I am sat in a field in Northern France. I’m not moving at all, it is silent and I can see the rolling, green and pleasant countryside for miles in just about all directions. Looking left I can see a beautiful, resplendent old stone farm complex with pale blue wooden shutters keeping out the mid afternoon sunshine. The fields around it are immaculately neat and the rows of whatever crop that is growing there stretch way off in to the distance with Euclidian precision. On the Skyline sits a small, round topped metal water tower that reminds me of Sputnik. On the near horizon to my right, my eyes are drawn to a familiar sight I recognise from many years of military service passing through a multitude of bases, barracks, camps and airfields within the United Kingdom. The structure catches my attention and I begin to scan it more closely as thoughts, ideas and feelings form in my head, heart and soul. I scan every part of the structure and the loopholes it possesses for almost 30 minutes in complete silence and I fondly remember my childhood and a similar building that stood on the outskirts of my Birth town in the industrial North West of England.
The building is made of dull, light brown concrete blocks each of which is carefully formed and fitted to strengthen and support the one beside, above and below it. The inner structure is brick, although I cannot see it I know it’s there. The ground around it is littered with tall tufted, light brown grass that has not seen agricultural agitation for many a year. It sits alone, desolate and long since deserted, but it still sits proud, strong and as much of a solid, undamaged structure as it was the day it was erected sometime in the early 1900’s. I inspect the lonely, concrete, abandoned structure with what clarity my slowly ageing eyes can give me and my head tells me in a flash that, like that World War 2 pillbox, I am still here and I survived the storm. As the pillbox still stands because of the support from the block to its left, the block to its right and the ones above and below it, I stand here now years later, because of my friends and family and the support they gave me.
“Sorry for zee delay Ladies and Gentlemen“, the beautiful silence is shattered by the hollow, echoing sound of a strong French accent on a speaker some 10 feet away, and I am brought back with a jump to the reality of my situation. “We regret to inform you that zee delay was due to a person being found on zee line ahead, zee authorities should give us permission to move very soon“. Unlike that pillbox and me sat in coach 15 seat 11 of this virtually empty Brussels bound EuroStar, that person was no longer here. They took their own life. In an instant I was transported back with a stomach sickening feeling to the morning in early December of 2016 when I decided to remove the noose rope that was laying inside my rucksack, get away from that particular tree in rural Hertfordshire and make a positive decision not to kill myself that very same day. For the first time in a couple of years I felt that horrible sick feeling again and my head began to spin. Within seconds my mind took control, sent whatever electrical signal it needed and stopped releasing histamine into my system and instantly the sickness feeling subsided. I looked back again at that solid, impenetrable, strong and proud structure and smiled. “I’ve done it” I muttered under my breath in an empty train carriage.
“As the pillbox still stands because of the support from the block to its left, the block to its right and the ones above and below it, I stand here now years later, because of my friends and family and the support they gave me“.
It is D-Day. The 6th of June 2020 3 years to the day after I qualified (on paper) as an airline pilot in my mid 40’s. I did it while battling with depression from the death of both of my parents, the walk out of my long term partner (a totally broken heart), the loss of my job due to mental illness, fighting a legal battle for over 12 months, the loss of my home, bankruptcy, sleeping in my car, and thoughts of suicide all within a two year period. I am sat in a field in Northern France and like those brave, amazing men who were landed on the beaches and in fields of Normandy 76 years ago, I now feel like I am in full control of the situation and fighting back properly and on all fronts in life, for what just a few years ago was an un winnable and dark situation.
Today is my second D-Day; Done it.
And here was my first – D Day. My first blog.