Not Remembering Your Funeral

As I allow myself a few hours of indulgence tonight by watching Scandal on Netflix, I watched an episode that centred around the death and funeral of a main character (cancer of course). It made me realize that I don’t remember anything about your funeral.  I don’t even remember most of the details of the two visitations leading up to it.

What I’m finding most disturbing, and it seems silly, is that I don’t remember what I wore or what I dressed our baby girl in for your funeral.  I know it’s not important, but the fact that I can’t remember makes it seem important.

Truly, the only thing I remember about your funeral is the end.  Walking behind your casket, zombie-like, in disbelief that you were gone.  And then – being outside the church and seeing hundreds of people coming towards me.  It felt like they needed hugs from me, for me to comfort them.  In that moment, I knew that I was emotionally tapped out.  I spent the 4 months that you were sick putting on a brave face, reassuring others, hugging them, telling them it would be OK. In that moment, at the end of your funeral, I knew I couldn’t do it for another second.  In that moment, I ran for the nearest side street and I escaped.  I know you would have wanted me to comfort others in that moment and I hope you can forgive me.

A back-dating I will go!

I’ve opted to use this blog for several things:

  • As an outlet to release my feelings (anger, sadness, hope, fear, happiness – all of it)
  • As a place to house the email messages my now late husband and I sent out to our friends and family throughout our journey with cancer (these will be edited to protect our identities)
  • As a place to document mine and my daughter’s journey into this surreal new life without my husband/her daddy

With that said, I’m off to post the messages we sent out when we were first diagnosed with cancer.  My hope is that I can figure out how to back-date them so they will appear chronological.  Wish me luck!

The Memory of our Magical Little Love

My Dearest Sugar,

I wanted to capture a couple of moments here before I lose track of when they occurred.

Despite the fact that our magical Little Love (Your Bub) was a mere 18 months old when we lost our battle with cancer, she still appears to vividly remember you.

Each evening, before we go to bed, she asks if we can talk about you.  Often these musings are about very generic things “Daddy liked salad. Daddy liked pasta.” That sort of thing.

On Dec. 28th, the dialogue went like this:

Little Love – I miss Daddy

Me – Me too

Little Love – Daddy wore a hat!

Me – yes, he did!

Little Love – a red one

Me – that’s right!

Little Love – a baseball hat!

She was exactly right.  Whether she said this because she’s seen pictures or truly remembers, I’m not sure, but there are other examples that aren’t at all associated to photos, so I’d like to believe that she remembers you in your red Appleton hat.

A few days ago, I made us both a protein shake and when I pulled the shake bottle down from the cupboard (which we haven’t used since you died), she said “That’s Daddy’s bottle.”  She remembers…

Tonight, well tonight was the most magical and difficult of them all so far.

While putting her to bed, we engaged in our usual “talk about Daddy” discussion.

She began by telling me that “Daddy liked water with lemon in it.  He took the lemon out and gave it to me”.  She’s right.  You did.  We’ve never discussed this and there are no pictures of it.  This would have happened nearly a year ago now and this simple experience popped into her head tonight.  Such a magical thing.

She then asked “Where is Daddy?”.  This isn’t new. She asks where you are often.  We always launch into the dialogue of “Do you remember?  Daddy got very sick and then daddy died.”

Tonight was different.  Tonight, when I reminded her what happened, she responded with “Daddy is lost.  He’s at the hospital.  He is lost.”

I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my face. My guess is that she now understands the concept of “losing” an object and that the lost object is always found.  In her mind, you are lost and it’s only a matter of time before we find you.  I suspect this will come up again and again until she learns what death is.  At only 2 years and 4 months old, I know this conversation will continue to evolve throughout her childhood.

I haven’t had a chance to write about our upcoming move to Panama (I’ll get to that soon, I promise), but when I said “Who will go with us?”  Her response was “Mommy.  And Viva.  And Daddy will be there.”

It’s truly a gift that she remembers you and loves you so much that she expects you to be there for key occasions, but it breaks my heart to know that those expectations will never come to fruition.  The love that you had for her was like no other that I had ever seen.  She deserved that just as much as you deserved her and the love she still has for you.

You have my promise that I will always put her happiness first and that she will always know just how much you loved her and how hard you fought to be here to raise her.

With all my love,

Your Sweetness

Christmas without you

My dearest Sugar,

I suspected that the holidays would be one of the more difficult periods to get through but I must admit, it’s proving more difficult than I could have imagined.  Our little Smoochiegirl is becoming more and more of a little person every day.  With each heart melting moment – decorating our first Christmas tree, her singing Jingle Bells all by herself for the first time – I am filled with equal amounts of joy and sadness.  These are the moments we were supposed to share together.  The moments that I know only you would appreciate as much as I do.

It’s all still so surreal.  Sitting on the TTC just yesterday, I started to cry for no apparent reason.  I know the reason behind it – it’s because I work so hard to be positive every day.  At work for my colleagues and clients and at home for Viva. When she’s old enough to understand, we will cry together. But for now, these firsts that I share with her will not be tainted by her mommy crying.

Despite the fact that she was only 18 months old when you passed away, she remembers you vividly and asks about you often.  A few times a week she tells me that she misses you.  And when I talk about upcoming weekend plans, Christmas plans, etc., when we go through the “who will be there?”, she always includes you on her guest list.  I gently remind her that you became very sick, that you died and that as much as you wanted to be here with her, you’re gone forever now.  These words break my heart, but I want her to know that you’re not absent by choice, that you fought so hard to stay with us.

We are now only one week away from Christmas and what’s most difficult is reflecting back on this time last year – and on Christmas day last year.  You had complained of stomach cramps for a few weeks, but given your lactose intolerance and frequent bouts of gas (sorry!), we didn’t think much of it.  The family pictures we took on Christmas day show a happy, loving family.  We were completely oblivious that a mere 6 days later, we’d find out that we had very limited time left.

I will do everything in my power to make this first Christmas that Viva appreciates a joyous one, but it won’t be easy.  I may dread New Year’s more.  Learning on new year’s eve, right before we turned the page into 2014 that you were dying has made me hate Dec. 31st.  As much as I’ve loved so many moments with Viva in 2014, I cannot wait to kick it straight into the past with a loud F*CK YOU.

I am forever grateful that you and I had nearly 9 years of great experiences together.  What makes me eternally sad is that Viva won’t know you.  Not having a positive father figure in my life, I was so very careful to find a partner who would be the absolute best father.  And you were.  Selfishly, I was looking forward to watching your relationship grow.  I knew you two would be inseparable and that there would be times that I would feel like an outsider, looking in on a relationship I couldn’t personally understand but always wanted for my child.  It breaks my heart that you were both robbed of this.  Your passing has forever changed me and shaken my belief system.

I am heading to Panama on January 1st for 10 days to explore various expat communities with the goal of moving there with our Little Love.  She’s growing up so quickly and I want to spend every possible moment that I can with her.  That’s what matters.  Careers don’t.  Cool parties don’t.  New restaurants don’t.  Moments with those you love do.

I wish there was a way to know whether you support this decision.  I hope and feel that you would but I know you would worry about us.  I don’t believe in God, but somehow I believe that you are now our guardian angel and will ensure that we are always safe from harm.

We miss you, love you and think of you every day.

First Thanksgiving Without You

On this first thanksgiving without you, I am thankful for:

  • the 8 years we had together
  • the magical daughter we created
  • the large group of friends and family who battled with us as we fought for your life
  • the small group of friends and family who continue to help us through these difficult days without you
  • life

This video is of us last year on Thanksgiving Day. We miss you.

This Roller Coaster

My darling Sugar,

What a roller coaster these past few weeks have been.  I returned to work last month and although my colleagues and my clients are terrific people, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to care about my work. I am more distracted and less focused each day. Life will continue whether I launch another marketing campaign or not.

I am suddenly in a position to consider a new life for myself and our daughter – one that you and I always dreamed of. One that involves moving to a warmer climate where we can breathe in fresh, clean air every day, eat fresh, locally grown foods and most importantly, live a less stressful life where I can teach our little girl to appreciate nature and love.  This would mean a move out of our country – a country where by most standards is one of the safest in the world.  Our “safe” country however, doesn’t believe in healing with nutrition and continues to invest in environmentally catastrophic practices – drilling into the earth’s core to uncover fossil fuel reserves, risking our precious water table and putting the soil under us at risk of great pollution.

I am looking at moving to a country that will  be carbon neutral by the year 2021 and doesn’t believe in war.  A country where we’ll need to learn a new language, but one where I will be able to live for many years to come without working.  I recognize that my emotions are heightened right now and I may not be thinking clearly.  I feel as though I’m seeing more clear than I have in my entire life, but I will continue to conduct research, talk to expats and locals and I will take a few trips to the two countries I’ve narrowed down as the best options.  I will do this for 6 months to a year and if all checks out, off we go.  Please don’t worry about us.  We wish you could be here to make the move with us, but I feel like the universe has given me the opportunity to give our daughter the best kind of life and I’m ready to give up my career, our home and everything familiar to make it happen.

A turning point for me came earlier last week.  It was nothing and everything.  I had to rush home to pick our Little Love up from daycare early just so I could get her settled in with her dinner in front of the TV because I had to jump onto an “urgent” client call. I spend ONE hour with her each day from Monday to Friday and I was forced to spend that day ignoring her.  It broke my heart and confirmed that what I’m considering is right.  She deserves better than that.  Since she can’t have both of us here balancing our time with her, she will get my full time attention at least for the next few years.

I have asked you to come to me in my dreams tonight – something you’ve yet to do – and to give me your OK, or to guide us somehow.  I hope that you heard me and I look forward to seeing you later.

We love you and miss you.

Your Sweetness and little Bub

Was that you?

My Sugar,

Today’s new normal involved getting up at 6:30 AM to get our toddler ready for a full day at daycare and me ready for my first day back to work since you died. Last night marked a full week of our daughter waking at 2 AM wanting nothing but cuddles and refusing to return to her slumber until she received 2-3 hours worth. They say this is the prime age for separation anxiety, but losing you and having everyone stop visiting must have something to do with it.

Needless to say, today was a rough day. I ended it by cleaning up our daughter’s toys and settling in to fill out more paperwork related to your death. Reading the doc’s reports brought me to tears and when I walked across the room, I saw this on the floor. ..
The first letter of your name.
Was that you?
Or am I such the walking zombie that I left this out?
If it’s the former, I hope you show yourself more.
I am still in disbelief and miss you so very much.
We fought so hard, I still can’t believe you actually died..
It’s all so surreal.

With a heavy heart filled with love for you,
Your Sweetness

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Moments of Anger, Moments of Isolation

Just over a week ago, I had an appointment at my late husband’s bank.  We never had joint accounts. I took care of all the bills, he merely transferred his share of the funds to me each month.

I was shocked to learn that he’d taken out a personal line of credit which was now racked up to a decent amount which I am apparently now responsible for as his “next of kin”.  After losing my husband a mere four months after a shocking cancer diagnosis, you’d think the universe might have some good news for me for a change.  Apparently not.

So.. given that I’m newly widowed with a mortgage and daycare to pay for on a single income, I obviously can’t pay this debt, so I asked my sis-in-law who i’m close with to ask his parents if they could help.  You see, they own their home and have no debts whereas we have a massive mortgage and a pretty sizeable line of credit we racked up when we were both unemployed at the same time.  They also didn’t offer to help with his funeral – the planning or the costs.  Their response to this request was to inform my sis-in-law that he owed them a pretty good chunk of $ that they’ll never get back.  WTF!?!?  Seriously…!?!?  This is their granddaughter’s future…!  It also has to be said that they spend their retirement days out shopping and casino hopping so they obviously have some funds to play with.  Or they have a gambling problem.  I actually hope it’s the latter.  If it’s the former and they’re this selfish, I’m going to struggle with making any effort to allow them to see their granddaughter.  No, I’m not that cold, but I sure won’t be doling out any hugs when I see them.

Which brings me to today – just over one month since my husband passed and I had our first family function (his side) to attend.  Not only did my 19 month old and I have to take the bus to and from the party (a mere 15 minutes away), but his mom actually gave ME the cold shoulder.  Didn’t once ask how I was doing.  Other members of his family actually told me how hard it was for them without him physically being there.  Again.. not one of them asked how I was doing!  How can they not realize that what they felt for a few hours today is what I feel every f*cking day!?!?  When you lose your person – the one you shared a home, a bed, a child, a handful of text messages with every day – the pain and emptiness are ALWAYS there.  Yet they rarely check in on me and his parents have only called once in the month since he passed.  For all they know, I could be a complete mess, a broken person, a puddle, neglecting their grandchild, making poor decisions for both of us.  I’m not, obviously.  My head is on straight and she is my priority.  I’ve yet to cry in front of her – even when she asks me almost daily now for him in her broken 19 month old language… “Daddy?  Where?  Miss him. Miss Daddy.”  Breaks my f*cking heart every time.  I’m grateful that she’s so bright and has the gift of what seems to be a photographic memory as she will always remember him, but during these times of sadness, disbelief and isolation, it makes it difficult to stay strong and put on a happy face for her.

I’m also finding that I have moments where I’m so angry at him.  So very angry.  Why would he take out a line of credit when we were only on one income?  Why didn’t he take out life insurance when I nagged him about it nearly every month for over the past two years?  I know this anger is displaced.  I know I’m angry at the world, at Fate, at anything that had a hand in taking my best friend, my partner, the father to our child, my soul mate from me so quickly and at such a young age.  Our relationship, like most was complicated, but he was always the absolute best father a child could ask for and as someone who only grew up with negative father figures, I’m so angry at the world for taking him from us.  For taking the experience of having a doting father from my daughter and from again depriving me of what a father/daughter relationship should be.

I have always been an optimist, upbeat and positive to the point where it annoyed many and I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason.  This experience has shaken my entire belief system.  What reason could there possibly be for depriving our beautiful, bright, innocent daughter of growing up without her father’s love?

I am forever changed.. Gone is the eternal optimist.  I no longer believe that everything happens for a reason. There is no reason for this that I will ever find acceptable.

 

One Month Without You

My darling Sugar,

Today marks one full month since you passed.  Each day does not get easier.  It feels like just yesterday we were in the hospital, fighting, hoping we could turn it around. It also feels like a lifetime since we embraced and exchanged I love yous.

I walked the streets in our neighbourhood today and I was a myriad of emotions; envious of the young families I passed, annoyed by those complaining about things that just don’t matter and in shock that people passed me without seeing my sadness, not knowing how empty and broken I feel.

This journey has taught me to be so very thankful for our daughter, and the people in our lives who truly care and have been there for us. It has also taught me to truly not sweat the small stuff and to live each day to the fullest and tell the people around me just how much they are loved. 

As the days, weeks, months and eventually years go by, I don’t expect to miss you any less but I do hope the ache in my heart and lump in my throat dissipate.

I hope that you’re able to see us and see just how bright, funny and beautiful our daughter is already growing to be.  At only 19 months, she seems to comprehend all of this more than she should – often looking at me and saying “Daddy?  Miss Daddy.  Miss him.”  You will always be alive in her.

We love you.

Your Sweetness and Cuteness