Crepes anyone?

June is almost over and it looks like it will end rainy.  I have no problem with this at all.  I seem to think that last year this time it was sunny and bright.  I remember sitting on the deck with Kevin strategizing how we were going to tell people about his cancer, and what we would tell.  Our three kids were the hardest; our eldest lived five hours away, our daughter had just discovered she was pregnant with her first child and our youngest had left the province the previous fall to commence a four-year apprenticeship.

Life goes on, Kevin said, and it needed to especially for our children.  They had the rest of their lives to plan for, he didn’t want his illness to influence their life-choice decisions.  In his mind if they made decisions based on his health it would be short term gain for long term pain. Thus he wanted to provide initial messaging about his disease that was moderated.  He chose to tell them that he had lung cancer and that he would be starting his treatments as soon as possible.  For our sons, they received the information over the telephone, for our daughter she received it in person.  Either way it was exceptionally difficult.  For the boys all they had were words without any visual cues, for our daughter she had both, visual and verbal, and try as he may, Kevin’s words and actions didn’t quite align.

He was trying to tell people about his illness before he had even processed it himself.  He had a thousand questions, a million worries but not one answer.  With every person he told the impact and enormity of his situation became more and more weightier. With every retelling of the circumstances he felt compelled to try and comfort and console the person he was telling.  He knew he would fight his cancer with all his might, but he also knew that his prognosis was grim.  He was told in July that he had three to six months at best.  Chemotherapy would give him perhaps eight to ten months.  He opted for life and took the chemo.  That way he would meet his grandson, that way he had more time to say good-bye, that way he could hope a little bit longer for a miracle.

Today I had an intimate brunch at my house.  My sister, my sister-in=law, my daughter, her fiancé, and my infant grandson.  We ate in true Kevin style.  We had savoury crepes filled with egg and peameal and topped with hollandaise sauce, bacon wrapped sausages, home fried potatoes, and sweet berry and cream crepes for dessert.  This is what we likely had as brunch for Father’s Day in 2014.  This is what we had today to celebrate a special man.  He loved his food and he loved his family.  Today we did the best we could with what we had, and I know he would have loved it.

So I Cry

So I cry, a lot.  It’s probably pretty obvious by some of my posts.  I don’t think I cry an inordinate amount anymore, but every day I cry.  Contrary to popular opinion, crying doesn’t make me feel better – it actually makes me feel lousy.  My sinuses fill up, my chest aches, and there is no point that I pass where I experience a sudden lifting of pressure.  None.  It is a painful fullness, a dull throbbing in my head and heart.  I feel overfull – too many thoughts and emotions happening at the same time.  The emotional response (crying) is like a small puncture in a balloon where the air seeps out slowly. I wish there was a quick release, but there’s not.  It’s just that I am past capacity and something has to give.  So I cry.

This weekend was another first to get through, and we did.  My eldest grandson turned four.  Wonderful, fabulous four.  My husband, Kevin, would have loved it.  Four is such a great age; any gift is a good gift as long as it is wrapped.  My present to my four year old grandson was a bicycle.  Not just any bicycle, but a lovely red and blue Spiderman bicycle complete with training wheels.

Kevin rode a bicycle; during all 31 years of our marriage he rode a bike.  As long as the weather was half decent, he’d get the bike out and ride to the school where he taught.  This was not a short cycle either; it was about eight kilometres one way and all hills.  Kevin’s physique didn’t suggest athleticism and we would joke how he looked like Kermit the Frog on his bike with his long skinny legs and his round body. It’s an image that will stay with me and the kids for the rest of our lives.

Thus the purchase of a bicycle was more than a simple gift in my mind.  I felt somehow like I had perpetuated a circle of life rite.  It felt like Kevin shared in the giving with me.  I cried when I bought the darn thing, I cried when my grandson left with it.  And I cry right now as I think about how my grandson will ride his bike and his grandfather will not be here to see it.  Ah, the dull throbbing associated with emotions slips over me again.

A Good Soul

This week is finally in the books.  Unfortunately in my scheduled return to work program my doctor had increased my working hours for this week.  When we’d done up the schedule I hadn’t really looked at the calendar, it had been a matter of blocks of time.  The first two weeks you work this many hours, the next two weeks increase to this many hours; that was how we had approached my return to work.  I hadn’t looked at the actual calendar, and even if I had, I likely would have thought ‘no problem, I can do this.’  I couldn’t though, and consequently I didn’t quite meet the increased hours.  I nearly got there.  I’ll try again next week and see if I can hit the target.

Every single day I woke up just as tired as when I went to bed.  It didn’t matter if I got four hours of sleep or eight, it just didn’t feel like enough.  The alarm would go off and it was almost unbearable to think about getting out of bed and going in to work.  There was just no motivation to do anything.  It was a week of a lot of reflection and thought about what happened and how quickly things changed.  There was a point – it was Wednesday – where I thought, this time last year we were oblivious to Kevin’s disease, a mere hour later I would be taking him to the hospital and that was when the crevasse opened and claimed my husband.

Try as I may to avoid dwelling on things I can’t change, I can’t change the fact that all I want to do is think about things I would do differently.  If I could.  I so wish that life offered do-overs.  That by some fluke we had of picked up on his disease when it was still treatable.  Lung cancer tends to fly under the radar until it is advanced stages, and it stayed true to this path in Kevin’s case.  He was so brave throughout his journey, which makes me feel so weak by comparison.  I don’t know if I could ever be as brave as him.  He was peace and love right to his last breath. My Kevin.

His was a good soul, a very good soul.

It’s a Narrow Path Out of this Darkness

I can feel the tension building as I get closer to the end of the month.  It will be a year on the 27th.  One year ago we got the news.

I find that as the day approaches the build-up is immense.  Almost unmanageable.  I feel a sensation similar to that of a plane sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off.  Engines pulsing and throbbing as more and more energy courses through, building to a momentum and intensity that will make the impossible possible.  Unlike the plane, however, I won’t fly when I hit capacity – I’m more likely to crash and burn.

I am aware of how tightly strung I am. Getting through this week may mean withdrawing a bit.  Sometimes the thoughts in my head are too hard to explain and the feelings too raw to reveal.  It’s easier to shrink into the background; it’s less demanding.

So there’s nothing to be done about it.  Just get through the week and hope the next one is better.  That’s pretty much how it has been going for the last few weeks anyway.  It’s a narrow path out of this darkness and the ground can often give way, leaving me scrambling for a foothold again.  Then I get back up on my feet and try and refocus.   Groundhog Day.

It’s Father’s Day – Just Relax and Go With It

Venus - a good listener.

Venus – a good listener.

I woke up to an overcast day.  It’s a shame really, this is one day that I would have loved to see sunny and bright.  Thoughts flow through my mind about my father-in-law, my father, my own husband.  The memories: my father-in-law with his ever present pipe clenched between his teeth, rocking with my eldest son, puffing away on his pipe while he recited, “horsey, horsey, don’t you stop….”  My own father playing  cards at the kitchen table, slamming down his hand to win the game – we changed the name of Canasta to Ca-nasty just for him.  Then my own husband …

I see him in my mind, at the school across the street from one of our earliest homes, the three kids in tow.  Teaching the youngest to ride his bike, trying to prevent the eldest from jumping off a climber that was too high, all the while attempting to control our whirling dervish of a daughter.  I picture him at our dining room table giving my eldest son and his first serious girlfriend the “talk” about the birds and the bees – unfortunately, animated speaker that he was, Kevin also used hand gestures.  Funny, it was so funny.   I remember how excited he was to take our daughter with him to the UK.  Granted it was for a funeral and under sad circumstances, but he so wanted her to meet his family.  Then there was the youngest son who watched and observed how the elder two fared trying to get around their father, he’d try to outsmart his old man – but it never worked.  Kevin would always laugh saying, “What a rookie.  He has no idea about most of the crap I did when I was a kid.”

Our kids, his pride and joy – they put us through the rigours of parenthood, the highs and the lows, the pleasure and the pain.  As they got more independent and less receptive to his guidance and instruction (the kids might call this interference) he’d turn it up a notch.  The conversations could be quite stimulating, and in our house you either stood up for yourself or got steamrollered.  The kids learned to challenge assumptions and defend positions, how to debate and how to communicate. That’s the legacy of having Kevin for a husband and a father. Their father was not passive when it came to anything in life.  Even as his health was failing, his mind was not.  As he got frailer, he took on an oversight role.  When anyone was doing anything Kevin would have to supervise; it slowed progress down immensely since he would chatter incessantly – a 20 minute job could take hours.  Actually, that last statement applies to when Kevin was healthy as well.  He simply loved to talk.

These were the types of thoughts that I woke with today, on Father’s Day.  On this day last year he still was my Kevin, no idea that he had lung cancer.  A year ago, the phone would be ringing and he would get that contented smile, knowing one of the kids was calling to chat.  The food would be purchased and he’d be double checking to make sure I had everything for an incredible meal.  Then he’d take his coffee and go sit out on the deck, I’d join him, and he would reflect on how great life was.  That’s where I am headed now, to the deck, cup of tea in hand.  I’ll have a little chat to no one in particular, perhaps with the statue of Venus, a Father’s Day from years past.  I will try and count my blessings, and let love be the order of the day.