I Travelled to Escape My Grief but Found Myself Instead.


This is republished from my first Medium Post and formatted for 2019. Happy 30th birthday, Mila.

When my best friend died I wanted to run away.

So I did.

It started with a 3-day trip a few hours north of Toronto. Then I went to China for a month. I took a slide down the Great Wall in Beijing. I mountain biked in Switzerland and zip lined in New Brunswick. I jumped off of waterfalls in Jamaica. I strolled through vineyards in Niagara. I released a lantern in Chiang Mai in her honour and took a mud bath with elephants. I rode long tail boats in Bangkok and let the ocean crash over me in Phuket. I went back to Shanghai to remember.

Cliche ahead, but two years ago I came to realize how short life is. In 2017 I visited places I always said I would but hadn't. I allowed so many things to get in my way and bog me down instead of actually venturing out.

This June when I lived in Shanghai I found I was able to come out of my shell a bit. I was able to find my footing as a new person and gained confidence as I learned a new language. In Switzerland, I opened up my heart to allow new and special people into my life. I also found the joy in hiking and running again, something Mila and I loved to do together. I found friendship and compromise while on a Canadian east coast road trip. I dove into the love of my family and heritage in Jamaica. I honoured my love of animals in Chiang Mai while embracing the sun in Phuket.

Through these adventures, I found healing. The incessant travel started as an escape. I was running from my life. From my grief. But God had a plan for me to actually run right into my grief and truly feel it. I cried, laughed and cried some more. My heart felt as if it would never stop aching. I'm still learning how to cope with not Mila to go on adventures we always said we would or text her the middle of the night.

Crying in a parking lot one night, I told Mila's uncle that she wasn't really gone. But that the good that he and the rest of her family put into her still lives on in them. That her heart of gold formed from pieces of theirs.

Now I realize that I carry some of her goodness in me too. That I brought a part of her with me on all these trips.

I'm writing this post while at home in Toronto. I'm grateful for the incredible adventures and opportunities I took this year. I can't wait to share them all with you guys. I wish I could share them with Mila, the ultimate dreamer. She would have loved to see my dreams come true. This year I can't wait to live out a few more.