Taking Back My Life

Many people do not realize that 2015 is my year to take back the places I have avoided since Phil was killed. Today was the day I took back Washington state. To understand what Washington means to me, it means promise. Promise of a simpler time and promise of a dream. Even as a child Washington was a happy place for me. It represented love and warmth like a blanket. My grandparents and my aunts and uncles always made this state feel like home. With Phil, Washington was our future and our hope.

After 26 years in the military, Phil began to see the need to prepare for the next chapter of when those days would one day end. Granted, Phil had still had 10 years left because he owed USAFA five years for the PhD. He had one year of deployment and one operational tour before he headed back to Colorado to finish out his military days. We had a dream, though. The dream didn’t include Colorado after the military days were over, they included Washington.

Washington wasn’t always good to Phil. He didn’t always fit and he was hurt deeply when he was forced to choose between me and his mother in 1988. Yet, it was in Washington that he was thrown a lifeline. In high school, Phil was hungry and he showed up for a free lunch—a lunch that was given by the ROTC department and the military recruiters. Phil decision to join the military gave him the coveted American citizenship that he wanted. Phil’s decision gave him a growing confidence and took him far from those days of knowing two words of English—ew-sa for USA and sum a team us for sometimes. Phil’s choice opened doors and took him far from Venezuela. Interestingly, though whether he served in the Air Force for the United States or not, he would have had to be in the military because Venezuela and France both had mandatory military service.

Yet, Washington was the state we both gravitated toward when we considered retirement. We even had the area picked out. Phil’s deployment pay was going to be our down payment for a piece of land in Port Angeles or Leavenworth. Phil had even sent floor plans for me to look at. When Phil’s life ended, my dream ended. I didn’t know where I fit. Sometimes I still don’t know where I fit, but this year I recognize that I need to stop running away from my past and my future.

Today I took back Washington one painful step at a time. I ran Seattle to take back a place I will never live. It isn’t that I don’t love WA, but after four years I am realizing that my future has to be built on new dreams. While I wish that I didn’t have to create a new plan or to deviate from what I wanted and expected, it is time for me to consider the way forward and a dream separate from the dreams we shared. 2016 is going to be my year of living and dreaming dreams, but until then I am quietly reclaiming the places that once haunted me. Today, it was Seattle.

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