It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart
I know what day it is...
Because at night I forget to sleep.
Every year, like clockwork, more than any other night of the year, on November twenty fourth I lie awake, tossing and turning.
Inside the cells of my body, somewhere, I imagine is the memory of it all. Folded up nice and neat like origami and pressed into the corner. And every year on this day, more than any other day, it is unraveled like strands of DNA that are pulled apart in order to separate.
It was five years ago today...
Even though the immediate danger is gone, the sting still lingers. Absentmindedly I reach for the scar on my neck, the one I relate with confusion.
Because five years later and I still don't understand.
I don't understand how things were fine, until they weren't.
I don't understand everything I went through in those days when I was fighting for my life.
And I don't understand why I'm still here.
My dreams are haunted now by the things I've seen, the things I've experienced. I remember very few days when I've awoken feeling like I actually slept, when I haven't been restless or awoken in the night paralyzed with the fear of something I can't remember, or something I can.
I guess that's true of every battle, that when you come out of it it's not without a price.
It's a one of a kind feeling to have someone you've never met stand on a stage in front of hundreds of people and say "This song is for a special girl," and then sing a song for you while all those hundreds of people cheer and scream your name.
It feels something like being a rock star.
Thanks to two very amazing bands, I got to know what that felt like.
It's an amazing feeling, one I'm sure I won't soon forget. One that wrapped around me like a blanket and whispered in my ear, "It's ok, now. You're ok. You're here, and this, all that you don't understand, it matters."
It's someone you've never met telling you "I'm in your corner. We're supporting you, every step of the way."
It's stitching the cuts in your soul with guitar strings and piano keys.
I don't think you can walk away from something like this unscathed. It changes you. Everything I've been through has changed me. The pain, the death, the unknown, the fear, the people you feel like you should have been able to save, the survivor's guilt, the smells and the sounds. It's changed me. all of it. It's made me stronger, yes, and more compassionate, but its also made it harder to sleep. It's made me freeze in hallways and duck into bathroom stalls to gain composure again because there was this one sound...
It changes the way you see the world, the way you see yourself and your life. It changes everything.
I'll tell them how I survive it. I'll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I'm afraid it could be taken away. That's when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I've seen someone do. It's like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious. But there are much worse games to play.