The Twins

This past weekend I paid a visit to my son and his family.  They live around five hours away when travelling by car.  Two weeks ago his wife gave birth to twins –  boy and girl.  How his father would have talked up that!  No history of twins on either side of the family.  A completely unplanned pregnancy – especially since they already had three little boys, 6, 4 and almost two years of age.  Now they have 5 little ones.  Such a crazy chaotic life stretches before them!

It was awesome to meet the two newest babies – and they are perfect in every way.  Hard too, since it was the one thing that Kevin would go on about – how after he retired he planned on taking the grandchildren, the boys, there were no girls at that point, and have them come and stay with us for the summer.  He loved those kids and had great plans for them, plans he would never get to see through- so it was hard.  I have six grandchildren now, three of which never met him, that will only hear stories about their larger-than-life granddad.

When Kevin was close to the end, my son’s wife found out she was pregnant with her third child.  I couldn’t tell Kevin about the pregnancy, it would have broken him even more.  It was a hard thing to do, I know my son wanted his father to know.  But I couldn’t tell his dad, a man that family was everything to.  To know he wouldn’t be there for the birth of a child would have caused him so much pain. Right or wrong, I made the decision, Kevin had suffered so much, and he had anguished over everything, I couldn’t add to his burden.

As he got sicker, Kevin would tell me over and over that I got a bum deal when I married him.  How sorry he was that he got sick, for letting me down. He told me that I had to be there for the kids because he wouldn’t be able to.  His family was everything to him, and I like to believe that it still is.  Somewhere, somehow he carries a light to guide us forward.  That when I cradled those little ones on the weekend their grandfather was right there with me.  I believe his love certainly was.

What a crazy thing emotion is, that so much joy and so much sorrow can be in one’s heart at the same time.  But that’s how it was when I heard about the babies, so happy and so sad at the same time.  I say this often, because it’s true, I miss you so much Kevin.

 

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One foot in the present, one foot in the past

I think about the challenge it is to have a long term relationship end.  In my case it was my husband’s death, for others it may be divorce.  But loss is loss, and who’s to say how it should be, what one should feel, how one will cope. The thing is managing the memories.  Memories that weave through families: in children, in places, in events.  They are invisible, those ties, strands of emotion that can tangle you up before you know it.

I was worried after Kevin died that I would forget.  Forget the times we shared, the life we led, his voice, his laugh, his presence.  I realize now that I will never forget.  The ties are just too strong.  I’ve mentioned before that I hear him in my head, and I do.  Sometimes not loud enough, sometimes too loud.  Just like in life.  Last night I had a dream and I woke up knowing he had told me to do something.  But I couldn’t remember what it was he told me to do. If it was important then I suspect that he’ll be back to remind me tonight. I’d  better put paper and pen beside the bed because I don’t want to piss him off by forgetting again!  (It’s humour folks, I’m not losing it.)

These next couple of weeks will be tough ones.  Our anniversary on the 24th, his death on the 29th.  I find myself flashing back and forth between the present and the past.  Unavoidably.  I never would have ever thought he would have been my past, that wasn’t the deal, and yet now he is.  But he is still my future, because life with him made me who I am, because I will always know how he thought and what he felt.  Because the lives he and I created together continue to grow, more grandbabies – twins.  Because he would have loved that.  So I send you my love Kevin, and I say: ‘How I wish, how I wish you were here….’

A Year Ago

This time a year ago was a big day.  My daughter had her first child a year ago today.

One year ago today, I had spent the day in the hospital, joining my daughter and her partner in the birthing room.  Kevin, my husband, was alive, and he spent the day with his sister.  She’d come over to keep him company until the “news” came through.  It was a lot longer of an ordeal than we had expected.  I had gone over around noon, having been told that my daughter had been induced.  The intent was for a natural birth, but there were complications.  When I could, I left the room to update Kevin; he waited and waited by the phone.

Our grandson finally arrived in the early evening, somewhere around 7:45 pm, and I happily made the call to let Kevin and his sister know.  It was a heartbreaking thing, making that call.  Kevin was so sick, and so sad that he couldn’t be part of the event.  The day had taken a tremendous toll on him – I could tell when I got home.  It had been too much, and I had been away too long.  He was good about taking his pills, but I was better at making him take them and take them with food.

Such a happy, happy day – it always is when a child is born.  It turned into a tragic one as well, for while my daughter was busy giving birth, a good friend of my husband’s, a friend he had taught with for many years, was dying.  In the same hospital, on the same day.  Kevin didn’t find out until later the next day.  He had wanted to go to the hospital to see our daughter and the baby.  It was exceptionally hard, he was exhausted, as well as fearful of picking up something his body couldn’t fight off while he was there.  But he managed to get there, hold the baby; and then we headed home.

He found out about his friend later that night.  A heart attack.  It diminished Kevin, just hearing the news.  He seemed to physically shrink.  Here he was facing his own mortality and one of his dear friends had met his.  Unexpectedly.  In the next week, Kevin would help his friend’s wife select the music to play at her husband’s funeral.  He also insisted on going to the visitation.  A friend of ours called ahead to the funeral home.  When we pulled up, everyone stood aside to let us through to see his friend’s wife.  No waiting.  So kind of them, so important to Kevin to go.  He was a good friend to those he loved.

I didn’t know it at the time, none of us did, but this would be the last month of Kevin’s life.  His neck had been sore for a while, and finally he decided he’d do another round of radiation.  I think he hoped to buy more time to be with his grandsons.  But all hope was lost; cancer had spread throughout his lymph nodes and his neck, so painful, started to swell.

This next month will be full of memories for me and for the whole family.  Today, though, we made new memories as we celebrated my grandson’s first birthday.  We talked about this time a year ago and how happy Granddad was to have a new member of the family.  How important family is and how much we will work to cherish every moment together, the love of family and the love of life.

That’s That

The Primitives

The Travellers

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for everyone.  There have been moments, which we all expected.  For me the hardest day, bar none, was this morning.  I woke up realizing that Kevin never lived or breathed, he did not and will not exist for even one day in 2016.  Thinking about 2015, I could, in my mind, place him in my world, within the family, part of it; laughing, singing, drawing and, towards the end, just radiating his love outwards.  Now, with the changing of the year, he was part of a time and place that is truly gone, past.

I read the post my daughter put on her Facebook page and cried like most of her friends likely did.  I asked her if I could share it here – and she agreed.  She wrote:

“Reflecting on 2015 has been bittersweet. In February I had my crazy, busy, lovable, strong willed child. In March we lost our dad, my baby lost his granddad, my mom lost her soul mate, many, many people lost a dear friend and our world forever changed. I got to witness and be a part of the beautiful weddings of lifelong friends, but watching their dads walk them down the aisle, and watching the coveted father-daughter dances was a staunch reminder of what I’ll never have.

I battled postpartum, and cried so many tears I think I could have filled a pool. 2015 was literally the most confusing year of my entire life, I’m ready to say goodbye to it, but I also want to hang onto it. In 2015 I got to hug and kiss my father, smell his skin, hear his voice, and look into his eyes. Also 2015 I created life, and watched friends take the plunge into a new chapter.

In 2015 I rekindled old friendships, made new friends and rediscovered love. I found strength I didn’t know I had and the courage to say I’m not okay. I’ve felt the love and kindness of others lift me up when I couldn’t myself. Although I say goodbye to 2015 with a heavy heart, I welcome 2016 with light, love, and peace (and hopefully a baby that sleeps through the night!).

I wish everyone a very happy 2016! And thank you to the most amazing friends and family a girl could ask for!”

I was fortunate to have all my children home for Christmas.  Along with the children, family and friends stopped by, and life went on – as it should.  Things will never be the same without Kevin, but things still will be – and it’s important to include laughter, joy and hope among the things we share.  Last Christmas was special but at the time we didn’t know how special it was – we still hoped for a miracle.  This Christmas was special too, in a much different way – we went into it painfully aware of how amazing life is and how precious it is to love someone – even for a while.