Ten years ago I had 2 events that absolutely rocked my world. One I have talked about frequently and one I have only mentioned a couple times.
On March 28, 2007 I noticed a small numb spot on the bottom of my right foot which would eventually lead to my MS diagnosis. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that it has been 10 years; boy time flies when you’re having fun! In that ten years I’ve changed a lot. I went from a stable individual to a lost soul and back to a stable individual. It was a roller coaster ride to say the least.
In that time I learned one important lesson: I’m a lot stronger than I thought. I have said before that MS was and is the best thing that has happened to me and some have emailed me to tell me I’m crazy-a fact that I don’t debate. Insanity has not officially been ruled out so I won’t make assumptions. The truth is it has been 10 years since that first symptom and I am still here, still working, still producing and now inspiring. MS is the reason I have this blog and MS is the reason so many doors have opened to me. After all, how else would I have had the opportunity to speak with so many people over the last few years: Lowes Corporate, community colleges, All State corporate, First Harvest Food Bank and many others.
I have truly been blessed.
The second thing that happened in 2007 that rocked my world was my childhood best friend was shot and killed. He died protecting his community in the line of duty as a Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer. His name is Sean Clark and he was murdered following a domestic call.
When Sean and I were teenagers we pretty much did everything together. We didn’t attend the same high school, but it was assured that we were finding each other almost every day after school. As a matter of fact it was Sean that pushed me for an entire summer to get in shape lifting weights. It was easily the best conditioning of my life.
Sean was an energetic guy and loved anything physical: wrestling, running, hiking, climbing, lifting weights, etc. For some reason the one memory that sticks in my mind is a night Sean decided we were going fishing. We must have been 16 or 17 and his boss at the gas station had a house up on Lake Norman with a dock. One night Sean called and told me he would be at the house in a few minutes to go fishing. We sat on that dock and talked all night. We didn’t catch a whole lot, but it didn’t matter. At the end of the night we were packing up and I decided to make one last cast and we reeled in the biggest catfish I had ever seen; it nearly snapped the pole! I remember laughing about that fish for weeks.
After high school I was accepted to the math program at UNC Charlotte and Sean was off to follow his dream of becoming a Pararescueman with the Airforce. Just before that we spent a weekend at Myrtle Beach for graduation hanging out riding his motorcycle and enjoying being friends. It was a great trip.
I remember when Sean left for the Airforce. He rode his motorcycle over to my parent’s house and we talked for a bit and I was so sad. Being the guy’s guy he was, he teased me a bit for being such a “girl-man” and he took off and I cried. Years later we spent a couple nights together over a few beers and reminisced about those days and our friendship. As Forest Gump said, “We were like peas and carrots”.
About 2 weeks before Sean was murdered he called the house and left me a voice message to which I didn’t get a chance to respond-something I still regret today. I miss my friend. Funny thing is about a year ago I had a dream about Sean. We were sitting together at a table and I looked at him. His face was so clear to me it was as if he were alive and the conversation is still incredibly vivid in my mind that I remember every detail. We talked about everything just like he had never been gone. I asked him if he realized he was dead and he said he did. I asked him what it was like being dead and he said it was a lot like being alive only different and he couldn’t really put it into words. I asked him if he realized he had been gone for 9 years and he said he didn’t that it felt like minutes to him. He explained to me that he saw me occasionally and his parents, brother and sister.
He explained to me that being dead wasn’t at all what he expected, that the part of him that made him Sean was more alive than ever. He also explained that he was able to see those still alive at times. He explained it like this…there is a separation between those who are dead and those who are alive similar to fog. And at times windows would open in the fog which allowed him to pear through and see his family and friends. He never knew when it would happen or who he would see, but it happened somewhat frequently and it allowed him to feel connected.
It’s only as I write this post that I realize I have internalized a lot of his death. This might be one of a handful of times which I have actually spoken about it out loud.
At any rate, it was such an incredible dream. Just before I awoke I started crying and told him I still missed him and he told me not to worry that he was doing fine and he missed me too. I have spent a lot of time this week crying. It’s almost like reliving the whole thing all over again. Sean was a good man, a good son, a good husband, a good father and a good friend-I’ll never get over him dying.