February 16, 2012

More than a little late . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 8:38 am by letterstoelias

I came to write a new post tonight, but got a little side tracked looking at my drafts.  I found this one, incomplete.  A ‘recap’ of the 2yr ‘anniversary’.  I gather I ran out of steam to try and finish it properly and get the photos and videos posted, and probably, eventually, felt it was too late to put out there.  But, for some reason, tonight I decided to scrap my initial plans for the post in my mind, and put up what was written here so many months ago.  Not long now before anniversary #3.  I will leave it written as far as I managed way back in May, but will add at least my video of the lantern ceremony, and a link to another from the night (I wanted to post the photos too, but if I try to do that, this will *never* get done!)

* * * * *

Well, over a month later but for whatever reason (perhaps the funk I’ve been in?) writing about the 2yr anniversary has been difficult.  I have a lot I wanted to write (more for myself to be able to remember it years from now – considering I’ve already forgotten some of it).  Apologies in advance for the length of this and kudos if you can read to the end!

I can say it wasn’t ‘all bad’ – much of it was quite the opposite, but it wasn’t all that easy either.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the 21st is an extremely difficult day as well.  I was fortunate to be off from the store that day, and though I still had to get the girls to and from their respective schools and dance class, I managed to keep the hat and sunglasses on, head down, and moved fast.  Not much was accomplished that day – though a friend took the girls for a couple of hours in the afternoon so I had some time to myself . . . mostly taken up with going through the photo trunk in the office, attempting to find one photo in particular, but of course spending who knows how much time looking at much of everything.  A LOT of memories in that trunk (and, I never actually found the one photo I was looking for).  I pulled out a number of photos for the next day, as people would be gathering at my house and I wanted to have a number of photos of Elias around for people to see.

Getting to the trunk was a bit of a challenge as well – as it was buried under a pile of ‘stuff’, much of which included an array of ‘cancer’ paraphernalia – medical reports, bills, books, passes from Brain Tumour Awareness day, etc.  A number of memories here as well.

I tried not to replay too much of the timing of the night over in my head as the clock ticked by – the time he fell asleep for the last time, jolted awake before going unconscious, the time the ambulance came, my parents came, the ambulance left our house in it (with him leaving our home for the last time, etc, but these things still come to mind whether you track it by the actual time or not.

I put the girls to bed that night and at some point decided that – since there were a number of ‘events’ planned for the next day with other people, I needed something to do on my own for Elias.  I decided I would plant the weeping cherry tree by myself just after 2am – close to the time he took his last breath.

I prepped most of the ground, etc. around 8pm while it was still somewhat light out, but at 2am went out there (hoping not to see any neighbours of the human or animal variety) with a candle, some ashes, and the tree.  I was working slowly and deliberately.  I didn’t want to rush through it – I wanted to take my time and concentrate on what I was doing, who I was doing it for, and have a little time for just Elias and I.  It was a bit chilly, but clear, quiet and beautiful out.

I had left the front door open with just the screen door closed so that I could still hear the girls if they woke, and Cali was clearly feeling she needed to be out with me as she pushed the door open and crept out.  I was just in the middle of something important – I think it was likely pouring some of Elias’ ashes at the base of the whole for the tree – when she came out, but I figured she would stick fairly close by until I was able to corral her back into the house.  I’m sure you can see where this is going . . .

Of course, I was concentrating quite hard on the task at hand, and my few verbal commands to keep Cali nearby were forgotten for a few minutes – who knows how long – but clearly long enough for her to wander off completely.  No sight of her (though she is dark chocolate brown and it was rather dark out), and I couldn’t hear her anywhere.

I tried to still finish what I was doing with the same intent with which I had started – figuring the goof would make her way back – but of course now I was not as focussed as I had wanted to be on the task at hand.  I rushed a bit more than I would have otherwise and started wandering up the road with my giant candle, ‘whisper-shouting’ to Cali.  Still no sign of her.  I couldn’t go far because of the girls (and fear of bears), so I went back to take a few more photos and hope she would show soon.  I went inside to grab a flashlight and sent a quick message to a friend who is a notorious night-owl like me, hoping she may be able to pop over if she was still awake.  I waked up the road a bit more with the flashlight but still no luck, and it was then I heard C crying.

I went back to the house – she only wanted a sip of water.  Still no message back from my friend, and after a few more minutes outside, I realized I was going to have to drag the girls up and out of bed and take to the car (now almost 3am).  Fortunately, since they had both just been awake moments ago, it wasn’t too hard.  Initially they were excited, but of course their excitement turned to worry about not getting Cali back (I worried about this too, and though I hate to say it, the thought also occurred to me that I hoped my recent expense in saving Cali’s life was not going to have gone to waste only to have her hit by a car . . . ).

Fortunately, we didn’t even get to the end of our road before the goof came round the corner off the main road – looking like a deer caught in my headlights.  I hauled her into the car, relieved (though also worried she was going to end up like this) and the girls were back in bed, excited by the adventure of it all (and of course the happy ending).

So, my attempt at planting the tree in the middle of the night to be able to ‘focus’ was thwarted, but I suppose I’m not really all that surprised.

The next morning was for the girls and I.  We woke up and had omelettes for breakfast – one of Daddy’s specialties (and since the waffle maker was broken), then packed up a lunch and headed down to the beach as we had done last year.  We took some time finding treasures, writing messages on rocks and stick to throw into the ocean for Daddy, and had our lunch.

At one point, just as I was taking a moment to throw one of my rocks into the water, C announced she had to go pee.  I took my moment and threw the rock and decided I would throw the rest after helping C.  As I turned around to see where she was at, a white butterfly flew past right behind me.  I almost had to do a double take, and called to E to see if it was my imagination of if she could see it too – which she could.  I watched it for a few minutes as it paraded along the waters edge, before it went up over the ‘big rocks’ which is where we always go to explore tide pools and to take our family self-portraits.  It was the first butterfly I’d seen this spring, and found it interesting to see it right at the waters edge.

I quickly had to change focus once again, however, as C was making her way back to the path to leave as she said she wanted to go home to go potty.  After a little work to convince her to just pee in the bush as she usually would.  This gave us a little more time to spend there.  As it had been the year before, it was a beautiful day yet we had the place to ourselves.

After heading for home we had a couple more hours to ourselves before people were due to arrive.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many of my family members decided to make the trip over for the lantern ceremony.  I wasn’t sure any would come, seeing as it would have to be at night and meant they would have to stay overnight – and it was the Easter long weekend, but almost all the Cotter side came.  Elias’ aunt Caroline came with her family as well, so it was nice to have some representation from his side too.

Everyone started arriving sometime after 5, and we shared some pizza and snacks – then it came time to decorate the lanterns.  I encouraged people to share stories of Elias as we decorated.  Of course I couldn’t get through this, and telling everyone how much I/we appreciated their participation without crying, and though somewhat surreal, it was comforting to see my house scattered with lanterns – people hunched over with their sharpie markers and felts, writing messages to Elias.  It was nice to see people taking the time to think about what they were writing, pictures drawn.  Some funny, some simple, some more serious – but all filled with love for a great, wonderful man.  I didn’t get a chance to even see them all myself – but as they weren’t actually for me, that was ok.

Of course I wanted the conversations to be 100% Elias, which didn’t happen, but I have to try and understand that it was also a chance for people to be together that aren’t often together.

I did two lanterns – one for Elias from the girls an I, and one to commemorate the lost loves of some other incredible people I know.

Once the decorating was done, we all headed up the road to the field at the nearby school to launch them.  A few other friends met us up there as well, so we had about 14 or so lanterns to launch (many people launched them in groups – especially with the little ones).  Once again I got a little teary as I got everyone grouped together to light them, and it took a little trial and error to get them ready to go – but once they were up on the sky, it was amazing.  We launched them just before it was completely dark out, and to see the lanterns against the twilight blue sky was gorgeous.

One of the things that was so wonderful about it as well – was how joyous it was for everyone there.  There were cheers, clapping, children squealing – a real celebration – which is what I wanted for Elias.  I had to have my time to be sad and alone that day too, of course – but I want his life and who he was to be celebrated.  I want our girls to see others who loved him come together and share his stories with us and share the joy he brought to their lives as well as ours.  This is what the lantern ceremony was for, and it served the purpose even better than I could have hoped.  There were moments here and there where the crowd would pause – almost in unison – with quiet reflection (which was nice too), but the energy was perfect.

(this is the video my Dad took . . . it was a little ‘trial and error’ to get them going, so you may want to fast forward to the 2min mark for when they finally start to go.  I love my Dad’s commentary though)

Lantern Ceremony (my video of the lantern to represent Elias and the loved ones of all my widowed friends)

When the last lanterns had burnt out and had fallen back to earth (to biodegrade 100% – and we managed to get one that had landed back a nearby parking lot that I put in the garden to see how long it takes), those who met us at the park departed, and those who came from my house returned to share in our excitement and joy from the lanterns before everyone went to their respective sleeping places for the night (much of my family stayed at my parent’s home, Elias’ aunt and family stayed with me, and a few stayed at a nearby inn).

The next morning we had a little more time with Caroline and her family.  It was the Saturday of the Easter weekend, but we thought it would be fun for the kids to do an easter egg hunt together (her two kids are the same age as my girls, and they had been over last year around Easter when we built the arbour, so we had done the same).  She had gone out the night before to hide them.  The kids were up bright an early, and one egg was ‘hidden’ in fairly plain sight by the door, so as soon as it was spotted, the four of them had shoes on and baskets out ready to hunt.  The adults had to get ready – and as we headed out, it was quickly realized that a number of the eggs had already been ‘found’.  It seems about 20 of the small ones, and 2 of the 4 large eggs were more than likely eaten by rats.  Ugh.

* * * * *

And that’s as far as I wrote.


P.S.  I Love You


1 Comment »

  1. megan said,

    oh chels, they are so beautiful.

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