When I was 21, I considered myself young, naive, and carefree. People told me these were “the days of my life.” With only one semester of university left, I could feel the freedom just around the corner.
January 23, 2003. From the second I woke up I felt something was wrong. I knew it had to do with Brad, my uber talented yet just as troubled boyfriend. I let it slide for an hour or two, but the thoughts became unavoidable. I called him. No answer. I asked a friend to pop in and check on him. 30 minutes later she found him laying facedown on his mattress, no breath, no pulse, no longer alive.
This is the day my life changed, like really massively changed. The life and death of Bradley Felderhoff was the first I would learn of such deep love and loss. It shook me. Hard. Rightfully so.
I spent a year crying myself to sleep, realistically more like two years. With every tear, the naivety of my youth washed away. The harsh realities of death; the finality, the unpredictability, the severe depression; the stomach aches and sleepless nights that inevitably follows are gut-wrenching. Gasping for air, I felt my soul sinking, drowning in life’s truths. But… but this was the “time of my life.” I was just starting to live my life and like that all my dreams were suddenly shattered.
“This isn’t what I wanted.” “I imagined my life being different.” “But we were supposed to..” And just like that my life plans changed. Death, unexpected pregnancy, miscarriage, illnesses, meeting the right person or not meeting the right person, other peoples actions; these are all examples of life happening to us. These are things that happen to you and you suddenly remember that ultimately you are not in control. You can not count on tomorrow. You can not count on someone always being there. You can not count on future promises. In fact, you can not count on the future.
So a lot of the story you live happens to you, uncontrollably. These are the things you can not change.
But lets talk about the things you can because this is where the magic lies. From the environment the universe has created for you, sometimes pleasurable and other times not, you inevitably will find moments of vulnerability, rawness, discomfort. These moments are sources of strength and courage. You are going to need a lot of that where you are going to.
These really sad, depressing, earth shattering situations suck. But they are your greatest opportunities. From this lose, you find yourself having little left to fear. You have been forced to overcome such heartbreaking hardships, so that isnt going to hold you back. Nope, that is going to catapult you into where you are going. Your Story! What you are going to create. Where you are going to go. The incredible life you are about to make for yourself.
It has been nearly 15 years since Brad died. It might have taken me that entire time to write this blog. I still run away from the hurt, the sadness, and piercing reality that we will never talk again. That I will never see his eyes or hear him play the saxophone. But what I do know is that I know that how I spent the last 15 years of my life has a whole lot to do with those dark times after his death, from loving deeply and learning to live through such loss.
From the depression, the anxieties, the running away, I continued putting one foot in front of the other. I stayed really busy, searching for happiness & contentment. I traveled around the world. Often times alone. I dabbled in yoga & experimented in meditation intensives. I learned to surf, and find my feet in an ocean of moving water. I learned to sail, flowing naturally with nature’s winds.
I learned to let go of fear, overcome anxiety and manifest my greatest dreams. Brad Felderhoff gave me that. I lived a life I wanted to live because I had nothing to lose. I knew what I feared was actually out of my control. And what I dreamed of doing was the only thing actually in our control, our dreams. So that is what we shall do. Manifest our dreams.
Words by Kori Hahn. Photos by Stuart Smythe. Dress by Amuse Society.