To me, it is cause for celebration. Reflection. Gratitude.
Ten years ago today, I was given the miracle of my life. Ten years ago today, I was set free from a relationship that was killing me. A relationship that, had the police not walked in on this morning ten years ago today, I would not be alive to celebrate today.
I am grateful.
I was thinking about this date yesterday as Ellie, the wonder pooch, and I shared a walk along the path that skirts the reservoir. It is one of our favourite walks. On the ridge, walking east, the city stretches out to the north, the towers of downtown just visible between distant trees. Walking east, we look out over the water, towards the south shore where two apartment towers look back. At this time of year, the waters run low, the alluvial plains leading into the reservoir exposed. Soon, spring run-off will begin to race down from the mountains, filling the plains, submerging the willows and alders that are rooted in their silky soil. For now, the water runs in snaky rivulets towards the basin that is held in place by the damn at the far eastern edges of the reservoir.
When we turned and walk westward, back towards the mountains, the city disappeared behind us, leaving wilderness and snow-capped peaks in our view, and a sky that soared into infinity where clouds and sun frolicked in the evening breeze.
I used to run this path when ‘the man who shall not be named’ held thrall upon my being. I would run and keep my eyes peeled for errant cars following me, for men in dark shirts and black pants whose eyes sought out where I was, where ever I went. When I ran these paths ten years ago, I had no eyes for the beauty, no senses to fill with the smells and sights and textures of my environment. My entire being was filled with fear and loathing. My heart was cold, my body colder. Ten years ago, when I ran these paths, I knew only the yearning to die. I longed to erase my presence from the world. To wipe out all memory of my having passed this way. I wanted only to set my daughters free of remembering me so that they could carry on their lives as if I had never happened. I wanted to die.
Yesterday, as Ellie and I walked along the ridge, I felt the spring air upon my cheeks. I revelled in the warmth of the sun against my back. I smelt the green grasses, the hint of sage, the earth coming into bloom. I listened to the sounds of children laughing, of families sharing a meal around a picnic bench. A game of tug-o-war. A boy riding a bike with training wheels. A skateboarder. A rollerblader. More bikes. More families. Laughter. Voices. Many languages. People walking. A sailboat on the water. A seagull swooping. A robin hopping in the grass. A deer walking through the foliage. There was life unfolding all around me and I was part of its majesty, mystery and miracle.
Yesterday, as Ellie and I walked, my heart knew only joy. My senses only wonder. Yesterday, as I walked, I felt life stirring all around me. I saw the beauty and the wonder of the day. I treasured the air, the sun, the wind, the joy of being present in that moment, simply because, I was present in that moment.
It has been ten years.
Ten years of wonder, of joy, of growth. Of sifting through the pain and sorrow to find the beauty and awe and miracle of my life today. My life filled with love, with family and friends, with thoughts of tomorrow, with wonder for this moment. Ten years of living beyond the past, free from abuse, free from fear and loathing, free from wanting to die with every breath. Ten years of knowing, I am Alive and loving every breath I take.
It has been ten years.