We Are All A Year Older

The other day I was cleaning up and  I stopped for a moment to watch our digital photo album as it flipped through some photos.  I saw a few birthday pics flash by and I had to sit down and catch my breath as I suddenly realized that all four remaining Saint-Onge’s have had a birthday since Ben died.  I mean, obviously I knew this, but it really hit me hard at that moment.  The rest of us are all one year older.  And then I really thought about the fact that Ben will never know me at 46, Zak at 20, Jaime at 17, or Raegan at 15. Never.  How could he already have been gone long enough that we are all one year older and he wasn’t here to see it happen?  Time is stealing him further away from me.

It has occurred to me in the past that Ben and I are now officially the same age (he died at 46, I just turned 46), but I don’t recall really thinking hard about the fact that in a mere 6 1/2 months, all of us have changed ages and Ben doesn’t even know it.  Two of my kids have begun new romances since Ben died, and those new boyfriend / girlfriends don’t ever get to know Ben.  They don’t know the super cool dad of their current crush.  My kids have turned into the “girl/boyfriend-who’s-dad-died.”  Which is now the way it will always be, unless they are to date and marry someone from their early youth, which is unlikely. That means that my kids don’t get to reminisce about their Dad with their significant other, because that significant other will never have known him. (Well, of course they can reminisce, but the other person won’t have had that shared experience. You know what I mean.) How could that happen in such a short amount of time?

As life has moved along I find myself discovering that being a single parent is not fun. Before Ben and I ever had kids, we talked about how we saw our lives going as far as career vs kids.  We both felt very strongly that having a parental presence at home as much as possible was a priority, and so I have spent the majority of my career working part time.  (Don’t make the assumption here that it was a no brainer back in 2000 that I would be the one to reduce my hours – in fact, at one point in time we came very close to doing just the opposite.  Ben was very supportive of my career and was fully prepared to take on the role of primary care giver, but due to various things that happened around the time of making that decision we ultimately decided it would be me to spend more time at home.  So we ran with it and both of us have been reasonably satisfied with the way that worked out, except for the recent shitty ending to our story. Pretty sure I can speak for Ben here when I say that he was less than impressed with how everything turned out in the end.  But I digress….)

Back to single parenting … not so much fun.  There have been a few instances of late where Ben would have simply walked out of the home office and into the family room and given “the look.”  That usually solved whatever the problem of the moment was.  And if the “offence” was great enough and say, a phone or car was taken away, he would never, ever give in or renege on the original consequence.  Never.  And no one would dare to try to wear him down.

I’m discovering that even when a parent has died, teens still manage to be teens and there is no one I can fall back on for a break.  No one to step in with “the look.”  No one to say to the other parent “hold onto those car keys and don’t give them back for a week.  It’s the right thing to do.” Instead it’s just me, second guessing myself and getting worn out and run over at times. The last two days haven’t been the best, to put it mildly.  And amidst all the drama poor Raegan was hit with the worst migraine ever.  Nothing stopped this bad boy.  The poor girl vomited for hours until she was spitting up blood, holding her head and telling me how much it hurt.  It was horrible and I really needed Ben, but alas… well, you know.

Raegan is feeling better now and tomorrow night she goes for her MRI to see what, if anything, is going on in there.  I hope they find something very tiny, non life threatening and super easy to resolve.  I suspect that they will find nothing, which is good but frustrating because that doesn’t really help her pain.  Knowing you are “OK” doesn’t make the pain go away.

In other news in the Saint-Onge household, we were unable to secure our first pick of burial plot for Ben but we did get our second choice.  In hindsight, when Raegan and I went back to look at it, we actually preferred our second choice so I suppose it all worked out. The purchase of the plot etc is now being dealt with directly between the City of Surrey and the RCMP, so for once I just get to sit back and wait until it is all done.  Then I will start thinking about when is a good time to say that final farewell.  I’m not ready yet.

I had intended on writing about our recent trip to Hawaii, but since the girls and I are going on a further adventure down south in a few days, I think I’ll wait.  This pretty much sums up our next trip:

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OK, the truth is that I actually don’t feel like writing about Hawaii right now, because as I was putzing around here on Ben’s computer I found a post he wrote on a guitar forum about ten months ago.  I have read it before but I had forgotten about it, and now that I’ve read it again I don’t feel much like talking about sunshine and travel.  Instead I’m going to link the post he made.  Hopefully it works.  Hopefully I didn’t already post it sometime earlier.

In any case, reading his words made me both sad and proud.  What a man he was.  Click on the link below to read:

Bens post on guitar forum

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An Honest Love Letter … Saint-Onge Style

This is my first attempt at reblogging. Not even quite sure what will happen when I hit “reblogging post.”  I originally wrote this post on September 8, 2015 and I re-read it this morning.  It reminded me that I told Ben that we would be OK. I said “Whatever may come, we will be Ok.” So I need to be Ok.

Mom is a widow

To my Groom,

I am sorry that you are in so much pain.  It truly, physically hurts my heart to watch you suffer.  I wish I could take all that pain away.

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(I bet this is the face you are making right now as you read this)

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “LIAR!  You would not agree to taking all the pain!”  Fine.  You caught me. You’re right.  That was, in fact, a lie … you know me too well.  But I would definitely agree to take half of it.  I would totally take half. Or at least 35%.  But probably half.  Asking me to take it all on would be a little much, don’t you think?  That would just be mean, to want me to take it all.  But I would agree to a solid 50%.

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My Dear Ben … you know I have loved you almost from…

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Sometimes It’s All Just A Little Too Much

I am writing this post from Hawaii.  To be a little more exact, I am writing it from the bathtub in the condo in Hawaii, where I am hiding and trying to breathe.  It’s one of those moments.

Sometimes it’s all a little too much and I couldn’t explain why if I tried. I don’t even know.

The trip has been beautiful and peaceful for the most part. We have swam and kayaked (Lisa paddled, I sat there), relaxed in the sun, drank wine, gone down a water slide and even swam in the ocean with dolphins. I have also enjoyed 100% Kona coffee.  That’s a big deal for me.


All that beauty is not lost on me, and yet here I am hiding in the tub remembering Ben saying “I think I pulled a muscle” while I nurse my own extremely sore lower back and think about how Ben’s “pulled muscle” turned out.  And cry.

Yes, I know, I know, most muscle aches do not turn out to be cancer. But apparently sometimes they do.  If I could turn off the shitty thoughts I would. Sometimes I can. Occasionally I can’t. This seems to be one of those moments.

You know what I wish for more than anything at this moment?  I wish that all of my kids be gifted the ability to live in the moment and not in the “what ifs.”  I hope that when terrorists commit atrocities and innocent people are killed, and when men and women who protect our communities go to work one night but don’t come again because some asshole figured that they wore a uniform so they should die for that, and when another student or their mom’s aunt is given another sad cancer prognosis…..that they find a way to cope and understand that those are not their stories.  I hope that they can understand that no one knows what life holds for them, but at that particular moment that is not their story. And that if it ever becomes their story in any way, they will cope.

I hope they emulate their Dad.  I hope they don’t crawl into a bathtub to cry. Or, if they do, they only do it for ten minutes and then they remind themselves of all the beauty in the world, get up, towel off and move on.

How I miss Ben right now.

It’s time to get out of the tub.

Ben, Let Me Sleep!

Today is my sweet Raegan’s 15th birthday and we will be celebrating here in Hawaii. Not a bad birthday present, am I right?

We arrived two days ago to beautiful weather and beautiful accommodations. We have already swam beside a massive turtle and watched the Dolphins swim. I have sipped a little bit of Heaven in the 100% Kona coffee at Starbucks  (although I did accidently drop the first one all over my sister after only having had about three sips) and we have plans today to go paddle boarding.  There is nothing for us to do for the next week or so except enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company. Life is good, right?

So why am I wide awake at 3:32 in the morning, feeling like I just sat through a three hour movie of Ben being tortured by the fear of dying and feeling like he had no one to share that fear with? I am exhausted.

Ben, please, get out of my dreams. I’m tired and the dreams like that hurt me.  Come back  to my dreams when they can be happy, not this way.

I want to enjoy Raegan’s birthday and our vacation. I know it has been six months without you. I know today marks the day. Believe me, I know. And it’s ok for you to live in my head but not like that. Please stop making me suffer through those memories time after time. I just want to remember you laughing.

The Fighter And The Kid And The Titan

Remember when Ben and I made it to LA for our 21st anniversary to see Doyle Bramhall II in concert, and while we were there we met Bryan Callen?  (Click here for a little refresher).

Done reading?  OK.  Ben loved the podcast “The Fighter And The Kid.”  It inspired him.  It kept him sane.  It helped him through some really difficult times.

After Ben passed away, Bryan gave The Titan a shout out on his next podcast, and I finally found it online.

Click here to listen.  Episode 117.  Start listening at 23:35 and don’t stop until 24:55.  You’ll know when Bryan is finished.

How Ben would have loved to hear Bryan’s final words to him.  He would have laughed his ass off.  I hope he is.

Two Reasons

Full preparations are under way for Hawaii.  I am looking forward to the time with my kids in the place Ben loved best.

The days keep passing by and I find myself remaining exhaustingly busy.  Lately I have taken to wondering why I am so busy, especially since I’m not working right now. I thought it was because Ben left so much unfinished business behind, but that’s no longer really applicable. I have pretty much straightened everything out.

So I asked myself what I have been doing with my time.  Well, I have been getting the floors re-done (they look spectacular) and arranging for the cabinets to be sprayed, redoing my bedroom, planning our holidays, working out a lot … the list goes on.  But when I put it all down in writing I realize that none of those “must do’s” have anything to do with Ben. It all has to do with me.  Just me.  But why?

The working out part is a no brainer. The kids need me healthy and I also need myself healthy.  But why the rest of it?  Why am I in such a hurry to take on so much, so quickly, especially when I often find myself overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of the day? And why am I in such a hurry to change so many things around here?

I have come to the conclusion that there are two reasons.  Here they are:

Reason Numero Uno is because I love my home which also happens to be filled with memories of Ben.  Really great memories for the most part.  But in addition to all the years of great memories, I am now haunted by 9 months of horrifying memories which seem to have taken over everything. I want to stay in this house and hold onto the good memories, but the ones from Ben’s diagnosis to death are indescribably unbearable.  They hurt so much that I desperately want to erase them from my brain, but I have found that impossible to do.

I can’t walk into our ensuite without seeing Ben fall and hit his head and cry out for me while he was unable to move or get up.  I can’t stand in my kitchen without hearing him cry out “I have cancer.  It’s in my kidney and my bones.”  I can’t enter the house without seeing him sitting on the seat of his walker, completely dejected and exhausted from trying desperately to get to the front door so he could drive his truck just one more time.  (Which led me to think … when exactly was the last time he drove his truck?  Did I know it was the last time?  Did he?)  I can’t walk into the family room without seeing him sitting in his chair, feet horribly swollen and asking Dr B “am I going to die?”  and seeing Dr B’s sad face as he said “Yes Ben. You are going to die.  You get the picture. (I want that chair out of here.  I know that is such a waste of money but I hate it.  I can’t stand sitting in it.  Too bad Mom already bought the same one – she could have taken Ben’s.)

So basically, I need change without selling my house because I no longer want to remember the tears and desperation.  I want to be able to envision Ben playing guitar, or cooking in the kitchen, or laying beside me in bed in better times.  (Strangely, our bed is the only thing I don’t want to sell. I find that odd, because I think many people wouldn’t want to sleep in the same bed where their spouse died. But I do.  It’s the only way I can hold on.)

Reason Deux for doing so much around the house is because when I’m overwhelmingly busy I don’t have much time to dwell on all that I have lost. And much like the first reason, it allows my mind to stay off of the horrifying memories that torment me.  I’m not sure what I’ll do when there are no longer any new things to fix or change around here.  Anyone need help?

Raegan’s birthday is fast approaching, and it is not lost on any of us that her 15th birthday will also mark exactly six months since Ben died.  And only six short months before that, this was happening:

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That picture was taken July 13, 2015.  Look how wonderful and happy Ben looked!  Ben was presenting her with a very special necklace.  I remember how he thought about waiting until her 16th birthday to give it to her (which was when he gave Jaime her necklace), and I held my breath because all I could think was “you won’t be alive on Raegan’s 16th birthday.”

At the moment I clicked the camera to take this picture I was thinking how it would be the last birthday where Raegan would sit beside her Dad opening gifts.  I remember really, really appreciating that moment, and knowing that even though I knew it was the last time, I still wouldn’t be able to adequately prepare myself for how unbearable it would be for her next one.  How quickly time passes.

I miss his voice, and his smile, and his steady, calm strength, and the knowledge that he always seemed to know the right thing to do.  I sure do miss having him around to calm me as I freak out as per usual in the pre-travel days.

However, we have in fact found some laughter in our lives again.

The picture in the back yard was from when we were toasting Ben on Canada Day.  The others are the girls and I out for brunch, and all of the kids mooching off of me in the mall.  (Who doesn’t need a new pair of flip flops for the beach? Am I right?)  And speaking of the beach …

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My nails are Hawaii ready!  So are the girls’ nails …. we made a day of it but I don’t have any other pictures because I was too enthralled with my own.

Speaking of nails … Jaime had to pay a visit to the doctor the other day and he told her that her chipped toe nails were disgusting.  Hahaha.  I knew better than to go there with a bad pedi, so I wore shoes.  While I was there we had a discussion about why my foot keeps randomly swelling up, and he decided I should donate some blood just to rule out a blood clot since my calf was fairly tender too.  I donated the blood and left the office, and then it occurred to me that there would be a problem with me flying to Hawaii if I had any signs of a clot.  So I sent this:

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 OK, that’s good.  I wouldn’t want to have to cancel.

By the time I went to reply again, I happened to be standing in front of my microwave which always messes with my texts for some unexplainable reason.  My phone literally develops a mind of it’s own, and “I” replied with this:

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Whaaaat????  I SCOTT u?  What the heck is that?  So I quickly moved away from the microwave and sent this:

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And good ol’ Dr B, ever with the quick sense of humour sent this:

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So you see …. laughs.

And one other thing that made me smile was an Instagram chat with guess who ….

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He remembered me.  And I still love his hair.

A little further chatting and he told me he is coming to Seattle in November and likely Vancouver.  Anyone want to join me?  That is one concert I do not want to miss!

Hug your people.