Two Sides of a Coin

I met a guy a from Vietnam a few weeks ago. His family moved to Winnipeg as refugees at some point in his childhood and he got into trouble with gangs in his teenage years and ended up in trouble with the law. As we made small talk I said that I am married to a man from Laos, a neighboring country to Vietnam. He perked up and was quite surprised. He asked me the usual questions, how did you meet, how long have you been together etc. And then he asked me if Pasith had ever been in trouble. I was taken aback by the question and said, “No.” And began to tell him how Pasith made it through school. I told him that there had always been a lot of bullies and descrimination throughout school. Pasith had always felt that he had to prove himself. Pasith had started lifting weights in grade 10 and that had prevented a lot of the issues in highschool. But Pasith had always felt that he had to prove that he could handle himself. He had backed down from a lot of fights because he didn’t believe in fighting but he had to be sure that he could defend himself. I told him how Pasith’s Dad had taught him how to fight. Pasith’s name means “fighter” in Laos. It has always been in his nature whether he was standing up for himself or someone else that was being bullied. I also told him that Pasith has always had a temper but he knew where to draw the line. He knew he had the potential to really hurt someone but knew that it wouldn’t be worth the dissapointment of his parents along with the fact that he didn’t want to hurt other people.

This guy asked me how Pasith was able to make it out. I said that we were in a small town. We didn’t grow up in the city. He looked at me in complete seriousness and said, “That small town saved his life. Be sure to tell him how lucky he is.” I told him that Pasith hadn’t always felt lucky to be in a small town. He had felt like he was missing out on opportunities. But his parents felt it was better for the boys to be in a small town. Pasith had always begrudged the fact that they didn’t live in the city. This guy shook his head and said, “He was very fortunate to have parents that cared to live in the small town. The city is trouble. He sounds a lot like me and I don’t think he would’ve gotten out so easy.”

Then he asked me how long we had been married and how many children we have. The look of longing on his face was painful. I could see all the regrets and the what-ifs going through his mind as he listened to me. He expressed how much he wished he could have our life. And again said to tell Pasith how lucky he was.

So I went home and told Pasith about who I had met and what he had said. He looked at me, thought about it and said, “He’s probably right. I would be a very different person if I had grown up in the city with the pressure of gangs and anger. I guess my parents knew what they were doing and I’m thankful. But I still hated it.”

It’s amazing to see how close we come to the other side. There is such a fine line, one decision, one person saying one thing between who we are and the potential for either good or bad choices.

Meeting on a Hill

As we drove up the hill I saw the formidable limestone walls and it was all familiar again.  Beautiful fluffy snow was coming down and the wind was blowing as we walked across the parking lot to the main doors.  Before I stepped through the doors I turned and looked out at the stark openness and felt the isolation.  After getting through security we took the walk down the cold and dark hallways to our meeting room.  We got to our meeting room and started to set up the chairs and sofas in a classic circle based on Aboriginal talking circles.  This wouldn’t be just any circle.  Stony Mountain Penitentiary hasn’t changed much in the 20 years it’s been since I last visited.  But that’s a whole different story.  This visit was very different from the last two but the first and second definitely led up to this.

I have been getting together with a community group twice a month since September.  We get together in “circles” to discuss ideas about justice, truth, family and faith, among other things.  We were all strangers in September from all walks of life and all ages but now we are friends, we trust each other.  But we weren’t just meeting for ourselves we were preparing to meet up with a group of prisoners who have been meeting inside Stony for a year.  I’m not sure if this has ever happened before; “insiders” and “outsiders” sitting in a circle discussing some of the most complex subjects in humanity.  And this was our first meeting.  The meeting is confidential but I can give you insight from my perspective.

We began with a simple circle of our names, where we are from and our favorite dessert.  Throughout the meeting the guys were open and honest with us and we were the same.  It was pretty amazing to realize what we were there to accomplish; to find middle ground on these complex issues.  And there were times when it got a little politically heated but everyone was willing and able to bring it back down.

After a coffee break we came back to the circle to have our first discussion.  Justice.  We each gave our idea of justice.  What had to happen to achieve justice, how it affects each of us from our own perspective.  And is it even possible?  It was a very interesting and engaging discussion.  Two groups from what society would think are opposing sides were able to come to a consensus in the end on justice.  Nothing short of amazing.  One of the most memorable moments for me was when one of the guys from the inside said that he found it so amazing that when we were giving our definitions on justice you couldn’t tell who was from the inside and who was from the outside.

Other than one of the facilitators I am the only “victim” in the group.  I prefer survivor.  And I wasn’t sure of how to handle my situation but I just trusted that my story would be told at the right time.  I have to say that I was hoping that it would be sooner than later just because I felt a bit dishonest, like I was holding something from them.  I couldn’t answer questions as fully as I would have preferred.  So when I was asked by a facilitator what brought me to the group I took a deep breath and decided that this must be the right time.  I told them my story, the short version, and about my Mom and the work that she had done in Restorative Justice in the early 80’s and her influence on my decisions in this.  I was as vague as possible and didn’t give out names or places.  I’ve learned how to tailor my story to my audience over the years.  And I told them how I have never had hate or revenge in my heart only a need for understanding.  They sat with their jaws open and someone told me later that there were tears in their eyes.  I want to show them that there is hope.  Hope for them.  Hope that they can one day meet with their victim’s families, as many of them wish to do.  And I hope that I can help them to understand their victim’s families better.  And I would like to ensure that at these men will remember me when they do leave prison and know that there is another way.  They have choices.

First and foremost I belong to this group to honor the memory of my parents.  I know that this is what both of them would want.  Neither of my parents was about hate or revenge.  They were both about healing and redemption.  I am continuing that legacy for their memory, my freedom and my children’s future.

End of a Break

I have been taking a break from blogging.  Well, a break from publishing my blogs.  I have been writing but then part way through decide that I need to say something else and start another one.  So I have several partially completed blogs that may surface in the near future.  I needed this break just to think my way through the last month.  It was not an easy month with lots of ups and downs.

But here I am on the other side of the last month as well as a year of remembrance, grieving and recovery.  I am not saying that everything is “normal” but I am finding the new normal.  When I started blogging about my Mom’s illness I had hoped to be done by the first anniversary.  But I slowly realized how aggressive that plan was.  I just wasn’t prepared to deal with it so quickly.  As I write these blogs I really am dealing with the content.  They aren’t just words on the page I take them seriously and process them as I write.  So I realized that I had to go at the pace of my heart, not my head.  And now that I have passed the one year mark I have to say that my feelings concerning my Mother’s illness and death have changed.  As I had hoped they would.  The stabbing pain is gone and has been replaced by smoldering memories.   I am beginning to feel the relief.

When I realized that the pain that I was writing from was gone I wondered if I should continue to blog about my Mom’s illness.  I have gone back and forth several times.  And have decided to see it through.  The recount will no longer come out of a desperate plea for relief but a desire to have a written account of what we all went through; especially Mom.  My Mom suffered in relative silence my entire life and I want to end that silence.  She deserves a voice and a light needs to be shed on the suffering that comes with chronic and terminal illnesses.  I also have a few other things that I feel more ready to share about myself and my life.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Off Balance

I’m off balance.  I feel like I have been tipped off my axis.  I think most people who have lost someone close to them can identify with how I feel right now.  Some days it’s a slight disorientation.  Other days, like today, it feels like your brain and body aren’t quite connected.  I’m in a fog.  I have written about being in a fog before; the grief fog.  I’ve been here a lot over the last 4 years and I think I’m starting to understand it a little better – while I’m here I might as well figure it out.

I believe that we as humans are all connected on a base level.  I do think that there are some people that step outside of that connection and are able to commit horrific crimes against humanity.  But the vast majority of us are connected.  Scientifically speaking our DNA is about 99.5% identical; only a .5% variance in the human race.  That’s pretty incredible.  The world suddenly feels a little smaller.  And I think that this is partly where the fog and disorientation comes in.  Someone passing from this world to the next leaves a void; a physical, emotional and spiritual void.  There is a spot that is no longer taken up by that person.  And it seems to me that when that happens the people closest to that person temporarily lose their balance.  They have to readjust to their surroundings.  It seems like a simple equation and I’ve had a lot of conversations using words like adjusting, coping, moving on and shock these past few weeks, as well as the last few years.  But there is a definite physical element to it.  For me it feels like my mind is trying to keep up with what is happening.  The world moves at regular pace and I’m in slow motion; concentration, organization, normal daily habits, like eating, just seems impossible at times.  Time itself seems to warp, sometimes moving quickly, sometimes not moving at all.  The feeling takes over and leaves without warning.

Largely we are designed to readjust to the new surroundings.  Babies are born to take the place of the one who is gone.  Life continues.  There are situations and circumstances where the adjustment is never made.  For instance, there are times when one spouse will die from a broken heart after their partner of 60 or 70 years is gone; or in the death of a child, something that I cannot imagine.  But, in general we are designed to adjust and move on.  I wish I could say that I had found a quick and easy way to get through all of this but I haven’t yet.  Believe me, if I do find a way I’ll let you know.  It takes time, so cheesy but true.  The only other thing is to feel it when it comes.  Don’t deny it or push it aside, feel the emotions.  The more you ignore the fog and the emotions the stronger they will become.  So you might as well deal with it in a timely manner.

Death is not easy, no matter what anyone tells you.  But I also know that there is hope.  Hope that the world will stop spinning.  Hope that life will continue.  And most of all hope that the people that have passed are in a much better place than this.  If anything we should be envious.

One Small Part

I’m sitting surrounded by people but someone is missing.  I can pretend he is in another room.  Maybe he’s in the basement.  Or he’s just not home right now.  But where else would he be?  Uncle Gordon wouldn’t miss this time with his family.  But he is.  And we miss him.

All weekend I have been listening to tributes and memories of Uncle Gordon, or Uncle for short.  And I have realized a few things.  First of all, my knowledge of him was a small part of who he was.  I was in a bubble, a happy bubble.  But this seems to be part of who he was.  Uncle was a man of few words and I knew everything that I needed to know.  As I listen to the stories I don’t feel like I missed out by not knowing them, rather I’m intrigued.  I have always been in awe of him and liked to believe that he could do no wrong.  That hasn’t changed; I like him on his pedestal.  Uncle was quiet and didn’t announce his accomplishments, or much of anything else.  I only found out his age and birth date as well as Auntie Doris’s last year.  This summer he finally started to tell me stories about himself.  I never felt that he was keeping anything from me; it just wasn’t part of the conversation.  I would have loved to write more blogs about him before he passed but I felt like it would embarrass him and he would have thought it was unnecessary.  He didn’t think he had done anything special he just did what he felt was right.

Something else that I realized is how incredibly fortunate I am to have not only one Dad, but 2 Dad’s with an incredible legacy of God, generosity, integrity and work ethic.  What were the chances?  This is evidence of God’s incredible timing and planning.  When my Father was taken from us it could have been the end of that path for me.  But God knew that I was still going to need a Dad and the perfect one was just down the road so He put him in place for me.  Uncle Gordon wasn’t necessarily there to fill the need of discipline or deep conversations; he was there for me to fill the role as a daddy’s girl.  I have absolutely no doubt that had my Father lived I would have been a “daddy’s girl”.  And that is the role that Uncle Gordon filled for me.  And maybe God knew that Uncle needed a little girl hanging around for some other reason that none of us will ever know.  We all have different needs and paths.  Apparently one of my needs as a kid was to have many stand-in parents.  Sometimes I’m not so sure of how to take that.  But God knew that was what I would need to make it through.  And I am so thankful that He had a plan because the rest of us were just getting by.

One realization that I didn’t have was I thought that when I got to Moosomin I would have the sudden realization of Uncle Gordon being gone.  But I didn’t.  I went to the viewing and looked into his face but I didn’t see him; I just saw the shell.  I knew more than I have ever known at all the funerals I have been to that he was no longer there but it was more comfort that I felt than sadness, I was happy for him.  I thought for sure when we went to the house I would feel a massive void.  But I didn’t.  I did notice that he was missing but it was not the overwhelming feeling of sadness that I had expected.  It may have been that there were enough people around to not feel his absence the way I had expected.  All through the weekend it was just as if he was in the other room.  A few times I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye but then I would quickly realize that it was his son.  I never realized how much they look alike.  I wonder if the next visit will be different.

Moosomin will always be home to me.  My parents and extended family built the foundation but Uncle Gordon and Auntie Doris made it a home.

Stories of Uncle Gordon

We are heading to Moosomin, Saskatchewan for a funeral on Friday for Gordon Whelpton.  Uncle Gordon passed away suddenly on December 22nd, 2011.  And I’m still in a bit of denial.  The morning after I found out I woke up hoping that I had misunderstood; hoping that I would feel ridiculous when I was told that he hadn’t really died.  He’d had a heart attack or a lung infection or some other serious but manageable malady.  The truth, however, has been confirmed over and over.  But until I drive up to the house, knock on the door and he isn’t there to give me a hug and welcome me in I don’t think I can believe it.  He has always been there.

Uncle Gordon was a farm neighbor of my parent’s.  He was at our house talking to my Dad the day before my Dad was murdered in 1976.  Uncle Gordon was there when I learned to speak and I called him Dad.  Uncle was there to show me where the chickens liked to hide their eggs around the barn; lifting me up to get them out of the 90 year old crevices in the stone walls.  He was there to fight with over who would get the blue cup at dinnertime.

Nearly every time I saw him we would exchange our stories and memories.  They were usually the same but they never got old to us.  He would tell me about how he would “feed me, spank me and put me to bed”.  We both knew that Auntie Doris did a lot of the work in taking care of my sister and I, mostly me being the infant, but I loved to let him think it was all him.  Another story was when I went out to the barn barefoot, which was a lot, and one particular time when I was 3 or 4 I had stepped in some nasty stuff and he found me just in time before heading to the house for lunch.  He knew my Mom would be upset to see what I had gotten into and that Auntie Doris wouldn’t let me in the house so he lifted me up and washed my feet in the rain barrel.  And it was our little secret.  The third story is when I was just learning to speak and my Mom was bragging and asked me, “Who’s your Honey?”  Thinking that I was going to point to her, but instead I pointed to Uncle.  He was very proud but she apparently hadn’t been very impressed at the mutiny.

In the winter Uncle would hitch the horses to the hay rack filled with straw and take it out to the pasture to feed the cattle.  If we could get up and dressed quick enough and it wasn’t too cold my sister and I would hop onto the hay rack and “help” feed the cows.  We usually couldn’t feel much by the end but it was worth it just to be out with Uncle.

Apparently my sister and I would race each other to sit in his lap on the black recliner while he watched TV in the evenings.  And if whoever won left even for a moment the other was right there to take their place.  I do remember a few rare times when we both sat on his lap at the same time.  I don’t remember those times ending as well.  I don’t remember being disciplined but I’m pretty sure I’m blocking something.

What I do remember is the safe and secure feeling of the farm.  Nothing bad could happen there.  Then the barn burned down when I was a teenager.   The news hit me like a stone.  It felt like a friend had died.  That barn was my sanctuary.  I had spent so much time out there and I couldn’t imagine the farm without it.  Uncle, Auntie and I talked about the barn burning for the first time this past summer and I was amazed to see the look of pain on both of their faces after all this time.  There was an impromptu moment of silence like in remembrance of an old friend.

These are only a very few of my many stories of Uncle Gordon.  He was a quiet, unassuming, generous, hardworking man of God who will never really leave the farm, or our hearts.

Christmas Memories

I have incredible childhood memories of Christmas.  My Mom had a difficult time with Christmas because it was my Dad’s favorite holiday so we traveled.  My sister and I thought it was great, we had no idea what all the traveling was all about until we were older.  My Mom couldn’t stay home with all the reminders so she would take us to family in Saskatchewan, Ontario or Minnesota.  It was a great distraction for her and we had a great time wherever we went.  We usually ended up in Minnesota for New Year’s with her family.

The evening that school ended for the holidays Mom would invite one or more of her friends over and we would have a big dinner.  The anticipation of where we were going and the fun we knew we would have was better than the gifts to come.  After dinner we would open gifts and get packed to go away.  The next morning we would leave for up to a week.  We would come home for a day or two and then be gone for New Years coming home in time to go back to school.  There were fewer gifts but we didn’t care.  Those trips are some of the best memories of my childhood.  The big gatherings, snowmobile rides, games, cousins, tucked safely away in a little house in the woods or quiet evenings on the farm eating caramel popcorn while in pajamas, going on the hay rack to feed the cows even if you couldn’t feel your fingers and toes, waking up to the smell of breakfast on the wood stove and being compelled to take your feet from under the warm blanket and touch the cold floor before reaching for thick socks.  Opening presents was somewhere down the list compared to all of that.  I miss it desperately.

And now I have memories with my husband and children, their first Christmas’s.  Waking up to my daughter trying to entice us out of bed with a huge smile jumping up and down, tobogganing, bundled up, hot chocolate, cousins, gatherings.  Not as dramatic as in my childhood but still cozy and happy.  We have also continued the tradition and belief that presents are secondary to the experience of Christmas and the birth of Jesus.  It’s about creating memories, not debt.

So when my Mom passed just before Christmas last year I was really upset because I didn’t want her death to tarnish these memories.  Because of my life long issues with June, when my Dad died I have been really concerned that the same thing would happen with Christmas.  I have been bracing myself, prepared for the worst.  I seem to be faring better than I thought that I would, especially for the first year.  One thing that helps is that I know that it would break my Mom’s heart to know that any of us had lost “Christmas” because of her death.  She understood the pain of loss and grief and that was her greatest worry in her last days.  She didn’t want us to experience what she had endured for so long.  And I want to honor that.  I also know that I have a choice.  I can choose to make new traditions while treasuring my memories.  It’s not easy but I know the possibility is there.  And I am not willing to give up Christmas.  Death has taken so much from me; I’m not giving this up as well.  Unlike June I have Christmas memories to hold on to.  I have a time of joy to return to.  I have hope for Christmas to return better than ever in our home.  And if I can do this with Christmas I just might claim June one of these days.

Christmas in Florida

Two years ago I was at a support group meeting for victims of crime.  It was just before Christmas and one of the questions was, “Are you looking forward to Christmas?”  I believe I was the only one there that night that said, “Yes.”  Most of the others have lost children or siblings or the innocence of their children.  And they were pretty much unanimous, “No.”  I understood why they weren’t looking forward to Christmas in their situations.  When you lose a child who loves Christmas and always helped you decorate – how do you decorate a tree without them?  There is always someone missing at the table.  There are presents missing under the tree.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak that these parents have gone through over the years.  The majority of them said that they would prefer to be anywhere but home at Christmas.  The memories are just too painful.  I watched my Mother struggle through Christmas for many years.  It was my Dad’s favorite holiday.

Well, I felt a little left out.  Not in a bad way, there is always acceptance in this group.  But for me my loss happened before I knew about Christmas.  They were just as I had always known them.  And I have my children to celebrate with.  Christmas had changed with the passing of my father-in-law and my grandmothers but not enough to make me avoid the celebration.  And that year was one of the best Christmases we had with my Mom and family.  But as I answered that question with “yes” I had no idea that would be my last Christmas with my Mom.  I had no idea that she would die one week before Christmas and her birthday the next year.  My answer would be different now.

Pasith and I have lost three parents between us.  My Dad passed away right before Father’s Day, his own birthday and my birthday.  Pasith’s Dad passed in the 4 days between our wedding anniversary and Pasith’s birthday.  And my Mom passed one week before her birthday and Christmas.  Except for our children’s birthdays every one of our celebratory days has now been impacted and surrounded by death.  It has always been a struggle to see the joy through the pain around my Dad’s death.  And then when Pasith’s Dad died just a few weeks before the anniversary of my Dad it made it even more difficult to ride the roller coaster but we have fought our way through it.  And now Christmas isn’t even safe.  It now has a giant scar.

December was a blur last year.  I don’t really remember much of December at all.  It was spent driving and waiting.  And when Mom finally did pass on December 17th, her funeral on the 20th, her burial on the 21st and we got home on the 22nd, everyone knew it was pretty much a right off for us.  We had bought the kids a few gifts in November not knowing what to expect so we did make an effort for them but my son and I were very sick for about 4 days from Christmas Eve on which didn’t help much.  But we tried.  As far as everyone else was concerned it was accepted and understandable that we were not in the Christmas spirit.

This year I am really struggling.  My husband and I wish we could just get on a plane and go to Florida or Mexico away from the usual northern reminders of Christmas.  But we can’t.  And we know it’s not fair to the kids.  But I have no interest in it whatsoever.  It may change as it gets closer and as my daughter gets excited about putting up the tree and decorating.  It may change as we buy and wrap gifts.  It may change when I go to the Christmas Eve service in honor of Mom’s birthday.  Or it might not.  It may change next year, or not.  I don’t like it that the death of my Mom overshadows not only my Christmas but my children, my husband and my involvement with our families but I just can’t pretend this year.  Maybe I’ll feel up to it next year or maybe I’ll just start saving up for Florida.

Pessimist vs Realist

Some may call me a pessimist on certain subjects.  I prefer realist, although I do catch myself from time to time leaning to the pessimist side.  When it came to my Mom’s illness I know that I appeared to be pessimistic and morbid.  However, I didn’t have the luxury of keeping my head in the clouds.  I was being pushed along the conveyer belt of emergencies, doctors and decisions whether I wanted to or not at a pace that didn’t agree with me.  But no matter how many times I screamed for it to slow down the conveyer belt just seemed to move faster.  So many times I wished that I could just pretend that everything was fine.  Bury my head in the sand and make it all go away.  I would have loved to have had the luxury of optimism.  It was not to be.  I had to be realistic and pessimistic at times; even morbid.  During the last few months of her life morbidity and death were a “normal” part of life.  Death was an unwelcome visitor that wasn’t going away without my Mother and a piece of us that were close to her.

Now I do have to say that we, along with my Mom, firmly believed and were thankful that she knew where she was going when death did take her.  We knew she was going to be happier, and better off with God, my Dad and many other family members in heaven.  The after wasn’t the issue, it was the before and during that was a weight on my shoulders that caused me physical pain, and still does.

As I have stated in other blogs my Mom was in survival mode and couldn’t handle the full brunt of what was happening to her.  I did not and do not blame her for not wanting to know all the details of what was happening and until we have been there we cannot judge.  She entrusted the rest of her care group to understand, make decisions, meet and discuss and only tell her what she needed to know when she was ready.  This was no easy task and put a lot more pressure on us to make the right decisions.  I took her trust very seriously and wanted to be sure that whatever decisions we made were what she would do for herself.   She made the big decisions like whether or not to have surgeries, chemo, and procedures.  But it was us, her main caregivers, which dealt with day to day decisions that seemed endless.

To be able to deal with what was happening and what was going to happen I had to build a hard shell.  I had to keep my mind in check at all times.  At times I felt my mind slipping into, “Maybe, just maybe we can pull this off.”  Or, “She can’t die, that just seems too drastic; so final.”  And I would have to move myself back to the real world because there were people depending on us to make the decisions that would determine where she would live out her days in safety, how, where and when she would die.  Mom refused for months to sign or provide any information or wishes if she were to need life saving measures.  We battled, went behind her back, begged, pleaded, brought in reinforcements but she just wouldn’t sign a Do Not Resuscitate or a Health Directive.  And finally when she did she left it blank except to say that my sister and I were in charge.  As hard as I was pushing myself to reality she was pulling away from it.  In her mind, if she signed a Do Not Resuscitate or wrote down wishes it meant that she was giving up.  So we had to hope and pray that nothing drastic happened before we had those papers signed.

There were times where I felt like the grim reaper.  I made almost nightly phone calls to family members during after emergencies, surgeries, etc.  For at least the last 4 months some family and friends were nervous to see my, or my sister’s caller ID pop up on their phones, or to listen to a voice message.  I would cringe when I would call people and before saying hi I would quickly say, “No emergency”.  Just to ease every one’s minds as quickly as possible.  When people would come to her apartment, especially if they hadn’t seen her in a while I would run to meet them at the door to caution and warn them of her condition in the hall so they could prepare themselves before seeing her.  I felt like I was the constant bearer of bad news.  I felt like I was the downer when in groups of people.  I avoided people during the hard times because I didn’t feel like I had anything good to say.  This was the most negative time in my life and I had no control over the circumstances.  “Choose your attitude” takes a real beating when you are facing the suffering of your Mom day in and day out.  My rule for myself was that I saved my smile for my children and Mom.  My husband knew that sometimes I didn’t even have the energy to smile or speak.  And I know that this sounds like depression but it wasn’t.  It was overpowering, overwhelming, exhaustion of the soul, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I had to save my energy for my Mom.  No matter what was happening outside when I went in her hospital room or her apartment I had a smile and energy.   Everyone else could wait; she couldn’t.

Never Enough – Part 2

Of course, in the case of my Dad I didn’t get the chance to ask any questions or have a conversation.  I have to say that it is probably the most painful part of not having him here.  I would give anything to ask him a question.  I’ve tried to imagine what that would be like… where would we sit; inside or outside?  Around the kitchen table, or in the living room?   Would there be coffee – did he drink coffee?  What would be my first question?  There are thousands that enter my mind.  Where would I begin?

But instead I rely on other people completely.  Every tiny bit of information that I get my hands on is gold.  I love meeting anyone that had any kind of contact with him.  I love hearing stories and even the simplest things like his favorite… anything.  It’s so exciting for me to explore tiny parts of him.  I was able to ask my Grandma Pearce questions but I was always hesitant and not wanting to hurt her – it never felt enough.  And now she is gone so that avenue has ended.  His brother is also gone so it’s getting more and more difficult to find things out as the people around me get older.  I am beginning to cling to his sisters because they are a close physical part of him.  When I’m around them I feel like my Dad is there with them in a small part.  They are becoming a very important part of my life and I cherish every moment with them that I can.

But, it isn’t only the stories that bring me closer to him, it’s just walking down the street in Moosomin; going into the stores that he would have gone into, smelling the clean air, seeing the other farmers that are about the age that he would be now.  Imagining who he would talk to and where he would go.  As the town progresses and changes it’s not quite the same but I am hanging on for dear life to what is still there.

My life lesson is to cherish every moment, ask questions and tell people how you feel when they are still here but be assured that no matter how much you think you have connected with someone – it is never enough.

If you haven’t connected with a person in a long time, or ever, the longing for more and possibly guilt for not having the relationship will be there and it will cut to your very soul.  I’ve had relationships with people who passed that were from one spectrum to the other and none of them were easy.  They are all difficult and heart wrenching in their own way.  There will always be feelings of wishing you could ask or tell them one more thing.  Life goes on and as life goes on you have more to add to the person’s life that has stopped.

As my life changes I would love to be sharing it with all of the people that have passed on before me no matter how much of a relationship we had and it is difficult each time a milestone comes along.  It doesn’t mean that you have taken a step back in the grief process; it is just a part of life moving on.  A sign that you have moved on is to wish the person was there to see how and what you are doing.