“Dear Cat Island, My Home – A Story of a Broken Heart & Forgiveness”

“Fernandez Bay Village (Home) – Half the homes are part of a resort and half the homes are private homes”

 

Several years ago I reached a point where I finally made the best peace one could make with breaking my neck and having my life change forever.  I spent so much time constantly pushing forward and not thinking about my accident through sheer determination of will.

This worked for a time, but eventually I had to find a way to dig deep in order to find some resemblance of happiness in my life and search for the best way I knew how to live a full life despite my circumstances.  Through quite a fair bit of soul-searching I arrived to where I am presently living the most fulfilled life I know how with work, finding love, getting married, spending time with friends & family, and traveling when able.

For the last six months Cat Island, Bahamas (my home) has been on my mind.  My family has had a home in the Bahamas for the last 40 or so years and it is a place so magical words simply cannot do it justice.  It is a beautiful out Island in the Eastern Bahamas spanning 60 miles long and 2 miles wide with a population of roughly 2,000 people.

The airport runway to the island is so short that no large commercial airlines are able land on the runway giving it its unique, and rustic charm because only those who know about it know how to get there.

I grew up on this island and made my first trip down when I was only several months’ old back in 1983.  I have lived in so many countries around the world that Cat Island has always been my home base, my center, my world, my escape, and my favorite place in the entire world.

I spent my time on the island with family and friends spearfishing, scuba diving, exploring caves in the middle of the island, taking Robinson Caruso style boat trips with my family to unnamed deserted islands, jumping off rocks into the ocean, picnicking on deserted beaches, kayaking through crystal clear lagoon waters, taking long walks on the beach, building bonfires with family, and countless other surreal adventures.

“Tagging Turtles for Research”

“A typical Sunday for me back in the day :-)”

 

 

If you visit this island it’s like you’ve stepped back in time 50 years with one road providing access to the whole island with most folks walking around barefoot, minimal contact with the outside technological world, a handful of stores to purchase groceries and such, and local shacks with fresh caught grouper & craw fish the size of your arm.  If you ever need an escape from life in the modern world you go to an island like Cat Island.

“Our beautiful catamaran where we took many camping trips on deserted islands in the Bahamas”

In 2009 I quit my job in politics and moved down to Cat to start a new career, and new life.  Within a year of being home and finally having the feeling of finding a place that I could live for the rest of my life, and where I truly belonged – I broke my neck.

On August 21, 2010 I met a bunch of my friends down at this Tiki hut bar directly over the water.  It was a celebratory day for me as I had just made a very successful first trade in the financial markets.  I moved down to the island for focus and quiet to learn how to be a day trader.  I was on top of the world that day listening to reggae music, sipping a Bahamian beer, and frolicking about with friends without a care in the world.

I can honestly say this was the happiest time of my entire life at 27 years old.  I couldn’t imagine life could have gone any better at that moment.  I remember thinking exactly that on August 21.

I’ll never forget taking a dive off the Tiki hut bar platform where the water was shallower than I had anticipated and not being able to move floating face down, holding my breath knowing something was terribly wrong, and waiting for help to arrive.  My mother was the one who actually noticed something had gone awry after I took a dive, hit some sand, and burst my vertebrae.  I won’t get into the Herculean effort it took to get me back to the United States 22 hours later to save my life.  You can find the story on my blog.

“3 weeks after the accident in Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami”

Heart Break

The point of the story is that until this past year I realized that I had come to terms with the accident, but I was still so angry and hurt with myself and Cat Island.  Sure, it was just an accident and could have happened to anyone, but to have had an accident of this magnitude on an island that was my true love up to that point, until I met my fiancé that is, is something I have not dealt with for 8 ½ years.

I pushed the island out of my mind for so many years because it is not exactly an accessible place to get back to in a wheelchair.  I accepted the fact that I would never be able to go home without a Herculean effort to get me there.

I had never been truly in love at that point and I can honestly say Cat Island had always been my true love, and, frankly, she broke my heart into a million pieces where I truly believed the damage was irreparable.  It was such an intense heartbreak that I have not been able to speak with many of those closest to me about it.

I don’t know why, but six months ago the island had been on my mind non-stop and I want more than anything to forgive her and myself, move forward, and hopefully in the next year finally get back to her.  Words are so powerful and they help me process challenging periods in my life by simply putting the words out there in the universe.  I don’t know why it helps, but it helps.  I suppose it’s like artists needing to paint, athletes needing to compete, and for me, a writer needing to write.

I can’t say if going back to the island will be the best or worst thing for me, but I won’t know until I try.  I have to try because writing this and even thinking about a home I knew for 27 years brings tears to my eyes.  It’s funny how forgiving oneself is far more challenging at times than forgiving another person.

A Letter to “Cat Island”

I wrote a letter to Cat Island a few months back, which I will share with you now to show that no matter what the most painful experience one may have in their life, forgiveness is always possible no matter how long it takes.

“Dear Cat Island,

You were the love of my life and you shattered my heart.  You brought me more joy and love than any other romantic relationship in my life had brought me at that time.  While the love for my family is the most important thing in my life you were a close second.

You taught me how to swim, find peace, gave me adventure, helped raise me to be the woman I am today, made me tough, taught me adversity, and opened your arms to me when I needed you the most.

How could you let me go like that?  A few seconds – that’s all it took for you to turn your back on me and take it all away.  What did I do wrong?  I was yours and you were mine … That was the deal, we were supposed to have each other’s backs, but you abandoned me.

I am still so angry with you, but dammit, I still love you no matter how long I’ve tried to forget you.  We shared a love so intense throughout my life that I cannot let you go.  I don’t want to let you go, but I just don’t know how we will find a way to live together once again.

Cat Island, I forgive you, but I can never forget what happened.  How will you treat me if we get back together?  Will you help me find peace again if I come back to you?  You make me cry just thinking that I’ve been away from you for 8 ½ years.

I’m going to find my way back to you, somehow, and someday soon.  I need you to know that I am still so sad and may be for the rest of my life, but I’m going to give you another chance.

Cat Island, I’m coming home one day soon.”

 

An intense letter I know.  However, sometimes putting the way we feel out to the universe has a way of healing from the inside out.  With the help of family friends and family I’m very much hoping to get back to Cat Island in 2020.

I really can’t say whether going back home will be the most cathartic and healing experience for me or utterly painful.  I just don’t know.  What I do know for sure is I will wonder for the rest of my life unless I try, which is exactly what I plan to do!  I need help though … So, for those who share the same love for Cat Island and are reading this I’m asking for help to get me home!  Let the healing begin.