Is It Grief, Or Is It Life?

Sometimes I have to ask myself … is it grief, or is it life?

I have nightmares, all the time. I dream of terrible things that could happen to my children.  I dream that I wake up and all my hair has fallen out, and I dream that I am blind and all alone. Or I dream all of them together and find myself bald, blind and alone.

Grief? Probably part of it. But I suspect that the nightmares about the kids are work related (one sees too much, hears too much, knows too much after 25 years of policing), and I suspect that the dreams of going blind are because I was recently diagnosed with macular degeneration.  The dreams of being alone are because, well, I AM alone, and the dreams of waking up bald are probably caused because my hair is indeed falling out.  See how grief and reality get all tangled up together?

This is currently my life. If you’re reading this, I’ll give you a little catch up.  It’s been awhile since I wrote.

I think it’s been about a year since I realized that my hair was falling out. For awhile I thought it could be my imagination, but then I paid a butt load of cash to go visit a private dermatologist who specializes in hair loss, and that money bought me an answer. The answer was essentially, “Yep. Your hair is falling out.” That was followed by a bunch of relatively useless information about how there is pretty much nothing that can be done about it. The hair loss that was caused by stress is apparently growing back, and the hair loss caused by some shitty form of alopecia will not. “I don’t expect it to get any worse for many years” said Dr. Super Expensive. Since that visit I have indeed lost more hair. Apparently Dr Super Expensive was wrong.  (On the upside, maybe his diagnosis was too.  We’ll see.)

Needless to say, my already fairly high stress levels were bumped up a solid notch or two, and I became completely obsessed. My hair was on my mind constantly … no pun intended. (Hair. Mind. Head. Get it? Anyway…). I will confess to having the self pitying thoughts of “Haven’t I lost enough? Do I have to lose my hair too?”

As my feel-sorry-for-myself meter rose, so did my anxiety. A lot. It has been a very challenging time for me. Every day the thought plagued me that I would be bald and alone. And while I’m sure that it sounds funny to some reading this, or that you may think it’s not a big deal when compared with what I’ve already been through, but I happen to think it’s a very big deal. Huge, in fact. And while I would have traded my hair in a heartbeat to save Ben’s life, the fact is that he will (most aggravatingly) remain dead whether I have hair or not. So I’d like to have my hair, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, you know how it goes. Life kicks you down and then something great happens and you get back up again, right? Wrong. I went to the eye doctor who kindly informed me that I have macular degeneration. And just like that I was knocked down even further, and kicked around a bit too. Apparently now my destiny was to be alone, bald and blind.

Did you know that life isn’t fair?

When I am anxiety ridden, the only thing that eases my pain is to learn about whatever it is that is making me anxious. I know the general rule is to stay off the internet, but for me it’s all about finding something hopeful to ease my worries. Like, “it is possible for alopecia to reverse itself” or “it is possible for macular degeneration to never progress any further.” I need to know there’s hope.

For the last several weeks I have been immersed in hair loss information and macular degeneration information, but I just couldn’t find the info I needed to ease my anxiety. And so I have spent hours in the tub every night, trying to quiet my mind and just find a way to cope. The baths didn’t help the anxiety, but I am starting to grow gills.  Perhaps soon I will learn how to breathe under water.  That would be a snazzy party trick.

I finally did what I do best … I took matters into my own hands and did it my way. Despite our shitty medical system that takes months to move along, I got myself a referral to a retina specialist in a bit of an unconventional way.  And then I called an old friend who called his old friend who knows what’s what in the world of ophthalmology, and he was able to answer some questions and ease my mind a bit while I await my appointment with the retina specialist. (And in other good news, I found the conversations with my old friend very cathartic. I was able to cry and not feel like a burden because we don’t speak often so he wasn’t listening to the same shit on a different day. It was also nice to reminisce a bit.)

Around that time I finally saw my own GP, and by the time I walked out of his office my anxiety had seemed to level out. It’s quite possible that he may be a witch doctor.

As for the hair, his witch-doctorness cannot fix that. I haven’t figured that one out yet,  but I guess if worse comes to worst I could always shave my head and pretend like I am making a statement. I’m not sure what the statement will be, but hopefully I have some time to think about it. Hasn’t Sinead O’Connor rocked a shaved head for about 30 years now?

After I saw my GP I had a few days of relative peace and then it was gone.  I couldn’t quite figure out what the problem was this time, and then the answer came to me like someone had yelled it loudly in my ear.  The voice that shouted sounded like Ben’s, and this is what he said ..

“If I don’t do the chemo, I’ll be dead before my next birthday!” 

Ah, yes.  There we go.  That’s what Ben said to me in the late spring of 2015, when I told him he should refuse the “treatment” he was being offered.  I wanted to run off with him and the kids to Iceland, but he wanted to do what he did best … fight.  So we didn’t go to Iceland and he did do the chemo, but he still wasn’t alive on his 47th birthday.  Or his 48th.  And now here the kids and I are on his 49th birthday, remembering him and celebrating the day he arrived and made the world a little brighter.  But he isn’t here to shine his own light.

My heart knew this before my head remembered.

Saint-Onge family on Bens birthday Mar 13 2006


Happy 49th birthday, Ben.  You are so deeply loved and missed.  You are in big shit when I see you again.

Busy, Busy, Busy …

I have been a busy girl this last month.  Vegas, Commencement ceremonies for Jaime, a Canada Day celebration that went on for two days, an anniversary party, a visit from Cameron (Ben’s brother in law), Raegan’s 16th birthday, a weekend in Lake Cowichan and … the pièce de résistance … a driver’s licence for my baby.

I will confess that while down time is nice, those are also the moments when I feel the solid punch in the gut of memories that I don’t care to think much about.  That is when I remember … Ben is dead, and he’s missing out on all these moments.  So I prefer to keep busy.

Vegas was a great weekend getaway with old friends and new.  I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it because I find it a challenge to push myself to do things that I never would have done without Ben.  In the end I had a really amazing time.  I flew home with significantly less money than I went there with, but also with some new art work.



I returned home just in time to watch my “baby” cross the stage and accept her diploma. I had anticipated that the evening would be very difficult and filled with tears.  Ben should have been here.  He would have been so, so proud.

In the end it was so flippin’ hot in that arena, and the ceremony was so flippin’ long that I could only focus on my discomfort and therefore didn’t embarrass Jaime with loud, snotty sobbing from the stands.  (You try sitting on a bench for four hours in the heat.  I came out of there looking like I had just run through the sprinkler.  Not pretty.)  By the time Jaime actually walked across the stage I was silently cursing Ben for having a last name that had destined all of us to be near the end of every alphabetical list.

This is what the early part of the evening looked like, before everyone melted.

I have no idea how we got here so quickly …

Time waits for no one, right? One day you’re 22 and eating take out for Easter dinner on the floor with your new boyfriend, and the next minute you’re watching him fade away and die while your children look on.

But, I digress …

In addition to watching Jaime reach a major milestone in life, I also watched my actual baby turn Sweet Sixteen.  My head is spinning just trying to keep up with life.

We planned a birthday dinner for Raegan and I cooked her requested meal.   Afterwards I retrieved the specially made DQ ice cream cake from the freezer,  made with extra fudge in the middle exactly as she had asked, lit the candles and started to walk outside with it where everyone could sing Happy Birthday.  Unfortunately, the tray was quite slippery and the entire cake slid right off, hit the back of the couch and landed on the floor.  Oops.  We ate it anyway … damaged side and all.  It was not lost on me that if these were normal times Ben would have laughed his head off while I freaked out.  I have clearly learned from him, because I laughed this time and carried on.


I kind of wish we had The Great Cake Topple on video.

We wrapped up Raegan’s birthday with a weekend trip to the lake.  The picture on the left is Marley waiting for Jaime as she went paddle boarding, and the one on the right is Marley on the board with Jaime after she took him out with her.  He has a human life jacket on.  He was not happy.

There was some skiing, knee boarding, bocce ball …

And because she is so darn adorable I cannot help but throw a quick pic of my niece in there.  She looks like me, no? I feel like there is a strong resemblance.  🙂


Once we got home, Miss Raegan went and took the big test and we now have yet another legal driver in the Saint-Onge household …


I definitely do wish Ben were here for this.  Not just because I miss him so, but because I literally cannot stand the thought of being the parent who has to sit white knuckled in the passenger seat with yet another brand new driver.  I think I will just bring in a driving instructor.  Lol.  If I don’t there will be a good chance that Raegan and I may end up discovering which one of us can hit harder.

How many times did I have to listen to Ben announce to all of us that in his “previous career” he was a driving instructor?  (Previous “career” being before he turned 23 years old.)  I laugh every time I remember his frustration over the fact that I didn’t quite take that “career” of his very seriously.

Anyway, I made it through what was a challenging few weeks and I’m still here to write about it.  Oh, and speaking of writing, there was actually one more significant event that took place this month.  Today, in fact.  (Or possibly it will be yesterday by the time I hit “publish” on this blog post).   I just had my very first piece of writing published on an International blog.  Yes sirree.  I wrote a blog post for Soaring Spirits International, and if you click here you can read it.

I’ll be writing for them once per week, so if you want to follow along please do.  I believe there is a “Follow” button on the website, but in any case my posts will be published every Monday so you can just check back each week if you choose.

Have a sunny week.


A Tip For Sleeping Better

For anyone out there who may be looking for some advice on how to sleep alone and actually get some sleep, here’s my best tip…

Snuggle a T Shirt.


On the nights where I really need to feel Ben close I just open up that cabinet in the picture above where I store all his favourite T’s.  Unwashed.  And I inhale deeply.  And I can smell him again. It’s Heaven.  I don’t do it every night because I don’t want to lose that delicious smell, but I have done it a few times over the last two weeks and it was absolutely dreamy.


Smelling those unwashed shirts is pretty much what helped get me through the last couple of weeks.  I believe I mentioned in my last post … The Worst Blog Post Ever … that Jaime’s grad was right around the corner.  I was feeling rather down in the dumps because Ben had to miss it, but those t shirts helped keep him close.  Well, that and the fact that I had this brilliant idea…

Jamie's Grad Photoshoot-7

She got to have her dad there anyway!  Awesome idea, I know.  I patted myself on the back for that one.

Jaime had a good time at her grad and it was slightly easier than I had anticipated.  Lisa O and I reminisced about our own grad together twenty nine years ago (yikes) and how we had looked better then our kids did.  Here’s a picture of Jaime and Jack O:



It’s weird to see our kids graduating together.  That wasn’t something I saw coming all those years back when we were toilet papering our high school like the dangerous rebels we were.  Mind you, I never saw a lot of things coming.  Life likes to surprise us, it seems.

Here’s Jaime and I together.  Prom buddies …


I was way more fashion forward, with much better hair.  🙂  God I miss the 80’s.

Since it was such a momentous occasion I’m going to throw in a few more pics of my sweet girl who has shown more resilience in the last two years than adults twice her age. That will carry her far in life.  I’m very proud, incase you couldn’t tell.

And last but not least, the Saint-Onge quasi-adults posed together to take a big ol’ “Fuck You, cancer” picture.  (With a small “c”)

Jamie's Grad Photoshoot-10

Ben would be so proud.  Damn right.  I’m pretty proud of what we made together. Thanks for that, Ben.  I will have this picture framed because it just screams “We are Ben’s kids!”  I love it.

Grad was not the only momentous occasion that took place around here in the last couple of weeks.  One of those momentous occasions was the day I officially surpassed Ben in age.  I am now 47 and The Titan was a mere 46 years young when he died. Suddenly 46 seems so much younger than it did not long ago.  Now it seems that he was just a baby.  Now it really seems fitting that we chose the line “And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief” for his grave stone.  His life really was so brief.

I was digging through some memories and found the last card he ever gave me.  My 45th birthday card, not long after he found out he was dying.

FullSizeRender (4)

Ben, if you ever read this I just want you to know that I know how hard you worked at being there for me.  I know you would have stayed forever if you could have. Thank you for trying so hard. I read a quote the other day that said, “You were my greatest hello and my saddest goodbye.”  That pretty much sums up the beginning and the end, but it misses the middle part, which was the best part.  I’ll always be grateful for the middle and those memories will forever make me smile.

Anyway, the other momentous occasion that took place since The Worst Blog Post Ever was a happier one.  Our boy turned 21 years old.  Wow.


We did what we Saint-Onge’s do best.  We threw a BBQ.

And that’s the last couple of weeks in a nutshell.  Now here we are on June 8th, exactly two years after Ben’s surgery.  You can read about that scary day if you click here, but personally I think I will just skim past those memories, myself.  I don’t feel like going there right now.  Instead I will pack it in for the day, curl up with a t-shirt, and look forward to some sun (hopefully) and another celebration this weekend. (Yay Kirby!)

I love you too.


48 Years Young

First … let me just say that today is March 13th.  NOT the 14th as this blog seems to show and I can’t seem to fix it. It’s important to me because Ben’s birthday is the 13th.


Happy birthday to Ben.  One more birthday where we celebrate Ben’s life even though he isn’t here with us, but boy does he deserve to be celebrated anyway.  I hope he knows we celebrate.  I hope he reads these posts.  I hope he sees us, because otherwise it would just be my imagination that tells me that I often feel him near me, and I would not want that to be true.

This birthday celebration looked a little different than the last, because this girl (on the right) flew off to New Zealand and couldn’t be here with us today.  Here she is sitting somewhere on the other side of the world:


I know she is secretly laughing at me because she is wearing a cute little romper and we are stuck between this…

rain 2

… and this …

snow 2

Still, before Jaime left on her travels we gathered at the Keg (not Ben’s favourite restaurant) for steak (Ben’s favourite food).   I was lazy this year and didn’t feel like cooking myself.  The poor young waiter asked if we were celebrating anything, and without thinking it through I said “Yes.  A birthday.” So he looked around the table and asked who’s birthday it was, which was awkward, so I said that the birthday boy wasn’t there yet. Then he asked if an extra person was coming (since all chairs were filled) and so I said the birthday boy wouldn’t be coming at all.  He looked thoroughly confused and gave me a strange look, but he left well enough alone.

After dinner we ordered Ben’s birthday cake and Makeda wanted to blow out the candle. The waiter put the cake in front of Makeda and stood by while we sang “Happy birthday dear Ben / Dad / Uncle Ben” and he watched her blow out the candle.  He then proceeded to comp the dessert because he assumed it was the birthday of a little-girl-named-Ben-who-wasn’t-coming-and-then-did.  It wasn’t worth explaining, so I tipped him well for his trouble.

Halfway through dinner a family was seated next to us and I heard “Wendy?”  I looked over and there was an old coworker of Ben’s.  Funny how those things happen.


And speaking of funny / odd things that happen, there was also this one.  A few weeks back I was feeling a bit low and thinking of Ben while the house was quiet and I didn’t feel like doing much.  I came into my (home) office which, if you haven’t seen it, holds typical office stuff.  A desk, a bookcase, a computer, a printer and a filing cabinet.  That’s about it. Just normal office things made out of wood.  So I sat down at my desk feeling a little morose and I felt something brush my hand.  I looked down and saw this:


A small white feather.  No idea where it came from.  In fact, there literally was nowhere for it to have come from.  It was the strangest thing.  I’ll take it as a little message from Ben who is (hopefully) often hovering about.  It certainly feels like he is, anyway.  (If he really wants to give me a strong message that he’s hanging around he should work on ensuring that we win the Children’s Hospital Lottery house.  Then not only would I be a believer but I’m pretty sure everyone else who knows me would be too!)  And by the way … don’t bother critiquing my nails in that picture.  I have since remedied that situation.


Today being Ben’s real birthday … the official “number 48” that Ben never got to see … the local Saint-Onge’s did this …

… followed by this …


(dinner at Ben’s favourite Thai place) while Miss Jaime did this on the other side of the world …

(The ball on the right is a zorb.  She climbed in it with a go-pro and rolled down the hill.  I can’t wait to see that video.)

Jaime is not the only one travelling though … Raegan and I are (technically) supposed to be flying to NY on Wednesday.  Unfortunately there is apparently a big storm rolling in and all flights have now been cancelled, so we have put an alternate plan together that will hopefully work out.  Fingers crossed.  It is going to cost me an overnight in Toronto and an extra night of hotel in NY which, I have discovered, is not cheap when one books last minute on spring break.  Four hundred and eighty four dollars, in fact.  For one night.  It’s also costing us our aisle seats together on the flight home and sticking us both in middle seats in different rows.  Blech.  But I remind myself that Ben would give pretty much anything to be joining us no matter what the circumstance, and so we will just go with the flow and hope that we land there safely and in time for our Broadway play.

With that, I’ll bid you adieu.  I’ve had a busy day and honestly I just want some time to sit quietly and think about Ben.  I like to let a little bit of that pain in every once in awhile in the hopes that it won’t hurt so much when I think about it in the future.  I did have a bit of that hurt this morning when I “spoke” with an old friend for the first time in 17 years via FB.  He said he hoped that the kids and Ben were well and I, for the first time ever, had to tell him that Ben has died.  Everyone else has just heard it through the RCMP grapevine and I have never had to break that news before.  It hurt a lot.

Happy Birthday Ben.  We love you.  We miss you.  We hope that we make you proud.  We hope you are near.  And we hope you help us win that lottery I mentioned earlier.  But most of all I hope that somehow you know that you are not forgotten and that we honour your memory on days like today.


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.  🙂

you are wrong 2

(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:


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.

i see dead people 2

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:


Today, I’ll have a day.
Your bride

The First Birthday. Da da DA!

The “Da da DA” was supposed to be the dramatic music played in the movies.

Today I am officially the same age as Ben.  He’s never going to get older but I am.  That is odd.  I always used to tell him that he could have one extra year on earth so that we could die at the same time.  He in turn always said he was going to live to be 100, but I said I’d be happy to make it anywhere into my 90’s so he’d be on his own after that.  I was always pretty sure he’d enjoy a couple of years of being able to just play guitar without being interrupted anyway.

I definitely missed our Saint-Onge Family Birthday BBQ of steak and caesar salad tonight, and I missed Ben as always, but in fact I had a happy day. The weather has been miserable lately but today the sun shone through.  A gift from Ben perhaps.

I spent the day enjoying a pedicure with Mom and Barb (how could a day ever go bad when it starts with a pedi?) …


… followed by lunch with my family (sans Lisa and Brett unfortunately) and dinner with Connie and Kirby, Nancy and Jeremy, and Lisa and Darren.  AND, miracle of all miracles, I did not even cry once until right this moment when I received this text from Connie in response to my “thank you for the lovely evening” text.  I hope she won’t mind me posting it here.

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They miss Ben too.  That probably shouldn’t make me happy, but it does.  I like that I am not the only one that misses him.  He was worth missing.  Knowing that he had a positive impact on other people’s lives, and knowing that they will remember him too makes me happy.  I like knowing that my life is not the only one impacted by his loss.  Ben would like knowing that too.  I hope he does.

Anyway, today was evidence to me that joy can still be had in conjunction with the pain, and it allows me to imagine that more joy could possibly follow.  I think there may be a day when the joy will outweigh the pain, and perhaps the pain will fade into memories that mostly make me smile. Especially when I hear the memories that others have of Ben.  

The other day I was driving to an appointment when I noticed that the car in front of me had a sticker on it with a sweet saying followed by the name “Cassidy Briggs.”  I was immediately brought back to six years ago, when a little girl named Cassidy was in all the local papers because she was fighting cancer, and I remember when she passed away.  Ben and I talked about her a lot at the time.

I drove behind that car all the way to my appointment.  Every turn the driver made was the same turn I had to make, and eventually the car pulled into a parking stall exactly where I was going.  I stopped my car and waited until the driver got out, and before I could change my mind I walked up to the driver (who probably thought I was a crazy stalker) and asked her if she was Cassidy’s mother.  When she said “yes” I told her that I remembered her daughter, even though I had never met her.  I told her that our hearts broke all those years ago when we read their story in the news, and that I had never forgotten it.  I told her that I wanted her to know that her daughter’s life impacted people who had never met her, and that I had never forgotten her and I never would. And then I said goodbye and went on to my appointment.

I hope it made that mother happy to know that her daughter is not forgotten.

Missing you every minute of every day, Ben, but I hope you know that today I smiled and laughed. You are not forgotten.  Never forgotten.  xox

Saint-Onge family on Bens birthday Mar 13 2006

Time Marches On

I believe it has been a full ten days since I wrote on this blog.  Probably eleven days by the time I finish writing and hit “post.”  March has been a challenging month for a few reasons.  One being that my Beloved turned 47 years old on March 13.  47 years young. And he’s gone.  Our whole future was ahead of us – everything we planned for and worked for. But he is gone and will never get to enjoy the fruits of all his labour.  I will never get to enjoy everything we planned for, together  with him.  I call bullshit on that crappy hand we were dealt.


March 13th also marked exactly two full months since I have seen the love of my life, or spoken with him, or held his hand, or curled up next to him.  Two full months since he struggled to tell us one last time that he loved us.  Two full months since he breathed his first breath in Heaven.  I miss him desperately.  I talk to him daily.  He remains the first person I want to tell everything to, and I open my mouth or reach for my phone for a brief moment every single day, only to remember that he is gone.

Every year it is tradition in our home to have a birthday dinner of steak, potatoes and Ben’s infamous Caesar Salad.  Our family always joins us and we raise a glass to whomever is celebrating. This year we continued the tradition as best as we could.

Here was the cook of the evening with his doting grandparents:


Mr. Saint-Onge Junior produced a caesar salad that (with a little practice) may indeed eventually rival that of his Dad’s. Thank goodness Ben left us the recipe.  We will never give it away, so don’t bother asking.

We enjoyed our meal as best as we could without the Man of Honour being physically present, and we uncorked a bottle of champagne and toasted Our Beloved Ben.


After dinner the front door opened and our house filled quickly with our nearest and dearest.  I felt like I was wrapped in love.  Here is a glimpse into what happened next:

And then naturally we had to take one of these ….


Look at the picture carefully.  Thats a big FUCK YOU, cancer.  With a small ‘c’, naturally.

Here’s one final shot of the evening.  This is a lot of love for Ben, and by extension, for me. Thank you, everyone. You were here for us before Ben got sick and you stayed with us during the worst time of our lives when we needed you most.  You cared enough to ask questions, to know what was happening, and to be there for us all …. especially the kids. You remain by our sides now and continue to walk with the kids and I through the dark. I believe the time will come that we will feel the sun again.  I am truly grateful.  (Nancy and Jeremy … I am sorry for cutting you out of the picture but I couldn’t find a small enough emoji to just block out your faces.  But I include you in the love.)


Happy 47th birthday, Ben.  How I wish you were here to raise your glass and eat some gluten free cake.  I miss you more then I have words to describe.

It was odd to not have been running around trying to find the perfect gift for Ben’s big day. I really found that hard, but in the end, Ben ended up giving  ME a gift that day.  Here’s how that story played out:

Over the last month or so I have been trying to sell Ben’s truck.  It broke my heart because he loved the truck and he had waited so long to own one.  He told me that the truck was the only place he could sit where he wasn’t in pain.  He loved that truck so much, that on the night Dr B came to visit us at home, Ben asked him, “Am I going to die?”  Dr B said, “Yes Ben, you are going to die.”  After taking a moment to absorb the horror of that statement, Ben’s next words were, “Can I still drive my truck?”  If the moment hadn’t been so indescribably painful and utterly beyond horrible, it would have been comical.  He just loved that damn truck so much.

Anyway, I was very torn up trying to decide what to do but ultimately it just wasn’t practical to keep it. So I listed the truck for sale and waited, and waited, and waited.  I had a few bites but nothing really panned out and I was quite frustrated.  I had one solid lead for a sale but in order for it to go through I was going to have to sell the truck for less then it was worth and I knew Ben would not have been happy with that.  Still, the last two months have just been so difficult that I wanted to get one more thing off my plate, so I was reluctantly set to accept the lower price just so I could be done.  I silently apologized to Ben for not holding out for a price that would have made him happy.

At the end of the evening of Ben’s birthday celebration as everyone was leaving, I received an unexpected text from a fellow who had seen the ad for the truck.  Ironically, his name was Jeff.  (For those of you who haven’t paid attention – shame on you – Ben’s best friend’s name is Jeff.  So that was a nice coincidence.)  Anyway,  Jeff The Stranger contacted me right on Ben’s birthday to say that he had seen the ad and wanted to know if he could come by the following evening to look at the truck.  I agreed, and so I held off on contacting the buyer who had offered to purchase it for a bit less than I wanted to sell it for.

To make a long story short, Ben sent me a lovely gift right on his birthday in the form of a buyer named Jeff who drove a very hard bargain …. he offered me $2,000 more than we had paid for the truck.   More than a coincidence, I would say.  Thank you, Ben.  Always looking out for me as usual.  You are the best husband.IMG_4942

It was a bittersweet moment when the truck was driven away.  But having a buyer named Jeff contact me right on Ben’s birthday and ultimately pay me a sweet price for the truck is surely Ben’s way of saying “Its OK.”  I sure hope so.  I will miss that piece of Ben.  Jeff The Stranger promised me he will take good care of it.

Three other blog worthy things have happened this month.  The first was that Ben’s sweet baby girl decided to chop off her hair and donate it to help make wigs for kids fighting cancer (with a small ‘c’).

How awesome is she?

The second blog worthy thing to happen was that Ben’s main man Zak took off for Powell River to work for a few weeks while he awaits the start of his full time job in April that will carry him through until school starts in September.  He is off earning his keep, and I miss that boy a lot.


Ben would be so proud and happy to see us together like that, with smiles on our faces. Despite how difficult the last year has been, there has been a lot of joy and positivity. The young man who is smiling in the picture above with his Mama is one of those positive things.

The third thing that happened is that the girls and I went to Edmonton for a few days so I could surround myself with the love of Beth and a lot of retail therapy.  Beth and I (along with our four girls) spent seven hours immersed in shopping, with a brief break for a fruit salad that looked like this:


Over the course of the weekend we also took in a rodeo (yee haw) and paid a visit out to the barn to visit their horse. (Smelly place.  I touched nothing.)

While we were walking into the rodeo I couldn’t help but notice a long wall of plaques with the bronzed faces of various “important” people, but only one of them jumped out at me and made me stop and point it out to the girls.


You’d think Mr Hole would have considered changing his name.  Ben would have busted a gut if he had seen that.

That’s Jaime riding Miss K, with Kalyn alongside. On the right is Raegan, Jordan and Jaime.


                                                                A random pic of Rae and I.

It was a good trip.  We rode a roller coaster that almost made me wet myself.  I spent far too much money.  Beth and I laughed a lot during the day and cried together at night while watching video clips of Ben.


Being with her healed my soul a tiny bit.  I still have quite a way to go.