Thursday, October 09, 2014

Five Years and An Eternity

Today. What do I say today?

It's been five years and an eternity since we said goodbye... Since I sat beside you and held  your warm hand. Five years since I watched my brother crumple to the floor... Since I looked across your bed at my sister holding your other hand and saw my pain alive in her eyes. Five years since I whispered, "It's okay, it's okay. Oh Dad, it's okay..." while you took your last breath.

And look. Look how five years and an eternity can feel like five minutes ago.

Time and memories are strange things. Sometimes I feel like you were here only yesterday. I feel you so close that I could almost reach out and touch you, I could look over beside me and you'd be on my couch tickling one of the boys.

Other times you are so far away it seems unbelievable that you were ever here at all. It seems like eternity since we were that lucky. That happy. That sure that we had our whole lives to hug you, and tell you about our days, and buy you presents. Man, I miss buying you presents! Isn't that a strange thing to miss? Oh, but I miss it. Sometimes it's the thing I miss most of all. I miss picking out something special for you. I miss the kids drawing pictures for you. I miss knowing that you'd take those things and hang them on your walls, and keep them in your boat, and eat them watching TV. I don't know why it hurts so much that I can't give you presents anymore, but it really does.

You were the funnest to share things with. It didn't matter what it was, but if we shared it with you, it was better. How did you do that? How did you make a Rider's game more exciting? How did you make hot dogs in the back yard a special event? How did you make church in the morning feel so much righter? I could go on and on... Kites in the field, wading in the dug out, moving Gramma Newson, parades on Buster Days, driving to the city, a bargain at a garage sale, tractors at the WDM, fishing at the zoo, golfing in Dalmeny, shopping at Canadian Tire, Corner Gas on the couch, oysters at Christmas... Oysters Dad! You made oysters good! Oysters!!!

See? It feels like yesterday, like it's just right there and so so real. But it also feels a bit like a fairy tale that was so beautiful it can't possibly be true. Did all of that really happen? Did we have all of that and lose it?

No, never lost. Always in our hearts. Eternity in our hearts. Till we're together again.

Till then we go on. Somedays it's okay that you're so far away that it almost doesn't seem real. It makes it easier to make new memories together without you in them. It hurts a little still, but we keep on making them. Laughing and crying without you. You won't be at Ben's baptism, and Noah's grad, and Abbey's dance recital. You didn't see Sam the pirate and you won't meet Becca the spider. You can't laugh at Nathan playing video games and running out of "bullays," or hold Hannah while she cries about who knows what and look over her head at me, probably crying too at the sight of you together.

So sometimes I like to imagine you in our new stories. Like Ang and The Corn Maze. I imagine you and her going back together to conquer that thing. She's crazy Dad, just like you, completely out of her mind. I like to imagine you two determined together to beat the Rosthern Youth Farm corn maze, while Becca and get bored and wander off to eat cotton candy and pet the baby goat. Or I imagine you at the lake with us this summer digging a big hole with all the kids at the beach, and encouraging Nathan to steal Johnny's drink behind his back and laughing when he comes back to his chair and can't find it. And I imagine you and Mike taking Hunter and Roscoe Pecoe Train for a walk in the ball field and yelling at them when they run off and won't come back. "Hunter! Roscoe! Get back here you dumb animals!"

I imagine you sitting in my backyard. I'd like that so much Dad. Just you sitting in my backyard in one of my chairs from Canadian Tire, and maybe a caesar and each of us with a book for each of us to read, and the kids on the swingset. Wouldn't that be... ... ... just... heaven on earth. That's all I'm asking. Just for a little heaven down here. With me. With us.

I'm at the end of this post, and I'm still not sure what I mean to say today. I miss you. That part is certain. But we're okay Dad, it's still "okay" just like it was five years ago. It hurts like nothing I've ever known before, but somehow it's okay that it hurts. I think that "somehow" has a lot to do with Someone. So it's okay. And just like five years ago and five years from now and an eternity from all of it, I love you. I love you a lot. Not even a little tiny teeny bit less than the day we lost you or the day I'll see you again. A lot. A lot and a lot and a lot.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Crowd at the Door

It's been rough for me, the last few weeks. I'm not exactly sure why.

Maybe it was the play we were involved in. It was incredibly emotional for everyone, even us costuming people couldn't hear "Jesus" suffering, we couldn't see his "blood" and wipe it from his face without being touched by it. And I've gotten really good at supressing my emotions. But I couldn't surpress what I was feeling as I painted a crying Jesus on the cross.

I find now, that when I let some feelings out, all of them tend to come crowding behind, like they've been waiting. When they see the door's open, they push forward to try to make it through too.

It takes me by surprise. I couldn't understand that, when I used to hear people say that, how suddenly the pain could come and take your breath away out of nowhere. Maybe because it was so fresh then, and it hurt almost all the time. I couldn't push the pain aside for long enough to be surprised by its return. But I get it now.

I miss Dad every day. I think of him every day. I still do. But I don't ache every day. I can push those feelings out of my way, and after a while they seem to take a step back. They are patient. They watch for the door to open again.
And then they rush it.

I always tell students lined up at the door I have three rules for walking in the halls, single file, keep quiet, and walking feet all together with no rushing ahead or lagging behind. Crowds are so much easier to manage when you can get them to line up all neat and tidy and threaten them with going back to the classroom to try it again if they can't behave themselves.

How do I do that with my emotions? I haven't figured it out yet. I need a substitute Becky to take over and whip them into shape. Maybe bribe them with gummy bears if all else fails. (This doesn't make sense anymore. I'm going to bed.)

Monday, February 03, 2014

A Step

Little Ben. My little guy.

I took him to Walmart tonight and we spent almost a half hour in the deodorant aisle. When I first caught a wiff of him after school I checked myself. I hadn't thought my day of subbing had been strenuous enough to cause a stench like that, but stranger things have happened. It wasn't me though.

It was my little guy.

Of course, it was all very embarrassing to him. He's a sensitive little soul. I hope by the time he reads this he's okay with the knowledge that men are stinky. I hope he can get a glimpse of how much I love watching him grow up, but oh... I long for him to stay little.

The pre-puberty talk we had about stinky armpits and hair that will follow behind in the not-too-distant future came way WAY too fast for me. Didn't he just put his first lost tooth under his pillow yesterday? I only put him on the school bus for the first time a year or so ago. We took him to his very first movie with a Lightning McQueen clutched in one hand, and a Doc in the other just a week or so ago... When did he grow up enough to need deodorant???

Back at Walmart I fought tears watching him cautiously and thoughtfully sniff the Speed Stick and the Old Spice, and then finally settle on Adidas Pure Game. I thought of him all little and a master of silly walks making us laugh in Mom and Dad's kitchen. I thought of him learning to ride his bike and me letting go of his seat when he finally got it figured out and peddled off down the street. And then I thought of myself just six short years from now, taking him to get a license TO DRIVE A CAR. A CAR!!! In six years he'll be able to drive an actual car. On actual roads. With actual other people driving and walking around. I just... I can't... I mean... ????

He's just a little guy! HE CAN'T DRIVE A CAR!!!!!

I know, I know, it's still a ways away, but the thing is... I know it's not really. This first ten years with Ben have flown by, and I know it won't slow down. Each little milestone is a step to adulthood. And it's a step away from me. I know it is.

For now though, I get to cuddle my guy close, and kiss him goodnight knowing he's sleeping only a room away. And he still needs me to help him with homework, and buy his underwear, and pack his lunches, and scold him when he doesn't eat anything in his lunch but the dessert, and even to make sure he smells nice. I'm so glad, I'm so grateful, I get to be Ben's mom and experience every big and little milestone with him. I'm the luckiest. They all make me feel like the luckiest.

And Ben? If you're reading this, please hear me say that no matter how many steps you take away from me, from needing me to take care of you, you will never EVER take even one step out of my love. Not one. 

I love you... It's okay. Everybody smells sometimes.


Don't let yourself B.O. Everybody smells. Sometimes the smell is really strong. Now it's your time to roll it on. So roll on. Roll on. Rooooooooll on. Roll on.

Everybody smells. Sometimes.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What to do, what to do?

We got a package in the mail today. It's from Christine and Dave. I don't want to open it.

I'm pretty sure it's Christmas presents for the kids. It bothers me a lot that that's good enough for her, that as long as she sends the obligatory Christmas present, she's done her grandma job. That would never have been okay with Dad. I know it with everything inside of me. If he hadn't seen Ben and Sam and Hannah for six months, he wouldn't have been satisfied to just throw their presents in a box, likely the same presents she bought for all of Dave's grandchildren. They have to be fair.

It might not be Christmas presents at all. A few months ago she sent the kids birthday presents along with a necklace Ang and I had given her the first Valentine's Day she was without Dad. She was so upset and depressed and missed "her sweetheart" so much. We felt so bad for her, we found the prettiest, most expensive locket and put Dad's picture in it for her. She doesn't want it anymore, and gave it to Mike to give to me. It's sitting in the bottom of a drawer now, because looking at it hurts me. And because the relationship that the locket was meant to celebrate was, according to her, a lie.

Is there more hurt waiting in that package? There might be. It might be more stuff of Dad's. Or mine. She has a picture my gramma gave me when I was in university that she felt my gramma should have given to her. It could be anything. If there's a letter, I will not be reading it. I'll tell you that much.

It's probably just Christmas presents for the kids though. My guess is, there isn't even a card or a note. There wasn't anything like that with their birthday presents. Or the locket.

So, what is the right choice here? I'd really like to send it back unopened. What do you think I should do? What do you think I should tell the kids, if anything, if it's presents for them? Should I just give them to them, tell them who they're from, and not say anything? What if they ask why they didn't see her? They haven't asked about her yet, will this make them notice that they never see her anymore? It's wrong to keep their presents from them, right? Or is it? I don't know what to do.

I know only one thing for sure, I need some kind of counselling to get myself sorted out, because I am totally good with no contact at all. Like she's dead. I feel peaceful. But faking a relationship is out of my reach right now, and maintaining some contact feels like faking it to me. That person is not my mom, she's not the person I knew. And it upsets me to be in any way involved with her. (And don't even get me started on Dave.) And that means I'm not okay. I'm not as okay as I would like to be.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Birthday Supper

I promised myself I wouldn't wallow today. So I didn't. I thought about other birthdays, and hanging out, and what being with Dad was like.

I miss him. I miss who I was when I was with him.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Joseph and Me

I've always loved the story of Joseph... How God could build something so amazing from such desolation. And how, even in the midst of pain and betrayal, God was with Joseph, guiding him to where he needed to be. I've always thought Joseph was amazing. To be so faithful and patient when everything inside of him must have been screaming at him to finally give in to the anger he must have felt. There had to have been moments when he wanted to give up and strike out at those who hurt him. But he didn't.

I wish I was more like Joseph. I wish I was better at reining in my anger, even when I feel betrayed. Since all this stuff with my mom happened I've felt that even more. I've felt the rebuke in Joseph's reactions compared to mine. I've felt like a failure in many ways. And I've wondered if even leaving aside my initial explosive reaction to what I see as complete betrayal, maybe my decision to live my life without her is wrong too. After all, Joseph forgave his family, and they sold him into slavery!

I've prayed about it. A lot. But I always find it really difficult to discern between my desires and God's voice, especially when they seem to match up. I worry that I'm drowning out His words with my own emotions. I don't want to see her. I don't think it's good for any of us. I told her sorry for the things I'm sorry for, but I'm not sorry for being angry with her. And I know that, as things stand, if I see her I'm going to be angry again. I don't want to be angry. I just want it to all go away.

So, I've worried that I'm fooling myself by feeling that I can forgive her without having to reconcile with her, and without having to be okay with everything that has happened, and will happen. (It will. I know it will.) And without having to try to be her friend again.

A few months ago, I've been meaning to write this down for a while now, something happened that put my heart's fears to rest. I heard this song. Actually, I've heard it before, but a few months ago it spoke to me. I think God spoke to me. I think He told me, again, that it was okay.

Bend - Brandon Heath

I am not my family tree
These are different leaves, you know
There are miles and miles between
My roots and what I’m trying to grow

I am not the slave they sold
Nor am I royalty
I’ve worn them both, the finest coat
And rags that barely cover me

But there’s mercy in the soil, mercy in the sun
Learning to forgive, what cannot be undone
And what was meant to harm can’t harm you in the end
Stepped out on a limb I thought might break
But Love said, it will only bend; It will only bend.

I am not my past mistakes
Labelled by some place and time
Nor am I trophy case
Trying to maintain my shine

I have dreamed a thousand dreams
Watched a grain in famine, grow
I am not my family tree
I have branches of my own

But there’s mercy in the soil, mercy in the sun
Learning to forgive, what cannot be undone
And what was meant to harm can’t harm you in the end
Stepped out on a limb I thought might break
But Love said, it will only bend; It will only bend.

Oh, does fate resign us to
Find shelter for our wounds
Beneath the battered roof of broken dreams?
Oh, but I will choose to stand
In the shadow of Your hand
And see what grows when Grace has sown the seed
I still think Joseph was amazing, most of all because of how he forgave. And I think God wants me to forgive her. I think He wants me to see the person that is hurting who hurt me. I think He wants me to let go of the bitterness. I know He does. And I do too. I don't want to end up spewing it into the lives of the people around me because I've let it take over my heart. I can do that, I think, with God's help. I am doing that.

But I can't see a way to let my mom into my life right now. And I think God is saying to me that that's okay. Because I'd never thought of something till I listened to this song. Joseph did forgive his family, and then he did the thing I can't. He was reunited with them, and they were a family again.

But there is something different about Joseph's story and mine. (Well, there are LOTS of things that are different. I get that what I've gone through is nothing compared to Joseph. I'm not deluded, after all.) The main bit that's different though, is that Joseph saw a change in his brothers. He saw remorse first of all, when they first met again in Egypt. And then he saw change, huge change, when they refused to sacrifice Benjamin to save themselves because they knew it would hurt their father. They saw their wrong, and they weren't willing to repeat it.

For now, I think it's okay that I keep my distance. I haven't seen any remorse, and none of us have seen any change. So for now, I think it's okay. I'm not saying it will always be okay this way, or anything like "I'm never speaking to her again." I'm saying I'm done for now, and until I see change, or even the teeniest bit of remorse, I'll stay done.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's Not Over Until The Fat Guy Rides Down Broadway

I made it! 30 days, 30 posts! I'm so excited there was nothing to do, but throw a parade.

Did I say throw? I meant go.

I love the Santa Claus parade here in Dorkton. We haven't missed it in years. It's one of our favourite Christmas traditions, and it doesn't feel right to put up the Christmas tree till we've been to the parade. It's small-town-terrific. The floats aren't fancy, but they're full of people we know, and even Santa calls out people's names as he's pulled down Broadway. Tonight Hannah and Sam (and Daddy) rode on the nursery school float dressed as presents because "Every Child is a Gift." They sure are.

Anyways, it was a great day, and a perfect end to a pretty good month. Bring on December! Merry Christmas IS my favourite time of year.