January 20, 2011

A long time on a crappy ride

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:59 pm by letterstoelias

***** I started this post a few days ago, but ended up a weepy mess and couldn’t finish.  I finally just decided to add the photos and post it as is and start a fresh post on something else to come soon *****

I’ve been keeping a lot of this to myself lately, but it’s been a tough, tough couple of months.

December was (thankfully) rather busy at the store, but it was hard to keep up. Then there were the various ‘extras’ with the season – I felt like I was a dropping balls left, right and centre.  I was running on fumes.

I enjoy what I’m doing at the store.  It’s not like I didn’t expect it to be a lot of work running my own business.  I still believe it would be much more difficult if I was working a full time job for someone else where I couldn’t bring my kids with me (sometimes ALL day).  But, it was exhausting.  Hard.  And, the holidays were looming . . .

Then, just under two weeks before Christmas, my Dad had a stroke.  We know now that he has great chance of making a full recovery, but at the time it was terrifying.  And, he was taken to the same hospital Elias died in.  The same ER.  I wanted to go see him so badly, but the thought of going in there broke me down, repeatedly.  Yet, how could I not??    He was thoughtful enough to tell my mom to let me know I didn’t need to come.  But, still.  I felt sick about it.  Selfish.

Within a couple of days he was moved to the ICU, so I ‘sucked it up’ and went to see him.  Our hospital is very small, and I still had to walk much closer to the ER than I would have liked – but I kept my head down and just followed my mom’s feet ahead of me.  I’ve never functioned well in hospitals to begin with – I could share a few stories of vomiting and near pass outs (even just visiting friends with pneumonia) – but this was different.  And hard.

The next weekend – the weekend before Christmas – the hard drive on my computer at the store crashed.  Done.  Kaput.  Everything, gone.  Thankfully I had all the photos already on my laptop (that probably would have done me in for good), but I lost all my inventory for the store and a good lot of my sales numbers that hand’t been exported yet.  I know, I know.  Back up.  There were plans . . . . but, lesson learned the hard way.

A few days before Christmas a friend came from out of town for a visit and we had a great day – the first day in a long while that I didn’t do anything for work.  It was a much needed (though brief) break.  By Christmas my Dad was getting ‘day passes’ out of the hospital for a few hours, so we knew he’d be able to be home for Christmas day.  My mom and I had already planned on Chinese take-out for Christmas dinner, and my dad was on-board for it.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I was thrilled to avoid a more ‘traditional’ Christmas this year.

New Years came, and though it is a tough day for me, it was made SO much better by another great visit – my best friend and her family.  This is the same friend who was one of my first calls the night Elias died, and she dropped everything to jump on a plane across the country to be by my side.  We’ve been friends for over 20yrs now.  It was such a treat to finally get to meet her beautiful baby boy, and to see her husband and little girl again after such a long time.  And again, it was nice to have a bit of a break and enjoy some adult company at home.  New Years day was one of the most beautiful days we’ve had in a while here, and I couldn’t have had a better way to spend it (well, short of Elias being here, of course).

Since then, things have quietened down at the store from a sales standpoint (expected at this time of year), but I have been completely consumed with getting my inventory back on track.  I’m at the home stretch now, but I feel so badly for my girls – again – as it feels as though I’ve been on my computer 24/7, stressed out, grouchy, tired.  But it felt like there was something else that was weighing on me.  A little weepier.  Staring out the window a little longer.

Grief is always with me.  Sometimes it sits with a quiet hum vibrating in the back of my head and sometimes it plays heavy metal so loud I hear nothing else, but it’s always there.  It waits for triggers – like while watching a silly tv drama and one of the characters collapses.  If it was just any collapse I would have been fine, but at the last second before commercial there were convulsions.  A seizure.  I fell to pieces.

I miss Elias constantly.  Constantly.  There are times where it hurts more – times where I can feel the physical effect, the burning in my heart, more than others.  But it, too, is always there.  Constant.

But sometimes I get in a state where I figure there has to be ‘something’ triggering it that I can’t see just yet.  It was eating me so that I went back into my Caringbridge site the other night.  It’s extremely rare for me to do this.  I find it so difficult to read much of what’s there – so I just scanned to see what was going on at this time 2yrs ago.  Elias had an MRI.  The tumour had grown, and it only got worse from there.  I suppose that could have been it, but thinking on it a little further, I realized something else . . .

9 yrs.

That’s how long I’ve been on this shitty ride.  The first phone call from the hospital.  The first seizure.  Sitting at St. Paul’s with Elias at 3am waiting for the first scan results (and, of course, I puked).

I know we were fortunate that Elias survived 7yrs from diagnosis.  I know we shared countless wonderful ‘ups’ in that time, some of which were perhaps more clear to us because of what we were going through.  But it’s an damn exhausting journey.

Nine long years.



  1. Sarah said,

    9 yrs is a lifetime ….a long and excruciating lifetime. chin up young person. you’re not alone.

  2. Boo Mayhew said,

    sending you my love Chelsea x

  3. Debbie said,

    9 years is a long, exhausting lifetime. No wonder you’re exhausted. I’m glad your Dad is making good progress and you have some time to get caught up on your inventory at the store. I really hope that 2011 brings you lots of peaceful moments, time to get some rest and more sweet moments with great friends. Love you, Chels.

  4. Dan said,

    Our time was much shorter, but I certainly do understand the grief that goes hand in hand when you are given this diagnosis. From that day forward life changes. You are suddenly having to make a conscious effort to live for the day, to love like it is your last opportunity, and at the same time balance out medicines, and treatment, let alone the needs of the kids.

    It is all terribly exhuasting. It was somewhat difficult to read this, as is rang too similar to my own experience. When you mention your Caringbridge site, I had to take a deep breath. Those days were so different. It was all about hope, and endurance. I never allow myself to go back and read any of it. I know that one day I will. In fact I turned my words into a book, which they offer on the Caringbridge. I know that one day I will open the book and read it from a different perspective. I also have never gone back and read any of my entries on this blog either. I don’t see how it will help me, or perhaps I don’t want to be reminded of how deep and painful those early days were.

    I’m sorry it has been such a difficult period for you. Sometimes just writing about it has a way of signaling a change. I hope a change comes your way soon.

    Love you Chelsea.


    • letterstoelias said,

      I know what you mean about Caringbridge . . . I think the only other time I went back was when ‘someone’ accused me of ‘exploiting’ Elias (that was fun). It really is too hard to go back, which is why I only scanned the posts of this time 2yrs ago to see if perhaps there was something underneath, triggering me. I still wrote there for a while after Elias died and a number of people said (to my family) that they couldn’t read it anymore because it was ‘too sad’. I know they were all used to the positive outlook I had before – I’m SO sorry my husband dying is too sad to read about – which is why I started this blog (and again, I’ve barely gone back to read any of it). I’ve thought about the Caringbridge book as well – did it turn out nice? I wanted to write one ‘last’ post to close it off first though . . .

      I hate how much you understand, but I’m thankful that there is someone out there who does. Elias and I used to always talk about wanting ‘a day off from cancer’. Well, I guess cancer is ‘technically’ gone now – but it’s the grief that came out of it that I would now love a day off from.

      Love you, Dan

  5. Carolyn said,

    Chelsea, I have been following your journey on Caring Bridge and then on your blog. I first learned of you difficult journey from you Dad’s blog.

    I never really understood why I was reading your posts until my best friend died last year – suddenly and unexpected. She left behind her husband and 3 young boys. Reading of the incredibly difficult journey that you have had to experience gave me some insights in how I could be a small help to them. By sharing your journey (ALL of it – not just the positive parts) you are making a difference in the lives of hurting people.

    9 years is a very long time. Your girls are incredibly lucky to have you, even in your grouchy, distracted times … Try to cut yourself some slack.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Hi Carolyn,

      Thank you so very much for sharing this, and I am terribly sorry for the loss of your friend (and to her husband and children for the loss of a wife and mother). I appreciate the comment and knowing that I may have helped in some, small way. It’s probably important to note, that for the spouse left behind, he is most likely needs more help, and is hurting more than he will ever say. Even though I put a lot ‘out’ here, there is still SO much I keep in (even with ‘live’ friends and family) – and I know it’s the same for pretty much all of the friends I’ve made in this community.

      One of the biggest pieces of advice I would have to someone helping a grieving friend is, not to say ‘Call me if you need anything.’ Just showing up – just ‘doing’ – is more valuable than anything. The likelihood that a grieving widow/er will make the call is slim to none, regardless of how badly they need the help. There’s so much more than this, but that’s definitely one of the ones I’ve struggled with most.

      And, thanks for the reminder to cut myself some slack. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty, which often makes me more grouchy and the cycle continues . . . but I know my girls don’t have a doubt in their mind (even when I’m mad I make sure to tell them) just how deeply they are loved by both their Mama and their Daddy. And I am very lucky to have them (and they know that too!)


  6. Mirys said,

    Dear Chelsea:

    9 years? Girl you are made of what?? Stone??? What an exemple for me and for so many others!!!! I´m starting to know your story but I´m already impressed!

    9 years latter you are super beautiful, running a store by yourself, raising kids very well by yourself, trying to manage kids-home-work-health-you and everything else in bethewn… I think you should write VICTORY in some wall at your home just to reminde you how you have beautifully survived all of this! In capital letters!!!

    Kisses and blessings.
    Mirys from Brazil
    PS: I left the comment below at another post. But I decided to put it in here, too, just to make sure you see it. Remember “finding Nemo”, girl: just keed swimming!!!

    First of all: forgive me about my English… I´m a Brazilian and plus I´m all emotional right now, after discovering your blog, so… I may have some mistakes…

    I´m a Matt Logelin´s reader and that´s how I ended up in here. You have a great blog and your words seems so real… All the love, the missing, the lonelyness, the care with the kids despite your all needs of care… It´s so easy to believe you and to share your feelings!

    I´m a widow too. A young one with 2 little kids, too.
    I kind of know exactly what you are talking about… I just turned out the first year but I know that nothing changes: we don´t stop to love or feel just because of the calendar! Sometimes it´s so hard and I´m so demmanding with myself that I have to reminde me of it: it´s OK not to feel all happy and jumping sometimes!

    It happened to me last Sunday. When I thought I was moving foward, changing my habits, my spaces, my city, all of a sudden I listened to a music at the church… the same music I sang to him as a good-bye song… It crashed me up down and I started to cry in the middle of the people. Terrible… I know. But not under my control, every now and then…

    If you wanna know a little bit more about my story, you can go to a blog that I created to write donw the father to my kids, so they can remember him, in the future. It´s at http://www.diariodos3mosqueteiros.blogspot.com.
    It has a translation button, don´t you worry.

    Kisses and blessings.
    Mirys from Brazil

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