It has been a very long three years.
First, there was the chemo – which took place in November of 2011: The side effects that followed permeated into every area of my life. The army refused to acknowledge that I was sick, or that they had a moral or legal obligation to help a sick predeployed veteran out financially. As a result, I was often without income, so I lived on credit. The longest I was without pay was for 5 months while higher-ups reviewed my case in order to make any decisions. This would happen every few months or so.
I was so sick I could barely eat and I often needing medical marijuana for every single meal. A single flight of stairs would wipe me out sometimes for days. I thought I was literally dying, as my weight slid down from over 190 lbs. (for my 6’2 frame) down to 148. There was another cancer scare in there somewhere too. Online, people started to steal some of my writing and post it on their own sites. That was a kick to the teeth as well. When I was sick, my common law girlfriend had a personality shift, threw in the towel – first emotionally then physically – and finally left me. She didn’t want to look bad, so she accused me of things that were not true, leaving a wake of people believing I had no integrity and that she had a moral obligation to walk away. Many of her choices and actions were heart wrenching as she behaved as if I had no value and had never held a place in her heart. Thankfully, she told so many people different stories about me that most of them eventually figured out she was just trying to justify getting out. It didn’t make it any easier at the time though. During this period, some of my family members caused additional drama and completely removed themselves from my life, convincing themselves that it was not because they were distancing themselves from being too attached if I were to die. That stung deeply too. It was a rough, rough, few years and ones I wouldn’t wish upon my most bitter enemy (if I had one). But worst of all, during this time I could often barely write more than a few hours a week. I used this time, however, to try to give back, and prove to the world I still had value. My blog here suffered most of all.
Life wasn’t all bad though. Some people rose to the challenge and proved themselves worthy of the term “friend” over and over again. New people came into my life, or reemerged from a past that existed before I had deployed to Afghanistan. Additionally, I started going to school at Vancouver Island University, learned absolute independence, and somehow ended up renting a condo that is still the place of my dreams. In the end, I was able to figure out some of the things I was supposed to learn on a spiritual level, and those things that were physically wrong with me, as well. Now, in many ways, I feel like a normal human being again. Gratitude is now a part of my every day’s living experience.
So, during the semester break, I decided to come home for the holidays. I would be in Vancouver as a groomsmen for an army buddy’s wedding until the 21st. Then, I would drive through the Rockies and across three different provinces during winter. There were blizzards, fog, storms, ice and other challenges; but like my arm tattoo of previous months, this would be a declaration to the Universe that I was better and that I would now be able to forge ahead as I had once done in what now seems so very long ago.
There are many things that’ll be changing on this blog in 2015. Primarily, I will be blogging more often again as I also continue to engage in my university studies. This will be with more freedom as I was released from the army on November 19th. As a result, it will be more personal and less formal. I will also be sharing YouTube videos as a part of this new style. There are some writing projects on the horizon that I am excited about, as well, ones I now have the actual energy to work on.
As a way of symbolically closing off the last few years of my life, I want to share some of the images here that I took during my journey home. Even though many of these have little to nothing to do with folklore, ghosts, or creatures of the night (though some do!), I hope that you enjoy them anyways! Thank you to all of you who have shared your support and love over the last few years! May 2015 be a year filled with many blessings and much happiness for you, your friends, and all of your family! Blessed be!
Happy New Years! And until next time,