April 6, 2014

Together again…

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:58 pm by letterstoelias

(I had originally written this long post, then decided to shorten it dramatically, deleting almost all the information and many of the photos below – but, when I came back to finish the shortened version, somehow all my edits were gone and the original was still here…  therefore, I finished what I had originally started… and, big apologies as I have not gone back to re-read and edit – I only added the end)

April 09 136-2

Elias and I were married in May of 2000.  And, it wasn’t long before we ‘expanded’ our little family.  That summer we started volunteer dog walking at the local SPCA.  We knew we wanted a dog, but we wanted to be sure to find the ‘right’ one to fit our lifestyle, and our place, which was a small, a one bedroom condo.  We got to know one of the staff at the SPCA quite well, and she understood what we were looking for.

And, one day at work I got a call from a very excited Elias.  The woman from the SPCA had called and said a dog had just been brought in, that she thought would be perfect for us (which was not typically what they do, maybe not even allowed, but I think she wanted a dog for us as much as we did).  Sheba.  Elias wanted to go see her immediately, but I had to work until after they were closed.

He was terribly worried she’d be adopted out before we could get there, and had to go and have a look.  He was so excited, and was ready to adopt – but we wanted to do it together.  By the time we were able to go together, her sister had also been turned in.

Shagie.  They looked almost identical . . . she was a little smaller than her sister, but lots of spunk.  We took them both for a walk, together.  I remember laughing with Elias about how they walked SO close together, bumping every so often, their bellies swaying side to side in unison.  I hated the idea of splitting them up (even though they hadn’t been living together before being turned in), and would have loved to have adopted them both – but there was something about that smaller one.  Sheba, seemed to be a bit ‘tougher’.  Shagie, a little more on the goofy side.  And, she stole our hearts.

We took her home straight away.  I remember  the drive home with her in the back of the car, clearly wondering what on earth was happening, and I think, so were we – but, we never looked back.  (though, we did change her name . . . )

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With Elias working nights, and me working days, she had a good split of time between the two of us.  She joined us on road trips.  We became regulars at the dog park.  She’d play great with other dogs, but if she had a ball to chase, she wouldn’t see much else.  And man, was she fast.  We were often asked if she was part greyhound (we were told she was a Sharpei-Lab cross, though, looking back through her records, the people who turned her in had listed German Lab – which is a lab with german pointer…  that wasn’t on the actual SPCA file, but looking at this photo, and a few others, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little pointer in her as well)

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 It wasn’t always easy.  She was 8months old when we adopted her, but we still went through the chewing phase – remote controls, shoes, pillows (bitter apple spray works wonders though!).  And, after a few weeks in the condo, we were ‘advised’, by way of a flyer for bark collars under our door, that apparently she barked rather incessantly in the time she was home alone (she would only give the odd growl when we were there).  This was more difficult to stop.  We tried blocking off the hallway to the door so she wouldn’t bark right at it, perhaps less noisy.  But, no matter how high and challenging a wall of ‘stuff’ we built, we’d come home, and she’d be on the other side of it.  Often, magically, without displacing a thing (she did the same when we tried to keep her sleeping in the kitchen, instead of our bedroom, but that didn’t last long at all).  

I wouldn’t try the electric shock collars, but tried the ‘lemon spray’ kind, which seemed to work well enough to keep the neighbours happy, and at least our condo smelled nice and citrusy when we came home.  Of course we had our fun with her, in many ways, and life was good.

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She even ‘modelled’ for an article in the newspaper, about a fundraiser my work was doing for the SPCA!

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And, she was there when Elias had one of his first seizures.  He said he remembered her acting odd – following him more closely than usual (which is saying something).  And, though he doesn’t remember much around it happening, he recalls coming to with her licking his face (along with the paramedics knocking at the door – he had been on the phone with his aunt at the time, and she called for the ambulance as this was right after his first MRI and diagnosis).

Being the active, ball crazy, jumping dog she was, she eventually managed to tear a cruciate ligament in one of her back legs.  It was weeks of recovery, trying to keep her calm, which was no easy task – but, it got her a trip to Tofino with us for our 3rd anniversary!  

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Unfortunately, not long after the first knee was done, the second had to be repaired as well (weakened from supporting the other for so long), and our ‘free’ dog soon had $2500 knees.  But, life was still good – and continued to change.

Hoping kids would be in our near future, we sold our little condo, and moved into a bigger home.  With a yard.  Which, we quickly realized needed a taller fence in parts, as on moving day she jumped it into our neighbours yard!  Quick way to get to know who lives next door . . .

A little down the road, E came into the world, and our little family expanded once more.  As it was a home birth, Cali was there.  Not in the room, but present, none the less.  She could tell right away, that this was something special.  She was always very careful around E.  She’d get worried when E would cry.  And she was so gentle.  Cali had a protective nature – she and I had been charged/attacked by off leash dogs while walking on a few occasions, which unfortunately made it tougher for me to walk her on my own as from that point she usually had her defences higher – and she’d make some people think twice about coming in our house, but she was never out to hurt anyone.  And thankfully, in particular with E, she was nothing but gentle.

Fast forward to another move, and, another baby.  She was just the same with C as she was with E (though, a ‘little’ more relaxed about the crying, as I guess she was used to it by that point).  Of course, she didn’t get ‘quite’ as much attention from us as before the girls were born, but she was still a part of everything.

When Elias’ condition worsened, and we moved in to his parent’s basement a month before he died, the four of us sleeping between two mattresses on the floor, living out of suitcases, she was right there on the floor with us.

I honestly don’t have much recollection of how things went with her on the day he died, but I know that she missed him terribly after as well.  You could see it in her.  And I suddenly realized her age.  I instantly became more aware of her greying fur, and became terrified of being able to look after her, among everything else, and of losing her too.  I hate to admit it, but a part of me considered giving her away so I wouldn’t have to deal with that inevitable loss that I feared would come too soon.

Elias’ uncle Martin looked after Cali for a few days for me when we went on a trip shortly after Elias died, and it took only one afternoon of being in the house without her for me to quickly erase those thoughts from my mind.  She was such an important part of my life, that I still needed her, desperately.

We had a scare and almost lost her three years ago, but she pulled through – much to the amazement of the vet – and she continued to be by my side since.  The last few months in particular, her age was really catching up with her.  She started having accidents.  Many, many accidents.  It was terribly frustrating for me, but for her as well, so it just became a part of our day – I tried to be around as much as possible to let her out, and I came to know where to look when I’d get home to clean up.  Her legs not what they once were, and without the carpets to help with traction (we had to pull most everything up due to her accidents), she needed a little ‘boost’ up now and then if she got in an awkward spot or her legs slipped out from under her.  Her eyes were ‘cloudier’.  She moved a little more slowly, content with shorter walks.  She was harder to keep warm. But, as old as she was, she still was a loving companion.  Always greeting us at the door with a wagging tail.  Still kicked up a little of her old ‘spunk’ now and then, barked out her ‘protection’ to people walking by our house.  And, she was my ever present shadow.  She always refused to go to bed until I did, and would often rest her chin on the couch, looking at me with those pleading eyes, I think to try to ‘will’ me to go at times when she was ready.  But, she’d always wait for me.  And, she provided me with a good reason to go.

In December she had her 14th birthday.  She also got to the point where she had been with me longer than Elias and I had been together.  I dare say, again, a part of me almost didn’t want that to be – but instead of wallowing in that fact, I tried to just use it to love her even more fiercely than ever.  Knowing it would be a slower time at the store, I stayed home with her much more the first week of January.  I just needed to be around her.  I knew our time together wasn’t going to be long, but I never would have imagined just how short from that point it would be….

Though I had gotten used to the accidents, one day the following week something changed.  She still seemed well enough, and though it wasn’t a big change, I decided to take her to the vet.  Sure enough, though we caught it early, there was a problem.  And a big one.  The lengthy name of it, basically meant that her brain could no longer communicate with her bladder to release.  She was in danger at that point, and any way to help would be extremely risky at her age, not guaranteed to work, and she would be in the same spot shortly after regardless.  They could try, but it didn’t look good, and they felt her time had come.  They encouraged me to allow it to happen that day.  I was a complete mess.  It was torture to think that, aside from not being able to pee, she was ‘normal’, and we needed to put her down?  I thought I was just bringing her for some incontinence issues, and they were telling me that her time had come.  Now.  

I told them it couldn’t go like that.  She couldn’t go like that.  I needed to take her home, for one more night.  I needed to talk with my girls.  To give us all a little more time together.  Something we didn’t exactly get with Elias.  They gave me some pills to try to help release her bladder and to help ensure she wasn’t in pain.  The fact that she still seemed completely herself otherwise, was making it all so much harder.  I felt like I was making this choice, that didn’t ‘look’ clear.

I took her home, and lay down on the couch with her, and cried into her fur.  I spoke to Elias – asked him for a sign of any kind – a light to burn out, a hummingbird at the feeder.  I stared at the feeder for a few minutes, then decide I was crazy – it was January, and I hadn’t fed the feeder since fall.  I fell asleep with her for a bit, until it was time for the girls to come home from school, and for me to break the news to them.

We made sure to give her the best night we could.  Lots of treats.  Lots of snuggles and kisses.  The canned food for dinner.  We discussed how to make the next day fit each or our needs.

The next morning she still seemed to be doing fine in some ways and continued to struggle with it all.  The girls had both initially decided to stay home from school and be here while we had the vet come to the house to have her put down, but in the morning, E changed her mind and decided she wanted to go to school.  The event brought up a fair bit of grief related to Elias’ death, so it was hard to know how best to navigate it all, and I just tried to honour what each of them wanted, at least in the moment.  So as I was on the phone with a friend to see if she could help get E to school and was just about to walk out of the family room we were all in, E shouted for me to come back – there was a hummingbird at the feeder right outside our window.  We all watched it hover there for a few moments – I started to cry again – and then it was off.  It felt like Elias was giving me that message.  It’s ok.  You can let her go, I got this.

Of course only moments later I worried that maybe the message was really that ‘she’ would be ok – but I knew in my heart that it really was time.  And even after calling the vet to arrange them coming to the house, he said that he felt it was in her best interest, that anything we could try would only cause her more suffering.

So, C and I took her for one last walk on the beach.  She dipped her toes in the ocean, sniffed the air, felt the sand in her toes.  We took her back past the school and pulled E out for one more chance to say good bye in the way that felt best for her.

I had one more big snuggle on the couch with her, and C read her books.  Then, the vet came.  We took her to my room, and C was amazing.  Petting her and kissing her and loving her though it all.  Looking to me and giving me loving smiles.  The vet and technician seemed pretty amazed.  I’m not sure how many young children are present when their pet is put down, and probably fewer whisper ‘Say hi to Daddy for me’ in their pet’s ear as it happens.  But she and I gave Cali as much love as we could, right to the end.

As the vets were on their way out was when it really started to hit C more.  After a few minutes, my mom took her over to our friends house, as they had taken E home from school as well.  Then, Sian came back over, along some wine and a shovel.  Lisa and Paul came too, and in the pouring, pouring rain, these kind souls helped me dig a grave for Cali in our yard.

When the girls got home, E then expressed an interest in seeing her, but she quickly realized it was too late.  I had worried that she may have some regrets on her decision, but in the end I think it was ok.

Of course there’s always more to it all, but if you’ve made it this far, I thank you for reading at least this much of Cali’s story.  In the end, the fact is she is gone and I miss her terribly.  Still, three months later I look for her face in the window when we come home.  I look for her in the backyard.  Beside my bed.  But, I think her story just needed to be shared.

I do like to imagine her and Elias’ souls are together now.  The weekend after we had her put down, we went on a hike up Soames hill, and spotted another hummingbird putting on a little show.  After watching it dive bomb around for a few minutes, it flew up and hovered by a nearby tree, and moments later was joined by a second.  They both hovered there for a few moments, and then sped off together.  It made me smile.

Now, the 5yr anniversary of Elias’ death is right around the corner.  There have already been a few bumps to start the month – I managed to temporarily misplace my credit card, which I discovered when I went to buy groceries, and the next morning when I went to make the girls’ lunches – after almost completely forgetting to do that (E was already outside ready to go to school) – I discovered that I had left an entire bag of groceries at the store.  But, I have something hopefully great planned for that week.  I’ll try to get back here to explain if it manages to happen.

And, we have no immediate plans for a new pet.  We took care of my parent’s dogs for a few weeks, and just this weekend had a kitten in our house – both of which reminded me just how much I miss having a pet – but it will be a bit of time yet, I think.  And, no matter what new critters find their way into our hearts and home, we will always love, and miss our Cali…

~Chelsea

P.S.  I Love You

December 24, 2013

And so, this is Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:23 pm by letterstoelias

Our fifth without Elias.

Five.

I’ve had to count, and recount it over a few times to be sure, and then once again because it still doesn’t seem possible.

And, somehow, even though I’ve been through this four times already, five has been rough.  Harder than number four in some ways.  Perhaps because 5 just ‘feels’ like a more significant number…?

There are still tears.  In the shower.  After the girls are asleep.  Looking at pictures.  When a certain song or two comes on.  And, though it’s by no means ‘all’ bad – we have had plenty of fun, happiness, and made some great new memories – the weight still presses a little harder on my heart.

There are still moments where doing anything seems to take a great deal of effort, doing little things overwhelm me greatly, and so many, many things get left undone.  Time still gets lost in moments of staring silently at nothing.

It’s easy to say that I really thought I’d be ‘better’ at this by now (at least the handling of it, I mean), but I have travelled long enough on this road of grief to understand that it’s just not that cut and dry.  (I also recognize that I ‘have’ come a long way in my ability to handle things over the years – and I did manage to keep my store afloat, get the kids to all their classes/concerts/etc/etc/etc)

Greif aside, I have no doubt Christmas would be much, much different with Elias’ influence (in person, of course – he still has a strong influence around here…).  But, he was always much more ‘festive’ than I.  Even though I run a retail store that needs this month to get me through the next, I personally tend to shy away from an overly commercial Christmas (perhaps especially in the last few years it’s been harder for me to focus on ‘stuff’).  While we certainly recognize Santa, I’ve generally tried to ensure he wasn’t the main player in the season.  That he didn’t get all the credit around here.  And, sometimes I feel like a bit of a scrooge for it.

I appreciate the magic and wonder my girls have in Santa and don’t have any plans to ruin it, and sometimes feel perhaps I should just play into it more, though, they do seem to be more than happy with what happens around here, regardless.

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I know a big part of why I don’t want them writing big ‘wish lists’ to Santa, is fear.  I know that ‘my’ one and only wish can’t be fulfilled, and though I don’t think they would ask Santa for their Daddy back (I’m pretty sure they ‘get it’ when it comes to that…), I know it is on their hearts too.  C has been talking about wanting him back constantly for a few weeks now – just two nights ago she told me she didn’t think she could go on without him any longer – and last night E asked me if I was sure that Voldemort didn’t kill Daddy…

While so many kids ask for toys, my kids already generally wish for that which I can’t give them, and I don’t want to let them down (I’m not even including having Daddy back here).  I feel like they’ve already lost so much in this life, how can I explain that Santa can’t bring you an admittance letter to Hogwarts, or grant you the ability to do real magic?  Or, a real live bunny or kitten?  (ok, technically he ‘could’ do that one, but it’s just not happening at this point in our lives)

Tonight, now that my sweet girls have finally drifted off to sleep, dreaming of a fun morning, Santa’s smoothie will get drunk.  His cookies will get eaten (along with 10 baby carrots for the reindeer), and he will fill two little stockings with plenty of fun (with a bit in Daddy’s stocking too).

I, will wrap presents.  Wintersong will play in my head on repeat, and a few tears will likely fall, among thoughts of happy memories, and imagining what Elias would do/say if he was here (remarkably clearly at times).

Tomorrow, a candle will burn, and the girls will have a fun morning.  And, though it’s not exactly as any of us wish it to be, I will try to take comfort in knowing that he’ll be smiling along with them…

~C~

Merry Christmas, my love…

P.S.  I Love You

May 31, 2013

On The Run

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:51 pm by letterstoelias

I grew up loving dance.  Taking any classes I could from the time I was about 2yrs old, until, well, I’m still taking ballet now whenever I can.  I’ve always had a great deal of flexibility, turnout, a decent amount of strength . . . but lacked a fair bit cardiovascularly speaking.  More than a fair bit, really.

I remember dreading having to do a run every year in P.E.  One where we had to do a certain number of laps around the 400m track . . . I can’t remember how many – and probably not even ‘that’ many, but I was NOT a fan.  And though typically rather competitive by nature, I really only cared about not coming in last when it came to that run.

Somewhere over 10yrs ago, a friend and I started dong a walk/run program together.  We wanted to work our way up to some sort of distance or time, though I can’t recall now (have I mentioned how bad my memory is these days??).  We met a few times at a track near home, and would run 30seconds, then walk 4 1/2 mins, etc.  Slowly building up the running time and shortening the walk.

But, we didn’t get very far, before she got pregnant.  My brief foray into running came to a grinding halt.  Of course, it didn’t have to, but I’ve never had much motivation (or perhaps found it too boring?) to go on my own.  A few other times in my life I considered picking up my running shoes again, and that was also always fairly short lived.

* * * * *

After Elias died and I was searching out others ‘like me’ through blogs, I discovered a blog by Matt Logelin.  From there, I heard of the Liz Logelin Foundation.  A charity formed by Matt in honour of his wife Liz, who died the day after giving birth to their first child.  A charity to help widowed parents fill financial needs, and to just give them overall hope in their time of deep grief and despair.

Suffering the loss of your love, soul mate, best friend and co-parent is hard enough – believe me – without having to worry about financial burdens that can come from the loss.  Times have not always been easy for me financially, I worry a lot and watch every penny I spend, but I feel very fortunate that I have never faced the possibility of losing a roof over my girls’ heads, or food on their plates.  There are many who are not so fortunate.

The LLF is a charity that is very close to my heart, I know people whose lives have changed because of it, and I’ve seen first hand the positive impact it makes.

That is why, two years ago I decided to participate in the Run, Walk, Hope to help raise money for the LLF.  My Dad joined me, and together we did a 5k in their ‘Walk Around The World’ option (the actual event takes place in Minnesota).  I decided to create a fundraiser with that run, and was beyond excited to have raised over $200, and then my amazing Brother-In-Law matched the amount!

I hadn’t prepared for that run at all, but I did fairly well, and it was just great to be out there with my Dad, and running for a cause that I cared about and raising some good money along the way.

Back around January this year, I figured maybe with a little more ‘training’ under my belt, I could run that 5k a little better, as I knew the event was scheduled for early June.  And I figured maybe I could get into this running thing a bit more and finally improve my cardio a bit.  One of my best friends (and all around amazing and favourite people), Sian, had also started running around that time.

Then, I learned the Run, Walk Hope had added a 10k option . . .

I know that for the charity, no matter how far I go it’s all the same (for registration fees and therefor the donation), but I do enjoy a challenge now and then.

As we started to improve our times on our 5k runs (though I know I slow her down!) and challenged ourselves to go a little further, we figured maybe we could pull off the 10k.

Unfortunately, as I got so busy getting the new location of my store reno’d, my old location packed, moved, and a new grand re-opening (all good, but still crazy busy!) I didn’t have much time for anything, let alone running.

Things are just now settling back down at the store (and I LOVE the new location!), and though she can kick my ass even more now, Sian has been wonderfully patient as I’m trying to get back into it, and hopefully still be ready to try a 10k by June 8th!

* * * * *

A great deal of  running is a mental challenge for me.  Sure, my knees don’t seem to be made for it (or my hips, or ankles, or much else for that matter!) but getting through what I think I’m capable of (or not) can be tough (having a great, motivating running partner sure helps though! especially when she can run WAY faster without me…..).  I NEVER imagined I would even attempt a 10k at this point in my life (if at all. ever).  I know for many it’s not much, but for me it’s a fair bit.  I like to think Elias would be pretty damn impressed.  And happy about the cause I’m running for.  And, I’m pretty proud too.

There aren’t a great deal of flat, smooth areas to run around here (not to mention my fear of bears and cougars!), and it’s pretty impossible to find a route without at least a few decent elevations to climb.  Though there are points in a run where I’ll feel pretty good and as if I could keep going no problem, there are many times in a run – in particular when facing an incline of any kind – where I really struggle.  Just knowing they are coming is tough for me.  I want to stop and walk (or just quit entirely), think I can’t run it, etc.  I find myself just wishing that I could run nice, long, flat, smooth stretches all the time.  SO much easier.

But then, that’s not really life either, is it?!  Though you get the odd, nice smooth stretch for a bit here and there, much of this life is bumpy, rough terrain, and there sure are hills to climb.  Sometimes very steep hills.  And, seeing them looming in the distance is daunting.

And, as with running, getting through those rough stretches and up those hills takes strength, and builds it – even if, at times, you feel as if you don’t have any, you need to slow down or even walk, you still move forward.  It makes the smooth parts that much more enjoyable.  And, in time, those hills get a little easier to face.  Muscles, heart, breath, and mind – all work together to get you through.  A few of the hills on our route that I used to dread and needed to walk up, I can now run up without stopping.  Some still challenge me, but I know I can face them, and bit by bit I will get stronger.

Not unlike facing life as a widowed parent.  Hope is a crucial part of surviving this road.

I’m happy to have my registration fees going towards a great charity like the Liz Logelin Foundation, that helps give that kind of hope to other widowed parents.  And, again this year I’ve decided to do my run as a fundraiser for anyone else who wishes to donate towards my run for the LLF and help provide that kind of hope.  I know the kind of difference it will make . . . .

Yesterday I took my tax return and treated myself to a new pair of runners to help me get through the next week of training and beyond (I still have to find a way to add 2 more kilometres to my run!) as I’m pretty sure my ‘old’ runners were the ones I had bought with my first attempts at running over 10yrs ago.  And, while I am usually greatly adverse to wearing ANY bright colours, let alone pink –  the ones that fit me best (and of course weren’t on sale =p) just happened to be fluorescent pink!  Almost identical to Sian’s, but she swears they help her go faster.  I’m still not sure how I feel about wearing them, but at least you can’t miss us!

(and for whatever reason, I can’t get the photo of the shoes to upload, so I’ll have to try again later . . . perhaps in an ‘after’ shot if I end up making it through the 10k!)

~C~

My Love,

I’m sure at times you’d be equal parts proud and mad at me – mad for not taking things a ‘little’ easier sometimes.  But still, the proud would edge out the mad.  At times when I struggle through a run, I think of all you went through.  Your surgeries, radiation, chemo, and more.  As well as what I’ve been through since you’ve been gone.  With that, I know that I can push through a little knee pain, ankle ache or cramp.

And, I know when I run the 10k, no matter how much of it I end up walking (likely dependent on how much my ankle heals in the next few days!) you’ll be cheering me on.

~Chelsea

P.S.  I Love You

May 12, 2013

Make A Wish

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:18 am by letterstoelias

Wish

Being a Mother isn’t always easy, even under the best of circumstances.  I know some pretty amazing Mothers.  Many, who have had to be Mothers in ways they never imagined.

Mothers who fight for a better life for their child with special needs or medial conditions.

Mothers who take care of both their child/ren, and a spouse with an illness or disability.

Mothers who have had to face giving birth alone.

Mothers who have faced the death of their child, or dreams of being a Mother seem to have died.

I know some Fathers, who have had to take on the roll of Mother as well, following the death of their spouse.

And, Mothers who have had to take on the roll of Father as well.

* * * * *

My Mother has watched me suffer in ways she never would have wished, and felt helpless.  Elias’ Mother,  lost her oldest son at far too young an age.

Becoming a Mother was without a doubt, the greatest moment of my life.  And, I got to do it twice.  My girls, are without a doubt, the greatest joys of my life.

Sitting on the couch, awake all night four years ago, facing the unthinkable task of trying to figure out how exactly I was going to tell my girls that their Daddy had died, was one of the darkest times of my life (the darkest, clearly, having occurred immediately prior).  I had no idea how to breathe any more, let alone manage our family – alone.

Since then, I have faced some pretty big challenges as a Mother.  There are moments I’m far less than proud of.  There are moments that have hurt more than I can even share.

I’ve held my girls as they cried for their Daddy.  I’ve witnessed their pain and felt that helplessness.  I’ve listened to their dandelion wishes, candle wishes, ‘if I caught a leprechaun’ wishes, all to have their Daddy back.

But, I’ve had some pretty damn proud moments as a Mother too.  And, my girls – our girls – are amazing. Beyond amazing.  I won’t even try to put it into words at the moment.  I love them to bits and never stop telling them so.  Never stop making sure they feel it.  That they feel enough love, as if from two parents.

* * * * *

I foggily recall my first Mother’s Day after Elias died . . . we had just left for the cruise that he was supposed to be on with us on (his parents, mine, and his grandma, along with the girls and I), and I had to leave dinner early as I thought I was going to be sick.

As I am looking at my 5th without him now, there is more joy in our house, and in our hearts now than there was at that time 4yrs ago.  It’s still not always easy.  I still miss him every day. We all do.  Greatly.

It’s always going to be  bittersweet.   Big moments and celebrations will always still come with that ache.

And, moments (like what happened in my living room  just now that I can’t even explain . . . ) that could be so little and insignificant, or I could read into it a message from him, and it brings me to my knees in instant tears.

* * * * *

I’m incredibly thankful to the Moms I know who support me on my journey.  Who encourage me, listen, advise, help, and set an amazing example of Motherhood.  I’m forever thankful to my Mom, who does so, so much for the girls and I, every day.

I know plenty of Mom’s whose Mother’s Day wish is to be able to go to the bathroom alone, to have an uninterrupted phone conversation, to sleep in – those are my kind of wishes often too!

To all those amazing Mothers out there (and to those who are missing their Mothers, or never got the chance to be one), this day, and every day, I make a wish for you.  I wish that you know your strength.  Own it.  I see it, every day.  Doubt creeps in so easily, and so often . . .  I wish it goes away as easily as it comes.

Though I know I can’t wish away the waves of grief or despair any more than my girls’ wishes for their Daddy to come back will be answered, I wish that you will continue to get up faster each time, and they come less frequently.

And, whoever is missing from your life, or whatever struggles you are facing, I wish you peace, comfort, joy, and love.

~Chelsea
P.S.  I Love You

March 6, 2013

4 – 8

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:42 pm by letterstoelias

Grief can do such funny things to your brain.

In some ways, it feels like it’s changed the wiring around in there.  Things you once wouldn’t imagine worrying about, wouldn’t even have thought about in the past, all of a sudden mean the world.  Things that used to drive you crazy, you now miss and crave.  And, some things that used to worry you, no longer do.

Of course, much of this is linked to the person you lost.  Along with realizations of what is important in life.

Numbers, and in particular time, can take on a whole new meaning as well.

Tomorrow, my oldest ‘baby’ will be turning 8.  She is a marvel to me.  Wicked smart, precocious, would read ALL day if you let her.  She loves to laugh, is caring, loving, compassionate, silly.  She can be quite shy at times (though not when it comes to performing on stage!), too hard on herself at times, easily unnerved, but she is filled with more courage and strength than she knows.  She has so many of the wonderful qualities and features her Daddy had, and she loves to try and smile like him.  She’s graceful and kind.  She’s been through so, very much in her short life.  I could go on – even though there just aren’t enough words.

I feel SO lucky to be her Mama, and I try to tell her so every day.  Along with how loved she is – by both her Mama AND her Daddy…

March 2009

March 2009

Last Day of 7

Eight is a big number – she wants to get her ears pierced! – and it also holds a great deal of meaning to me, and as I found out recently, to her as well.

‘Almost’ four years ago, I couldn’t imagine even getting to this point.  In those early days of grief, my newly wired brain did a lot of computing.  Numbers, dates, time.  Along with tracking the days that had passed since Elias died, I thought about dates in the future that I couldn’t imagine even getting to, let alone surviving.

The date C lived longer without her Daddy than with him has long since passed.  The date I’d lived in the house longer without Elias than with him now too, among many others.  And, though I’ve survived more than I thought I ever would, though I stopped counting in days some time ago, and will even stretch to give it to you in months, there are still some dates and ‘milestones’ that take my breath away.

In those early days of grief, I remember thinking of the point where E would have lived longer without her Daddy than with him – and with it, the date I’d have parented longer alone than with him.  It seemed impossibly far away.  I seriously questioned whether I’d ever even make it that far.  Though, as her eighth birthday approaches, so does that date.  I guess the impossible, wasn’t.

Unfortunately, though I haven’t voiced out loud to her how tough this one is for me, it seems she’s taken note as well.  As I mentioned before, the girls have been hit by their own grief more in the past couple of months, and one night recently, as E was in tears, she said to me, “I’m almost 8, and I was only 4 when Daddy died!”  Not hard math, even for an 8yr old, but I guess I hadn’t realized she would look at it that way as well.  She has spent half her life without her Daddy.

Of course, the actual date won’t be until just after the 4th ‘anniversary’ of his death in April, but the birthday still hits home (though, any birthday for either girl without their Daddy here still just doesn’t seem right . . . )

I don’t want to go too ‘over the top’ to compensate, but I think her ears will get pierced (and I just may get my nose pierced along with her!), and though I generally stay away from anything too ‘commercial’ for my girls, we will have a fun Harry Potter themed birthday party (her new favourite book series), complete with ButterBeer, wand making, and more (and, perhaps I ‘did’ go a little crazy on the invites, especially considering we only sent out 6!)

And, most of all, I will celebrate this amazing, beautiful little girl of mine (who is growing up so very fast).

Me and my Girl

Just the thought of how much I love her brings tears of joy to my eyes….

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

February 26, 2013

Sometimes . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:56 pm by letterstoelias

Good things DO happen to good people.

I have a number of other things I’ve been wanting to write about.  January/February has been such a blur it seems – the girls started the year struggling like never before with their grief, I’ve been trying to decide on the idea of moving my store, spent a few weeks short on staff . . . but, there was some happy news for a friend of mine recently, and I wanted to share.

This is a friend I’ve never actually met in person.  A ‘widda’ friend.  Someone I’d written about here before, as she had been going through an extremely difficult time.  She only ever asked a few of us for some good ‘juju’ along the way, but we could see more was needed – so we did what we could for her, from behind our computers, from our hearts, and with the help of our kind hearted readers as well.  And it turned out right.  When I wrote, many of you out there offered help in the form of good thoughts, prayers, and even financial support.  And, I wanted to write again today, because that help HAS made a difference.  A very good difference.  An important difference.

It’s been a long road for Cadi.  An extremely difficult road –  at times almost too difficult to continue the struggle for what she knew was right.  And she still faces the challenge of raising a little girl who will never know her father, alongside her own grief of losing a man she loved.

But recently, a few great things came together for her as she needed them to.  Things for Cadi and her daughter are looking so much brighter.  Her perseverance, her kind heart and compassion for others involved (so amazing), and her willingness to struggle for what she knew was right for their daughter is nothing short of inspirational.

And I was beyond proud to be a part of that little group of widdas who all ‘virtually’ cheered her on, and celebrated how far she has come with her this week.  Cadi is a beautiful person, a loving Mama and SO deserving of this good news.

I know she has plans to pay it forward.  I also know how incredibly grateful she is to those that offered help in whatever form it came – I know how deeply it touched her, and this is the other reason I wanted to share the news.  How do you begin to say thank you?  Well, my post will be a start, to my readers.

Thank you.  And wishes of plenty of good karma and ‘juju’ your way, just as it came to Cadi.

And, my thanks again to Cadi for the gift of a couple of beautiful, and well loved felted bunnies that my girlies have enjoyed so greatly . . .

It’s so, very nice, when good things happen to good people.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

January 1, 2013

For You

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:33 am by letterstoelias

 

 

17yrs ago this night you walked into my life . . . despite it all, because of it all, and in a heartbeat . . .
for you . . .

And, I plan to write more about the night soon, but for now I’ll share this . . .

new years

Even though we met on New Years, and shared the next 13 together, this is one of the very few (and blurry, thanks to a drunk friend) photos of us together on New Years (many were spent in the kitchen of one of the restaurants you would have been working countless hours at that day/night).  I believe this photo is from 1999, and you barely made it to me ‘just’ before the stroke of midnight . . .

And now – though still not exactly always ‘easy’, I can look at this photo and others like it, smile, and wonder how I ever got to be so lucky.

Happy New Years, My Love,

~Chelsea

P.S.  I Love You

December 25, 2012

Christmas is here again . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:15 am by letterstoelias

This used to be one of my favourite Christmas songs:

Christmas is here again, stand up and cheer again
Let’s leave our heartaches and sorrows behind
All that I want is to be here beside you, all that I need is right here in my arms
All that I want is to know that you love me, and this will be my finest Christmas time

I’ve shared it with the girls now and then, as I can hug them in my arms and feel the words ring true – but it has still been a tough one (among SO many others) to listen to these past few years.

Four.

This is our fourth Christmas without Elias.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fathom it.  As each year passes I think it will still come as a shock.

I tried so much harder this year to feel more of the Christmas spirit.  I tried to not let the pain hit quite as deeply.  And, in some ways I actually managed.  Reminding myself how the days leading up are so often worse and attempting to shake that off helped a little.  Being ridiculously busy at work definitely helped a lot – even if only to make me too tired to even think about much else than how tired I was (though, I can’t complain much about that, as I need it to be busy! but, I ran myself pretty ragged . . . )

We did an activity advent calendar again this year – or, at least we tried to.  As things often go with me, I didn’t ‘quite’ get it out on time.  By the time I got organized enough to even start, it was December 9th and we had some serious catching up to do! We had a (rare, and what would be my last) store free day and I wanted to dedicate it completely to the girls and ‘winter/christmas’ activities.  I stayed up late the night before trying to clean, start a few decorations, and get organized for the day so as not to lose time – it felt so worth it when I heard the girls’ excitement when they woke up . . . that is, until I heard them decide that elves must have done all that hard work.  Damn elves got all the credit!  Ah well, the magic in it for them was worth it in the end.

We had a really great day – snowman pancakes, candy cane doughnuts, trekked out to the woods and cut down our own tree, peppermint hot chocolate (a few food related ones it seems . . .), Santa visit, etc.  It was busy, but we had a LOT of fun (though, I ‘almost’ fell apart when driving back with our tree and that song ‘Christmas Shoes’ came on the radio . . . .).

IMG_9656-2

As I put the girls to bed that night, I felt good about all we had done, and the fun we had in it all.  I hopped in the shower and was just thinking about how proud Elias would be.  Standing with my hands on my hips and the water as hot as I could bear on my back, I smiled, and felt him smiling back.  I whispered words in my head to him, felt his love in my heart, and imagined his answers.

Then, as I almost literally felt his arms go through mine and wrap around my waist to hug me, felt him kiss my cheek and whisper in my ear how proud he was, I lost it.  Completely.

One second, standing proud with a smile on my face, the next fighting to stay standing and coughing out tears in a magnitude I haven’t faced in some time.  And, I just. couldn’t. stop.

I don’t know how long it went, but once the water faded from hot to warm, I knew cold would be coming soon and I finally forced myself to turn it off and grab my towel.  As I buried my face in it with tears still coming, I suddenly heard E at the door.  She was bringing me something from her bedroom – she hadn’t fallen asleep yet – though she hand’t heard me crying.

She realized pretty quickly when she saw me, however, that I had been.  She asked what was wrong.  Nothing like this to snap you back out of it all – but I just told her that I was thinking about Daddy.  About how proud I knew he was of us and what a great day we had, but that also made me miss him a lot as well, and I was feeling sad from missing him.  She then asked if I could snuggle with her some more.  Of course I did.  She let me know that she misses him a lot too.

From then on, the last two weeks were incredibly busy.  My parents were away for part of it, so I was looking after their dogs as well, the girls had their Christmas concert at school, E performed two numbers in a local telethon fundraiser, dentist appointments, skating day at school (another moment in which Elias would have both laughed hysterically and been incredibly proud as it was C’s first time on ice, and after spending the first few minutes screaming, she ended up doing great), along with spending at least part of every. single. day. at the store.

I’ve felt Elias’ presence around in many other ways as well.  Sometimes it feels as if he’s just trying to slap me in the face to remind me that he’s still here.  Guiding me to things I needed to see.  To things I was thinking about finding, but not even looking for.  Messing with my lights.  I was even completely floored with a visit from an old friend of his family’s today – an amazing, beautiful woman who sang at his funeral.  I hadn’t seen her since, but had been thinking of her just the other day – wondering if there was a recording of when she sang – and in she walked.

Still, as I sit here after Christmas Eve dinner with my parents and my sisters family (which I am SO happy about since it’s been quite a while since we’ve had Christmas with them) and looking forward to spending the day with them tomorrow, the fact that Elias is not here still just hurts so, very much.  Beyond words.  No matter how much I can feel his presence or how much Christmas spirit I can muster . . .

The girls wrote messages/drew pictures to Daddy, which we put in his stocking tonight, as we have done each year without him.  They love doing it and it’s always been a positive activity for them – though as C was drawing her picture (of Daddy as an angel) I heard her simply say ‘All I want for Christmas is Daddy back’.  Heart breaking.  But, I also understand the sentiment.

We will have fun with my family tomorrow.  I’m hoping we will ichat with both of Elias’ brothers and their families tomorrow too.  And, we will miss Elias.  Deeply.

* * * * *

Merry Christmas, My Love.

~Chelsea

P.S.  I Love You

November 7, 2012

Bailouts

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:46 pm by letterstoelias

Another thing I’ve had to get used to in the past few years . . . the need to be ‘bailed out’ by others.

No, I haven’t ended up in jail at all (yet! who knows what this crazy life might bring) –  just tricky situations or unexpected hiccups that I can’t take care of without friends and/or family jumping in to help – usually last minute.

Asking for help is not always easy (well, pretty much never easy for me), but at times there aren’t many other options.  Another thing that is frustrating about being an ‘only parent’ as I wrote about in my last post.

Recently I had a day off (from the store) where I was trying to get stuff done.  Dog nails clipped, wood pellets delivered, car service and new tires, mixed in with my weekly treat of a pilates class, and hopes to clear up some (frighteningly behind) bookkeeping for the store.

The day started with a big, teary drop off at kindergarten for C*.  That made me a little late to meet my friend at the house who was to clip the dog’s nails.  Thankfully my mom was meeting us there with her dogs, so they were able to get started without me.  Things smoothed out for a bit, tea with my friend, off to pilates class, then back home to wait for the pellet delivery and get a little work done.

I called to find out when they were coming (as time passed and I was getting a bit anxious), and of course (after initially saying I wasn’t even on the schedule) they told me it would be around 2pm, which is ‘exactly’ when I needed to be dropping my car off for servicing (as I had told them on the phone when I ordered the pellets).  Along with this, I called the store to check on my very pregnant employee, and I could tell she was not feeling well.  Not wanting her to have to stay working, I started trying to figure out how to get my pellets delivered, my car to the tire place, my kids picked up from school, and cover off the store so she wouldn’t have to work.

Thankfully, my other employee had stopped by the store to see how she was doing as well, and offered to stay until I could get there (which also required her to ask her mom to pick up her son from school . . . ) - bailout #1

Then, my mom (who was also not feeling great, mind you) came to my house to wait for the pellet delivery, so I could get my car up to the service station – bailout #2

My pregnant employees partner works at the place I needed to take my car, so he said he could drive me down to the school to get my girls (then he would take the car back for the work to be done) so I could walk them to my house, where my mom could then drive us up to the store – bailout #3

Of course, when went to drop off my car, they only had 3 of the 4 tires I needed, so I was only able to get the service done and had to arrange for the tires to be done next week.  Grrr.

As I got to the school to pick up the girls, my friend Sian offered to drive the girls and I back up to the store so my mom could just go home – bailout #4

And, my employee’s partner brought the car back to me at the store at 5pm when I was off work, so then I could drive back with him to pay for the service done.  Thankfully the tire place is only a few mins from my work, and of course he was ok doing this as it meant his very pregnant partner was able to get the rest from work (and I know they do this for other customers too, so it’s not entirely unusual).

Just trying to sort it all out was exhausting – within this there were MANY phone calls back and forth to see who could do what and when and how to make it all work.

This past week added more when, one of the days C had a teary, hour long drop off at school which made me almost late for work, and therefore no time to make lunch, so a ‘favour’ was asked (one of my employees who had stopped by the store) to pick me up lunch.  The next day, I went to the store expecting to be there just for an hour, had C in tow, no food for lunch – and turned out needing to be there for the whole day as both my employees were sick.  As such, my mom picked up lunch for C and I, took her for a few hours, picked up E from school and got her to dance class.  As my employees were both off for the rest of the week, that meant a little extra child care there too, and another favour from my pregnant employees partner to pick up and drop off my car once again so the tires could finally be done.

I am BEYOND thankful for the people who step up to help (and I’m grateful to know they are willing, and usually happy to), and no one makes me feel like a burden – but ‘I’ certainly feel like it at times.  It’s still hard to know that you can’t manage without.  And, it definitely makes it more difficult to ask for any ‘extra’ help with other types of things that I just could do myself, and especially for childcare for something that just may be fun (gasp at the thought!).  These last two could also be covered by paying someone – like lawn mowing, gutter cleaning, babysitting for example – but on a variable income and being a ‘tightwad’ as is, this just doesn’t happen either.

I also wish I could return the favour more often.  I certainly try to help out when I can, and perhaps one day I will be able to do more, or will pay it forward.  And, in reality that was a rough stretch – and though they do happen more often than I’d like – thankfully in our ‘day-to-day’ with no unexpected bumps I’ve managed to work a schedule where we don’t need as much help (at least with childcare/transportation issues), but we still need to call on my mom a few hours a week regardless, and have some friends who help out when they are away.

And, just as important, I have my friends who may not live near by, but are my ‘virtual’ sources of a bail out.  When the pain of missing Elias just hits harder than usual (or the frustration of this life in general), their understanding and comfort bails me out once more, and I can return to the ‘regular’ grief that I have learned to manage in the usual ‘day-to-day’.

(of course there are others who live near by who do this too, only usually by phone . .. .)

Both groups are incredibly valuable to me.  Both groups have helped me to function through this season of my life.  They have helped me to get this far – though I’m not sure exactly where that ‘far’ is. . . .

I suppose I should give myself ‘some’ credit for getting myself there too, but this is to thank those who are my bail bondsmen and women.  Both near and far.

~Chelsea

P.S.  I Love You

*I haven’t written much about it yet, but transition to kindergarten has not exactly been easy for C and I.  I’m not taking her 100% of the time as I just don’t feel that is what is best for her or us, but even part-time has had it’s challenges (and with one staff member having just left for maternity leave, we need to up another day….).  And, as I’m not someone to leave her screaming and in tears at the classroom door, I will stay until I’m confident she feels comfortable with me leaving.  Much of this has come under question as well (also part of the frustration in my last post), but we’re just trying to find what works best for us.  Her grief has been hitting much harder in the past few months (since just before school started) and I’ve recently set her up with a counsellor at school in hopes to help.  And we keep on keepin’ on.

October 24, 2012

Frustrated

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:09 pm by letterstoelias

Holy, it’s been a while . . .

Since school and dance has all started up again, the busyness continues.  We also had a wonderful visit from Elias’ youngest brother and his family, along with my Mom taking the girls and I on a little trip to Disneyland!

I am just as far behind on reading blogs as I am on writing mine, but so it goes I suppose.

I am feeling some frustration at the moment, and guess I just waned to get it ‘out’ though.

One of the things I find so incredibly, horribly difficult about being an ‘only’ parent, is lack of support that you can only really get from a spouse when it comes to decision making, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the kids.

I know that sometimes coming to the same decision with another parent can be equally as frustrating (at least I think I vaguely remember this?) but Elias and I were so often on the same page with things in the few years we were able to ‘co-parent’, that it was always pretty easy.  And, whatever decisions we made together, I had him to back me up on when talking about it with anyone else.

Home-births.  Vaccinations.  Vegetarianism.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Now that it’s all on my shoulders, it’s extremely difficult.  I am IT.  I know there are some benefits to this as well.  I always get my way*!  But, I liked having someone to bounce things off of.  Someone who had as deep a stake in it as I did.  Someone who it meant as much to.

Of course there are other people in my life now who love my girls incredibly.  I know they mean a lot to other people.  But, it’s still different, and the end decision is still solely mine.  AND, when people disagree with me, I don’t have that person to back me up.  I don’t even have that person to at least vent to when people disagree.  I think I also spend more time second guessing myself and/or trying to justify myself because I’m alone in it (and a lot of what I go on is by how I ‘feel’ in my heart/gut which can also be more difficult to explain . . .)

I know all my decisions aren’t ‘popular’.  I know I don’t always go with expectations of society (which I think is where much of the difficulty comes from).  But I also think I know my kids and myself well enough to know what is best for us as a family.   I like to think that somewhere, Elias is ok with the decisions I’ve made.  That he is silently backing me up.

I just wish he could find a way to tell all of us that.  It may not make others agree with me, but at least I’d know I’m not alone in it all. . . .

(as a note – this was written extremely quickly and without re-reading it to edit/proof/whatever or else I figured I’d never get it posted – so hopefully it makes sense and isn’t grammatically too terrible!)

(*and, all this said, I think it would be EXTREMELY difficult to ever then have to transition back to having to make decisions WITH someone again – though I gather for the first ‘ever’ when it relates to the kids, it will still be me . . .and, there would have to be someone for that to actually happen with . . . )

~C~

P.S.  I Love you

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