Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween

Last year seems like a life time ago. Or maybe just a different life. I read my post from last Halloween. I stare at the pictures searching for any small detail that I may have missed before. Look at Jeff's face trying to see if I can find any reason or foreshadow of what was to come...But he looks so vital. Immortal. Strong.

It had been so fabulous to have him come with us trick-or-treating. Often he had been away for Halloween because it wasn't a real holiday. Liv had been so proud to have her daddy walk her down the street with all her little friends and their dads. We had joked that Jeff was dressed as a sasquatch. He had only been home for a few hours and drove back up to the boat hours away after tucking the kids into bed and kissing them goodnight.

Oh, if I could go back. Savour it a little more. I am so glad we did have that day, though. So happy that I have these memories of what an amazing man he was.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

guilt and acceptance

I have worried since Jeff's death that he didn't know how much I loved him. The stupid things I did and the things I took for granted have weighed so heavily on my mind. I have felt terribly and guilty for the things that I complained about and the issues I thought were important.
Since Jeff's death I have realized that these 'things' were nothing. Not important. Not worth the words or the breath I used to express them.
I have always known Jeff loved me. I have always felt his comforting presence and his teddy bear gentleness when it came to 'us'. I have never doubted that he loved me and I was his 'Snuggles'.
A friend recently expressed her worry that when she dies, it will be after she has lost her patience, yelled or been in a generally foul mood. She worried that this would be the last thing her kids or husband remembered about her. I assured her that it wouldn't. That they'd remember all of her and those times of stress and anger would be forgiven and almost forgotten.
I told her of the last few minutes I had with Jeff before he died. He had been an ASS. He had told the doctor that he thought I was hoping he was having a heart attack so I could 'be right'. I had replied, "No, Jeff. I am concerned about you. I am worried and I want to find out what is wrong."
Jeff didn't like going to doctors. He didn't like to admit that anything was wrong. He could be combative and angry trying to dissuade me from taking him to a doctor. Years ago, he once told me that he would leave me if I took him to the hospital again after he had passed out on the floor and was turning blue. It became the source of laughter just days later. But it didn't mean he didn't love me. It meant he didn't like going to the doctor. He didn't like being 'told what to do'. As simple as that.
Since telling my friend about these incidents, I have been thinking about it. I am realizing that even though I have had my complete 'ass' moments, Jeff most likely had the same feelings about me. That I am human. I obsess about ridiculousness much to my detriment just as he did. Even though he was angry with me for dragging him to the doctor, I was there. I was trying to save his life. I loved him enough to go up against his defiance and fury to find out what was wrong. Even after he used these angry words, I tried to save him. I would have no matter what he ever said, did or was. I knew he loved me. And I loved him. He died in my arms as I tried to save him. And, now, I am sure he knew I loved him. And it is a relief. I can let go of my guilt. I can realize I am human and like everyone else, I am imperfect. He loved me despite of it all. And I loved him despite any of his faults. And he knew.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

autumn leaves

While quietly riding in the cars back seat, Liv says, "Mommy, I know why the leaves drop in the Fall."
"Oh?", I say.
"Yup. The trees go to sleep in the fall. As they fall asleep, they forget to hold onto the leaves and they drop them onto the ground....Those leaves blow away, so in the Spring when they wake up they have to make new ones."
"That's cool, Liv."
"Yeah, it is.", she says as she stares out the window.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

seven months (yesterday)

Jeff loved my long hair. I loved Jeff's beard. He'd tease that he was going to cut it off when we'd 'mock argue' (our thing...some people didn't get it). I'd always pretend that I had cut my hair off when I had a trim and talked to him on the phone. I loved him. He loved me. We did small things to show eachother...even if it was keeping old hair styles on our heads and faces to bring the other some pleasure however silly that is.
Yesterday was seven months since he died. Seven months by myself. Seven months paralyzed with this pain and loneliness. He is never coming back.
He doesn't care what my hair looks like now. I don't care what it looks like now. Now it's just hair. Just an accessory. Just strands protruding from the follicles on my scalp.
So, instead of drowning in thoughts of 'before' on this melancholy anniversary, I decided to do something different. Something I wouldn't do if Jeff was here. I cut my hair off. Like shedding an old, sentimental garment and putting it away to remind of another time, I put it in my drawer with Jeff's wallet, cellphone and watch. It was for him.
I'm not moving on. I am just trying to learn to move a world that is so very fucking different now.

**P.S. I laid in bed last night wondering if this post sounded as if I am insane or, worse, frivolous. I can assure that I am neither.
I am looking at all the things that Jeff and I did for each other...things that maybe we wouldn't have done if the other wasn't around. Little expressions of love without words.
Jeff disliked it when I would leave the dishes 'soaking' in the sink overnight forcing someone to stick their hand into cold food-filled water to remove the plug in the morning. So I tried to remember not to do this...
I found it annoying when I climbed into bed to find that the sheets were scrunched up at the foot of the bed. So Jeff would pull them straight when I climbed into bed....
I would make coffee in the morning for Jeff. I don't drink it myself.
Jeff would bring dark chocolate home from the store as a treat just for me.
Although I find feet pretty unappealing, I would give Jeff a foot rub. He'd brush my hair.
I'd tape WWF for him while he was away (if you know me personally, you know how much I dislike WWF. But Jeff loved it.)
Jeff made me a stool to rest my feet while I nursed the babies because my toes would cramp from being on 'tiptoe' to hold the little ones at the right height.
All little ways to tell each other how important we are to one another. Little small things that we wouldn't necessarily do if the other wasn't around.
So although, I still love Jeff with everything I am, he isn't here. So I cut my hair. I leave dirty dishwater in the sink overnight. And I don't tape WWF. I need to do this. I need to let go...just a little. He no longer is appreciates these small expressions of love.

Friday, October 24, 2008

death trap vs. havahart trap

I thought I did most of the work around here. I used to say to Jeff, "You don't even know what size shoes your kids wear." I meant that he didn't do what I did. He didn't do as much as I did. As time progresses without him, I realize how very, very wrong I was. He did a lot. We just had evolved into different types of caregivers with different roles.
I cleaned the bathtub. He washed the dog's dishes and refilled them.
I made breakfast and lunch. He made dinner.
I made sure the kids had warm clothing for Winter. He got the house ready for the cold weather.
I paid the bills. He made sure there was money to pay the bills with.
I changed diapers (he did it too but not as often). He emptied rat traps.
Even though as a fisherman's wife I did things around the house that some wives don't need to do while Jeff was away, I find myself having to do all of the tasks that I would save until he returned from sea.
The most loathesome so far is setting and emptying rat traps. Every Autumn, we get rats in the wood pile. Every Fall, Jeff took care of it. I have real problems looking at those shiny little black eyes and the soft furry heads with their broken necks in those awful traps. It is such a violent end.
I had been thinking about getting a Havahart trap and letting the rats go out in the woods. I don't have 'killer' on my list of indentities....But after talking to Marnie (the ruthless woman that she is. LOL), I am concerned that moving the rats to somewhere else would cause more problems elsewhere. I am a bit tormented over all this. I know it is...well, a bit of a trivial thing to be agonizing over. But I don't want to hurt them. I think of their mommies, daddies and children. I think of their last moments and the little ratty confusion. Yes, I'm a dork.
Anyhow, I have decided to stand up and be a bit ruthless. I can try to 'kill' these little animals and empty the traps. If Jeff can do it, I can do it....also, they ate all our squash and pumpkins that I had stored in the garage this year. I know he would be laughing at me and the trepidation I feel. But I once drove a squirrel that I ran over to the vet....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Golden Girls

When I was little, I would occasionally stay at my grandparent’s house. I loved to go there. The counter tops in the kitchen were beautiful in my small six year old eyes with their turqiouse and gold coloured stars. Grandma made the best popsicles with orange juice and a maraschino cherry in the end. My brother would always throw out the cherry, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. They had a black toy poodle named Cindy whom I adored. I can still recall the smell of her coat, the feeling of her little claws when she’d jump across my lap in the backseat of their silver Volvo, the delight I’d feel from the sensation of her licking my bare summer legs covered in salt from running all day through the vast back yard, and the pride I’d feel when walking her as I’d pretend she was ‘mine’. Grandpa played the piano wonderfully. I was tickled pink to sit beside him on the piano bench to play ‘Heart and Soul’ with him. I felt special. We’d sit and sing ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ and ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ as he played amazing melodies on the piano and belt out a song with his deep voice. I can still recall the cool sensation on my cheek when I’d lay my head against their electric blue satin jacquard sofas. Occasionally, the glasses that I pull from our dishwasher smell identically to the squeaky clean, dry hot juice glasses that I’d drink from at their house. My sister and I would lay in the bed in the ‘gold room’ and my brother in the crib on these overnight stays to their house. Grandpa would come and tell us amazing stories about a monkey named ‘Jacko’, much to our delight. After he’d left us, my sister and I would lay snug in the bed counting the cars passing their house as their headlights shone through the curtains creating a streak of light that would slowly creep across the wall as the passing car travelled to its’ destination. As an adult, I realize that it is impossible…but in my memory, I could see the actual sillouette of each individual car as it passed. During these sleepovers, we’d be lulled into dreamland to the sounds of Grandpa and Grandma’s television in the next room. To this day, when I hear the theme song for ‘Golden Girls’ or CTV News, I feel safe, comfortable and truly loved. I knew that no matter what, they were here for me. They loved me. I was safe. Protected. And the word outside this little bedroom didn’t matter. I was at Grandma and Grandpa’s. I wish I could feel so safe and comfortable now. Maybe I can borrow a Golden Girls DVD from the library and play it in a loop outside my bedroom. It’s worth a try….:)

Friday, October 17, 2008


Let's have a round of applause for Lucy, the sweetest, most loveable egg layer in the history of chicken-kind! She did it! An egg! A real egg! I squealed when I found it. We're pretty stoked. Unfortunately, it's going to have to wait to be eaten until we get home from the farm....Oh well, it gives us time to think up a fabulous egg filled meal to use it in. And it gives Lucy time to lay a few more. I am a proud chicken Mommy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

to the farm

We are headed down the island to farm-sit...and 'friend sit'. Brent of B&P's Farm has been injured and needs a hand around the place while Penny is away for work. So down we go to a little piece of heaven . We'll be working hard feeding and caring for the animals and poor injured Brent and we're really excited...I'm a bit nervous about the feeding issue since Brent is used to Penny's amazing cooking. But I am a chronic scrambled egg dinner with salad kind of cook. Not really gourmet. Jeff was the cook in our house. When he was home, I rarely cooked a meal after 4pm. In fact, Christmas dinner is already filling me with trepidation. I have cooked one turkey in my life. It was with my beloved longtime roommate, Heidi, in my early twenties and we were so proud of ourselves that we took pictures of the finished bird. So, I am apologizing in advance to Brent for my cooking skills and the lack thereof. Also, in the awful probably not unlikely event that Freckles may cause some...carnage on the farm. I assure you that he'll be restrained but....he can open an incubator, man!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

blueberry 'tree'

This 'tree' or bush suddenly sprung up the spring before last in our backyard where a blueberry bush was once planted for Jeff's birthday (his favourite berry and pie). When it sprouted, Jeff wondered what it was. I proclaimed in all my 'infinite wisdom' that it was the blueberry we had planted a few years previous. Jeff had his doubts. We made a small wager. I was smug thinking that I was right. Early this past Spring, Jeff again doubted its' lineage. Less certain, I still maintained that it was a blueberry bush; although it had grown four or five times larger than the surrounding blueberry bushes. Now, at the end of this growing season, I am ready to say, "That is NOT a blueberry bush. It's some sort of swamp loving willow. I was wrong." But he's not here to hear me. And it makes me giggle to remember how he once told me that he wouldn't admit it often, but that I was almost always 'right'. Well, I wasn't. So I am going to remove the 'swamp willow'. It saddens me because I won't have the reminder of our 'bet' in the backyard...and because I hate to kill plants. But Liv and I have decided to plant an apple tree where this things grows. Right beside all the blueberry bushes that we planted each birthday(except for his last birthday - we planted one after he died) for Jeff. And I'll say he won. And when we get apples from the tree, I'll make him a blueberry apple pie to make good on our bet


It's Autumn. There was frost covering my motley assortment of surviving veggies in the garden two mornings ago. I thought I would dread this season. Less sun. More rain. More mud....No Jeff.
But I am finding, so far, I am finding comfort in the cold nights. The wood stove burning at the foot of the stairs. The board games on the kitchen table. The return of my 'craftiness'.
The sunshine that comes now seems golden or older. It is less intense and a delicious treat when it's out. The chilling rain forces us inside and together. I slow down. I take a breath and play with the kids. Not worrying that there was something that I wanted to get done right now. It's too cold. It's too wet. And I want to stay home. With the kids, the woodstove and some quiet.
We've harvested most of our garden's offerings. We've taken to feeding the fall orb weaver spider, Charlotte, that resides on the kitchen wall the last of this years flies stunned with the zapper racket.
I've stacked as much firewood as we have for this year. We've raked leaves and found creatures in the yard with the same instincts that we hunker down, get cozy and be still.
I wish Jeff could be here to enjoy the warmth in this little house. To snuggle under a blanket. To giggle at Liv's holey mouth with the missing teeth and Briar's sweet little grins. To deal with the hot water tank that blew this morning (argh!). To enjoy his little ones piling on top of him in the mornings and cuddling into his warm furry chest with their chilly little toes. And to share in this feeling of home, family and closeness.
But I am thankful that I had him for the time that I did. There is a line in this song that says, "I'm glad I didn't die before I met you." It makes me cry and marvel at how amazing it was that we were here at the same time. And that we met. I was truly blessed. And for the time we shared together, I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I still waffle on my beliefs. One moment I am sure that there is something 'more'. Something unexplainable. Intangible but there. That when I try to imagine what makes 'me' me and 'you' you, I know that there is more. That there is no way that this is 'it'. That there is mystery in life and that love or its' energy is eternal. That nothing ever really ends.
Then there are times that I am just as positive that we consist of nothing more than the primates we are. That this is it. We are biological creatures and that all the coincidences and questions in life are explainable if we look hard enough with open eyes. That there are so many interactions and events happening at any given moment that there are bound to be some that are 'amazing' and seemingly 'unbelievable'. That every emotion and thought can be explained away by hormones and chemical reactions. And that nothing ever ends because we have children and our bodies and waste exists to be carried on as compost...
I go round and round. I can't find heads or tails and I spin myself around in a fucking tizzy. I know I won't find the answer...yet.
I just so HOPE that Jeff is That I one day will have him hold me in some form again. That he will know just how completely I loved him. That I realize now how stupid most of the shit I worried about was. That I wish I could go back and just be with him. That I let my ego get in the way. That I realize that I spent such a ridiculously inordinate amount of time attempting to see how I could feel 'wronged' or pissed off. We were happy. But I think we could have been happier. And that kills me. That I could have spent that time with him...without all the fucking mental bullshit. He was my anchor. The best thing that ever happened to me. My soul-mate. My best friend. He KNEW me. Really knew me...and he thought I was fabulous. And I took that for granted. I will forever regret my anger, my ego and the waste of time spent on ridiculousness.
I miss having him reflect back to me how he saw me. To see myself through his eyes. To see the kindness, the anger, the vulnerability and quirkiness. And he thought it was great...even when I felt fearful and put up my wall of false bravado. He saw through it and giggled. He knew me. I was safe. He loved me no matter what I did....And I loved him so intensely no matter what he did. I just so very, very much hope he knew that.
I know I write about this so often...I just feel the guilt of the one left behind. And I miss him. So I play back every one of the memories I have of him and I realize that I complained and stressed about shit that didn't matter....I had it good. We had fun. We were a happy family. Now I am alone with two little kids in a tail spin. I don't know which end is up. I don't know if this free-fall will stop. I am lost, lonely and empty. And it fucking sucks ass.

Fall Fairies

We're trying to get our nature table back together. I am hoping to dye some playsilks with the kids...Here is our attempt at making some new fall creations. I was inspired on Etsy by Miesmama.

We made them with Marnie and all the kiddos. It was a great fun activity for all the kids...Except Briar. He just ran around and played. Next year, maybe he'll want to make some too.
I can't seem to track Olivia's fairy down. I keep having sightings of it clutched in her hand, but when I go to photograph it, it disappears. So these ones are just mine.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

impossible forgetting

Is it strange that six months and thirteen days after my beloved Jeffrey died, I still forget that he is gone? It's brief. Just a moment. But I will suddenly think, "I have to remember to tell him..." I still pick up the phone to call him. I still think I hear him snoring. I still think I feel his love for me. It's hard to remember that he's gone. It's impossible to forget him.
My grandfather is ill. He needs help with some things. I keep thinking that Jeff will come lend a hand. He won't anymore. He can't.
I am so used to being loved by Jeff. I am so accustomed to knowing that he was out there somewhere thinking of me and the kids. I still can't wrap my head around his absence. I don't think I ever will. But I so wish I could feel the reassurance of his love and the safety of his presense.

Monday, October 06, 2008

thanks in leaves

We've been working again on our 'seasonal tree'. I was trying to think of an activity that educational, seasonally appropriate and fun. Sometimes a hard task. I happened upon these amazing colour diffusing paper leaves that served the purpose beautifully. We used a variety of mediums as we experimented with the resulting leaves. We tried watercolour paints, water soluble felt pens, and watercolour pencil crayons. Spray bottles of water, wet paintbrushes and dunking the whole leaf in water. Liv had a fabulous time and worked on hers for days. While they dried, we thought of things we were thankful for (Thanksgiving is October 13th in Canada). They were as follows:Daddy
each other
friends and family
stranger friends (Thanks for the secret of the 'strike', Marissa!)
our house
our garden
healthy food
warm beds

Sunday, October 05, 2008

walking...staggering...public service announcement

I went to an annual women's event in town with Marnie and a bunch of other girlfriends. Last year, Jeff was home. He stayed with the kids while I went out, drank too much and came home with silly stories. He thought it was hilarious and teased me mercilessly (I rarely drink and I go out in the evenings even less than that).

This year, I decided to go again. I was nervous because I feel, at times, that my new widow-status stands out like a sore thumb and makes me the person that people are uncomfortable around. The very strange thing was that when I sat down, I realized that I was seated beside a woman in an extremely similar position. It was wonderful to have someone who knew what this shit we now live is like. I look at her and see the sadness and loneliness mirrored back at me. But I also see strength....the strength that I so often feel I lack. I see humour. I see an amazing woman who is still standing despite it all...and I marvel at her.

As last year, we drank a bit more alcohol than we had planned. I am not a fan of overdrinking. I roll my eyes when people proudly tell stories of their drunkeness and think 'Wow! You can swallow!" I'm not proud. But I did have...well, quite a few.

It turns out though that I'm not the sad, widow drunk who talks about her grief. I am the annoying boring drunk who tells everyone to get life insurance. Tell their families that they love them. Don't smoke. Go to the doctor if you don't feel right. Try to keep perspective. That's not to say that I didn't dance my face off. Didn't laugh until I cried tears of hilarity. Didn't have a fabulously crazy night. Because I did. I had an AWESOME time. A stagger home and giggle most of the night time.
I just worry about the poor souls who went home with instructions to love everyone, be safe, calm down, and have more fun....Because life is TOO FUCKING short. Maybe I am a drunken annoying passer-on of unsolicited advice....Do I sound like a 'know-it-all'? Because I really don't think I know it all....or much of anything. I just think I maybe sound like I am....And it must be annoying.....Maybe everyone was as sauced as I was and don't totally remember....or care.....Let's hope.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


If I think of Jeff and the things that made him ‘him’. It is not the 600 dvd’s he collected. It is not the insatiable habit he had for eating Solomon gundy. I don’t find him in the large box of old baseball hats he insisted that he keep…or even his lobster claw lamp. Although these things hint at his personality when placed together like a patchwork quilt of sorts, they don’t completely illustrate him. In two generations, they will cease to mean anything. They will be the strange and odd artifacts found in grandma’s basement. Maybe no one will remember who they belonged to and why they were important. Maybe grandma will have lost her mind and with it, her memories, or maybe she’ll be dead too. But the tin foil ball rolled into the plastic Stanley Cup won’t have any significance to anyone but grandma and the man who was competing for rights to the ‘Tin Foil Ball Championship’ with.
The things that last are, of course, our kids. Their presence means we were here and existed for a time together. Our kids and our actions.
The good things we did. And the really terrible things we did. No one wants to remember the not-so-savoury things people have done after they have died. The things that stick out are the love you had for your family, the good things you did for your friends, the laughter you bestowed on everyone who came into your presence, the gentle and kind way you had with others….If you were truly a terrible human being, I am sure people would remember these actions, but often, your foibles and minor indiscretions are forgiven or unspoken. Sometimes, these ‘negative’ moments in your life are turned into humorous tales and seem to lose the ‘bad’ connotations they once held. But most often, the ones left behind regale tales of what a fabulous person you were to have around while playing ’Swear-word Scrabble’. Or how you could always reach the tallest limbs of the trees when picking plums. Or your love of singing.
I suppose a few of us could be remembered for inventing the potato peeler or for being a Politian who passed a no-chicken-in the city law or other various and equally important notoriety. But wouldn’t you rather be remembered by those who loved you or who are related to you than by some bored, pimply-faced grade nine who gladly forgets you the moment the quiz is finished?
So stop saving rubber bands for your grandchildren‘s grandchildren. Don’t buy another statuette shaped like a teapot with various flags engraved on the side to serve as a reminder of who you were. You don’t really need another pair of shoes, you only have two feet and no one will know how cool they were in one hundred years. Send the books that you may read one day to someone who will today. Don’t worry that your makeup is smudged or that your pants are tapered (although you may bear a resemblance to some 80s rockstar).
Smile at your kids and shove a couple of grapes in your nostrils to their delight. Let go of being mad at the ’moron in the maroon car who took the last parking spot when they HAD to have seen you were heading in that direction’. Send your friend a ridiculous and silly card anonymously telling them that you think they have the most fabulous ankles you have ever seen. Come in from the garage where you smoke your cigarettes (thus shortening your life, you know) and tell your wife/husband/kids/parents that they are fun to be around. Donate some food to the food bank. Open a door for a stranger. Smile at someone who looks angry or worried.
Let your legacy not be the stupid forgettable dandruff of life but that you LIVED. That your were here and that people remember YOU in all your wonderfulness. Not your stuff. Because stuff is forgettable.

P.S. This is a reminder to myself as much as anyone else. I must remember that time spent with someone we care for is so precious and that 'things' do not mend a broken heart.