The Journey -by Jill Chandler

The Journey -by Jill Chandler

Darcy baking

It’s a journey….

I am many things: a daughter, sister, friend, listener, sometimes a comedian, a singer-songwriter, a planner.

A Mother…

A single mother…

A widow.

Yes…I just said that.

I have three beautiful kids; Rowan, now eight- a strong willed, spirited guy, with a deep sense of understanding. He can be feisty, he can be challenging and he can be so loving, it hurts. He doesn’t know it, but he has often been my life raft.

Jill and Rowan

Cooper, now six- is so cuddly; I call him my lap dog. He is funny, silly, so nurturing. He too can be challenging, but when he is on side, there is no greater ally.

Rowan and Cooper

Darcy, now three- prefers to be naked, runs around the house singing everything from Let It Go, to ACDC’s TNT. She is argumentative (she’s three) dramatic, and a force to be reckoned with and when she runs to me, I am reminded of why I am here…..because after all, I am still here.

Darcy tub

Like everybody, we have special dates; memorable dates…birthdays, anniversaries, and “firsts”. But we have a few other dates that have impacted our lives so significantly, it’s hard for me to find words.

May 19, 2013. My husband Donald returned home after being away for four weeks. He was a photographer and often travelled for work- on crazy adventures, like being in the North Pole. I was tired. I had been with my three kids (then one, four and six) for a month on my own. And I was mad at him. He left me to go to work…with these crazies…..and he forgot to call from the ship to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. But instead of coming home ready to help and give me a break, he returned home so tired, he could hardly keep his eyes open.

May 20, 2013. I took him to the ER. Something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure what. He had a series of tests and they sent us home. Perhaps it was a bad virus? I felt a bit relieved but still unsettled. They had said if anything changed to bring him back in.

May 22. Something changed. He fell in the shower and seemed to have trouble walking back to the bedroom. I called my brother and sister in law to come watch the kids. We got to the Dartmouth General just before 11 pm. He vomited in the waiting room and they took us right in. They wheeled him away for a CAT scan. Within what seemed like only minutes, a Dr. walked in the room and pointed at me and motioned for me to follow. I did. He then motioned for me to sit. I did. I knew this was bad. I could feel panic in every part of my body. He then said, “It’s not good. It’s really not good. We have found multiple white spots on his brain”. I stared in confusion…thinking WTF is this person saying to me? WTF are white spots? Finally, I said the words out loud, “Cancer? Are you telling me Donald has Cancer in his brain?” And he nodded. Yes. I will never forget that moment. That moment, changed everything.

July 9, 2013. Donald died from Melanoma that had metastasized to his brain, after having been diagnosed only six weeks before. Six weeks, of sadness, confusion, hurt, pain, watching my husband deteriorate and forget everything from how to use the Kurig to his daughter’s name. Six weeks of saying goodbye to the love of my life, who because of his illness, didn’t know that goodbye was inevitable.

On the day he died, I sat with him in the hospital room. He asked me how I was doing. And fighting back tears, I said, “I am sad…how are you?” He replied, “Happy, as long as I am with you.”

We are now at the 20 month mark. Twenty months since I lost my best friend and since my kids’ lost the best Dad in the world.

We are doing OK. Our normal has shifted. Our days have happiness, sadness and craziness- just like everybody else’s days. But, I think, if nothing else…I have a broadened perspective.

Loss has opened my eyes.

I used to strive to be the perfect parent. (I wasn’t.) But I tried. I was hard on myself. I do that much less now. So should you. Perfect parenting doesn’t exist. It’s a journey. Do your best for that day…forgive yourself and have faith that you’ll get to do it again the next day.

I used to complain about things. Small things… dumb things. I do that less now.  It’s pointless and robs me of some of the joy I might find in each day. The saying “energy flows where attention goes” is true. Be careful in your thinking.

I used to wish time away. I can’t wait till he is potty trained, I can’t wait till she sleeps through the night. I now realize that every moment (even the hard ones) is a privilege. Live with an attitude of gratitude.

I used to be a planner…often looking forward to the next thing-a new job, a weekend getaway, and a much needed date night. In looking back, I wish I could have had more moments of being content. Life & joy do exist in the ordinary. Be present.

I used to take everything so seriously- a call home from school or a forgotten library book had me feeling like I had screwed up. I am learning to ease up and take things less seriously. Lighten Up!

And finally, and most importantly- Love the ones your with.

Jill Chandler is lives in Stratford, PE with her three busy kids. When not up to her eyeballs in storm days, spilled cheerios, laundry and general silliness, she works in Public Relations and Marketing within the Event Industry. Jill is a singer-songwriter, with years of Dinner Theatre experience and she often calls on her improv training to assist in many parenting moments. Jill hopes to focus more on her music, her family's well-being and continuing to find joy in the ordinary.
Jill Chandler is lives in Stratford, PE with her three busy kids. When not up to her eyeballs in storm days, spilled cheerios, laundry and general silliness, she works in Public Relations and Marketing within the Event Industry. Jill is a singer-songwriter, with years of Dinner Theatre experience and she often calls on her improv training to assist in many parenting moments. Jill hopes to focus more on her music, her family’s well-being and continuing to find joy in the ordinary.

14 thoughts on “The Journey -by Jill Chandler

  1. This is such an powerful message from a truly inspirational woman. I was especially enlightened by the saying, “energy flows where attention goes: be careful in your thinking.” Thank you so much for sharing your personal journey that we can all learn so much from. Hugs.

  2. Thanks for sharing Jill. A beautiful heart felt post that made my heart drop to my stomach. Your lessons on how to live in the moment are so key to taking in what is really essential in our daily lives. I am so sorry for your loss and I wish you health and happiness with your children as you move forward. Take care, Cheryl

  3. Thank you for your story Jill. My husband is going to the hospital for a platelet transfusion this morning. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme, which is a fancy word for brain cancer, in August, 2013. We have 11 year old twins and the thought of potentially taking care of them by myself someday sometimes overwhelms me. His cognition is deteriorating (it’s in the left frontal lobe) and he’s becoming weaker by the day. It is regressing, nothing seems to be able to fight this thing. On the other hand, he has passed his prognosis by several months and unlike yourself, we’ve had time to process ,if not accept, the diagnosis. You have a beautiful family, you must be so proud of your children. They provide a welcome distraction and somehow manage to pull you out of the deepest despair, don’t they. They say “You’re never alone” and your story certainly illustrates that beautifully. Even though I don’t know you, I “know you”, you know? 🙂 Thank you


  4. Dear Jill, wiping away the tears as I finish reading your thoughts, feelings and experiences of “real life 101″(as my brother Dealy, would say). You are talented in so many ways. I know you can sing but I think you also have a talent and a way with words; so do your incredibly funny , wise children. I hope to continue reading more of your blogs, writings and experiences so I can gain some strength and inspiration. Keep up the great work as a singer, songwriter, blogger, friend and most importantly, amazing MOTHER. Leaving you with a quote I came across the other day which I think you might like. Thanks for sharing your love, your laughter, your pain, your strength and your world.

    “Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves, come when life seems most challenging.”
    Joseph Campbell” (1904-1987)

    Thank you,
    Annaleah Knickle

  5. Jill you are an amazing woman and I admire your attitude to life. ( I internally had ‘loss’ in place of ‘life’, but loss does not seem to fit your message; which is profound and insightful. Thank you for sharing and reminding me of the joy that came come from the unexpected- life.

  6. Cynthia.
    You do know me. And I know you. And I am sorry that we get one another…because of this journey.
    You aren’t alone.
    Make time for you. Ask for help from your friends and family…your strength will come from those around you.
    And cherish these moments…find some happy in each day…
    And know that I am thinking of you.

  7. Thank you for sharing this moment in your life. I lost my mum 6years ago this last Boxing Day and no one can ever truly understand the feeling you go through when you suffer great loss…. Except someone else who’s experienced it.
    Life doesn’t eventually get better. It just changes and shifts. It jumps gears almost instantly and then not fast enough.
    Remember the great times with your husband. Don’t ever fall for the what ifs or could have beens. Focus on silver linings. Don’t fret and stress over the negatives. Every situation will present a positive somewhere. You just have to look deep into the darkness to find the silver lining.
    You’re doing it right.
    Don’t focus on the little details. I like that. Savour the moments with your kids and just savour life.
    Loss puts everything into a weird and sensable perspective that never seemed to be clear before.
    My heart goes out to you. Remember you’re never a lone.
    Big hugs. Stay true. And live life.

  8. stumbled upon this by accident….. what a terrific piece of inspirational writing, tho many can not identify with your own situation everyone can take heed of your advice and if we did we’d all be so much better for it. thanks for writing this

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