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.

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August 14, 2010

My Turn

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

The widowed blogs are a blaze with amazing recaps of this past weekend in San Diego at Camp Widow.  I’ve been trying to come up with something equally as eloquent – but it is difficult to explain an experience like that.

I was fortunate to be on the same plane as Jackie on the way there – which, though we couldn’t sit together, it was a comfort to not be alone.  As we came down the elevator at the airport in SD, we were greeted by Matt.  Quite a ‘celebrity’ in the world of widowhood (yes, such a thing exists!  he’s even been on Oprah) – though he would be quick to tell you he’s nothing but an asshole =) (which is the farthest thing from the truth, well, most of the time . . . ).  He carted our bags off to his car, but then we walked right back into the airport to meet Sarah who arrived just after us.  It was great to scream and hug this wonderful person whom I had never met – nor even spoken with on the phone.  We previously only knew each other through blogs and emails – but she’s even WAY better in person =).

Matt treated us all to starbucks and they all realized quickly just how a venti frappucino can actually make me talk more.  It was fun spending time with the three of them – that alone would have made the trip worthwhile as they are all such great people, but we had one more person to pick up.  Next, we met Emily – coming off her first ever flight!  I had not ‘met’ her online previously, but we quickly found out we had something in common, as her husband also died of a brain tumour (though a different kind), and for her it was exactly one year ago.

Once at the hotel, we met Andrea – another wonderful person I was looking forward to meeting after reading her blog – her kids are not far off in age from ours.  Jackie, Andrea, Sarah and I were ‘roomies’, and I was a little shaken when I discovered our room number was ‘422’, but they all agreed this was a good sign that you were here with me.

We spent an hour or so chatting with a few other great new friends by the pool before heading up to register.  This is when the nerves kicked in.  As flattered as I was to be included in the email from Supa about helping others feel at ease who may know me by my blog – having a blog by no means made me more prepared or more at ease.  I was glad to have Sarah with me walking in there.  It was tough.  Heavy.  There is an incredible kinship with the people there – but the reason we were all there is still not an easy one.  And, that first day it was clear to see.

But, one of the other things that helped me through was to see Dan at the registration table.  When I introduced myself, we gave each other a big, teary-eyed hug (at least my eyes were . . .).  Still, I was ready to head back outside pretty quickly, but there wasn’t much time before the welcome reception was to start.

I was still fairly nervous, but was absolutely giddy to find a mashed potato bar there!  Ok, so maybe a little too giddy . . . but it really was amazing!  My own personal heaven.

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I was starting to feel a little more comfortable, but I still stuck pretty close to the group that I ‘knew’.  I found Deb (see above potato pic), which was SO great to see her again – I met a few others, but as far as I could tell the ‘blogger’ group didn’t go.  As it was all still a little overwhelming, that was ok by me.

Saturday morning started with a keynote address by Michelle Neff Hernandez.  She is a fantastic woman and speaker – and had us laughing at death jokes no other would dare, and she had us teary eyed seconds later.  We were off to our sessions for the day – the first one I was in, though I didn’t recall that as the one I had picked, was with both Sarah and Andrea (and another great Sarah I had not previously met).  Thankfully so, as 5mins in they asked us to write three things that are keeping us from moving forward with our ‘new’ lives . . . . all I had was one word.

I couldn’t keep the tears back.  There were a few other tough points in that session, but some great ones as well.  Next it was on to a session regarding conjuring up and maintaining memories.  I shared about how you, 3 days before you died, for some reason decided to teach me how to make your amazing salad dressing.  Though we didn’t typically work well together in the kitchen (I was your worst student), on this day it was perfect.  I can still recall the feeling of your hand on my back, and how you would pour in the ingredients while I mixed.  And now, every time I make the dressing I can still feel your hand on my back, and  E always comments on how it’s ‘Daddy’s dressing he taught you to make’.  I later found out I made another new friend, Cathy, cry – though she had vowed not to (sorry Cathy!).

I went to lunch with two wonderful women who were very recently widowed.  For one it had only been two months, and I could see a familiar look in her face that I once wore, so early on after you died.  I could see there, some of the distance I had travelled in this past (almost) 16 months.  I learned from them, and I only hope that perhaps they learned a little something from me as we shared our stories.  No matter how much time has passed, none of us are ‘expert’ widows – and that really is one of the main points of the weekend.  To just be able to connect with people who understand.

After lunch it was an emotional session called ‘Little Tears’ focusing on childhood grief, where I met Mel – who is just awesome, and I later discovered that Wendy was in that session and I also chatted with her in the elevator, though neither of us clued in to who the other was until the conference was over.

The final workshop was on parenting through grief, then we had a brief break to get ready for the banquet.  Sarah and I went for a little walk along the water – though we didn’t see much of it, San Diego seems to be truly a beautiful city (some of it reminded me of Vancouver).

The sessions were great – it was difficult to hit all of the various ‘needs’ in one session as so many of the widow/ers were at different stages or had children of different ages – but I was able to find some value in each session attended.  Something I could take home with me, or, if nothing else, validation that what I am going through/how I am reacting/feeling is normal.  It was also nice to, for once in the last year +, not be ‘the’ widow in the room.  I hate that all these other amazing people have to go through this too, but we are stronger together.  Initiation into the club sucks, but it’s members are fabulous.

The banquet was great.  A few speeches and awards.  I ended up sitting next to yet another woman widowed by a brain tumour (at least five of us there that I know of), her loss only a few months ago.  We were all excited to see Emily become the next recipient of the Liz Logelin foundation  and to tell her we had known all along.  After the banquet (complete with two drunken crashers – some think it was genius, I think it was dumb luck to stumble in on a room full of widows) a number of us headed out to an 80’s night pub/bar, where we sang along with the cover band (ok, it was mostly just Deb and I loudly butchering the songs, but it was a great release), danced and laughed.  To the point of tears, actually, when a poor unknowing bachelor party stumbled upon our ‘widow party’, and when they asked Sarah to sign the bachelor’s sombrero –she so wonderfully signed it with ‘Get Life Insurance’.  They didn’t seem to think it was funny . . . .

Jackie (because she’s one hot mama) attracted a few unbelievable pick-up lines, and I thought we should give ‘So, do you want to be my next dead husband?’ a try.  It was great fun – though I quickly felt very old as, though I didn’t have much of anything to drink, it has been some time since I’ve been out like that and it wore me out.

It was a great, short, couple of days – there were heavy moments and tears and laughter and hugs and fun and sharing.  It would have been nice to have just a little more ‘down time’ between the scheduled events just to chat with people – in many ways I wished I could have stayed longer with this amazing group to whom I don’t have to explain much of anything (I had to leave fairly early on Sunday morning and didn’t get much of a chance to say good-bye to some), but I was missing the girls terribly and ready to see them again.  I wish I could have bottled all those people and that feeling up and brought it home with me.  It’s difficult to explain to others just how valuable it is – without it sounding like I think the supportive people I have at home aren’t doing enough.  But, both groups are incredibly valuable to me, and I need both in my life – desperately.

One of the benefits of going away from the coast, is how much I love coming back.  As the ferry pulls out of the dock I can feel peace creeping up on me. Sailing along past the various coastal islands, covered with trees and dotted with cabins.  The sun shimmering on the water.  Light clouds dusting the tops of the mountains.  Sail boats, motor boats silently cruising around.  Ocean, ocean, ocean.  I know I’m going home.

Watching other mom’s on the ferry, I certainly didn’t miss having to balance my two girls in the cafeteria line up or in the washrooms – but I was sure looking forward to seeing them again and getting their big hugs and kisses.

It was great to get home and receive one of the biggest hugs from E, ever.  I think some of her acting up over the weeks prior may have had to do with some anxiety over me going – but they were great while I was gone and had so much fun I could barely speak to them on the phone – and I am glad for each of us that we got a little break from each other.  As an ‘only’ parent the relationship is just that much more intense, throw in grief on all involved, and it’s a whirlwind.

Since coming home, I’ve felt a bit ‘lighter’.  Some of my patience has returned.  I’m a little less crabby.  I feel a bit refreshed.  And the girls seem a bit easier too (that said – it didn’t take long for the chaos of life to return as on Monday night while I was in the midst of cooking dinner, C broke a plate on the floor and I had to rush her out of the kitchen, try and protect my own feet, clean up the thousand shattered bits of plate and make sure that dinner didn’t burn/overcook).  The girls were both also a bit more expressive about missing you these past few days.  E had a cry, and C was speaking excitedly about you surprising us, and coming in the door (we had been reading a book with a part where a Daddy comes home from work) – then her little face turned once again as she realized it wouldn’t happen.  They miss you so, very much.

It’s also been an insane week getting ready for the grand opening of the store tomorrow – but I’m so very excited about that.  It seems Martin will be the only one from your side making it over, and I’m really glad he’s coming.  So much of why I did this in the first place was because of you, to honour you, so I had hoped your parents could have made it over too.

It should be a fun day though, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I know with my whole heart that you’ll be with me.  I feel your happiness about it.  I sense your pride.  I still wish more than anything you were here in person for it – though I guess, had you been here, it likely wouldn’t have happened.  One of those strange irony’s about this whole thing.

I’m a little worried that once I’m through this weekend and things start to settle into more of a routine, that some of the events from camp will hit me like a tonne of bricks.  We shall see.

I hope this is somewhat coherent – it’s been pieced together from bits here and there I’ve jotted over the past few days.  And, I’m just tired.  I can’t believe it’s not even that late!  So, I’m off to try and get a few more things ready for tomorrow, then bed.  Ahh, sleep.  My long lost friend.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You.

and, my word . . . guilt

February 22, 2010

On Birth, Death, Life & Laughter (part 2)

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:34 am by letterstoelias

Such fantastic women!  We had a great time.  We shared our stories, our fears, our hopes, and a LOT of laughter (and some sort of mocha-bailey’s cheesecake – yum!  oh, and the odd glass of wine too . . . ).  We asked each other questions and explored the issues of guilt, of dealing with perceptions and expectations.  We discussed challenges we will face and the humps we have overcome.  And we laughed.

It wasn’t all ‘widow talk’, but it was nice to be able to express those issues and be completely understood.  Kindred spirits.  It’s hard to articulate this without sounding disrespectful to those around me daily who have helped me get this far, because I would not be here (nor would I have been able to meet with Jackie and Deb) without them – but I felt like I could just be real.  There was no need to try and explain.  To justify.  To pretend.  Because of that connection, I was able to share things with them that I haven’t really discussed with anyone.  My mom was a little worried that commiserating with other widows wouldn’t be the best way to celebrate my birthday, but it helped take my mind off of it for the most part, and for the rest – they knew what it was like to be in my shoes.  There were notably few tears shed between the three of us.

I feel like I learned a bit more about myself in a way too.  In seeing them, I had perhaps a glimpse of how others may see me.  As I heard Jackie and Deb retell their stories of how their loved ones died – the trauma and heartache they faced then and since – I was in awe.  The thought would occur to me, ‘How did they do it?  How did they manage to live through that?’  But then I realized, as I looked into Jackie’s face, or Deb’s, that it was like looking into my own.  In our eyes, the same sense of knowing.

Our stories are different in many ways, but we all faced that moment.  That awful, painful moment when the doctor looks at you and says that there is nothing else they can do.  Your husband is going to die.  Or, is basically already gone, even though there is still breath coming out of their body.  We all experienced that desperation, of wanting to keep trying, despite what the doctors said.  We fought.  We screamed.  We begged and pleaded and cried.  And, we each watched the love of our lives take their last breath (yours coming almost exactly 10 months ago as I write this . . . ).  And, we are still here.  Still moving.  Not moving ‘on’.  Not getting ‘over’ it.  Just, moving.

To some it’s just semantics, but to a widow it can mean a lot.  It’s not to say that I begrudge people for saying the ‘wrong thing’ – it’s hard to know what to say.  I get that.  And unfortunately I think people worry so much about what to/not to say people just end up avoiding, which actually feels worse.  Even a lot of widows/ers have different preferences for how they view things.  Some look at their life as two separate entities – ‘before’ & ‘after’.  Some consider it the same life, just under different circumstances.  Sometimes we don’t even know what we want to say/hear.  It comes down to the fact that we are in a situation we don’t want to be in, and it’s hard to find a comfortable way to ‘define’ it.  Just as it’s hard to define how we are doing.

People often remark about how ‘good’ I seem/look/sound.  I sometimes marvel at myself for how I can come across that way, when inside I still feel like I’m screaming – but it’s not all fake either (sometimes, sure, but not always).  I think my soul has just begun to expand.  I’m better able at balancing the pain of missing you, along side the life I continue to life without you.  The pain never leaves.  I feel it in every fiber of my being.  Every day.  All day.  And some days it still knocks me right out.  It threatens to rip me apart.  Sometimes I sit in the sauna as hot as it will go and hope to sweat out the sorrow.  I hope it will melt away.  But I know that, if it did, there would be nothing left of me.  The sorrow will be with me to the end of my life, running deep in my veins.  And that is ok, because that is how long I will love you.

Our love knows no boundaries of death.  ‘To fill you with laughter, and a Love, unconditional throughout Eternity’.  It was in our vows.  We didn’t say ‘till death do us part’.  Death only parted us physically.  I wish will all my heart that wasn’t the case.  As the clock ticks closer to the time you left this world 10 months ago, I can feel my heart beating faster.  I can feel the tears right behind my eyes, waiting to come out.  My chest tightens.  My stomach turns.  But my heart and soul have also swelled enough to begin to play our symphony.  The highs of our love and the wonderful memories we shared that I will carry with me always, the lows of pain we suffered together and the sorrow in losing you, and the crescendo of my life now – trying to pick myself up from the moment I last left your side when life as I knew it came crashing down around me (it’s a long, steep, slippery climb and some days it’s just so fucking hard – sorry, can you tell I’ve been hanging out with Jackie?? =).  But the notes all play together.  Sometimes simultaneously.  Sometimes alternating.  I wish I could be the composer and control it all, but I can’t, so I just have to let the music play.  The crashes still come and they are just as painful, but I am more equipped to handle them now.  I don’t fall quite as far.

It was really beneficial to spend that time with Jackie and Deb, and I hope to see more of them again – but until then we’ll just have to keep ‘meeting’ in cyberspace.  The flight home was nice as it was a beautiful day, and it was great to see the girls again.  They had a wonderful sleepover with Buz, Sian and the boys, and when we got back to Buz and Sian’s we were outside, and E hopped on a bike, with no training wheels, and started to ride.  It was fantastic.  At first I was worried that she had been started this in the 24hrs I was gone, but it really was just that moment that she got it.  Her sense of self-pride was palpable.

I was so glad I happened to have both my camera and the video camera with me, and documented it all.  I knew she was close, so changed the seat height on C’s Skuut bike so she could practice balance, and it apparently did the trick.

The excitement continued as that afternoon we heard that Bridie was in labour.  Updates continued until about 10pm or so, then nothing.  I woke up, surprised that there was no further word, but after finally calling the hospital and catching them there, I found out that a beautiful baby girl was born at 2:30am on Feb 15th.  Another niece!  They are pretty sure about the name, but it hasn’t been 100% finalized yet, so you’ll just have to wait for that. The girls have been able to ichat with their cousin and we all can’t wait to meet her.  Everyone is happy and healthy though – and there is nothing like the birth of a baby in the family to bring a true sense of joy.  There has been a lot of heartache in the time you have been gone.  But, at the same time, this beautiful little life was developing.  Her body taking shape.  Getting ready to join the world.  I guess the last 10 months hasn’t been entirely bad after all.  I hate that she will never personally know her Uncle Elias.  I also know, however, that just as I never really knew my Uncle Art, I know how much he was loved.  I know how much he meant to my Mom, and to my family.  My Mom kept him alive for me in her stories and memories, just as I know Bridie will do for you – as will your brothers with their daughters.  It’s not the same – but it gives me some comfort.

The knots continue to churn in my stomach and I can’t seem to take my eyes off the clock, so I should try and get some sleep.  The last week since I’ve been home had it’s share of ups and downs – as usual – though I will share those another day.

10 months.  God, how I miss you.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

February 16, 2010

On Birth, Death, Life & Laughter (part 1)

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:58 pm by letterstoelias

This letter has been brewing for a few days now, but for many reasons I’ve been unable to get it finished. It’s driving me a bit crazy, so for now I’ll post it as a ‘to be continued . . . ‘ and try to finish up soon. It’s probably better that way anyhow, to save from having a gargantuan post.

It has been an eventful few days. Days with new friends, big firsts, little victories, a bit of sorrow, a lot of laughter – and now, a new life.

We celebrated my Dad’s 60th birthday. I did my business plan presentation for the Aspire committee, and it went great and I am now in the next ‘stage’ of the program. It wasn’t without a few bumps – I was passed by a screaming ambulance en route to the hospital as I was practicing my speech in the car. Fortunately I got there a bit early, and was able to chat a bit with some of the Aspire facilitators and gain some composure before starting. I had a slideshow of some of my photographs running behind me, and of course I also almost broke a bit when I glanced at it at one point and my photo of you and E eating gelato in Venice came up . . .

. . . but I managed to keep it together.

It feels good to be past the planning stage – to get to put it all into action now – but it’s still a little on the scary side. That said, I just keep reminding myself that, in relation to what I’ve been through recently (and continue to go through), I’m pretty sure I can handle whatever comes my way. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll handle it well, but if I can survive losing you, there’s not much else that can faze me (provided the rest of my loved ones are ok – just to be clear). It’s been valuable for me to have something to work towards. A different path for a different life. Friday night we were at Buz and Sian’s for the usual acro/pizza night, but they added a little early celebration for my birthday. The kids were all excited and it’s hard not to smile when there are 4 little shinning faces bringing you cake. Still, as I had an extra moment to make a wish as Sian was grabbing the camera, I couldn’t help but think of how my one wish wouldn’t come true, but as I looked at the flickering candles I could almost see your smiling face in them.

Still, once home, with the girls asleep, the tears came. I wasn’t even expecting it then, but that’s how grief goes. I started to pack up for my over-night trip away. I tried to find/do a few little things to make the event – my first night away from my girls – special for them and for me. In the morning, we drove out to the harbour where the plan would take off. My first time on a floatplane. It was pretty rainy, cloudy, and very windy so it was a bit of a bumpy ride, but only 20mins to cross the straight, so not to bad at all. It was rather strange leaving the girls behind. Watching them get farther and farther away. I looked for your face in the clouds, and again could almost feel you smiling at me. And I was comforted by the sight of arbutus trees all around, both before we took off and after we landed as we ‘taxied’ through the water. The arbutus tree will forever make me think of you.

Greeting me off the plane was Jackie, along with her wee ones, Liv and Briar. How great it was to finally meet them in person! We dropped her kids off at her sister’s then headed back to her place and talked for hours over tea and soup. We snuck out for a little valentines shopping for our loved ones (the kids, of course) and she took me to a huge toy store in Nanaimo. It made me even more excited about opening my own. Then, we were back to her house for more chatting as we waited for Deb to arrive. It was so great to meet her too – and once she came the three of us went out for a bite to eat . . .

Ok – that’s all I’ve got for now, but hopefully I’ll finish the rest soon.  Until then, good night My Love.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

November 15, 2009

Argh

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:24 pm by letterstoelias

Hello My Love,

I had actually planned a much better letter for today.  I started writing it last night, but was too sleepy to finish it off and was trying to be responsible and go to bed at a more decent hour for once.  Still, I managed to wake up with an excruciating headache today.  I seem to be getting them a little more often again.  And no amount of water to drink, advil, or my magic bag provided much relief.

I managed to get the grocery shopping done (with a little company at the store) and after lunch the girls and I snuggled in to finish watching an IMAX HD documentary on dolphins, and watch the one on mountain gorillas (I think I’d give up the TV entirely if it wasn’t for the nature channel).  I tried to rest my eyes a little and when it was over the girls were contentedly playing.

As was the case I decided to continue resting on the couch a little hoping to help the headache.  They would come and talk to me every couple minutes anyway so I figured I wouldn’t actually fall asleep.  Of course, however, they managed to find an ‘activity’ entertaining enough that they didn’t feel the need to come over to the couch to chat, and I guess I was just done in enough that I did doze off.

When I woke up, all seemed normal.  I don’t believe it was too long that I was actually asleep for.  I went to go to the washroom and was stopped in my tracks when I saw the bathroom counter and sink covered in blue ink.  As was the soap.  And the towel.  When I walked back into the family room to ask what had been going on, it was then that I noticed their art table.  Almost completely covered in a wash of blue ink (with a little red thrown in for good measure).  The few spots that weren’t completely covered had nice big complete blue handprints.  There also happened to be a little ink on the wall to go with it.  I must have been pretty out of it as this all happened not more than 10 feet from me.

E explained to me that they were having fun with the felts.  And she added, ‘but we washed our hands after . . . ‘.  Serves me right I suppose.  If it was just C I could see it, but E has never really been one to do that sort of thing.  I was pretty surprised.  But, luckily it all came off fairly easily and for the most part it was contained to  just their art table, designed for ‘art’ afterall.  I feel like I shouldn’t have let it get to me so much as in the end it didn’t do any harm, but it still put me in a bit of a grumpy mood, however, as I still had the headache.  It made me wish I had been suckered in to buy the ice cream that was on sale . . .

Anyhow, I was able to get dinner on at a reasonable time and the girls ate a bunch and at a faster pace than the usual prolonged dining experience.  As such, I was able to get them ready for bed quite early and we had some extra time for lots of reading, which was nice.  C picked a book off the shelf that I had never even seen before.  I don’t even know where we got it from.  We have SO many books, and get many from the ‘Spark!’ program, but I don’t think it was one of those.  It was about a little girl growing up with her Grandpa, and how they used to watch the orca whales every summer together.  After many years the Grandpa dies, the day the whales finally came, and the mom tells the little girl that her Grandpa’s spirit is jumping and diving with the whales.  They don’t see the whales again for some time, and of course, the next time she sees the whales in the summer, there is a baby whale there.  It was a nice story, and I think E really enjoyed it as she recalled seeing the orcas in Alaska and thinking of you having sent them to her.

Both the girls have started ‘talking to you’ at night again, which is nice.  For a while E decided she didn’t want to – she found it difficult to talk to someone not there.  Understandable.  I didn’t force the issue.  But, for whatever reason she has started again, which started C doing it again too.  She’s turning into quite the chatterbox now (go figure) and I can actually understand most of what she has to say to you.  It’s so fun to hear what is on her little mind.  E talks about how much fun you must have had watching her doing whatever it was she was doing that day, and how much you must have been laughing.  And tonight I loved that she added, ‘You’re the best Daddy in the whole wide world!’  But it’s hard not to cry hearing that.  Even now, typing it.

I am working in town tomorrow and have to be on the 6:20 ferry.  This will be the first day trip over that I haven’t brought the girls in a long time – since long before you died actually.  We’ve usually come over and stayed over with your parents on my ‘office’ days, but it didn’t work out this time, so this will be a long day away from them.  My mom is coming over to get them up and ready, then they’ll be with Sian for the rest of the day which is great.  Anna’s been a big help recently too, taking the girls to the parent-tot drop in on Wednesdays for the last few weeks and has been pitching in wherever else she can which has given my mom a little extra time off here and there and has been fun for the girls too.  She’s such a wonderfully sweet person.  I often think of how much you would have enjoyed getting to know them all more.

We went to Barb’s for dinner last night – and we met up with her and Dave first at Cliff Gilker park for a nice walk in the forest.  The water was running so fast through the creek – the fastest I’ve ever seen it, and it made for quite a few spectacular falls.  It was incredibly beautiful and I know you would have loved to see it like that.  I’m so grateful for where we live.  Dinner was great and she sent me home with a pile of leftovers which helps ease the cooking burden for a few nights.  It was nice to spend some time with her.  I forgot to mention in my last letter that I ran into John from the ferries at the library the other day.  It was nice for the girls to see him too, as we hadn’t seen him since the funeral.  He offered to come and take Cali for a walk sometime, which is really nice – it’s just too bad she’s such a pain in the ass sometimes.  It’s hard to know if it would be ok to let someone not used to her take her out . . . but it would be good for her and would help me feel a little less guilty that she doesn’t get out much anymore.

I also forgot to mention something that happened the other morning too – the girls had both climbed into bed with me at some point in the night/morning, and C was lying behind me.  She woke up first, as always, and was playing around a bit.  She took the neck of my t-shirt and pulled it down to look at my tattoo.   As she looked at it she said, ‘Ahhhh’ gave a little giggle, then said, ‘Daddy’ and gave it a kiss.  Then she did it all again.  It was so very sweet.  When I showed the girls the day after it was done, I had mentioned then that it was to help show how much I love Daddy, etc., but I’m never sure of how much C picks up – it’s so amazing to me just how much she really does get.

Anyhow, my other letter will wait for another day as I should start getting ready for my long day tomorrow.  I don’t even want to go into the kitchen right now though . . . it’s a disaster.  I seem to have run out of steam for keeping on top of things after the last few weeks of dealing with the girls illnesses.  I’m trying to keep the mindset that there are more important things in life than a clean house, but the chaos can be disconcerting at times too.  Ah well, it can wait for another day.

Thinking of you always, loving you more than ever,

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

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