This coming Saturday marks three years since your death. Three years of replaying every last conversation we had. Three years of seeing you through my rearview mirror as you buckled up the kids and said good-bye for the last time. Three years of watching you live and breathe in our kids. Three years of questioning your actions. Three years of living with my guilt.
But this year I had decided to ignore the anniversary. I’ve moved on (didn’t you get the memo?). I am happy. I have an amazing life. I am so fucking balanced that acrobats and accountants are wondering how I do it. (stop laughing, it’s true..mostly.)
Yet somehow you have managed to slip into my subconscious. Despite my best efforts, you have snuck past my mental roadblocks and have invaded my dreams. For weeks now I’ve been tormented with the most horrendous nightmares that I’ve decided to just stop sleeping all together (The local coffee shops can thank you for the influx in sales). I won’t go into the gory details (’cause obviously you already know them) but for real… STOP IT!!!!
And I’m not the only one feeling you this week. Sunday was like all of us were PMSing on steroids. Even Lucy was hissing at everyone that walked past her. We didn’t have to mention your name or reveal the impending date but it was there.
Last night at dinner I was casually talking about our upcoming weekend plans when Moxie looked me straight up and said, “but what about Daddy-Day?”
Oh right, D-Day. You remembered.
Deep breath. That’s okay, I do better when I’m not in the elephant’s shadow anyway.
Me: Of course we can do something to remember Dad. Let’s think about some options. But in the meantime, do either of you want to talk about it or do you have any questions?
Her: Well I learned a lot about depression when I wrote my speech and I know that there are lots of kinds of depression so I’m just wondering… what kind of depression did Dad have? I mean.. he didn’t seem depressed?
Me: You mean he didn’t seem sad?
Her: yeah.. how is that depression? Wasn’t he really happy?
*Insert an hour of me rambling on about how you WERE so happy when you were with them and how much you loved playing with them and how all of that happiness was so very real….despite the fact that underneath, you suffered from depression. Sweet Jesus, I really wish you’d left me a guidebook or at least an FAQ list of how to answer their top 5 questions.
So we made a rough plan to do something to remember you on Sunday (’cause sorry, it’s not all about you and our Saturday is already scheduled). It will probably involve food. And it will probably involve some sort of activity where we share stories and send messages to you. And it may involve some sort of exorcism to get you outta my subconscious. But we will take some time to remember you.
And rest assured. you continue to be missed. every day. no matter what date it is.
Important Resources (because although I can speak about my own personal experience, I am NOT an expert):
If you are currently supporting a loved one with mental illness, please, seek out expert support. Find support for your loved one and for yourself.
If YOU are considering suicide at this time, please, I urge you to call a crisis line in your area.
- Call: 1-866-531-2600 (in Ontario, Canada)
- Website: Getting Help: CMHA
related previously posted:
I got home from an exceptionally long Monday & was on the brink of shrugging off my originally planned run. Excuses were there for the taking: I was tired. (Yeah I know..join the club). I’d already missed the last 4 days..what’s one more? I can’t leave the kids for another 30 minutes, that’s poor parenting. (Psst…they’re too busy playing outside with their friends to notice). I’ve pretty much lost my layer of hibernation so what’s the point?
Then I read a post by Jennifer Pastiloff who, looking fierce AF stated, “I exercise because if I don’t, I’m a mess.” #preach
Running clothes on & out the door I started to think about why I run and realized it IS to lose weight. The kind of weight that sits in my mind. It’s not clutter or cobwebs or dustbunnies. It’s heavy & makes it hard to move. It’s atrophic. Being outside alone with my thoughts & minimal distraction helps me shake that shit loose. I practice my own style of active meditation (even though I like to insist I suck at meditation). I come home clearer. And lighter.
Side benefit is setting a good example for the kids about how to deal with daily stress & anxiety. Had I not gone running, I most likely would have poured a glass of wine for dinner &/or scrolled through social media numbing my brain. And let’s be honest, I still might pour a glass of wine & tada here I am on social media..cause (thank Gawd) I’m not perfect but I’ve managed to changed the tone of my evening.
I’m not fast. Nor do I typically run more than 5km at a time. But this is not a contest. And even though I’m not trying to win anything, I gain so much …. by losing this weight.
Thanks for the reminder Jennifer!!!
How do you lose that extra weight in your mind?
(Ps-how lucky am I to have this gorgeous lake to run around?!?!)
I don’t know about you but I am not at my best in March. All of my strategies to get through the long dark winter have been tossed aside along with the chip wrappers, wine bottles and dirty casserole dishes. I’m tired. I’m hiding an extra layer of fat under my sweat pants and tights. I feel gross. It’s become painfully clear that once again, I will not be dashing away for a hot weather, scuba adventure. I am bored and even worse…I am boring. I have nothing to talk to anyone about except for my own misery which makes me retreat from everyone to save us all my moaning.
Having said all of that, you may not believe me when I tell you that I actually consider myself a fairly enlightened person. I spend time in gratitude every morning before getting out of bed and set my intentions for the day. I walk to work and spend my lunch hours power walking by the water listening to uplifting podcasts. In fact, in a recent attempt to make the best of this lull in my life, I decided to throw myself into active waiting, a term I learned from Danielle LaPorte podcasts. While waiting for nicer weather, I started tackling some of the winter house projects that have been accumulating on my to do list.
If I can organize my entire house, redecorate rooms, create every meal from scratch, work full-time, care for both of my children, ensure all household chores are done to perfection, find time for close friends and spend at least one or two evenings/week with my bf, then I’m winning right? IF I can pull all of that off, then maybe I’ll be less gross and boring.
Or maybe instead I will become completely overwhelmed, have a house full of half-finished projects and dwell on all the areas in my life where I am failing, which now also includes active waiting.
*insert sad monologue about the disappointment of not being able to do it all
Lately the biggest feeling of failure for me has been in the parenting department. Because while I’ve been struggling to keep afloat in my lifeboat, my kids have been floating along beside me. (Thank God they are good sports and good swimmers!)
We’ve always been a tight team and I try to keep a strong connection with them. I spend about 10 minutes of 1:1 time with each of them every morning, we eat a (mostly) home cooked meal together every day and we read aloud together every night before bed. But even still I constantly worry that they spend too much time on their electronics, feel immense guilt when I don’t have time to play cards when they ask, and have no idea what goes on in the mind of a teenage boy. I don’t know if it’s their ages, my schedule or my anxiety-driven imagination but I worry that we are losing our connection.
Last week I decided to take action and booked a cottage for the following weekend. We needed to get out of our daily routine and shake things up. I wanted to be fully present with them, without the distraction of life.
On Friday I loaded the car with our comfiest clothes, board games, books, art supplies, journals, a cooler full of quick and easy meals and a hopeful heart and we drove 2.5 hours north to our little cottage retreat.
And for the entire weekend, I was entirely present and available to my kids.
We watched movies together. We played umpteen hands of gin rummy, board games, and scrabble stopping only to meander to the mini fridge for more snacks. We explored by the water without having to rush so I could get home and start dinner. And when we wanted time alone, we created art and read books.
It was bliss.
Now that we’ve reconnected and I feel assured that they feel assured that I am available to them, the next step is to keep this momentum alive. It’s completely unrealistic to take a vacation every time I want to spend uninterrupted time with them. And despite the fridge magnet that says, a messy house is full of memories, it’s also full of anxiety ridden chaos which makes it just as unrealistic to stop cleaning.
So instead I will simply acknowledge that there will continue to be highs and lows along this journey. There will be moments when I feel I have it all together and others where you’ll find me under my covers eating ice cream.
The good news is that warm weather is on the horizon and no one is ever boring while wearing sundresses and flower crowns.
Be grateful. Be present. and it will be okay.
(But really….what actually goes on in the mind of a 13 year old boy?)
This beautiful song kept coming on my playlist while we were away and it definitely needs to be shared. Rain and Moxie, you are and will always be, safe and sound with me.
I woke up this morning before 6am. I felt more awake than I had in months. I felt refreshed. I felt like my skin was going to explode in energy.
As I let this feeling wash through me I recited my gratitude list, which was soon backed up by the harmonies of the honking geese flying past my open window.
“I am thankful to wake up to the sounds of nature.”
I wanted to leap from my bed. I wanted to do everything. All at once. I wanted to go everywhere. Nothing could stop me.
The cold cloud had lifted and the sun, the glorious warm sun, had returned.
After months of being frozen to my couch, dreading any outing that required me to wear real pants, I was suddenly daydreaming of sundresses on patios (and although dresses are still not technically pants, they are much prettier and happier than my sweats).
I felt free.
It was contagious.
My kids eagerly walked a 2 hour journey with me. They explored the patterns of melting ice while I positioned myself in the direct path of the sun’s rays. I stared at the dark blue water in front of me until hypnotized by the sparkles which danced in the waves. Surrounded by snow and ice, I felt complete warmth and nourishment from the sun. I planted myself to the ground, drawing its energy into me.
Wonderwoman. Wildflower. Willow. Me.
i am your willow
and i will keep you safe.
i will bend.
i will adjust.
i will surrender:
to the process
to the storm
i will flex to the best of my abilities
and i will not break.
i will wrap myself around you, and
weep with you
joy and grief.
no matter how
challenging fucking impossible life gets.
and i will keep you safe,
for i am your willow.
Tattoo artist: Tedd Hucks
This year, live music took on a whole new life for me. Well actually, it provided a whole new life for me.
When I moved to Peterborough just over a year ago, I could never have anticipated how quickly and significantly my life would change. Live music has not only been my refuge but also my connection to this community. There is an abundance of live music and phenomenal local musicians in town and I’ve lost count of how many shows I have attended. I’ve also had the true joy of bringing my kids to matinee shows and outdoor festivals. They read their books or draw pictures while letting the notes wash over them. They recognize local celebrities on the streets and I catch them humming their favourite songs during quiet moments. This energy. This love. I can’t get enough. And thankfully I don’t have to.
Live music in ptbo feels like soul-nurturing jasmine tea over-flowing my chipped but unbreakable cup (with a shot of whiskey thrown in for good measure).
I’ve watched bands whom I’ve adored for years and stumbled upon new and instant favourites. I’ve watched them perform in small intimate spaces in a haze of love. And I’ve watched them under the warmth of the sun and the glow of the twilights while wearing flowers as crowns and arms as scarves. In these moments when I’m surrounded by people sharing the same love for the music that consumes us, I feel a true sense of belonging (finally!).
Quite often I attend shows without any previous knowledge of the artist. Sometimes I head out with peeps and other times I venture out on my own. Discovering new favourites while meeting new friends is glorious memory-making material. But then again, I’m a sucker for surprise adventures.
When I was in high school, my best friends blindfolded me and drove me to London to watch my favourite local band, Myth of Innocence. They only took the blindfold off once so that I could pee on the side of the road. (oh, country living how I miss you.)
This year was like that, only minus the peeing. It was that feeling of not having any idea where I’m going but having complete faith that whatever is on the other side of this ride is going to be so incredibly rad. With lots of warm belly laughs and the most love-filled people along the way.
As a Christmas present to myself (and you!), I’ve created a playlist of some of my 2016 highlights. Although it is not exhaustive, every single song holds a distinct moment of joy. Each artist brings a smile. All venues provided the most deserving ambience.
I encourage you to listen over and over and over to these songs and to spend some heart-to-heart time with each artist. I wish for you the same warm feelings each note brings to me. You’ll have to create your own memories for mine are sacred. But who knows, maybe we’ll create a memory or two together in 2017.
(in no particular order)
Corin Raymond, spotted at Gilmour Street Music Hall (Rob & Annie’s living room!)
- Hot June Night