Kitty Cats and the Box

We moved.   We were living in a 7 bedroom house, now we’re living in a 3 bedroom basement suite.

It’s a nice suite, as far as basement suites go.

Lots of space, lots of room, and a landlord who’s wonderful about letting me paint.   Helps that I intend to buy this house, later.

So we moved.

My “Mark Box”  the one with all the momentoes and the bits and pieces of his life, that moved with me.   It used to be in the living room, under the front window, but now it’s in the living room, in a little “alcove” that would fit either the box or my piano.

Suddenly, the cats are ALL over that box.

Before, I assumed they liked to hang out on the box because they could look outside – but this spot doesn’t allow them to.

I was sitting on the chair beside the box – and Bandit, the biggest/oldest cat, was sitting up… looking… at *nothing* and then he just lay down.

Now he and Kudos… they share the box, the spaces on the box.  They’re there most of the time, it seems.

I wonder… if they’re there because of Mark.  Because of his presence that is so very much part of that box.

Or maybe they’re just hanging out there because we keep kicking them off the couch and chair to sit.


Imma Single What?!?

Oh fuck.  It just occurred to me… I’m a single parent.

For 14 years I was married.  With kids.   I was a partner, 1/2 of the whole, one of two.

And then he got sick.. .and I still was married… and then he died.

I became a widow.   A somewhat romantic figure.  A tragedy of a lost love.   It didn’t OCCUR to me that I was anything but a widow.   My children had lost their father, I had lost my husband, and that was just our life.  We’d find a way somehow.

And then… my 2nd chapter.

I was again a part of.  1/2 the whole.  One of two.

Then… my 2nd chapter ended.

I moved into the basement.  I took responsibility for my kids, he took responsibility for his.  I took responsibility for my house, he took responsibility for his.

And I sleep alone.   He sleeps alone.

There was no tragic death.  There was no sad story to tell.   It was just a matter of … we didn’t fit.  We didn’t work well together.  We had too many differences to overcome.

I became… another single mom.

Can I pull back to the “widow” status?

Can I pull back to being the person who I was?  Probably not.      But it feels weird.   I’m a single parent again.  After 15 years, I am a single parent.

I don’t know why it feels different – I’m still a widowed parent, I’m still the ONLY parent… but I’m a single parent.  And that bothers me.

But I’m going to do the best I possibly can for my boys.   They deserve the best of me that they can get.


And So Ends Chapter 2…

It’s funny how we have hopes and dreams.   We fall in love, stay in love, reignite the love… and love still isn’t enough.

My chapter two ended.

I love him still.  He loves me still.   But the reality is that we’re too far apart on how we communicate and how we interact.

Irreconcilable differences?

Basic incompatibilities.

He’s an awesome guy.

He’s an amazing person.

I love who he is.

But we have some basics that don’t mesh well and we fight and we argue and despite the love, despite the desire, despite the overwhelming urge to run back and beg him to find a way to make it work…  I grieve for another loss.   Another “what could have been” and another future that never will be again.

I grieve for the loss of “US” and the plans that we had.

Added to the grieving for my husband.

Just one big ball of grief these days.

But I hope we’ll be able to be friends and move forward in a positive manner… because he really is pretty freaking awesome.

We’re just not awesome together.

Letting Go Some  People Stay in your heart

Good-bye Wedding Dress

I had a beautiful wedding dress.

I had a beautiful wedding.

I always hoped that my daughter would wear my wedding dress – that she would walk down the aisle in it as her something “old” to be passed on to her daughter and her daughter and her daughter.

My mom didn’t have a wedding dress I could wear.

Mar & Jane Wedding

It was a gorgeous dress.   Simple.  Elegant.  Lovely beaded detailing.  So flattering.

So gorgeous.

And I was 100lbs more than my daughter is when I got married – so she will NEVER wear it.

She loves it.

But will never wear it.   And so… I donated it.

I donated it to B.C. Angel Dresses.

They take wedding/prom/whatever fancy dresses, cut them up and make tiny gowns for newborns who never get to come home.

The concept was started by an organization in Texas.

It has spread.

I found one in BC and contacted them on my wedding anniversary.   August 21 – we would have been married for 15 years.

Someone finally said… hey – I’m coming through Quesnel in October – I can pick it up then?

So today… she came by.  She ooohhhed and aaahhhed over it… and then drove away with my dress.

The dress that started my life with Mark.   The dress that I had hoped my daughter would wear.

The dress that will now embrace tiny little babies who don’t get to come home.   I don’t know how many babies it will cradle… but I’m so grateful that it will bring some measure of comfort to grieving parents.  I’m so grateful that it will cradle those babies in the love that Mark and I shared.

Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto – pt 6 – Home is Where the Heart Is

Sunday morning at Camp Widow involves a buffet breakfast, packing up and saying goodbye.

While chatting with various people, part of my focus was on making sure I didn’t have to pay for the cab myself… it was ridiculously priced.  They had a board that was set up for people to share a cab, and I connected with Miri from Vancouver.   Sadly we weren’t on the same flight, and we weren’t even in the same terminal so there was no waiting together.

Then we connected with Debbie.  Fantastic woman.  Love her and her resiliance.  She had already pre-ordered a cab to take her back to the airport and agreed to let us join in with her.    So instead of a $65 cab ride it was $25 each or so.

Michele made another very lovely speech.   During the speech she announced that there would be a delay because the road was closed and we needed to make sure we got to the airport on time.   I talked to Miri and Debbie and we all agreed to leave at 11 so we could all make our flights.  I had the longest wait – their flights were sooner than mine.

I made the rounds, getting pictures with people.   I didn’t get as many pictures this year.  I don’t know why.

Ann-Marie & Me Kelley & Me Michele & Me Sarah & Me Stacey & Me Taryn & Me

I had volunteerd to help take down things after breakfast.  With the road closures, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t leaving anyone stuck – so I checked with Diane.    Things were ok.  There wasn’t much left to pack up so I felt ok about being able to leave.

I went back to the Camp Store… bought a couple hoodies (one for me, one for Mom) and then it was time to get ready to go.

Connie and I headed up to the room to do final packing and be ready to go.   I packed up my stuff, and headed back to the lobby.

Usually, when I leave a hotel room, I do a sweep – under beds, in the bathroom etc.   But because Angel & Judy were staying another night, I didn’t think to do it.

I left my angel cards behind :(

I was meeting Debbie & Miri in the lobby for 11 so that’s where I planted myself.   Connie wanted to run down one last time and say goodbye.

Last year, I missed out on saying goodbye to Carrie – this year, I missed saying goodbye to Connie.

I choose to believe it’s because they’re meant to be in my life and that I’ll see them again.

The ride to the airport was an awesome one for getting to know each other.  I sat in the front, Debbie & Miri in the back.  We were actually in a limo type car, not a cab.  It was quite luxurious :D

We got to the airport, and started looking for our gates.

Miri was the first to go – hugs all around and she headed off.

Debbie and I had longer to wait, I figured we could wait together and chatter and get to know each other, but it turned out that my flight was out of terminal 2 – which was a trainride away.

I bought us coffee – she’d never had Tim Horton’s coffee before – and she looked up and saw that it was the Tim Horton’s 50th Anniversary.  Another sign from her husband and son.   She was so tickled about it.

Timmies for Two

We had to go our seperate ways.  She was leaving later but I had further to go.   We hugged, and said our goodbyes and then it was off to terminal 2 for me.

The wait and the plane ride were uneventful.  I managed to get to where I needed to go almost exactly when I needed to get there.  Had I left the hotel any later, I might have missed my plane.

My Kathy was waiting for me at the airport.   I was heading to her house for the night – getting some Kathy time in.

I offered to drive – she doesn’t like driving in the city much.

For the first time in… ever… I managed to get turned around.  Seriously.  Everything is marked.  All the signs are there.  I still managed to go the wrong way.

We hooked up the GPS, and it took us right past Vancouver General Hospital – where Mark died.

Same time of day.  Same car.  Same route.  After Camp Widow.  And I go past VGH.   Made me smile, this time.   No tears.  Just a hello to Mark and the memories.

We got to Kathy’s house and had dinner.  I miss her so much.  I miss my friend and the connection we have.

As a bonus, Michelle showed up!   She was supposed to be at derby but she ended up showing up at Kathy’s so I got a bit of a visit with her as well.

Morning took me back to Quesnel and back to my home and family.

One thing I noticed…. things changed.  Or I did.  But everything felt different and I expected it to all look different… but of course after all of 5 days, it didn’t.  It was just me.  Camp Widow does that to you.   Changes things inside you so that you see the world differently.

I miss my Camp Widow peeps.   I miss the ability to just “be” and not worry about who I might upset or make uncomfortable with my feelings.

I’m grateful to have had the Camp Widow experience.

I’m hoping to go next year.  There’s Camp in Tampa in February, San Diego in July and Toronto again in September.   Financially – it doesn’t make sense for me to go.   But emotionally – I know I need to.

Home is where the heart is.  But Camp is what keeps me sane.  Camp lets me feel normal again.

Well Loved 2014

Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto – pt 5 – the Gala Dinner

One of the most amazing things about Camp Widow is the Gala Dinner.  The sit down, high class dinner that is designed SOLEY to get us all dressed up, fancy-like, and show us that it is STILL OK TO HAVE FUN.

We all get dressed up to the 9′s (and 10′s and some of us just drop dead gorgeous no matter what we’re wearing). And head down for drinks and mingling before dinner.

Dressed up  Connie & I

There was an awesome photobooth where we got to put on some props and get our pictures taken .

Sugar Mamma

We’d pre-ordered our dinner so there was no worries or surprises about what to order or what we’re going to eat.   As per usual, I’d forgotten what I’d ordered until we actually got there.

There was a bottle of wine at the table for the guests to share.  My table-mates didn’t drink wine – so I asked the server to fill up their glasses with red and, well, I got 4 glasses for the price of one ;-)  worked well for me :)

My chicken dinner was superb.   My friend sitting beside me didn’t finish hers so I got to taste the amazing steak dinner as well.

During the cocktails, we had the option of putting our loved one down on a piece of paper with whatever anniversary/celebration to be honoured at dinner.

I put Mark on there, for 27 months since he’d died.

In terms of life experience, it seems so very long.  In terms of thinking about it… OMG it’s been so short of a time.  Only 27 months since he took his last breath.  Only 27 months since I stopped being his wife and became his widow.  Only 27 months…  I am barely a toddler in the journey of widowhood.   At the same time I am like one of those starving kids in Africa who had to grow up and learn too fast.   A toddler who is wise beyond her years.   But a toddler none the less.

When they called Mark’s name, I went up for a hug and to get the heart they were giving out in memory.

Memorial Heart Heart

It amazed me – when I took a picture of the heart, the lights that shone in it.  The bits of life showing that yes, this had meaning.

Dinner was over fairly quickly and then the dancing began.

Dancing at the Gala

I’m not big on dancing.  I don’t like how I jiggle, I don’t like how things wiggle, it’s not a comfortable feeling to have your belly slap your thighs when you move too enthusiastically.   I used to like dancing.  And maybe I will again eventually.  If you look closely, you can see me somewhere in the middle sitting sorta behind Connie.

So I sat at the table, chatting, I flitted from table to table being a social butterfly, and eventually landed back at my table with Connie.

It’s not my story to tell, but Connie wasn’t having the greatest of nights.   I was given the opportunity to be there, to be present, to be someone to lean on, literally and figuratively.   I was given the opportunity to be a friend,   I was given the opportunity to get closer, to cement a friendship that had blossomed a bit over breakfast.

Connie and I talked.  Rather, Connie talked and I listened.

We were hiding in a little alcove for a while, her letting out what needed to come out.  Me, just being there for you.

We decided not to do the message release.  We had done a mini-release the night before, and we were both feeling that was sufficient and heading back to the room for quiet time and contemplation would be a better option.

We hugged people, said our goodnights, and watched as everyone else headed out to do the message release.

It was beautiful, from what I was told and saw in the pictures.

Message Release

Connie and I went back to the room – got out of our pretty clothes – and sat down on our beds for some decompressing.

We both had some minor regrets about not going to the message release… but I think overall, we were where we were supposed to be.   There were some things she needed to get out and I needed to be needed, I think.

The gala night was incredible.  The people I got to hang out with are incredible.   And for a while… we got to just *be* and have fun.

Hard to believe it was almost over… that in less than 24 hours I’d be back in Vancouver…