Happy birthday – the kids are alright.

Happy birthday Jason,

This year we celebrated your day in typical birthday style; with your favourite food (meat!) and a round of “Happy Birthday Dad” before diving into cake. As always, we talked about you lots (do your ears burn in the afterlife?) and shared funny memories, most of which have been told millions of times but never cease to bring a smile to our faces.

I’m sure you had no idea that your birthday is the day after World Suicide Prevention Day and that you took your life during Mental Health Week.  I mean it’s not like you were following suicide survivors or mental health experts on Twitter – Hell neither was I back then.  But regardless, I have no doubt that you would find some twisted humour in this irony and find comfort that they are another reassurance that I couldn’t forget these dates if I tried.

The last message I received from you was asking me to tell the kids that their cat had found his way home (apparently he had wondered off during their visit with you – I’m guessing too many love squeezes from little kids).  I’m not going to lie, I rolled my eyes at your insistence. It was a busy week. I was trying to wrap my head around your recent behaviour and this seemed pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But now, looking back, I’m glad I attested that the message had been passed along and they were relieved at the news.

You loved our kids, first and foremost. I know that. They know that. And if nothing else, these anniversaries are a natural opportunity for me to continue to reassure them of your love. The week before you died you told me I was a good mom and that you knew I would always take great care of them.  I told you that they needed you too but I’m not sure you heard me…

Since your death I’ve been angry, sad and terrified that you left this parenting thing all up to me. You should be here too –  sorting out the hockey season, meeting new teachers, dealing with (pre) teen complexities and just watching them grow with me. Despite our separation, I never wanted to do this alone. Lucky for me (and our kids), we have found an amazing tribe and feel less alone than ever before.

For the longest time after your death, the kids and I just clung to each other to keep safe. I hadn’t realized how much so until recently.  It was a necessary part of our grieving and sometimes we still cling. But slowly, we’ve opened ourselves up. We’re working through our grief, we’ve survived more disappointment and fall-outs and now, we are regaining our trust in the world.  Things are good.

So this year for your birthday I just want you to know that the kids are alright.  They’re strong, creative, inquisitive individuals who hold a love for this world deep in their hearts. They are a perfect blend of both of us (obviously they are most like you when they drive me crazy and say things that make me roll my eyes). We talk about you often, not just on special dates. They miss you terribly but we’re doing good.

Happy birthday, Hoop.

love,
e

 

#TeamAdventurers
Twitter: @pixiepaperdoll7
Instagram: @pixiepaperdoll

 

Addendum:  

For those of you who have been following our journey for the past 3 years or those who have just discovered us today, thanks for your time.  While my intent was never to be a mental health advocate (I write for my own head clearing), I am always incredibly honoured and humbled when people reach out to me with their own stories of how mental health has touched their lives and how in turn,  my writing has affected them.
While I am happy to start a conversation and to help assure you that YOU are not alone, I am also not a mental health expert.
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, please know that there is professional support available.
For those of you living in Ontario, contact The Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600.

Dear Jerk.

Happy Birthday Jason

Dear Jerk (6 months later)

Stigma Fighters

#BellLetsTalk Day

In the Words of Bob Dylan, “Play it Fu**ing Loud!”

The Black Dog

#BellLetstalk Day (2016)

Happy Birthday Jason!

Approaching Doomsday

Three Years…

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Three Years…

Dear Hoop,

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?”

God dammit.

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.

 

xo

e

Twitter: @pixiepaperdoll7
Instagram: @pixiepaperdoll
#TeamAdventurers

 

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.

 

related previously posted:

Dear Jerk.

Dear Jerk (6 months later)

Stigma Fighters

Approaching Doomsday

Unicorns – by Moxie

 

 

 

 

Approaching Doomsday

A couple weeks ago, one of the kids asked me how long it had been since…you know.. Daddy… I said that we were coming up to 2 years.

“What’s the date?”

“May 6th”

“I don’t want that day to come. I don’t want it to be another year without him.”

From that point on, it’s been referred to as Doomsday.

We must all have been subconsciously thinking about this upcoming anniversary. A couple nights before this conversation, I dreamt about you for the 1st time in ages. You were waiting for us at the arena for Rain’s hockey game.  The kids and I had been excited to see you again (yes, even me) after so long.  We were anxious to hear about your extended vacation.  You greeted us with the same big goofy smile you always had for the kids. Then I woke up. 4:01am and I was wide awake and shaken.  In efforts to fall back asleep I thought about the day’s events (trying to ground myself in reality). Suddenly I wondered if I’d remembered to turn off the BBQ after dinner. I tried to assure myself that I had of course turned it off, I always do. But then came thoughts that maybe you had come to me in a dream as a warning (so much for reality). You had come to save us from an impending explosion – you *are* supposed to be our guardian angel, right?  As I grappled with varying degrees of reality, my tossing and turning woke up Keith who graciously went downstairs and outside to confirm that the BBQ had indeed been turned off.  Nothing to worry about.  Good to know you continue to be more jack-ass than angel.

Even still, it was kinda nice to see you again. Next time stay longer. There are things I’d like to say to you (in person, not just those conversations in my head).

We’ve sort of adapted to this new normal..but let me assure you…it still sucks.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to write, Rain and Moxie’s dad is deceased on various forms. And it sucks. Every time.

And while the kids are growing up to be such incredibly thoughtful, imaginative, gorgeous souls, they are also now processing and thinking about your death in an older and more complex way.

They’re looking to me to help them answer questions that I can’t even understand.

Why didn’t Daddy talk to someone about his feelings and ask for help?

It’s ironic that your anniversary falls within Mental Health Awareness week.  I know that I should be out there promoting the shit of out this..and usually I do. But right now it’s like everywhere I look, I’m reminded of your death and the days/months/years leading up to it.  And I want to scream every time I see that hashtag #GETLOUD

I’ll get loud alright…

Mental illness is BULLSHIT !!!

Suicide is BULLSHIT !!

Your death is BULLSHIT !!

Me having to deal with all of this is BULLSHIT !!

The kids having to deal with all of this is even more BULLSHIT !!

Those late night tear-stained conversations are the most bullshit of all……..

I hate that you’re missing so much of their lives. And I hate that they’re missing having you in it.

You continue to be missed. You continue to be loved. And we will remember you and honour you on Doomsday when it arrives. But right now, I think this is bullshit and I’m going to #GETLOUD about it.

xo,

e

 

@paperpixiedoll7

Unicorns – by Moxie

On Monday morning, first day of March Break, I was in the bathtub getting ready for the day when Moxie (my 9 year old) came in and sat on the floor beside me.

“Mom, I wrote this thing a while ago but just decided that I wanted to share it with you,”

In my head I was thinking that I needed to rush through my bath so that I could get ready for work and get her and her brother packed up and off to the bus station so they could spend the week with their grandparents. But instead of putting her off I said, “Sure Moxie, I’d love to hear what what you wrote.”

and thank goodness because this is what I got:

“Many people don’t believe in unicorns. They say there is no evidence so they are not real. I personally believe in this majestic beast, but real or not, they are a sign of hope. My family has had a difficult past but even so, the hope that lies in us is much stronger than the grief inside us.”  ~ Moxie Hooper (age 9)

wow.

Needless to say that as soon as she mentioned our ‘difficult past’ (what a diplomatic way to say her Dad took his life), I was incredibly thankful that the steam from the bath disguised my teary eyes.

I asked her if I could share this on the Team Adventurers blog and she agreed (as long as I fixed the spelling) .

There is not much I need nor want to add to this other than,

you should always:

  • believe in majestic beasts and,
  • never lose faith

because “the hope that lies in us is much stronger than the grief inside us.”

 

xo,

e

(and Moxie)

#TeamAdventurers

 

#BellLetstalk Day (2016)

It’s #BellLetsTalk Day (2016) and instead of writing another full post about how mental health has impacted our family, I’ll let my previous writing speak for itself.

Regardless of whether you become involved in this campaign, I do encourage everyone to keep talking about mental health.  I wish I had insisted on more of those conversations. As difficult as they would have been, they would have been easier than the conversations I’ve had to have with Rain and Moxie since Jason’s death. Not to mention the conversations I’ve had to have with myself.

Stigma Fighters – my story

Dear Jerk

Dear Jerk (6 months later)

Happy Birthday Jason

Happy Birthday Jason (2015)

The Black Dog

In the words of Bob Dylan, Play it Fu**ing Loud!

Hoop’s Memorial Hockey Game

My Life with (and without) kids. Before and After.

#BellLetsTalk Day (2015)

Fantastic (Canadian) videos in support of mental health awareness:

Amelia Curran – You Are Not Alone

Brian Byrne – I miss you most – The Arizona Project

Keep talking. You are not alone.

xo,

e

#TeamAdventurers

@pixiepaperdoll7

 

Happy Birthday Jason!

Today is your 44th birthday and to celebrate we had meat and cake for dinner (as per very specific requests). No fancy party hats or horns like last year but I did give a gift to all of us: a Rhodonite stone. Rain saw them at the store a couple weeks ago. (He has recently become interested in stones and gems).

“Their purpose is emotional healing. We should get one.”

“Do you think our emotions need healed?”

“Yeah.. you know.. ‘cause of Dad…”

So now we can start keeping our Rhodonite stones near our hearts as another step in our healing journey.

IMG_9942

It’s ironic that your birthday falls just one day after World Suicide Prevention Day. As if I don’t think enough about you, and suicide, and all the ways I might have been able to tried so hard to prevent it.

But I guess I’m stuck with you and these thoughts of you.

And because I’m stuck with you, you are also stuck with me (sucker!). And I am going to continue to talk to you each and every day (that should be sufficient punishment). Of course the bright side is that I am talking more than yelling at you these days (you’re welcome.)

And I have stopped (um okay, I’ve decreased) blaming you for everything that goes wrong in our lives. Yes, of course I realize that when I’m late getting the kids out the door in the morning, it’s probably not your fault. But that doesn’t mean I won’t mutter your name under my breath with clenched fists in classic “Newman” style.

Lately you have become less of a mortal enemy and more of a weird imaginary friend that I don’t really like.

I do miss talking to you about Rain and Moxie. A lot. Despite our MANY challenges, we always united for them. The kids and I are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing community of friends and family who love and care for them. But you were the only person on earth who loved them like I do. There is so much about them and their lives that only you would understand. The week before you died, you told me that you knew that I was a good mom and that I would always take great care of Rain and Moxie. I told you that they also needed you. They need(ed) their Dad. I meant that. What I didn’t say is that I needed you too.

These days, I’ve decided that your role in the afterlife is to protect us. (Big. Fucking. Job.)

You are our guardian angel with a studded dog collar, ever-changing facial hair and a drink in your hand.

We were never overly conventional.

When things go sidewise, I expect you to be there. When the kids have taken off on their bikes for too long and I’m getting worried or when I hear a crash from the basement where they are playing, my first internal thought is:

For fuck’s sake Jason, the very least you can do is deal with this.

It’s oddly comforting to believe that you are still out there somewhere, co-parenting along with me. You agree with me a lot more in the spirit world and for the most part I do appreciate your silence.

So Happy Birthday Hoop.

Cheers to you and rest up: because we will probably be keeping you very busy.

xo,

e

@pixiepaperdoll7

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Rhodonite

Rhodonite

Happy Birthday Hoop

Happy Birthday Hoop

In the Words of Bob Dylan, “Play it Fu**ing Loud!”

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of Jason’s death.  (oh, what a year it has been…)

As another way to remember and honour their dad,  I made a CD for Rain and Moxie (with the help of some close friends and family) which included some of his favourite songs.  We have since listened to this playlist on repeat.  And we will listen to this playlist on repeat today as we make the drive to Dresden to visit him in his resting place.

  • Crazy Train, Alice Cooper  https://youtu.be/QigTLUc8SKY
  • Little Black Submarine, The Black Keys (apparently Moxie thought the lyrics were ‘oh can of beans’ and Jason used to humour her and sing her version when the song came on.  Oddly enough, this song was written about depression.) https://youtu.be/6k8es2BNloE
  • The Battle of New Orleans, Johnny Horton    https://youtu.be/50_iRIcxsz0
  • Escape from the Prison Planet, Clutch    https://youtu.be/6AykVcCnd30
  • Thunderstruck, AC/DC (one of Rain’s faves)    https://youtu.be/v2AC41dglnM
  • Killing in the Name, Rage Against the Machine https://youtu.be/bWXazVhlyxQ
  • Paradise City, Guns N’ Roses    https://youtu.be/Rbm6GXllBiw
  • The Man Who Sold the World, (Hoop learned to play this one on the guitar and I have heard it over and over and over and over….)  https://youtu.be/fregObNcHC8
  • A Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash   https://youtu.be/ZR5XGTpophI
  • A Warrior’s Call, Volbeat     https://youtu.be/2lg_k1SwrQ0
  • Apple Blossom, The White Stripes    https://youtu.be/vWYoTebs1wg
  • Big News 1, Clutch (I just couldn’t choose between the 2 clutch songs) https://youtu.be/nf05MMaim8w
  • The Gambler, Kenny Rogers (I tried once to quantify how many hours Hoop and I spent playing cards….)     https://youtu.be/Jj4nJ1YEAp4
  • Bodies, Drowning Pool (one of Moxie’s faves, she asked her teacher if they could sing it in class)  https://youtu.be/sO_QntXc-c4
  • The Bare Necessities (Jungle Book was his fave cartoon – as a kid and an adult!)    https://youtu.be/9ogQ0uge06o
  • What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong    https://youtu.be/E2VCwBzGdPM

now…

Play it Fucking Loud!!!

xo

Team Adventurers