This blog post spawned from a conversation with a Float Ambassador who mentioned that many folks are nervous to be alone with their thoughts for 75 minutes. My first reaction was “Oh man, I feel like I know what is in every nook and cranny in my brain. I leave no rock left unturned” and I was unable to relate. Then it hit me: there was something that was difficult for me to face. Something that I had been avoiding for two years. And I want to share it with you here.
When I sat down at my cubicle after our weekly departmental meeting on August 26th, 2013 my world flipped upside down. I was being naughty and checked my Facebook at work. There were weird status updates from high school friends about sadness, broken hearts and disbelief. Finally, I messaged a few friends to find out what had happened, and was relayed that my best friend had passed away suddenly. Emptiness. Sickness. Darkness. You name it, I felt it. I was on the ground crying and screaming and was quickly escorted to a private office where I could fall apart further and eventually, have someone drive me home.
Devan passed away from a rare condition that was untraceable causing his heart to work overtime without anyone knowing. Of COURSE his heart worked overtime – he was so full of love. He was EVERYONE’s best friend. Dev had just moved his little family back to Nova Scotia after an 8-year stint in Alberta; and had decided to do the fly-in/fly-out routine between the provinces. One month from the day of his death, I was to leave Vancouver and drive to Alberta to meet Devan where we would continue East on our big road trip across the country together. A huge homage to the road trips we would take together in our younger years. The playlists had begun, the route was mapped out. It was just him and I and we were heading Home.
I had experienced a rough year and a half at that point. My marriage had just ended, I took 6 weeks off from work to pull my life back together, I was miserable at my job and others were beginning to notice. Additionally, it felt as if my life was overwhelmingly surrounded by death: my closest Aunt, my Uncle who I had an incredibly deep connection with, a close friend’s Dad, my cousin and now Devan. All dead. How does one cope? [To top it off, I would move back to Halifax a month later to a job that had fallen through leaving me jobless with a massive credit card bill full of moving expenses. Lucky for you, that was how The Floatation Centre began – so I’m counting all these as blessings!]
I sat up the evening after Devan passed away, drinking scotch and debating the fairness of reality. Nope, not fair. Period. Debate concluded. I’d like to think that something profound resulted from those following days – about the meaning of life, or quantum physics still explaining that he was around – but no, it was anger and rage at points. I never felt as if I had properly mourned Devan’s death as I was living on the opposite coast, alone. Each time I would think of him, I would distract myself with mindless tasks until the pain dissolved. Repeat repeat repeat. And don’t even get my started on how painful it was to hear Blue Rodeo on the radio.
Moving forward two years, The Floatation Centre had been open for a couple of months & I’d found a semi-steady state on the two year anniversary of his death. Devan’s wife came in for a float on that date, and we sat together afterward, enjoying a Keith’s in his honour. She remarked “Well, I usually talk to him when I’m in there, I figured today was as good of a day as any”. At that moment, the lightbulb went off in my head: I have a lot of anger to deal with, and talking to Devan would help resolve that.
Days later, I stepped into the tank, laid back and followed my usual routine: stretching, focusing on my breath, and repeating my personal mantra. Once I felt myself sinking into that deep sense of calm, the timid voice in my head whispered “Devan, are you there?”.
“Of course, Linds.”
Tears streamed down my face and I could sense his presence. I recall making a joke and called him a pervert for talking with me while I was naked and floating. I told him I missed him, and that life was so different without him. I questioned a world without him and his big hugs. But here I was, finally beginning to deal with the death of my best friend, alone, naked and floating in a float tank.
I exited that day with a full heart. Physically, Devan wasn’t around. That was the reality. But he is STILL HERE. Always. In our hearts, in our minds, and even in a float tank. Removing the distractions I would use to deter me from processing his death lead to a deeper connection to him and to myself. And, as the Universe would have it, this article fell into my lap a few days later and I IMPLORE anyone who is dealing with death and grieving to read it. Even if you’re not, you’ll soon see the interconnectivity between every single person out there.
I miss Devan incredibly. I think of him each and every day, and keep a photo at work behind the desk to remind me of him. But there is now a settled sensation that I experience when I hear his name; a feeling that doesn’t have injustice or anger behind it. Let’s call it acceptance. Whatever it is, I found it while floating and equate it to peace.
Do not be fearful of what may lurk in your mind. Remove distractions and allow yourself to really explore and find out what’s there.
I had the full support of Devan’s wife, Melissa, to write and share this post. She is an incredibly resilient woman who I am proud to call a friend.