May 25, 2015

resilience





I just wanted to show you, that life goes on. I remember when my mom was first diagnosed, I told one of my good friends that they may have to step in when my mom is gone, to peel me off the floor. I didn't think I'd have the capability to parent my child, I didn't think I'd be able to function in my day to day life. But I'm hear to tell you, the hardest part was definitely the process of cancer, I feel much stronger now than I ever would have ever anticipated. Maybe it was the fact that I was glued to my mom's side during this whole journey, or maybe it was the incredible support we received, or maybe it was watching my mom stare down life with so much strength and humility, but I am embracing my days. Once you face one of your worst fears, life gets a lot simpler. You realize how much stuff people complain about that isn't anything at all. You see with razor sharp focus what is important. You also  gain confidence knowing that you can do hard things. Believe me, I never, ever, would have expected myself to be this strong after everything, but you are a lot more resilient than you think. 

I finally mustered up the courage to go through all of mom's photos last night. As hard as it was to see her beautiful face, and feel all the teary-eyed pangs of missing her,  I was so thrilled to see someone who truly lived her life - so many wonderful vacations with friends, so many sweet moments with my dad, not to mention how absolutely remarkable she was as a mother and grandmother. She loved her life so thoroughly, and only wanted more of it. You can't ask for more than that. That's what I wish for everyone I love - to be so amped about their lives. My biggest goals now are to really enjoy my days and to keep the family bond strong, because mom really was the glue to it all. I think she'd be happy knowing how much my brother, dad and I check in with one another. Since her death I look for little signs of her everywhere. Sometimes a robin will just sit next to me for a long time in the garden, and I'll think of her. I'll see a perfect rose open up, and think of her. I'll feel the sun on my face and think of her. I'll laugh so hard with my daughter and husband, and think, this is how she felt with us. She's really a part of me now, and there is tremendous comfort in that. xoxo

May 14, 2015

and so it is.......

Hello friends, it is with the deepest sadness that I let you know on May 4th, my dear mom passed away.  These past 15 months have been the most profound of my life. I had to learn to say goodbye to someone who meant everything to me and our family. She was the heart of us. It's safe to say I have cried almost every day since her diagnosis, trying to prepare, but never fully able to. On May 1, she was admitted into hospice. When I arrived, I was the only one in the room with her for awhile. I laid down beside her and burst into tears, and told her how much I loved her and how more than anything in the world, I wanted to take this cancer away from her. She wiped my cheeks and said, "I know you love me dear. It's going to be okay, we knew this was coming for awhile." Here she was, in the face of death, and she was still mothering me. She fell asleep shortly after. I never saw her awake again after that. Those were the last words she'd say to me. Well, those words and when she first saw me walk in the room, she noticed I was wearing a black t-shirt and told me to wear brighter colours, which made me giggle. Over the weekend, her hospice room was filled with friends and family members, quietly whispering in her ear, kissing her cheeks, saying their goodbyes. It was incredibly moving.
My mom's doctor came in and said that she had never worked with someone like my mom before, so selfless, never complained throughout her whole year. I was so touched that she told me that. Sometimes I would sit in the hospice on my own by her side, reading and holding her hand. Even though she slept the whole time, I wanted her to know I was right there, that it was okay to die. I really didn't want her to die alone. On Monday, May 4th, she had a steady stream of visitors all morning, and when we had all gone home for dinner, she passed away, just with my dad by her side, exactly how she would have wanted it. We all rushed back and just sat with her in her room for awhile as a family, gathered by her side - walking out of that room was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Then someone told us to look outside, and the sky was lit up by the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen. It felt like it was stretching right from below her room across the ocean. It was as if she was shouting to all of us that she was happy, that she was finally through this gruelling fight.
This year we learned how truly remarkable our support system is. My mom's circle of friends formed the molly maids, and would visit her regularly to clean her home and fill up their freezer with homemade meals. My mom's good friends would regularly collect her laundry, would bring by dinners almost nightly, would plant gorgeous flowers in her garden for her to look at, they just kept showing up and making sure that she didn't have to focus on anything other than feeling ok. I honestly can't talk about them without tearing up because they put the most positive spin on the hardest year we've faced.
Then there's my incredible friends - whether it was my friend Caroline who visited my mom weekly, bringing her treats or working in her garden, or my friend Janet who would pop in to see mom with specialty teas, or my friend Tammy, who made my mom the most beautiful quilt covered in hearts to remind her that she's always surrounded by love, not to mention that Tammy also fed my entire extended family when my mom was first diagnosed. Or my friend Forbes who dropped off a box full of projects for my daughter and I to work on with my mom. Then there's friends who never even met my mother, like Lynnette, who gave my mom and I matching bracelets, that were infused with positive energy. Or Kim, who gave me a gorgeous stone to cling to for hope. Leah gave my mom a book about survivors of her rare form of cancer. Tricia, who regularly dropped off little gift bags with goodies for my mom or treats for our family to elevate our spirits. It's also friends like Alicia, Kitty, Kerry, Pete who kept texting me to check in and see how mom is feeling. I've always said, it's not the quantity of people you are friends with, it's the quality.
Today was my first day back to work, and it was a good distraction because I work alongside wonderful people. But as soon as I got in my car for the drive home, I fell apart. I wish I could talk to her again. That's the part I'll probably never get used to, because we used to talk almost daily. And even though I've got the most tremendous support system (especially my incredible husband and daughter) - there's still no one who can replace your mom. I am so glad she is through her battle, but I sure do miss her. xoxo


April 27, 2015

a sweet moment

Tonight a weird thing happened at the grocery store. I was standing in line at the checkout, looked on the ground and it was littered in money. $5's, $10's, $20's scattered in front of me as if someone had shouted, "scramble!" and tossed their pile of cash in the air. I picked it up and asked people in the line if it belonged to them. No one claimed it. (Apparently every honest person in the town was in my lineup tonight). I gave it to the cashier and she counted it up: $240. She put it in an envelope and put my name and number on it. She said if no one comes to claim it, then it'll be all mine. (Mine I tell you, mine!! Cut to a photo op of me holding a humungous cheque......)
Then wouldn't you know it, I was cooking dinner and my phone rang. It was the sweetest voice I've heard in a long time - his voice radiated that of an 80 year old man who meets his buddies at the local coffee shop to discuss the day's headlines. His name just had to be Bill or Frank. He called to thank me for finding his money. He was hell bent on finding out where I lived so he could give me $20 for turning in his money. I just couldn't take a dime of this sweet man's money. I wanted every dollar he had to fund whatever cribbage tournament he was likely embroiled in.
He said surely you have to accept $20. I said, I can't, and don't call me shirley. (Kidding). But the last thing I want is to take a sweet pensioner's money (who am I kidding, he's probably living in an ocean view condo, handing out $20s like they are kleenex in his sleeves). But I digress.
He was so sweet and told me he couldn't believe I didn't take any of his money, and that I was one in a million. It really made my night. #thisiswhyI'llnevergetrich


April 26, 2015

an update

Hi friends, I've been quite quiet lately on this blog of mine lately because mom's condition has been extremely poor. Everyone copes with grief differently and there is no right or wrong way. For myself, my coping style is to see her as much as possible in hopes that it'll help her, and in turn, help myself process all of this.  But lately, the weight of this illness is proving to be unbearable.

My mom has been an absolute warrior throughout this process. Her dignity and strength have been tremendously inspiring. She never has complained. She's tried everything in her capacity to battle this - chemo, holistic methods, juicing, meditation, you name it, she's done it. Last February, she was given 3-4 months to live, and has lasted 14 months since being diagnosed. And in that 14 months, she got to celebrate her amazing 50th anniversary (which felt like a beautiful garden wedding), she got to enjoy hundreds of visits with friends and family and celebrate another Christmas and another birthday. Those, along with the tremendous outpouring of love and support our family has received are the silver linings that I desperately cling to, to offset the horrendous memories from this year watching her being sick from all the chemo, watching her be in so much pain until they were able to get it under control, from countless hospital scares, from shitty CT scan results, and watching her body being eaten away before our eyes. Enough is efuckingnough. I wouldn't let any of my pets endure what she's experiencing. Today I spoon fed her lunch while my sister in law changed her bandages for bed sores. We lift her up to go to the bathroom because she has no more strength and weighs less than 100 pounds. I'm not saying any of this to you for sympathy. I'm saying this to you because in this day and age, people shouldn't have to endure this anymore. She told me she wants to fly away like the beautiful birds outside her bedroom window.
She's so done. And yet she has to continue soldiering on.
People think, with a disease like cancer, you have a chance to say your goodbyes, to prepare....etc....etc...
But I'll tell you this, since my mom has been diagnosed with cancer, there's no new way I've told her I love her, she already knows this from the relationship we have, she didn't have to lie in bed for six weeks for any extra closure. And as much as I've watched her literally fading before my eyes, I'll never be prepared for her absence. Never. She's been the core of my foundation for 40+ years, and I will be just as devastated after this year of illness as I would have been if she died in her sleep at the age of 80.
I try so hard to keep this space positive and upbeat, because that's how I like to live my days, but I can't act right now. I didn't go to my company's yearly party last week, because the idea of walking around a room, smiling, answering, "How's it going?" With, "Oh, I'm great!" just isn't in my bag of tricks right now. I'm not great. I'm imploding. The woman who has been my life's north star, who I've turned to my whole life for every bruised knee, every celebration, every broken heart is leaving soon.

If I could give you any piece of advice I've learned from this, it's to tell the people you love how much they mean to you, it's to know that friends and family are it - there's nothing, and I mean nothing more important and it's that it's so desperately quick, this life of ours. Give your mom the biggest hug next time you see them. xoxo




April 19, 2015

a day at the beach





Hello friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend!! Ours was honestly wonderful from start to finish. We met up with friends on Friday night and I had one of those moments, where I was lying on top of a trampoline, holding hands with my friends and our children, two generations of friends, side by side, looking up at the sky. Don't you love those life moments, where you feel so completely full, where you catch yourself thinking This is what it is all about.
Yesterday my hubby and I had a little afternoon date, where we got to dash out to do some furniture shopping for our new home and pop out for a cocktail to mull over our decisions. I had one whiskey sour, but I swear, if I had one more of those, I would have bought everything I laid my eyes on. It's been such a fun process dreaming of how we're going to set up our home. Honestly, it's given me so much to be excited about, and hopeful for, in an otherwise extremely painful time of life.
Today we spent the afternoon at the beach, building castles, burying our feet in the sand, looking for beautiful shells - if I'm in the great outdoors with these two, I'm definitely in my happy place. The last photo cracks me up. Hops sure loved his chocolate hazelnut gelato.

This weekend I had a huge epiphany. Whenever I see my mom, I always drive away in tears. I save it until I'm in the car. I can't help it. She's literally fading away before my eyes. She's sub 100 pounds now. And for a woman who is 5'6, it's extremely difficult to see. Her life has been reduced to her bed or the sofa, either way, she's horizontal. But her advice to me tonight was to savour every moment I share with my family and friends, because in the end, that's what it's all about. And this weekend, I had so many pinch-me great moments, so many laughs, so many times where I caught myself feeling so blissfully happy, that I thought, I'm in the depths of the hardest days I've known, and yet, I'm still capable of these amazing moments. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get through this. xoxox


April 14, 2015

Mini Whistler Escape





This past weekend, my hubby's company was doing a team building/brainstorming session at Whistler and put their families up for the night. It was an amazing escape from our box filled home (we're moving soon). While he worked, my little girl and I swam in the hotel's heated outdoor pool - we had it to ourselves, and it snowed on us - it was pretty magical. After that we hit up the playground, for what seemed like hours. As many of you know travelling with a toddler can often be a mirror image of home life, but with a new backdrop. When my hubby's company wrapped up for the day, they invited the families to dinner. It was a beautiful setting - the Grill and Vine.  We're talking floor to ceiling windows, a breathtaking view of the mountains and a four course menu laid out for each of us. Right away, we got our little girl something simple off the menu. I was sitting next to one of the other company wives and she was showing me photos of what the other women got up to that day (they were all childless). I saw a series of photos from the Scandinave Spa, photos of them wearing sombreros drinking margaritas and eating Mexican food, photos of coffee stops, shopping, and then she said, what did you get up to today? And without skipping a beat, I exclaimed, "there's this awesome playground.....it has a bumpy slide!"
It was a pretty funny juxtaposition. I think it was also the moment I realized they were all nicely dressed and I was wearing my jeans tucked into my hunter boots. I swear those boots are so comfy that I often forget I am wearing them! I looked like I was ready to tend to some farm fields and they were in dresses.  Halfway through the second course, before we got our Main, I could tell, my daughter was getting fed up colouring her placemat, so I packaged up my dinner to go, and whisked her away to the hotel. My hubby got in after the dinner and the waitress had, very kindly, wrapped up my fourth course (the best lemon tart I've ever experienced) and given it to him to take back to the hotel. I seriously wanted to live in that lemon tart.
On some level - and that level being most levels,  you have to let go of the old way you used to travel, but I really did have a blast with my little gal. I'll never forget dancing on the hillside with her, while a live band played on the stage below, or catching snowflakes on our tongues while I ran with her around the pool, or sitting by the fireplace in our room, reading new books, cuddled under a blanket.
I wouldn't change a thing. xoxo

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!!!









Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful Easter! I have to say, this was one of the best weekends we've had in a long time - I just thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. On Friday night, friends had us over for a delicious home cooked dinner, then on Saturday morning, my hubby made us a killer breakfast and I took my little gal over to visit my mom. When we got home, my hubby took care of her, so that I could have a little time for myself - which I fully appreciated. I said, "Are you sure?" And I think before he answered I was peeling out of the driveway.... then while I was out, we got invited to have dinner at our friend's place. That's right, two days in and so far, and this gal hasn't cooked once. Sa-Freakin-weet!! Today was all about the kiddos. And it was an absolute blast. I went to my moms early to set up gift baskets and hide eggs all over their beautiful park-like yard. I seriously had so much fun, perhaps a little too much fun, trying to make the hunt quite challenging for them. I was trying to camouflage the eggs to match their various flowers and shrubs. Yep, full throttle Easter nerdom. My mom was resting on her sofa, watching the kids run around the yard and then we gathered around her for lunch. After our visit,  I tucked her into bed before we left, and she told me that she had a lovely afternoon. That's all I could ask for. I hope you had a wonderful weekend with your people. xoxo