I was at the doctors this morning, and upon leaving I stopped at the front desk to schedule my next appointment, knowing that in 5 days my allergy testing were to be read.”

“Carleigh, we’ll see you next Tuesday, September 5th.”

My head snapped up. September 5th. THE September 5th. 

My dark day. 

I guess it is a sign of healing that I have been blissfully unaware of its approach. For 9 years now I have slowly become less intense in my await of its arrival. For 9 years now I have lessened the tears and increased the smiles.

I don’t remember the first anniversary. It was spent in a black out, enraged with the world and its living inhabitants. Not healthy; but I survived.

But I remember the second like it was yesterday. I had just moved to the namesake of this blog, Paris, Kentucky to be the yearling manager of Hinkle Farms. I had all of two friends who inhabited this tiny town with me: two guys named Luke and Dan.

And Luke texted me that morning and asked if I wanted to do anything. If I wanted a distraction or an adventure. But I had planned to make it my annual mission to be numb. To compartmentalize the pain instead of processing it, and I said no. 

I went to work at 6am. I hand walked a thousand yearlings. I curried hair until blisters arose on my palms. And then I returned home to sit on my couch and pour a drink.

But before I could even open the door of my truck, there was a man standing on the front porch. It was Luke, and he was holding a pizza and a case of beer. 

For hours we sat on my back porch and talked. Two newer friends, having only really known each other from the sales and the social scene of the industry.

But for hours I told him about my fathers life and death. Explaining the man he was and the woman he had made me be. 

And for hours Luke just sat there and listened. 

My emotions ranged from devastation and dry heaves to giggles rising up my throat as I described scenes of humor watching my father untangle fly rods and screaming at my mother to get his other flies.

I laughed. I cried. And maybe more importantly, I felt. 

And I stared across the porch at that friend and realized just how amazing of a man he was. How good of a friend he was.

That friendship quickly became much more, and for seven years now I have had him as my life partner. The most important person in my life.

And that is what I like to think of as this dark day approaches. Yes, there will be tears. And there will be anger. But as the years progress, and the sadness dissipates, there is also a lot of good.

Because of that loss in my life, I moved to Lexington, Kentucky.

Because of that loss in my life, I found therapy in horses.

Because of that loss in my life, I strengthened relationships with my mother and my siblings. 

Because of that loss in my life, I found renewed passion for my own. Leading me to an intense focus on everything from my career to my hobbies.

And because of that loss in my life, I realized how amazing of a man I had sitting across a tiny porch from me.

I used to say that I would do anything to get my dad back, and a large part of me still feels that way. But as I age, mature, and grow as a person, I begin to realize that there is truth in the saying that everything happens for a reason.

I am a stronger person because of what I have lost. I am a better person because of what I lost.

I wake up every morning and realize that life is a blessing, and that there is always happiness found if you search hard enough.

In a sunset.

In the cast of a fly on a stream.

In a good gallop over a massive table.

And in a slice of pizza and a beer with a good man. A good friend.

Those are the things I take away with me now. And those are the things that will get me through the dark days. I hope you have found yours.

4 Comments on “The Dark Days

  1. Lovely piece. My father’s passing was 4 years ago last week. This year my family vacationed at his favorite place in the White Mountains (NH). On the anniversary, my mother and I nursed a beer at the bar of his favorite resort while we remembered. It seemed right somehow.

  2. My dad died at 56 yo of a heart attack, that was 40 years ago…seems like a whole lifetime, seems like yesterday.
    I am still keenly aware of August 17 but it is no longer so painful. It does get better, slowly.

  3. beautiful story. one of your best. grieve but know your dad would want you to be happy

  4. Beautiful ❤️
    Thank You For Sharing!!!
    Stay Strong!!
    Your doing amazing things and helping others!

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