Sunday, February 16, 2014


My greatest fear isn’t one I allow my brain to contemplate for too long as it hurts too much…that is a fear I won’t even talk about or write about…but it is every mother’s worst fear.
Second to that fear is one that I worry & think about often…I fear that something will happen to me, leaving Elena left without a parent. It's a reason keeping this blog is so important to me, so she has a window into my thoughts. I also keep a personal journal written to her. I take videos of us together, me talking to her…many many photos. All so that she’ll have them if I’m not around. I want to be sure to leave a clear record of how much I wanted Elena & how deeply I love her. I don’t want there to be any doubt in her.

I worry about this because long before I had Elena, long before I ever considered being a SMC, when I was young, I always had this…I don’t know…feeling. Not really a premonition, just…okay now I’m sounding crazy but hear me out…I always just felt that I wouldn’t grow old. And there was a time in my life that I wished for death to release me from the pain & depression I was drowning in. But life continued…life got better…life brought me here & now I fear & worry that I’ll still not grow old.…only now the stakes are higher.
My aunt was exactly my age now when she was diagnosed with her 1st cancer in 1983. After going through these last 8 weeks, I am so afraid of what can happen & how quickly it could happen. God, I hope I am turning 70 before my 1st real health scare...or older.
It hurts my heart to imagine Elena graduating high school without a parent, getting married, having children, navigating all of life’s ups & downs. I worry & worry & worry…& what am I supposed to do with that…keep healthy, give everything I have to making sure Elena is healthy & happy & loved. What else can I do?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Long Road Home

My Dad’s sister was born June 21, 1944…She was the oldest sibling, he being born 2 years later. They were close growing up & my Dad looked up to her. They lost their Mom suddenly, tragically, when he was 18 & she 20. This was devastating for both of them & for her, losing her Mom meant losing her best friend.

Life was hard after that. Her Father remarried quickly, which was often the case in those days. She spiraled, trying to move on with life but trapped by grief & depression. She became pregnant by accident but decided to keep the baby, though unheard of in that day & age. Her father was mortified but she so deeply wanted to be a Mother, she didn’t care.

The early weeks were rough, she was very sick. The Dr advised that if she made it to 12 weeks, she’d be in the clear. At 12 weeks, she went out & bought a beautifully soft, yellow sleeper for her baby. That evening, the pain started. She didn’t know what was happening. She had vicious cramps & then they would subside only to come back stronger & harder…then the bleeding started…

She went to the hospital & was told the fate of her baby…she was devastated. Her heart had bled out of her along with that babe. Her Father arrived, patted her hand & said it was for the best…& she died inside.

Time passed & she struggled with her grief & pain…depression gripped her.

Then her Father got sick…& he died. Their relationship had been strained at best & forever fractured…& then he was gone before they could reconcile.

You pile grief upon grief & pain upon pain & what is a person to do?

She broke…she wanted to die. She swore she wasn’t suicidal…she just wanted to die. She was admitted to the psychiatric ward.

Slowly, with therapy & the love of her Mom’s best friends, Margaret & Harry, she became stronger…she reentered the land of the living.

She loved…& lost…& loved again. She was married & she was happy. She tried to be the best step mom she knew how to be…but the pain of not having a child of her own haunted her.

In 1983 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She faced surgeries, radiation treatments, chemotherapy…odds at the time said she was unlikely to survive…but she did. It was then that she decided to really start to live life…she would stop being scared…she would start taking chances.

She started to travel & spent the next 30 years planning exotic & exciting trips…sometimes with others, often on her own. She travelled all across Canada, the USA, South America, New Zealand & multiple trips to the UK & Europe. Destinations would come up in conversation & she would say, “Oh! That place is on My List!!”

Her other passion was her dogs. Her firsts were Jordie, a west highland terrier & Murphy, a Golden Retriever. She loved Murphy but Westies were more her speed so after they passed came Tessie, then Kodi, another Murphy & finally Dolly.

She became involved with Westies In Need after adopting Dolly. She was passionate about helping these poor pups. She would drive any distance to pick up a rescue. You can feel her passion if you watch this video interview.

Life was finally good for her. After so much struggle & pain & loss…she had arrived. Whenever I faced adversity, she would knowingly say, “It gets better, I promise.” Because she did know, she’d lived it.

December 17th, 2013 all that changed. 4 weeks after that, we saw the Oncologist. We were told her biopsy was inconclusive but that she most likely had advanced cancer of the pancreas or other part of the upper gut. She was brave & at peace with this news. She told the Dr she hoped to celebrate her 70th birthday in June…the Dr asked if she could move it up.
4 weeks after that had me sitting by her bedside in hospice. She could no longer speak, she could hardly move at all & her eyes were her only means of communication. I sat with her all day, talking to her, holding her hand. I played her favourite music for her…I read to her. That night I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I’d promised her she wouldn’t have to go through this alone. The hospice staff set up a cot for me…I laid down to try to sleep. I was acutely aware of her breathing, the noises of the room, the nurses coming in & checking on her. Despite this I felt myself drift off to sleep...but every time I did, it felt as though someone would yank on my shoulders, waking me. Then all of a sudden, I felt a change in the room, it became very quiet. Her breathing had changed, much more shallow & also very quiet. I got up from my cot, checked the time, 3:32am. I went over & took her hand. I put my other hand on her forehead, as had become my habit in the last few weeks. It was so quiet…suddenly she took a deep breath, scaring me...I whispered, "Good bye, Lee. I love you" & knew in that moment she was gone.

8 a woman so vibrant & full of life can be gone in just 8 weeks is so confusing to me...