December 25, 2012

Christmas is here again . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:15 am by letterstoelias

This used to be one of my favourite Christmas songs:

Christmas is here again, stand up and cheer again
Let’s leave our heartaches and sorrows behind
All that I want is to be here beside you, all that I need is right here in my arms
All that I want is to know that you love me, and this will be my finest Christmas time

I’ve shared it with the girls now and then, as I can hug them in my arms and feel the words ring true – but it has still been a tough one (among SO many others) to listen to these past few years.

Four.

This is our fourth Christmas without Elias.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fathom it.  As each year passes I think it will still come as a shock.

I tried so much harder this year to feel more of the Christmas spirit.  I tried to not let the pain hit quite as deeply.  And, in some ways I actually managed.  Reminding myself how the days leading up are so often worse and attempting to shake that off helped a little.  Being ridiculously busy at work definitely helped a lot – even if only to make me too tired to even think about much else than how tired I was (though, I can’t complain much about that, as I need it to be busy! but, I ran myself pretty ragged . . . )

We did an activity advent calendar again this year – or, at least we tried to.  As things often go with me, I didn’t ‘quite’ get it out on time.  By the time I got organized enough to even start, it was December 9th and we had some serious catching up to do! We had a (rare, and what would be my last) store free day and I wanted to dedicate it completely to the girls and ‘winter/christmas’ activities.  I stayed up late the night before trying to clean, start a few decorations, and get organized for the day so as not to lose time – it felt so worth it when I heard the girls’ excitement when they woke up . . . that is, until I heard them decide that elves must have done all that hard work.  Damn elves got all the credit!  Ah well, the magic in it for them was worth it in the end.

We had a really great day – snowman pancakes, candy cane doughnuts, trekked out to the woods and cut down our own tree, peppermint hot chocolate (a few food related ones it seems . . .), Santa visit, etc.  It was busy, but we had a LOT of fun (though, I ‘almost’ fell apart when driving back with our tree and that song ‘Christmas Shoes’ came on the radio . . . .).

IMG_9656-2

As I put the girls to bed that night, I felt good about all we had done, and the fun we had in it all.  I hopped in the shower and was just thinking about how proud Elias would be.  Standing with my hands on my hips and the water as hot as I could bear on my back, I smiled, and felt him smiling back.  I whispered words in my head to him, felt his love in my heart, and imagined his answers.

Then, as I almost literally felt his arms go through mine and wrap around my waist to hug me, felt him kiss my cheek and whisper in my ear how proud he was, I lost it.  Completely.

One second, standing proud with a smile on my face, the next fighting to stay standing and coughing out tears in a magnitude I haven’t faced in some time.  And, I just. couldn’t. stop.

I don’t know how long it went, but once the water faded from hot to warm, I knew cold would be coming soon and I finally forced myself to turn it off and grab my towel.  As I buried my face in it with tears still coming, I suddenly heard E at the door.  She was bringing me something from her bedroom – she hadn’t fallen asleep yet – though she hand’t heard me crying.

She realized pretty quickly when she saw me, however, that I had been.  She asked what was wrong.  Nothing like this to snap you back out of it all – but I just told her that I was thinking about Daddy.  About how proud I knew he was of us and what a great day we had, but that also made me miss him a lot as well, and I was feeling sad from missing him.  She then asked if I could snuggle with her some more.  Of course I did.  She let me know that she misses him a lot too.

From then on, the last two weeks were incredibly busy.  My parents were away for part of it, so I was looking after their dogs as well, the girls had their Christmas concert at school, E performed two numbers in a local telethon fundraiser, dentist appointments, skating day at school (another moment in which Elias would have both laughed hysterically and been incredibly proud as it was C’s first time on ice, and after spending the first few minutes screaming, she ended up doing great), along with spending at least part of every. single. day. at the store.

I’ve felt Elias’ presence around in many other ways as well.  Sometimes it feels as if he’s just trying to slap me in the face to remind me that he’s still here.  Guiding me to things I needed to see.  To things I was thinking about finding, but not even looking for.  Messing with my lights.  I was even completely floored with a visit from an old friend of his family’s today – an amazing, beautiful woman who sang at his funeral.  I hadn’t seen her since, but had been thinking of her just the other day – wondering if there was a recording of when she sang – and in she walked.

Still, as I sit here after Christmas Eve dinner with my parents and my sisters family (which I am SO happy about since it’s been quite a while since we’ve had Christmas with them) and looking forward to spending the day with them tomorrow, the fact that Elias is not here still just hurts so, very much.  Beyond words.  No matter how much I can feel his presence or how much Christmas spirit I can muster . . .

The girls wrote messages/drew pictures to Daddy, which we put in his stocking tonight, as we have done each year without him.  They love doing it and it’s always been a positive activity for them – though as C was drawing her picture (of Daddy as an angel) I heard her simply say ‘All I want for Christmas is Daddy back’.  Heart breaking.  But, I also understand the sentiment.

We will have fun with my family tomorrow.  I’m hoping we will ichat with both of Elias’ brothers and their families tomorrow too.  And, we will miss Elias.  Deeply.

* * * * *

Merry Christmas, My Love.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

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December 11, 2011

And then, there were three . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 9:59 pm by letterstoelias

I always felt beyond lucky to have all four of my Grandparents in my life, for all my life.

Not only were they alive for all my life, they were a part of it.  Living a stone’s throw away most of the time.  Holidays, birthdays, big events – they have there for it all.

In recent years both of my Grandfathers have had declining health, memories.  In time, they each moved into the same care facility.  My Grandmothers have spent their days going to and from their homes and the care facility to see their husbands.  And I would visit them every time I made a trip into town – perhaps not as often as I’d like, but at least a number of times a year.  Birthdays, events, and just because.

Not just a part of my life – a big part.  As such, I knew that once they were here no longer it would be extremely difficult.  Somehow I almost got to believe that they would just always be there as they always had been.

But for one, as of last night, that time has come.

I try to take some comfort in knowing that he’s got some good company with Elias now (and go back to my dream with him offering me comfort), but – regardless of the length and quality of his life – I love him.  I miss him.  I’m sad.

And my Nana’s heart is breaking.  Death still sucks.

I saw my Nana today.  A little over 12hrs from the time he died.  I saw myself, 2yrs 7mos and 3(ish) weeks ago.  Not entirely, but in many ways.  I know that pain well.  Too well.  And, I must admit that it’s brought up some of mine that has been untouched for a while.  Widowed at 32 or 88, it’s deep, deep pain.  To the core of your being.  And, having lost a son over 30yrs ago at Christmas, December was already a difficult time of the year for Nana – now even more so.

I heard platitudes said to her (and me) that I’ve grown to dislike so strongly, and I wanted to whisper (ok, shout) that doesn’t help! but, I know the intent is good (and that some people actually do feel comfort in some of them) so I let it be.  I took in scene in the room and watched my Nana, with blurred remembrance of my ‘first day’, and my heart broke for her.  I heard her words, not unlike many I had spoken.  Feelings that there is no fix for – thinking that if things had gone different that day, maybe he would still be here.  Nothing I could say would change how she felt about that right now.  I know that.  I’ve come a long way from that point, but it still haunts me from time to time.  All I could offer was an ear, understanding, love, and reminders to be gentle with herself.  It took me so long to understand what that meant.  I hope she figures it out faster than I did.

And, my Grandpa.  He was a lovely, lovely man.  Quiet.  Sweet.  Funny.  Cheeky.  His bright, cheery eyes and laugh solid in my memory (along with his loud sneezes!)  It’s little known Canadian history, but his father and uncles created Canada’s first flying machine in 1907 – people often seem to think I’m making that up, but it’s true:

A member of the Canadian Air Force – earning the nickname ‘CB’, standing for Confined to Barracks, as he was a bit of a trouble maker (can I say shit disturber?)  Married to my Nana for just shy of 67yrs (and I’m likely remembering it wrong at this point but I believe there was a story about their marriage starting with a ‘bang’ as an airplane hangar they were in had an explosion on the day they were married . . . ).  A loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather.

I’m glad the girls had time to spend with him now and then.  Even on days when I couldn’t make it, my parents would often try to take the girls when they would go and visit.  Last night C said, “Papa Howard brought us happiness, but now he died” and they both have offered up that now he’s with Daddy and we have decided that Daddy would be taking good care of him.

I know we have a lot to look forward to with Elias’ brother and family coming in from Norway for a few weeks over the holidays – and I don’t want to take anything away from that – but I really do wish I could just ignore Christmas.  Just before the phone rang last night with the news, I was staring at photos of Elias on the fridge, amazed at the fact that this will be our third without him.

I wish I had a better way to close this off, but it’s been a long day.  A tiring day.  A sad day.

I love you, Grandpa.  I’ll miss you.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

November 12, 2011

Caught off guard

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:11 pm by letterstoelias

I had planned to write about something else tonight.  Photo at the ready, and a little story about hidden treasures of you around the house that are still yet to be found.

Then, as I was clearing through some old photos (none with you I could remove from my computer, even though they are stored in a few other locations as well), I saw a series of short videos.

Christmas 2005.  E’s first Christmas.

On the screen all you could see was my sister and Mira (along with the remnants from a busy Christmas morning).  I’m certain I noticed your knee in the background, but didn’t put 2&2 together of what I may see/hear once I hit play.

An 8 second video.  You were talking to John about printer ink.

But, the subject was irrelevant and so was the length.  I heard your voice.  I heard you.  Instant tears.  Instant.

I watched the other two – a 13 second video also talking about he printer, and the final one 50 seconds long talking about someone your age, and then talking to Duffy.

You were not visible (aside from your knee) in any of the videos, but didn’t matter.  It’s rocked me.

It’s been so, very long since I’ve heard your voice.  I miss it beyond words.  I played the videos a number of times over, just to hear you ask Duffy where is toy was, to say how old your friend was.  How the quality something you printed wasn’t that great.  How expensive the ink was.  Just to hear your inflections, pauses, mannerisms.

A phone call interrupted the teary downfall, thankfully from Caroline who understood once I choked out to her why I sounded as I did.  But the physical pain that pierced my heart once again resides there now as I write this.  Missing you, so terribly.

I know this could be seen as a hidden treasure too.  I do love to hear your voice, regardless of what it’s about and I am glad to have these to be able to go back to when ready (now that I know they are there).

Some of these treasures are just easier to take than others, especially when you’re caught off guard.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

September 28, 2011

This one’s a tricky one…

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 11:57 pm by letterstoelias

I’m feeling like an awful mother these days.  Once again.

The last birthday (other than his own) that Elias was able to spend with us was E’s fourth.

E shares a birthday with my sister and she was visiting with her family.  We were all at my parent’s house and Elias was making dinner.  Not just any dinner, one of my favourites – caramelized onion, butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli with a red pepper coulis sauce.  E happily worked along side him some of the time, making the pasta dough.

But, part way through he started to feel sick.  Lightheaded.  Dizzy.  He couldn’t finish.  He had to sit down.

The dinner was finished by others.  And still tasted great.  He felt awful that he couldn’t finish – sorry that someone else had to take over.  Embarrassed that he couldn’t do it.  It was hard for him.  I was scared.  I knew that if he stopped cooking, he had to be feeling pretty bad.  It was not the way either of us wanted to feel on our daughter’s birthday.  I’m certain it scared him too.

It was just over six weeks later that he died.

Friday will be C’s fourth birthday.  Her third without her Daddy there (and the one she had with him was at a rough time too).

I am having a difficult time accepting the fact that she will be the same age E was when Elias died.  She seems so, very young.  I’ve been ridiculously busy lately, and trying to balance a way to celebrate the day, alongside the grief it brings is so hard.  As such, I haven’t really made any plans for her birthday.  And I feel awful about that.

I know she wants a ‘wedding cake’ for her birthday cake.  I know we’ll do something, even if it is small.  I know she’ll have a great time regardless.  I know that I’ll be able to celebrate the absolutely amazing little girl she is.  But, it still hurts.

I know there will always be grief for what everyone misses out on days like this.  But I hope that, one day, these days that mean so much will hurt less.  At least a little less.

* * * * *

Our baby is turning 4.  I can only imagine how much fun you would have with her these days.  Her incredibly goofy personality – SO much like yours.  Her sense of humour.  Her infectious laugh – which can also be SO much like yours.  Her sweet, loving, compassionate nature.  Overly dramatic tendencies.  The tonnes of hugs and kisses she loves to give.

She is everything you would hope her to be and more.

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I will celebrate her, as I do every day.  I will remember the moment she was born just after 3am, in the comfort of our room, on our bed, and into your hands.  The look on your face as you lifted her up.  I will be forever grateful that your hands were the first to touch her.

I thank you for her.  She is one of the best gifts you gave me.  Your imprint on the girls will never go away.  It’s on their hearts.  In their blood.

I miss you more than I could ever say, and I wish you could be here (more than in spirit) to share this day with us.  For all of us.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

July 2, 2011

Thief

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:53 pm by letterstoelias

I haven’t heard this song since ‘before’.

Before Elias died, that is.

It was hard to listen to ‘before’, but it was some comfort at the same time.  Never could a song possibly hit more close to home, seeing as it was actually written about a patient with a brain tumour (though a child, rather than an adult).

It’s It was one of his favourite bands, Our Lady Peace.  I liked them too.  I wanted to listen to a few songs tonight as it had been a while.

It had been so long that I had forgotten this particular song by title, and what the song meant.  As soon as it started playing, it came flooding back, and the tears came flooding out.  The heavy tears I’ve kept in for some time now.

It’s so much harder to hear it now.  So, very much.

Those lyrics.  (*my dear friend, Dan {and a few others} – this may be a tough one for you, you may not want to listen)

My difference from the song, was that I understood far too well what was happening.  I saw the ‘thief’ on scans, many times.  I imagined ripping it out of his head.  If only I could have.  But the thief stole him from me.   I only hope I was able to provide some courage at the side of his bed in the process.

* * * * *

A disgusting arrangement of time and the end.  We never made it ‘home again’ in the way we wanted to.  But, my Love, I was your . . . I’m here.

I wish it was more.  I only hope it was enough.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

May 5, 2011

Something Else

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:55 am by letterstoelias

*** First off, from my heart, I thank each and every one who has made financial/emotional offering to my friend Cadi.  Please know that you have made a very important, and very positive difference in the life of her family ***

My Love,

There are times when I wish I could live somewhere else.  I wish I could be someone else.  I wish I could do something else.

Pack up.  Run away.  Change everything.  Start fresh.

But, of course, none of this would make a difference.

It doesn’t matter where I go, who I am, what I do.

You will always be missing.  I will always ache for you.

And nothing ‘else’ can fix that.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You, and I miss You more than I could ever say

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.

* * * * *

Elias,

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.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

March 4, 2011

More than a dog

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:55 pm by letterstoelias

It’s been a rough, rough couple of days.

I spend a lot of time feeling tired these days – had been thinking of writing about it, and then someone puts it into words in a way you never quite could so it’s just as easy to share theirs – but this past couple of days has been different.  A different kind of exhaustion.

I’ve written in the past about how much my dog Cali means to me (and my dear friend Jackie has written so beautifully about the importance of dogs).  Elias and I adopted her the year we got married, and she has been through it all with me.  After he died, she suddenly seemed old to me.  I became terrified of her dying and that I wouldn’t be able to handle it – so irrational ‘new widow me’ contemplated giving her to Elias’ uncle . . . I know, it makes no sense because how would giving her away be any better – but in that time of intense grief it did.

Anyhow – this past few days that fear has been staring me in the face.

On Tuesday night she wasn’t herself – earlier in the day she had tweaked her leg and scratched her face outside, so she was limping a bit, and just seemed in some discomfort.  As she’s a bit of a spaz and manages to give herself minor injuries here and there I didn’t think too much of it – but I was a little concerned and wanted to keep an eye on things.  On Wed morning I contemplated taking her to the vet as, though the limp had improved, there seemed to be other issues – but I still wasn’t sure it was too serious (tried googling some of her symptoms) and I figured I’d wait it out and see how she did over the next 24hrs.  A few times I found myself sitting beside her with one hand on her shoulder and one hand rubbing her head and just looking at her sleeping face – not unlike what I would do with Elias when he would finally fall asleep after a difficult headache episode.  But, by Wed night I could tell that it was getting to be something serious, so I called the vet first thing the next morning – deeply regretting that I had not just done so the day before.

By the time I was able to get her in, she didn’t even want to walk and I had to carry her to the car.  Because of the timing of the appointment, she had to ride along with me to pick up the girls and their friends from school and drop them at the friends’ house so I could take her on my own to the appointment.  I was doing ‘ok’ with it all, until I got to the vet.  I lifted her out of the car and tried to get her on her feet to walk in, but she just lay right down in the parking lot and didn’t want to move.

I still managed to hoist her 55lb body up and carry her in, fighting off the tears.  I lay her on the table, and before he could even come in and look at her the tears started.  It was not good and I was furious with myself for not acting sooner.  It just went downhill so fast.

The visit was a bit of a blur, but there was a question – before even discussing what it could be or what could be done – of how much I was willing to pay.  Through tears I blurted out about how much the dog is loved, and how my husband died not two years ago and how I want to do what I can but am not in the position to pay thousands of dollars, but I need her, and so on.

It seemed she had been hit by some terrible infection that was sending her body into shock.  We started an iv of antibiotics and fluids, among other things, but I was also advised to prepare myself for the worst.  Which, of course meant preparing the girls too.  It was so difficult to leave her there.

The next 24hrs were an up and down roller-coaster (as if I haven’t had enough of that damn thing in the past couple years…).  A range of possibilities, a range of tests they want to do, and an ever increasing bill to go along with it.  At the end of the day Thursday, we were going to wait to see how the antibiotics helped and decide in the morning what further tests would be needed – I didn’t see how it could be more than an infection, but the vet believed that there had to be an underlying cause (which makes some sense too, as she had to get it somehow I suppose).  And of course, cancer was suggested a couple of times.

This morning I called first thing, and the nurse indicated she seemed ‘brighter’ and was able to get on her feet with some support.  An hour later, however, the vet said since that time she was still ‘flat’ and hadn’t improved, and he was extremely concerned about her low platelet count.  He suggested dexamethazone.  I just about dropped the phone.

Elias had to take that drug.  He HATED that drug.

More phone calls back and forth.  More blur.  More decisions to make about x-rays and ultrasounds, blood tests, the dexamethazone.  More money.  More and more tears.  Even with the expensive tests and treatment she may not make it.  Could I handle taking care of another loved one with cancer?  How do you decide?  I asked about taking her home to administer the antibiotics but I was reminded that she is a ‘very sick dog’ and that it may be hard to get her to take them.  By just after noon I was hit with an impossible decision.  The vet office closes at 5pm for the weekend.  For her to be looked after, she would have to be transferred to the animal hospital, which would run about $550/day.  It was about then they also suggested ‘compassionate euthanization’ (I think they called it).

I was not about to make a decision on my dog’s life based on them closing at 5, and knowing the bills were already adding up, I didn’t know how I could pay another $1100 when they said her chances were slim to none.  The words ‘grave’ and ‘dire’ were used repeatedly.  After a few frantic, teary phone calls to some wonderful friends, I decided that I couldn’t make that call, and was going to bring her home.  In my heart I knew I had to have her at home.  If she needed help or if it looked like she needed to be put down I would take her to the animal hospital myself (though this also came at the risk of me having to forego E’s birthday party on Sunday, and having to find someone to help out at the store on Saturday).

When I called the vet back around 2pm, he was extremely receptive to the idea, and even noted that in the past couple of hours Cali had perked up a fair bit.  Her fever had come down and he even felt encouraged about her making it through the weekend with me at home, but with a reminder that the situation is still ‘dire’.  They pumped up her fluids and antibiotics (she still hadn’t had anything to eat or drink) and packed up an array of pills for me to administer and a time sheet of when to give them all (another haunting reminder of my last months with Elias – though dexa was not on the list).  When they brought her out, both the vet and the nurse were pretty surprised to see how much she perked up – she waked under her own strength to me and had a wag in her tail.

When we got home she drank for about 5mins straight.  I recently found about 5 leftover bottles of a vitamin supplement that Elias took which is also commonly used for pets, so I added some of that to her water.  She is by no means ‘out of the woods’.  She can’t seem to put any weight on her back left leg.  She has notably lost weight and strength.  She’s still not interested in food (though she did at least give it a lick last time), but now she is sleeping peacefully beside me.

I have no idea what the next 48hrs will bring, but I’m hopeful that the antibiotics will be all that was needed.  Only time will tell.  My main concern is that she seems comfortable, and that she knows just how loved she is by all three of us.  That she feels the love.

The other interesting things about the past couple of days – I have found myself incredibly thankful for the kindness of strangers, and the uncanny timing of the universe . . .   for the last month that Elias was alive, we were staying at his parents home so he could get daily treatment with the naturopath.  During this time he had a few really bad headache episodes, and a couple of these times I had to take him to the hospital. One of Elias’ aunts works there, and one of her colleagues had heard our story, and I guess saw us one of the times we went in, though I’d never actually met him.

The year Elias died, though Elias’ aunt, he gave us some money at Christmas. He wanted to be sure I could buy nice gifts for the girls in hopes we would still have a good Christmas.  To my surprise, he wanted to do so again this year, and again gave Elias’ aunt money to give to us. Since I didn’t get off the coast at Christmas, and I missed her when I went to Ladner in January, it was only this past Sunday that we got together and she was able to give me the money.Of course there were many other things I had envisioned spending the money on – bills, of course, but I even thought of treating myself with a new pair of shoes – and though it didn’t cover the whole bill, it covered most of it and made it at least a little easier.  I’d much rather have my dog than new shoes.  Even though the money came at the exact right time and was almost enough, it was still not easy to make the decision to use it in that way – but Cali is so much more than a dog to me.  She brings so much into my life.

The other funny thing was – yesterday as E was picked up from the store for ballet, the clouds got ominously dark and it started snowing like crazy a few minutes before she left. As my friend picked her up it was still coming down.  About 15mins later I left work to go and wait for her class to finish. As C and I got in the car the snow had just stopped and the sky was brightening. Just as we came up to the dance studio, I noticed a faint rainbow.

And, finally – I spoke with a spiritual medium last year who said that Elias would communicate with me through electricity, and more specifically lights. When we got home yesterday, I turned on the light above the dining room table and it came on, but then popped and burnt out. Same thing happened this morning with one of the lights above the bathroom mirror. Of course lightbulbs have a tendency to burn out, but I have to say it gave me pause…..  I don’t know that it was Elias trying to let me know that she would be ok here, or that he would look after her ‘there’ (wherever ‘there’ is), but a part of me felt at least a little comfort, as if he was letting me know he was watching over us.

I’m beyond tired, so it’s off to bed  and hopefully Cali and I can both get a good nights sleep.

January 31, 2011

One Step Forward, One Giant Shove Back

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:55 am by letterstoelias

This widow life – it’s hard.  So very hard.  It sucks.  I hate it.  It’s lonely.  So very lonely.  Sad.  Confusing.  Dark.  Overwhelming.  Impossible to fully explain.

If you ask me, I won’t tell you.  I can’t.  No.  I use that dirty little 4-letter ‘f’ word . . . . Fine.  I’m ‘Fine’.   Or my other favorite, ‘OK’.

Its just faster and easier on everyone involved.

Yes, there are aspects of my life that I love and it’s not like this 24/7 – there are moments of ‘fine’.  Even ‘good’ now and then, but those are so often railroaded by grief and the next thing you know you’ve gone from spending a boring night at home watching tv, to having something on said tv trigger a wave of grief leaving you in a heap of tears.

And, there are even things – such as Love – that are clearer.  Brighter.  More breathtaking.  Because we know just how valuable it is, how fleeting it can be, and how to truly cherish it.

Though this is a wonderful gift, it does not make the journey any easier.

So, this is where we all come to try and let it out, and to lift each other up.  Hold each other’s hearts from across countries/provinces/states.  To listen.  Care.  Understand.

I feel like I’ve even been in ‘hiding’ from here lately too, however.  Keeping it in.  Not wanting to share just how hard it still is.  And, it seems, most of my widowed friends are feeling it too these days.

Is it the new year?  Is it the grey days of January?  The cold?  The wet?  The dark?  The post-holiday slump?  Who knows, but I see it all around the blogs right now.

I try not to put too much emphasis on the new year as any kind of ‘fresh start’, but Jan 1st was such a great day that I have to admit it gave me a spark of hope.  Mid January I finally decided to take down my 2009 calendar.  ‘Move forward’.  Then, BAM!  Stuck on the back of it was one of Elias’ brain MRI scans and the word ‘apoptosis’ (apoptosis is basically cell death – cells are supposed to die eventually, and ones that don’t become cancerous).  The scan was the ‘clearest’ one we could get our hands on (from Jan ‘08).  At one point we had these ALL over the house (and carried them with us) to use as positive visualization – law of attraction type thing – we wanted to try everything . . .

It was really hard for me to remove all of them after Elias died, but at the same time I hated them. I was shocked to see it stuck to the cover of a calendar that’s been up for almost 2yrs.  It was such a punch in the stomach.

One step forward, one giant shove back.  It seems any time I ‘try’ to do something like this, there is always a negative consequence of some sort.  It makes it so much harder to take those steps.

‘Fresh start’ or not, January was not a particularly good month for many reasons.  I’ve cried more than I care to admit (though not so much the ‘big sobs’ but rather frequent yet brief ‘bursts’ – even once in public the other day, which I haven’t done is quite some time).  I’ve wasted a fair amount of time staring blankly out the window.  Been less than motivated to get things done that need doing.  I’ve complained over and over in my head that it’s just too hard.  I’ve repeatedly forgotten E’s backpack for school.  Dance outfits.  You name it – but I’m still making it work, somehow.

A positive light out of the month was that our family grew once more . . . my brother-in-law and his wife had a baby a few days ago.  Another niece (number 6!).  I am beyond thrilled for them – they are already such wonderful parents to a beautiful little girl and I had tears of joy to hear Anthony tell me about her, to see the photos, videos, and for our brief ichat with them today – but over the past few days I’ve shed tears of sadness as well over the fact that Elias is not here to be a part of it.

Half of his nieces he will never meet, and they will never know him (though I have no doubt my sister and Elias’ brothers will do him justice as they tell their girls all about their Uncle Elias).  I don’t want to take something so wonderful and put sadness on it, but it’s impossible to ignore.

I’ve heard far too many stories from my widow friends that are on a similar timeline as me that ‘friends’ are telling them they should be ‘over it’ by now.  They should be ‘better’.  That they ‘can’t let everything in their lives’ be about their lost love.

I am fortunate that no one has said this to me directly about it, but it’s hard not to wonder if people feel the same.  There have been those that have all but vanished from my life.  And, of course it doesn’t matter what others think, but trying to not let things like this get to you is extremely difficult, especially when we are often already so hard on ourselves.  Then, to have friends disappear on you on top of it all . . . people just have no idea what it’s like to live with this.

Perhaps just another reason to say everything is ‘fine’.

* * * * *

Hello My Love,

Uncle Elias once more . . . I’m sure you’ve already kissed her tiny forehead in your own way and don’t need me to tell you, however.  She’s beautiful.

We visited the beach today.  I had my feet soaked by a rogue wave, and we all had quite a good laugh feeling as though ‘you’ got me once again.  Later, E was running back and forth to the water, and as the waves chased her back she giggled ‘No Daddy!’  Then she said to me, ‘Do you think Daddy is playing gorilla with me?’

She always says that is her favorite memory with you.  I know she’s seen the photos plenty of times, but I’m sure she remembers.  She misses you deeply.  She drew a picture of herself with tears the other day.  It was beside a picture of you, smiling, and the words “Daddy I miss you, 2011”, and she addressed it ‘To Mama’.  I’m so happy she can use art to express her feelings, and that she’s sharing them with me, but it’s tough.

In recent days C has started making up Daddy stories again . . . she went through a bit of a phase with this a while ago.  She misses you too – more than you ever imagined she would have.

As do I.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

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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