Saturday, April 16, 2016

8 Months and Breakfast for Mimi

It was eight months ago today that Mark died.

Looking back on the last month, I can see that for me, something shifted and I'm feeling more at peace than I have in a long time.  After a long winter spent in a fog of grief, with too much time inside my head, I feel a bit like a flower trying to push through the soil in spring.  I can feel the warmth growing and am looking forward to facing whatever might be coming my way.

I feel stronger and happier than I have in a long time.  I'm starting to realize how much Mark's illness, and not just his death, affected me.  Going back 4 years to when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer, I started to live my life in fear.  I was desperately afraid that he was going to die.  Every time he would have surgery, I was terrified that he wouldn't make it through.  Funny thing is, he was never afraid of the surgery (one of the benefits of getting to sleep through it we would joke), he dreaded the treatments and I know his own personal idea of hell was a long lingering, painful illness. I continue to be grateful that he didn't have to endure something like that.

Over the past couple of days, I had the chance to spend time with some of my wonderful friends, people I haven't seen a lot of recently.  It was nice for me to be able to laugh with them, cry a little at times, and just feel reconnected to the world outside of my own four walls.

In addition to it being 8 months since Mark died, today is also Mimi's birthday.  Before there was a Mark and Peggy, there was Mark and Mimi.  As difficult as it was for Mark, I will be forever grateful to Mimi for leaving him. If they had remained happily married, I would have never had the opportunity to meet him.  For many years, Mark and Mimi "slung hash" side by side at "Mimi's."  She passed away suddenly in July 2010.  It was a total shock to learn of her passing.  She was only 54.  Today, Mimi would have been 60 and I know that for the people who loved her, in particular her life-long bestie Elaine, it's a difficult day to get through.  On April 16, 2011, in honour of Mimi's birthday, Mark cooked up "breakfast for Mimi"

I don't know if  you could even count how many breakfasts Mimi and Mark cooked over the years but I know that anyone who was ever fed by them walked away from the table very happy and satisfied.  As much as Mark was a culinary adventurer, he was never happier than when he found a really good version of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee.

Breakfast for Mimi

Thursday, April 14, 2016

They Say It's Your Birthday

Happy Birthday Mark.

You would have turned 64 today.  I never thought that I wouldn’t get to sing “When I’m 64” to you on your birthday this year (even thought it’s a Paul song).  We both knew that 65 might be a push and 70, well we didn’t dare dream that 70 was possible, but 64, that was a no-brainer.  I had already made plans for us to visit Montreal and you were so excited about that.  We would have left last night on the train (something we NEVER do – travel by train) and checked into John and Yoko’s room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  We would spend the day wandering around in Montreal, celebrating your 64th birthday in style.

How I wish that could have happened.

Instead, today, I have plans to celebrate your birthday with some lovely friends.  I am even heading out of town to do it (the first time I’ve left Kingston since we took that trip to Brockville to have your PICC put in).  We will remember you and will laugh a lot and probably cry a little and talk about much we loved you and the joy you brought to our lives, not to mention how much better off we were for having you in our lives.

Happy Birthday Mark

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Actual Sunshine

Hard to believe it but there is actual sun shining outside today.  After several days of weird snow and rain and generally gloomy skies, it's SO nice to see the sunshine this morning.  I didn't even mind being temporarily blinded by it while driving into work this morning.

In honour of this lovely sunny morning, I'm going to share some of my favourite sunshine related songs.  Enjoy the music and the bright, beautiful light!!

It's the sun

Blister in the sun

Here comes the sun

Walking on sunshine

Friday, April 08, 2016

Gracie's Mouse

So when you live in a house with a partner, or roommate, normally there is some division of labour, either formal or informal.  Mark and I didn’t have a formal arrangement but usually, we both stuck to things we were better at.  Obviously, he was better at cooking than I, I did a better job on the laundry than he would.  Some things though, neither of us were any better at than the other but somehow, one of us would do the lion’s share of it.  For example, I would clean the bathroom and he would kill critters.

huntersA couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Gracie was definitely stalking some prey.  She was bouncing around, a bit like a cat, near the bathroom door and then running down the hallway toward the kitchen.  I soon realized that she was after a mouse.  Imagine, a mouse in the house! This was the first mouse we’d seen since moving back into the house (a few years ago, Mark dismantled a mouse condo in the basement but that’s another story).  Mark believed that whenever we saw a solo mouse, in the daytime that the poor thing probably suffered from intellectual disabilities.  The next day I watched this silly mouse run around the living room, barely escaping Gracie’s reach.

Later that night, we were in the bedroom and she was growling softly and trying to squeeze herself in between the dresser and the wall (not possible).  Frustrated, she would pace in front of the dresser, growling, ears pointed high, tail up.  I didn’t see the mouse but I knew his days were numbered.  Fast forward to last Saturday.  I’m in the master bathroom and I can hear a mouse in the wall.  At this point, I’m pretty convinced that this is just one mouse. I had not seen evidence that there was more than one around and I think he probably got into the house via the doggy door and was not able to figure out that he could leave by the same route!

Again, Gracie was pacing and trying to find her foe.  I sort of forgot about it and went on about my day.  I ended up cooking some chicken in the crock pot.  When it was finished and the pot had cooled down, I was going to put it in the dishwasher.  I decided against it though because the dishwasher was empty and I wasn’t sure I’d not be using the crock pot again before I ran the dishwasher.  I put it in the sink and filled it up with hot soapy water.  Promptly, I forgot all about it and ended up going to bed with it still soaking in the sink (something I NEVER do).

When I got up on Sunday morning, I remembered what I’d done and turned the hot water on, grabbed a scrubber and started to clean the crock pot.  I kept feeling something brushing against my hand and I thought, “wow, that is a big piece of chicken I left in there.”  After a second, I saw a stiff mouse tail sticking up out of the water and realized that our mouse buddy had drowned in the soapy chicken water. 

Gracie’s mouse was well and truly dead!!  I showed her the mouse and she snorted and walked away.  Apparently, when we have to, we can kill the critters too!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

It’s getting better everyday

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of me in the driveway of our old house.  I was pretty upset and wanted to share that.  I guess I felt like if I shared it, folks would understand a little more about grief and quite honestly, crying is something we all do from time to time and I wasn’t embarrassed about it (nor should you, if you need to do it!).

happy procrastinatorAnyway, perhaps because the house was finally sold and for the first time since Mark died, I didn’t have some big, not in my control, thing hovering over my head, I sort of hit bottom.  All of the things I had been holding inside me since June 2012 broke out.  I spent the whole of Easter Weekend either sleeping or crying.  That was not my plan for the weekend, I had intentions of tackling one of the spare bedrooms and getting it into shape.  When it played out like that though, I just let it roll.  As I have gone through this grieving process, I have learned to just roll with things and to not be hard on myself.  Beating myself up isn’t productive or in any way useful.

At the end of that weekend, I felt rested and cried out.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have a little cry most days, but the horrible, ugly sobbing sessions that happened over Easter feel like they are gone.  I’ve been reading a lot about how other people experience and live with their grief, also, I listen to my wise and wonderful friends when they give me advice.  I don’t always follow it but I always listen to it.  All along, I have known in my head that Mark would be super pissed at me if I just sat around at home crying and feeling sad and lonely because he’s not here anymore.  The reality is that he’s gone, he’s not coming back.  My heart though, that’s another story.  My heart keeps thinking that I might wake up some morning and it will all have been a bad joke.  Like the worst joke EVER.  My head and my heart are starting to sync up finally. 

Very consciously, I have decided to embrace happiness.  Fuck being sad.  I will always miss Mark and will love him until I draw my last breath but I need to have fun again, to be happy and to laugh more than I have been.  I need to honour his memory and what we had in a positive way.  I’m working on that every day.  I read on a Facebook post the other week that “happiness is a journey, not a destination” and that has stuck with me.   I can’t wait to be happy, waiting until I recover from Mark’s death would be silly, I may never recover from it.  Would that mean that I couldn’t be happy again ever?  Nope. Not happening.  The very worst thing that I could ever imagine happened to me last year and I’m still here.  I actually survived it somehow.  I’m battered and bruised but still here.  Fuck cancer and fuck sadness.   You both thought you had knocked me out but you didn’t.  We all know, life is too short to spend it being miserable.  I’m choosing happiness for myself.