This morning I received a phone call from one of George’s close friends, who’s quickly becoming one of my best supporters as I grieve. He asked if I wanted to head to Coney Island with his family to swim with the polar bears… I had thought about doing the polar bear plunge in the past, but never actually pulled the trigger. Without hesitation, I agreed to it. It was an arbitrary and thoughtless decision. One I do not regret.
When he called it was 10:50am and I had been sitting in bed reading emails and playing games on my iPad for over an hour or so… basically I was an opportunity to not be a slug for the day. I sprung out of bed, took Bodie for a walk, threw my bathing suit on and packed a bunch of warm clothes and ran out of the apartment to catch the bus to NYC.
We met up at W4th Street and took the subway to Coney Island and arrived at about 1pm. Right as all the experienced polar bears were charging toward the water. We stripped down, and he grabbed my hand and we bounded toward the water laughing and screaming. I splashed into the water, and the cold surged through my toes up my legs and into my core. My body tightened, but my mind and spirit was roaming free. I was happy. I was GENUINELY HAPPY! Laughing, and hugging other polar bears, I felt like a goddamn superhero. Seizing the day by not over thinking but doing. Although I have been dealt the world’s shittiest card ever by becoming widowed at 28 years old, I will continue to experience life. I love George, I love everything he offered me, but in his death, I am now relearning how to enjoy life. Moments like mindlessly running into 34 degree water is what I need to feel happy, that’s what I’m going to do. It was his friend who invited me out. I still get to experience the love of George through the opportunities he made available to me by living. I wouldn’t know these wild polar bears if it wasn’t for George. Even in his death, he still continues to gift me with life experiences. And for that, it would be shameful if I didn’t grab these chances as they become readily available. I will honor him by living, because that is what he would want. And I know he was pushing me into the water today, saying “go on, Julia, please continue to smile for me.”