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            It was well into October before the headstone went up. When the men in the distance finally left, I pulled alongside the far end of the cemetery. Empty fields surrounded me on every other side. I got out of my car and trudged through the wet lands. Suddenly, I was confronted. There was no denying it now. Here he was forever, just a marker, a monument to what will never be. I pulled a garbage bag out of my pocket and I cleared away rotten flowers and a few damaged cards. I remember touching it for the very first time. I remember in that moment remembering. I was overwhelmed and sobbed on the stone. I moved away from it, also the first time of many. Always the same it seems. Pay homage, then walk over to the garbage can and dump the remnants in their hiding place. To the car, unlock the car, get inside like every time. The drive away is always the same. This is really all that one can do for them now.
            There are so many more headstones in this place these days. Row after row seem to go on without end in all directions. It is the same as it was before but with so many more decorations. There is even a crematorium wall just south of where he rests.  I come and go less often. It's not as powerful as it was before. I try, at least, for a monthly visit, weather permitting. I am drawn by respect and memory rather than any obligation or sense of  responsibility. I go because I want to. The headstone has found a few more recent additions to its area. Family tends to bury with family. All the spots and locations that were empty the day he arrived are blended with the rest of the rocks and flowers and kind words carved in stone. I have gone on with my life. The day I first said goodbye here and the day his marker met the ground, both were catalysts for me. The first, a welcome to abandon. The next, an invitation to start over.

"The impossible is possible
But your fear is so responsible
For keeping you down
Your unreachable is reachable
But you'll never grab the wonderful
With your feet on the ground
If you fall on your face don't just leave it to fate
No such thing as too late
It's not too late"

             I felt like the Winter Warlock from the Christmas special Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I almost started singing "Put One Foot in Front of the Other." This day would be a breakthrough for me, a point in time separating what had been and what was to come. In a sense, I had started over long before the moment the stone went up. I had carried on, abandoning my need to self-flagellate. I had given up on leaving and began to focus on making the best of staying. I had come out to everyone, confirming for his parents (and mine) the truth of the matter. I started working again. I even managed to explore more social settings, engaging in random contact with the human race. I suppose there was no real benchmark telling me the when and the how and the why. Initially, each step was so hard to take that I never noticed the motion forward.  Each moment was a constant reminder for me of the cruelty in life and the merciless nature of nature. God had taken centre stage, although not necessarily for the better. When you blame something Divine for your circumstance, it is hard to bow down and grant worship to it. I had already set out on a different course, I just didn't know it. Driving away from that headstone for the very first time simply confirmed in my mind that it was time to move on. Just like the Warlock (call him Winter), I had peered through that silly opening, then pushed it some and started walking out the door (without the penguin).
            Moving on did not negate the experience, it resonated.  To this day, I measure through the lessons I learned from this place in time. They have become so much a part of me, ingrained into my being and the course that I took. The changes did not happen overnight, they never do. The notion to start over may bring a new day, but the application and momentum only find purpose if you engage them. I used to imagine that the day his stone appeared was the pinnacle for me. A time and a place I could touch and remember. It once signified a separation of the life I once knew and the life I now live. I realize, in hindsight, that it merely marks where he is, not where I am. Somewhere in the puzzle that is my past, I made a decision and followed through on it. I trusted the God I didn't even know yet. I decided that I had to get on with living, for me, and I kept right on going. I opened my eyes and I tried.

"You only fail if you never try
You'll never live trying not to die
I'm telling you now
Don't ever stop, give all you've got
Don't hesitate to take a shot
It all comes around
If you fall on your face don't just leave it to fate
No such thing as too late
It's not too late"
            London, Ontario, Canada is a pretty city located on the southern half of the 401 corridor that runs from Detroit(Windsor, Ontario) to Montreal, Quebec. I lived there with my first partner almost the entire time we were together. I lived there for a year with my current partner. I know the streets and most shops like the back of my hand. I worked in the downtown core. I studied at FanshaweCollege to the east and at the University of Western Ontario to the north. With approximately 450,000 citizens, one would imagine running into your past would hold a slim chance to almost none. Time may have left the basic blueprint of this location much the same, but the faces are constantly changing. It is a growing city. It is places like this that you just don't expect to run into someone you used to know. Life can be rewarding yet sometimes cruel in this way. It is a good thing that I always expect the unexpected. She, most certainly, was that.
            I knew it was her right away and in spite of the distance between us, I was sure she knew it was me. I considered walking by her as she passed my way. Unfortunately, luck was not with me on this day and she stopped, abruptly, blocking my path. "Kelly?" she asked. Obviously, she didn't need to. The last time I saw her was at the funeral. Twenty years and it still was not long enough. She was one of my faithful friends who shunned me because I had lied about my sexuality. She was also one of my onetime friends who then shunned me for being a homosexual. I always wished she had made up her mind, just to clarify why I don't like her so much. So I stood there making polite conversation with a woman who had disposed of me without even consulting me. It was like she had forgotten. It was like she didn't even stop to think of what she had done. She even suggested getting together, which was very nice of her indeed. I would have rather eaten glass. I know it seems petty but I just couldn't stand there and wish it all away. When I told her I didn't live in the area, she actually seemed disappointed. How lovely for her. It seemed unfair to have to stand and pretend out of kindness. I would have rather run away screaming. Her  inquiry turned to invasion when she told me, "We all thought you were dead. How did you manage to get through all that and survive?" As I began to walk away, I replied, "I had to start over."

"There's so much, so much left to gain
There's so much, so much left to lose
You'll never know until you make a move"

             Sometimes you have to leave the past behind you to get over it. This doesn't mean you forget it, you just have to move beyond it. What was is for a reason. The only way to move forward is to leave it all behind. It is not as difficult as it seems. Starting over is about the freedom to begin again. It's not about reinvention. It's not about denial. It's about taking the opportunity to start fresh, to move past what was and create what is. You don't have to forget the past, you just have to forgive it. Let it go. What was already is and what will be will be. The truth is you can start over any day you wish, any time you choose. Each day brings a new beginning. It's never too late. 

 "If you fall on your face
Don't just leave it to fate
No such thing as too late
It's not too late to
Start over"
(Start Over, The Afters 2011)


This post first appeared on Surviving God, please read the originial post: here

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