the incurable dreamer

writing my way from misery to bliss, one word at a time

beautifully broken

On the morning of August 28th, 2014, at 9:45 in the morning I was sitting in a window seat on flight AC7738, and in the distance, perched atop the low-lying clouds, like a flawlessly crafted piece of art, sat the Manhattan skyline.  I couldn’t help but notice how small, and insignificant it looked from so far away.  But I already knew from my time previously spent there; it was anything but that.  And it was for that very reason I was on that plane, that morning, anxiously awaiting touchdown and my first breath of New York City air.  New York City is the love of my life, and as we approached – its vastness beginning to reveal itself – I sat hopeful, that somehow on the streets far below, she would be able to fix me.  I was in desperate need of healing, and it was her I chose to help me. So, when I exited the airport shuttle in front of my hotel, I closed my eyes, inhaled the Manhattan air into my lungs and surrendered my broken self to the city…my love.

Over the course of the next four days, I weaved my way through the city streets, step by step, village to village.  Each day my feet absorbed the heat emanating from the concrete beneath me, ignored searing pain from the miles I had walked and refused to slow down.  My heart beat in rhythm with my footsteps and my blood coursed its way through my veins, powered by the pulse of the sights and sounds of Manhattan.  Without even noticing, my love and I had become one, and I was transforming.

On my last day, I arrived at the mouth of the Brooklyn Bridge and felt for some reason it was where I was meant to be – where I needed to be.  Emotion overcame me, and as I began my journey across, I silently wept.  Not from sadness but happiness experienced in its purest form. The kind of happiness that makes you see colour for the first time, that ignites your soul and makes you not only feel like you can fly but that you already are.  Half way across I paused and turned to look back at my love, and she whispered, “Keep moving. Go.”  With her behind me, pushing and encouraging me, I focussed my attention once again on moving forward.  She knew, and I knew, who was waiting for me on the other side.  And I was ready.

As I stepped off the bridge, I discovered a girl who was broken but awakened.  She introduced me to peace of mind and a belief in myself so powerful, I felt like anything was possible.  For the first time in my life, I felt as though everything was ok.  That I was ok.  What I found in Brooklyn that afternoon would change everything.  But what I didn’t know, as I stood there feeling renewed and inspired, smiling at the city across the river I loved so deeply, was that she had just saved me from the darkest days still to come.

On Sept 13th, 2014, twelve days after arriving home from New York, I spent the evening with one of my favourite people in the world.  Accompanied by a sunset so breathtaking, we couldn’t help but acknowledge how blessed we were to witness its magnificence.  We spoke about love, life, change and laughed our way into the night.  And we took the time to applaud the brilliance of the stars that shone above us.  It was a moment in time so special and so significant I knew then it would never be forgotten.  What I found out 36 hours later was that that day would also become a beacon of light and a guiding force in my life. Earlier that same day, long before we were admiring the setting sun, and miles from where I was, my 29-year-old co-worker was eagerly ascending a mountain.  I imagine he also knew what awaited him and I have no doubt as he moved his way closer to the top, he envisioned the beauty that would soon surround him.  But, what destiny had in store for him that day was not a majestic view upon reaching the summit, but his last breath 1000 feet below, after losing his grip.

I spent the days following his passing in a daze and struggled to see through the steady stream of tears clouding my vision.  The one question I asked myself over and over again was, “Why?” Then on Oct 17th, 2014 at my veterinarian’s office, with my best friend at my side, I held my precious Jack Russell in my arms, his chest comfortably pressed against mine and nodded my head indicating I was ready because I knew he too was ready.  And as his heart beat for the last time, I made sure the last words he ever heard were, “I love you.”

Darkness took hold. My sorrow and pain were so intense that at times I was incapable of speaking.  I was so broken I didn’t know where to begin, or what to fix first.  And I wasn’t sure it was even possible to piece myself back together.

But as only great loves do, mine again began whispering in my ear, reminding me of the strength I felt on the shore of the river that day and the power I possessed to change my life. She was pleading with me to fight and to remember.  And so I did.  I remembered it all.  The self-awareness I had to admit something was wrong with me.  The courage I gathered to get on that plane.  The strength I found to walk almost a hundred miles, searching for something I wasn’t sure I would find.  The determination I commanded from within to not give up.  The elation I felt with each step as I crossed that bridge and met her on the other side.  And the belief in myself I took home as a souvenir of the four most memorable days of my life.  Not only did I remember, but I felt it, all of it.

So instead of thinking about the tail-wagging unconditional love I was no longer greeted with at the door whenever I came home, I thought about the joy my little man brought to my life. And how now, more than ever, he would want me to give myself the same gift I had given him, a happy life.

And I began thinking about the pristine beauty I was witness to on that tragic day.  Despite the light that unknowingly went out that afternoon, and the darkness that unfolded, I still knew I had never seen anything more beautiful.  I witnessed nature’s perfection.  Atop the summit, he would have stood, witnessing the same – looking, breathing and taking it all in – wearing a smile for the ages.  And he would have been alive.  But instead, the beauty his eyes and soul should have been blessed with were mine to see and feel that day.  He gave me the gift of sight and taught me that I need to look around, with my eyes wide open, and see beauty where even light refuses to shine.  And to live, fearlessly.

There will always be a part of me that remains broken.  Some things aren’t meant to be fixed, and that is ok because the weight is mine to carry, and for reasons only I will know.  But no matter what, I am always determined to see what I wish he could have seen high on the mountain that day, beauty.

Over the course of the last three weeks, I have felt myself slipping and in need of something to hold onto.  Forward is the only direction I desire to go, and though I know, only my feet can take me there, every once in a while they refuse to move.  So I wrote this as a reminder of all the gifts I have been given, the vision I have been blessed with and the dreams that are within my reach.

And also to hear my love whisper in my ear, “Keep moving. Go.”

There are two types of pain in this world: pain that hurts you and pain that changes you ~ unknown.

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23 Comments

  1. Di

    Tanya, beautiful soul, this is one of the most beautiful and poetic pieces of writing from the heart I’ve read. It’s truly raw, honest, sad and uplifting all at once.
    I’m so sorry to read about your losses and with the spirit you described so eloquently, you are going to come through all this heartache with a new vision and strength.
    Simply stunning. Congratulations lovely friend 💐❤

    • the incurable dreamer

      Di, thanks once again for your kindness and lovely comment. Everything we go through is meant to teach us and I am so thankful for all of it. I am strong and know there is nothing I can’t overcome. It helps that I have incredible supportive people by my side and for that I am so grateful. Thank you again, Di. So much. xo

      • Di

        Hello again Tanya…
        Yes, you have certainly proven you are strong and adopting this attitude makes you an amazing spirit and leader for us all. To share how to manage life changing events such as these you described, and to be so full of grace… thank you for showing us how…
        💐🌈❤

        • the incurable dreamer

          Di, you are very sweet! I am happy to share if it helps even one person out there! ❤

  2. Becci

    Beautiful, beautiful writing… your descriptions made me feel like I was there with you in New York and my heart broke for you with your losses… you are a beautiful soul my dear friend x

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you, Becci. Those days were survivable because of friends like you. With all my heart I love you, and am so thankful you are by my side. xo

  3. Wow Tanya. I can feel the weight and significance of these moments in your painfully honest prose. What for many would trigger an inescapable downward spiral for you has awakened an appreciation for beauty and LIFE that would be impossible to fully appreciate if you weren’t “broken” in all the right spots. From the perspective of nearly three years you’ve fashioned these losses (and hard-won moments of bliss in Brooklyn) to coalesce into a single, undeniable epiphany.
    You know you have a beautiful heart Tanya. And now, I know it too.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Gabe, I have never been the same since walking across that bridge. And every day I am reminded when I walk into the office that life is short because he is not there. I am forever changed and I am forever grateful. Life is full of magic and beauty and I want to see and feel all of it. I don’t want to miss a thing! Thank you for your beautiful compliment, it means so much! I am so glad you are here. 😊

  4. I felt my chest constrict from the moment I started reading this. It especially hit home when you talked about your Jack Russell. We also have a JR that is nearing the end of his time with us. We are struggling with the difficult decision we know is coming soon. Thank you for reminding us that we are all a little broken and that’s not bad. I’m sure you don’t need a reminder that you are not alone. 🙂

    • the incurable dreamer

      Arionis, I am so sorry to hear about your Jack Russell. It breaks my heart to know you are facing saying goodbye. You will know when it is ready and I hope you take comfort in knowing that they sense themselves when the time has come to let go and say goodbye. It won’t be easy, but try and remember the love and the beautiful life you gave to your JR and how much it was appreciated. And of course revel in the moments he/she gave to you. Our time with our pets is short, but it is always so very worth it! Thanks for reading and for the lovely comment. Broken isn’t always bad, it can also be beautiful. All the best to you and your family! x

  5. On behalf of myself and anyone else lucky enough to read this post: thank you. You extract such beauty and meaning from pain and tragedy with such unpretentious and humble appreciation. I cried a little when reading about your dog. My best pal Bernadette is getting to be an old, old lady, so I try to ready myself for the inevitable. I won’t be ready, of course. But I can think back on your words and inspire myself to bestow my doting love upon a new furry friend. And I fully understand your love of NYC. It’s one of the few things I miss about living in Jersey. Whether I was in the mood for art and culture, anthropological people-watching, or just plain old shameless decadence, it’s all right there, 24/7. Again, what a beautiful post.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Paul, thank you so, so much. What a wonderful comment to read about something I wrote. I appreciate it more than you know and feel happy I was able to convey my feelings in such a way; others were able to relate. It devastates me to hear about your sweet Bernadette. Love her and hold tightly to every precious moment you have with her. One day those memories will be what carry you past the relentless pain and allow you to open your heart to a new furry friend. I miss my little man every single day. And as for NYC, it is simply the best place on earth. I found magic there, and my heart will always reside on the streets of Manhattan. And you are right; it offers anything your mind is capable of imagining, good or bad. Ha! Again, thank you!!

  6. Moon

    Um Tanya? You have just changed my life with this gift of truth from your experiences and I love you sooooo much for sharing. You are a brave and boundless woman that nothing can knock down. You let all things flow through you, affect you, change you and add to your energy, while continueing to be that light that you are. So blessed you are in my life. Thank you for being here, being a writer and sharing your life. You shine through these words. Love love love you.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Moon, thank you for reading my post and for writing these words, it means more than you can possibly imagine. You have taught me so many things, and because of you, I see so many things in a different way. So thank you, for bringing so much love and light to my life. You, my dear, are an incredible human being and I am so proud to walk through this life with you by my side. I love you endlessly and am so very grateful for you.

  7. Your writing is so beautiful! I can feel myself there with you in those moments, I can inhale and feel the Manhattan air filling me up even though I have never been! There is nothing harder than losing those you love, and using that to drive you to make a happy and fulfilling life for yourself is the best thing you can do to honor them. Never forget that you are not alone, they walk beside you in both lightness and darkness feeding your heart and encouraging you on. Thank you for sharing your story, for being so honest, and for having the courage to push on and inspire others while you do.
    Wishing you many blessings!

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much for saying all of this, I appreciate it so much! This period was the darkest and most painful of my life, but somehow I was able to turn it around and use it as fuel to finally start living as I had never before. I am so thankful for all of it. And I am so happy to share my story if it inspires others to believe that when it seems only darkness exists, they too can find their way back to the light. Thank you again for your comment and for reconfirming that never am I alone. It means a lot! Wishing you many blessings also!

  8. As I read your opening paragraphs I was reminded of my own response to the city of London as a starry eyed eighteen year old. Many hurts have come and gone since then. The only way is forward, Tanya. Many thanks for your lovely comments on mine. I wish you well with your beautiful journey. 🙂 🙂

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, I really appreciate your comment and encouragement! And you are right. The only way is forward, and is the only direction I intend to go. Sometimes it will be slow, but better slow than not at all. Thanks again, Jo – I am already looking forward to your next adventure!! All the best to you! 😊

  9. I felt deeply every word you wrote. You are a beautiful soul survivor and so look forward to reading more of your gifted writings. Thank you.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much, Barbara. Your words mean a lot to me. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and then leaving such a kind and encouraging comment. Later this evening I am going to check out your blog, and am already looking forward to it! Thanks again, and all the best to you! 😊

  10. Your writing is beautiful. Your words are absolutely stunning. The description of the New York Skyline and your love of Manhattan…breathtaking. Keep the pain close and the healing even closer. You have a special kind of soul.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Wow. Thanks very much for saying that to me, Kristina. It really means a whole lot. Honestly, just thank you.

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