March 28, 2018

The Math of Grief

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:41 am by letterstoelias

It’s been so, SO very long since I’ve been to this space.  I never felt finished here, and there were many times I’ve come close to writing in the past few years.  I’d open the page, only to leave, wondering what more I really had to say… though I always wanted to try and at least ‘close’ it in some way, if I was done.  So it has sat as life has rolled along.

So, what brought me here tonight?  Math.  Of all things.

I know I’ve written about the numbers related to grief before.  This is not a new topic or idea.  But, this latest number I’ve hit, has been hitting me.  Hard enough, I suppose, to write it out.  And, it hasn’t even been a crying-over-it kind of thing (though, maybe the extra amount of tears I had over his birthday this year were in a way related and I just hadn’t connected the dots yet? that definitely hit me harder than usual), but I can feel the weight of it on my heart as I’ve been walking around the last couple of days.  And now, as I sit and write.  I can feel it’s compression within my chest.

Eight years, eleven months and a day.  That’s how long I was lucky enough to be married to Elias.  3258 days.  As I am writing this, I have been widowed for eight years, 11 months and 5 days.

Seeing as she was only 18mos old, it unfortunately didn’t take long for C to have lived longer without her dad than she did with him.  E of course took a few more years, which then also marked the point at which I had been parenting alone longer (I wrote about that here too).  Reaching the point where I had lived with Cali longer than I had with Elias was one that caught me off guard.  This current ‘milestone’ was one I thought of often, early on, though I had never pegged the date and it always seemed impossibly far.  It wasn’t regularly on my mind by any means… but, I suppose where we can turn our brain off at times, our heart remembers.

I was having a hard time falling asleep.  My mind was running through various things between selling my store, year end choreography, some struggles one of the girls is facing, friends passing the 10yr mark since their loved ones died, the 9yr mark coming up shortly… and then there it was.  Practically at the moment it occurred, the realization hit me.  I’ve been widowed longer.

And that sucks.  Really.

In the (almost) 4yrs since I’ve written here, we’ve had countless ups and downs.  I surprised the girls with a road trip not long after my last post (for the 5yr anniversary that Elias died).  We drove down the Oregon coast, all the way to Big Sur in California.  Just the three of us, camping most of the way, even though I had never taken them camping before at all.  The following year (also on the anniversary) we added a new member to our family, our beautiful dog Phoebe, who is an absolute joy in this house.  The girls have both performed dances in honour of their dad (E two years ago and C last year).  Teaching dance has pulled me away from the store quite a bit, and with how much the girls are dancing now, the future of the store (or at least my connection to it) is uncertain.  I have a daughter who, is now a teenager, and has dated (only one boy, at least!) more than I have in the past… well… many years.  Oh, and we now have a cat.  I’ve had to deal with a leaking roof, flooding garage, and falling down fence. I’ve painted almost the entire interior of the house.  I took the girls out of school and homeschooled them for a year (which was seriously wonderful).  And we are now coming up on all the 10ths.

I think this is the other bit of math that brought me here.  In just a few weeks, we will mark 9yrs since Elias died.  I’m hoping to take the girls for a horseback ride (to make up for the one we never managed to get on the aforementioned road trip 4yrs ago, though that is quite a story).  And after that day, the 10ths will begin.  Each important date.  Every annual event.  Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays.  Each one, will be the 10th one we’ve passed without Elias there.

And, that sucks. Really.


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,


P.S.  I Love You

May 25, 2012


Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 9:33 pm by letterstoelias

“We honor the place that is not light,

the forest in winter, the cold and night.

Yet know that spring and summer will come,

and with the dawn will rise the sun.”

In some ways I think of life as a series of passing through seasons.  In some ways I wish it was.  There would be a little more predictability.  When you start to grow weary of one (or not like it in the first place), you know it will end and soon a new one will begin.  At times it feels too far off, but still – you know it will change.

Even though there are some aspects of certain seasons that aren’t always loved – be it allergies that come with spring, intense heat with summer (of course not usually around here!), dark in the winter – there are usually enough benefits and beauty in each to help us get through.

I feel like I had a greater point to all this and am now just rambling (my neighbours loud music and drumming likely isn’t helping much at the moment . . . .) but I was reading a book to the girls last night that ends with the above little poem I love so much and it got me thinking (as it has each time I’ve read it).

I feel as though I’ve passed through countless seasons in the past number of years – with no predictability whatsoever – and a predominant amount of darkness.

When Elias’ tumour started to take over once again, I started the Caringbridge blog.  I had heard of blogging, but had never followed any and never even considered it a blog initially.  It was the easiest way to get the word out to those interested on how things were going.  We were staying as positive as possible, hoping to motivate people to do the same without death knocking on the door.  We were uplifted and inspired by how many people were following and cheering us on.

After Elias died, it became incredibly difficult to write there, in that space.  A space that had once been filled with so much hope and positive energy.  People had a harder time reading it (and bothered to mention it) because of the change in tone, but of course how exactly was I supposed to keep that going when my life had just ended?  A change in seasons.  Which, led me here.

This was the new place I came.  One where I could let out (most of) my pain and the darkness I felt.  I longed to continue talking to Elias and sharing with him, which is why I started writing as if to him, regardless of who else read it.  I didn’t really think I cared if any one did – but once again I was happy to find a readership to help me through . . . though this time it was from a less expected ‘group’.  Other widow/ers.  I found their blogs, and they found mine – and new hope was formed in the midst of the darkness.

Early on, it was just comforting to know that someone else understood that pain.  The pain that I felt so terribly alone and isolated in.  I hated knowing someone else felt it – but part of the pain was the isolation.  I was not alone.  I met others, months, weeks, years ahead of me and some behind – and I could look to them and see that it was possible to survive.

Even better, was the opportunity to meet them face to face.  Hug them.  Cry with them.  Laugh with them.  Dance with them.  To feel the energy in a room of others who have all known that pain of thinking you could never breathe again, let alone stand – yet here we were walking our ‘new’ lives, together.

A while back I made a tough decision to stop writing ‘letters’ to Elias as each one of my posts.  I still often write some of, and at times all of a post in that way – but it was extremely difficult to make that change.  It’s also one that’s never sat completely comfortably with me.

I’ve expressed before that I now struggle somewhat with this ‘place’.  It was once a lifeline for me.  It (along with those who I found through it) helped carry me through the darkest season of my life.  I still feel that pain, but as my body and mind have adjusted to handle it better, I’ve found it more difficult to find ways to write about it.  I don’t know how many different ways to express it.

Missing Elias is still in every breath I take, and always will be.  Every beat of my heart feels the loss of him.  I long to see/hear/touch him again – even if for just a moment.  My love for him is ever present.  But, none of this is new and I know I will always feel it.  Regardless of what happens in my life.  My girls will always miss him.  They will always have tears for their Daddy, and their lives are forever changed by his absence (just tonight, E is having a difficult time sleeping as I mistakenly chose bedtime to bring up the fact that fathers day is coming and to remind her of her choices when it’s time to start making crafts at school . . . . ).

I’m torn about this space.  I don’t want to stop writing here – but I don’t know how else to express these feelings.  I don’t know how much writing the details of yet another ‘death anniversary’, missed wedding anniversary, birthday, christmas, dance recital, etc, etc, etc, will help.  Tracking all the crazy numbers and stats of time with vs time without (I’ve now parented C more than twice as long on my own as we did together, etc).

And, life isn’t ‘all’ bad, and I want to write these things too – and I have written some of that here.  I think it’s important to do so for those who may come across it in the midst of their darkest period of grief, to see that there can be light.  And yet . . . .

I like writing.  Even though I have almost NO time for it any more (which is the other struggle I have these days).  I’m considering starting a new blog that is more just daily life and observations (likely still with ‘grief bits’ in there, as it is still part me), but I don’t know.  I just feel as though ‘this’ place has changed for me, yet I don’t feel done here either.

Seasons.  Change.  Rambling.  Who knows (but next time I’ll try not to write on a Friday night when the music is thumping through the walls . . . )

I know what he wanted for me.  For us.  I’m trying, every day, to live it.  It’s so hard without him.  But I feel like we’re doing it.

For now, this is what I submitted as a memoriam for the paper this year

If Love could have cured you, you would still be here with us . . . 

Impossible to believe it’s been three years, and impossible to describe just how loved, and missed you are – with every breath, every heart beat, every day.  How lucky were we to have someone so wonderful to love, that it made saying goodbye so hard.  Your smile, energy and life will be forever missed – thankfully your spirit lives on in all of us.  

Always and Forever ~ CL, E & C

P.S.  I Love You

April 20, 2012

The Tree – Take 2

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:19 pm by letterstoelias

Last year, on the same day, I wrote a post about a tree.

A tree I bought to plant in our front garden in memory of Elias.  A weeping Japanese cheery, filled with symbolism.  My initial hope was to have a group of Elias’ family together to plant it with me – but when it turned out only the one Aunt and her family were going to make the trip over, I decided to plant it on my own in the middle of the night instead.

I’m sure I blogged about the comedy of errors that occurred during that (my dog escaping at 3am and wandering off into the night), but the tree was planted.

I enjoyed looking at it so much over the next weeks – but as time went on, it wasn’t looking so good.  Understandable for it to lose it’s blossoms soon after, but the leaves seemed to go a little too soon.  I just got the feeling I didn’t quite plant it right.  Perhaps I didn’t water it enough?

Sure enough, the tree started to look like it was not going to survive.  I spoke with someone from the garden centre, and on their suggestion, tried to dig it up, break up the root ball more (I don’t believe I did that at all the first time around) and replant it.  This didn’t seem to work, but I wanted to give it time.

I look at it out the window every day, and as we pull out of the driveway.  As spring approached, I’ve been watching it and hoping.  Hoping that I’d see the slightest sign of a bud.  A leaf.  Anything.  But, there’s been nothing.  I can scrape the trunk and find a little green, but the branches are completely brittle and snap off under a tiny amount of pressure.

I finally decided to come to terms that it has died.  Now, looking at the tree just makes me sad.

I needed to go back to the garden store today for dog food.  I went through their trees, hoping -once again – to find the same tree.  No such luck there either.

They have one that is similar, mind you.  Bigger (and therefore a little more $$).  But, another Japanese weeping cherry.  Not the same, delicate white blossoms.  These are pink and much more ‘full’ looking.  Different leaves.  But, it’s still beautiful and has the same meaning, even if not exactly what I was looking for.

My problem is this – do I try again?  I’m clearly no expert at gardening.  I haven’t taken any time to prep anything.  Is the same thing going to happen again?

I’d really love to have it there.  Something to look at out the window and smile at – seeing it’s beauty in memory of Elias.  The kind man at the garden store suggested finding another tree that blooms at the same time of year that may be easier/more hardy.  But I’m stuck on the weeping cherry.  I know Elias loved magnolias, and they blossom now – but they planted one of those at the school for him.

My brain is not functioning well these days.  The weight of the weekend is heavy.  Seeing his memoriam in the paper today sent me to tears (even though I know the photo and words well as I submitted both).  But the suffocating pain of losing Elias is palpable.  I try to remind myself how the ‘lead up’ is always worse than the day – but somehow knowing that still doesn’t change how I feel.

Will the tree help?  Even if I do end up killing it again in time?  I wish I knew…


P.S.  I Love You

April 12, 2012

10 Days

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 2:11 pm by letterstoelias

I’ve written, and re-written so many blog posts in my head recently.  Finding the time and energy to commit the words to ‘paper’ is one thing.  But, that’s not all I’m struggling with these days.

It’s always been difficult.  Though, it seems to be getting more so – finding a way to put it all into words.  At almost three years.

How much I still miss him.  How much I long to see him.  Hear him.  Smell him.  Feel him.  How much it still hurts.

Every day.

Time heals?  Jury’s still out on that one for me.  Time helps you get used to it.  Learn how to manage it.  But the deep pain and sorrow is still there, just under the surface, and it still comes up for air now and then.  Knocking me down.  And, in many ways, I’m good with that.

A little under three years ago, couldn’t believe that the world was still spinning.  That people were still going about their daily business, laughing, working, playing.  I wanted it all to stop.  I wanted to stop.  My world ended.

But of course life is still moving forward.  And is even great in many ways.

I run a business.  I manage our home.  I take care of our girls.  Not always well on any of the three, but I’m doing it.  Sure, I spend much of the time feeling behind on everything, exhausted, overwhelmed – but somehow we’re making it through.

I’ve accomplished things that I never would have imagined three years ago.  I’ve done, felt, said, heard the ‘impossible’.  And I’m happy about that.

Alongside the pain of missing Elias, trying to balance the grief with the great is a daily struggle too.

Tell me he wanted me to be happy until you’re blue in the face – I know it – but it’s still hard.   This is what I struggle trying to explain.

I have much in my life to be happy for.  I’ve found new reasons to smile.  New things to laugh about.  New hopes.  New plans.  New parts of myself I never knew existed.

And, I think this is why I am more appreciative of the waves of grief that still come.  As crazy as that may sound.  Not that I enjoy them – don’t get me wrong on that point – but I know now that I can, and will survive them.  I know that they have served a purpose to get me to where I am.  I know that they are a sign of just how much I loved, and still love that man. With all my heart.  They tell me that I will always miss him.

I never want to stop missing him.  I will never stop loving him.  No matter how happy I am, or what life brings me.

* * * * *

In 10 days it will mark 3yrs since Elias died.  Three years since all the ‘lasts’ I can’t bear to list at this moment, regardless of how many ‘firsts’ I’ve survived since then.

Since April hit I have felt the weight getting heavier and heavier as each day passes.  I’m less productive, more distracted, short of patience, grumpy, sad – you name it.  My body and mind seem to be kicking into ‘barely functioning mode’ already.  I’ve tried to stop fighting it this year, as that seems to make it even harder.  Perhaps it’s working a little.  But, I still just wish I could curl into a little ball and wake up in May.

I didn’t’ handle his birthday very well last month.  I don’t know what the girls and I will do this year – but I imagine we’ll head to the beach as we usually do.  I’m sure we’ll do a lantern again as well, though not with so many people as last year.  I loved doing it as a group last year, and hope to again at some point – but it also took a fair bit more energy than I feel I have right now.

No matter what we do, I will celebrate the man I love.  An amazing man, father, husband.  And all I can ask, in honour of Elias, if you have someone you love beside you, let them feel it.  No time like now.


P.S.  I Love You

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

July 27, 2011

In the nick of time . . .

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

I didn’t want to hold too high of a hope it would be done today.  I didn’t want to get let down.  But still, of course I hoped.

She knew how important it was and was hopeful too.  And I know she worked hard to make it happen.

She told me, after all was said and done, that many things could have gone wrong – but nothing did.  They even managed to fit in my last minute engravement request.

And it’s done.  Today.

* * * * *

It’s done, and I have it back.  Today – 15yrs from the day we first kissed, and 12yrs from the day he asked me to spend the rest of our lives together.  From the day he gave me a ring.  One of the three, that now makes ‘the one’.

Every time I think of that it brings me to tears, but in a good way as well.  I can hardly stop looking at it.  I can feel it’s weight . . . it’s definitely a ‘thicker’ ring than what I am used to, but it had to be.  It represents so, very much.  I appreciate the weight.

It sings to me.  It shines with the love we shared from that first kiss 15yrs ago this very night.  Fireworks (this post from 2yrs ago will explain that . . . ).

Of course, it’s not what I envisioned.  When he slipped the first ring on my finger 12yrs ago, I never imagined I would be standing at his funeral less than 10yrs later.  I never imagined I would eventually feel the need to take it off or change it.

But, death got in the way.

I still suffer from ‘phantom ring syndrome’.  Now that I have removed my claddagh ring from my wedding ring finger too.  I feel the ‘itch’ of a ring.  The need to twist it.  The need to rub my thumb across the band to ensure it’s there.  Sometimes the need to hide my bare finger.  And, I know I will miss my rings as they were.  It’s only been a few hours, but I’m hopeful that the new ring, though on the other hand, will help cure some of this.  It’s the same thing, only different.

And the claddagh?  It has now moved to my middle finger on my left hand, turned with an open heart.

I don’t know if there will ever come a time when a new ring or two will sit on ‘that’ finger again (and though I hate speculating about that on this particular day . . . ), I’m happy that I would be able to show, on my hands, just how big the heart is, how strong, how tenacious, how expansive, and capable of fitting in more love than anyone would have thought possible.  How you don’t have to let go of one, to allow for another (anyone with more than one child understands this).

I know Elias felt damn lucky to have my love, as I was to have his.  We loved each other fiercely.

No, it can’t erase the heartache I still feel.  I still ache to spend this day (and every day) with him.  I have shed tears of sadness already on this day.  But my heart is happy to be able to wear this ring.  I will carry my love for Elias with me for life, and my ring will show that.  It was the absolute right decision for me.  There was not an ounce of regret.

I look at it, and – especially on this day – I can feel him smiling at me.  I know he would ask me the same question again if he could, and I know I would, without a doubt, say ‘Yes’ once again.  And, in a way, I am.  I am saying yes to carrying his love forward with me, for the rest of my life, no matter what else comes my way.




(not the greatest shots, but I was rushing and will take more soon . . . also, there is still a ‘little’ gold leftover, and our diamond ‘chips’ from our bands to be incorporated into the girls rings when $$ allows)

* * * * *

My Love,

Amongst the sadness of what I am missing today, I feel you around me.  I feel your love.  Your warmth, and your smile.  I can picture the scene in the car the night we first kissed, 15yrs ago today.  I can picture the scene in the restaurant when you proposed 12yrs ago today.  Thank you, ever so much, for trusting me with your heart, and for taking care of mine.

I know you felt lucky as I did to share in the love we had.  I feel honoured to have been able to love you the way I did, and still do.  And as our love is stronger than death, it will remain represented on my hand, through my new ring, carried with me for the rest of my days.

This ring reminds me that I was loved, fiercely.  That I love, fiercely.  That I am worthy of the best kind of love.  And, it makes me smile.


P.S.  I Love You

The beauty that can be, when love is cultivated.  Our love is a sacred thing, like the mysteries of the night.  In the darkness unwavering, and still so strong come the light.  Our love is an infinite thing, like the suns last rays on the sea, as it sets low in the west and the moon rises.

May 21, 2011

One Third

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:33 am by letterstoelias

Well, I haven’t gotten around to writing my ‘2 yr’ post.  I still hope to do that at some point – there is a lot to share – but to say I’ve been in a bit of a ‘funk’ in the past month would be an understatement.  A bit of quicksand here and there.  Trudging through mud.  It’s not been easy – I’m surviving it, but I don’t believe with much grace.  My ‘strength’ feels pretty damn weak to me.

Along with this, life has continued to be incredibly busy – the girls were both hit with the stomach flu once again (though fortunately this time I was spared), my parents have been away for much of the month so there has been a bit more juggling to do with child-care and store coverage, especially when the girls were sick.  Above all else, I miss Elias more than words could ever express.

And now this.  Yet another ‘would have been’.


May 21, 2011 ‘would have been’ our 11yr wedding anniversary.  I had the honour and privilege of being Elias’ wife for 8yrs and 11months.  I guess if I have to be a widow, I’m damn proud to be his.

This will be my 3rd anniversary without Elias (which boggles my mind).  We were only able to celebrate the date of our wedding together 9 times (and that’s if you include the day we were actually wed).  This means that I will have already celebrated 1/3rd as many alone as we did together.

* * * * *

How quickly our time apart is catching up with our time together.  It hurts to know this.  To feel it.

As I lay in bed tonight, I slipped my rings back onto my finger.  How strange they looked there at first.  But in no time the familiarity takes over.  This is how it ‘should’ be.

I slide your ring on with them.  Yours loosely dangles, clinking and jingling with mine.  Though this gives me some comfort, this is NOT how it should be.  Your ring should be on your finger, your hand in mine, your face smiling at me and telling me you’d marry me all over again.  If I close my eyes, only if I close my eyes . . .

How I wish it could be with them open.

Instead, I lay here alone in our bed, knowing with all my heart that I would live this hell over again if I had to, to once again say, “I Do” without hesitation.  Love is worth it.  You were worth it.

Yes, I slipped my rings back onto my finger, but probably for the last time.  For today they will stay, but it is no longer right.

No matter what happens with our rings, you will always be my husband, and I will always be your wife.  We never spoke of death in our vows, and death may have parted us physically, but it did not affect the vows we spoke to each other 11yrs ago.  I WILL love you, unconditionally, throughout eternity.

I Chelsea, do take you Elias to be the Husband of my days, the Companion of my house, the Friend of my life. To fill you with laughter & a Love, unconditional throughout Eternity. We shall bear together whatever trouble & sorrow Life may lay upon us, & we shall share together all the good & joyful things Life may bring us. With these words, & all the words of my Heart, I marry you & bind my life to yours.


P.S.  I Love You

April 20, 2011

The Tree

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:09 pm by letterstoelias

As I mentioned in my last post, there is another element to the ‘anniversary’ day, now just 4 2 days away (well, really 1 now, since I ended up finishing this so late) – though it’s a bit of a ‘double-whammy’ for me, as the 21st is equally as hard . . . seeing as that day was the last of everything, the day it all came crashing down, and it was only the wee hours of the 22nd that it was ‘official’.  So, really, both days suck.

I don’t know that I could ever quite put feelings into words they way Kim does – but it feels a little lot like this.

The girls are feeling it too.  I’m sure a big part of C’s ‘highly emotive state’ lately (ie tantrum city) has to do with just being 3 1/2, I can’t help but feel she’s affected by it a lot these days too*.  She has been talking about Daddy and dying lately, telling complete strangers that her Daddy died, etc – but the tantrums are wearing me down right now (good thing she’s so damn cute and funny – though it’s hard that Elias is missing out on that, as he would have appreciated it so).  And E made me a card at school yesterday, in the shape of a heart, that read “I know it’s hard to miss someone we love” – and she was sure to tell me that she wrote ‘we’ because she misses Daddy too.  She’s shed a few tears in the past few days as well.

The conversations I get to have with my kids . . .  and, I worry so much about finding the right balance with how much to talk/not talk about what’s going on and my feelings, etc., not wanting to ruin them by going too much either way.

* * * * *

If you haven’t already figured this out about me, I’m quite into symbolism.  I like things to have meaning, even if only to myself.  My hummingbird tattoo is not just because they are pretty birds, for example.

The tree which is in the logo for my store, was no accident either.  It is a weeping cherry tree – chosen for it’s symbolism – and with the help of my brilliant sister-in-law, we worked it into the logo beautifully (at least, I think so).

So, when out for a walk at the local gardening store a couple weeks back, I was immediately struck by a lonely little tree at the back of the greenhouse area.  I walked up to it, certain I was going to see ‘Japanese Weeping Cherry’ on the tag, but instead found the words ‘Prunus Serrulata Shidarezakura’, or something of the sort.

Seeing as I’m not a botanist or latin major, I then wasn’t 100% certain the tree was what I was hoping it to be, but I felt in my heart it was.  I couldn’t get it off my mind, so I went back a day or two later and asked for a pen and paper to write the name down.  A quick google search at home confirmed it – a weeping cherry.  The day after that, I rushed home from work, threw the girls in the wagon and practically ran to the garden store before it closed to bring it home . . . .

Now, it is sitting in my backyard, waiting to be planted.  It’s not too big just yet – quite small, really.  But it will be nice to watch it grow.  My initial hope was that Elias’ family would be able to come for the lantern ceremony on the 22nd, then we could work together in the garden on the 23rd and all plant the tree together.  Since it seems confirmed that only one Aunt and her family are going to come (the same who were here at spring break), there won’t be the ‘garden party’.  As such, I then thought the girls and I would plant it together in the morning of the 22nd.

As I was working in the garden today on Sunday (for almost 7hrs) getting the area prepped for the tree, along with trying to make the whole front garden bed look as nice as possible for when the tree is in – the thought occurred to me that I may even just do it on my own.  I know the girls would probably enjoy it to a certain extent (especially E, who has started referring to herself as ‘Nature Girl’), but I had also planned to take them down to the beach in the morning as we had done last year, so we could have something that was just for ‘us’.  We’ll also have the lantern ceremony, of course, too.  So, maybe the tree planting can be just for me.  We’ll see.

And, the symbolism?  The cherry tree, for many in Japan, symbolizes “the transience of life” primarily due to the short blooming time of the trees. The fallen blossoms on the ground can also be seen as “a metaphor for a warrior killed early in life”.  Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life – something that is here for an incredibly short time, yet can still be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen and have a big impact on you, and the world around you – just as Elias did, and now I will have one of these beautiful trees in my front garden.

*An interesting note, while putting the girls to bed tonight, C picked the book ‘Peaceful Piggy Meditation’ – a children’s book on feelings and mediation, given to us by the hospice councillor we saw just a couple weeks before Elias died.  One of the first pages discusses how it can be difficult not to lose your temper when angry and, as we chat about books while reading, I noted that sometimes Mama feels that way and I asked C if she does too.  She said to me, “Sometimes when people are sad, I feel angry.”  I just about dropped the book.  She also said when people are happy, she’s happy, but she clearly said again that when people are sad, she feels angry.  E and I both asked her if she felt angry when we are sad, and she said yes.  I asked her if she knew why, and she just shrugged her shoulders and said no.  Though I try to avoid putting words in her mouth, I found it interesting, and so I asked if she felt sad too, or if it was confusing, and she said confusing.

Also, on one page there is a Daddy pig, and she pointed and said, “Their Daddy didn’t die” and on another page there is a picture of a goldfish who died, and after we finished reading the book, she wanted to go back and look at that page.  I know her behaviour lately has been very much that of a typical 3yr old.  People are quick to assume that she was and is too young to understand or even notice any of it – but a big part of me felt as if it was something ‘more’, and I’m pretty sure I’m right.

* * * * *


Words to express how much I miss you are failing me.  It hurts beyond words.  I would love to try and promise I won’t relive our last day together tomorrow – last kiss, last touch, last smile, last breath . . .  but try as I might I know it will come.  Like a freight train downhill with no breaks to knock me down.  (I supposed that should have said ‘brakes’, but really, it’s pretty much both in this case)

As I put the girls to bed tonight, I remembered putting them to sleep this night two years ago – the four of us together in that one little bedroom, mattresses on the floor, clueless as to what the next day would bring.  As I lay between them I thought of how far we have come since then.  It has not been easy, plenty of times I’ve felt like it was too hard to keep going.  But, we have made it this far and I know we will continue on much the same – missing you and loving you, every single day, no matter how much time passes. In the early hours of April 22nd, 2009 – I had no idea how I would make it . . . I couldn’t imagine my life without you for the next 5 minutes – certainly not even this far ahead.  I sat awake on the couch the next 4hrs or so, waiting, and dreading the girls waking up and having to deliver the news that they would never see their Daddy alive again.  I couldn’t imagine their lives without you either – yet here we are, and with love from you and for you in our hearts, we keep going.


P.S.  I Love You

April 11, 2011

Danger up ahead

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 12:21 am by letterstoelias

As the weather has been improving (somewhat) these days, we’ve been fortunate to be spending more time outside.  I’ve been trying to fit in a little gardening – which I enjoy more than I ever thought I would, it’s just tough to find the time and still have a lot to figure out.  Along with the time on the swings and trampoline, the girls have been doing a bit more bike-riding – though this isn’t always the most relaxing activity for any of us . . . .

Both the girls can be quite the ‘nervous nellies’.  I’ve noticed how, when riding their bikes they see something they perceive as a ‘danger’ up ahead – and I’m thankful they are conscientious, however they go into complete panic mode LOOOONG before they are anywhere near the ‘danger’, if it is even really a true danger (like a parked car).  They may franticly wiggle the handlebars (which sometimes causes them to fall), scream, cry, stop moving all together, or some combination of any of these.

I’ve realized, this isn’t too unlike how things can be in the world of the widowed.  For anyone who has been on this crappy ride for very long, I’m sure you’ve experienced many times where you have a ‘big day’ up ahead, and start to completely shut down, panic, cry, scream, will it to stop.  When the day comes, NOT to say that it’s easy by ANY means, but afterwards you find yourself saying ‘the build up to the day was worse than the day itself’.

It’s just under two weeks now until the two year mark.  I’ve definitely noticed the anxiety creeping in.  I’ve noticed a more difficult time with sleep.  My diet hasn’t been the best as I’m consuming more sugar.  I’m easily distracted.  Forgetful.  Feel less productive.

I know I’m not in as rough shape as I was at this time last year, but it’s still hitting me – and it’s still hard.

But, I do have something much different planned for this year’s ‘anniversary’ (I still have a hard time figuring out exactly what the hell to call it).  Last year, I wanted nothing more that to be on my own with the girls.  I didn’t want to face anyone.  I couldn’t.

I was at peace with how we spent the day – friends helped the girls keep their routine going to ballet and preschool, then the three of us went down to the beach for a couple hours, writing messages on rocks and sticks, then throwing them into the ocean to send to Daddy.  Simple, peaceful.  I felt Elias all around us.  Not the way we want it, of course, but it was nice to feel him close.

There is a large part of me that still wants to hibernate this year.  I would love to stay in bed ALL day and do nothing, see no one, or do the same as last year with the girls at the beach – but, as hard as it is, this day is not just about me and my grief.  So this year I was inspired to do a little more.

I was reading a blog posting by Supa in early February, where she noted a scene in a kids movie where they released flying lanterns in memory of a loved one who had died.  It peaked my interest, and I started looking into the tradition of this thinking, “Wouldn’t it be lovely”, though I didn’t really think it was possible.

Then, a friend of mine, Boo had posted in March that she was sending up the same type of lanterns for her Cliff’s birthday, along with a few others.  I wrote her right away to find out where to get them, as now my ‘if only’ was looking to be a real possibility.  Initially I was hopeful to get them in time for Elias’ birthday but it was just a little too soon, so it was then that I decided it would be a perfect fit for the 2yr mark.

At first, I figured the girls and I could go down to the beach and send one up with our messages on it, but as I looked into buying them I came across a number of amazing videos with mass launches.  

The more I thought about it, the more I was drawn to the idea of trying to get a number of people to come together and honour Elias in this way (of course we won’t have ‘quite’ as many people as in the video, however =).  It’s also extremely important to me for the girls to really see, in a beautiful way, that we are not the only ones who miss Elias.  We are not the only ones who love/d him.  Plenty of people do.  And, I know it’s also important for my girls to have this type of outlet for their grief.

After a fair bit of research, I found a supplier where I could get them wholesale, as I figured they may make a nice addition to the store as well – something people could use to celebrate a baby’s birth, child’s birthday, or a wedding.  I am now just anxiously awaiting their arrival.

Last month, we had a visit from Elias’ aunt and uncle, and their two kids who are (basically) the same age as our girls.  It was a busy weekend, but so lovely – the kids had a blast and it was wonderful to spend some time them.  We even got a chance to go to the pool, which we hadn’t done in years.  The girls can be quite nervous in the water and just cling to me, so I find it too stressful to go on my own.

One evening, I was sharing my plans for the ceremony with Caroline, and she thought it was a beautiful idea.  A bit later that night she suggested we do another ‘yard work party’ as we did at Easter last year, where a number of Elias’ family came out to help build and arbour in the yard – one that Elias had always planned to do – along with some other heavy duty yard work that is too much for me on my own.  We figured it would be great if everyone could come over on the 22nd, we could have a potluck and take time to share stories of Elias and decorate our lanterns, then walk up to launch them at a park nearby our home after dark.  Then, the next day we could all work in the yard together.

So far, it seems that they are the only ones from Elias’ family who are going to come over, so the potluck and yard party isn’t looking too likely, however my parents will be there, and I do have a number of friends who are planning to come and share in the evening lantern launch with us.

As life has rolled on in these past two years, it feels strange to have made new friends who never got the chance to meet Elias.  Some of the people who have been my biggest sources of support, barely knew him at all.  I know there will be a number of them there that night – and for that I am so thankful.  Even if they didn’t get a chance to really get to know such an amazing, beautiful, incredible man, it’s wonderful for them to come out and honour Elias too as I know how happy it would make him, and for the girls (and myself) to feel that support at the toughest of times.

We will still take some time to ourselves to grieve as well, of course.  Perhaps down to the beach again in the morning first, and then the tree.  How lucky was I to find the tree . . .


Sigh.  It’s getting late, and I’ve tried to get this post done for so many days now – so I’m going to post ‘as is’ and get to the part about the tree shortly (I hope!).

* * * * *

My Love,

Almost two. whole. years.  It blows my mind.  I miss you as much today as I did day one, if not more.


P.S.  I Love You

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