Mary Mary, Quite Contrary …

… How does your garden grow?

Like this…

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And this…

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And this …IMG_6446

Ben would have loved all those veggies growing.  I wish he were here to enjoy them.

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About Ben or Not About Ben?

I’m going to start with “Not About Ben.”

First of all, I’m on summer holidays.  Yay.  Not to return to work until after Labour Day. An entire summer to devote to myself and my kidlets.  That has not happened since I was 17, so I’m pretty excited about it.  I’m hoping for some relaxation, some healing and a lot of hiking.  Nothing like being in nature to help one’s self heal.  I may have to buy new shoes … is there such a thing as fashionable hiking boots?  Apparently there is.

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I may have to give those a bit of thought.  They could be a bit hard to walk in.  And speaking of walking, which involves the ground, which also could involve flooring (see how I segued smoothly into a conversation about my floors?) …. after ELEVEN WEEKS and three days…. wait for it … wait for it … my floors are NOT finished.  DA DA daaa!  Sorry for the letdown there.  However, trying to look on the bright side, they are almost done.  All the flooring is in and the baseboards mostly went back on today.  The railings are finished but not yet installed, and the fireplace mantle still needs to be stained.  Despite all that, they look fantastic.  Here’s a taste:

 

Gorgeous, right?  I know.  They actually look way better in person than they do in the pictures.

Besides being busy trying to live life around a strange man who has pretty much moved into my home while he does his work, I have also been starting to read up on what to do in Hawaii.  (Now here is the segue into “About Ben.”)  I do wish very much that Ben was here to enjoy the trip with us, but I am still looking forward to being in his favourite place with the kids and Lisa.  I have been toying with the idea of taking some of his ashes with us to spread some place pretty and peaceful, but at the same time I haven’t yet gotten off my butt to make the inquiry with the airline.  Or to actually get some of his ashes separated.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that you weren’t just allowed to bring ashes in your carry on luggage, did you?  I was tempted to try, but I don’t relish the thought of  the airline seizing them and then having part of Ben living eternally at YVR.  (Although, if he lived there long enough he may eventually get a discount on flights.  But I digress…)  I’m not even positive that I want to separate any of his ashes at all and I don’t want to rush into making that decision. If we find ourselves flying out without his ashes, I’ll wait until the next trip.

The kids and I visited two cemeteries this week and we made the final decision about where to have Ben’s ashes interred.  Turns out that there is quite a competition for burial plots.  Who knew?  The cemetery we decided to go with only has three remaining plots available right now.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Three.

Technically they have eight remaining plots, but five of them are already spoken for.  I missed four of them by one day.  Apparently you can “hold” a spot for 30 days while you try decide if that is the perfect spot for your loved one to spend eternity.  Of those five spots that are currently held, the holder of one of them has a mere four more days to make their final decision or come up with the money, or figure out whatever it is that is holding them back from committing.  (Maybe they haven’t died yet?  That would put a wrench in their plans.)  Anyway, that happens to be the specific plot that we actually want, so we in turn put a hold on our second favourite plot while we wait to see what happens with the first one. Will the holder pay, or won’t they?  It feels a bit like a game of poker which I’m not very good at, as my friends can attest to.  Hopefully I play this hand better than I did last Friday night.

Cross your fingers for us that we get what we want.  Not that Ben would actually care – he wouldn’t.  He would say “give the bag a shake and let my ashes blow away in the wind, because it’s cheaper.”  He would actually say that.  But he would also say that everything that takes place after death is for the survivors, so I’m going to do what’s best for the four of us. Therefore, cross your fingers for us that we get what we want, because it is important to us.

I would cross my own fingers but I can’t because my stupid finger is still broken.  Here’s how part of that little chat with my doctor went today, after he received my xray results:

IMG_6436Hmmm … well, good thing it’s in a good position I suppose, but where exactly does that leave me? So I tried again …

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Laughing-Crying-Emoticon-02 Laughing-Crying-Emoticon-02 Laughing-Crying-Emoticon-02  That’s right, I took it off against the doctor’s advice because I was sick of it and I thought it might be healed, even though he had told me it wouldn’t be.  What does he really know?  He answered with this:

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WHAAAAT????  I don’t want to wear that stupid splint anymore.  So that answer made me mad and I thought I would really show him who’s boss by letting him know just how mad I was:

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That’s right.  I sent an angry emoticon.  I wasn’t fooling around.  All he sent back was this:

IMG_6440Damn him and his answers that are not what I want to hear.  Who does he think he is anyway?  What makes him so smart?  So what that he went to med school. Pfffft…. big deal. He texted all tough, but I have a pretty good feeling that he was crying and shaking in fear over that angry emoticon I sent him.  Anyway, I sure showed him because I took the stupid splint off to type this post.  So there.

While I happily type away without my splint, Raegan has left with her friend Jenn on a lovely overnighter in the good ol’ U.S of A.  Raegan was thrilled to leave the Vancouver drizzle behind for a night.  Here’s the picture of them that Jenn’s mom sent me tonight as they were headed out on a hike.

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Hahahahahaha!  Apparently it’s pouring there.  Raegan doesn’t look thrilled that she is wearing a plastic bag.  Seeing that picture actually made me laugh out loud.  I was reminded of the time that my grade 2 teacher insisted we all bring one of our Dad’s old shirts to school to use as a paint smock the next day.  When I asked for an old shirt, my mom said that dad didn’t have any shirts to spare that they could afford to have ruined by paint.  Instead, she made me wear a big black garbage bag with holes cut for my head and arms.  All day the other kids called me the “Big Black Banana.”  I was traumatized for life, so now I’m happy to pass that same trauma onto my own kid.

Sometimes I just love parenthood.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day 2016

Dear Ben,

I write this to you at 4:50 am.  I haven’t yet had a lick of sleep after a night filled with tears, anger and everything in between.

The kids are finally asleep and I can rest now, but I feel compelled to write to you instead, on Father’s Day.

I want you to know that you were an amazing father.  A dad, actually, because anyone can be a father but you …. you were a DAD.  A caring, compassionate, loving, hands on Dad, just like my own. Together we raised loving, compassionate, strong willed, kind and hard working kids. Thank you for being the kind of Dad who loved our kids so deeply that they miss you beyond measure.

I want you to know that we are doing ok.  Yes, tonight was one of “those” nights, but it’s only because they loved you so deeply that they find your absence unbearable at times.  The pain they feel from your loss is a testament to the kind of Dad you were.

I flounder at times when I don’t know how to help them cope, but I can always hear your voice reminding me to breathe, and to be gentle and understanding.  I feel you near us.

As much as I miss being able to see you, when I look at pictures like this from last Father’s Day (click here to read the post from Father’s Day 2015) and I remember how hard it was for you to open your eyes just so that I could take the picture, I feel relief that you are no longer in pain.

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I think that nights like tonight have to happen in order to help us work through this grief. Those faces may not have been smiling tonight, and they may not smile today, but they do still smile.

Know that you are loved and remembered every day.  You made an impact in this world. The countless number of people who have written us letters with memories of you are a testament to you and how you lived your life.  There is no one who knew you who wasn’t aware of the love you had for our kids.  I’m eternally grateful for that.

You wondered if your life mattered.  It surely did.  To all those who knew you and even those who didn’t.

Cheers to The Titan.  To My Ben.  To Big Daddy B.  Happy Dad’s Day.

Psych-ick

I have a confession to make.  But first I need to give you a little background info.

This is Theresa Caputo. aka: The Long Island Medium

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She’s had a “reality” show for five years, and cameras follow her big blonde life as she is “spontaneously” forced by spirits to stop and pass messages onto strangers from their dearly departed loved ones.  I used to watch it quite a bit while Ben sat in the office and yelled out things like, “I can’t believe you watch that crap!”  He wasn’t a fan of “reality” tv unless it involved cooking.

But many times over the years when I would watch her and Ben would freak out, I would say, “Listen, if you were to die I would hunt that woman down and you had better come through loud and clear!!”  Seriously.  We actually did have those conversations long before Ben ever got sick.

Anyway, a few weeks after he passed away I was scrolling through Facebook and there she was – coming to Abbotsford.  (Here’s where my confession comes in).  I actually looked around the room guiltily while I contemplated buying tickets.  I knew what Ben thought of “psychics” while he was alive, but maybe this was a sign?  (I will also admit to hearing Ben say “It’s not a sign.  You are finding meaning where there is none, because you desperately want there to be some meaning.”  Sigh.  I know him so well, and he was so damn practical.)  Anyway, I shoved that little voice out of my head and bought two tickets before I could change my mind.  I think I heard him weeping quietly when I entered my credit card information.

Since that moment I have been waiting anxiously for June 5th.  I constantly told Ben to make sure he mentioned the burned out spotlight in the back yard, because that was the only thing I could think of that I haven’t mentioned on social media.

Please, please come through to Theresa Caputo and tell me you are ok.

Well, June 5th finally rolled around and I tucked one of Ben’s Titan guitar picks in my bra (just incase he preferred to have her mention that) and off I went with high hopes to see The Long Island Medium.  Out loud I said I was just going for the entertainment, but deep down I hoped….

Anyway, as you can tell from the title of this post, it was not all that it was cracked up to be.  Not even close.  It wasn’t even entertaining because my heart broke when I saw all the desperate people (much like myself, I suppose) who were there holding their breath for any type of sign from the person they had lost.

Within about 90 seconds of the start of her “readings” I could feel the embarrassment creeping up the back of my neck for having spent money to watch a woman who can only be referred to as a complete and utter fraud.  I can’t even be bothered to relay the ridiculousness of her “readings” but I will say that I could have done a way better job than she did.  She merely utilized basic interview techniques and and the knowledge that people want to believe.  Every person she “read” handed her everything she needed.

I think I could have tolerated it a bit better if I believed that she believed what she was saying.  But she doesn’t.  Anyone with any  any skill at all in eliciting information from people would agree that she is not hearing spirit voices.  She isn’t hearing anything except the “ka-ching” of the register as she spends all the cash she sucks out of sad people on bling and Louboutin shoes.

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If I had five minutes with her I would be interested in asking her if she has lied to her own children all their lives, or if she has forced them to be complicit in her fraud.  Either way, she’s a shitty person and Ben is saying “I told you so.”

Sigh.  I really wanted it to be real.

Shortly after that incident I did a little grocery shopping, and while I was in the store I tripped over my own feet and broke my finger.  Of course I did.  I had to breathe deeply for about 10 minutes while I struggled not to toss my cookies all over the floor.  I knew my finger was broken, but since I’d been wrong about The Long Island Fraud I thought that maybe I was wrong about this too, so I didn’t go to the doctor.  Instead I went to work the next morning and fought back tears anytime someone so much as glanced in the direction of my finger.  Just the ripple of air caused by their eye moment made my finger hurt.  I swear.

By 10:30 it was too much and off I went to the hospital for an xray.  While I was there the nurse decided she needed to review every medication that I had ever taken.  It was a long list that she had extracted from the computer and I didn’t even remember ever having taken most of them.  Finally she got to the end of the list and said, “Mirena?”  Mirena?  Mirena?!  I looked at her and said, “A Mirena is an IUD.  I did not break my vagina, I broke my finger, so I doubt it matters if I still have a Mirena.”  I swear I said that.  Not even making it up.

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The xray results came back.  Broken.  What a surprise.  I was right.  (Did I ever mention that I recently asked Dr B to just give me a prescription pad so I can write my own prescriptions, since I always diagnose myself anyway?  He didn’t give me one.  No idea why.)

Anyway, the nurse went to splint my finger, and as she cut the tape straight across and wrapped it around the splint she smiled and chuckled.  I asked her what she was chuckling over and she told me to look.  So I did, and this is what I saw:

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See that perfect little heart sitting right on top?  I swear she did not do that.  She just peeled the roll of tape back and cut it straight across.  I was watching the whole time.

Theresa Caputo be damned.  I’ll take that as a sign from Ben.

My tattoos are healing nicely …

… and I broke every proper parenting rule and allowed Jaime to do this …

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That is her very fresh tattoo.  Do NOT tell my parents!  Lol.  It has healed nicely since this picture was taken and looks really good, especially the “Love Dad” part.  That is Ben’s signature transposed forever on Jaime.

And now we await Father’s Day. Last year we were here.  I wish I could have that day back again, despite how sick Ben was.  And now we await Father’s Day.

Raegan turned me onto this song.  

We miss you Ben.  We love you.  The house is empty without the sound of your guitar.  xoxoxo

Post script …. I just realized that I broke my finger before the psych-ick show.  Wierd how I have lost all track of time and can’t keep these things straight

Dear Ben

Dear Ben,

Yesterday was our son’s 20th birthday.  It seems like just yesterday that he was born, and we were young, and life was wide open before us.  In a million years I did not ever imagine that 20 short years later you would not be beside me to celebrate his day.

Over the last four-ish months various significant days have passed (your birthday, Jaime’s birthday, my birthday etc), and I have been able to remember exactly where you and I were on that day any number of years ago. As each event has passed I have found myself thinking “if I had known how much time was left, would I have done anything different?”

I have mulled that thought over countless times, and I have finally come to the conclusion that the answer lies somewhere in between a “yes” and a “no.” 

I wish that I was emphatically able to answer “No!  I would change nothing!  I was perfect. I loved you every minute of every day, and I treated you with gentleness, kindness and love at all times, and vice versa.”  But that isn’t the answer, because that isn’t the truth.  We did not do those things at all times, but we did do them most of the time.  (Some of the time?  No … over the span of 23 years I think we did them most of the time.)

The answer is also not an emphatic “Yes!  I would change everything! I would have loved you more and been kinder and more considerate at all times.  I would not have ever argued with you, and I would not have insisted on having my way, ever.  I would have given you exactly what you wanted every time you asked, I would have swallowed my frustrations and I would have spent every day telling you how perfect you were.”  That’s not the truth either, and I don’t wish I had done that.  I doubt you would wish that of me either. If I was the perfect partner it would have made your life easier for a short while, but it also would have bored you silly.  I know you were never looking for a partner who was just a “yes” person. Neither was I.

The truth is that I loved you fiercely, most of the time, and I know you did the same.  And I know you appreciated the ferocity with which I loved you, which sometimes meant I ferociously disliked you too.  But I always loved you.  And vice versa.  Some years were harder than others, but I always hung on and loved you when others may have let go. The same goes for you – you always hung on. That’s why we worked.

I do now know that most of our disagreements were a waste of time (life is just too short – you taught me that) and I do wish I could have a do-over and take some of them back, but not all of them. Because sometimes you were very wrong, and we both knew it.  🙂

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(You would have laughed at that.  I’m smiling now as I think of you laughing.)

If I had known on the day that our son was born that we would only get to celebrate 19 of his birthdays together, I would have cried and said “how will I be able to do this without you?” And you would have said, “You won’t have to. I will be by your side for 19 years and then you will continue on.”  You were very practical like that.

So I suppose that in the end, there is not a lot I would have done differently.  Who would have wanted to risk the possibility of doing things differently and ending up not having our kids?  Not you.  Not I.  There is no point in living with regret (as you were fond of saying), and truthfully we really had very little to regret and so much to appreciate.

I’m glad we did it our way.  I know you were too.

I do wish we had managed to travel more together.  I will never forget you saying that to me towards the end – that you wished we had travelled more.  Ben, I hope you have travelled the world by now and marvelled at all the wonders.  I promise you I will encourage the kids to do so. Carpe Diem, baby.  Carpe diem.

I miss you Ben.  Sometimes, like right now as I write you this letter, my whole body aches from missing you.  I miss your laugh so much. You had a great laugh.  Today someone from Ottawa emailed me to say they missed you (oh how I loved reading that), and they talked about what an infectious laugh you had.  You did. I hope you laugh every day now.

I am learning how to do some things around the house that I never had to do before, although I am constantly pissed off that I have to do it at all.  You’re in the dog house for that.  The computers frustrate me to no end. I still don’t have Netflix, although I pay for it every month.  That would piss you off!  Today the door on the dishwasher refused to close so now I have to wash by hand (whaaaat??), one of the kitchen drawers is broken, and those damn latches on both gates still don’t work. I’m pretty choked that you didn’t fix them.  Procrastination was not your best trait.

The kids are managing as well as any teenager could. They miss you, and truth be told, it hurts them to talk about you out loud.  I know this because I have asked, and I watch the quick flash of pain across their faces when I say I miss you. But you also taught them to laugh, and so that is what they try to do.

  

I bought him the same obscenely expensive frying pan that I bought you a year ago.  I figured you would think that was a good choice.

Raegan has been sick and was at home for several days last week. It turns out that she used her down time to google you, and she found our blog. I was a little anxious about that when she told me.  I did not ask her to stop reading it, although I was tempted (and she told me she wouldn’t read it any more if I didn’t want her to), but I did tell her that she might want to think about it first.  I told her it’s painful sometimes, but that’s because we loved you so much. Later on that day she sent me this text, which contained an excerpt from one of your blog posts last year:

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She was looking for reminders of how you loved her.  

Jaime has been suffering with the same stomach problems she has always had, although they are worse now.  I have tried to explain “gluten free” to her as I know you would want me to, but she is stubborn. I think she got that from you.

She has been concerned about telling her new boss that we are leaving for several weeks this summer.  She was afraid he wouldn’t understand.  Today she got to see once again that people are good, as he not only told her that she could go and there are more important things than work, but he let her know that he lost his own wife three years ago. He told her he understood.

She is managing better most nights now, but there is a hole in her heart like the rest of us have. You can take pride in the fact that you meant so much to all of us, but because we loved you so much it is hard to move through the pain.  One day at a time is all we can do. Sometimes one moment.

Last night I broke my finger. (I am writing this from Emergency at Surrey Memorial.  I didn’t go last night because I hoped it would fix itself.  That didn’t work out.) I saw the xray today – it doesn’t look pretty.  If you have any pull in the afterlife, could you please help me out with some quick healing?  I am particularly annoyed that I can now only get 9 fingers done when I get my manicure.

You are still the first person I want to tell when anything happens, so I was particularly unhappy to break my finger and find myself unable to commiserate with you.  I still reach for my phone daily to call you or text you.  What’s the deal with THAT?!  Sometimes I cave in and send you a text anyway.  You never answer, but on the upside I have yet to receive an angry text from whomever may now have your number, telling me I should stop texting him / her and go talk to a shrink instead. So that’s good.

I often wish I hadn’t been so quick to delete your online presence, even though I know you would have wanted that and quite frankly, I know you would think that’s part of what made me an awesome wife. Because I remembered stuff like that!  Still, it would be nice to go back through your accounts sometimes, I think, even though you weren’t much of a poster.  I’m glad I screen shot(ted) many of your texts.  

*********break while I talk to the doctor**********

Well, I have just walked out of the hospital with my finger nicely splinted, so I should sign off.  I want to get away from this place.  I hate being in the hospital because I see you everywhere, and I remember the shitty news we got in every room.

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I remember all the beds you layed in at Surrey Memorial while I tried to find that balance between getting pain relief for you but not being too assertive incase I pissed off the only people who could help.  (I still laugh when I recall you telling the nurse with pink lipstick that she talked too much and needed to learn to listen more.  Lol). 

The nurse who helped out today remembered me.  That was nice, and sad at the same time.  When I walked out of the hospital just now I refused to use the hand sanitizer in an act of defiance.  Not sure who I was defying, really, but as I walked past it I thought of the zillion times I stopped at that pump over the last year so that I wouldn’t make you sick.  Well, now my stubbornness means I can’t touch anything until I get home and wash my hands. I guess I didn’t teach anyone a lesson, did I? 

I miss you, Ben.  Your name is always on the tip of my tongue and at the forefront of my thoughts.  But I am managing, just like I promised, so you don’t need to worry.  One day at a time.

Someone put this online:

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Today, I’ll have a day.
Love,
Your bride
xoxox