December 24, 2013

And so, this is Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:23 pm by letterstoelias

Our fifth without Elias.

Five.

I’ve had to count, and recount it over a few times to be sure, and then once again because it still doesn’t seem possible.

And, somehow, even though I’ve been through this four times already, five has been rough.  Harder than number four in some ways.  Perhaps because 5 just ‘feels’ like a more significant number…?

There are still tears.  In the shower.  After the girls are asleep.  Looking at pictures.  When a certain song or two comes on.  And, though it’s by no means ‘all’ bad – we have had plenty of fun, happiness, and made some great new memories – the weight still presses a little harder on my heart.

There are still moments where doing anything seems to take a great deal of effort, doing little things overwhelm me greatly, and so many, many things get left undone.  Time still gets lost in moments of staring silently at nothing.

It’s easy to say that I really thought I’d be ‘better’ at this by now (at least the handling of it, I mean), but I have travelled long enough on this road of grief to understand that it’s just not that cut and dry.  (I also recognize that I ‘have’ come a long way in my ability to handle things over the years – and I did manage to keep my store afloat, get the kids to all their classes/concerts/etc/etc/etc)

Greif aside, I have no doubt Christmas would be much, much different with Elias’ influence (in person, of course – he still has a strong influence around here…).  But, he was always much more ‘festive’ than I.  Even though I run a retail store that needs this month to get me through the next, I personally tend to shy away from an overly commercial Christmas (perhaps especially in the last few years it’s been harder for me to focus on ‘stuff’).  While we certainly recognize Santa, I’ve generally tried to ensure he wasn’t the main player in the season.  That he didn’t get all the credit around here.  And, sometimes I feel like a bit of a scrooge for it.

I appreciate the magic and wonder my girls have in Santa and don’t have any plans to ruin it, and sometimes feel perhaps I should just play into it more, though, they do seem to be more than happy with what happens around here, regardless.

image

I know a big part of why I don’t want them writing big ‘wish lists’ to Santa, is fear.  I know that ‘my’ one and only wish can’t be fulfilled, and though I don’t think they would ask Santa for their Daddy back (I’m pretty sure they ‘get it’ when it comes to that…), I know it is on their hearts too.  C has been talking about wanting him back constantly for a few weeks now – just two nights ago she told me she didn’t think she could go on without him any longer – and last night E asked me if I was sure that Voldemort didn’t kill Daddy…

While so many kids ask for toys, my kids already generally wish for that which I can’t give them, and I don’t want to let them down (I’m not even including having Daddy back here).  I feel like they’ve already lost so much in this life, how can I explain that Santa can’t bring you an admittance letter to Hogwarts, or grant you the ability to do real magic?  Or, a real live bunny or kitten?  (ok, technically he ‘could’ do that one, but it’s just not happening at this point in our lives)

Tonight, now that my sweet girls have finally drifted off to sleep, dreaming of a fun morning, Santa’s smoothie will get drunk.  His cookies will get eaten (along with 10 baby carrots for the reindeer), and he will fill two little stockings with plenty of fun (with a bit in Daddy’s stocking too).

I, will wrap presents.  Wintersong will play in my head on repeat, and a few tears will likely fall, among thoughts of happy memories, and imagining what Elias would do/say if he was here (remarkably clearly at times).

Tomorrow, a candle will burn, and the girls will have a fun morning.  And, though it’s not exactly as any of us wish it to be, I will try to take comfort in knowing that he’ll be smiling along with them…

~C~

Merry Christmas, my love…

P.S.  I Love You

December 30, 2010

I get the easy part, I get to die

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:20 am by letterstoelias

We had this conversation a number of times in the weeks leading up to Elias’ death.  I didn’t deny it would be hard, though would often try to point out that he didn’t exactly have it ‘easy’ – but he believed it to be true, and he hated it.

“Sure, it’s hard for me too, but there’s an end to it.  Eventually it’s over for me.  I die.  You’re the one who has to live with it.”

It made him so, very upset.  Yet another example of the incredibly compassionate man I was fortunate enough to share 13yrs of my life with.

These types of conversations were extremely difficult – but I am thankful for them.  Part of me had my blinders on, convinced that we were going to find the ‘miracle cure’ and my focus was on keeping him alive, but I still knew how important they were.  There was so much yet that we didn’t discuss . . . . but I gather that would almost always be the case.  There’s never enough time.

And, it is so, very hard.  In far too many ways to express, though I have tried on these pages many times.  Many people will tell you that the first year is the hardest, though most widow/ers I know will state that year 2 can actually be harder in a number of ways.  I can attest to that.  The ‘first Christmas’ I felt intense sorrow and sadness and generally just wanted it all to go away – but I felt compelled on some level to try (at least in some areas).

This year I wanted even less to do with it.  And, in many ways I feel like I let Elias (and the girls) down for not putting forth more effort.   And though I was by no means glad for the main reason behind it (my dad had not been well), I was happy that we ended up skipping a traditional dinner.  We ordered Chinese take-out.  This is not to say that Christmas was ‘all bad’.  The girls still seemed to enjoy it thoroughly even with my ‘grinchy’ moments, and I managed to find some moments of light here and there as well.

Now New Years approaches, marking the 15yr anniversary of the night we met.  My 2nd without him since.  New Years was one of the hardest days of the ‘first year’ for me, so I hope in this case the 2nd will be easier – and I will have some company as my best friend and her family will be visiting for a few days – but, among other things, I hated the thought of not being able to say ‘My husband died this year.’  And I still haven’t taken down my 2009 calendar.

Now, I hate the thought of not being able to say ‘My husband died last year.’  The passage of time continues to take him farther and farther away.  It hits me hard when E will start speaking of a memory, ‘Remember last year when Daddy . . . . ‘ and already in some cases it was not only ‘last year’.

But, there’s still so much of this that I think would be easier to bear if it wasn’t for the girls.  Don’t get me wrong – they are my life, my joy, my love, and I have no idea where I would be without them – but I have such a hard time accepting that they got ripped off in so many, many ways.

Merry Christmas Daddy

The girls and I had an incredibly enjoyable day today.  It was peaceful, relaxing, we played games together, did puzzles, stories, baked soda bread, and I even managed to get a ‘bit’ of work done.  Days like this feel so rare.  Tonight at dinner we were playing a game.  Picking random, fun questions out of a box and each giving our answer in turn.  I was happy to pull the question, “Who do you consider to be a hero?”  When I read it, E smiled too and, without hesitation, answered “Daddy”.  C answered the same (though she often will).  I agreed, and shared that I had two other heros in my life.  As I was giving a wonderful list of reasons why, I saw E tear up and bury her face in her hands.  It wasn’t long before the heartbreaking sobs and cries of missing her Daddy followed.

*****

Yes, My Love, it is hard.  Single parenting, supporting us alone, grieving, managing it all – but even all this would be so much easier to take if the girls didn’t have to suffer.  I’m glad to know they miss you, but it hurts to know it too.

Thankfully though, alongside growing up without you, without a father, and a fraction of what their mother used to be in some ways (though possibly more in others?), they are happy.  They are thriving.  They are beautiful.  And they love you.  Their Hero.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You

January 5, 2010

So, how were your holidays? . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:27 am by letterstoelias

One of my new, most dreaded questions.

How exactly do I answer that?  ‘As good as can be expected’?  How do you even know what to expect on your first ‘widowed’ Christmas?  How are you supposed to celebrate?  And for those who don’t know about you – do I stick with the standard, ‘Fine’?  In ‘some ways’ it was, but, really, without you it wasn’t.

Anyhow, Christmas day came and went, without you.  We kept it low key, which is all I felt I could handle.  I ended up making yet another last minute decision to stay the night of Christmas Eve at my parents home.  I initially wanted to stay at our home and perhaps try to do something in the morning to honour you before diving into the day and the presents and what not, but I worried that the girls would have a different focus and it wouldn’t go as I wanted.  Instead, we packed up our belongings after dinner, and then took a few moments with ‘you’ before leaving.  The girls and I sat in front of the little altar I created for you in my room, we lit a candle, and they each wrote a letter to you (ok, well I did the writing) and drew a picture.  We took a few moments of silence to think of you, and then they each put their letter to you in your stocking.

We packed up all the presents, stockings, and the candle, and headed to my Mom and Dad’s.  I was feeling extremely exhausted, got them to bed (and they were extremely excited), and finished wrapping presents.  After the girls were in bed, my parents and I watched some of the sports plays of the year – another tradition we used to have (and I’d love to update you on how things are going in the hockey world, but believe it or not I haven’t watched a single game – not even the world juniors, but I think Canada’s in the finals . . . another tradition gone for us.  I miss watching hockey with you).  Somehow I fell asleep that night.

The girls were up early and ready to get going on their stockings.  We lit the candle again first, then let them go at it.  When they were finished with theirs, I drew their attention to the fact that something was in your stocking.  The letters they wrote were gone, but something was in its place.  An extremely shiny ornament.  It seemed a little odd to them, but then I directed them to notice a present in the tree with the same wrapping paper as the ornament.  It was a book, titled ‘Everything that Shines’.  A beautiful book about a girl and her horse.  Long story short, the horse dies and the girls grandpa helps her to see that because she loved the horse so much, she could still see the horse – just in a different way.  She could see her in everything that shines.  E got the connection pretty well, but as there was a lot going on that day, she moved passed it pretty quickly.  I couldn’t expect much more on the actual day, but I’m happy that since Christmas, she has noted a few shiny things to me and told me that they make her think of you.  We also discovered that Santa must shop at London Drugs, because the ornaments were there (I had gone to get more and hoped to distract her while I picked them up, but she saw them right away on the shelf) – and now we have a number of them hanging in the house.  When the light hits them they really do shine.  I think they somehow give me as much, if not more comfort then the girls.

After the stockings we had some breakfast, then tackled the rest of the presents.  C loves her new little kitchen, though she gave up half way through unwrapping it as she said it was too hard.  E loves her plasma car – and the girls have been sharing both of those gifts (from my parents) wonderfully.  They ride together on the car as if in a parade, then they drive by the kitchen to pick up the cookies they made.  It’s very cute.  I can only imagine how much fun you would have had on the plasma car.  On Christmas morning, as I watched E ride around, I pictured you – with that big smile and laugh – having a great time with it.  As for me, I LOVE my new lens my Dad got me, and I’ve been having fun putting it to use.  The girls got some other fun stuff too, as did I – including my mom getting the girls to help make me a new laptop case (I’ll have to post a photo sometime).  E had a great time playing ‘santa’ since she could read all the names, but she was so excited handing them out that we couldn’t keep up.  I had to remind her a few times to slow down, but I was happy that it was not because she was tearing crazily through her own gifts.  C started to get a little overwhelmed towards the end, threw a few presents that were handed to her to unwrap, then trying to unwrap other peoples gifts while laughing maniacally, but overall she enjoyed it.

After the presents were all opened, the girls were primarily content to play with their new ‘loot’ for the day.  C was overtired and had a few meltdowns here and there, and I spent the whole day in pajamas, much of it just lying on the floor or almost falling asleep on the couch.  The day actually seemed to go pretty fast.  We lit the candle once again for dinner – I couldn’t help but look to it all the time.  Wishing it was really you instead.  As I took the first load of bags out to the car, something stopped me in my tracks.  I walked out of the house and looked up to see, directly in front of me, a beautifully bright, lone star above the trees.  It made me think of the last line of Wintersong:

A sense of joy, fills the air

And I daydream, and I stare

Above the trees and I see your star, up there.

It gave me chills.  I looked around and didn’t see any other stars immediately, and shook my head, and smiled.  Of course when I took the second load out to the car I noticed many other stars, but for that moment it felt like there was only one.  And perhaps it was yours.

Though I managed to get through the day without breaking down (too numb and too tired I think), coming home was hard.  As soon as we started to drive off, it started to hit me.  Walking into the cold, empty house, another hit.  After the girls were in bed, I was feeling pretty down, but fortunately Brenda called (even though it was 1am for her), and we had a nice chance to talk.  As I went to bed I saw Peter and Ally online, so I chatted with them for a bit too, which was another nice distraction.  The next few days I just felt pretty numb.  I was on the ‘other side’ of Christmas, but it was still hard.  I did a couple of photo shoots for the Aspire program, which was fun – but I was quite nervous as it had been so long since I had done a shoot like that, and as I walked out the door I really missed your encouragement and confidence in me.  The way you would help calm me when I was nervous for a shoot.  The kiss you would give me, telling me I looked great and I would be fine.  Reason number 16,123 to miss you.

I had to work in town on Thursday, so we went on Wed night and stayed with your parents.  Thursday was new years eve.  The ferry home was really busy and awful.  Line ups for the bathroom, and trying to fit all three of us in those tiny stalls, with C trying to crawl out under the door was a nightmare.  Then the lineup in the cafeteria was long and C decided it was time (3 times actually) to really show that she’s two as she lay down on her back and cried in the middle of the caf as I was trying to get the food and pay for it.  Of course, by the time we got a table and sat down we had about 4 minutes to eat before the docking announcements.  We had initially planned to go to Buz and Sian’s for new years, but by the time we were home I had a terrible headache and was feeling nauseous (as noted in my last letter) and we were all just tired.

After the girls were asleep, I ‘planned’ to go to bed early.  I was crying.  A lot.  I spoke for a bit on the phone with Sian, then cried off to sleep somewhere around 10:30.  New Years was hard.  Harder than Christmas for me, somehow.  I hoped it would end there.  For some reason, it just wasn’t my day.  It was faint at first, I barely remember hearing it – but C was crying.  As it got louder and I realized she wasn’t going to stop on her own, I was gradually waking up, but it hit me.  I hadn’t looked at the clock yet, but I knew it wasn’t quite 12am.  And I knew it was close.  Somehow, I knew.  I couldn’t believe it.  I begrudgingly looked, and sure enough, 11:39am.

I picked C up as she was on her way to my room.  I thought perhaps I could just fall back asleep quickly with the girls.  She was trying to say something through her cries, but I was so tired I didn’t catch it.  It was only when I lay down with her back on the bed that I realized – she had thrown up.  Great.  Fortunately (?) it was really only on the comforter, so I changed that quickly and they fell right back asleep.  I was not quite so lucky.  Back in bed at 11:48.

I kept my back to the clock, but it felt as if it was mocking me.  Taunting me to look and see that it was almost midnight.  The soft green light from the numbers felt like it was burning my back.  I felt each silent tick of the clock.  It was agony.  Again, without looking – I knew it was 12.  I felt it.  A second later I heard the fireworks starting.  Bang after bang, feeling like a kick in the stomach.

Why?  Seriously.  Why did I have to be awake for that?  I could have missed it.  For once, I was asleep before midnight.

Had I not cried enough yet?  Are there still a few pieces of my heart left to tear?  It sure doesn’t feel like it.

It was awful.  Definitely a low point for me.  I felt like a zombie all day Friday.  Sian came over to help with the girls so I could catch up on some of my Aspire homework, then we went to their place for a delayed new years (and our pizza Friday).  I’ve still been ‘coming down’ from it all and have been feeling very weepy lately, but I somehow managed to make my first quilt in the midst of it all.  It was Buz’s birthday on Sunday, so it was for him.  Yes, I made a quilt (and no my mom didn’t do it for me – though I couldn’t have done it without her guidance). Aspire started up again today, and now we are in the final two weeks of workshops before I have the crunch to finalize my business plan.  I still have some catching up to do on homework, but LB is coming to help out on Wednesday, which will be great.  I still need to find a name for the store though.  It’s tough.  Really tough.

Well, as I have a workshop tomorrow morning, I should get to bed . . . I planned on adding photos tonight, but perhaps they will have to wait for another day or two – sorry!  In the meantime you can have a glance at my dad’s flickr page for his Christmas photos (along with shots of our special visitor that came by in the afternoon on Christmas Eve).  I just wanted to let you know that I survived the holidays.  I missed you terribly.  I got a few extra wounds along the way, but I’m still here.  I guess that could be my answer . . . .

~C~

P.S.  I Love you

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, My Love

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 12:29 am by letterstoelias

P.S.  I Love You

December 6, 2009

Daddy is the sun

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:03 am by letterstoelias

“Daddy is the sun.  He was so kind.  And because Daddy loved me so much, and I love him so much, he is always all around me, even though he died, and when I die.”

(God I hope I got that right.  I had my letter tonight almost completed, and my computer {the toshiba} basically crashed and I lost the whole thing – ARGH! to say the least.  I’ll see what I can remember . . .and I DID try saving the document, but it wouldn’t let me )

I was writing something earlier tonight, and E came over and asked me to write something for her, that she said reminded her of you, and that is what she wanted me to write (I had initially typed it word for word, and I’m ‘pretty sure’ that was it).  Recently, my mom and dad came over and took the girls to the beach for an hour or so.  My dad posted this photo on his flickr page, and if you read the comments below the photo, you can see perhaps where some of her words tonight likely came from.  Though the unspeakable pain of you not being here to see the wonderful little people the girls are now and will be; and for them not to know the wonderful man and father you were and would have been, is ever-present, moments like this give me a modicum of confidence that they will be ok through all of this.

E talks about you ALL the time, and with a great deal of joy and excitement.  Even C takes moments each day with her locket, loves looking at pictures of you, and  will at times point in the air, smile, and say Daddy.  The other day she added a laugh and said, ‘Daddy, play’.  Still, they miss you, and it hurts.  The other night E was crying for you for a while before bed, and a recent morning C looked over at your empty side of the bed and stated, ‘Want Daddy come home.’  You’d be hard-pressed to find four more heartbreaking little words.

Tonight as we were going to bed and saying goodnight to you, she wanted to remind you to put out your boot for St. Nicholas Day.  I’m working on keeping that tradition going since it was something that was a part of your upbringing and meant a lot to you.  It was a little last minute and I didn’t have much to throw in them though, as I initially had the date wrong in my head, but they were pretty excited and I’m sure it’s just the fun of it that they will appreciate.  I’ve gradually been trying to ‘ease’ my way into Christmas.  There is no question that it will challenge me (it already has a great deal).  Every time I think of lights and trees I pretty much want to cry, but E asks me every day when we are going to put ours up so I’m trying to find something that works for all of us.  I managed to listen to a bit of Christmas music (though it was only by default as it was already on when I came home).  We’ve put up an advent calendar of sorts (from and idea that I ‘stole’ from Jackie) where we made paper cups and each day we pull out a piece of paper with a ‘seasonal activity’ (anything from crafty projects, to making donations, to learning the history of St. Nicholas/Hanukkah/etc) and the girls have loved it so far (even though some mornings I’ve had to sneak the paper in there before they rush to open it as I’m pretty unorganized).  My mom made a gingerbread house and a Christmas tree craft project with them.  Your parents finally made it over for a quick visit and we made more paper snowflakes with them and they brought one of Claude’s beautiful centerpieces.  The girls have been happy with everything so far, and I haven’t crashed yet so I guess that’s all I can hope for.  We’re only 5 days in, but I guess it’s a good start.  We’re just taking it day by day.

As one of my wise ‘widow-friends’ said on her blog the other day, no matter how you try to escape Christmas, the pain of missing someone loved so dearly will always be there no matter what we do (or don’t do).  Even if I could ignore Christmas (which is impossible, by the way), I couldn’t ignore missing you anyhow.  I’m sure there will be times where it is more intense, but there are times like that for no ‘apparent’ reason as it is.  Anna and I were talking about this the other day and she said it’s like the quote, ‘wherever you go, there you are’.  And missing you will be wherever I go.  And yes, likely more so at times like this.  I’m sure that those things which I resist will only get stronger with my resistance, but it’s still hard.  SO hard.

One thing that perhaps has helped a bit though, is that I have been exceptionally busy this week.  The Aspire program has started, and it’s been great so far.  The facilitators are amazing and it’s a great group of participants.  I can really see how it will help me in the long run, and have decided to wait until the workshop portion of the program is over to work on getting the store up and running.  Now I can see the benefit in waiting and giving myself that time and getting the business plan finalized.  Besides, I don’t really have time to work on that right now, with everything else going on.  I don’t have time for much at all.  The housework really slid this week, but fortunately my mom pitched in a bit while looking after the girls, and as we were at Anna’s for dinner one night and at Buz and Sian’s a couple nights this week, I didn’t need to cook much.

As I mentioned before, you parents made it over for a visit.  They came Friday afternoon and left today (Sat afternoon).  The girls were very excited to have Oma and Papere come for a sleepover.  They brought over some food from costco, along with new outfits for each of the girls and a couple shirts for me, which was really nice.  They got to watch E’s acro class, and afterwards we even brought them along for our traditional ‘Pizza Night Friday’ with Buz and Sian.  This morning after breakfast we went outside and they helped around the yard for a bit, which was great.  We also discussed them coming back, maybe with ‘reinforcements’ in a few weeks to get started on putting up the arbour you had planned for the yard.  Another thing that, though it hurts to know you weren’t able to do it yourself and that you won’t be here to see your vision complete, it feels to me like a way to honour you and it will be so nice to have it done.  Something I could never do on my own, so having help will be great.  Hopefully the weather holds out – it has been just beautiful here the past week.  Cold, but sunny.  A nice break from all the gray sky and rain we had in November (though it’s terribly windy tonight).

I can’t remember much else of what I had previously written, so I guess I’ll leave it at that for now (I’m sure what I wrote before sounded much better too . . . ).  Tomorrow we have more visitors, as Sue and Dale are dropping in and I’m looking forward to that.  Then the business of the week begins again.  The girls also have their Christmas dance show on the 12th, so that should be fun.  Once again, before I go, I stumbled upon something that I wanted to share.  A while back I linked to a post from a writer who had lost her infant son.  She has written a children’s book, The Dread Crew, and is now working on another.  As this excerpt on her blog is an indication of her amazing talent, I plan to get a copy – but these words in particular, spoke directly to my heart (thank you Kate):

You are not to be lost, sweet girl. No! Whenever you get sad at your wandering mother or your all-gone father all you need do is look down. And there you’ll see not one but two strong legs, lean and braided with muscle, ready to help make you fly. You will fly, sweet girl, by all your blood and your bone and the wind in your strawberry hair. And I will be your go go go. I won’t be just your daddy anymore. I will be your joy. When your heart thumps in your chest, I will be all the stars that thump along with you and tug at their pins, wishing for to chase. I will be there forever and you’ll feel my smile through the darkest pitch black, loving you.

 You will be our go go go, and I am lucky enough to feel your smile in this, the darkest pitch black.

~C~

P.S.  I Love You