Search

Expressions

When All The Leaves Fall

Procedure day.

After a few hours of sitting at my mother’s bedside, she began to wake up. Doctors and nurses had been in and out of the room the whole afternoon poking and prodding at her, taking her blood pressure and temperature, but she didn’t stir much at all, just slept. When she began to perk up, I quickly realized that she did not have any hearing aids in her ears. Everything anyone would say to her would nearly be shouted at her for her to understand or to gain some kind of response. Nonetheless, she was awake, albeit high on the drugs that were administered to her. At one point she hit on her doctor because she thought he had the same last name as us. I later teased her about this, she blushed and then laughed it off.

She was awake, but not out of the dark. Mom was hooked up to a heart monitor and every time her heart rate would drop or make sudden changes, nurses were quickly entering the room to check on her and ensure that she was okay. There was a crash cart sitting next to her bed just in case she had another episode of cardiac arrest and needed to be shocked back. There was an instance where her numbers were all over the place which prompted a team of nurses to gather in the hallway outside of her room, gowned up and ready to enter and save the day. Mom was supposed to be getting her ICD implanted at some point, but we were unsure of when.

Visiting hours were finished at 7:00pm. The nurse that came on to shift that evening wasn’t exactly the nicest. She did not allow me to stay beyond 7:20pm and kicked me out of the room and told me to return during visiting hours the next day which started at 3:00pm. I wasn’t comfortable with that because Mom was by herself and she needed a support person, especially being that she was in a more delicate position with Dad being in palliative care in another hospital. Mom needed to have someone with her. The nurse disagreed and sent me on my way.

I made the decision to stay in town just in case something were to happen and I needed to be there quickly. I didn’t sleep much that night, even though I was very tired. I remember laying in bed thinking about everything that had happened the last few days and just felt completely defeated. I knew my Dad wasn’t going to make it much longer and all I could hope and pray for was for my mother to be able to see him before he passed. This played on my mind for what seemed like an eternity before I finally fell asleep. The next thing I knew, it was 9:00am. I got up and got a shower and headed to the hospital to be with my mother.

When I arrived at the Cardiac Care Unit, I did exactly what I did the day before… I opened the door without buzzing the nurse and quickly made my way into my mother’s room. Mom looked to be in better shape today. She had most of her color back, but was still feeling weak from the ordeal and could barely move due to the tenderness from CPR on her chest. The first words to be muttered from her mouth, “how is your father?” At this point, Dad was not speaking anymore. He was declining. “Does he know I’m in here? He needs to know! He is wondering why I am not there to be with him.” Her concern was valid and I had thought about this before we had this chat. My brother and I were talking about it and were trying to figure out if it would be a good idea to tell Dad. This was confirmation that it was. Mom wanted him to know and she had a good reason for him to know.

I wasn’t in the room more than two minutes until a nurse entered and said, “who are you and what are you doing here?” I told her that I was the son and that I was here because my mother needed to have a support person with her. I described what was happening to her husband, you know, the verbatim explanation of what was happening because I must have said it at least a hundred times by now. The nurse was non-sympathetic and asked me to leave. I refused. She got angry and told me that Mom was leaving shortly to have her ICD implantation and that I would have to wait until 3:00pm to return. I told her that I was agreeable with this and then headed out to the waiting area while my mother was transported off to have her procedure. 

I found myself waiting, once again, in a room full of people who were there for the same reason as me. It was now New Year’s Eve, but I could not see any evidence of joy around me. All these people were just like me, waiting for time to pass, for answers to questions that were beyond their comprehension, waiting for their loved ones to pull through their own personal struggles. Even though I felt like I was living a real-life movie, I began to sympathize for these people. Instead of being home, spending time with family and preparing to ring in the new year with joy and cheer, here we all were sitting in a room together just waiting for the road to be paved before us. Everything was out of our hands and placed in the hands of those who spent their entire lives dedicated to their training to be more than exceptional at their profession. The only thing that we could do was sit and wait. Whatever was to happen, would happen, and there was nothing we could do to change that.

I spent the last few years trying to make sense of the fact that I cannot always have control over every situation in life. Sometimes I have to just accept what is and try to grow and expand from it. I spent many hours trying to fix Dad, when in actual fact, Dad could not be fixed. I beat myself up over that every single day of his illness, and even sometimes now. Now that it was happening in another area of my life, my mother, I couldn’t quite handle the stress that was placed upon me. Whenever I had a quiet moment, I felt like I had the world on my shoulders and would instantly break down and cry. There was nothing else I could do but cry and just allow my body to handle the stress as it needed to. I sat, slumped over in a chair in the waiting room, and began to sob. Not one single person looked up. The energy in the room was more than heavy, it was unbearable. 

It was nearing noon and I had waited for some time. The procedure wasn’t supposed to be much more than an hour and the nurse had reassured me before pushing my mother away that she would come find me and update me on how she was doing before I left the hospital. The nurse did not find me… I found her. Mom’s procedure was successful and she was resting well in her room. I took assurance in this and then made my way out of the hospital and into my mother’s car. 

It was cold. I was hungry. I didn’t move. I started the car and turned on the heat, reclined the seat and sat there, crying. I watched the clock anxiously. 3:00pm couldn’t come quick enough.

We’re in this together.

I spent more than an hour in the emergency waiting room, sitting in a quiet area off to the side of the registration counter. It was almost 9:30am and I was all alone in the room. The sense of panic that I was experiencing earlier was somewhat diminished as I sat there in the quiet. Every time I closed my eyes I saw my father’s face and heard his voice telling me to take care of my mother. It was almost as if my father knew that all of this was going to happen and he needed to tell me before it was too late. 

Time was going by slowly but I was working on autopilot. My phone was ringing constantly with family members calling to check in and inquire if there was any news on my mother yet. After answering a couple calls, I decided not to answer any more because they were becoming exhausting and difficult to experience. The more I found myself talking about everything that happened with my mother and how Dad was doing the day before, the more emotionally charged I would become and it pulled me out of my sense of autopilot and directed me into a sense of panic. It wasn’t a time to panic. Had to remain strong and be there for my mother and ensure that whatever decisions that lie ahead of me were made with the best intentions.

Before long, I got up and went to the registration counter to ask what was happening with my mother. The lady behind the glass knew me, I’m not sure how, but she called me by name. She told me that I could go through the double doors at the end of the hallway and go in to see my mother. I thanked her and quickly made my way through the emergency department and found the bed where my mother was laying.

Mom was awake. She saw me and smiled. She still looked pale and had dried blood on her lips and chin. I was certain that she had no idea what was going on because she was heavily sedated and medicated to ensure that her heart rate and blood pressure would be regulated. This seemed to be quite the task for the doctors and nurses who swarmed around her. Mom was hooked up to several machines, including a defibrillator for in the event she coded again and went into cardiac arrest. I had learned that she went into cardiac arrest a total of two times and the nurses at the clinic had to shock her and perform CPR in order to keep her alive. My heart sunk into my chest and I became a little dizzy. It was a miracle that she was alive. 

A doctor, whose name I cannot remember, came by the emergency room and spoke to me for a few moments. At this point they had no idea what was happening to her or what was causing her to have seizures and go into cardiac arrest. The doctor asked me questions about medications, if it were possible that she might have taken something she wasn’t supposed to take etc. I quickly explained that she was under a large amount of stress due to her husband being admitted into palliative care the day before and that she was really upset. The doctor shook his head and apologized, then advised that they would be taking her out to complete a dye test to see if she had any blockages to her heart. I agreed and gave consent and then she was wheeled off.

I was advised to wait in another waiting room until the procedure was done. A nurse led me to where I should sit and told me that she would come and get me when my mother was done. I waited, and I waited… nothing. Almost two hours had passed and the nurse still had not come to get me. I began to worry. What if something happened to my mother? What if she was dead?

I got up from the chair and went to another registration desk to ask what was happening. The woman behind the glass searched through some of the papers on her desk and could not locate my mother’s file. She then went over to another woman who was standing away from the glass, returned and told me that my mother had been moved to the cardiac care unit and that I should go over there to obtain further information about her condition. I wasn’t sure where it was located so I asked for directions and was on my way. I couldn’t believe this was all happening. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be walking into but I knew I had to remain strong. Maybe not for Mom this time, but for Dad.

When I reached the doors of the CCU, one of them was partly open so I went on in without buzzing to speak to the floor nurse. Visiting hours were not until 3:00pm but there was absolutely nothing that was going to stop me from entering and seeing my mother after having been through so much that morning. When the doors opened, I was greeted by my mother’s nurse, an old high school friend of mine who I instinctively hugged tightly. I had not seen her for at least 12 years or more and it was odd to see her at such a critical time in my life, here in a hospital where she was caring for my sick mother. She brought me in the room to see my mother and explained that she did not have any blockages but that she did go into cardiac arrest again while the dye test was being completed. This was now a total of three times! My friend was boasting about how strong my mother was and that they believed she needed to have a pacemaker and defibrillator combination (ICD) implanted in her chest to ensure that she doesn’t have another episode like the one she was experiencing. My friend did not have any further details as to when the procedure would take place, but she advised me that a doctor would be coming by to brief me on what would be happening.

I looked at my mother, laying in the bed with her eyes closed… and I began to pray. If there truly was a god, I asked him to shed his healing light upon us both. What she was experiencing was described to me as “broken heart syndrome” and even though it was obvious that her heart was breaking for her husband, mine was breaking too. I suddenly let my walls down, the tough exterior did not exist for a few moments… tears began to flow, I sat next to her bed and held on to her hand. We were in this together, and I was going to be there for her for everything I could possibly do.

It’s my responsibility.

In the evening of December 29th, I found myself attempting to process everything that had occurred over the last twenty-four hours. My Dad went into palliative care, he said his goodbyes to me, and now suddenly I was incredibly worried for my mother who was exhibiting some memory loss. I began to think about a few days before all of this occurred and could recall several occasions where we were having conversations about things and then maybe a few hours or so later she had forgotten them. I didn’t think too much about it until this point because it didn’t seem important. The fact that Mom forgot that Dad was in palliative care was something I couldn’t look past. She was a smart woman, she knew what was happening to Dad so for her to be acting in this way indicated to me that something was wrong. I didn’t speak to anyone about it and I surely did not mention it to my mother, that would be the last thing I would do because I knew it would upset her and she was already upset enough.

That night, after midnight (now December 30th), Vanessa’s phone rang around 2am. It was my mother. “Vanessa, I’m sick. Vanessa, I’m sick. Vanessa, I’m sick.” Vanessa quickly got ready and headed up to tend to my mother while I stayed at home with our boys who were sleeping. When she got there, she saw my mother in her bed, still saying that she was sick and not really coherent. Vanessa went to get a bucket just in case Mom needed to throw up or something and when she came back, she found my mother on the floor in what appeared to be a seizure. Vanessa called the ambulance immediately. I called my nephew to come and stay with my kids so that I could also go with my mother to the clinic.

When I arrived at the clinic, the doctors and nurses were working on my mother. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in health facilities, I was unable to go in because the nurse had not gotten the chance to screen me as of yet. I had to wait in the porch of the clinic for more than an hour and a half while they worked on my mother who had been falling into cardiac arrest. I’ve never been more scared in all of my life. I was coming to terms with my father dying and now I was presented with the possibility of my mother dying in the same week. I couldn’t control my anger. I was furious. I was working on autopilot without any real rest and my emotions were running at an unreal level.

When Mom was stabilized, a nurse screened me for COVID-19 and then allowed me to enter the quiet area of the clinic where the rest of my family entered shortly after. While sitting there with my brothers and their significant others, a different nurse entered and asked who would be the next of kin. My oldest brother immediately said, “not me.” My middle brother also said, “not me.” I was last in line and therefore automatically assigned the task of being my mother’s next of kin. I did not mind, I actually preferred to be her next of kin, but the way in which my brothers acted toward it by neglecting any sense of responsibility toward the health of our mother was appalling. I’ve felt for most of my life the effect of, “oh don’t worry about it, Jeffrey will do it!” and this was exactly the same scenario.

If I were honest, I am unsure of what I actually expected out of my brothers. I felt like I was always the one who was there for them in their times of need and when I was experiencing something, they were never there. When I re-read that last sentence, I get a sense of agony from deep down inside of me because I spent the majority of my life with these men as my role models. They were older than me and were to set an example for me… When I tried to be a part of anything they were doing together, I just became the subject of scrutiny between them and I felt worse off than I was when I was trying to fit in with them.

After another few minutes, a nurse came by the quiet room and told us that we were allowed to go see Mom. Of course, In accordance with the “seniority rule” that was enforced by my brothers, I was the last to see her. When I entered the room, I could not believe my eyes. Mom was laying flat on a heightened stretcher with her eyes closed. Her lips were full of blood due to her biting her tongue when she was seizing. Her color was more than pale white, almost as if she were dead. I leaned over and kissed her forehead and she woke up for a second, looked at me. Mom didn’t say anything but I told her I loved her and that she would be okay. The doctor and nurses were preparing to send her by ambulance to another hospital so I told her that I would see her there shortly.

By this time, all of her sisters and brothers had shown up at the clinic to offer support to us. They all stood around the ambulance as they loaded my mother in. I got in my car, drove to the gas station and fueled up for another day. Drove for an hour to the hospital and entered the emergency department where I was told to wait.

Wait.

Wait for what?

The last time I saw your face.

On December 29th, my mother and I went to the hospital to visit my Dad. The day and night before was a complete circus of emotions because Dad was home and very unwell. My family and I were attempting to take care of him the best we could but his health was declining fast. We called the ambulance and the paramedics came and took him to the hospital where we spent the next hours struggling to understand what was happening. After an X-Ray, it was noted that there was significant buildup of fluid in his lungs due to his cancer diagnosis and it was recommended for him to go into palliative care. It was the early morning hours of December 29th, the paperwork was signed and Dad, as strong as he always was, told us to leave and go home to get some rest.

The drive home that early morning was horrific. Dad was now in palliative care and my mother who was hard of hearing had still not understood what exactly was happening because she was extremely tired and unable to hear. We sat in the car and began to drive home… when we neared the top of the hill next to the hospital, she started to ask questions about what happened and we delivered the news. We all were upset and began to cry. When we got back home, Mom went into the house by herself for a few moments and we then entered to see her sitting on a chair in the kitchen, bent over gasping for air through her agonizing sadness. What do you say to a woman who is losing her husband? How do you help her cope with the idea that in a short time, her husband would be gone forever?

We consoled her as much as we could. Rubbed her back and hugged her until she began to calm down. She then stood up and began pacing the floor as she always did when presented with any kind of stress. I asked her if she would like for me to spend the night with her and she told me that she would rather for me to go home because she wanted to be alone. We waited a little longer and then left her there to be with her thoughts and begin to process.

As my mother and I drove to the hospital that day, Mom was talking about all of the things that she packed up for Dad. She had packed some pajamas and some toiletries, creams, medical supplies needed to take care of his colostomy and a few snacks that she knew he enjoyed. I didn’t say much to her but it was obvious that she was compartmentalizing and avoiding what had happened earlier that morning. When we arrived at the hospital, we ventured in through the main entrance where we had to go through COVID-19 screening and ensure that we were added to a list of approved visitors to see my father. When we got through this process, we entered an elevator at the far end of the corridor and went up to the seventh floor to find my Dad who was in a small room by himself at the end of another corridor that was brightly lit by the sun shining through the window.

Dad was laying in the hospital bed sleeping, his eyes glued shut from the “sleep” that gathers over them when you sleep for a long time. He knew we were there and was struggling to open his eyes, so I went and got a cloth and dampened it with some warm water to wipe away the crust that kept his eyes together, then gave him some eye drops to help prevent it from happening again. Mom was hovering over him and being attentive to his every need. Unfortunately, she was unable to hear him because he could not talk, only whisper, so I had to translate for him so that she could know what he was saying. Dad made the decision to terminate all treatments including his regular medications that he was taking for a number of years prior. He had accepted his fate and was ready to die. He held my hand and drew me close and he said, “Jeffrey, I’m going downhill fast.”

“Dad, I know. And truth be told, I knew it since August and you knew it too,” I said back to him in a small voice.

“Yes, you’re right. I’m soon not going to be able to talk. I want you to know that I love you. Take care of your mother.”

“I love you too, Dad. I will. Are you sure you want to stay here? I can take you home. I will take care of you. You do not need to spend your last days here and die here.”

“I have no other choice.”

“You have every choice in the world. I can do it.”

“No, I will be alright. Don’t worry about me.”

I was fighting back tears, I squeezed his hand and then looked at Mom and left the room for a few minutes. I fell to the floor by the elevator and began to sob. The idea of losing my father was beginning to set in and I could not keep it together and be strong any longer. I had to have a moment to let my emotions out, and I did. After a some time I returned back to the room to see Mom sitting in a chair next to Dad’s bed. Dad was asleep and Mom told me that she was really tired and wanted to go home when my brother arrived. I agreed, we waited, my brother arrived. As we were leaving the hospital room, Dad woke up for a minute and I said, “I love you, Dad, see you tomorrow. Get some rest.” Mom said something to him, I can’t remember… this was the last time I saw him.

We made our way to the elevator, went down, walked the corridor and out into the parking lot into the cold winter air. We got in the car and started to have a chat. Mom could see that I was emotional but she didn’t understand why. She kept talking about different things as if Dad would be coming home in a couple of days… “Mom, Dad is dying. He won’t be coming home. He is in palliative care.”

Mom stopped for a moment and looked at me with her eyes filling with tears. “Jeffrey, don’t tell me that, you mean, he is not going to come home ever again.”

“No.” She put her hand to her head and began to cry… it was in this moment that I realized there was something wrong with her.

The cause of all evil.

Last night was a good night. My medications were adjusted yesterday and I finally slept well and woke up this morning feeling energized and ready to take on the world. It was the first night in some time that I did not experience any sense of panic or anxiety, I just rested in my bed and felt my body get heavier and heavier to the point of unconsciousness. It was blissful.

My son made his way from his bed into mine during the wee hours of the night and I cannot recall him using his tiny hands and feet to crawl in and begin to snuggle under the covers. I love waking up and seeing his face next to mine, so peacefully sleeping without any worry of care in the world. I long to feel like that again, to live in a world where nothing seems to matter only what I was excited to be doing that day. I long to feel the joy in the simple things that children find joy in, the sense of pure happiness that isn’t drowned by yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s worries.

Worry came along with age as I began to realize what was actually happening in the world around me. The hate, the violence, the discrimination and unlawful activities that occur are nothing short of pure evil and reflects upon the idea of “the devil” that was preached to me when I was young and would attend church with my family. I am lucky to live in Canada, a country that is “free” and not targeted within warfare. I often find myself worrying about humankind and the possibility of war and violence in Canada, fearful that it might happen at some point in time and that my children would have to experience it and lose their sense of a peaceful childhood. After processing some of these thoughts, I began to think about my worries and about some of the evil in the world… What is the cause of all evil?

I took to Facebook and Snapchat and asked some friends if they had any opinions or feelings toward the question of the existence of evil and its cause. I was surprised to learn that many people believe that hate is the primary cause of evil, particularly when it comes to violence between races and terrorism. One person used the example of the World Trade Centre and how the effects of this event rippled throughout the world and continued to exist through time and space up to and including this present day. This participant posed the question, “do you remember where you were and what you were doing on 9/11?” and my memories quickly brought me back to my adolescence and I can recall sitting in a classroom, being abruptly disturbed by the vision of the principal going around the school knocking on classroom doors to tell teachers to tune into the news to watch history unfold. The visions of devastation will never leave my mind for as long as I live.

Another person spoke about hate surrounding homophobia and the diminishing and abolishing of rights for the LBGTQ+ community. Love is love… There should be no opinions by anyone that are taken as proof or truth that it is wrong to be in love with someone of the same sex. The bible was written by man. Edited by man. These beliefs were from a man. A friend of mine commented and said “closed mindedness” is the cause of all evil. She backed up her point by saying, “Not being open to other points of view and thinking your way is the only right way.”

Another friend of mine feels that the ego is the cause of all evil. “The ego, big and small, is fed or purged and the impact can be big. It can cause wars and end civilization if the one behind it has the power. The ego is the number one human hurdle.” After reading this statement, I was reminded about several people in my life who have strong egos, one of which was named in a previous blog who has caused me a tremendous amount of grief.

Another participant says that “it depends on what one would consider being evil. All deviant behaviour can be regarded as evil. An evil individual lacks empathy and has a desire to cause harm to another person. I think a possible cause of this would be situations in a person’s life that have caused them to lack attachment or empathy for another human being.” I see this in my work ALL the time. I work with children and youth who are displaced from their families due to trauma and violent situations. Many of these kids have violent behaviours and express deviance because of their previous traumas and their unfulfilled attachments to strong familial bonds. It is quite sad to watch children express themselves in such a way that they are unable to regulate their emotions. Often times these children are medicated to help with their impulses when they lose the sense of control.

A very close friend of mine switched up the topic and said, “a good question would also be what is the root of all good? Compassion, empathy, the willingness to learn and grow from mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Healthy boundaries and thoughtfulness.” I loved his point. Many of the comments I was receiving were negative and he spun it to reinforce the fact that we need to exercise all of the things mentioned above in order to rid the world of evil. Is it possible though? Will the world ever be rid of evil whereby everyone lives in peace and harmony?

J.

Grief, time and space.

A father’s love never dies, no matter what time and space separates us. It cannot be measured and can forever be summoned and felt for any reason at any time. For me, my father has passed away but I can still feel his presence. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I can see my father… he is in everything around me. The love felt between a parent and child is one of the strongest bonds that anyone could ever experience and no matter where we are in life or in death, it continues to exist… just in different ways.

Remembering Dad has been a struggle for me because I often forget that he is gone. He has been gone only a couple of months and I find myself going through my day thinking everything is normal until something appears before me that makes me think of him. It could be the simplest of things too such as the trees, a sunset or even features of my house that he built when I moved here that trigger me to remember that he is no longer here. I sometimes feel like the time we spent together was taken for granted… even though we knew that his time was short.

I am struggling. As hard as it is to admit this, it is true.

Sometimes my grief leads me to make bad choices. I am told that when I accept responsibility for the choices that I make and take responsibility for my life, I will start to realize the true essence of my spirit. In other words, my intuition towards things will begin to grow and I will be able to make better choices and be more positive whenever tough situations occur. I like to think that I am generally a positive person, but I have been faced with a lot of scenarios over the last number of months to a year, maybe two, whereby I am seeing the glass as half empty instead of half full. Knowing that my intuition is how I need to lead my decision making, I’ve been finding it hard to rely on it.

“Intuition is the language of the soul” according to one of my tarot cards. We are all born with the ability to “know things” and it keeps us connected to ourselves. But without self-love, how can my intuition lead me to make better choices?

Counsellors have told me time and time again that I need to take time for myself and begin to love myself again. This will allow me to truly heal old wounds that resurface from time to time and move away from the constant grief that I am struggling to overcome. I do not feel that self-love is simply a state of mind… self-love may make you feel good in the moment, but how do you continue on in life by leading it with self-love? I am told that when I begin to appreciate myself, the positive side of life will become more apparent and my actions will be taken more seriously. Do people actually feel this way?

My truest friend believes that the things that are going on around me are a reflection of what I feel inside… almost like a manifestation of all the chaos that has been building up for so long. When my world becomes too hectic and too stressful for me to comprehend each and every motion, it is then that my anxiety builds and overwhelms me. I begin to shut down. I begin to withdraw. I begin to isolate. I begin to cry. How can I even put my world back together if I can’t be together myself?

Then there are times when absolutely nothing occurs. I still have the panic… it rises from deep within myself and builds up to the brim. There is no stopping it. There is no talking it down. It consumes me and I fall deeper, and deeper.

J.

Looking into my mirror. Is this reality?

I have always been fascinated by mirrors. Not because I like to look at myself in them, but rather fascinated by what appears in them when standing before one. As I sit on my bed writing some notes, I am faced with my reflection in a mirror that stands on a dresser at the foot of my bed. It is odd to see myself, sitting on the bed in my “comfortable” position, laptop sitting on top of a few pillows to give it a good height for me to type. What I see in the mirror is exactly what everyone else sees when they see me in real life… but why does my mind tell me different? How can this be reality?

I have never been “in love” with the way I look. In fact, I hate the way I look. I’ve done many things over the years to try and improve my appearance but I always come back to the negativity of my lack of self-worth and no matter how much I try, I am never satisfied with the results. My lover tells me that I am handsome, cute and all of those nice warm-hearted words, but even coming from their mouth my self-esteem is so terribly low that I cannot full-heartedly accept those compliments as what they are… compliments. Instead, my mind alters them into nasty criticism and almost pushes me to shut down the comments and just scream out, “do you have shit in your eyes?”

I blame this on the fact that I was bullied as a child and adolescent. There were points in time when I did not feel safe going to school because I was afraid that I was going to get beat up by someone who thought that poorly of me. I’ve been called it all… fat, ugly, gay, four-eyes, tubby, weird, homo, etc. by many of my peers, people who I thought were friends and people who claimed to be good family members of mine. Thankfully I didn’t grow up in the age of cyber bullying, if I did, I might have not made it through those already difficult times. But, when I got home to my “safe place,” I was faced with another bully who never stopped for anything… my brother.

Many of the insecurities that I feel to this very day have been deeply rooted from my adolescent years, growing up with my brother who was nine years older than me and who would constantly torture me in any capacity he could fathom. I told my parents that I did not like to be alone with him, but my parents insisted that we work it out. They would sometimes scold him for his behaviour, but often times that made matters worse and he would retaliate on me the next time that he had a chance.

I recall a time when my brother returned to our house with my father after being in the woods cutting some firewood. The truck was loaded down with a full load and it was my brother and I who had to stow it all away in the basement. One of us would usually stand in the back of the truck and toss the junks of wood down over three concrete steps and into the door of the basement so the other could easily retrieve them and then stow them next to the wood furnace. I was in the basement and my brother was on the truck. Junk after junk came flying into the basement, most times aimed at some part of me. I was hit in the arms, legs, fingers pinched between junks, hit in the back and nearly hit in the head several times. He was relentless. He had anger problems and it was clear that he liked to take it out on people who he knew he could dominate and control.

Moving back to present day, I wish I could train my mind to love myself. I am sure there are many people out there who may read this and feel that no one truly loves themselves 100%, but I would honestly settle for 10% if I could. There are many days and nights that I feel so empty inside, depressed beyond healthy. My doctors and counsellors have been helping me greatly. I know that I am loved and I know that I have things going for me, but I simply fail to see how any of that can even matter when I feel so low.

J.

What do you believe happens after we die?

I have been asked many times about what I think happens after we die. I’ve been consumed with this subject ever since I was young, always wondering if there was actually a place called heaven or a place called hell. The best I can come up with is that we are living on earth… some days it can be like heaven and others it can be like hell.

I am not a believer in either, personally. I believe that each living thing has a soul and that they have a divine purpose to fulfill while travelling through life on earth. When we learn our purpose or our life lesson, we then die and our soul travels on to the next lesson that has to be learned and returned to earth in another form of a living being. And so the cycle goes.

I take comfort in this idea primarily because I feel that we each have a purpose and we are living through life battling struggle after struggle in order to obtain what it is we want in our life. I believe in the afterlife, I believe that spirits are real and I believe in the ability to predict the future and speak to the dead. Death however is a puzzling thing for me… To be here, present in the world. Living, breathing, moving and speaking… to not being any of those things.

A final moment of life to an eternity of death. Why do we only live for so long, but yet are dead for time everlasting?

I asked a friend and he said that he feels time is all in our head, while eternity is not the way that we perceive it as living beings. “If I would have to give an answer as to why we are alive for only so long, and then the rest of it is when we’re not alive, I think it’s because life itself is precious. We only have a certain amount of time, we gotta learn what we can and then after that, I don’t know… I can’t really explain it.”

“Being conscious and aware of time is only one small aspect of existing. Living in eternity in another state of mind is just another part of it. It’s just a moment of time. There is more to it than saying, you’re dead now… it’s time to spend eternity as death.”

I asked another friend and she says, “maybe it’s only how we look at it. It is just our perspective. Time right now, alive, is valued. We all feel like life is short when in actual fact we know it really is not. We have this concept of living forever.”

As you can see, these two people have somewhat common views of life after death, but they also have some differences. Who knows what is out there waiting for us once we pass. We can only take peace in hoping that it is something good.

J.

Dear Dad #1

Dear Dad,

Yesterday was one of those days where I longed to be able to see and speak to you. It was St. Patrick’s Day and the kids were really excited to wake up and check their traps to see if they caught a leprechaun. You would have loved to hear them talk about the elaborate schemes of catching one and what they would do with it.

Liam wanted to put his in a jar so that he could keep him forever…he was clearly thinking about his first day as a leprechaun parent and curiously asked me what a leprechaun ate for breakfast. I thought quickly and told him that a leprechaun would likely eat Lucky Charms for breakfast. Liam’s eyes lit up big and bright, he then told me that he would feed the leprechaun with his fingers when suddenly his expression began to change. Liam began to wonder harder about it… he asked me, “do leprechauns bite? I’m scared they will.” I started to laugh and I could immediately imagine your face light up with laughter if you would have heard him say this.

Ben, your little buddy, wasn’t far from the action, as I’m sure you probably expected. Ben was also very involved in what we were doing and very curious about the leprechaun too. His daycare friends told him all about the leprechaun and he was dead set on catching one, dead or alive. Once he had his trap construction completed, he cut up some marshmallows and pieces of chocolate to put inside so that he could lure the leprechaun to his trap. I am so surprised that he went to bed and actually went to sleep because of the amount of excitement that he was harbouring.

Dad, they were absolutely priceless. The stories they were coming up with as they made their traps were amazing and I could hear your voice ringing clear with a yarn or two about how maybe you once caught a leprechaun and how you fed it bits of homemade bread… or how one bit you when you tried to steal their gold. You always liked to tease my boys with imagination and wonder, and they always looked forward to you doing it.

When the boys woke up in the morning to check their traps, they found a little treasure (chocolate dollars) and a note that told them that their clever traps didn’t work out. Maybe next year they will have more success… Nonetheless, they still really enjoyed their treasure and the experience of attempting to catch their first leprechaun.

Times like this makes me miss you greatly and it often makes your passing difficult to understand and process. The reality of you being gone has only begun to settle in and with every day that goes by, I’m finding more and more reminders of you. Thinking of you lots, Dad.

J.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑