A little piece of you

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I never used to let myself think about it,

about the day you wouldn’t be in my life anymore.

It felt like an existence that was light years away.

 But reality blindsided me,

and took you,

without even giving me chance to say goodbye.

For so long, my picture was blank.

All the colors of my puzzle,

the hues that were once filled in by you,

were nothing but monochromatic shades.

My world was black and white.

 But slowly, your color is returning.

My paint-by-numbers world

is gradually being saturated by your ethereal touch.

paint by number

I can see your favorite blue in the sky,

and I can feel the warmth of your oranges and reds in the setting sun.

 Your celestial brush animates my canvas.

The green you paint in my forest nurtures me,

the brown of the earth grounds me,

and the lines in your picture guide me.

Before you were gone,

my picture looked so different.

But now I embrace every line, every color,

looking for a little piece of you along the way.

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They thought they had more time

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I arrived at the church fifteen minutes before the service began and I was ushered into one of the last remaining seats at the back of the church.  The room was full and buzzing with conversation.  At the front of the church was a large picture of the man for whom we had all come to pay our respects and say our goodbyes.

There were several familiar faces and many I did not know.  Some carried on animated exchanges while others sat and prepared for the tears they knew were coming.  The church fell silent and we all rose to greet his wife, his children, his grandchildren and his extended family.

During the service, his children got up to share their memories of their dad and through broken, emotion-soaked voices they gave us another look into the man we all knew and greatly respected.  Before they even spoke, I saw the pain in their faces.  That same pain had been etched into my skin years ago when I lost my parents, my dad in 2006 and my mom, more recently, in 2014.  It is a pain not easily described to those who have not lost a parent.

Although both of my parents were ill leading up to their passing, they both left before I had a chance to say I love you once more because we thought we had more time.  This poor family thought they had much more time but their dad died very unexpectedly of a massive heart attack.  I sat through the service with dry eyes, because to have cried one tear would have opened floodgates that may not have closed.

I sit now writing this post through the tears that I could not shed on Saturday for fear they would not stop.  I think of all the lives he changed for the better.  I think of his countless hours spent doing things for those less fortunate.  I think of the legacy he left behind for us to follow.  And I think of his children who thought they had more time with their dad but never had the chance to tell him “I love you” just one more time.

As someone so astutely pointed out to me on Saturday, we are all given numbers and we never know when ours will be called.  Love deeply, laugh abundantly, share your good fortune with those who go without and don’t ever take for granted the moments to tell the people in your life how you feel about them.  You never know when their, or your, number will be called.

 

 

Energy never dies, it simply changes

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“As long as there is one person on Earth who remembers you, it isn’t over.” ~ Oscar Hammerstein, Carousel

~

I speak aloud to them and their faces later hover in my dreams,

those gone before me.

Perhaps it was their time.

Maybe they were taken before I was ready for them to be gone.

They leave a void on my plane of reality,

a chasm of memories that I jump into during random moments.

I bathe in the forgotten sound of their laughter,

I warm to the memory of their embrace.

But their energy never dies.

reiki-energy-orbs

They yearn for me to engage them.

They delight in the moments that I recall our past together.

I keep their memory alive with every thought of them,

each recollection of their journey with me.

If I take that moment to remember,

to seek what I saw in them in the physical world,

I give those reflections a new vitality.

When I look into the darkness,

I see beyond the black veil of loss.

I see the light they brought to my life.

The case that once held those beautiful spirits may be gone,

but the mark they left on my soul never leaves me.

They remain in my heart for as long as I am alive.

Each time I look into the stars,

I know they are looking back at me.

Their energy never dies.

~

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It lies just below the surface

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The pain of losing a parent is overwhelming.  It has been over eleven years since my dad passed and over three years since my mom passed.  Most days, even though I still find myself reaching for the phone to call them, I can manage the loss.  But every so often, there is a glaring reminder to make me deal with that sense of loss all over again.  It may be a completely banal event but the flood of feelings cannot be stopped.

Last night, it was a television commercial for the Heart and Stroke Foundation with Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette.  Joannie lost her mom only 2 days before she competed in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and every time I see the reminder of her story I am reduced to tears.  I know that loss all too well.  I feel the pain her heart feels.  But what I can’t imagine is having to perform at the highest level of competition a mere two days after losing her best friend.

The pain of loss never really goes away.  It lies just below the surface, ready to surprise us at any moment.  It can come back gradually or it can hit us all at once.  Regardless of how it arrives, I am now able to remind myself that the pain is so hard to take because it represents the huge amount of love we had in our family.  It doesn’t stop the tears from flowing, but now I can smile a little through those tears.

 

I will love you until….

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After watching a few back-to-back episodes of Hoarders yesterday morning (yes, you may roll your eyes now), my Sunday chore list became exponentially longer.  What started as a routine house cleaning day turned into a fridge and freezer purge, the breakdown of every cardboard box within my reach, two dump runs and a full afternoon in the kitchen making healthy lunches and soup for the week.

As I spent that time in my kitchen, my iPod playlist shuffled through every type of music you can imagine but the more I listened, the more the songs reminded me of my mom.  I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately.  She had a huge heart and she would continually think of little things to do for people just to see them smile.   She would spend the weeks leading up to Christmas baking until she could bake no more.  Her house always had the essence of fresh-baked cookies and squares and the Christmas tins would be piled high on her dining room table.

Her favorite day was not Christmas day but the day that she would drive, or later be driven, to all of the places where she would deliver her goodies.  The local Hardware store, the post office and the local veterinarians would excitedly open the tins to see their favorite type of cookie and their reaction was the only present she ever truly wanted.  My mom was the type of person who would learn those little things about you and she would make sure that those little things made their way from her home into your heart.

yellow rose

I was reminded of this wonderful quality when, during my furious Hoarder-inspired clean, I was rearranging some things in my kitchen.  There in the midst of my jar of utensils was a lone yellow rose.  I had long forgotten the bouquet of flowers my mother had given me so many years ago.  She had stealthily used my key to leave the flowers on the island in my kitchen and attached to the fragrant arrangement was a simple card that read, “I will love you until the last flower dies”.  I thought it was an odd message but after really looking the arrangement, I saw the flower in the middle of the bunch.  It was a lovely yellow rose, but it was artificial.  It would never die.

That was my mom.  And those little nuances that made her who she was are the things I miss the most.  Some days I’m fine, a phrase we are no longer allowed to use in my family, and some days, like yesterday, the emotion snuck up on me and I could not control the flow of tears.

But it is not just the rose that reminds me that she will always be with me.  My mom is somehow still able to pull strings and make wonderful things happen in our lives that we never expected.  And it is these things, the things that only my mom would know, that make the gestures so special and so meaningful.

To say I miss her is a gross understatement and  I hope she knows that I will love her until that last flower dies.

Remembering a post about Remembrance

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This was written two years ago and I could not think of a better post for today, so I am putting this out there for those who read it to read it again and for those who missed it to read it for the first time.

~~

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen them.  The men and the women of the Royal Canadian Legion Branches have been doing their duty, standing at local businesses with their trays of poppies, collecting donations.  I see them every year.  I donate several times every year and I am proud to don my poppy to show my support.

But Friday morning, November 6th, 2015, will stand out in my memory as the day I was truly humbled and I knew precisely what I would be thinking during my moment of silence on Remembrance Day.

My friend Karen was enveloped by her navy blazer, her hair neatly braided, and a bright red poppy radiated from the lapel on her jacket. But that bright poppy was no match for her vibrant smile as she stood in the rain with her tray of poppies strung proudly around her neck.  When I asked her why she was standing in the rain as opposed to being under the shelter of the covered entrance to the store, she paused briefly, looking into the sky while summoning her response.  When she replied, it stopped me in my tracks and hit me right in the heart.   She said, “I don’t know.  They stood out there for us so the least I can do is stand out here for them.”.

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For a few seconds, I was frozen in my spot.   I smiled at her and continued into the store to buy my morning paper.  I reflected on what she had said to me and, once out of the store, I stopped and chatted with her in the rain some more while I donated the rest of my change.

The thought of what she said still brings a tear to my eye every time I recall her voice saying that brief but overwhelmingly gracious line.  That sentence was profound.  One simple line put Remembrance Day back into perspective for me.

So easily at 11:00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, we all take a moment to share silence to remember the fallen, praise the heroes and thank those still serving to protect our basic rights and our freedom.  But how much do we think about what those soldiers really endured to fight for us?  How deeply will we let our brain delve into those dark places to be able to scratch the surface of the atrocities the fighters of those World Wars, and the many conflicts since, have been made to bear?

As the previous generations fall into the past and subsequently we skip quickly ahead to the next epoch of humanity, how many stories of our fallen ancestors will continue to be shared?  My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack long before I was born.  He served and I know so little about his sacrifices for our family and our country.   His stories of bravery seem to be tucked away with his photographs and his absence.

Hearing Karen’s thoughtful reasoning behind standing in the rain with her tray of poppies made me want to research the time my grandfather spent serving his country.  I want to feel that connection on Remembrance Day and I want to share that legacy with my nephews so their generation will understand what it means to show courage in the face of adversity, so they will appreciate what it means to sacrifice yourself for the greater good and how bravery is defined by doing something you believe in, no matter what the outcome.

To all of the men and women who are currently serving, to all of those who have served in the past and to those who are finally enjoying the peace they fought so diligently to preserve, I salute you and I thank you.  And at 11:00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, I shall bow my head and take a moment to truly appreciate everything I have because all of you made it possible for me to have those things.