“I Can’t Today, I Have To Wash My Hair”

“I think the knitting part finally did it.  I was poised to Facebook message my mother ( the knitting queen) to ask her to lend me needles when I panicked and promptly booked a tour date to distract myself from the desire to make a sweater that would only ever evolve to something warm yet backless. My husband remarked that I might actually finish the one I started for him in 1989. That made me panic further as I recognized a reemergence of patterns from decades ago….” 

“It’s been 6 months since my last blog post” I almost feel like I need forgiveness.

It’s Canada Day, the sun is shining strong and I imagine the beaches are packed to capacity with families and friends sharing in the holiday.  Me, I am curled up in my  favorite chair with the AC cranked and a hot coffee beside me working on schedules. And to be truthful I am happiest right here enjoying the day in my pajamas.

I am a natural born introvert and I do it well. My husband is helping with the community BBQ at our building and I wished him well while I shooed him out the door.  Most of my nearby neighbors ( aka my hallway) are lovely souls, but I can find conversation with them by simply passing in the hallway as I exit or enter the building.  And, well, some of the others in the building just simply find my last nerve with their high heeled arrogance. I find it incredibly difficult to coexist with someone complaining that the kale salad was prepped from bagged.  Everyone is different I suppose. The beautiful thing about life is that we have the opportunity to place ourselves into the situations that feel most comfortable for ourselves. I also don’t want to be responsible for using a plastic picnic fork to  stab the person that has to pick up each sandwich triangle to determine contents and then drop it back to the platter when it doesn’t suit their tastes.  And let’s not get me started on the odd fella that wanders the building in his housecoat and comments on my ravishing beauty at each opportunity to do so.  I am still wondering where he leaves the seeing eye dog given that he generally finds me in the laundry room with raccoon eyes from sleeping in my mascara and my hair sticking up like a troll doll. Regardless, I find it less than flattering and one day might throw him my track pants from the dryer and instruct him to put on clothes like normal people do when in public.

I am just simply not the Knots Landing type of girl. For those that don’t know the reference…Google is your friend.  Watch ten minutes of one episode and you’ll understand me completely.

It’s been a long haul from the end of last year to today.  I have gone from occasional driver to nearly full time driver since my spouse seriously injured his vision in a fall last November.  We thought he might be improving until one day last week when he panicked that I was about to run over the “two little people in orange raincoats” that were standing on the roadway I was travelling along.  They were construction pylons guarding a pot hole. However, the twenty minutes of laughing til I cried certainly helped to alleviate any stress I had amassed in the weeks prior.  In his defense I did finally find my Tide Pods in the freezer nicely propped against the bag of frozen cauliflower. I blame the packaging for my faux pas in this instance. In my mind zip-lock anything must be edible right? Oh wait. Perhaps that explains the Tide Pod eating craze. Maybe I am not the only one that mistook them for carrots and the kids though they were Freezie bites.

Sitting at home trying to stop my spouse from hurting himself further as he learned to navigate with one functioning eye found my introversion blossoming like an untreated dandelion. I began to rather enjoy just taking my time in the morning and not having to get dressed to do anything social in the evenings. I mean, obviously, I had to get dressed for clients but other than that I was free to just be me.  I got into some Netflix series that found me reminiscing about easier days, I had time to actually make dinner for a change and I was finally able to make an appointment for distance glasses that would ultimately save everyone’s lives on the roads.  I rerouted my spouse from walking into walls, soothed his very frustrated pride and considered knitting to wile away my hours.

I think the knitting part finally did it.  I was poised to Facebook message my mother ( the knitting queen) to ask her to lend me needles when I panicked and promptly booked a tour date to distract myself from the desire to make a sweater that would only ever evolve to something warm yet backless. My husband remarked that I might actually finish the one I started for him in 1989. That made me panic further as I recognized a reemergence of patterns from decades ago.  So I made the decision to get up the next day and greet the world again socially.  That went well until the next day as I sat with my coffee cup at  11 am and decided that I really had to dust the apartment instead. And the next day was vacuuming. The day after was laundry.  I began to have visions of turning into my mother and setting aside Tuesdays to wash my hair. For those that don’t know my mum, her hair washing routine involves two full days and I am not kidding. One day to wash it and one day to walk around the house in her curlers.  “Mum do you want to go for lunch today?”  “Oh…I’ve just washed my hair can we do it another day?”  OK mum…see you in 72 hours.

We naturally retreat into comfortable patterns when the opportunity presents itself to do so. And comfortable for me has always been to disengage. While it serves me brilliantly in my work it doesn’t necessarily do the same in day to day life.  So I again made the decision to jump back in. I made that decision just a few weeks back. I flew my antisocial self to Prince Edward Island with the intention of spending the days on the beaches and smiling at everyone I saw.  What’s that old saying again?  I plan and God laughs?  I walked off the plane into what I am certain was -20 windchill. With no coat and sandals ( for the beaches remember).  And while I absolutely enjoyed the time spent there with my dear friend at her home, we both laughed at the lack of social interaction because the entire province had retreated into their homes to save themselves from freezing to death. So we got up each day and drank coffee and stood staring through the windows at the frost instead.  We finally braved the only day above five degrees and hit the beach which resulted in my poor friend getting a migraine for two days from the sub zero winds that almost blew our sorry asses into the Atlantic Ocean.  I did however get to practice my antisocial self further at the farm she works for.  If you are an introvert you will understand how good it feels to just talk to the animals because they literally agree with every single word you say. If you even feel like making conversation that is. The farm is the perfect place to practice your introvert communications skills. I had an absolute blast but I failed miserably at my original intention.  However I got to cuddle a baby alpaca.  Worthy trade off.  I did one event where my social self seems to suddenly reappear out of nowhere and then retreated again in the safety of alone. It’s the weirdest thing in the world. Hand me a microphone and I can talk your ear off. Send me to Wal -Mart and I’ll stare at the floor to avoid conversation. I should start wearing a wireless headset to the grocery stores right?

I suppose you all might be wondering right now where exactly is she going with this blog?  It does have a destination. Bear with me. I am chatty today.

I boarded my flight to home and made a firm decision to engage with the other passengers. I was happily chatting with two ladies in my seating row until the air attendant shooed me to another spot because ( in her words) “You look so uncomfortable stuck in the middle. There’s a full row of empty seats you can stretch out in”  I said goodbye to my travel buddies and found myself staring out of the plane window wondering why I wasn’t allowed to communicate with anyone.  You can laugh at this. I did. It was rather ironically amusing.  Mind you the leg room that a full row afforded me was divine. I arrived home full of my usual pep, anticipating perhaps a night out and friendly faces and woke up the next morning with an odd discomfort running from the top of my head into my neck. Decided it was from whacking my skull on the lavatory ceiling on the plane and proceeded to make plans for a weekend of social engagements.

And woke up two days later with shingles. Now, let me assure you of one thing. If the universe doesn’t think you’re getting the messages clearly enough it’s going to do something fairly drastic to make you finally receive them. Yes, the universe had slowed me down and forced me into some type of self seclusion, but what it had failed to do was to stop me from keeping every waking moment occupied doing anything but sit with my own self. I was planning. I was writing. I was counselling via social media. I was booking sessions. I was planning dinner at 9 am. I was planning laundry a week ahead. Despite being at home and not being social I was constantly doing something to keep busy.  I was even contemplating knitting for the love of all things holy. All this to divert myself from myself.

Well. Let me assure you of one very certain thing that I have learned. A severe case of shingles will bring you down to both knees and keep you there. There is no planning, no dusting, no meal prep. There is only you focused on you because you are unable to focus on anything else during the process. You have no option but to escape to your own mind as a way to escape from what is probably the most painful physical condition I have ever experienced.  And it was here that I found myself again.

It was here that I was able to face the fact that I disengage from focusing on myself because I don’t believe I am worth focusing on myself.  Yes I said that. I find my value in focusing on anything that lives outside of me. Because as an empath that’s just what we do. It’s easier to hone in on outside discomforts than face our own.  In the 17 days of pain that brought me to tears at every turn I had no other option but to focus on me. And it changed me exponentially.  For 17 long days I was able to retrace my steps to where I took the wrong steps, where I could have done better for myself, where I put myself into situations that made me feel worthy only to ultimately find myself feeling overwhelmed or worse than that, feeling used or disrespected for not setting firm boundaries. It was a period of deep introspection because I wanted to understand why someone as strong as myself would get knocked to the floor by something as ridiculous as a series of blisters that suddenly appeared one morning.

Sometimes comfort zones have to be uncomfortable to gain insight.

Nothing has changed in the work that I do. If anything this has heightened my sensitivity to the discomforts that others deal with every single day. It has taught me to be kinder and gentler. To take a moment and sometimes only a moment to send you a loving thought but to not get tangled up in trying to take it from you.  It has taught me that in order to be the best version of myself that I have to set boundaries to care for myself. I have learned that I am worthy of my own softness and that I should never feel guilty or selfish for reaching for it.  I have learned that I am worthy of the same from those that might wish to share it with me and not to downplay my need of it.

Most importantly I have learned that although others may need me, that sometimes I need me more and to honor that.  So you’ll forgive me if I can’t be there to fix it for you right away but promise to help you with it at another time unless you can fix it yourself first. That would be preferred because you learn so much from working on yourself.

I know I did.

But I am here if you struggle…sending love and support.

Oh…I also finished the third book kids. I couldn’t find time before now to do so because I was busy planning dinner at 9 am…

Progress rocks. 😉

Love love love….and thank you once again universe for sending me down the next path on this amazing journey.  But don’t do that shit again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gently Bruised

`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness `

Today’s blog is part cathartic and part an attempt to ease the gentle hearts that I encounter every day. In a world that can be tragically uncomfortable I wanted to take a moment to recognize those that try to soothe it. Bless your soft and tender souls for trying to light the many dark corners.

`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness `  Tania

She’d always be the last one to get to her desk; the impatient students would shove past her, the condescending would glance at her as if she were an inconvenience; an obstacle in their path.  She wore thick glasses and carried an odor of stale urine as firmly attached to her body as the steel crutches that were attached like bracelets to her wrists. I think it may have been polio perhaps, but will never know for certain I suppose.  I found her one day, not so long ago now and upon reaching out in my excitement of seeing her grown and a seemingly happy adult; felt slightly wounded as she brushed me off like a piece of lint on her sweater.  I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness.

I would run ahead of her as she tried to reach the bathroom before her bladder released into the telltale darkened stain on the back of her jeans.  Her best efforts at speed were only slowed by the non compliance of two feet that would be dragged behind the frantic clicking of the crutches that hung from both forearms. She rarely to never would make it and the remaining hours of the school day would be spent sitting in the dampness that shared its pungency with a room full of student nostrils.  They would pick on her while I did my best to make her feel that she was not unusual.  And I remember wondering if I could have done better back then… that perhaps she may have recalled that I tried to be gentle.

Or perhaps the insults and the cruelty of others overshadowed the softness.  And if that is true, then my heart still wants to fix it despite the passage of decades.

It’s my natural way to be gentle. I struggle to understand anything less than a desire to be kind.  I cannot comprehend cruelty, or intentions that may be less than loving.  I will never find comfort in stepping on other humans to get to my destination. I would much rather join those on the ground to help ease the burden of the weight of those that do so.

Certainly I am no saint and have followed selfish paths in the moments that I feel unsupported. We are human of course, and not one of us balanced perfectly. I can dive into bursts of anger as quickly as I can dissolve into tears.  I can hide the bag of Oreo’s just as well as the next person simply because I believe I deserve the sweetness. We have all shared of the discomforts that can manifest into human nature.

However…when all is said and done…my defining nature is to be gentle. To not step on others to gain my rewards.

It is this characteristic that will find me continuing to want to soothe the way forward despite having felt the weight of such feet press into my spine time and time again.  I say this without complaint but a simple yet new understanding that in this gentleness is my greatest strength.  Empathy is an unforgiving journey and not for the faint of heart. Empathy requires an ability to unbend a spine that is bruised, sometimes broken and unfurl it to standing without sharing the pain.

I wondered for a moment if I was practicing true empathy in questioning why this woman did not remember my kindness.  It burned ever so slightly for a minute or two to feel that I hadn’t done something good enough to be remembered.  And I had to stop and wonder if I was battling the EGO or punishing my heart for not being enough when she needed it.

Or if, perhaps, I was understanding her from the value of being different than most. And in doing so I could feel how the discomforts might overshadow the kindness; and better understand my overwhelming desire to make it go away for her.

Which leads me to question something very obvious.

Are the gentle trying to heal the world because in doing so they heal themselves?

Life offers no easy answers. But it does offer us the opportunity to ask the questions.

And I love questions.

And softness.

Don’t stop that. Your gentleness. One day it will be remembered first.

Love love and more love.

Be soft to you first. And then share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grieving Promise

Grief is hemorrhagic.

It shares no umbrella of the same color or shape. You can’t expect someone to stay dry using yours because it worked for you.

I promise you will grieve.  And there is nothing I can do to prepare you.

I can share literature and lead by my example but there is nothing I can do to help you understand.  Like birth and like death, the journey to your  certain discomfort will only be known by yourself.  There will be nothing to catch you, nothing that can console you and nothing to fill the shatters in your soul.  A deeply painful and personal unraveling of all the words you could have said and all the moments you had the opportunity to say them.  Of all the chances you missed and the chances you took.  You will find discomfort in every choice you created and every choice you allowed.

I promise you will grieve. And there is nothing I can do to prepare you.

What I can prepare you for  is that no one will understand the depth of your pain. They will try to understand, attempt to console, try to catch you when your knees burst and you fall to the depths. But I can promise you they will not know how deeply you will drop because you are falling through your own waters and bringing your own beliefs, thoughts and regrets as your swimming companions.

I promise no one will understand your pain.

Your pain is as individual as your fingertips, your DNA and your thoughts. While many will commiserate and understand the experience of loss, they can never truly seek to understand your ownership to the individuality of your story.

If we are to help one another through grief, we must be aware that not one process is like another.  We cannot seek to know the physical and emotional results of a heart that is punctured; whether once or a thousand times over.  The choice of injurious results lies with each individual story.  Over time hearts will heal, some more quickly; while others will leave nothing more than sinew to toughen the holes and to make them impenetrable to the possibility of further bleeding.  In both there is strength. And in both we have no right in our opinion of the process.

I’ve heard it enough now in my lifetime and my career. The judgements on how the grieving can grieve.

“He’s already moved onward to a new spouse. Her body is barely cold”

We have no right.

“She’s pregnant again, so soon. She hasn’t grieved the child she lost”

We have no right.

“You are angry and not what I knew. I cannot work with what I don’t recognize”

We have no right.

“Get up from the couch. Uncurl your hands from the teddy bear. You have to keep going”

We have no right.

Until the moment that the sharp pins explode  into our own hearts, our own souls and our own understanding of what that looks like…

We have no right.

And even after that moment…

The only right we are afforded…

Is the right to finally understand that we can offer nothing to change the experience.

Nothing that is…

Except to love them through it.  Whether we disagree, we wouldn’t have done it the same way, or we think our way is better.

Their way is the only way.

Love them through it.

Love them through what they need to do in order to survive.

Surviving might be angry, risk taking or silence. Surviving might be running forward to something new. Surviving may be terror in allowing anything or anyone to come close again. Surviving might be bottled or prescribed. Surviving may be tolerable only in introversion or in dancing through the streets.  Surviving may be in dying and breathing concurrently.

Love them through it anyway.

Grief is hemorrhagic.

It shares no umbrella of the same color or shape. You can’t expect someone to stay dry using yours because it worked for you.

Love them through it.

Let them bleed.

Only they can stop the flow because only they know where the punctures exist.

Love them through it.

Love you through it.

 

Be kinder. Be more compassionate. Don’t push. Don’t force.  Be gentle. Be tolerable because understanding will be obscure.

Just love them through it.

 

Loving you through it

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Strong Soul: If Anyone Can Handle This It’s You

“I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say. I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say…”

I have been struggling for months now to find my words because I thought I’d shared all that I could share to help with the process of loss. Last night I found them again. Life is all about timing. Painful yes. But a much needed lesson in allowing others to hurt authentically.

We made my best friend cry last night. Her dead sister and I. Unashamedly. Unabashedly. Uncontrollably.

It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced, and that’s saying a lot from someone whose job it is to bring you to tears.  As I watched her little face crumble into her chest I shoved my tongue hard into the roof of my mouth to distract from the heat of my own tears that were threatening to pour over my cheeks. I found myself looking upward and to the left to avoid being pulled into her discomfort. I was working and as such that demands a different part of me that cannot be taken off balance.

In one fell swoop her deceased sister had moved the conversation from laughter to profound discomfort. I was completely unprepared although I should know this energy well enough by now to have been ready for just about anything.  Over this past year since her death she has provoked me to issue ridiculous and often off color comments via text to her older sibling.

“Tell her she forgot to shave her belly button” among other things that should likely never be shared publicly.  My friend wouldn’t care what I shared here but that’s really not the purpose of my thoughts today.

I had no idea that she was in such profound pain.  She is so forthcoming about her journey through loss in her own blogs that I missed it somehow?  Maybe because we are too close to recognize it? Maybe because she is a lot like myself, she counsels the grief of others? Maybe because I hold her up as my example of how to be strong.

That’s it.

I hold all five feet of her as my idea of strength.  In fact, if I am honest about this, I can well recall the moment that her text arrived to me on the morning of her sisters tragic death. “She’s gone. My sister is gone” and the first thought that swept over me was….

“You got this girl. You got this. If anyone can handle this, its you”

I never told her that but I think she knew that’s what I was expecting.

So she did. She handled it. She swept through what had to happen in the days to follow. She got up, she brushed her teeth, she put on her eyeliner and she took charge. Exactly what I expected is exactly what she did.  I never saw her break. Not even as she stood in front of the colorful flowers and the urn at the funeral home and recited her own version of her sisters life and how she might expect others to handle her death.  And my friend handled it the way she thought her sister might expect.

She handled it the way I might expect. The way her mom might expect. The way her friends might expect. Her clients might expect.

She simply handled it.

And then last night as her sisters words about sex on the dining room table faded off into the inevitable giggles, she turned that table and took me to the truth. The room suddenly emptied of those that were physically present as I watched this little sister pull her broken older sister into her arms and rock her like a child.

And that’s not what I was expecting.  And I don’t think that’s what my five foot Wonder Woman was expecting either as her eyes darted quickly and then somehow slid down her face like wet paint and splashed into her broken heart.

In fact just this morning she recounted to me that it had all caught her off guard. Not that I needed that confirmation because it was written all over her brown eyes as she struggled to hide the fact that she knew…that I knew….

That she had been handling it because she was expected to handle it.

I knew the look.

Intimately.

And I will expect that many of you do too.

It caught me off guard too. A scene swelling in my mind of my caped crusader curled up into a ball that made her no bigger than the pillows on her couch.  With her sister in her awful polyester navy pants and bright red blouse wrapped tightly around her trying to console her pain. Not what I thought I would see. Not what my friend thought I would see either.

But something I needed to see. And something she needed to share with someone other than the little bear that was made of her sisters clothing. The little bear that was hidden under her chest as she curled up like her throw pillow.

I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say.  I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say.

I’d like to thank Kerri. The little sister that died because she couldn’t hit a possum. Because her heart was too big to cause pain. Because she talked about bleaching her backside. And sex on the kitchen table.

And because she showed me what real strength looks like. It looks like a throw pillow wet with tears wrapped around a small bear. A wee Wonder Woman that breaks apart in the early hours and then unravels herself to her full five feet as the sun comes up. Brushes her teeth. Puts on her eyeliner.  And handles it the way she’s expected to.

The way I do. The way you do. The way all that feel so deeply do. Every single day.

And now I am left wondering why something so incredibly beautiful and courageous is something we don’t talk about.

Because it opens our own discomforts? Our own what’s “not expected” of us?

Perhaps.

Lets change that.  Because my intention going forward is a whole lot of….

“Well I didn’t expect that”

Of course not. Because you are doing what’s expected. In grieving, in losses, in love.

Stop it.

Show me. Show others. Show them the truth. Because they might be hiding their own.

Show us what we don’t expect you to do.  And then we can heal together.

Sending love to those that are curled up and crying before you stand up and do what’s expected.  I got ya. xo

 

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Best Thing

Ridiculous maybe. It’s how my heart works. Maybe yours does too and that’s why you’ve stuck with me through the narrative above.

Maybe you’ve felt disposable and that’s why you’re still with me.

Maybe it would help if you knew that I’ve felt that way too. Maybe if we are honest we can truly say that we feel like this today, or we felt like this yesterday.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams Bianco The Velveteen Rabbit

Somewhere out there is a worn out Steiff teddy with a hole in his foot and a nose stitched from heavy black thread. He was a gift to me as a baby, some 50 years back now, my companion who sat patiently in my pram waiting for me to grow old enough to love his fur off.

If you happened to find my old friend, I lost him one day two decade or so ago, during a move. It was only in the aftermath of unpacking that I discovered him missing and I was devastated. I can only imagine in my romantic mind that he zipped across the country in a U Haul and found a new home with someone that needed him. If you happened upon him, the slice in his foot a testament to the interest of a ten year old in all things medical. Craft scissors as scalpel I had only sliced but an inch when I realized that my friend was straw filled. I never forgave myself for causing him harm, so you may have found a worn band-aid stuck to his course fur. Oh, if you tip him the right way you might still hear the growl, its hard to say because it was beginning to fade in the years that I loved him.

I never replaced him. I couldn’t replace him. Wound into every sharp piece of straw were a thousand childhood giggles, a plethora of adolescent pain, and a smattering of fear of an adulthood I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.

You might have wondered at the worn places where his fur was rubbed clear off and replaced by something that resembled a blank needlepoint canvas.  One or two sharp mohair tufts existed in the middle and I would wake with red scratches on my neck from curling him up in my arms.  He was my best friend and I hope that whomever he found took from him the comfort that he so steadfastly offered me in my early years.

I will never fully understand how or why I lost him along the way, but he will always stand out in my mind as my old friend. Broken and wobbly where his knees bent. His head lopsided where he loosened in his neck joints. Two poorly constructed eyes and a tightly sewn nose with one black thread that stood straight out like an unruly whisker.

He was…the most beautiful friend in my world. I hope you treated him kindly despite his ugliness in appearance. I hope you understand that he wasn’t disposed of but lost one day by a young mum who still looks for him on every antique store shelf and at your local yard sales. Not out of nostalgia but out of a need to reconcile my guilt at feeling that an inanimate straw filled toy might feel that I simply let him go.

Ridiculous maybe. It’s how my heart works. Maybe yours does too and that’s why you’ve stuck with me through the narrative above.

Maybe you’ve felt disposable and that’s why you’re still with me.

Maybe it would help if you knew that I’ve felt that way too. Maybe if we are honest we can truly say that we feel like this today, or we felt like this yesterday.

It’s hard in our present world to not feel like something better is right around the corner. Technology is flipping devices our way with the speed of Grandma at the church pancake breakfast.  So much so that it is getting hard to keep up.

Way back in the day there were no ” no down payment, take 24 months to pay” that allowed us to rid of the furniture that we tired of after a short 6 months. Toss to the side of the road to become someone else’s “old but new to me”. By the time we got around to replacing something it had been completely used up, bereft of any plushness in the pillows, torn at the seams and it shifted sideways when you sat as if it may fold in half at any given moment. More often than not it would make its way out to the garage or the tree house, sometimes it found its new home among the paneled basements, but unless it was in two or three pieces, it stayed. Filled with memories of TV dinners on the aluminum fold up trays, memories of first kisses or when the baby peed all over the new upholstery. If you searched in the creases you might find pennies, or if you were lucky a quarter or two. Finders Keepers.

Today we have build a bed, build a shelf, build a bear even. A much cheaper version of things once crafted with care, now easily erected ( for the most part..have you ever read IKEA instructions after the age of 50?) and just as easily discarded when the mood strikes for a new color or new shape.  When the fiber fill rolls up and creates empty pockets, we wander in search of something that is better filled out, more comfortable to rest upon. Something prettier than what we had before.

It is most uncomfortable when you notice that we have started the same practice with each other.  Just today I read about a young man that took his own life at the urging of someone that boasted to love him. As I scrolled through the texted conversation that ensued prior to his death I was overcome with the painful realization that the words that flew were no more than instructions on how he could dispose of himself. Her words screamed to me, to him; that he was replaceable. His own words in reply were of a young boy scrambling to hold on to the end of an old couch that was tipping with each syllable that she presented. “I have to go to the beach with my mom, I’ll do it later”. There he was gripping onto something familiar, something that had been with him for years and something that felt safe. But to no avail. He asked for one more moment to say “I love you” and she doused it with “They know how much you love them already”.  Carefully deconstructed I read “You’ve loved them enough, that will get them through this, and now it’s time for you to go” Something else will replace you…eventually.

The usual comments followed on the news thread. I was grateful to see so many that shared the pain of the family left behind, those that empathized and were so deeply affected by a death that was so needless. I was then truly horrified at the comments that suggested the young lady had done no more than to encourage someone who didn’t want to live in the first place. “So what” “She only helped to deplete the surface population” “Waste of space”.

Like the corner unit that no longer fit into the decor it was perfectly OK to break him down and to throw him to the roadside.

It is not OK at all.

It’s reprehensible. This is not OK. It’s inhumane.

Souls are not disposable.

Human souls are truly no more than the teddy bears that we wore the absolute hell out of because if we did it right; we loved them too hard to let them go. They stunk, they were stained. Their ears fell off, their stuffing gave way to holes that you could stick your thumb in and use as a carry handle. They were no less important just because their eyes fell out or their mouths drooped into the corners. No less important because they could no longer sit straight up at the end of the bed but sat flopped because the joints wore out. We cried on them, drooled on them, dragged them through the yard, in the wagon and stuffed them into our bike baskets.  We wrecked them with love.

We don’t love something until it falls to pieces and then replace it with the next best thing available.

I don’t comprehend the thought process of a disposable world.

I hope I never do.

I think I’ll flood the world with teddy bears.

If you find mine. Call me. He was loved into ugly. And he’s completely irreplaceable.

 

#buysomeoneabeartoday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Ends

 

Death in hospital corridor

I was fairly absent after spending more than five hours in the emergency waiting area. Staring non committed into space, I was only mildly aware of the usual activity taking place around me.  The ten year old to my left was still kicking the magazine table, his mother was still ignoring him, and the young woman to my right was still curled up under her coat snoring lightly. Just a typical day in our local hospital. The young lady snoring was spread out over a four seat “settee”, yet no one seemed willing to rouse her to make space for the stream of bodies that kept moving though the entrance doors. Perhaps she had dozed from her pain. No one really knew and therefore all were reticent to waken her.  So they stood, leaning on doors and windows.

My attention was firmly recaptured as I watched the triage doors open ahead of me. A mid age lady was being half carried, half pulled from the trauma bays on the other side. The gentleman with her had his large hand across her left brow as he pushed her face into his shoulder in a protective way. As they stumbled past me I glanced to them and her face came into clear view. Tear stained and contorted, she was quietly sobbing and trying to do it privately. It was her contortion, the grimace across her lips that told me all I needed to know.

Dead ends.  In the last breath, dead ends normal.

And the face becomes distorted in confusion and not knowing where to begin.

Dead Ends. It ends conversations, traditions and how we do things from here. Dead ends families, ends friendships and romances. It ends routines and it ends what we expected for the day after.

My heart shattered for her as I watched her move away into a new way of normal. I don’t know who she lost that day. I tried to not interfere in that story because it’s intrusive and not any of my business. It didn’t matter. What mattered is the blessing I sent behind her that she once again find life after dead just ended it.

Dead ends. It ends the taste of your morning coffee. It ends the sound of a voice. The aroma of the perfume or the aftershave. Dead ends how well the roses grow, the way the hand-towels are hung. Dead ends how good the pie tastes, and how we laugh at funny movies. Dead ends Santa pictures and boy scout meetings. Figure skating and proms.

Dead ends life as we have learned to live it.  So when someone is grieving, it is not only grieving the physical loss, it is grieving the normal that we have grown to know and to feel safe inside of.

The rest of the waiting area glanced up cursorily, their lives unchanged. The chatter returned, the slurping of cold coffee resumed and the child beside me finally bored of kicking the table.  But beyond that door, dead just ended.  And I felt it with her.  It reminded me…

Be oh so gentle on those that are grieving loss.

It matters in no way what type of loss someone is struggling with.  For those grieving a child, dead ends birthday cakes and Christmas mornings, graduations and wedding plans. For those that lose a spouse, dead ends the weekly grocery list, the way the bed is made and how the toothpaste tube is rolled.  For those that lose a parent, death ends the rules of sibling engagement. Death ends the Sunday roast dinner. It changes the landscape of the family.  For those that lose a pet, dead ends the usual morning snuggles, the daily walk, or the warmth across cold feet during the evening TV ritual.

Dead ends. It ends text messages and phone calls. It ends greeting cards filled with love. Dead ends what’s normal and the best made plans. Dead ends arguments, cheating at Monopoly, and sharing KFC on the beach. Dead ends routines, ends expectations and how we dance from this day onward.

And that’s why it hurts as hard as it hurts.  Dead ends what we have come to accept as living.

Dead ends and life begins in unfamiliar surroundings. And yet we want to rush it along.  We ask a lot from those that grieve.  We ask them to return to life as normal, yet dead ended everything normal for them. Be kind. Understand that they don’t have any idea how to be normal from this moment onward. Because normal included…

Waking up before their five year old to enjoy the moments of solitude before he/she came bounding down the stairs demanding waffles.

Knowing mom will bring her homemade pie to Thanksgiving so dessert is covered.

Looking forward to the birthday card that holds the typical 25.00 cheque because Grandpa refuses to do gift cards. And being grateful because you are 25.00 overdrawn this week.

Giggling with your best friend over bad wine in pajamas and bare feet with badly chipped polish.

Popping three pieces into the toaster. Two for you and one for the dog.

Dead ends more than one life. It ripples and changes the rest of our story.

And we have to allow for that. We have to give time to those who grieve. We are not allowed to decide for them how long that will take. We are not allowed to tell them to get on with it, to find something new to replace the old, or to demand that they heal according to our plan for them to heal.

Toothpaste tubes rolled up the wrong way have started many fights that have ended on hugs and giggles. Demanding waffles at 7 am has ended in sharing wild variations of the monster under the bed dreams of the night prior. Chipped nail polish has ended in spa days with good wine and chocolate desserts.

Every action becomes a habit and every habit becomes a breath of the life we know.

So let them be. Let them cry and grow angry over waffles. Let them sit with old greeting cards and the cheque that was never cashed. Let them sit with the leash and stare through the window at the trees they once walked through. Let them never want to make moms pie because they can’t make it taste the same way.

But let them.

Let them learn to walk again. Let them learn to live.

Because dead ended that.

 

 

In love, in light, in gentleness and in patience.

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Poppy And The Tinsel

christmas_in_world_war_two
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/topics/christmas_in_world_war_two  Getty Images

“In many ways, Christmas 1940 was the first war-time Christmas of World War Two. Celebrating during heavy rationing and restrictions – whilst surviving heavy bombing and coping with the threat of invasion – was a battle in itself”  bbc.co.uk

I typically decorate for the Christmas season in the middle of December. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with honoring our veterans, but more to do with my own personal choice to not be pulling tinsel off my socks for more than two weeks. And I will admit that I am no fan of the consumerism of the season beginning the week of Halloween. There is a huge line between personal freedoms and the exploitation of the same to increase the bottom line. But I digress.

On November 10th of this year, the children of my city will be standing on the roadside eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa at the end of a long and colorful parade. There are some that are very upset about this.  As the floats begin, and the marching bands tune up we will see these kids as they lean their toes just off the curb edge, dancing, smiling and laughing. I love these moments. I enjoy the parade but I far more enjoy the little ones who are oblivious  to the hardships that our veterans and our ancestors endured in a time not that long ago from now.  I said it. Oblivious. And I would like to thank our veterans for this. I would like to thank my granddad Clifford for this.

My Grandad was a WW2 veteran and a prisoner of war.  And his grandchildren meant the very world to him. Far before November 11th each year, huge packages would arrive in the mail filled with “choccies”. Each child would get  a card with the note inside wishing us a “Very Happy Christmas”  He loved this time of the year. And with very good reason. Because for him, there were several Christmas seasons that did not offer the opportunity for chocolate but instead nothing more than stale bread which he was lucky to get if the rats didn’t get to it first.  The memoirs he wrote are painful at best yet they finish with a wish that all generations of his family to follow enjoy the beauty of the freedom that he fought for.

And so each year until his death, he celebrated the season well before the season began.  And he did so to serve as a reminder that there was something to celebrate. And every single Christmas morning the phone would make the telltale ring; one long two short, that would bring his voice over the line, excited to speak to each and every one of us as we lined up in the kitchen waiting our turn and getting tangled in the long curly cord as we handed off to the next. He lived for these conversations. He fought for these conversations. And that’s how we remember him; excited to be sharing a celebration with the family he fought for.

Not once do I recall his phoning through on the telltale ring on November 11th. He chose instead to reflect on this day in his own way. And we chose to reflect on his service in our own way. With the simple act of adorning our jacket with one red flower.

Most veterans are humble humans. They did not go into the line of fire with the expectation of anything less than to provide freedom and peace to the generations that would follow.  I can say this with absolute certainty, having spent many years caring for our veterans in the long-term care environment. Each November 11th we would honor them and they would stand so proudly in their best suits, sometimes just a pair of sweat pants, but a little red flower would sit over their heart. And they would often be seen pushing one single tear from their cheek.

They were the first out of bed on tree decorating day just a few days later. Every year. Patiently waiting in the lounge room, those with little physical limitations would jump up to help us bring in the boxes. Those that could not help physically, sat and smiled at the anticipation of twinkling lights and a Santa shaking his hips to “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree”.

They would have been no less exited for this experience had it taken place the week before we stood in solemn silence.  Once or twice it did. And there they were. Ready and willing to top the tree with the star. Because for them it wasn’t about what they DID. For them it was about what they accomplished. And if that meant that we could begin to celebrate the beauty of Christmas on November 10th, then they were all set to do so.  This is what they fought for. To allow us the freedom to choose for ourselves.

To those who struggle with feeling a disrespect in welcoming Christmas before November 11th, I understand your choice and encourage you to fully embrace it.

To those who wish to herald the celebration of remembrance with a tree sparkling through your front window, I understand your choice and encourage you to fully embrace it.

The veterans fought for freedom to choose. The veterans fought for peace.

And fighting over a Christmas Parade isn’t reflective of their intention at all but disrespectful to what they achieved for us.

My children and grandchildren understand the significance of the poppy. And in quiet respect they will drop their heads for a moment to honor those that fought so hard to give them a life free of the discomforts of war. And whether they do it in front of a tree full of candy canes or in front of a war memorial is insignificant. All that matters is that they remember.

And all that matters is that we all remember.

I have been blessed. I have shared stories with our veterans. I have been kissed on the cheek under the mistletoe more times than I can recall by members of our forces leaning heavily on a cane or reaching up as I bent over a wheelchair. They lived for these moments. They died for these moments. They gave us these moments.

And that twinkle that they talk about Santa having in his eyes?

It’s reflected in the eyes of the men and women who fought to keep it there.

Celebrate as you will. Because the intention of that soldier buried deep into a trench, his head low against the bullets…

Was to give us that very gift.

In love. In light. In remembrance of our freedoms.

Thank a veteran today.

22083979 - christmas bauble made by deocupage