Advice From My Shrink

Last night I paid a somewhat regular visit to my favorite psychologist. I find it comforting that he knew Ben and can carry on a personal conversation about him. Plus, he is as blown away as I am that Ben is gone. I like that. A little solidarity. And he doesn’t pretend that he can bring Ben back, although I do confess to holding my breath a little each visit, just incase he shouts “Surprise! I found a way!” and then Ben pops out to say it was all a bad joke.

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I also like my shrink because he’s not afraid to say “fuck.” Or “fuck off”. Which is sort of / kind of / a little bit what this post is about, only in a much kinder and gentler way.

F**k

Let me begin by explaining to anyone who doesn’t already know this about me, that I am a very “guilty” person. That’s who I am. I feel guilty about everything. I spend my life wondering “Did I thank this person, or apologize to that person? Did I show an appropriate amount of gratitude? Did I offend someone by laughing too hard? Did I make someone feel too badly about my situation when I stopped in my tracks and sobbed uncontrollably for 30 seconds, gasping for breath? Am I grieving too much? Am I not grieving enough?” Right this minute I am more concerned about who may read this post and think that I am writing about them in particular, then I am with trying to just spit out what I want to say. (Also, side note, I wonder if mental health professionals are offended by the word “shrink”.   Now I’m worried that my shrink may google Ben, read this blog, and take offence to that word.)

In order to clear my conscience and not have to worry about what everyone is thinking, please know that I am not talking about you in particular, in this post. Whoever may be reading my musings, this is not about you. This post is all about ME. I won’t be offended if you don’t read it, as long as you aren’t offended by what I have to say. Deal? If you think you may be offended, stop reading now. Do me that favor, because I can’t handle the guilt of worrying about it.

Guilt

Back to the visit to the shrink. He let me know right off the bat that I didn’t look good. Nothing like diving right into it. I wasn’t feeling good, so I wasn’t really surprised that I didn’t look good. Here’s what I told him:

I feel like people think I should be over it, or at least moving on. I feel pressured to grieve in a way that others think I should. I feel that people think I should be going out to do things that they think I should be doing, instead of hiding in bed on occasion like I sometimes want.

I feel like I should do what others think I should do, because everyone has given me so much over the last year that I owe it to everyone. And I do. I do owe everyone. I could never ever repay so many people for all they have done for me. Maybe someday I will have the opportunity to give back, but right now I have neither the ability nor the desire. I cannot. I just can’t.

Sometimes I have brief moments where I forget what has happened, that my whole world has imploded, and I find I can talk about normal things. Most of the time I just want to talk about Ben. I like to look at his pictures and watch the video clips and just remember him. I like hearing other people talk about him. It reminds me that others loved him too.

Every day I can hear Ben’s voice break telling me how scared he is, and how he doesn’t want to die. It hurts me so badly that I just want to crawl into bed and try to remember how to breathe. That’s all I want to do. Not every moment of every day, but sometimes. And I know that I am loved and that those who love me want to try to help me with that pain. I know that people don’t want me to have to feel it. But I want to. Please let me feel it.

The pain is getting worse for me. I told my shrink that I probably could have gone back to work the day after Ben died and coped. I was numb. I was relieved that he wasn’t in pain any longer, I was so very busy, and there were always people around. But now things have slowed and people have gone back to their lives, and I hurt so badly that my stomach actually cramps up with pain. But here’s the kicker … I want to feel that pain because I do not want to get over this right now. I don’t want to forget. I want to feel everything. If I stop feeling it so much, it means time is passing and taking me further and further away from him. I don’t want to be further away from him.

I still spend a portion of my time every day trying to figure out how to bring him back. I’m not losing my mind. I know he’s gone and that it’s not possible to bring him back, but then I pause for just a moment and I have a fleeting thought of “what if? What if I just do this, or what if I just do that, and maybe he’ll be back?” I don’t enjoy those thoughts and I would rather just have the pain, but I can’t stop them. What if? What if? What if? That’s how I lived for ten months … saying these words out loud to those who could handle it, “Ben is going to die. He will not survive this.” But in my head I thought “What if? What if? What if?”

I have nightmares I don’t remember. Last night I had some type of night terror that caused Jaime to fly out of bed screaming “What?! What?!” I was yelling and asking if everyone was ok. I don’t remember why.

My body aches. I physically hurt. I have some swollen lymph nodes for unexplainable reasons in uncomfortable places.  I’ve been sick twice since Ben died and my latest bout with bronchitis was almost over when Jaime and I (along with two friends) stumbled upon a house fire. I breathed in black smoke while I was inside and now my cough is back. (everyone lived, dog died.) My throat feels like it has a lump in it. My hypochondria is back with a vengeance. I know that logically my throat hurts because I’m sick and because I inhaled smoke, but my mind whispers “cancer … cancer … cancer…”

Back to the whole point of this post. I cannot grieve in the way that others want me to. I know that seeing my pain causes pain for people who love me, and I know that it would be easier on everyone else if I could cope in the way that makes them most comfortable. But as my shrink said, “No one is living this with me.” I’m all on my own for this one. Everyone has to let me feel it.

I know that everything that people do and say is done and said with the absolute best of intentions. I know that no one wants to offend me or hurt me, and I know that it is human nature to want to help me hurry through this so that I won’t be in so much pain. But you can’t.  Please …. you can’t hurry me through this. I do not want to go about life as normal. I want to be allowed to grieve in my own way, even if it doesn’t seem “healthy” to someone or even if it’s not the way they think they would grieve in the same situation.

I don’t want my pain compared to anyone else’s. Its not a competition and I guarantee it’s not the same. Not better, or worse, but just not the same. It’s just mine. And sometimes if I want to isolate myself, let me, because otherwise I will be bitchy and unkind, and worse then hurting someone’s feelings will be the guilt that I will have to live with for doing that because that is who I am. Guilty. I don’t want that right now.

This was my shrink’s advice. “Tell people what it is that is actually helpful to you, as opposed to the things that they think are helpful for you.” So here goes:

If you want to help me, please let me talk about Ben or not talk at all if I don’t feel like it. Please watch my video clips when I play them for you, and pretend that you like watching my husband as much as I do.

If you work for the same company as I do, I’d be super thrilled if I could hand you a pile of receipts along with a letter of instruction and have you complete all the shitty paperwork that needs doing in order to claim back a whole bunch of expenses to do with the funeral. I’d also be super thrilled if you could claim the kid’s medical expenses that I haven’t dealt with yet. And while you’re at it, perhaps you could review and organize Ben’s medical records and complete a pile of paperwork for Veterans Affairs. This is a huge priority with a deadline and for some reason I cannot bring myself to do it. I have to have it finished by Monday. I haven’t yet begun. I kind of want to vomit at the thought of it.

If you want to go buy a wall mount for my upstairs tv (with my money) and hook it up for me, that’d be great. Same with a phone handset that would allow me to plug it in at home so that when my cell phone rings, it automatically rings on the “home phone” that isn’t really a home phone. Apparently there is such a thing and I want it so I can cancel my home phone but not have to worry about missing the kids if they call while I sleep. (Sleep.  Ha!  As if there is such a thing.)

If you want to organize my filing cabinet all by yourself without me having to make small talk – awesome. If you want to research and arrange family counseling and / or group counselling that’s suitable for teens through the White Rock Hospice, that would also be great. Langley Hospice is my second choice.

If you are good with tools and can drill holes and screw a bunch of handles onto a cheap, shitty set of drawers from Jysk – fantastic. If you feel like researching where to repair a broken door on a really expensive delonghi rialto coffee maker – awesome. That fucking coffee maker is the bane of my existence. But Ben loved it.  So I want to fix it.  And also I would like coffee.

If you are experienced with buying cars and are able to research good vehicles on Craigslist with Jaime (under $5000, low mileage) and then go check them out and test drive them with her, that would be amazing.  Maybe even take her to complete the paperwork and get the insurance.  Ben would have done that. Now I need someone to step in for him.

Those are things I really need. And I need to not have to feel like I must make coffee and chat or entertain while they’re being done, if I’m not in the mood. I just need them done.

I totally understand if no one wants to do them – I don’t really expect people to do those type of things. Everyone has their own life and their own things to do and I get that. But if you want to help me, then those are the things I really need. And if I’m doing them myself, then those are the things that I will be burying myself in for the next several weeks. Let me.  I’ll see you when I’m done.

I know they’re not the type of things that people think I should need. I know that people think I need to be distracted, and to go out, and to find ways to take my mind off of things. But that is not what I want or need. I want to feel the pain from losing Ben. I need to feel the pain of my children when they cry. I don’t want to push it all aside, only to have it come back later. Right now I want to be consumed with the agony that I feel from losing Ben.

So please, allow me to feel my pain. I know its hard to do that, and I appreciate that people want to spare me pain if they can, but I need to feel my pain. If you want to help, any of those things I mentioned would be helpful. And please, understand when I disappear or when I am silent. I think it is ok for me to do that for awhile. If I find myself sinking to a place where I can’t climb out, I promise I will let my shrink know or I will reach out for help.

On the advice of my shrink, that is what I need.  And I also need for  NO ONE to ask me if this post is about them, or if you’ve done something wrong.  It’s not about you.  You haven’t done anything wrong.

On a completely different and utterly random note, I would like to let all you ladies know that wearing men’s lululemon underwear is extremely comfortable. I’m glad I didn’t throw them out with the rest of Ben’s undies. Also, Zak has pre registered for Kwantlen in the Business / Marketing program AND he will be celebrating two years of sobriety on April 6th. Yay Zak.

 

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Lessons From My Dad And Ben

One of the more significant lessons I retained from my childhood (being that I was one of three girls who were parented by a very progressive father) was the importance of having my name on everything I owned in in conjunction with that of my life partner.  Just incase anything ‘happened’.

I never really thought anything would ‘happen.’  The possibility of anything ever ‘happening’ to my spouse was, in my mind, absolutely impossible.  Mostly because things like that don’t happen to my family.  Really.  Although I guess now apparently they do, but I digress….

Anyway, back to my Dad.  “Always have a Will” and “Make sure you build a credit history in your own name” and “Always have joint accounts” and “Make sure you co-own everything” were phrases that my Dad repeated.  And much like my sweet boy Zak has said that he always listened to his Dad’s lessons on properly caring for electronics, I too listened to my Dad’s lessons on preparing for my future.

So, because I sometimes paid attention to the lessons from my Dad, Ben and I have always had a Will.  We revised our Will once when we were finished having kids because we  discovered that we didn’t want to hand everything to them at age 19 if something should happen to us.  Which it wouldn’t because, as I mentioned, those things don’t happen to my family.

In any case, what I am trying to say is that I own everything, along with Ben.  I ‘own’ our bank accounts, our house, our investments and even “Ben’s” truck.  The same is true in reverse.  And we have Wills.

Now, listen up people …. for all of you reading this who don’t have Wills (and I know there are a lot of you), and for all of you who like to keep bank accounts separate and live life in a “Mine” and “Yours” type of way (which, in my personal opinion completely defeats the whole idea of marriage, but to each his own), let me just tell you from my personal experience that you are making a HUGE mistake.  To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake.  Big.  Huge.”  That is the exact quote, by the way.  Go ahead and look it up.

julia roberts

Ben has been gone for over a month, and I still work every single day on banking issues. (Did I mention that I am currently sick again and just want to lay in bed? But there is no time for that because there is so much work to be done.)

Today I had to change the house and truck into my name only.  Every day I am met with complications and challenges and frustrations, despite the fact that I OWN EVERYTHING!  When I tried to remove Ben’s name from our jointly owned truck, I brought along an original death certificate, his original Will, and the insurance papers.  Guess what?  I needed to produce a marriage certificate.  WHAT???  Seriously?  Yes indeed.  I needed my marriage certificate to prove that I actually married him, and his death certificate to prove he died even though the truck always belonged to me.  And what if we hadn’t been legally married?  Or what if the truck was only in his name?  Yes, I would eventually get it all sorted out because we have Wills, but what if we hadn’t had Wills?  You see where I’m going with this?

Eventually I returned with my marriage certificate (I still think she was wrong) and I am now the extremely heart breakingly sad sole owner of a truck that Ben loved dearly.  And guess what else?  Even though I always legally owned the truck, ICBC made me pay an additional $25 to own it all by myself.

frustration

So I would just like to point out that if I am frustrated now and find myself banging my head against the wall and wanting to slap most bankers I meet (which I am, and I do), imagine what it would be like if my name wasn’t on everything?  Imagine if there was no Will?  Imagine if all my assets were frozen until ownership could be proven?

Nothing about my life has been OK since April 10th, 2015.  Its been about as bad as it can get, hopefully, since January 13th, 2016.  But let me tell you, when life has beaten you down and stripped you of part of what you love most in this world, part of what makes you ‘you’, the last thing you want is to find yourself without access to funds, or setting court dates, or throwing away money on legal fees, or arguing with estranged family members over perceived entitlements.  All the aforementioned do happen, and worse.

After Ben’s service I was contacted by various people, and the messages were generally the same.  People said that Ben inspired them in life and he inspired them in the way he lived while he was dying.  I’m so glad for that.  He inspired me in so many ways too.  But for everyone who may have been inspired by Ben, please also know this – Ben was fully prepared and responsible when it came to the big things like Wills and joint ownership,  however, he wanted desperately to live and therefore he did not properly take the time to prepare for his death when it came to the little things.  He didn’t want to acknowledge the inevitable.  Well, those ‘little’ neglected things have made life quite a challenge over the last month, so imagine what it would be like if he hadn’t prepared the big things??  I don’t even want to think about it.

Go ahead and be inspired by Ben.  He was inspiring.  You should be inspired.  Be so freaking inspired that you close your computer and call your lawyer (after you watch Ben’s video below).  You never know when it may suddenly be too late.  Don’t let additional stress, costs and hardship be what you leave your family.  Remember, its far easier to prepare for death when you are not dying.

Dad, thank you for the solid advice you gave me when I was growing up.  I wish I’d listened to more of it.  There was probably some good stuff tossed my way over the years.  Thank you for being one of the people that Ben loved and trusted and listened to.  Thank you.

Jeff … if you are reading this and if you haven’t contacted your lawyer yet, know this:  I will not be giving you Ben’s challenge coin until you have made an appointment.  Living in Iqaluit is not an excuse.  Wanting to sleep is not an excuse.  Running from polars bears – also not an excuse.  And I’m probably not giving it to you anyway until you fix my Apple ID, but mostly its just the lawyer issue. 🙂

This is the video montage played at Ben’s service, with a few minor tweaks to remove people who’s images can’t be out there.  Just know when you watch it that Ben loved Jeff and Nancy, even though you don’t see them on here.

I miss him so much.  Our family is so incomplete without him.

One Month

It’s been one month since I lost my true love. (Well, it is one month as I write this, but it will be one month and one day by the time I post it).  Where did the time go?  How can it be that time moved so slowly while Ben was in agonizing pain, and yet moves so quickly away from him now that he’s gone?

The last month has been filled with the extreme of every emotion, from profound and indescribable sadness to overwhelming anger, with bouts of laughter and reminiscing in between.

I want time to stop. Every day that passes takes me one day further away from seeing his face and hearing his voice. I think about the fact that I am 45 years old, and God willing I hope I am only halfway through my life. But then I realize that one day I may look back and find that I have been without him longer then I had him.  Honestly, that literally scares the shit out of me.  I find myself once again in the helpless position of being completely unable to fix this problem.

In the past month I have been occupied with straightening out the banking. I really haven’t had much time to stop, and as I knock things off the list I find myself scared to be finished with it, because having everything in my name alone is one more step towards truly being without him.

I often fear that sanity is escaping me (not news for many of you).  I am scattered and have difficulty remembering anything, including people’s names.  (Anyone who replies to this post may wish to consider providing an explanation of who they are.  Not even kidding).  This week alone I showed up to an ultrasound appointment only to discover I was a month early. I then showed up at the Apple Store to find out I was 24 hours late. Today I showed up for another appointment at the Apple Store at 10:30, and was told I was scheduled for 4pm.  I’m starting to get concerned that I will forget where I live.  You may find me wandering the streets in my pyjamas trying to find someone to help me home.

Tonight I went out to dinner with Nancy and Jeremy. When Nancy first asked me to go, I almost said “no.”  I thought about just staying buried in bed and keeping to myself, but then I changed my mind because I fear that if I hide away on every date that has any type of meaning to me that I will never leave the house again. And since I am already leaning towards being a 45 year old who spends more hours living in her pyjamas then my teenagers, I figured I should push myself a bit.

And so I ventured out to dinner. Neither to celebrate Ben’s life, nor to mourn his loss.  Rather, just to “be.”  It was a nice evening.

I miss your laughter, Ben. XO

Four Short Months Ago …

Four short months ago I wrote a post entitled “Fear Be Damned.”  Check it out if you need to refresh your memory.  In that post I mentioned that Dr K had walked into the oncology appointment that week and commented on how awesome Ben looked. Sigh.  Ben did look awesome.  Hard to believe it was only four months ago.

That same week he took Zak to buy his first car, which looked like this:

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That was a good week.

Three short months later we found ourselves spending as much time together as we could in Ben’s last few days.  I turned on the video camera four days before Ben passed away, while he was listening to “our” song

I think I previously mentioned that a couple of weeks before Ben passed away, Zak was in a car accident and his car was written off.  It was bitter sweet recently to take this photo of him with his newly purchased truck. It was so great of my Dad to step in.  But every time I look at this picture I am struck by the fact that so recently it was Ben who stood by Zak.  That makes me very sad.

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Below is a link to a song by Pearl Jam that was played as we exited Ben’s service.  “Just Breathe.”  I listen to it every day.

I miss him so much.

Hug your families tight.  xo

 

Dear Ben … Love, Your Bride

These are the words I spoke at Ben’s service.  I miss him horribly.  I currently waffle between extreme sadness and extreme anger.  I’ll get into the anger part another time. But at this moment I just miss him and my heart aches.  Turns out you really can feel a broken heart.

*****

Often when people are spoken of after they pass away, they are made to sound as though they were a person who lived a perfect life. Ben would not have wanted me to do that. He was way too real for that. He would have wanted me to speak the truth from my heart. So I will. And I’ll just jump right into it.

Ben misled me about what I was getting into when I agreed to be his partner for life. He presented himself as a courageous man, when in fact the reality was that he was petrified of spiders. A spider could live for months in our home because he was not willing to deal with it. I once had to call my kids’ 90 lb nanny to kill a spider because Ben was too scared, and he didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed about it.

The one time I forced him to take care of a spider, he couldn’t bring himself to squish it so he trapped it in a Tupperware container. And then, while he was on duty, he put it in the back of the marked police car, drove it away from our house and emptied a can of pepper spray on it in the back parking lot of the bank.  (That is a true story.  I swear.)

I was sadly disillusioned that day. But I had recently vowed to love him for better or for worse, so here I still am.

Ben was annoyingly forgetful and easily distracted, which was helpful when I was trying to avoid answering a question about how much money I had spent, but not so much when he was getting ready for work in the morning.

Every work day I would say, “Have a good day at work Ben” and he’d say “Shhh. Don’t talk. I need to concentrate. Have you seen my keys? Do you know where my wallet is? Did you take my badge?” The kids and I would laugh at him and then he would get really mad and yell “Why won’t anyone help me find my stuff?!” It was annoying, but I will miss that banter in the mornings.

Ben had an awesome sense of humour. He kept me laughing from the moment I met him. He told off color jokes that were completely inappropriate but had the kids and I rolling on the floor. I had to continually explain to the kids when they were young that even though Daddy was hilarious, they were never allowed to repeat anything he said or they would be expelled from school. Maybe even arrested.

In the beginning I tried to stop him from saying stuff like that in front of the kids, but eventually I gave up. Now I’m stuck with kids who can’t pose for a picture without finding a way to flip the bird at the last second and ruin my family photo.

Ben was ridiculously stubborn. He was literally unable to force his mouth to form the word “sorry.” He would apologize in his own way, by teasing and trying to make us laugh, and he’d say to the kids “look at your mom …. She sticks her jaw out when she’s mad.” But he’d never actually say sorry. It was not his best trait, but definitely some of the funniest times happened when he was trying to be forgiven without actually asking for forgiveness.

But for each one of those crazy and annoying habits that Ben had, he had an equal number of gentle and caring characteristics.

He was a devoted parent.   He loved his career, but parenting was more important to him. He devoted countless hours taking Zak to karate, or hanging out in the rain at soccer, or driving the girls to volleyball. He took them shopping and to movies, he read to them endlessly when they were young, he played Lego and pulled out little fingers that were stuck in flutes, and he kissed knees when they were scraped. He taught them to drive.

His commitment to all our children during the worst of times a few years back was solid and strong. Where other fathers would have turned their backs, Ben rushed forward with his arms wide open to make our kids feel safe and loved. He was passionate about being a good parent. He knew that there could never be a more important job. He understood the impact that fathers’ actions can have on their kids, and he was determined that his impact would only be positive and loving. He succeeded in doing that in the short time he had.

Ben was a husband who stood above the rest. He was vocal about his disdain for men who aren’t true to their families, or who simply aren’t present. I loved that about him. Ben particularly wanted to be an example to his own son of what a real, stand up husband should be, and to demonstrate for his daughters what they should demand from the men in their lives.

With the exception perhaps of anything to do with spiders, Ben was a brave man. He ran towards danger where others run away, and I know this first hand because we were often each other’s only back up on the Sunshine Coast, back in the days when members worked alone. He never showed fear and he treated everyone with respect, regardless of whether or not they deserved it. I am very proud to share a last name with Ben in our policing world.

Ben was a good friend to many. Despite suffering with unimaginable pain at times, he still found it in himself to be a support to his friend Chris who was also suffering with cancer.

Within the last couple of weeks they had an email exchange where they discussed what appeared to be the looming reality of the situation for both of them, and they decided that if the worst should come to pass they would meet in the gym in Heaven, work out together and then have a drink.

Two days after Ben passed away, Chris also passed away. And I am happy that the two of them are together while they wait for the rest of us to walk each other home.

Outside of work and family, Ben had hobbies and passions that brought him great joy. He was an avid guitar player, and our home was filled with the sounds of his acoustic and electric guitars. He passed on his love of music to our kids, but he particularly enjoyed hearing Raegan pick up her guitar and play, or hearing her play a song on the piano that she had learned just by watching it played on You Tube. In those moments he saw a piece of himself.

Ben had many goals in life, and he liked to write down his goals every New Years Eve. He always said that a goal that is not written down is just a wish. This is the first year ever that we didn’t do our goals on New Years Eve, but if he had, I don’t actually think that his goal would have been as simple as to just survive cancer. I think it would have been to ensure that the kids and I were safe, and cared for, and loved. Surviving cancer would have been a bonus, but ultimately, the kids and I were always his priority. And as Ben and I talked about many times, “one beats cancer by how they live, why they live, and the manner in which they live.” And if that is the standard by which to determine who wins the battle, then Ben came out of this with the blue ribbon.

Zak, Jaime, Raegan … I want you to know that your dad was honest, hard working and reliable. He had integrity and strength of character. He honoured his vows. He was a great leader, because he was gentle and led by example, and never expected of anyone what he wasn’t prepared to offer himself.

Your Dad loved us deeply and fiercely, and he did not want to leave us. He tried so hard, because he didn’t want to miss one moment of what is sure to be your extraordinary lives.

He himself was an extraordinary man, and you can take solace in the fact that he was so loved, just by looking around this room at the people here today. Their hearts are broken, just like ours.

Dad wanted you to know that you should not waste your time worrying, because worrying never bought anyone a moment of extra time. If he was here he would tell you to laugh every day, don’t take yourself too seriously, and above all, to make sure you play a meaningful role in the world.

I promise all three of you that I will be strong. I will not break, so don’t worry. What has happened to us as a family is devastating for now, but don’t allow fear to rule your lives. It is ok to grieve, its good to grieve, but it’s a passage and not a place to stay. And Dad would want you to laugh.

The last 10 months have been indescribably difficult, but in many ways Ben and I also experienced some of the most beautiful moments of our lives. This year was a reminder to us that people are so good. After years of being exposed to the ugly side of humanity through work, we had kindness after kindness thrust upon us. Unexpected gestures of love that moved us deeply, and allowed us to remember that people are good. That’s a blessing for which we were both so grateful.

In addition to the countless number of people who cooked for us, drove our kids around, sat with us through our sadness and enjoyed meals with us on the better days, we also found ourselves surrounded by doctors and nurses who truly cared and went above and beyond what they are paid to do.

We are so grateful to our family and friends working in the medical profession who helped us out time after time, and cared for us in our home, right until the very end. And there are no words to tell my sweet family how grateful Ben was to all of you. Barb – without you, we all would have been standing here months ago. Your hard work gave Ben and I extra time together. Thank you.

And to Andre B, our patient, patient doctor, who is here today. Ben wanted you to know that he was truly, forever grateful for the kindness you showed at the beginning when you had to break the bad news, and at the end when you answered his questions honestly. I’m grateful for all the moments in between where you tolerated me and found time for me that I know you didn’t really have available. I am really forever indebted. You are such an asset to your profession.

It hurts me deeply to have to say goodbye today to one of the greatest men I have ever known. Since I was 22 years old, it has always been Ben. He was always our light in the dark.

Thank you Ben, for choosing me to be the other half of you. I will never forget you. I will deeply miss you forever. I hope you are enjoying that drink with Chris in Heaven.

I love you.

Video taken on January 10th, three days before Ben passed away as we enjoyed the last moments that he was reasonably coherent.  He kept his sense of humour right to the end.  How I miss him.

What If I Lose You Too?

Holding my sweet girl while she sobs her eyes out and asks me “What if I lose you too?” is almost as bad as watching Ben die all over again.

What do I say to that?  The natural response is to say “Nothing will happen to me.”  But the truth is that we just lost the strongest man in the world. The Titan.  And if The Titan can fall then why couldn’t I?

The truth is…I could. I mean, who ever would have thought that ongoing  back pain could ultimately mean stage 4, utterly incurable and barely treatable cancer? (With a small ‘c’).  But it did.  Didn’t it?

Who ever thought The Titan could fall?  But he did.

I started to give the standard answer … “Nothing will happen to me.  I won’t leave you.”  But then that pissed me off.  It felt disrespectful to Ben.   He certainly didn’t want to leave us, but he did.  So if I promise that I won’t, does that mean Ben didn’t love us enough?  Of course not.

So I told her the truth.  Daddy didn’t want to leave us.  He tried everything to stay.  But sometimes bad things happen to good people.

And probably nothing will happen to me, but if it does, this is what will happen:  you will know how much I loved you and didn’t want to leave you. You will know I am in Heaven because I believe I will be, and no one can ever convince me otherwise. You will be surrounded by love. Forever. You will have Zak and Raegan, Gramma and Grampa, Auntie Barb, Auntie Lisa, Auntie Nancy, Connie and Kirby, Beth, Auntie Colleen, Jeff (yes…Jeff).  The list goes on.

You will have everyone who ever loved your dad and I.  You will graduate from high school, you will go to university, you will find a life partner if you choose, and you will always have loving friends.  Because you welcome love. And sometimes bad things will still happen, but you will get through it  all because you are strong, and you are resilient.  Because there is so much to love about life, even when it’s hard.

And I told her that despite all our pain right now, I guarantee there is someone in the world right this moment who experiencing far worse.  Someone who wishes they had our problems.

So I guess my answer wasn’t all fairies and pixie dust, but it was honest, which is exactly what Ben would have wanted.  I hope it helped her.  She is asleep beside me now as I write this, so I think it may have actually helped.  At least I was honest.  And as Dr B once joked (when I told him that Ben was a wee bit “out of it” and asking if I had confessed to all my crimes, and I just responded “yes” because it was easier then explaining that I’m not a criminal) … “the truth shall set you free.”

 

Dear Daddy … Love, Zak, Jaime and Raegan

At Ben’s service, Zak stood up and gave the most heartfelt speech about his Dad.  He only brought a few written notes up to the front with him when he spoke – his tribute was entirely from the heart.

Eventually I will try to post a video clip of Zak’s speech onto this blog, because I don’t have a written copy.  Either way, just know that it was one of the most beautiful and loving tributes I have ever heard.  I was deeply moved by what Zak had to say about his Dad.  He was eloquent, funny, honest and loving.  It was so brave of him to speak, and my heart aches when I am reminded that Zak will no longer have his Dad by his side as he moves into adulthood.

A couple of months ago Ben helped Zak find and purchase his first vehicle.  It was a great Father / Son moment.

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Just before Ben passed away, Zak was rear ended by another driver and his car was written off (not Zak’s fault, and he was not seriously hurt).  Yesterday, Zak’s Grampa (my Dad) helped Zak find another one.  A truck.  Zak is thrilled, and I’m so grateful to my Dad for stepping up, but my heart broke because Ben wasn’t here to help him with it this time around.

Ben would have wanted to be there.

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The following words were written by Jaime and Raegan, Ben’s beloved daughters.  Their words were read on their behalf by Mario Bourdages.  Thank you, Mario.

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Dear Daddy,

Thank you for always being there for me. I could always count on you to make me feel better. You always knew the right thing to say. I love you so much and I want you to know that I always think of you. Not only were you a fantastic Dad, but you were an even better friend.

You made me laugh, and I honestly loved your jokes so much. You were the funniest person I know.

You were always proud of us, no matter what we did. When we didn’t make great decisions you talked us through it and continued to love us unconditionally. You pushed us to improve and do our best, and you always helped us to achieve whatever we desired.

I am so proud of you for fighting hard against cancer, and for being a warrior throughout the whole process. I am proud to call you my Dad. I will always love you so much.

Love, Raegan

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Dear Daddy,

Thank you so much for everything you did for me, and for always being there for me. You were an inspiration to me and I looked up to you in so many ways. You were so strong fighting these last few months, and I am so proud of you.

I wish you could still be here with us and continue to teach me things that no one else can. From the beginning you taught me so many things – from riding a bike, to driving a car, and so much in between.

I loved spending time with you and doing things like going to the movies, watching Vampire Diaries, going to Starbucks and taking driving lessons from you. Thanks for not yelling at me as much as Mom did while I was driving. You were so patient, and I really appreciate that.

Thank you for always coming out to support me while I played soccer and volleyball. You did so much for me and you always did your best to make me happy when I was upset.

I’m so grateful for the time I got to have you in my life. You will always mean the world to me.

Love, Jaime

The kids made this video for Ben a few years ago.  It still makes me smile.