Voices of a CADI, 5 years later ~Cassie

Originally published September 16, 2019

I have been feeling it very heavy on my heart to write a little something. It has been a very long time since I put my thoughts to paper, and I think that has been a good thing for me. The past few days I thought to myself, I kind of wish I had an outlet, another blog page to just put something out there for whoever might need it or just want it. Or maybe it’s just to fully unload it off my chest. Oddly, I received a message from a friend of mine on Saturday. I am blessed to have met her through the internet, to find we share the most inconceivable connection of being a CADI (Cause of accidental death or Injury). Her name is Jennifer Eikenhorst, now an avid blogger and podcast creator of Accidental Hope. She had no idea that the five-year anniversary of our accident was just two days away. I told her that just when I feel God is putting something on my heart, a message from her pops up out of nowhere and makes me think, “maybe I should write that little something.” In turn, she said “you should, and why don’t you post it to my blog as a guest? How fitting is that? So here I am. Writing a little something, 5 years and 42 minutes after the horrific moment that changed my life forever.

It has been quite a journey to reach a milestone like five years. I’ve found myself proud of how far I have come. Astonished that we have made it, that my life is still standing after all of the hell we lived through. Angry that any of this ever had to happen and why to us?  Sad because there isn’t a damn thing I’ve ever been able to do about it, even if I thought in some subconscious way I could make it right. Determined to continue to fight for my life and be light for others in a very dark place. But most of all, hopeful. Hope is something that I have maybe become too much of a realist with. I’ve learned though, that in the worst times of your life, if you do not have hope, you will lose. You might lose anyways. The cards may be stacked against you, and there just might not be a way out. But, no matter what, if you can keep hope alive in your heart, you can keep going. 

In the past five years, I have grieved a lot. I have grieved over the events of what happened September 16, 2014, again and again. On a day like today, it’s reliving each moment as if I’m playing the movie in my head. It’s truly the one time of year no matter how far I’ve come, that I can’t get away from it. I grieved the life I thought I would have and who I used to be. I grieve for Brynn’s family all the time. I see them and they are doing great, they look happy, we can laugh together. But, someone is always missing. And in that moment even if nobody else realizes it, I always will. I lost my dad unexpectedly January 17, 2016. I have grieved him, our kids with him, the life my mom and him had. They would be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary next month. It’s so hard to not live in anger when you think about these things. Rowyn was just a baby, why did any of this have to happen? And why to us?

But I refuse to live that way. It has taken me a long time to understand that in order to fully move forward I had to focus on the new days. I had to stop chasing what felt like what I needed to be doing and just survive in what was happening around me. I remember thinking, I need to write another book, I need to adopt a child, I need to be doing something more with my life. I need to create something, I need to find a way to be better and do better. Maybe I’ll go back to school, become a counselor, take on trauma cases. At one point, I was even talking about becoming a grief yoga instructor. All of this makes me smile just a little bit because I was desperately seeking a way out of how I felt and what had happened. I could have done all of this, but I could not escape my reality. It never would made a difference. It was my journey, it was all part of the process. 

Now here I am, raising two amazing young boys, ages 9 and 5.  They are both uniquely smart. Funny is an understatement, and resilient. Because they walked this road with us. My oldest, Easton, will likely always be my protector. He worries about me when I don’t think he should be. He is intuitive to when I’m having a bad day, and he hugs me often. He feels the presence of September I think. Even if he doesn’t realize it, it’s forever in his heart too. He was there and he knows what happened. Logan is a comedian without trying to be. Some have said he could make us rich with his own YouTube channel. I do not doubt it. But for now, he is a happy 5 year old who is completely clueless to the nightmare that transpired when he was just 10 months old. My Husband Aaron has become the strongest man I know. He has endured this with me, watched me, lost me, and grieved our old life. Together, we have rebuilt our new life quite literally from the ground up. We moved into a 5th wheel trailer for 22 months with our two kids and a dog. That is a book in itself let me tell ya. We sold almost everything we owned, and started completely over. It was the best thing we could have ever done. Our marriage had been tried and tested, but after living in what we called, “the box”, there is nothing that can take us down now. During that time, we were having our home built. I was able to go back to work 40 hours a week, and I eventually applied for a promotion back to my old position, and I got it. We moved into our new house June 14th 2018. If I had to say, I’d propose that things are as close to life 5 years ago as they could be. Never will they be on the inside, but from the outside looking in, we might look like those people again. 

I keep many things at arm’s length now. I have boundaries set all over the spectrum, and I don’t even realize I’m setting them. I’ve gotten so good at self-preservation and protecting the energy that I do have in order to keep it healthy for my family. I read less, I never go to church anymore (which I don’t feel good about), we do sports 6 days a week, and I do my best to still have healthy meals for my family, exercise, and all the other duties as a mom. I love to laugh and share inside jokes with my family. I worry about far more things than I can control. I drink less than I used to, but it’s probably still too much, I enjoy a camel light when I want one, and try not to take things too seriously. 

But guess what? That is the honest truth of where I’m at, and I am super proud to be here.

~Cassie 9/16/19

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