Sunday May 23
Today, while talking about your smoking, you pause and look at me with the look of wide eyed discovery. “Learning not to smoke will be like a whole other marathon.” The Addiction to Life Marathon.
This morning, you and Steve went to the church together. Steve got to see, first hand, the support that you have from the church community. He can see why you love the congregation. They truly are wonderful.
It’s a beautiful day. I get some garden time and the children played with Laura while Steve hung out with you and helped assemble the new patio table. Our old table was a wooden picnic table that has seen many birthday parties, BBQ, bubble blowing contests and science experiments including the dissection of a weasel that we brought back from Cape Breton last year while you did the Cabot Trail Relay.
The old table is on it’s last legs … literally. Steve dismantled it and cut it into pieces and tonight we made a fire and converted the table into smores (and a little CO2). I didn’t play much with the kids or eat smores but I did have a chance to ‘work’ in the garden. Garden work is not really work. It’s a mental health therapy. I guess it’s because I can, for a brief moment, be under the impression that I can control the undesirable and nurture the fruits of my labours.
This is a feat that I find challenging to do in my real life.
You were low in the early evening. I persuaded you to have a nap – you did lay down but then asked for a phone and ended up calling people. You called Janice. Well, it wasn’t much of a nap but it did seemed to help. I guess that that is your mental health therapy... connecting to people.
I think that both of us have empty reserves emotionally. It takes very little to drain me. A poor night’s sleep, an illness, even a small unexpected twist in the day throws me into a tailspin. I am going to have to work at building up my reserves. Hopefully, in the process, I will learn how to help you do the same.
Monday May 24
Steve, Laura and I talk about your depressed moods. We talk about how hard it is to watch you go through your grief. There are so many things that you can’t do and it’s so easy to be drawn into your way of thinking. I tell them of the random thoughts that have been popping into my head as the days pass. There are so many reminders about the house of the things you can’t do: snow shoes, cleats, bike … things you can’t use now or perhaps forever. These thoughts make me very lost with sadness. I can hardly see my path when I feel like this.
I know people try to reach out and give us support but can’t truly understand how the lost affects our lives. Sometimes the platitudes that we hear seem very generic and somewhat empty… devoid of real hope for the future. Platitudes are a natural human response to uncomfortable situations. I have been guilty of this very thing. When an acquaintance with a serious health issue crossed paths with me, I would resort to platitudes too because what else can you say? It is easier to say platitudes when you are not in the center of the storm.
I scared about next weekend at the Cabot Trail Relay. I’m scared that it will be a reminder of the things you can’t do. In the past years you were very involved with every aspect of the race. Everything from running legs to moving cars, picking up and delivering runners to providing nutritional and cheering support. Out of this abrevated list, most things you can’t do. But you can cheer and that is your plan.
I suppose that the experience could go the other way and be uplifting but I am still scared.
Tuesday May 25
The OT and wheelchair guy came today to re-measure you for a chair. The first prescription had some deficiencies. I don’t know what the NSRC OTs were doing in the 13 weeks they had you. They had lots of time to get measurements and get a chair but somehow, between the three different OT’s no one managed to actually finish the job. (Although the last OT did try – but she didn’t have enough time.) So a month after your discharge, we are still renting a chair that we never agreed to rent that has broken 4 times.
I really don’t want to pay for the rental out of principle.
I am having more reservations about the Cabot Trail Relay (CTR). Staying up all night and then driving back to Truro and to the airport seems insane and a possible recipe for disaster. You seemed worried about this too.
Last night, Tara, Quinn, Steve and Laura and Annie and I went for a walk. When I suggested to you that you roll with us, you didn’t want to. You wanted to stay home… out of the way. While we were gone, I know that you dwelled on the fact that you couldn’t even go for a walk with us ... I know that I did.
Overall, I can certainly see some improvement in the past month since you have been home. You are more sure about stairs and I am even relaxed enough to let you walk short distances without me right by your side. You even transfer from chair to standing on your own most of the time. These improvements come at the price of taking risks.
Risk taking is a balancing act. To improve, you need to take risks, but they have to be calculated risks. Your strength is building and as long as it is early in the day and you have had a little time to loosen up after rest, you are capable to take risks.
Steve and Laura see a big difference in you but they hadn’t seen you since late October. Each day, I try to remember that you have improved, but it is hard for me and even harder for you, especially when we are also dealing with your losses every day.
Tara is upset tonight. She is feeling pressure. Pressure from schoolwork. I don’t think it is real pressure. It is self-imposed but she preserves it none the less. Being a bit driven by nature, it is real to her. She was very upset tonight about a homework project. She wants to do well. I try to calm her but I can’t.
Tonight, when I get home, there is spilt coffee on the carpet and urine in your shoe, along with Tara’s worries – I feel pressure from all sides. I want to stop the world for just a few minutes so I can catch up. I feel so behind.
I can see that Tara’s self imposed pressure and mine are interrelated. I shall have find a way to lead by example.
Wednesday May 26
It was a tough day at work. The vet work was fine. It’s the emotions that are running at work that are hard to deal with. My anger at the system that has mistreated you is spilling over to other parts of my life. Someone cried at a meeting today and I feel like shit. We have to change some things at work to make the time I spend there more efficient. Change is scary. I know that all too well. I can understand that no one wants change forced upon them but sometimes, one just have to accept it and move on ... I’m learning that the hard way.
I guess that this is a sore point with me because this is my personal struggle now and I need everyone on my team at work to play the game by the new rules.
When I got home, I had to vent to you. You listened and wanted to help. You had a good day. Trish was your afternoon visitor and she had you feeling pretty good by the time I got home. You did great with the childcare this afternoon. You and Trish got the children to ballet and gymnastics. Trish tells me this with obvious pride in her voice. You played the parent role well. Even when Tara challenged you, you held your ground and she obeyed your wishes.
A parent never really forgets how to parent and nurture a child. It’s instinct … and you still have it. You just have to exercise it more often and build your confidence.
There was an informal meeting to plan the Cabot Trail Relay race this weekend. Laura picked you up and when you got back, I could tell you were itching to be the runner who comes through in a pinch … just like other years.
I can’t imagine how you will do it but I think that somehow, you will find a way to make your mark on this weekend’s race. I just hope that it will be positive.
I am worried that the whole CTR maybe a little overwhelming or anti-climatic for you. Staying up all night like you have planned doesn’t sound very smart. Fortunately, Martha will be with you and I know that she is very sensible and practical. She also has a powerful persuasive voice that forces you to listen. And if you won’t listen, then I’m sure that as an ex-International weight lifting champion she can find ways of persuading you.
Thursday May 27
You and Trish bought Walkie Talkies yesterday. We already have two sets of Walkie Talkies but I guess we needed more. As I leave to get Martha from the airport. You and the children are happily carrying on a conversation over the walkie talkies about getting ready for bed.
You have always been a kid trapped in a grown man’s body. Now you have an excuse to let the kid side show more the ever.
We have both been worried about this weekend. The Cabot Trail Relay (CTR) could be a great thing for you or the worst reminder of all the things you can’t do. You expressed your worry to me about this. I couldn’t say anything to you for fear of amplifying your anxiety.
Martha arrives. She is, as always, full of energy and positive thoughts and words. In just the 45-minute car ride to Truro, I started feeling better about the weekend. Martha will make it great for you ... I can feel it.
Friday May 28
Quinn went to the dentist today for a consult about the extra tooth that he was given at birth. It needs to come out to make room for the other teeth. He ready lost the extra baby tooth. Now we have to deal with the permanent tooth. He is a little nervous about the visit. I reassure him that it is just a visit to make a plan about how to do it. The dentist is great. It’s clear he loves kids. Quinn seems happy with the plan especially since the dentist let him help make the plan. Smart dentist.
We packed up the two cars and drove up to Cape Breton. You and Martha drove ahead to attend the captain’s meeting and the Annie, the children and I went to Kate and Brook’s Farm, Annie’s birthplace or ‘Kate Brookin’ as the children have learned to say Cape Breton.
The car barely came to a complete stop before the children were out the doors and into ‘Old Man Farm’ land with their friends. I visited for a while with Kate. I brought her up to date on my fears, hopes and worries. Her calm, level headed and insightful voice was music to my ears. A dose of Kate and the farm was just what I needed.
I had to search for the children to say goodnight. They hardly cared that I was leaving. “Yah, yah, yah, I WILL see you tomorrow you know Mum.” Tara said sarcastically. Quinn was a little more sentimental. He wanted to sleep in the bed that we would share the next night. Tonight, he was going to sleep with Annie.
I went off to meet up with you, Martha and Laura at Saint Anne’s College. The starting line for the CTR! We stayed in the residence there for the night. You were letting the cigarettes rule you tonight. You go to bed angry with me for not enabling your smoking.
Saturday May 29
It’s an early morning for the race start at 7am. Martha has the first leg. She is up first and ready for the day before you opened your eyes. We see her off at the start line and the relay had begun. You and Chris G load into the van and head off to support her in the race while I drive to.
Old Man Farm = RESPITE … aahhh … happy children, peaceful surroundings and animals and wonderful talks with Kate and Brook!
Kate tells me a theory on how to deal with bad feelings. “You don’t try to stuff down your feelings. You don’t try to hide your feelings. You don’t get mad at yourself because of your feelings … feelings are just feelings, you have a feeling and you acknowledge that this is what it is like to be incredibly angry or disappointed or sad or whatever the feeling is. You let yourself have the feeling, but you do the right thing anyway.” She emphasized it with an example ”I feel like bad but I still need to make supper for the family and do the things I need to do for my wellbeing and the wellbeing of other people.”
I can see that I will have to practice this skill. “Don’t let other feelings layer on the bad feelings that you have.” She advised. “Don’t feel anger and feel guilt for feeling angry.”
I certainly relate to the layers. My anger is layered with guilt and selfpity.
Kate also sung the praises of mediation. She has practiced this and so has Brook. She feels it has really helped them. I have often thought about mediation even before this chapter in our lives. Recently I have thought about it more and more. To focus on your own breathing for a minute and think about nothing else but breathing in and out. Just exist in the moment and create a little bit of solitude no matter where you are.
This is would have to be another learned skill.
While Kate and I connected, Annie connected with her brothers and sister. At first she was regarded as stranger on the farm. She felt rather overwhelmed. After being dominated by all her siblings she found her way into the pack and Annie reconnected with her kinfolk. Unlike last year when she happily bounded from the car into the pack and went on adventures with her sister, this year, I think, she feels a little removed from her pack. Almost a little citified.
Personally, I think she preferred sleep with Quinn and me then hanging with your biologic pack.