Celebrating Life

On April 3rd, The Fast and the Furious 7 will hit theaters, and with it the sharp reminder of franchise star Paul Walker’s death last year. He died doing what he loved: driving.

Today, March 12th, is my birthday.

There was a time when I wasn’t sure I was going to see Furious 7. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to see today. That time was not that long ago, and I haven’t told anyone what I am about to say now, except for my therapist who helped me live through it.

Several months ago now, but still recent enough to haunt me, I was sure I was going to die, and not in any macabre way, I was sure I was going to kill myself.  I literally saw no future beyond January 1st. My depression had started to overwhelm me, and I was drowning in it. Days were literally as well as figuratively dark and cold. I looked up and saw no sky; I looked out and saw no horizon. I was alone and I was suffocating on nothing.

I had one thing before me: my sister’s wedding. I had nothing after that. I was determined that I was going to attend the wedding and have one last good time and then end it all. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” as the saying goes. I knew I was going to see my immediate family at the wedding, and so I could say one last goodbye and be done with life on this terrestrial sphere.

The wedding was as wonderful as could be. It was warm, sunny, and the happiest of occasions, but a darkness and a chill had settled in my core. I knew my days were shorter rather than longer. Once the wedding week was done so was I. I used up any positive energy I had left smiling for pictures and keeping it together so as to not ruin my sister’s big moments.

I returned from the wedding and stared down a calendar of days until the 1st of January. I manage to stave off hospitalization because I told my therapist I wouldn’t do anything to myself until at least then, but I knew that day was coming.

I welcomed it. I cherished the thought of the final release. When one has nothing to live for, one tends to think of the end as blissful nothingness. I hoped, and still do, that there is no afterlife. One life is enough pain and struggle and weariness without another life to endure. When I do die, I want that to be it, for it all to be over. I don’t want to live again, or to  live eternally. As the philosopher Yoda said on his death bed, “Forever sleep: earned it, I have.” I want to earn my forever sleep.

More than anything, that dark December of last year, I wanted my forever sleep. My weariness screamed for it.

And then, just when it was almost over, just when I had the bottle of pills in my hand, when I grew tired of setting it back down, unopened, just then I found a glimmer of something else.

Hope.

Hope for a future, for a better tomorrow shone through my deepest depression. I decided to make a radical decision for life instead of against it. I decided that January 1st was not going to be my last day on earth. I can’t tell you exactly where that minuscule drop of hope came from, or why I decided to delay death, but I did. In my mind, I simply decided to see exactly how long I could stretch life. At the time, I didn’t know how long that would be. At least another day. At most, a week. Here I am, three and a bit months later, still going.

Along the way, I decided to move to Texas, to physically grasp a brighter, warmer, sunnier future. I decided to leave all I could behind me, and strike out for something new. I am making my run for the border, eating and drinking and being merry for tomorrow I live.

In just a few weeks, I will sit down in a theater and watch the Fast and the Furious 7, and silently, simultaneously, mourn Paul Walker’s death and honor his life, and I will do what I have been doing since January 1st: I will live fast and furiously, one quarter mile at a time, until I have earned a natural end and a forever sleep.

No more do I contemplate my own death, at my hand or by Nature’s. It will come when it comes. For now, there is living to do. And never more have I been aware of that than today, on my birthday, as I turn 28 and start a brand new year. I honestly did not think I would see today, but here the sun sets and this day is almost over. Another one is coming.