Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Split mind, split dreams

I noticed that the older I get I refer to my consciousness as two separate people.  The person in the front is acting on events going on in real time, meanwhile the person in my head is a spectator sitting on the couch with her popcorn or gnawing her nails raw while I maneuver through a harrowing experience or she'll be my cheerleader hi-fiving me when I do something unexpected like stand up to someone and sometimes she'll stare at me with her mouth agape shaking her head....sometimes even laughing (I can never tell if she's laughing at me or with me).  I can't remember when it started, but I often like to take a step back from the environment that I am in and "take it all in".  I do not physically remove myself.  I am not eavesdropping or snooping.  What I do, when the conversation slides away from me, I just look around at the way people are interacting with each other.  Sometimes I am curious as to how I fit in to this picture and I can even take a step back while I am having a conversation.  This is particularly difficult since my mind can take over.......kind of like in the movie The Host, where my mind is having a conversation with myself about the relationship I hold with the person I'm conversing with.  Before all of this, I would be hiding in my head trying to come up with the next intelligent question so that I can keep the conversation going.  I was never really good at it, I realized, because I was not listening. If I were listening I could have let the words guide me.    The only time that I cannot feel that second person is when instinct guides me. Perhaps it is her in the background taking the reins since I consciously don't know what to do but she my subconscious does.  It's like with my daughter.  I just know what to do.  I have a well of patience that I did not know I had.  If you told me I would willingly change diapers all day, I'd say you're crazy, but you know what, I have a hard time passing up a diaper change because I want it done right and right now.  So I mind as well do it myself. Ha ha. 

The point of this post was to talk about my double dream life as I call it.  Everyday I think about how I would just love to wake up, out of this bad dream where my daddy had died.   I want to wake up and see his truck park on the street at lunchtime so that we can have an hour together.  I want to visit my parents and not just my mom.   I want to plan a future with my dad.  But if I wake up from this bad dream does it mean that in my wakefulness I will lose the good dream also?  The good dream of having a baby.  Being a mom and my husband is a father.  The good dream that is taking her nap with a smile while she cuddles her elephant.  If I had to choose, I would choose her and I know that my father would understand.  When I play with her and make her smile and coo, I try to look at her like my father would have looked at me and I understand the love he had for me and I am grateful.

I was watching the movie Beautiful Creatures last night and there's a scene towards the end where they are in church and the pastor is telling his story.  It was about sacrifice.  
"Reverend Stephens: I don't want to preach today, instead I just wanna talk to you, about a word we don't hear much anymore. Sacrifice. It's not what I would call a modern word. People hear the word sacrifice, and they become afraid that something will be taken away from them or that they will have to give up something they couldn't live without. Sacrifice, to them, means loss in a world telling us we could have it all. But I believe true sacrifice is a victory. That's because it requires free will to give up something for someone you love, or something or someone you love more than yourself. I won't lie to you. It's a gamble. Sacrifice wont take away pain and loss, but it wins the battle against bitterness, the bitterness that dims the light on all of the true value in our lives.”

My father had a hard time dealing with the fact that he was dying.  He spent days wondering why him, what did he do to deserve it etc etc.  My mother said, one day, "who would you give it to, if not you then who?" and she proceeded to nominate tributes in his stead.  My father accepted that this was his fate and that he would not wish it on his enemy let alone someone he loved.  This is true sacrifice and just shows what a wonderful man he was up until the very end. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Not crying today

Yesterday I decided that I was not going to cry.  That, in part, is why there was no post yesterday.  I always found it easier to write when I am sad.  I can write about anything sad, but when I am really happy, I find my writing is lacking.  I find that sad.  Well yesterday I hid the votive candle with my father's picture on it behind the baptism cards that my daughter received just  3 days after the funeral and told my father that I needed NOT to cry that day.   The wall of sorrow threatened to block me from my happiness but I pushed it away with more and more strength every hour.  Soon I was singing "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley to my nephew and it did not hurt.  It did hurt but I got used to pushing it away, promising that I will shed tears another day, but not that day.  I think what helped was that I was not going to be alone with my daughter all day.  My husband would be home after work in the early afternoon, and we were going to visit my sister.  I did not want to fall into tears in front of them.  I do not want the comforting "there, theres" and I did not want to plan on where I would hide myself to sob.  Now I need to learn to keep my mind busy, to stop parking my butt on the couch and have FULL busy days and I don't just mean laundry and dishes.  Part of the reason that I wanted to stay home was to get my hands into some projects.  Well my only accomplished project is procrastination and what scares me is that I will never get a chance to try or finish a project.   ok, like I said, I do not know what to write when I'm happy.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Elvis Presley

Yesterday in my fit of tears I bought an Elvis Presley album on iTunes.   It feels so good to hear his voice, feel his words and cry at the memories.  Saying my dad loved Elvis is an understatement.  He knew all his songs, had a framed poster on the wall and cried when he got the news that Elvis had left this earth.  Elvis' voice reminds me of when my dad would sing his songs.  He would mimic the voice  so well that my untrained ear did not hear the difference, but then again I can sing like Whitney Huston......when he would sing, he would mostly have mom in his arms and would sing to her soul.  He looked straight into her eyes, held her close and just spent that moment with her.  I made it through a few songs.  I listened to the Wonder of You, the song he chose to dance with me on my wedding day.  I had never listened to the words..... 
"When no-one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on
And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you
And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
Your love for me is everything
I'll guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me as you do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you"

Now that I am a parent, I can understand what these words mean.  They mean the same for my husband, but towards a child it is natural.  This unconditional love, the immediate falling over heals for your child is so beautiful.  I expected to feel overjoyed when I saw her for the first time, but honestly, I was so tired I couldn't even process what I was feeling.  It was a buzz in my brain, but I was in complete awe that we made her and I carried her and she's here! But what I did notice was despite the fatigue, my husband and I did everything we could to make her comfortable.  She hardly cried at the hospital.  We took care of her.  That is unconditional love.  Getting up after a few hours sleep, feeding her through cracked bleeding nipples, changing gross, stinky diapers that not always contain the grossness, and changing the clothes that were attained by the grossness.  Unconditional love is ferocious, terrifying, and amazing.  But unconditional love hurts when the source is gone.  I know I love my father.  I know I would protect him should the time arise.  I never understood what unconditional love was.  I love my husband.  But I fell in love with him.  I learned to love him unconditionally.  But your parents, you just loved them at first sight.  My daughter loves me and I feel it when she looks to my soul when she's having her bottle and I am the only one in the universe. I feel it when she smiles at a silly face I made.  I feel it when she laughs at her father's faces.  I feel it when I miss my daddy.  I have never wanted to cry in his arms as much as I do now.  

Sometimes I wish I had something to blame it on like bad nutrition or smoking.  That way I can say "if only he quit smoking, or he listened to his doctor".  I don't even have the luxury of putting the blame elsewhere, because there is no blame to be thrown.  He had a brain tumour.  Simple.  It spread. Simple.  We have to give thanks for the little blessings (but don't say this to me because it will piss me off).  I had the chance to say goodbye, several times.  I had the chance to say I love you, for all the times I didn't.  I don't regret anything except for the times I said I would do something with him and never planned it.  But it is in the past, and I will not hold on to that.  I will be grateful for the time we did have, and we did have a great time.  I will be  happy that I got to cry in his arms.  I will be happy that I was there when he passed away.  I needed to be there when he passed away.  I don't know if I needed the proof, but I wish I could erase the last picture I have of him.  The picture of the shell that held his soul for 59 short years. I'm happy I was there for my mom.  But I am so very very sad. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Today I'm spiralling.  I'm unable to produce this blog, as it is taking effort away from my grief.  The more I turn my back on my grief, the harder it will hit later.  I have a votive candle with my father's picture on it.  It is right under the television. Since I watch a lot of t.v. I am always glancing at it and that is when I realize that he is gone.  Each time I realize that he is gone, my breath hitches and that skipped breath makes its way to my heart.  Each time I realize that he is gone a new hitched breath attaches itself to the last.  Air is not heavy, but the meaning of that air is heavy.  It weighs my heart down until it cannot support the air anymore.  The only means of relief is to cry. No not true, a few tears are manageable. Just wipe away and smile.  What is coming, what happens when you ignore grief for a second, a minute, a day, is that it has to come out.  When it does it is ugly.  Full sob. Lie on your bed with a pillow in your face sob.  A sob that you wish was a scream but this pain is so, so private that I don't want to share it with anyone.

I never thought I would miss him THIS much.  I never thought it would feel like a piece of me is gone.  I never knew I had this piece, until it left.  I don't even know what it was shaped like, or what it was made of, it just disappeared when he died.  When he was dying, I didn't even feel it detach.  I think that is what hope does, it distracts you from your pain, until it can hide any more coins behind your ear.  Until the plain truth, that hope is an illusion, is so evident.  What's more annoying is that I am full of hope.  Wonderful right?  But where did hope lead us?  Last year, January 2013, my mother was hospitalized for her heart.  Fear paralysed my thoughts and all I could do was cry, cry at the thought of losing her, cry at the thought that my father would be alone, cry because I did not have a baby yet and she was going to die without meeting her grandchild.  Hope kicked in when she was given a defibrillator a new diet and lifestyle restrictions.  We grieved her old busy life and accepted a slower paced life.  New hope.  Oops was I standing on that carpet?  It just got ripped out from under me.  My mother in law in April of the same year was admitted for a rare disease.  A disease that only 20 people in Canada have!!! Ya, so she went through an onslaught of doctors poking and prodding her.  Her kidneys almost failed so dialysis for three months was her reality. Etc. Etc. Don't feel like going into all the details but just so you know, this year, she had cancer and was following Chemo! Bam! That felt like a stick in my bicycle spokes just as I was relishing the fresh air on my cheeks.  But right before the Cancer diagnosis, my father goes in the hospital for a brain toumor.  A fucking brain toumor! Really?  I'm running through the steps but you have to realize every step was agonizing.  Every phone call made us sick to our stomaches.  I didn't want to answer the phone for fear of more bad news. And it came.  He had to be operated.  We had to visit this man that no longer looked like himself.  We had to be strong, but I cannot, will not have a poker face so I cried.  The operation was a success, he went home.  Mom had to take care of him, he was weak, she was weak, he went back to the hospital.  The cancer spread, there was nothing to be done.  The other shoe dropped, he would die.  He died.  Everyone keeps saying that at least he got to see his grand baby.  I try to believe this is wonderful, for him.  I try to think that this is wonderful for mom.  I cannot see how wonderful this is for me or for her.  She will never meet him.  He won't pick her up after school as a surprise.  She will never fall asleep in his arms.

I can't continue.........

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The weight of grief

Some days, like yesterday, grief is like a balloon filled with helium that is tied around your wrist.  You know it is there, you have to pull down the string so that you can enter a room, make sure it doesn't get caught when the door closes and it'll probably bump you in the head when you are driving in your car with the windows down or even get between you and the windshield so you have a hard time seeing.  But like a helium balloon, symbol of birthdays or parties, it can bring you joy.  A sad smile will spread on your lips and might even put a little sparkle in your eyes.  This joy is when you remember times spent with your loved one.  Looking through pictures can help this along too.  On these days you can think of what the person might say to you, for example, I was passing the weed eater and I was imagining what my father would say to me if he noticed I was leaning the machine on my hip.  He would have told me if I couldn't do the whole yard without leaning it on my hip, then to separate the yard over a few days. So I removed it from my hip, squared my shoulders and finished the back yard and front yard.  Thanks Dad.  I even read the instruction manual to find out how to get more whip out.  But then days like today, where I overslept, did not find the right breakfast to keep me going, days like today are brutal.  I have no focus and I'm always hungry.  It will not be a superhero productive day like yesterday.  Today the grief feels like a rock the size of a basketball in the pit of my stomach.  This rock has a string tied around it and on the other end is my collarbone.  This string is too short so it forces me to hunch over.  I try to imagine it like an elastic.  I know today I will not be able to remove the rock so the elastic allows me to hold my head up above the grief and see that the sun is shining and my daughter is smiling at me.  But I know, and I am going to agonize all day, that the elastic is going to snap and I will have my face buried in my pillow trying to cry the boulder out of my mouth so I can feel better tomorrow.

Monday, 19 May 2014


They said leading up to his death and after his death that my dad will watch over me.  A simple sentiment meant to comfort me, when in reality it really pissed me off. Another one is "stay strong for your daughter", that one really riles me up.  How can you ask me to be strong when I am planning my father's cremation and funeral arrangements like I plan my birthday parties!  How can you ask me to stay strong when there is nothing I can do and too much to do at the same time.  How can you ask me to be strong when at the same time as I am saying goodbye to the photographer that took amazing photos of my daughter, mementos of her smiling baby face, a UPS truck parks in front of my house to deliver my father's urn! Stay strong.  Is it because you feel that I am not up to it? My daughter is fed, happy, clean....I think I am allowed to cry over her if I feel I need to.  She is my greatest comfort.  She is the best listener.

I suppose the sentiment of being watched over is to remind us that there is no need to feel alone, that we can still talk to that person and somehow this comforts us.  I think it is cruel.  It has been 15 days since his death and we have had a funeral and a baptism since.  I would like to think that he has been there watching us, or sitting next to us.  I like to think that he got to witness, at the restaurant where we had his memorial, the impact he had on others while he was alive, because I don't think he loved himself enough to realize the impact he had on others.  I didn't even realize the impact he had since it never occurred to me to think about it.  You think about impact when you think about the people who volunteer, who get crests, titles or even parties in their honour for the great work done.  I like to think that he would tell us not to fuss, but his tender heart would be filled with love and pride at the hard work his kids put into remembering him and his wife for taking apart photo albums filled with decades worth of photos just to find those photos that summed up his life.  I like to think that he  was watching his grand baby get welcomed into the house of God through baptism.  That maybe he was sitting with the Big Man and getting compliments from Him about how beautiful and perfect she is.  I like to think that he is near me when I weep, I miss his arms so.  He would tell me to "reviens-en" get over it, move on.

I think it's cruel.  I think it would be unfair to be hovering around those you love for.....sounds like as long as you need them.  It's cruel to me to be able to talk to my father and not hear an answer, same for him, he can hear the question but not be able to give me his advice.  How cruel is it that he can watch his widow, crying herself to sleep and he cannot hold her.  He might place his hand on her shoulder to let her know he is there but she'd probably pull up the blanked over her shoulder where he left a cold spot.  Would he be pained to watch that he cannot throw his baby granddaughter into the air and hear her giggle.  Such a beautiful creature made by his daughter and he cannot enjoy her.

I would rather that he move on. Move on away from the mundanity of life, onto the other lie we tell ourselves of better places.  Do we create our own heaven?  I cannot imagine my father living on a cloud with the sound of angels signing in the distance.  I see him watching the NASCAR races from the best seats, having access to the pits, the winners circle and the garages.   I see him mowing endless fields of grass and never getting tired, unless he wanted to feel a good days work.  i see him passing the snow blower on a summer day just because he felt like it.  But these scenarios pull up more questions like if he can pick and choose what his heaven looks like on any given day, how does it affect everyone else's heavens?  Will he be bumping into my grandpa, great aunts that we have lost or are there so many people that it would be impossible to find them.  Essentially I guess my heaven would be a holodeck or virtual reality.  Choosing which space I want to inhabit for the moment.  

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The funeral

Dads funeral service was two days ago.  It is done.  All the stress of having the paperwork figured out finding a venue, picking the right photos for the keepsake bookmark, the photo albums, the board that displayed his life through pictures is all done. Packing the car and setting up the display was fun. Felt like a school fair.  Small talk involved the weather, it was friggin hot!!  Family drove in from out of town and gathered at the restaurant my parents were patrons of.  It was fitting.  The wait staff new him, and kept giving us hugs and words of encouragement and letting us know that there were there for us.  Probably in the sense of what they can do for us in terms of food, chairs, etc. but I got the impression that they meant much more.  When you have a service without using the funeral chain you get to pick the mood and atmosphere.  I found myself racing to the front of the restaurant to greet my family that I haven't seen in a while and couldn't wait to show them their three month old niece. When I got to them to receive and give our hugs of hello, I was assaulted with their red rimmed watery eyes, the tilt of their head and instead of  a hug, hands on my shoulders holding me in place lest I run away when they ask me so softly 'How you doing hon''.  I tell them I'm fine.  But I am not fine. Everyone is sad, and I am bouncing around like my 9 year old niece who is just happy to be hugging my mid section for the umpteenth time.  The family then go to my brother and mother then fold into each other.  I stare dumbly wondering what is wrong with me.  But I don't notice that my eyesight skims over dads pictures and urn.   I make sure my daughter is alright, showing her off to the family members that haven't seen her.  She is my pride and joy.  She is a good baby and I was told countless times.  Then I saw her.  My beautiful younger cousin.  I hugged her and started to cry.  She rocked me and sushed me like a child.  I broke from her hug and hugged her hello.  I was starting to crack.  When people asked me how I was doing, the answer was now, 'it depends on the moment'.  Off again to take care of my daughter.  Funny how everyone wants to hold her but no one wants to change a diaper.  So I break the spell of the funeral by going through the restaurant with a diaper bag, my baby in my sister in law's arms, my niece, nephew and husband.  Why so many people, well the boys had to go to the washroom, my niece follows her little cousin almost as closely as she follows me and my sister in law was starting to take over baby duties so I can have my time to grieve with my family.  Thank you so much for my sisters-in-law.  For a few hours, they took care of her as if she were their own, diapers and all.  Going back into the private room we had for the service, the room was heavy with grief.  Clouds of sadness were accumulating above our heads as if each person brought their own cloud, and the more people crammed into the room, the clouds bumped into each other and threatened to break.  Some would and there would be mini showers in different areas of the room.  Now time for the eulogies.  My uncle spoke about dad as a brother would of his younger brother.  He gave the floor to a family friend, his sister, moms sister who had a hard time reading and made us cry, moms brother and finally my uncle read a poem.  This poem made me sob.  The words were something dad would say if he were a man of words.  Then my husband read the poem my uncle wrote, but in a french translation.  In 13 years I have never seen him cry.  As he was reading, his voice caught, he took a deep breath as his lips quivered.  I can see he is sad but he does not know what to do with this emotion, he didn't expect it to be so strong.  I am sobbing, a comforting hand rubs my back and I am sobbing.  My husband returns to the seat next to us and we sob in eachothre's arms.   We made a line at the back of the restaurant, mom, my brother, and I.  Sometime my sister in law was there and I'm not sure where my husband was but I know he was watching me.  I sobbed in my cousins' arms, uncles, aunts.  Then I was done, and hungry.  The confusion of before the eulogy was gone.  It was time to eat and laugh and catch up.  My dad would have approved.

I don't want to believe he's gone.  But I prepared his funeral, I prepared the keepsakes, I sat with him while he took his last breaths, I saw the shell of the man I knew when I left the hospital room.  I know he's gone.  But how do I live with a piece missing.  I did not know that my parents' love and presence held a physical piece inside of me.  I like there is a hole and it will take time to close up, but it will never completely close up.  Right now it feels like every time I breathe I loose breath to that hole, and when I realize that I need that breath, well.....it is gone, like my father.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

He's gone

Written May fourth

I'm sitting in the dark. The hospital floor is quiet. I've been hoping for some quiet since I got here and now it scares me. I'm sitting in the dark my feet upon my daddy's bed. I lifted his right hand and tucked my foot under it thinking it would reassure me but it is just heavy and not what I wanted. I wanted my daddy's comforting hand, rubbing my foot.  My mommy is on the other side of the bed sleeping on a cot with her hand in his. My brother is probably having a bad night thinking about us and wishing he could get to us faster than he could. I miss my husband and baby. This is the first night I am away from her. I feel like I'm missing my heart. My daddy's breathing is quick. He held his breath once and though I wish this to be over I don't want him to go, but I don't want him or us to be in limbo. I can't decide if this is selfish of me or compassionate. Anyone else I would tell them that it would be completely normal to feel that way, but of course I wouldn't tell them that because it sounds like such shit when you are going through something as terrible as this. When I wake up from sleep that will take me by surprise I don't know what I want. Dad to have passed away while I slept peacefully by his side or for him to still be alive.

He's Gone.

I've had several crazy dreams in the past hour. All were about getting dad back on his bed because he's sick. He kept swinging his leg out of bed like he was getting up and if we did not notice he would be standing at the other side of the room. This was mixed in with other nonsense. Dreaming of a nice bed, eating in a cafeteria all I'm sure was because I was hungry and uncomfortable.  Before I fell asleep mom was lying in bed with dad and offered me her cot. Then she moved to the chair and let me sleep on the cot. I dreamt that dad was on his bed and looked down lovingly at his wife sleeping in his arms.  He looked up at me, then back at her nodded his head to her as if to say it's time to go.  Mom said my name and I woke up. I knew he was gone.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Short posts, most unfinished

I decided to write what I can in the time that I have, so some of my posts will be unfinished.  That is primarily how my day goes. The only thing that I do in a day from start to finish is take care of my daughter, and really that is all that counts.  If she is fed, clean, happy and sleeps well, the rest can go to...... Even though logic tells me this, my need to have a clean house is obsessive.  But how to clean a house, with baby demands, my own demands (food, sleep etc) and a natural laziness!?  Oh! throw in some grieving and planning a funeral as well as a Baptism and voiola!! What I want to do is pushed to the side AGAIN!  But I have to say I am a master procrastinator, so If I had only done my projects pre-baby and pre-family issues, well they would be done.

Today seems to be a particularly awesome day. My bathroom is cleaned top to bottom and I made an original lunch recipe and it tastes awesome!!  My husband will complain, but he always does, so I don't really care, lol I am fearing the end of the day though.  I have no tasks to do in relation to the funeral so far today, I have had happy thoughts of my father, memories of things we did, said, I even used his bbq sauce recipe for my lunch, and no tears, no helplessness.  Tonight I will probably have a meltdown or even question my loyalty to my father if I am so easily moving on.

That is all for today. Just so you know this is my first blog and I am not sure yet what format or what I am bringing to the blog.  Stick around or don't, comment or don't.

Thank you for reading

First post

Some moments are numb, some are painful and others are just wonderful.  All day I cycle through an incredible joy, a devastating pain and a boring routine.  How do I live when my father is lying in a hospital bed just waiting to not wake up.  That is his prognosis.  He will just sleep longer and longer until he doesn't wake up.  As much as I don't want to lose my father, the man in the bed has my father's heart, but that is not the man that I want to keep.  I want the strong man, who worked hard and loved even harder.  He was a tough no nonsense man who loved nonsense.  He was funny and did everything he could to make ends meet so that his family would not be without the essentials.  I grew up spoiled.  Spoiled with love and hugs, activities and stories but nothing materialistic.  I never noticed that we were poor.  I heard one of my parents say that we were $1.00 above the poverty line, I never understood what it meant.  Apparently our apartment when I was a child had drafts in winter that was why we put rolled up blankets in between the windows and door frames. I thought everyone did that.  But my parents made it work.  I digress.  Most days I wake up refreshed from a great nights sleep.  My daughter sleeps from 10 pm until 5:30 am. I am so lucky to have an easy baby right now.  Having a baby is emotional enough add family sickness' (yes plural, I'll get to that eventually) and a husband who renovates but doesn't finish a project along with him having to find a new job, well it puts a lot of strain on a person.