Yesterday was a quiet milestone. We are now six months into this. At times it feels like 30 years, other times it feels like last week. There has not been a five minute stretch where I haven't thought of her, nor a morning or evening where Melly and Matt weren't my first and last thoughts of the day. There are times each day where I curse the universe for taking them away from all of us.
I said very early on that we have all been cheated, only I was cheated less because I knew them best. I still feel that way. I have had the opportunity to make many truly kind and good friends in these past six months. My greatest regret with all of them is that they will never really got to know Melissa except through me. That is a hard thought to reconcile, because it means that they never will get to know her, get to see her brighten a room with her smile, or overhear her deep compassion and enjoyment during one of her tutoring sessions. It is just one more reminder of the separation that these past six months have caused.
I had a dream on early Thursday morning that Melly came back, only to leave again and lead us back to the start of this tragic journey. It was so bittersweet because I got to talk to her, but so hard because I had to say goodbye all over again. I woke up in the predawn darkness, with a dog curled up next to me in the bed, and quietly wept while I came to terms with all that has changed and won't ever be the same again.
In the past 185 days my life has change in more irreconcilable ways than I can name. I remember thinking this during my dream. There was so much that I wanted to share with her, but there was no easy way to express any of it. I can't put words to how I feel about love, loss, and the world anymore. All I can do is try to live each day in their honor. I am living so that they can be proud of me and point to the other spirits and say that's my man and that's my Dad.
To that end I am trying to be more mindful in my life. I find myself spending less time on things that I do not think will matter in the long run, choosing instead to focus on what will have the bigger long term impact. I am less obsessed with keeping a clean 'inbox' and more concerned with making sure that what gets out is right and true. I am chasing fewer rabbits, searching instead for things that will bring fulfillment. It is less about how things appear to others and more about how I think they would appear to Melly and Matt; and about if they bring peace and comfort.
I've been obsessive in my passions of late. There is of course the writing, and the furniture. My attention also has turned once again towards trapshooting. I wrote about it at the end of this summer, as I got ready to start competing again for the first time since 2004. I finished that 10-week season successfully, and for the most part improved with each match. I am now getting ready to start my second "season" in the weekly league. I find myself looking forward to it in a way that few things have grabbed my attention.
Those that knew my brother and I in high school and college may recall that we were both decent marksmen, Jamie more so that me. Through luck and circumstance we both ended up on the "20 and under" state rifle team, sponsored by the Arizona Rifle and Pistol Association. During the time my brother was on the team they were able to capture five national championships. I was able to be on one of those teams with him, and then was able to be on two more title winners on my own, including one that briefly held the record high score. After I aged out of the team I came back to coach two more title winners. I say all of this brag a little, but more because being on those teams meant so much to me at the time.
We would spend literally ever Saturday and Sunday between late April and the end of July at the rifle range north of Phoenix, sweating our asses off in pursuit of our best effort. We would then spend two full weeks each August shooting at the National Matches from sunrise to sunset, at distances between 200 and 600 yards, with open sites all the way. No scopes, just old school iron. It taught me discipline, as well as how to quiet my mind and set solid goals for myself.
There are a lot of politics surrounding the shooting sports, and guns in general. This may be the understatement of the year so far. My time at the range then wasn't about that, nor is it now. Left, right, or center, for me it has always been about competing against by best self. If it was darts, or golf, or whatever, I would feel the same way. I just happen to have a talent for this and so that is what I have gravitated towards. You have to listen to the message and not the medium.
The zen of the effort is what kept me shooting, and later coaching, way back then. It is what has drawn me back to competition now. If I can walk away from it each Wednesday night feeling like I put my best foot forward, regardless of the result, then I am happy. If I win a trophy along the way, all the better.
There is a lot of talk about resolutions this time of year. I set a goal for myself last January, a lifetime ago, to lose 30 pounds. I achieved that goal, though I do not recommend the means. I suspect that most of that lost weight came through tears. This year I am setting a different set of goals for myself. There is the tangible: I would like to finish in the top five in the standings during one of the next three league seasons. Then there is the intangible: I would like to feel some peace and happiness again.
There are twinkles here and there, but I would like to have something lasting. I know and have accepted that my heart has been broken and will likely always be. Being broken hearted does not mean being broken. The capacity for wellness is within all of us. To discover it we have to first find the path and right now that path leads through Wednesday night. League night.