Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We were here yesterday.  It was bloody cold.  Too cold to stay for long.  We came home early. 

Friday, December 26, 2014


One of the big guy's images.  Pyramid Lake, Jasper.

We're heading there Sunday, except the lake will be frozen and covered in snow.  Today I am still in my pyjamas which feels rather decadent.  I ate cookies and bacon for breakfast and homemade spring rolls for lunch.  I had a good, rather long cry because my family was not together for Christmas and because my youngest daughter is still handicapped and doesn't understand that it's Christmas, or care for that matter.  And the big guy held me while I cried. 

I am one of those people for whom reality seldom meets my expectations.  I even have a little stone block on my bookshelf which says, "Happiness is wanting what you have.", and still I resist.

Right now the sunshine is streaming through the windows.  There is a hockey game on the TV and the big guy is gently snoring on the couch.  The cat is sitting beside the humidifier, staring intently at it, waiting for it to gurgle.  I get to spend everyday with the man I love.  I am blessed and still I feel unsatisfied.  It is getting better, but ever so slowly.  I try and fail.  Try again.  The mountains help.  When we're in the mountains I slow down and accept what is. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice.
My daughter called me yesterday.  I can't remember the last time my daughter called me.  She was upset, stuff going on in her life.  I listened.  I told her that she was not crazy, that she was in fact a wonderful young woman, all true.  She called me, her mother.  We've have had a very strained relationship since she was fifteen, almost ten years.  Before that we had a wonderful relationship and I am most thankful that she called me and even more thankful that I can listen and not tell her what to do.  I trust her.  This is her journey, not mine.  I cannot tell her how to live her life, will not tell her how to live her life.  But I will support her.  She is my heart.  I still remember the day she was born as if it were yesterday.  She slid out of me, purple and yelling but she was the easiest baby to care for.  Having her was so wonderful, I wanted another baby, right now.  And then we had Katie.  Miss not so easy.
I also got a text from my son this morning which made me cry.  I love my children so much and this time of year it seems more intense.  They are the best thing I ever did and they are wonderful people, even Miss Katie who astonishes me always.
Apparently I am quite weepy this morning.  Strong emotions make me cry.  I need to stop apologizing for that.  I love my children.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My middle daughter at Christmas, seven years ago.  I can't believe it's seven years ago already.  My family was still together.  I miss that this year.  My family broken up and spread out.  I'm not sorry I left my husband and my children would have left home anyway but still there is a sorrow attached to my nostalgia.  Maybe because I didn't know then.  Katie still lived at home.  I tucked her in every night;  I knew she was safe.  Of course it wasn't real.  My husband and I were unhappy.  My son was dealing drugs.  I could hardly manage to care for Katie anymore.  But my friend wasn't dying of cancer seven years ago either.

I ran into my girlfriend at work this morning.  She was coming in for a CT scan.  We sat and talked.  She got more bad news last week.  The cancer has continued to spread, now invading her hip bones as well.  She's on morphine every four hours to keep her comfortable.  It will be her last Christmas ever.  She and I both lost it in the front lobby and sat and cried, holding each other.  Not sure what my other patients must think but I don't really care.  I started her IV, took her papers into the CT area and burst into tears again. 

I decided to take a sick day but I waited until my friend was done her scan and I walked her to the front lobby to meet her husband.  We talked again about suffering, counselling, children and cancer.  There is so much suffering where I work and not just from cancer.  One patient has a wife with MS and he wants to find her a place to live before he dies;  they're in their thirties.  Another patient who is dying from his cancer just lost his wife to cancer last month;  she was my patient as well, as is her twin sister.  Everybody has their story and I know it's not new but today what the Buddha said hit home, human beings suffer. 

So I went to the mall because I don't want to suffer.  I bought a few tops for Katie's roommate for Christmas.  I felt better for a moment.  I looked around at all the clothes, all the decorations, all the stuff in the mall and it didn't make me feel better.  What did make me feel a little better is the understanding that I am sad and grieving because I am losing someone I love.  And yet, this is life.  Everything passes.  Nothing is permanent.  It's okay for me to feel sad and grieve my loss, even while she is still alive, but the grief will pass as well.  And that helps.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Things I'm thankful for today.

A walk in the river valley.
Time for Christmas baking, ground hazelnut cookies.
Homemade spring rolls.
New running shoes.
Talked to my middle daughter today.
My son is coming over for supper tonight.
The big guy told me how he was feeling today.
Seven more days of work and then I have almost two weeks off!
In two weeks the days will start to get longer.
I enjoyed my walk so much today.  It's been mild here and it was wonderful to be outside for an hour, listening to the birds, feeling the sunshine on my face, watching the dogs run and sniff and pee.
I saw a pileated woodpecker today while I was walking.
The smell of ham cooking.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's eight thirty in the morning and the sun has not risen yet.  Sunset is at 4:15 this afternoon.  This time of year I almost feel claustrophobic.  The days are so short and I crave sunlight.  Today we  won't get home until after four and it will be too late to walk in the river valley as the coyotes come out as the sun fades.  Sigh.

I need sunlight on my skin, not just my face.  I want to see green that's not a spruce or a pine.  I want.  I want.  I want.  I want what I do not have and do not want what I have.  Sigh.

Three weeks and the days will be getting longer. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Miss Katie's roommate had a meltdown last weekend and put her head through the wall, or maybe her foot, I'm not really sure.  Katie had a sympathy meltdown of her own because when Angie gets upset, Katie gets upset.  Katie has a permanent lump now on her forehead from banging her head against the wall or the floor.  She also has another lump on her hand because when she's upset, she bangs her hand against her teeth. 

I can't stop any of these behaviors.  I've tried and tried but they continue.  And now that Katie no longer lives at home I have very little day to day contact with her.  I see her once a week.  We go bowling.  We have lunch.  There is a lot of talking and a lot of signing and then she goes home. 

Katie is very well cared for.  Her caregivers are truly wonderful people who have the patience of saints but I don't know how her live goes.  I don't get to tuck her in to bed at night.  I can't make sure she has a poop everyday.  I can't make sure her teeth are brushed properly every day.  I do cook for her but I don't get to sit with her after her bath and have her lay her head in my lap while she eats popcorn.  I miss that.  I don't miss the constant vigilance required to care for her though.  Nor do I miss the feeling of being in prison. 

So Katie living away from me, for five years now, brings feelings of ambivalence.  I wish I was the kind of person who could care for her every day but I know I'm not.  I cared for her for many years and now I can't.  But I do miss brushing her hair and tucking her into bed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I've been thinking about death and life a lot this past year.  This will probably be my girlfriend's last Christmas;  she's not yet fifty.  Her and I talked about what would be happening at her house this Christmas.  I asked if she needed any help with shopping and she said no, she just wanted to spend time with her family.  There isn't any gift that she would rather give or receive than time spent with her family. 

I spend all day with people who are often staring death in the face.  Some people want to travel but most want only to pull their families tightly around them in a warm embrace.  Because of my girlfriend, Christmas has taken on a new meaning this year for me.  What if this was my last Christmas?  How do I want to spend Christmas?  And what was my favorite Christmas?

Five years ago on Christmas Day my husband packed up his bags and left.  It's not quite as dramatic as it sounds.  He is a pilot and he always packed up his bags and left.  The difference this time was that he wasn't coming back, not to live anyway.  Of all the days he could have chosen to leave, he chose Christmas Day.  It was also three days before Katie was to move out to be cared for by the agency who now cares for her.

Four years ago my soon to be ex-husband came to help me with Katie at the beginning of December .  Katie had a dentist appointment and it's a really long day with Katie and the dentist and the drugs.  As I was driving to pick up Katie my husband proceeded to have a monumental meltdown in the van.  I won't go into details but I did ask him to stay away for Christmas that year.  It was the best Christmas I ever had.

Both of my older children were still living with me.  Katie and her aide, a young woman who had cared for Katie since she was eleven, joined us for the afternoon and supper.  My mum was alive and relatively healthy.  My two oldest went to West Edmonton Mall with Katie and her aide;  Katie loves the mall.  My mum and I cooked supper.  The six of us sat down and ate supper together.  When Katie was done eating and started to through her food around, I picked up the gingerbread house that her sister had made and set it in front of her.  Katie sat quietly, picking candies off of the gingerbread house and eating them.  We were able to finish our meal in peace.  Katie was happy.  It was lovely.

Afterwards while mum and my kids cleaned up, I drove Katie and her aide back home.  When I got back the kitchen was clean and we sat down to have dessert and watch a Big Bang marathon.  My kids had a few beers and played Janga.  My mum knit.  The cats sat with us.  It was lovely.  It was my favorite Christmas ever, even better than the Christmas I got an Easy Bake Oven.

I have no idea what anyone gave me for Christmas that year, nor do I remember what I gave as gifts.  What I do remember is sitting in the living room with the people I loved, laughing and eating peppermint cheesecake. 

What was your favorite Christmas memory?