Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday, September 6th (Evening)

You said my name! Not today - but Aunt Shirley told Juanita, that when they found you – you said my name! Aunt Shirley didn’t want to tell me at the time because she feared that I would feel guilty – for not being there. At the time, I would have – now - I feel relieved. In my mind that means – you didn’t lose your ability to speak when the bleed started – maybe that means you are like most people and your speech is on the left side. You will be able to talk … and if you can talk … maybe you will remember us.

Saturday August 29th was our 22nd wedding anniversary – I had to work and we had family from England (much loved by our family - Uncle John and Aunt Shirley). We acknowledged our anniversary with a big hug in the kitchen that morning. Your body felt good and strong and familiar – it felt comfortable.

We have always been huggers. At our wedding, when Rev. Hunter said “you may kiss” – we hugged. Throughout our 22 years – we marked many occasions with hugs. Birthdays, Christmas mornings, St Valentine’s days, Positive pregnancy tests, births, deaths. We marked many non-occasions with hugs too ... we are huggers.

This year – I couldn’t think what to get you – my creative energy was low. The best I could come up with was a soft ice cream maker – which pales to previous years. We are not big on big presents – but we are big on meaningful presents.

Chris used humor (of course) and I used sediment. One year early on Chris brought home steel tubing and wire … it was to make a wind chime, Another year, I surprised him (hard to do) with a small engine plane ride in Debert.

On our 14th anniversary, Chris got me a fish lamp, dollar store hand cuffs and the best part … his own list for anniversary gift protocol – the fish lamp broke, the hand cuffs are in the kid’s dress-up stuff – but I still have the precious gift list. The list went up to 30 years at which point he noted that “it didn’t really matter any more”. The list goes like this:

1. Jewerlry
2. Wood
3. Silver
4. Furniture
5. Aluminum
6. Bronze
7. Filter mask
8. Asbestos
9. Excuses
10. Meat
11. Wicker or Pasta
12. Over the Counter Drugs
13. Boxing Gloves
14. Handcuffs and/or Fish Lamp
15. Leather
16. Scones
17. Fish Leather
18. Ireland – Trip or Plaque
19. Rope
20. Trophy – Large variety
21. Grasses – wheat, barley etc
22. Wiring
23. Poultry
24. Laundry
25. Acupuncture needles
26. Produce
27. Lace - Shoe
28. Rebar
29. Trip to Anaheim
30. It doesn’t much matter any more.

I used the list and surprised him on the 20th – with a trophy – large variety.

22nd anniversary was to be about wiring – I blanked. Chris blanked too – we agreed we didn’t need to get anything for each other – we had enough things. We discussed going sea kayaking (my idea) he thought Tidal boar rafting. Since, Chris had the race Sunday and he had to work at the church – we agreed to do something together with the children on Monday August 31st.

WOW, I can’t believe it – I had no idea that your present to me would be you choosing life! In return, my present to you, is this journal … hope you don’t feel ripped off… I expect to hear complaints.

Today Tara, Quinn and I went to the Church. We were late … I thought that the service started at 11, but it started at 10 … Chris would have known … he always knows details like that. At 10 am, I was getting another update over the phone. His blood pressure was up. He is on three hypertension drugs now. The drugs seem to be working now and they are decreasing the level of sedation.

The Church visit was moving, Tara, Quinn and I told the congregation about the Magic Blanket and got them to sign a replica for Chris. I felt at home and I felt the love people have for Chris. Janice and Edwin and their family came to visit Chris the night before from PEI then came to the service today. The girls – wrote and drew on the Magic Blanket replica too.

When I got back from the Church, I called to see how Deedee and Grandpa were doing. She sounded tired and stressed. She had already called the hospital twice.

Juanita drove me to the hospital, We have a good philosophical talk in the car.

Margaret Alan met me at the door to the ICU. Margaret was the minister at the Church prior to Jay taking over. She and Alan live outside Halifax and had heard about Chris through old friends at the Church. We talk – Margaret says a good prayer with me, Alan signs the Magic Blanket for both of them.

Pneumonia seems to be drying up some – difficult to get a sample of the lab – that’s a good thing. BP is good now and the sedation is reduced – but no thumbs up … for now – that’s OK – I will be patient.

We hold hands for a long time – I rest my head on your bed – I could sleep. I try to smell your skin – all I can smell is soap. I tell you to be strong and come back to us – “we love you” I said.

When we get back home to Juanita’s house, I found Fran on the phone with a public health office for H1N1 (If you call 811 – you can get advice about H1N1). Neeson, is feeling sick – fever and sore throat – he is supposed to be on a plane to go home in 3 hrs. The health authorities advise to get Neeson out of Juanita’s house because she is pregnant and due in 17 days. They advise against travelling. Fran heeds the advice and cancels the plane ride.

Fran, Neeson and Erik come to our house and we quarantine Neeson in Chris’ man cave, much to Neeson’s delight – Computer and big screen TV – what more can a 13 year old want? He doesn’t seem that sick – hopefully – we are over reacting.

When I told Tara that Neeson was going to stay in Daddy’s room. Her face contorted – she’s upset. She made an impassioned plea “Mummy, Daddy is not here – so someone has to step up to the plate – Neeson must wear gloves. You know how much Daddy worries about getting sick before a race – well - this is the biggest marathon of his life – he can’t get sick.” I reassure her that the virus wouldn’t live for long in Daddy’s room and that I would get Neeson to wear gloves.

It was almost as if Chris had channeled through Tara – Because – that would be his position too.

I worry about Tara, Quinn and I getting sick … then we can’t visit him.


  1. Trying to create meditation time daily and visualizing Chris' heart beating slowly, steadily, pumping just the right way with just the right pressure. Slow, peaceful breaths in and out... sending out waves of peacefulness and balance...

    Love, Kate

  2. A little story...the Monday after 'the' Sunday, Karen went to get a new license plate because the old one was worn out. The random license plate numbe that she got? BHDW 290

    John H

  3. Hello Gwen and family,
    We are following Chris' progress from Toronto -I was on Chris' Cape Breton relay team a couple of years ago with my brother Chris Giles and my jogging friend, Barbara. We keep sending good thoughts and energy his way and yours. Bon courage! Love, Wenona

  4. This is just what I was looking for. The templates are a nice idea. Good Luck
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  5. My heart and prayers are with you all through Chris' recovery - I learned of your story from the Truro Daily News, and will be keeping up with your blog from now on!

    D. Mosher

  6. Chris… I am calling to you…. From one Survivor to Another - can you feel it? At times I swear I feel you out there and we really don’t even know each other that well. But we share a common bond, perhaps you can feel the surge of support I am sending you. You WILL SURVIVE!

    I know where you are - come out of the dark back into the light.

    I know it hurts - but YOU will endure and prevail, eventually the hurt fades to but a memory of what it is now.

    The light hurts so much, but that is where you must venture. You are a strong man Chris Cashen. Stronger than you know. Push yourself, pull yourself, claw your way back up to the surface - your children NEED you. Gwen needs you. Your family all need you. They are lighting your way. Do you see them out there in the dark - firefly lanterns dancing ahead. Do you FEEL them - their love, their hope? They are WITH you…. ALWAYS with you. Tara and Quinn know the strength and power of HOPE , of a Child‘s Love- they called you back. Let them help to lift you out of the Darkness.

    Things WILL be different - the old Chris is gone, you are being remade into a new Chris, a different Chris, a stronger and better Chris. Your essence is the same, but you will shed some of your old self and gain new insight, new strengths. Adaptation is the key. You will evolve. Your mind will do amazing things to heal itself, to find new ways to cope with the changes that have occurred. Acknowledge them. Learn from them. Push past the pain and your progress will be marked with huge strides. Respect the new boundaries though that your brain imposes… rest when you are tired. You will need so much rest, but it will restore you.

    That is enough for now. I know you are tired. Feel the energy of all the souls who are aiming their hope, their energy, their addiction to life towards you. Let it fill you with the strength and courage you need. Life is a beautiful miracle and everyday is a gift - to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Celebrate Life. SURVIVE!!!!