Friday, April 22, 2016

Coming to terms

“And something new is created when the person you love dies.

Because they are not the only ones who die: you die, too. The person you were when you were with them is gone just as surely as they are.

This is what you should know about losing somebody you love. They do not travel alone. You go with them.”
Augusten Burroughs

I felt this intensely with my dad because, oh my god, I loved him so much. I lost the little girl whose daddy would stand up for her, make her laugh or just hold her hand while we watched t.v. together. Someone I never felt judged by. Someone I even felt revered by as I was becoming an adult. I lost so much when I lost him. And it crushed me. And not only did I lose him, I gained the responsibility of my mom. I needed to fill that support void for my mom when he died. And it was always so much pressure. I felt overwhelmed for 14 years. Constantly. And as other things entered my life, like my kids, it just became such a big deal every time I had to give up my time to help her with things I thought she should have been able to do herself. But couldn't.

And so, I hope the part of me that dies along with my mom is the person who was angry, tired and frustrated all the time. That's not who I wanted to be. I just always felt flooded with too much responsibility. Nothing ever felt like it was about me and my life. I felt like I always had to justify everything I thought or did.

Yesterday was my birthday. It was all parts bad. There was yelling and tears and plumbers who cut the drywall out of my bedroom wall so yet another thing needs to be fixed. And my mom wasn't there to force us to eat cake and mark the occasion. So we didn't. And that makes me sad. And knowing she will miss this spring, watching the flowers come up, makes me sad. And every song I listened to while she was dying makes me cry. And every time I see a store or a street or somewhere I was with her makes me cry. But remembering how much better I tried to deal with her in the last year gives me peace. A little.

Coming down from the intensity of these last six months, with all the drama and all the work and all the sadness, anxiety and insomnia I felt in knowing what was to come, that will take time. She had her faults and I sure as hell have mine. But that's okay. We're human. We're imperfect. I stuck it out, even when I truly thought I couldn't take just one more thing. I did the best I could. The hard times and the little, tiny glimmers of good times, that'll be our story.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's not over til it's over

A fairly big aspect of our lives over the past decade has been my mom's declining health. Every time there's an incident or a decline, we need to adjust to a new normal. Some are harder than others. depending on how much we're affected. The last two years have been tough but the last few months have been more stressful than ever before. So terrible that despite her nephrologist telling me that she's still doing fairly well and he doesn't think these are her last six months, my gut has been telling me otherwise. Mostly in the form of nausea and anxiety. To preserve some kind of sanity, something had to give so I've taken a leave of absence from work. I've been off for about a month now.

It's kind of funny. I thought I would be less stressed out to be away from work but I think shit has just gotten more real. And it's a roller coaster kind of experience. Good days and bad ones, constant fluxuation. But the bad days keep getting worse and getting used to each new normal is getting harder and harder. A few weeks ago, my mom could have a conversation. Today she can't string together any words that make sense. Before she could walk with help – I took her out with her walker at the beginning of the month, now she needs two people to practically carry her to the bathroom. She struggles to open her eyes or stay awake for a minute or two. She's not eating.

We've always had a hard relationship. Always. We've just never been on the same page. A lot of the time we really don't even like each other. When I was young I remember finding our family photo with me torn out. That sums up a lot. And I've really resented the fact that somehow, by default, taking care of her has always fallen on me (and Chris). I am definitely the reluctant caregiver, on the verge of a panic attack every time I am in a medical setting.

Based on my symptoms, I am currently experiencing anticipatory grief. Usually it's just sadness and despair. Right now I'm in the anger stage. I send out email updates on my mom every couple weeks to her siblings and mine. I usually do this when I feel things have significantly changed and I feel it's important to keep her family informed. But no one responds to me – or they don't respond as much as I want them to – and they sure as shit don't reach out to her. Well, Jean always responds to me and I have been regularly in touch with Carolyn and Auntie Sharon. My mom wonders aloud why no one is there for her. And most of the time, so do I. It's a burden that I am shouldering entirely on my own. It's not fair, but we all know life isn't fair.

I went for coffee with my boss a couple weeks ago. Knowing the tumultuous relationship my mom and I have, he asked why I'm doing this. And it's something I've thought a lot about. It's because if I'm not there, she's all alone. She's dying all alone. I wouldn't want that to happen to me so I'm doing this so it won't happen to her. It's all I can do.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Finn at five

Finn, you are an amazing little boy. Every single day you amaze me. You are thoughtful and bright, affectionate and curious.

You come home from daycare and school with big issues. You were offended that one kid at daycare would not believe that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls. Then just yesterday, you said "I learned something at school. Transgender. It's like when you are a boy on the outside but feel like a girl on the inside." Kindergarten is absolutely not how I remember it. You shine on big issues, but you also feel great conflict when you hear something you feel just isn't right. When your teacher told you God created the world, you struggled with it immensely. That is, perhaps, a little too much for a five year old. But you worry about big things. Like me getting old and dying and you having no mom. Or me getting old and not looking like I do now. You don't want to get married but you do want kids. Apparently all girls but mom are not so great.

You are an incredible eater. You will claim hunger five minutes after we finish supper. You sometimes eat four breakfasts. Cereal, then bagels, then cheese and crackers and finally a banana and two oranges. Between you and Lily, you can polish off a whole cheese pizza. You complain about the meat sandwiches at daycare. You are a sugar fiend when we go to Nana's, helping her whittle down her gummy bears and worms. You love tofu and sweet potatoes, but only eat the stems off broccoli. Ketchup is still the condiment of choice for almost everything.

And oh, the love you dish out. To me anyway. You always "out-love" me, loving me to infinity over my billions of universes that I love you. We spend a lot of time cuddling. So much so that you will wake in the middle of the night and say "Cuddle me!" before you can go back to sleep. It could be worse. You also love to accompany me when I go out or if you are not with me, you often FaceTime me when I've gone out. You use Siri to text me and dad and Lily. Though she often gets it wrong, it usually has to do with poop.

You have recently decided you want to be an inventor, or an engineer scientist or a graphic design scientist. This is because last year you got worried that becoming a police officer would be too hard. You constantly asked questions like, "Do you have to write a test to be a police officer? How strong do you have to be?" You have caught on to French - and to school in general - like a boss. You speak a lot of French and sing all the songs. You actually love to sing. We belt out songs spontaneously all the time. Thank god because no one else will sing with me like that as often as I like.

For the first time, in preparation for next year, you and Lily walked home from school together. I watched from the window, waiting. Then I saw you two – holding hands while walking down the sidewalk. You adore Lily so much, but never when me and dad are around. You even "like" dad now, up from "I don't love anyone but you, Mom." But we know you do. Lily takes such good care of you when I'm not there. All she wants to do is kiss and hug you. That's how cute you are. But honestly, who care blame her.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Grade three!

Wow. I can't believe my only girl is in grade three. I remember grade three. Which means everything now makes an impression. Everything. And she's mature and loving and playful. She sleeps better, eats lots and is wicked awesome on the monkey bars. Her independence is growing and she loves ever second of the adventure of being on her own. Big year. Big time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer 2013!

I hate thinking that it's over now, but in between intermittent warm days, I think the reality is that summer is now over. But it was a good one.

Lots of campfires at Bob and Lori's on the weekends; a couple excursions to Rowan's Ravine with them on long weekends – even one where we left Lily overnight; a weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's for tubing and seadooing; a prolific garden supplying us with steady fresh produce; lots of backyard fun with Jack and Carly; Finn independently going to the bathroom and some botched escape plots; lots of visits to the farmer's market; a spray park playdate with Mason; Lily's birthday party and all of it's preparations; going on bike rides, or to the park; taking a week off work for a whirlwind holiday to Cypress Hills, Carolyn's place in Priddis and a couple days in Calgary; Daddy taking Lily and Carly swimming in the evenings after 7 p.m. because it's free then; brunch at Creeson's house; visits from Ferguson; zucchini; peach jam, fig jam, strawberry jam; basil pesto; applesauce from cousin Heather's apple tree; bluejays and squirrels.

But getting back into the swing of things won't be so bad. Can't keep up that pace forever...though I might like a couple more months. Just happy we can make the most of it. Cheers! (Oh right, and wine was a big part of our summer, too.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lily's 8th Birthday!

It was terrific scientific party this year. Lily wanted a science experiment party, so we delivered. A choice group of scientists, complete with personalized security badges, gained unrestricted access to the birthday laboratory. Then the fun – and learning – began.
Even Finn needed access to the great meeting of the scientific minds.
Experiment 1 – Sandwich bag bombs
Experiement 2 – Elephant toothpaste...just kept expanding and expanding.
Experiment 4 – Tie-dye milk
Experiment 5 – Goop
Experiment 6 – Frankenstein's hand
Experiment 7 – Mentos in Diet Coke

The day was a success. The weather cooperated, she got some great presents (including some earrings from her BFF) and there was cake and root beer floats. It couldn't get much better.

Happy 8th Birthday, Lily!