Two Weeks Without Him

November 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

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Tonight will mark two weeks since we suddenly and unexpectedly lost my Dad. A lot of people have reached out to ask how I’m doing and I really, really appreciate that. I have to say, thanks to the support and love of my family and friends, I’m doing okay. I am so fortunate to have my amazing Mom, sister, and brother, PLUS Nick and two little boys who are so busy and funny and fun that I cannot help but to be forced into the present every day while I’m with them. Charlie has no idea what happened (and the fact that he won’t have any memories of his own of his Grandpa makes me so angry/sad), but Henry now understands. We talk about Grandpa and what Henry thinks happens when you die. There’s a lot of family photos in his room, including three that Grandpa are in, so we say goodnight to him. But five years old is too young to really obsess about this for too long.

When I do have time to myself to think, like while practicing yoga, walking down the street running errands, or during the massage Nick booked for me last weekend, I think of my Dad nonstop. I also had a teary moment with a Mom of one of Henry’s friends in the schoolyard last week while talking about it, since she too lost her Dad suddenly and was very close with him.

Thank you so much to those friends that have sent flowers and cards and goodies to us in the past two weeks. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have all these thoughtful, loving people in my life. Not that I didn’t before, but moments like these make me appreciate the people I have collected throughout my life and like my Dad would have, I will always love and appreciate them.

Some things that have made me feel better during the past two weeks have been reading about grief. Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found and connected with:

“Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.

Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.” via

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“My heart is with the Miller and Northcott families who are now struck with the task of learning to love in absence after the luxury of loving in presence.” via

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“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.” via

 

All the feels of Winter

March 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

There’s no point in sugar-coating it: March has been a challenging month. And some of February. And let’s face it, most of winter. Winter sucks. It’s soul sucking. Add having a restless toddler to the mix of cold, wind, and snow, and you’ve got yourself a less than desirable situation. I’ve been dreaming of those warm days that consisted of 3 stroller walks in 12 hours, and chatting with other parents at the playground while you pushed your smiling son on the swings and sipped an iced latte. Sigh… it’ll be back soon enough, but really can it ever be “soon enough”?

Winter complicates things. It makes toddler teething and bad sleep worse. I don’t do well with sleep deprivation (who does though?) and when it goes on for too long, I end up in a feeling-sorry-for-myself mess. I’m not too proud to admit the past couple weeks have included many feelings of jealousy. I’ve been jealous of those who live close to their families and have grandparents and siblings around to help pick up the pieces when parenting gets tough. I’ve been jealous of my husband who has out of town best friends that he gets to see every couple months. I’ve also been jealous of people who are in the position to have a second child. Even though Nick and I still occasionally doubt that we’ll do it, we both know that in the long run, we want at least two kids, but it seems so complicated when you live in a 2-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, with no car (or license! Oh, me), a husband who has a job that requires travel, and have no family support for miles.

Then I read an interesting article today that totally changed my perspective. While I attribute the feelings above to uncertainty, maybe the envy I feel is actually some sort of drive. In any case, I’m happy to see the light and am consciously making the effort to pull my head out of the cloudiness I sometimes get stuck in when going through a rough patch with Henry. This isn’t forever, but family is and what we are ultimately doing is building a family. Whether we are a family of 3 or 6 (haha – yeah right!), these are little things that will pass in time. Also, how lucky am I to have this amazing kid AND to spend these years in New York City???

And how is YOUR day going?

Attitude Of Gratitude

September 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in parenthood. The days blend together, and you seem like you’re living nap time to nap time, feeding time to feeding time. I get consumed by whatever challenge Henry is throwing at me that week – lately it’s a rotating roster of sleep, food, diaper changing, and drinking water issues – and I get stressed out that it’s not going perfectly. Other kids seem to be perfect eaters, natural sleepers. Sometimes Henry is absolutely neither of those things! He turns my plans upside down and exhausts me physically and mentally.

Today my sister told me that she’s up 13 times a night with her two week-old twins, but that every day is like Christmas morning. She can’t believe how lucky she is. Now that’s inspiring and something I will remember.

Henry is the greatest little person I’ve ever met. And Nick and I CREATED HIM. His closed-lipped little smile and contagious laugh are my two favourite things in the world. He’s constantly learning and doing new things and blowing my mind that he was a skinny little alien of a baby just 10 months ago. Sometimes it’s easy to forget when I’m tired, but I have Nick and Henry and that makes me the luckiest lady in New York. Thanks for reminding me, Jenn.

Patience

January 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

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In my 12 weeks of being a mom, I’ve only ever experienced this much patience-testing when I was waiting for my visa to come to the States.

Henry is such a sweet and wonderful baby, but every once in a while, there’s a new way in which he tests our sanity. Never mind the fact that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since October, but the last few nights he’s refused to take his bottle from Nick. This impacts my one chance a night for more than a couple hours of sleep in a row as well as the few opportunities for time away I get which basically just include a yoga class.

However, instead of worrying that I will now be tethered to my baby until he can eat solid foods, I’m trying to practice being grateful for what I have. Sure, my two grey hairs have multiplied an astounding amount in the last three months, but yesterday I read a touching blog post about a girl I know in Toronto who had her heart broken by a miscarriage. People experience this, and worse things, all the time. Right now, I am enjoying a cup of coffee while the two boys I love most doze peacefully in our bed. How lucky am I to have that?

Despite the tough moments, I will stay positive.

The Blackout of 2003

August 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

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If you lived in Southern Ontario or the American Northeast in the summer of 2003, chances are, you have a good story about the blackout of 2003. This blackout wasn’t your typical hot summer day, the grids are overheated sort of blackout. It affected more than 50 million people and for some, the power wasn’t restored for two days. Of course, it was the middle of August and also sweltering hot.

I will never forget where I was when the power went out. I had been working at The Agency Group for just two months and was on reception when I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me as the lighting was getting dimmer. When it finally went out, we all groaned and sat there, waiting for it to come back in a few minutes. When it didn’t, the guys went outside to play basketball while the ladies chatted. Soon, we could see out the window that people were just deciding work was finished for the day. Rather than join the traffic, most of the office just stayed put. We had actually been planning a company party bus trip to London for that weekend and already had a stash of alcohol and snacks waiting. Well, special circumstances dictated we needed to dip into our rations early!

Hours later and still no power, we realized we had probably start to figure out how to get home. Obviously the subways and streetcars weren’t viable options. I was going to walk, but Ralph, a SVP, offered me and Omar, an agent, a ride home. He was parked in the underground parking garage. As we entered, we could see it was dark down there, but there seemed to be some lighting once you got further in. Unfortunately, we were quite far in when we realized the lighting was headlights of a car and once it passed us, we were left in complete darkness.

The office had a huge box of Three Days Grace promo matches that we all kept handy. I had some in my purse and lit one, expecting it to be like a movie and give us some light. It did NOTHING. Ralph was carrying a NOW Magazine and dipped it into the match to use it as a torch. The thing burnt so quickly, he immediately dropped it on the floor. Omar lit his magazine and we got a bit farther before he dropped his too. Now the fire alarm is going off and we are just a bit closer to Ralph’s car. Ralph is growling about how he pays for this parking spot and there should be some goddamn emergency lighting. I don’t know how we got out of there alive, but by the time I got home, I faced another challenge: getting to my apartment on the 17th floor with no elevators.

Long story short, my boyfriend at the time and I had a dinner of peanut butter and crackers and went to bed hot and sweaty. The next morning, we had no running water for showers because the electricity couldn’t pump it that high up. I went to work the next day just to have somewhere to go that wasn’t a hot cement box in the sky. That day ended with the best idea we could think of though: going to see Freddy VS Jason in an air conditioned movie theatre while drinking smoothies.

Bonus photo: Adam Countryman, king of the party bus, (with Greg Henderson and Glenn Vogelsang) on our way to London to see Nickelback, August 16, 2003.

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What’s your blackout story?

(Top photo: The CN Tower is silhouetted against the setting sun, as Toronto was faced with a massive power outage, Aug. 14, 2003. Reuters/David Lucas)

Pregnancy Schadenfreude

June 3, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Pregnancy is a time of new discoveries. Your body is changing, your mind is changing, your priorities are changing, and you’re readying yourself for a new life you created just between you and your partner (the ultimate science experiment!). It’s all pretty amazing and I wouldn’t trade any of what I’ve experienced so far for anything.

But there’s a phenomenon that both Nick and I have noticed in the 4 1/2 months we’ve been pregnant: some people have funny reactions to our news. While most people are thrilled for us to enter into this new phase in our lives, many others have responded with remarks like “you know, you are never going to sleep in again” or “having a baby is the hardest thing you can put your relationship through”. My personal favourite (and by favourite, I mean the most incredulous) is “well I just can’t WAIT to see how you guys are going to handle THIS”. Did I mention this was said by someone who doesn’t even have kids?

Of course it’s going to be hard. Of course it’s going to be one of the biggest challenges of our lives. But we are up for the challenge, as we have been for all the challenges our atypical relationship has brought us. And as for the lack of sleep remarks, well I’m pretty sure everyone who’s ever heard anything about reproduction is probably already aware of that so no need to remind us. We want Henry more than we want to sleep in on weekends.

While these comments weren’t made with bad intentions, I’m sure they were actually meant to be helpful or informative, they always make me think – there might be a lot more indulgers of Schadenfreude out there than I had previously thought!

Boston

April 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Reading about the bombings at the Boston Marathon and watching it on the news is making me feel sick and sad. I don’t understand why people would ever have the urge to hurt other people. It’s been a rough year for violence and natural disasters, why create evil to put out into the world?

Thankfully, I just read this post by comedian Patton Oswalt that made me smile:

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

Thanks, Patton. I hope that made you guys feel better too.

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