I am no longer grieving for my old self. It's through her sacrifice that I am finally living.
A year ago on the last day of 2016 I woke up around noon, stumbled to the gas station in my sweats and purchased the cheapest bottle of champaign I could find. No need for extravagance. I would be spending my New Years Eve alone. Popping bottles with the fur babes as the countdown came to an end.
I was lonely. The champaign didn't fill the void and neither did the sloppy kisses from my sweet pup. So when the clock struck midnight, I gathered my purse and headed to the bar.
I've always believed how you spend your NYE indicates how the coming year will treat you. At that moment, my heart was broken. Little did I know then, the indication - while difficult to see at the time - was one of great happiness and achievement.
One year later, as 2017 comes to a close, I look back at that night as a turning point. I look back at that night and smile at the thought of almost taking out a window with the cork of my champagne and laughing with my beautiful puppy and kitty as the bottle ran over. I didn't realize it then, but my heart was running over too. I was EXACTLY where I needed to be.
I stumbled through the next two months. A melange of raucous parties, both in front and behind the bar, late nights, lonely mornings and an fire starting to develop deep in the pit of my belly that told me a shift was about to come.
I was still lonely.
My best friend was failing me. And she came in the form of a shot glass. Always empty with nothing left to fill me up.
February 28th, 2017. My sobriety date. The day the loneliness started to subside. The day I woke up.
What followed was a journey I never imagined.
Not only did I discover my true self. I discovered what this beautiful world has to offer in terms of truly LIVING.
Thirty days in - a reunion with my best friends from college. A wedding. A perfect reminder of who I USED to be before I gave up on myself. True friends who love me for ME. And believed I could be whomever I wanted to be.
One week later I hit the road for the trip of a lifetime with my little pup. Tent. Rain. Sun. Beach. Thick forests. Waterfalls. Vintage trailers. Rocky cliffs. And a 35th birthday I'll never forget. Just me, her and a bowl of Lucky Charms.
I was flying high. Nothing could stop me on this new journey. But you had an odd way about you, 2017. And it wouldn't have been sufficient to travel through your days without an obstacle or two.
Two months in - I broke my baby's leg.
Yes, you read that correctly. I did it. Something I've told very few people. Easter Sunday. Me and my Pops and my pup. We took her to the driving range to chase golf balls. I had a horrible drive. The ball hit her. She went from smiling so bright and having the best day of her life to screeching in pain. The horror of this moment will haunt me to the day I die. Cricket is the one thing that saved ME. And I injured her with my stupidity. It was MY FAULT. And I would spend the next three months looking at her in that cast and be reminded of what I'd done.
But rather than letting it destroy me, I let it strengthen me. I vowed to be the best dog mom from that point on. I would NEVER let anything happen to my little bug again. And I would be responsible in all aspects of my life from here on out.
I spent those months by her side, only leaving her for work and to train for my first sober half-marathon. Training took it all out of me. I felt guilty running without her. I needed my best friend back.
So I bought her a stroller. And together we ran.
I crossed the finish line in late may. She and my parents waited for me there. With her stroller.
I wasn't just running for her though. I was running for my Grandma as well. And my Mom, who had now lost both parents. Grandma passed three days prior to my race. Adding what could have easily been more sorrow. But instead she let me borrow her newly found wings, so I too, could fly across that finish line.
And together, my family celebrated. Life, loss, love and small victories. And I, remained sober.
Cabin fever set in as the heat rolled in. And my pup taught me a very important lesson. Her ability was much stronger than her disability. We weren't going to let this set-back ruin our summer.
Father's Day was spent getting back to my roots. A small-town parade down Main Street. The river I grew up on. The Drive-In theater. Family. A much welcomed reminder again of who I used to be before I gave up on myself.
The following weekend we were supposed to get the cast off. She wasn't ready yet. But we took her celebratory trip anyway. Surrendering all connection with the outside world with a weekend in a cabin on the banks of the Salmon River. She ran, she played, she dug in the sand. That broken leg wasn't going to discourage her from the adventures that presented themselves at that beautiful cabin.
FINALLY, freedom rang. On Fourth of July weekend that damn cast finally came off Cricket's leg. Chapter closed. Never to be opened again.
Let LIVING commence. With new eyes, a new perspective, a new attitude.
A camping and kayaking journey at Boundary Dam to PeeWee falls. Complete with full moon.
My only living grandparent celebrated her 90th birthday with a much-anticipated family reunion. It was Grandma's chance to finally meet Cricket. What a fantastic weekend with an incredible family. The rocks to my foundation and the glue to my cracks.
My five month sober birthday was spent somewhere the word sober wouldn't typically be uttered. A country music festival. Four days in one of the most gorgeous places on earth with one of the the most gorgeous humans I've had the advantage of calling a best friend. My Tawny. My strength. My inspiration. And together we created some of the most magical memories I'll actually REMEMBER.
As summer faded to fall the adventures in living continued.
A mid-century modern getaway in the middle of a hundred wheat fields. To disconnect. To watch the meteor shower. To howl with the coyotes as thunder rolled across the skies.
A hike to the top of Scotchman Peak to prove that a girl, her little dog and her tougher-than-nails Dad can climb mountains.
At six months I flew. A solar-eclipse skydive. And it was that day I knew what it meant to live.
So I booked a trip to sleep in a treehouse. I climbed another mountain and swam in a glacier lake when I reached the top. I camped on an island surrounded by whales and watched the sunset dance off the ocean while I buried my toes in the sand.
I met Shaq.
I got promoted.
I played softball every Sunday.
I watched my Cougs beat USC with my folks just like I did with my Dad in 2002.
I started donating blood.
I cut my hair.
I ran my Dad's first 5k with him.
Another treehouse followed during the storm of the year in the Columbia River Gorge. A hike up Beacon Rock. A suite in Seaside. And beach combing at Cannon.
I got the bronze for Best Radio Personality. I celebrated with my Mom & Dad at a fantastic party that I had attended alone & "lonely" in 2016.
I started doing yoga.
I met Garth Brooks.
I helped rename a highway in honor of a fallen hero.
I ran off to Montana and snuggled my pup in a cabin with the Kootenai River as our front yard.
I had the best Christmas to date in matching PJs with my Mom, Dad & Pup.
And here I am gearing up for another New Years Eve looking back on the one that shaped my 2017. How you spend that last day of the year, truly is how your year will go.
I wasn't lonely last year. I was in the company of someone pretty damn amazing and not utilizing her friendship. Myself.
2017, you helped me "pick all the weeds and keep the flowers." You helped me see my full potential. You taught me love. You taught me a new kind of strength. You taught me to no longer LIVE my feelings, but rather allow them to be a part of what makes me so great.
Yep, you heard that right. I'm great. And it took YOU, 2017, to help me to realize that.
So I raise my non-alcoholic cup to the sacrifice of the old me. I am no longer grieving. I am finally living.
2018 watch out.