their rental house. I instantly clicked with Holly and Tyler as well as Sean's other friends. Holly bought coolers for us to enjoy together. I had not had a drink since my minor alcohol poisoning, but I decided to give it another try. It was hard to finish even one cooler, but I managed to develop a slight buzz. Sean was plastered quickly, and as soon as the alcohol took hold, so did his confidence. Sean started putting his arm around me, and he even kissed me. I didn't know what to think. I didn't really know what I even felt. Up until now, I was 98% sure that Sean was gay. I decided that I deserved some harmless fun. It didn't feel incredibly right, but it didn't feel wrong either.
Sean and I started seeing each other casually. I never really fell for him, but I loved spending time with him. I didn't think I was all that into him on a romantic level until I returned home from Toronto. Erica and I went to Toronto for a Demi Lovato concert. When I came home, Sean and I got together for a coffee and snack break. While I was eating my chocolate chip muffin, I noticed that Sean was texting a girl named "Jessica" repeatedly. I tried to avoid acting jealous, especially since I didn't like him that much. This was all just for fun. But then "Jessica" called Sean, and they started talking for a long time. I might as well not have been there, which was starting to annoy me. When Sean finally hung up the phone, I asked who Jessica was. He casually shrugged and told me that she was the other girl that he was seeing. Up until now, I thought that Sean was an innocent, little guy who could never hurt me. Now that he seemed to be like every other guy, I wanted to puke with anger and frustration. I whipped my coat from the back of my chair and stormed out to Sean's van. I was wordless. The drive back to my house was silent and tensely awkward. I knew that we weren't in an actual relationship and that this was all for fun, but my ego was too bruised. When Sean finally started talking, I lashed out. I was so angry that some other guy felt like he could just help himself to my heart. I ended whatever fling we had.
Despite myself, I gave Sean another chance. Holly and Tyler knocked some sense into Sean by telling him that he was making a mistake (I guess they liked me :P). Sean and I gave things a second try, but we realized that we were not right for each other. My bruised ego prevented me from maintaining my friendship with Sean for 6 months, but we ended up reconnecting and becoming really good friends.
What made Sean so special was the fact that he introduced me to Holly and Tyler who became my best friends. I thought my friendships with Sean's friends would end when we stopped talking, but I actually ended up getting closer to his friends than he even was. I didn't plan things to go this way, but I loved these people! I called them my "county friends" when I talked to Erica and Lola.
As my thesis neared completion, I started to make plans to see my Nana. I had not been to the GTA since August (just before my romance with Hunter) because of how busy my thesis was keeping me. I had my train booked for April. I woke up on the day that I would be leaving to an apologetic text from my Nana. She would refund me the cost of my ticket, but she was too sick for me to visit. She was in the hospital because she was having a hard time breathing. I didn't get too worried about it. Nana reassured me that she was fine. It was probably just a panic attack. She would let me know when I could reschedule my trip to the GTA.
I was sad because I missed my GTA family, especially my Nana. She was like a guardian angel to me. After such a crazy year, I was DYING to talk to her! She still didn't even know about how things went with Hunter.
My fifth year came to a close with overwhelming success. I was on the Dean's list after all, and I scored an A on my thesis. I thought that a thesis would be impossible, especially with such a strict supervisor, so my A was incredible news to me. The only thing is that I knew grad school was staring me in the face, but when I thought about 6 more years of university and 2 more theses, a part of me died inside. As the universe would have it, I happened to talk to a professor that I volunteered for. I originally wanted a recommendation for grad school, but I left with something more valuable. This professor asked me about my future goals. He wanted to make sure that a doctorate degree was right for me, so I told him that I honestly didn't feel right about it, but couldn't see any other way toward my goals. He opened my eyes to alternatives, which forced me to face a sign that I had been ignoring. Over the past few months, I kept getting signs to look into an online university. I always dismissed these signs because it seemed too easy. There was even one time when I was on the subway in Toronto with Erica where an advertisement for this online university caught Erica's attention. I saw it first, but ignored it. I thought it was weird how these ads were popping up everywhere, but how could an online university be legitimate? Erica pointed out the ad to me, almost like the universe was shoving me in the right direction.
Now that I felt safe to explore alternatives, I checked out this online university with an open mind. To my surprise, this university was fully accredited and recognized. The program set me up for success in a matter of 2.5 years. I would have a Master's degree in counselling psychology as well as counselling experience from an 8-month internship. Everything was a perfect match for me. Just like when I was in high school applying to university, I knew that there was one school for me.
My decision to do my Master's degree online was met with a lot of criticism initially, especially from my research lab friends. However, a surprising number of people supported my decision. I knew that it was right. No matter how controversial this choice may have been, I knew that it was my life and my decision.
My research group met up for one more get-together before we parted ways into our own futures. Everyone was talking about stressful grad school applications and prestigious doctorate programs. I felt out of place, but at the same time, I felt like I was skipping past unimaginable stress. Just as I was listening to one of my lab friends talk about research stuff, I received a text from my Nana. My stomach plummeted. My heart was in my throat. I will never forget that day. It was the day I found out that my dear Nana had leukemia. How could that be possible? No one I loved ever died before. She was still too young. This was too far out of my realm of understanding. I had it in my head that she would be okay with treatment.
However, as the weeks rolled by, things only looked worse. Nana's leukemia had left its mark on her body and appeared definitely terminal. She was supposed to have another 2 years left to live. It was now more important than ever that I get to the GTA. My time with my Nana was now limited. The precious time that I once thought to be boundless was now narrowed down to 2 years. At least I had 2 years. Some people would kill to have that amount of time with their loved ones.
In June, I finally got to visit my Nana. We had to wait until she was not taking her mild chemo-type therapy. No amount of mental preparation could have gotten me ready for the first glimpse I had of my Nana. I was ready for the usual burst of excitement and tight hug, but instead I was looking at a ghost. She was so pale and weak. Her hug felt so frail, and I felt a sadness deep inside me. Still, it felt so good to be able to talk to my Nana again. I caught her up on everything that she missed in my life. We stayed up late talking. When we went to bed, I couldn't fall asleep. I had that same gnawing feeling in my stomach that I experienced when I thought something was wrong with Hunter. I knew that something was wrong. In fact, I kept getting up in the middle of the night to check on Nana. I was relieved when I saw that she was still alive, her 2 white dogs sleeping soundly on the end of her bed.
The next day, Amanda and I were heading to a county fair in the evening. I was just about to leave Nana's house to drive over to my aunt and uncle's house when I felt a snag in my stomach. I couldn't bring myself to leave the front porch. Nana insisted that I go and have fun. She reminded me that we would have all of Sunday together, so I could go ahead and have fun with Amanda. Still, I hesitated. I had this strong intuitive feeling that something was wrong. It was physically painful leaving my Nana that day, and I couldn't shake the feeling during the car ride to my aunt and uncle's house. I couldn't talk it away, but yet, I had no idea why I would be feeling this way. I decided that once I started talking with my aunt, uncle, and Amanda, I would be able to let this feeling go. I was right; I did let go of the nagging feeling in my stomach, and I had fun catching Amanda up on what had changed in my life since the last time that I saw her. We did our makeup for the fair and played with the pets. I was starting to feel that familiar sense of safety that came with my GTA visits. That was when the phone rang. I didn't think much of it. I knew that it was likely my Nana because she called my aunt and uncle's house often anyway. So when my aunt told me that Nana had a fever of 106 degrees, I was startled. My aunt and uncle would take Nana to the hospital, and Amanda and I would go to the county fair that night. Part of me wanted to be with my Nana, but I also believed that she would be in and out of the hospital quickly.
So Friday night, I had fun on the county fair rides with Amanda and her friends. The next day, we went to Canada's Wonderland as well. So far, it looked like Nana was going to be okay. She had developed pneumonia, which was not uncommon for her. Due to the leukemia, she needed to stay in the hospital until the pneumonia was gone. I was able to have fun at Wonderland, but my mind kept drifting back to Nana. I hoped that she would be okay. So far, I had no reason to believe otherwise.
The next day was Sunday, which was the day that Nana and I were going to spend time together at her house. Instead, Amanda and I visited her in the hospital. I didn't like seeing her so sick, especially since she was struggling to breathe. I felt nervous, but at the same time, I knew that it was normal to be short of breath with pneumonia. Nana was in good hands. The following day was Monday, and I needed to catch my train back home. I didn't like leaving Nana like this, but I also needed to get back home in time for my shift the next day. There was no extending this trip. However, the universe had a different plan for me. My aunt was supposed to drive me to the train station, but she got called into work. Instead, we made an arrangement where I would drive myself to the train station with Nana's van and leave the van in the parking lot with the keys hidden and the doors unlocked. I got to the train station with time to spare, but first, I needed to find a parking space for the van.
My Intuition Strikes Again
The train station had thousands of parking spaces; this was a huge lot! The thought never crossed my mind that I would not be able to find a place to leave the van. I drove up and down each lane of the lot, becoming increasingly surprised at the lack of available spaces. By lack I mean none. I had never seen a parking lot this huge full to capacity before, and I had been to this train station many, many times before now. Still, I could not find a single available space. I started to wonder if it was a sign from the universe, but I couldn't figure out why the universe would want me to stay in the GTA. I had to work tomorrow, and my Nana was almost recovered. Despite having time to spare, I was now cutting it close to my departure time due to how long I spent driving up and down lanes of occupied parking spaces. Finally, in an act of desperation, I left the van in the "drop-off" (no parking) zone with the keys safely secured in the secret spot. I whipped my suitcase out of the trunk and ran toward my train. I boarded my train just in time and breathed a sigh of relief. Still, something did not feel right. I felt like I was making a mistake. Not for the first time during this trip, I felt a tug at my stomach. It was the same tug that I felt when I tried to leave my Nana at home just before her fever started. It was the same feeling that I felt when I was looking for a parking space but couldn't find one. What was a whisper or nudge just moments ago was now screaming in my ear and gnawing at my gut. I needed to get off the train! I started to panic because a part of me knew what I needed to do (get off the train and return to my family), but the other part of me was worried about my shift the next day. I also had non-refundable tickets and did not want to buy another ticket to get home. Unfortunately, logic prevailed over intuition, and I stayed on the train.
When I was more than halfway home, I received an odd text from Amanda asking me if I had left yet. I told her that I was on my train now and almost home. Amanda never said anything else, which worried me. My intuition was flaring, but I didn't know what to do. I knew that the next day would be Amanda's 21st birthday, so I told myself that she was just trying to see if she could convince me to stay one more day for her birthday. When my train pulled into the station at home, I felt better. I got off the train and instantly felt the humidity that comes with summers in my city. My mom greeted me at the platform, but she wasn't smiling and asking about my trip as she usually did. She was silent. So I did what I always do; I talked at her anyway, sharing details about my trip. When we got into her SUV, she finally started to talk. She told me that my aunt had called her and that my Nana was still in the hospital. She then told me that my Nana was dying. Now. Not 2 years from now. My throat went instantly dry, and I started to understand why I didn't want to leave the GTA earlier that day. Everything began to make sense, but I didn't like it. I started to cry. For once, I was speechless. I felt too far away and would do anything to be back in the GTA with my Nana. As my mom drove me home, she reminded me that my university graduation ceremony was that week. She didn't want me to miss my ceremony, and she believed that my Nana wouldn't want me to miss it either. My parents were planning on driving to the GTA to be with Nana, but my mom wanted me to stay for my graduation ceremony. I knew in my heart that there was only one place for me to be. This time, I would not ignore my intuition. I insisted that I go back to the GTA with my parents and that I would figure out my work situation.
My grandparents on my mom's side of the family traveled hundreds of kilometers to visit with us and attend my ceremony. I felt terrible. We had to tell them what happened and that we were all heading back to the GTA. Of course, my grandparents were nothing but understanding, and they gave me big hugs while I cried. My family and I packed our bags, hopped into the SUV, and drove in the direction that I just came home from.
When we arrived in the GTA, we congregated at my Nana's house. It was so strange seeing the house empty and knowing that she would not return to it. My special trips were over. My safe place was gone. My guardian angel was leaving me. The following days were a blur of grief and family support. When I first walked into my Nana's hospital room, her eyes lit up, and she told me through struggling breaths how happy she was that I missed my ceremony to be with her. I knew then that I had made the right choice. Of course, I never doubted that choice for even a second.
My brother drove up to the GTA a few days later; the whole Downie family was together, and we bonded over our shared grief. We stayed by my Nana's side during her last days, which was hands-down the toughest experience of my life. I would have taken another depressive episode before losing someone so dear to me so soon. Sadly, I didn't have that choice.
The days continued to pass by in a blur of emotions. Amanda and I started coping with our pain by binge eating. I have never been in so many drive-thru's before, but I didn't care. On the Friday of that week, Amanda had her own graduation ceremony at her college. That was the same day that my Nana finally passed in peace, surrounded by her family. I knew how important family was to my Nana; in fact, we were probably the most cherished part of her life. I also knew that my Nana always said that Friday the 13th was a lucky day in her mind. 13 was her lucky number, and of course, she passed away on Friday the 13th with a bright full moon hanging in the sky. Now, every time I see the full moon glimmering in the night sky, I think of my Nana.
The days following her death were equally blurry. Visitations and funeral plans flowed with magnificent ease almost as if she had a hand in the planning process along with us. Those days were hard, but I think the hardest part for me was returning home. After 3 weeks in the GTA, I didn't know how to go back to my "normal" life. My parents adopted one of my Nana's tiny white dogs (Heidi), and my aunt adopted the other. Heidi was the ray of sunshine that eased my family's transition into normalcy. She was only 7 pounds and had quite the hilarious personality. With Heidi's help, I truly believed that I could move onward. I put up an emotional defense wall against anymore grief. I didn't put the wall up on purpose, but it did happen. It was an automatic defense mechanism that prevented me from grieving anymore. The only problem was that I needed to grieve more.
Running from Sadness
I spent the rest of the summer in a strange state of disbelief; I still didn't completely believe that I would never be able to visit my Nana again. As if losing one of the most important people in my life was not enough, I also lost Erica. She started to get weird, making life choices that I could not support, including moving in with her creepy boyfriend. Despite my best efforts to maintain our friendship, Erica made it clear that she did not want to be friends anymore. At the same time, Lola had to move back to her hometown. We remained friends, but I missed having her live so closely. Lola was my go-to friend when I desperately needed to talk to someone. She always knew the right things to say to bring me immense comfort. She always reminded me of my own strengths when I was feeling weak.
Despite all of the loss, my life was still going well; I started a new job as a self-employed respite worker for a boy with autism that summer. Holly helped me secure the job, and I instantly fell in love with it! I didn't have enough hours to leave my fast food job, so I was working both jobs. Looking back, I think I was trying to hide from my grief. I was working over 50 hours a week between the 2 jobs, and I started to get my paper work in order to apply for the January semester at my grad school of choice. I went parasailing in August, and I went on a road trip in September with Holly and her friends to Kentucky and Sandusky. In October, I drove up to Kingston to visit Amanda in her apartment. I also got to visit my Papa in his nursing home on the way to Amanda's place, and I got to visit with my aunt and uncle. As much as I loved seeing my family, my heart felt an immense emptiness with my Nana's absence. By the time November arrived, I was out of psychological escape options. There were no more thrilling trips in the immediate future. I just had my two jobs and my binge eating to keep me comfortable. I gained 30 pounds in 3 months simply from comfort eating. I became increasingly aware that I was unhappy and that I was suppressing grief, so I began to make a conscious effort toward processing my grief. I tried everything I could think of, but I could not seem to knock down the defensive wall that I put up back in the summer.
Finally, one day, I was doing the laundry, and a wave of sadness hit me. I fell to the ground sobbing uncontrollably. The reality that my Nana was actually gone was hitting me like concrete, and this realization made me feel so naked and so vulnerable. Nana was my safe place through my darkest days, but now she was gone. No more train rides to the GTA, no more walks along the bluffs, no more late night conversations over cookies and milk, no more iced tea on the back deck, no more cooking and baking together, and no more mystery games on the computer together. The house was sold and gone, which meant that I would no longer fall asleep to the calm sound of distant trains or wake up to the smell of eggs and bacon. At least, none of these things would be the same. I missed her so much, and I missed everything about her. I strongly believed that she was with me thanks to the spiritual beliefs that I had developed just prior to her death. Still, it hurt more than I could have ever imagined to lose her in a physical sense. She felt so far away.
The Other Side of Grief
The months after my crying spell were filled with many more tears, but I knew that I was processing my grief properly. The rest of my family had already made it past this grief stage, but because I placed up a defensive wall for so long, I was behind everyone else. My parents even said that they wondered why I cried so little just after she died. They felt like I tried to move on too quickly, and they could understand why I was having such a hard time now. Each month did get easier though. I was offered another promotion at my fast food job to a manager in training. As much as I loved my respite job, my client was failing to pay me, so I made a choice. I always swore that I would never become a fast food manager; they always seemed so underpaid and overworked to me, but at the same time, the work experience was too tempting to refuse. I wanted to gain some leadership experience, so I accepted the promotion after a lot of hesitation.
In January, I went out for dinner with Holly, Tyler, and some of Holly's friends. We met at a stir fry restaurant that I had never been to before. When we were sitting at the table, Holly mentioned that she wanted to wait until one more person arrived before going up to make our stir fries. She told me that a guy named Steve still needed to arrive. I thought that I had met all of my "county friends" by now, but I could not recall meeting Steve. I had a vague memory of meeting a Steve at Holly and Tyler's bonfire in the summer, but I wasn't sure if this was the same guy. I could hardly put a face to the name. When I told Holly that I didn't know Steve, she was shocked, and she told me that he was super nice and funny. Cool! I always liked making new friends. Shortly after this conversation, Steve arrived and sat across the table from me. I took one look at him and turned into a speechless wreck. I couldn't stop looking at him! He clearly worked out, and he had a smile that gave me chills. By this point, I had been single for over a year with no temptation, but this guy amazed me instantly. From the moment that he sat down, I wanted to find some way to get him to talk to me. Finally, he brought up Game of Thrones, and I gushed about how I loved Game of Thrones! We talked about our favourite characters, which broke the ice for the rest of the night. After dinner, we went to a sports bar to play pool. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't checking Steve out the entire time that we played pool. Every time that he talked to me, I smiled or laughed. He came across as authentically kind, which was not something that I associated with men at the time.
As much as Steve aroused my attention, I was still dedicated to remaining single. I refused to date again until I was certain that I would not end up in another abusive relationship. Months passed before I even saw Steve again. I was focused on spending time with my friends, and I became a fitness addict. This was a short phase in my life (I am not the biggest fan of working out), but I felt so good! I lost 20 pounds, and I was eating all organic foods during the week. Despite having free fast food at work now that I was a manager in training, I stuck to my diet. My coworkers were always asking me which healthy recipe I had with me today, and I loved sharing my latest creations on Instagram. I had never felt so comfortable on my own before. I felt like I was the only person I needed. This was new for me. I became increasingly aware that I had conquered my fear of being alone. I now knew that, when I dated again, it would be with someone truly special. Still, I wasn't overly eager to start dating again. I was legitimately happy.
Falling in Love with my Future Husband
I didn't see Steve again until May, and even then, my plans were actually with Sean. Steve and Sean were really close friends and becoming closer. They worked together, and they were planning on getting an apartment together. So when I met up with Sean, Steve was also joining us. Holly and Tyler met us at the restaurant that night as well, and I gave them big hugs. I always got so excited when Holly and Tyler joined my plans with Sean. I felt slightly nervous around Steve, and the feelings that I forgot about over the past 4 months returned. At the end of the night, Sean and Steve wanted to go somewhere else for dessert. Holly and Tyler decided to return home right after dinner, but I decided that I would spend as much time around Steve as possible. I joined Steve and Sean for dessert. I learned a little more about Steve, and I noticed that he placed his hand on my arm at one point. My skin was hot where he touched, but I tried to hide how flustered I was. When we were done dessert, I hugged Sean goodbye in the parking lot. Naturally, I went to hug Steve as well, hoping that he wouldn't mind. In fact, we ended up hugging for excessively long. The only thing that made us let go was the fact that a car was trying to drive by us. I blushed as I walked back to my car, and I decided that I would be creeping him on Twitter as soon as I got home.
I didn't give Steve an obsessive amount of thought. I still kept myself in check. Besides the occasional creeping, I remained focused on myself, my friends, and my fitness. My feelings switched on me suddenly on the day before my 24th birthday. There was no major event or anything. I was lying in bed, listening to music when I found myself imagining myself walking along the beach outside of Holly and Tyler's new house with Steve. I held this image in my mind, complete with a giant, orange moon and star speckled sky. When I woke up the next day, I couldn't get this image out of my mind. These feelings seemed so random. I decided to go for a quick 4K run that morning to refresh my mind. I had a strong, steady pace going when my phone started buzzing. Sean was calling, likely to wish me a happy birthday. When I answered the phone, Sean was singing happy birthday. I smiled at what a good friend I thought he was. I also noticed that there was a second voice. I hoped that it was Steve, but I wasn't sure. As Sean started talking about my annual pool party taking place tomorrow, I realized that Steve wasn't invited, but I had an opportunity staring me in the face. I told Sean to invite Steve as well, and to my delight, Steve said that he would likely be there! When I hung up the phone and continued my run, all I could think about was how excited I was to see Steve again.
That year was the final year for my annual pool parties, and even then, I was too tired to plan a big event. So as a result, I only had a few close friends over that day. Thankfully, Steve was one of them. As soon as he arrived, we started talking. My close girl friends were talking with each other while I sat with Steve. When I went inside to get some drinks, my one friend came in with me. She asked if there was something between Steve and me. I blushed. I admitted that I had feelings for Steve but that we hardly knew each other. She told me that we had palpable chemistry, and my excitement only increased.
As the party continued, Steve and I started to flirt until he was throwing me around in the pool. Every time I felt his muscular arms around me, all I could think about was how badly I wanted those arms to stay around me for as long as possible. When the sun set, Sean announced that he was going to Holly and Tyler's for their bonfire. Steve was going too. I looked at my girl friends and asked if they wanted to come to the county with me. My one friend needed to get back home, but the other friend decided to come along too. I realized that I would be at Holly and Tyler's tonight just like the image that was in my mind last night. Talk about the law of attraction working quickly!
That night was incredibly fun! I ended up carpooling with Sean even though I wanted to carpool with Steve, but Steve offered to take my one friend home, so the space in his truck was taken up. The bonfire at Holly and Tyler's was wonderful. A group of us walked to the beach, but Steve didn't come along. When I got to the beach, the moon was large and orange like I imagined, but Steve wasn't with me. Still, I was shocked at how quickly my image became a reality. When we returned to the house, everyone sat around the fire. Holly backed her truck next to the fire pit and lowered her tailgate for some of us to sit down on. I was sitting on a chair, but Steve was on the tailgate. I decided that I needed to come up with a strategy so that I would be sitting next to him. My opportunity came quickly. Steve got up to change the country music on the car radio, and I swooped in to take his spot. He laughed when he saw that I had sniped his spot. I moved over so that he could sit next to me. We were shoulder-to-shoulder, just like I had hoped. Even when the people next to me left the tailgate, I didn't move down. I was not ready to give up this closeness. Steve and I talked for a while, staring into the fire and flirting with each other. When it was time to leave, Steve asked for my number, which thrilled me! On the drive home, I felt like I was floating on a cloud.
The next day was spent in anticipation of when Steve would text me. Finally, in the evening, he sent me a text asking me out for coffee. A few days later, he picked me up in his truck, and we got coffee together. I was shaking with nerves. This was my first date in a year and a half, and I wasn't used to having these feelings anymore. I thought that this part of me died. I know it sounds bleak, but I was at the point where I imagined that I would never get married. My previous dating luck smashed my hopes. Then here was this guy sitting across from me with his coffee, listening intently to every word that came from my lips. When we were done our coffees, Steve suggested that we walk by the river. I was excited to see that the night was not going to end after coffee. We walked along the river, and Steve held my hand. By the end of the night, we had our next date planned. We were going to the county fair in Essex in two days. Steve walked me to the door, and we had our first kiss together. When I closed the door behind me, I leaned against it with a dumb grin on my face. He was such a nice guy, and something felt so different about him. Maybe I actually finally got it right! After what felt like an endless series of abusive relationships and let-downs, I finally felt like I found someone who was made for me.
Life has a funny way of working out. In my darkest, lowest days, I would never have imagined that I would fall in love again like this. I never imagined myself being depression-free for so long or that I would be working toward my Master's degree with a 4.0 GPA. My life was finally moving in the right direction, and I couldn't help but feel that my Nana was at the helm. The way that my life was falling together hardly seemed like a coincidence. I was beginning to learn that, despite my low points, there is so much to love about life. I was learning that I was more blessed than I knew. There was so much to love.
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I wanted to finish the blog series in this chapter, but this post is becoming a long one haha! I will wrap up everything in my epilogue and tie all of my life lessons together. If you're curious about how this all "ends," then check out my epilogue, which will be posted shortly!
Counsellor in training and positive living blogger