It’s a journey….
I am many things: a daughter, sister, friend, listener, sometimes a comedian, a singer-songwriter, a planner.
A single mother…
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.
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.
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.
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.