Monday, Monday

August is almost in the books and school here in Canada starts up shortly.  This time of year also brings with it the memories of birthdays past.  It would have been Kevin’s birthday tomorrow.  It was a week long event, at minimum.  His sister’s birthday follows two days later.  It was busy, and demanding, and absolutely exhausting, and I miss it so much.  His poor sister is left dealing with the hollowness of what was and now what is.  She’s actually talked about moving her birthday celebration to a different time.

Although Kevin’s birthday was a good thing, the impending return to work was not so good.  So while we celebrated birthdays, there was always the underlying awareness that soon structure would return to the house with Kevin going off to school.  He’d get his old 10 speed bicycle out and check the brakes, make sure his carrier basket was sturdy and well attached and that was about it.

As he himself would say, he was a man of extreme highs and lows.  Returning to work started the journey to low, and the first day of school when he met the kids in the classroom could either take him right to the bottom or level him out.  I remember one year he had a class with a couple of “identified” kids in it, not unusual, but it was the six or seven that should have been identified that were the problem.  When you have 28 kids in the class, having eight or nine identified kids  could result in chaos for everyone, a poor learning experience for others, and frustration for the teacher.

August this year started off poorly with the death of a very remarkable woman who was my daughter’s best friend’s mom.  She was also a former teaching colleague of my husband, a fun loving, kind and personable woman.  Her drive took her out of the classroom and into administration and her legacy is enormous as it was her incredible vision, passion and commitment that moved forward Indigenous awareness, education and opportunity within our province.  That was her day job, her full time job was as a mother, wife and friend to so very many.   She was only 52 years old.  Her loss is tremendous and will resonate for some time.  I can well imagine how the family is feeling.  Her death took me back to a place that can swallow you up in darkness instantly.

Today I heard a song by the Strumbellas and one line really  hit home.  “And I don’t want a never-ending life, I just want to be alive while I am here.”  That’s what is left for us to do, be alive while we are here.

 

 

It’s a journey

Life goes on.  A week ago I was worrying about my sister-in-law.  Another surgery in the books, and not an easy one.  A full five hour operation, so a lot of anesthesia that can make for a lousy recovery.  She came through it okay, but nothing is ever easy for her.  By day two there were some issues and worries, but here we are just over a week later and she’s home and on the mend.

It was tough walking into the hospital again.  The last time I was there I was with Kevin, my Kevin.  It didn’t end so good for him.  Fortunately, the outcome was better this time.   Still, it was an emotionally draining seven or eight days riddled by recollections of Kevin and worries about June.   And so the memories are all back up and fresh in my mind.  This has been a week of tears.  A week where I have said his name so many times, hoping for a sign, a message, anything.  I miss him.

It doesn’t help that there is also emotion and sadness in my workplace as one of my co-workers goes into her final decline.  Not someone I worked with, but a person I knew of and admired for her spirit and determination.  Her immediate team will be pierced by loss, and that loss is imminent.  I recognize that this news has destabilized me, I feel so deeply for the family she will leave behind, even though I have never met them.  My loss is old, their’s will be new.  It has nothing to do with me, and yet it has the power to make my heart ache.

Kevin used to say he was a man of extreme highs and extreme lows, and he was.  But really isn’t that what life is, a series of highs and lows.  Sometimes it feels like the waves will pull you down and drown you and other times you just float on the surface and bask in the sun.  We are all at different points and that’s all it is.

 

 

Mother’s Day

Bittersweet day.  A very difficult day for the family.  For my sister-in-law, it is loving the children that are here, but mourning the one that she lost.  For me, it was acknowledging how big of a part my husband played in making Mother’s Day an ‘event’.  This year it seemed as though the two of us hit the crazy zone at the same time and were absolute nut cases going into Mother’s Day.

I know I was a little crazed.  I didn’t really even want to celebrate the day.  I went to bed the night before thinking about how hard it must be for many people, not just for me.  For those women who had lost children, women who never had children, women and men who never knew their mothers, or who had and had never liked them, for those who suffer or suffered abuse at the hands of their mothers.  This ‘one size’ day of celebration could be a nightmare for many.  Fortunately I woke up to the smell of eggs benedict and sausage cooking, an effective way to banish such thoughts!

Through the years Mother’s Day has typically been an awesome day for me.  Because I had my children and their father to make it special.  With Kevin gone it has lost a lot of its lustre, it carries a tinge of sadness that it shouldn’t. Now, what I hope is that my children, each with their own spouses, will make each and every day special for them, for their partners and their children.  Look to their future, love what they have.  I loved what I had and I am thankful that I had it.  But now for me, as to Mother’s Day as an event, meh, I can do without it.

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….’

Valentine’s Day

Another heavily promoted day to share with those you love.   Coming out of Christmas and heading into Valentine’s, it just keeps the wound open.

For the three of four years before he got sick, Kevin and I would celebrate Valentine’s Day.  We would do it in style, with another couple we were friends with, actually it was a teacher he taught with.  The males would coordinate the meal, serve us and always there was a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine that went with the meal.  That was Kev’s contribution, anything less than $40 a bottle was ‘swill’, and it wasn’t unusual to have a bottle that cost a whole bunch more.  It was always a fun evening, especially if Kevin had a drink, he was not a drinker at all and so things could get pretty outrageous if he had a glass or two. These are the memories I have of Valentine’s Day.

Fast forward to the present, and all around me people are planning their special evening.  At work there is a fundraiser for the United Way, buy a bouquet and support the Way.  All I can think of is the reality that my husband isn’t here to buy me flowers anymore.  Not that he did often, he had a thing about buying something dead (flowers) and giving it as a gift.  Early on in our marriage he’d tell me that he could hear the flowers scream in pain as they were being picked.  Still, occasionally he would get me some.  He’s the only one I ever wanted them from.  No one else.

That’s what Valentine’s Day does for me, reminds me of sadness.  A dull throbbing sadness now, still just as deep, just not as sharp.  I don’t think I’m the only one.  I see people all around me who are on their own, with no one to make their day ‘special’.  I doubt that they get a warm fuzzy feeling about the day.  I suspect it wouldn’t be so bad if big box store marketing campaigns hadn’t made it into such a pressure to celebrate.  It’s really not fair on a multitude of levels, but I never ever thought about it until I was one of have-nots watching from the outside.