During my early 20’s I was a gypsy moving back and forth across the country while working my way up the corporate ladder. I first met the love of my life, Marty, in 2006. He was a quiet guy, with an insanely quick wit, kind eyes, who was into mountain biking, the Grateful Dead, and the owner of an unfortunate ponytail. I moved out of province and managed to get back to the same city 2 years later. After asking around, I found out Marty was still available and without a pony tail 😉 I got his number, called and left a voicemail specifically when I knew he would be at work and asked him to go see a movie. We ended up seeing the cinematic masterpiece that is MacGruber on May 21st, 2010 and over the next 1469 days we spent very little time apart. We truly appreciated each other and were thankful for the unconditional life changing love we shared. The four years we spent together were the best of both of our lives that involved a move to a city that became our own, travel, concerts, movies, good food, an incredible engagement, a completely planned wedding, and billions of laughs.
Less than a year before our wedding and on our anniversary weekend, my 30-year-old fiancé went missing while mountain biking. The last time I saw Marty was on May 29th when he woke me up to say he was leaving for work, how excited he was to go mountain biking (a hobby he pursued regularly for 12 years), and the long weekend he booked off for our anniversary. He kissed me on my forehead as always and told me he loved me. We emailed during his work day as we usually did and he called me to say he was heading out to the trails and he would be home well in advance of 4pm (I needed the car by no later than 5 as I had dinner plans at 6). 4 o’clock rolls around, Marty isn’t home, and I immediately thought something was terribly wrong…I knew something had happened as this was extremely out of character. I was mad for 5 minutes and then just worried and panicked. At 5:30 I cancelled my plans, and I got a ride to the mountain biking trails to search for Marty. I arrived at the trail, saw our car and waited for any cyclist to come out of the trail. Within half an hour roughly 23 people came out; they all said they did not see Marty, after I showed them pictures of him and his bike. I didn’t know who to call…cops….search and rescue? I remember thinking to myself is it like in the movies where someone has to be gone for 24 hours? I looked up search and rescue and ended up calling their office with no answer and then called the RCMP. The cops arrived quickly with a K9 unit and head out onto the trails. Our car was searched and I wasn’t allowed to go into it as it was considered evidence. Before I knew it I was filling out a lengthy missing persons report and answering all of the questions from memory. The only one I didn’t know was Marty’s blood type, which now I will never forget was O Positive. I was asked for pictures of Marty’s bike and for a recent photo of him for a press release. All that flashed through my head were all of the missing persons flyers you see at the grocery store with unfamiliar faces on them, I now knew one of those people. I had numerous out of body moments where I would feel like I was on a movie set with people buzzing around me and then I’d see the search leaders handing out Marty’s picture to their teams.
From pretty early on the RCMP was honest about the potential outcomes of the situation.
I went up in one of the helicopters and viewed the area from the sky. After that experience, and viewing the search map that all resources were contributing to, it was clear to me that everything that could have been done, was, and that Marty was not likely to be found.
The search for Marty lasted 6 days with 200 civilian searchers, military involvement, and 3 helicopters landing and taking off a few meters from me…over and over again. To this day I can still not hear a helicopter without a visceral physical reaction. 82x64km of terrain was covered in one of the largest searches in the area in 30 years.
2 years later, Marty’s remains, bike, or belongings have not been found.
This is where it all ends…. the story of us. No happy ending, no long life together, no wedding, no kids, no waking up next to each other ever again. I am now the constant reminder to people that shit goes wrong. I am the uncomfortable spotlight that proves death is always looming and that the way we can go can be tragic and early. I am living proof that no amount of planning, hoping, dreaming, and love can stop the unwanted from happening.
The seconds, hours, days, weeks, and now years since Marty died have rewired me to my core. My attention span is shot and I can’t hold eye contact with people for very long anymore. Time is no longer my friend but a constant reminder that even though my life imploded the earth still spins and the sun still rises and sets. It’s bizarre what you miss about someone once they’re not physically here. It’s not the big moments but the day-to-day ones that I miss the most. I can no longer “hold” the feeling I got when Marty would walk into a room, eager to be engulfed by his hugs. I yearn for our daily emails regarding our love for each other, future plans and what we’ll have for dinner. I long for the car rides spent listening to podcasts, singing songs or having conversations with our hands intertwined. I miss discerning the little notes he’d leave himself on his the webbing of his left hand between his index and thumb when he wanted to remember something. I miss his consistent stance, always leaning on the outside of his left foot. I miss hearing his voice and capturing memories on all of our adventures. I miss holding his cute bearded face with my palms and staring into his eyes. I can no longer hold onto the sense of security his presence provided.
On this, the 2nd anniversary of Marty’s disappearance, I am not longing for closure, as I don’t think it ever happens regardless of how someone dies.
It takes only one quick event to completely change your entire life. All I know is that if this unexpected tragedy can happen to Marty, it can happen to anyone.
I miss him more today than I ever have.