Note to Readers:
I wrote this last week but I didn’t want to post it until now. Until Chris has told the main people in his life this news himself. I am proud to say that he has done this and now it is out there for the world to see. I think that by sharing this news, it might help others and it will make him more accountable for the future. For his future.
Today you confessed. You confessed to an activity that you have been involved with for a long time. I have suspected it for a few years. When I tried to get you to talk about it, you would deny it or avoid the topic. Now, all these years later, you confess. I wonder why. Why now.
I crossed paths with some strong evidence during the first week of your marathon. I was cleaning out your car so your parents and Steve could use it to drive to Halifax to see you. In the back was your old backpack, it was half-unzipped. I hadn’t seen it for a long time. I had a handful of garbage in one hand and I was looking for somewhere to put it, when I spotted the backpack, I thought that I could use it. I looked inside to see if there was anything of value in it and my eyes caught the corner of a cigarette package tucked in the bottom. There were actually two half full packages in your backpack along with a lighter and breath fresheners.
I was stunned. I didn’t know what to think. How could you smoke? Even more practical questions came to mind. When and where did you smoke? How could I not known you were a smoker? I convinced myself that it must be a very causal thing. Certainly not a daily activity.
At the time, the ICU doctors were trying to sort out why your blood pressure spiked enough to cause a bleed. They had no answers. I shared my new information with the intensivist in the ICU. He raised his eyebrows while considering the information, and then said “It may be a factor but it’s possible that it is not the cause.” There is that word again. ‘Possible. ’ Earlier that week the neurosurgeons said “possible reasonable recovery”. What does ‘possible’ really mean? 1% or 99% or somewhere in between.
Smoking has affected my family before. My Dad smoked for many years and the last years of his life his mind drifted from present day to other times and places due to a number of transient ischemic attacks (TIA’s). I lost him before I was ready to. Now you. I’m not ready to loose you and I won’t let our children loose their father like I lost mine.
You have been stripped bare of all you rough outer layers and you are almost naked emotionally. The last layers you have chosen to strip off yourself. Like a Band-Aid or like the PEG tube from yesterday. Pull them off or pull it out and do it quickly despite the pain. It’s as if you want to start over again.
Naked like the day you born. Naked and innocent, ready to be shaped and draped by the world around you.
You said that confessing to me was the hardest. Now that’s done, you can bare yourself to others. Since my visit to you this afternoon, you called me this evening and told me that you told someone else your confession. I am proud of you.
This was a secret that you lived with for a long time. You felt the shame of it every day. You couldn’t confess to me because you couldn’t confess to yourself. You feel relieved that you told me. I am relieved too. The topic has been our ‘elephant in the room’ since your stroke … it’s there, but no one wants to talk about it.
You said if I wanted to write about this I could … but I didn’t until now. I can only really write about my reaction to your news. This is your confession to share with whom you like. If, in the future, you want the world to know then you can tell them, not me. Perhaps you feel that if I expose you, you would be getting the punishment you deserve. Punished for your deception not the activity.
Carrying this around for so long by yourself was your punishment that you forced upon yourself. I wonder if you are confusing the deed with you as a person. You did a stupid thing; you are not a stupid person. Your deception was a bad act; you are not a bad person. I hope that by baring your self, you find forgiveness within yourself … because I have already forgiven you and it is a forgivable act.
Two new streaks have been identified. One is one day longer then your recovery streak. The other starts today. I will be there to cheer you on with this streak too.