April 15, 2010

The Final Countdown

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:57 am by letterstoelias

One week to go.  A year ago at this time Claude had just had his mini-bike accident, which resulted in what would be our last family photo:

I’m trying not to relive every single moment from a year ago – but it’s hard.  And, even though it may not be every moment relived it’s just the fact that it was such a challenging, challenging time.  I went back and read some of the caring bridge posts recently and felt quite surprised.  I think, perhaps, because we were trying to hold on to so much hope at that time I blinded myself to how bad things had become.  Really, though, I knew it but my everything was just completely focused on keeping you alive and I didn’t let myself get caught up the negatives.  But re-reading it, it seemed like it was even worse than I remember – and (though some may find it hard to believe) I didn’t even write some of the really hard stuff.  There were plenty of challenges and experiences and events that were left out for many reasons.  There were certain people (ie your brothers) that we wanted to be able to talk with directly before putting it on-line, was a big reason.  Looking back on it now, I wonder how I survived much of that, let alone what I’m going through now.

But, I did survive it.  And, though it’s not easy by any means, I am surviving this as well.  My neck has been in pain/spasms for almost a week now.  I marvel at the fact that I managed to give birth twice to nine-pound babies at home without a drop of pain meds – but last night the pain practically had me writhing around in tears.  I can’t imagine that this doesn’t have something to do with the impending ‘anniversary’.  I’d like to think that I just tweaked it somehow, but I doubt it.  It doesn’t help matters that I’m not (and really, can’t be) resting it.  The weather had been beautiful and it’s great for the girls to be outside so I’ve been working a lot in the yard the past few days.

On Easter weekend a bunch of your family members came and helped finish the arbour project, and do a great deal of other work in the yard that I couldn’t possibly have done on my own – so that was a lot of fun and incredibly helpful.  We had an egg hunt for the kids as well as a bit of a pot luck lunch and it was a wonderful day where your energy and spirit was felt by everyone.  I’m so thankful that everyone pulled together to help complete it, and I know that they all felt honored to have been a part of helping finish something that was important to you.

There are still a few kinks to work out I think, but for now the vines all have a home and I love that it’s so similar to what you had planned.  I know it’s not ‘exactly’ what you would have done, but I hope it’s close enough.  We also found homes for all those huge, broken, cement planters you were thrilled to get for such a cheap price.  I remember how excited you were about them, and how I couldn’t for the life of me understand why.  “But they’re only $15!!!” you excitedly exclaimed (maybe it was even $10?) as I questioned your sanity when I saw them.  You so loved a bargain.  A huge crate of oranges rotting in our fridge – they were a great deal!  Didn’t matter that there was no way we could have possibly eaten them all before they went off.  It drove me crazy.  It made me laugh. I miss it.

Sorry – off topic for a bit there . . . we also managed to clear away 3 ½ yrs of green-waste that had accumulated in our yard, and moved that gigantic cement block that the fireplace had been on.  After your mom and I cut back the hedge along the back fence a month ago there is a huge area that I’ve just leveled (as much as possible) and planted grass seed, I’ve also done some topdressing and I have a few other areas to seed as well so I’ll have more grass to mow soon I suppose (maybe that was a bad idea…).  I also plan to try and put some landscape fabric and bark-mulch around and under the girls play area to avoid the long grass and weeds that come up under it.  The grass wears out under the swings anyhow.  It only took me almost year but I finally got one of the weed-whackers working – granted I didn’t exactly try very hard.  That machine is an exercise in frustration.  Now I know why you hated it so much (and you bought two for $15 at an auction – another ‘great deal’, though I can’t get either of those ones working…).  I’m sure you’re amazed to hear how much I’m putting into the yard since it wasn’t exactly my ‘thing’ before.  I have to admit that I have found aspects of it more enjoyable and rewarding (and therapeutic) than I would have expected, but it is often frustrating and is a lot of work as well– especially when there is so much else to do.  I think I may try to take on too much at times and will need to step back a bit.  I was just hoping to get a bunch done before the store opens so the rest will be more maintenance.

In other news, the playoffs start tomorrow.  Though I only know from looking it up on-line, the Canucks finished 1st in their division, 3rd in the conference and 5th in the league.  Not only that, but you’d never guess who led the league in points . . . Henrik Sedin.  Yup.  He beat Crosby and Ovechkin.  Maybe I’ll have to try and watch a playoff game or two, but my heart still isn’t really in it much.

I skipped out on the last pre-school meeting because the discussion topic was ‘Parenting as a Team’.  I know there are other items covered at the meetings so I feel bad not going, but I didn’t feel like I could sit through that.  I don’t begrudge them for having that as a topic – I think it’s a great idea and considering I’m the only lone parent of the 40-or-so families it makes sense to do it.  Just not for me.

I just spotted a few faint freckles on E’s nose the other day.  I was so excited, but still sad at the same time that you aren’t here to experience something as simple as first freckles.  Even the tiniest of things – quite literally – it’s hard to know you’re missing.  It’s difficult to know where E is at with her feelings about missing you.  I know she misses you, that’s not the issue (almost every night she asks me to write ‘I Love Daddy’ with my finger on her back or on her stomach) – she just keeps so closed about it. There was a special I watched on PBS tonight called ‘When Families Grieve’ that I’ll watch with her tomorrow and see if it strikes up any more conversation.  It was a mix of real families dealing with a loss of a parent along with a little Sesame Street thrown in.

Both the girls love to include you in everything.  Whenever we are talking about our family, you are included in some way.  C still likes to call out ‘Daddy!  Daddy! Daddy!’ at the dinner table often, and will sometimes do something funny and look up to the sky exclaiming ‘Look Daddy!’ and laugh.  Your laugh.  She’s so incredibly affectionate and loves to give hugs and kisses at random, and likes to say, “I ‘wud’ you”.

I managed to find some peace and validation in your continued presence with us recently – I’ll elaborate more on that some other time – but as the anniversary of your death approaches it’s just so hard to focus on that with the darkness of what that day represents to me.  I know it’s important to try and focus on the happy times we shared rather than dwell on the loss and sadness, but I think it’s inevitable at a time like this.  There is just so much the day represents – and in some way I fear that people will expect that day 366 will suddenly mean I’m past the first year and things will start ‘getting better’ because we all know the phrase ‘the first year is the hardest’.

I don’t know yet what I will do that day.  I hate that I don’t have a ‘plan’.  I have a few ideas but it’s hard to know what you want to do on a day like that.  Maybe plant a tree?  Maybe go on a hike?  Maybe scatter a ‘little’ bit of your ashes?  Or just stay in bed all day?  I had hoped to get letters/emails from others with stories and memories of you to read and share with the girls – and I received a few wonderful emails, but not many.  I can always go back to some of the comments on the caringbridge site I suppose.  I know that many people still think of you often, but traffic and comments on that site has died down so much, it sometimes feels like now that so much time has passed you are fading from other people’s thoughts and that is hard to take.  I’ll probably post once more there next week and then stop.  I’ll still check for comments, but will likely only write here from then on.

A really nice surprise was that I had a call from one of your old co-workers at the ferries on your birthday, as well as a call from one of your old students at Easter though.  It makes me so happy to hear when people are thinking of you out there – I guess it feels like it keeps you a bit more alive in a way.

Anyhow, I have photos I wanted to add, but I’ll try to put those up tomorrow as right now my neck is bothering me more and I should close up for the night.  So much more to say, always.


P.S.  I Love You



  1. Kristin said,

    Just want to say I’m thinking about you. And I’m so, so sorry. So much of what you write feels like it should be coming out of my mouth.

    Hugs Chelsea.

  2. letterstoelias said,

    Thanks Kristin – it is so sad, that it’s so much the same . . . . at the same time, since we are both here, there is comfort in it.
    Hugs to you, too.

  3. Maura said,

    Chelsea, I don’t comment often but do want to say that I’m still reading and caring about how you and the girls are doing. The sad memory days do roll ’round and you are wise in your efforts for ‘being present’ and marking the day in whatever manner you choose. It’s only been a year and that’s not very long in the total scheme of things.

    You are correct in that there will be a few well-meaning souls who will indicate something like ~ there, that’s done; it’s been a year and now you can *get on* with it. Except we can’t. We who have loved and lost so much. And it’s OK that we can’t, it really is. No one has the right to lay that on you …and be careful you don’t do it to yourself!

    I just try to remember in my own case that my friends are always just doing their best and most times just don’t understand because they haven’t experienced anything similar.

    I’ll be thinking of you ‘specially on that day.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks so much Maura,

      It was a tough time – getting through the anniversary – and it’s bittersweet to be ‘on the other side’, but I’m here.

      I appreciate your words, thoughts and caring.

  4. Jenny said,

    Thinking of you this week, Chelsea. I was at Elphinstone yesterday and noticed that the magnolia planted in Elias’ honour is in full bloom and looking lovely. What a beautiful, lasting tribute for him.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Jenny,

      It’s nice to hear that the tree is doing well – I’ve been meaning to stop by the school and have a look . . . hopefully soon.


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