You never expect your whole life to change in an instant. You can never prepare for it. And so if and when that life-changing moment happens, it knocks you hurtling down a hillside with all its force. Spiralling downwards to a place where you don’t know if you can ever climb back up again. You can never expect that to happen to you, but sometimes it does. It happened to me and to my family.
On Friday 1st March, I lost my brother and father in a car accident. It happened in an instant. My brother was 23 and my father was 57. They were both taken too young, and the question that I still can’t find an answer for is, ‘why?’.
I won’t relay too much what happened on that night that I found out, all I can describe it as is horror. Sheer horror, disbelief, and the cries in the back of a taxi of ‘why? why? why?’. My whole life went hurtling down a hillside, dragging me along with it.
When it happened, I didn’t know how I would get through the next hour. Now somehow a month has passed, and I am still here. I still have an ache in my chest and an emptiness in my stomach. I still cry every time I drive anywhere; I have broken down at work, on the phone, in the arms of those I love. I am still asking ‘why?’ every single day.
But… I have also managed to laugh and to smile; to feel bold and strong. I have started to see the face of my father in every sun that rises and every ripple in the water, and the spirit of my brother in the bees that buzz and the birds that soar. I talk to them and let my words blow away over the moors in the wind. I don’t know yet if they can hear me, but it is a start. It is a way of searching for answers, seeking solace, finding acceptance.
There isn’t a happy ending to this. It is intended more as an explanation for my silence. This past month, I needed to take some time to be with my family. To grieve, and to learn how to breathe again. But now there is a part of me that wants to write. That wants to hike, climb, explore, adventure and share. I am torn somewhere between needing to feel sadness and hurting so much that my brother and father will never see a sunrise or ocean waves or the moors covered in snow, and wanting to experience all those things all the more for them — to honour them. To let them see and feel it through my eyes and my heart. And also for myself. To allow myself to feel alive, to feel like Athena again.
So slowly but surely, some strength will be regained in my body and in my heart. Slowly but surely, I will be able to do all those things that I love to do. And I will do it with Mackenzie and my daddy along with me; with their strength and spirit intertwined in mine, and the love in their hearts that no longer beat, giving mine a greater force than I have ever experienced.
“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” — J. K. Rowling