Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ten Summers

Back today from YMCA family camp, my fifth with the kids. Coming home today was the first time I  wasn't transported back to 2011 and the day we returned from the cottage.

It had seemed that every time I went away, I would go back to 2011 upon my return.

That was the summer of cancer, our last summer together, though we didn't know that yet. We spent three weeks at a rented cottage in August, and it was glorious. We were just living - and not thinking about the risks we were living with. But when we returned home, it was all waiting for us.

It wasn't bad, what we came back to, it was just a hard reality, one that soon got worse.

Today, though, when I came home, I just thought, oh, I'm home. What's next?

But as I look forward, I look back.

Ten summers. Five with Kate. Five without. One can make too much of the math, but what I experience is a drifting into the new. When Kate died, I just wanted to keep on with our life, and I have, but it's not our life any more. Not the life we had any more. The kids are not the wee ones they were. They are transformed, and I'm thinking more and more about what the next chapter in my life should be.

In the past week at camp, I put on five pounds. I went up to 175 lbs. Last summer I put on five pounds at camp and went up to 190 lbs, which shows my dedication to my new regime ... the one I'm going to get back to tomorrow.

My life is different, is what I'm saying. Different from what it has ever been before.

Over the next ten summers, I expect more change than continuity. I'm okay with that.

That's new.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

If This Is It

I was going to call this post, Lazy Summer Day, but wanted a song. Lazy summer day song = If This is It by Huey Lewis and the News, released July 1984. I was 15 going on 16, that pivotal year yet again.

I had a long sleep in this morning and eventually got up and went to the gym. Ran 5K. Came home. Ate, um, supper.

Soon we will be driving towards September and back to school and all of that.

1984 was maybe my longest summer ever. Maybe that's why it keeps coming back. Not that I remember anything about it specifically.

I imagine we played a lot of baseball and watched music videos.

It is five years since the summer of 2011, when Kate's cancer treatments had ended, and we were trying to pivot to Life After Cancer. We got about three months of that, and I don't think she ever believed it was true.

I wanted to believe it, and I want to believe it still. I never wanted out of that life, and I still can't believe it's gone. It kept me in bed a long time today.

That was it. It really was.

*


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Refugee

You don't have to live like a refugee, sang Tom Petty.

Well, okay. But what does a refugee live like?

I saw a segment on TV about some folks who want to create a new country for all of the world's displaced people.  One of the journalists asked something like, won't this just be a place full of traumatised individuals? Some, yes, said one of the proponents, but many folks just want a chance to get on with their lives.

Oi, I thought. That's how I'm starting to feel.

Grieving is like being a refugee. You become emotionally stateless, removed from the "normal" of your peers. As much as you may want to go back to that "reality," you can't.

But are you then cursed to wander like Job?

There is no going back, but there is the possibility of going forward. Even for refugees.

*

Yesterday was the grade six grad for N. I was happy. I'm glad we've reached this milestone. I'm glad both of the kids are out of that school as of the end of this school year. It was a good school for them, but I'm ready to leave it behind. I'm ready to accept the possibility of the new.

See how this links to what I said above?

Today, I'm sad, though. This ending. So many ending. A reminder of all that's been lost.

The school asked for photos of the kids for a grad ceremony, and I sent along a photo of Kate and N from the first day of junior kindergarten. They included it in the slide show. I was glad, but I was sad. Kate should have been here, in the flesh, in totality.

Of course she was here in other ways. But, you know. It's not the same.

I've had a lethargic day. It's hard. I try to turn my head to new days to come. New things are going to happen, things that cannot be predicted in these moments of the here and now.

I have focused so much on living in the here and now, as Kate did through the cancer, but it's the future days that I look forward to, it must be said.

Some new land, somewhere.

*


Monday, June 6, 2016

5th June

You know how Facebook gives you those memories? I got a memory from four years ago, from just after Kate's death, and it was about how I took O to soccer. We rode our bikes. It was sooo normal. The early days after death, when the normal seems impossible, but it just is, and therefore it's comforting.

Later, the normal feels less comforting. Because you think and feel that the loss should mark the world permanently. Because you are marked permanently by the loss.

I get Facebook messages from grief related sites. Here are two recent ones:
They both talk about the longer term stages of grief ... and moving along (not on, never moving on; the past is always present).

I'm becoming more aware of these longer terms stages. I recognize just about everything in these two articles are simply true. Also, they say things that I haven't the energy to say. I'm tired of having to explain myself, even having to explain myself to myself. I'm mostly tired of the expectation that life will either "return" to normal, or "progress" to normal.

Normal, as in, something resembling living without loss.

My emotions are still evolving, but they are not evolving back to a pre-loss experience, or progressing in a way that will leave loss behind.

It is now the 5th June since Kate died. We've had four anniversaries of her death, but now five anniversaries of the first week of June. It's a psychological threshold, this fifth year, but I'm not sure why. Maybe because Kate and I didn't get to our fifth anniversary. We were married five years, nine months. We had five-and-a-half years together, full-stop. Soon enough she'll have been dead longer, but so what? I still talk to her every day.

This year I took a whole week off work, so I could get out of town the anniversary of her death. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, but I think it was in the end. I rented a car and drove around visiting friends I never see. It was fun. I came back refreshed. It's something I hope to do more. Push forward into my new life, carrying all of the baggage of my past lives.

I feel Kate everywhere I go. I still argue with her. I still listen and learn from her.

Almost nine years married now. The garden, in celebration, is in full

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Final Countdown

The title is a reflection of the fact that my life is framed by bad 1980s music. It also means today is the anniversary of the final two weeks of Kate's life in 2012, though not exactly. By calendar, the anniversary was two days ago, but that's not how I count the final days. Because Kate died on a Wednesday, and it was the Wednesday two weeks before she died that we were at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre getting the results of the ultrasound of her liver, which were very, very poor. And we knew then that the end was imminent.

I woke up this morning at 6:30. Had breakfast, fed the cat, prepared to head out to the gym before work, and then I realized I felt terrible. I went back to bed, fell asleep, woke up at 1:00 pm.

Oh, right, I thought then, today's the anniversary of all of that.

I can't even describe it. Well, I could, but I'm not going to. I don't want to.

Later, I heard the chatter of the kids in the schoolyard across the street, and I remembered hearing them four years ago, going out to the balcony and seeing Owen and his friends, and he waved to me. He was telling his friends that he thought his mother was going to die, and he was right. When we confirmed it for him a couple of days later, he immediately left the house, rounded up his friends and brought them to our house to hear the words for themselves. He was 11.

I'm taking the week of Kate's death as vacation this year. The past three years I've gone to work. Just tried to work through it. Last year, I left mid-day and spent the next day off as well. This year, I'm just not even going to try. But today snuck up on me.

Yesterday I was reflecting: "I can't believe the events of my own life."

Acceptance is supposedly the final stage of grief. I cannot accept. I'm not there yet.

*


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Eggs still bad for you

Is it okay to eat foods high in cholesterol now?

These docs say no (pdf).

I would tend to agree. Or, at least, I would prefer to remain cautious.

I have been reading up lately on the relationship between diet and heart disease. I'd like to have more knowledge, in order to feel more confident about my food choices.

However, the more I read, as often happens, the more I become aware of disagreements in medical opinions.

Except everyone agrees that vegetables are good for you. So is exercise.

So is avoiding stress, having fun, and being around people.

Those are the things to focus on!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

She Feels Like Jaime Sommers

In 2006, after she got her own place, Kate wrote a series of short stories. What follows is a fragment, an unfinished piece. One can only wonder where she would have taken it.

*

She feels like Jaime Sommers, going to battle with the fembots. She knows she will prevail eventually, but is scared of them none-the-less, in their perfectly coiffured hair, lacquered lips and clingy, sensuous clothing. She knows underneath their lovely hair and skin, they have a voice box and speakers, and lots of red and blue buttons.

They are the women around the cooler really, but she prefers the fembot moniker. She feels some days she might be able to actually hear their dulcet whispers if she strains, imagining that her inner ear has been surgically enhanced by mechanics, bionics. She wants, no, needs to hear. She needs to know. What is it that makes them dislike he so? Her strange differences? Her longer than normal nose? Her love of 1970s TV? Her addictions to Reese’s pieces, and green corduroy? How does this make her so different, really, than others who prefer Dolce and Gabanna, or Prada?

Just like Jamie Somers, who really only had Steve Austin to keep her company and of course, Oscar Goldman. And the doctor guy, Rudy Wells, but she has always speculated about his character’s motivations. Steve Austin had his issues with it too – As she has read online:

During her time of most intense involvement with the OSI, her relationship with Rudy Wells was also notably different than Steve's. Whereas Steve was occasionally distrustful of Rudy, and sometimes shown as impatient with, or even hostile to Rudy's medical tests, Jaime viewed him as a helpful ally from the moment of her resurrection. She was frequently in and around Rudy's lab, and generally more enthusiastic about the research obligations of being a virtually unique specimen.