Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sunny Days

Well, today is a sunny day, anyway, except I'm home with a head cold feeling a minor shade of miserable. Yesterday set an all-time high for temperature in Toronto for October. Nice, but not so nice. Weather patterns breaking down aren't good news.

I went outside to pick up the mail, and the kids were out in the schoolyard across the street. Recess. Every time I hear that, I think of Kate saying how nice it was to hear the kids playing in the schoolyard. But then, she did because she was home with cancer. The good and the bad, inextricably mixed.

It is 10 years since Kate and I met, a fact I've noted a lot recently, and five years since the metastases. I wish I could remember the former without also thinking about the latter. In the not too distant future, she will have been dead longer than we were ever together. A crazy thought.

Sitting at home, feeling sick, feeling miserable, watching the bright sunshine outside, I feel both okay and unsatisfied.

Apart from that, I don't have much to say.

Saturday, September 24, 2016


I'm going to highjack the Blue Jays 2016 hashtag for a title.

Because it's about 10 years since I met Kate, and that was our moment. (You can go back to the beginning of this blog and read how it began....)

I see last month I also wrote about it being 10 years. I haven't stopped thinking about that all month, but now it is upon me, the anniversary, and I was lying in bed this morning thinking 10 years ago I met her, 5 years ago she found the metastases.

The proportions seem impossible!

So ... #ourmoment. And now the other thing I think about all of the time ... what next?

My grief has faded into a peaceful blah. I realized how much today, when I saw someone had linked to my blog post about Camp Widow two years ago. How heightened my feelings were then! How dull they are now!

But I'm back to 170 lbs, and my cardiologist says I'm doing great.

And my employer seems satisfied with me, and the kids are moving into new grades at school, and ...

... so what?

There's got to be something else for me. I'm sure there is. I have followed the general advice of not making any major decisions while in a state of crisis. Now that my state of crisis has faded, what?


Not sure yet ... not even getting any early ripples ... about what that might be. Maybe I should have gone back to Camp Widow. I think maybe I will next spring, when it's in Florida, I think. It would be a good excuse to get out of town, and I know those are my people. (And I need to have my chakras read!)

I don't think I've ever been so underwhelmed with everything. I can't even say I'm bored. I used to have access to rivers of feeling, and now my feelings are like mercury, settled into deep crevices.

Which is maybe why I find myself turning to the past, and focusing on what it felt like to lie next to Kate and what we were feeling in #ourmoment, this time, that time, all of the times.

And, yes, these thoughts lead me again and again to words from her that I should marry again. How insistent she was about that! But even now I can't imagine it.

We have survived losing her, and the kids are transformed, miracles of perpetual motion. I must do some transforming too, I know it.

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


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.