In a matter of days, I’ll be the big 5-0. Unlike my 40th birthday, I am looking forward to becoming fifty. I wish I could have reached the mid-century mark without incident. Unfortunately, like most people, I faced struggles and adversity. I’ve even went toe-to-toe with death and won.
I can’t believe I’m soon to be fifty. It feels as if I was sixteen only yesterday, going on my dream trip to Paris. My first escape from death happened in Paris. While on the trip, Hezbollah decided they would bomb the Champs-Élysées. My group had been in the area only short time before. That event affected all of us and I am certain it started my journey dealing with PTSD. The terrorist attack didn’t stop me from travelling as I ventured to England the following year.
To this day, I travel whenever and wherever I can. For my fiftieth, I will be in Prague, visiting the Terezin Concentration Camp. I love history and seeing the sites I have read or learned about in school. Traveling to famous historical sites helps me to understand what I’ve read and learned. A thirty-year dream of seeing Pompeii came true. I found myself intrigued by the ancient city because of a story I read in my encyclopedias.
I’ve come to be more open-minded over the years and by doing so, gained a perspective on many things. One such a perspective is I no longer group people together based on the actions of a few. Well, I should say, I try not to judge them. At least, I don’t base on their ethnicity.
I did that when I lived in Iqaluit my first time and it wasn’t until I left did I understand what I did. Surrounded my Inuit who expressed their anger and resentment towards white people, it clouded my judgment and I found it difficult to see the difference between the indignant Inuit and the kind, sweet Inuit I’ve come to value and love. I was wrong and I promised to never do it again.
My outlook on life has grown over the years. I don’t fly off the handle as easily as when I was younger. While I still lose my temper, it is less often and it takes a lot for me to become angry. Over the years, I’ve fallen into a deep depression and have even attempted suicide. The last attempt was September 17, 2011.
I remember this because it was the night before my brother was killed. His sudden death plunged me into a depression which lasted for months, but it convinced me to never attempt suicide again. I have contemplated taking my life since my brother’s death, but I call 9-1-1 when the thoughts enter my head.
His death also opened my eyes to living my life, my way. He died after he achieved his dream of fifty years, and I realized I hadn’t been following my own dreams. One dream was travelling and I hadn’t done a lot of travelling from the time I went to England and my brother’s passing. I’ve gone to a few NFL games and to Vancouver.
The first trip I took after John’s death was to Scotland. My paternal grandmother had been born and raised in a small village outside of Glasgow. My father always wanted to see the country she left at sixteen. He never had the opportunity to go, so I took it upon myself to go for him. I could only afford to go for three days, but I made the most of it.
I didn’t think I’d get to Barrhead, my nan’s birthplace, but I think I had someone watching over me and I could go. I could only stay for a few minutes, but it was enough for me to take a few photos and get a sense of her life.
I mentioned earlier; I had escaped death. After two major surgeries, I wound up in the ICU. The first stint, I had pulmonary edema and the second; I had pneumonia. The second stay in ICU, I had been unconscious for several days.
My family doctor at the time sent me to a respiratory therapist. She said the fluid on my lungs once was a fluke; a second time told her things may be more serious. After going through a series of tests, I went back to the specialist. He stared into my eyes as he spoke.
“I’ve looked at all your x-rays and test results. According to the x-rays, you should be dead. I’ve seen stronger people than you die with less on their lungs. God has a plan for you. As for the tests, the only thing that came back was a case of GERD so there is no explanation for the lung issues.”
Not counting the failed suicide attempts, I have beaten death four times. The fourth time I won’t go into here as I have written about it in my memoir, The Chosen One. I consider myself fortunate to be a survivor which is why I call for help when I become suicidal. Like the specialist said, my destiny is to do something with my life.
The fact I’m about to turn fifty soon is a major accomplishment. If any of my attempts or other extenuating circumstances had taken me, I would have died at least eight years ago. I’ve learned life overall is good.
I have times of stress, periods of depression, and the aches of arthritis. None of them are any worse than another, just different pain. All of us struggle with issues daily; we just deal with our problems in our own way. We only have to discover what that way is.
I understand people fearing change; but change can be good. It’s all in how we look at it.
I see fifty as a new beginning. It’s a good age to plan for the rest of my life. It’s time to look forward, leaving my past where it belongs; in the past. Here’s to turning 50!