Twenty one years ago, almost to the minute, I was studying for my final high school exams which were being held the following day. My parents were both at work and I had books, pens and papers scattered over the dining room table.
Suddenly the roller door to the garage went up. I looked outside to see Mum and Dad in the car – Mum’s face was white and Dad’s expression was grim. Something was wrong.
Mum and Dad came inside and told me to sit down. I didn’t want to because I knew when I did I would hear words I didn’t want to hear. I had no idea what, and I didn’t want to know.
I sat down and Dad said “Ben was killed in a motorcycle accident last night.”
I remember feeling like I had been punched in the chest, I couldn’t breathe, and there was no sound from my mouth – no scream, no cry, nothing.
|Ben and me|
Ben was (is) my older cousin. We actually didn’t know he was my cousin until after he died – Mum and Ben’s Mum found that we had a common recent ancestor about four years later. Even so, I had always felt that he was like a cousin to me.
Ben was only twenty one when he died.
Ben has been gone now for the same number of years that he was on the Earth. I wonder what he could have and would have done by now if he had lived. And, it’s made me reflect on what I’ve done in the past twenty one years, and who I am now.
I have done many things – got three degrees including a Masters, owned my own apartment, worked at different jobs, fought my way through different health conditions – even if it is to the point of living with them rather than getting rid of them. I’ve found my soul mate and got married. Obviously, with Kirby, I’ve gone through trying to have children and the hope, fear and grief that accompany that journey.
This is all important stuff, and I’m not dismissing any of it as every single thing I’ve done has brought me here and helped to make me the person I am.
The only thing I wonder about now is – if this is me, is this the me I want to be? Without a doubt I want to be married to Kirby, I love my friends, my pets, my family – but who am I really in all of this? What do I want to do with this life?
I think I’m going through the kind of crisis that most people go through when they are around my age – the kind of crisis that leads one to wonder, “Is this it?” A few months ago one of my precious friends said to me “this isn’t what I signed up for.” I can relate with this right at the moment. Life is good, don’t get me wrong, but I want to do something more – I want to be something more.
The only problem is that I don’t really know what something is.
I’ve always thought that since we can’t have children I would do something else – something that matters – with my life. In the past few years I’ve thought about it, talked about it, made some steps towards it – but then I seem to get a bit scared and run back to hide behind a rock or disappear behind a grove of trees.
|My brother, Paul, me and Ben|
Well – enough already. I need to get some gumption and start doing. I need to stop thinking and start acting. I need to stop worrying about whether I’m on the right path, what people will think, and anything else that is holding me back.
I need to do this for Ben and I need to do it for our kids.