I was walking at the park by the river on a warm evening. I think it was this time of year. Seeing no one the better part of the walk, when I encountered an EMT in uniform towards the end he seemed oddly out of context. He held a flower and as we exchanged passing hellos he stopped, holding out the flower to me, which I initially thought might be for someone behind me or that he would be taking it to a girlfriend. As I received it, I looked up to thank him and our eyes connected. I paused. I recognized his eyes.
Police cars lined all the streets near my house and the twenty-nine officers on the scene included the SWAT team. The EMTs had to wait outside the perimeter for the signal it was safe to come in to assess and begin to treat me. This is what he told me. I only remember endless sirens echoing down the road, on and on and on as I drifted away. My heart races and I still panic when I hear sirens.
I don’t normally think about the end on my birthday but it has weighed on me all month leading up to today. I’d wasted so much energy, so much love, so much life at that point. For brief moments now I forget that end also marked a new beginning. A beginning which might have only lasted a few minutes, or days, but it has lasted these few years. Still, in those ever brief moments, I forget it’s a gift.
Gratitude is commingled with an urgency, an obsession to capture every second and make it count. I struggle to do the daily things, the mundane, the meaningless tasks that make up life without being laid low that I am squandering this chance to live. I struggle to assign importance. It was none of it important in what looked like those final few minutes. I knew only those I loved and cared for were important.
How do I re-engage? How do I resume? What do I resume? I am reassembling something to find integral pieces are missing. When I have successfully improvised one piece, another space appears. I move forward anyway, because time propels us forward. And I made it. I made it through another day, another year.