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.

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Sometimes I Wake Up Sad

I wrote the title of this blog post and then stared at my computer for 10 minutes without touching a key.  Sometimes I Wake Up Sad.  Its true.  Sometimes I do.

Today it was because I sat up and found myself staring into the open eyes of my Beloved.  When I asked why he was awake, he said it was because he had tried to adjust his sleeping position and found himself in pain which woke him.  What does one say to that, when the person they love most hurts?  It wasn’t that horrible, intense pain, but it is a constant reminder of the reality of the situation and yet another opportunity for cancer to break my heart.

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I came downstairs to chat with my beautiful girls before I drove them to school, and Raegan did a quick double take and asked me if I was ok.  I smiled and shook my head and said “Of course I’m fine.  My eyes are watery today.  No idea why.  Must be allergies.”  She looked skeptical.  In moments like that I think of Beth saying to me, “When my Dad passed away we always looked to my Mom.  If Mom was ok, then we were ok.”  I try to be ok.

Tomorrow we leave for a 40 hour trip to LA to celebrate our TWENTY FIRST wedding anniversary ….

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…. and to enjoy an up close and personal concert with none other then (then? than?) Doyle Bramhall II!

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I wonder if he’ll let me touch his hair?!  Maybe that’s too weird and a bit stalker-ish.  If not, maybe Barb can work her magic and get him to dump Renee Zellweger for her.  He could end up as Ben’s (and my) new brother in law.  Barb … make sure you wear something hot to the show. Do not waste this opportunity you have been handed to provide Ben with a life time of jamming with Doyle, and me with a lifetime of being around that hair!

**Side note** Incase my life is ever made into a movie and Doyle Bramhall II or Renee Zellweger read this blog, I should make it clear that I’m not REALLY sending my sister in to try to break up their romance.  That was just a joke.  But I do want to touch his hair.

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This would be a full Griswold Insley Family Vacation if only Lisa hadn’t chosen to be a teacher, thereby preventing her from skipping town in the middle of a work week to head to LA.  Having said that, since she is happily married to the Love of Her Life, she would be useless to me anyway.  On another positive note, travelling with Mom and Dad may give us access to senior discounts.

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In addition to our quick but awesome celebration this week, today we will have running boards put onto our Ben’s truck. Wahoo!  I will finally be able to climb up into the truck like a civilized person without having to grab on with both hands and draw on past childhood gymnastics abilities to swing up into it.  This is a picture of us on our way to order the running boards yesterday:

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So on that note, I will bid you all adieu and go attend to My Love who has just come downstairs and is suffering with nerve pain that is worse now that he is up and about.  Lets hope that the nerve block is not wearing off before our trip.  That would just be too f**king cruel for words.

Watching him in pain right now and helpless to do anything …. that is why I sometimes wake up sad.

***UPDATE** Just got off the phone with the Pain Clinic who have called in some new RX’s and messed with his meds a bit.  Fingers crossed

The Best Person I Never Met – Max Jeffrey

Dear Max,

I find it both strange and totally awesome how mysterious the world is.  How people’s lives cross and collide in such mysterious ways.

You and I have never met, and yet you rank as one of my most favourite people in this world.  You are kind, but we should all be kind.  But you … you go beyond the norm.  Beyond what should be expected of every human with a decent heart. You genuinely want to make people’s lives better and you don’t expect a thing in return.  I admire that.  I appreciate it more then I could ever adequately express.

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For anyone currently reading this blog, and for anyone who may read it in the future, I want to tell you who the Max Jeffrey I “know” is, and what he has done for us.

Stretch your memory back to May 26, 2015, or go back and read Ben’s post entitled “Tapped, Racked and Blown Away.” Max and his gang at Wampler Pedals sent Ben a care package which contained a special edition Ego Compressor effect guitar pedal.  It was a ‘thank you’ to Ben, after having randomly received a guitar pedal from Ben.  (Ben heard Max speak on a podcast about a particular pedal he wanted but hadn’t had any success finding.  Ben found it and sent it to him.  Neither of them have ever met each other.)

That is a great story on its own.  Two random strangers dropping little happiness bombs into each other’s lives.  Nice.  But it gets better.

As you read on the post previous to this, one of Ben’s favourite artists is Doyle Bramhall II.  Ben really wanted to see him play in concert, but given his health issues that was unlikely to happen.  So I spent some time trying to figure out how I could reach DB to ask if he would take a few minutes to record a greeting for Ben.  Just a “Hi, how are you, stay strong, glad you like my music” type of video.  I thought that might cheer Ben up.  Good idea, but a bit ambitious since I don’t live in the world of musicians or artists of any type, and I had no idea how to reach him.  I tried on Twitter, but as I expected that did not pan out and I figured I would not be able to make it happen.

I spent some time wallowing in self pity and wondering why I had chosen a career where my only contacts are Govt employees (not that you aren’t all awesome….you are….but I was pretty sure none of you could get me in contact with DB)  🙂  And then on a whim I thought about Max.  And I wondered if, being in the music business, he might be able to hook me up.

Please remember, Max is a complete stranger to me.  I’ve never done anything for him, I’ve never met him, and he has no reason to help me out at all.  But I knew he was a pretty good guy, and I was willing to put myself out there for Ben.  So I sent Max an email and explained what I was hoping to do, and asked him if he was able to hook me up.

He said “no.”  Haha.  Kidding.  (That would be a shitty ending to this story, wouldn’t it?).

What he actually said was that he knew a guy who knew a guy, and maybe he could possibly reach out to someone who could help.  I believed that he would try, but I put it out of my mind so that I wouldn’t get my hopes up.  After all, Max is a complete stranger.  Would he really go out of his way to help??

Then a few days later I woke up one morning and BAM!  There was an email from The Man himself.  Doyle Bramhall II.  I looked over at Ben snoozing and had to restrain myself from punching him in the arm to wake him up and tell him the news. Oh…that was a difficult few days for me, keeping the email exchange with DB to myself.  I walked around with a very sly smile on my face.  I think it freaked Ben out a bit, wondering why I was so happy.

I will share some portions of the emails between myself and DB with you….

“In real life my husband Ben is a Mountie and an all round super hero by day, and an avid guitar player and lover of great music by night.”

“In April, Ben was suddenly diagnosed with a very rare cancer”

“Despite all the pain he is in, you can usually find him with a smile on his face and acting goofy”

“I just want to try to do something so special for this super hero who never complains and just did not deserve this.  I want to do something that he would never expect and that would fill him with joy, and so I was hoping that you might be able to find a minute to record a message for him and email it to me.”

“He admires you, and I know it would mean so much to Ben to hear a message from you telling him to keep fighting.  The longer he fights, the more time the doctors have to discover something new to treat him with.  Who knows … maybe he’ll be the miracle.  Someone has to be, eventually.  Why not him?

And the response:

Hi Wendy… You’re story crushed my heart for you guys. This is a crazy life. I have three kids and can’t even imagine what you have already been through.  I would like to do that for you guys.. And if there is anything else you can think of.

Then I realized DB was playing in LA (short flight), right on our 21st anniversary, and during Ben’s ‘good’ week off of CHeemo-The-Rapey.  It had to be destiny.  So I started plotting with my parents and sisters, and DB and I emailed some more and he said:

… If you actually come to the LA show I will get you guys in and take care of you guys so it will be special. Let me know please so I can set it up.

And finally:

“I’m really glad to know that my music and this show will make him happy. That means a lot to me and that’s the greatest thing about music, to be able to tap into the center of the universe through it. To get inside the healing effects of it.. According to Sufi Mystics it is the highest and deepest art form, to be able to tap into God through it. I believe it. You guys are proof of that, through music we connected.”

“I will figure out something for you guys and Ben’s needs.”

Peace… Doyle

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And so, Max, all that awesomeness, and all that happiness that DB has spread to the Saint-Onge family is because of you. You made that happen, and I can never, ever repay you.  The joy Ben has received just knowing he is going to the concert, and the joy I know is coming for him when he actually attends the concert, that is all because of you.  Because you took a moment to care for strangers.

You are the best person I have Never met.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I am so grateful to you.  And although I have absolutely zero interesting contacts, I would be happy to do pretty much anything for you if I am ever able to help you out.  (As long as its legal.  By Canadian law, not U.S. law.  lol)  So that would pretty much entail me being able to provide you and your wife with a place to stay if you ever come to Vancouver, and possibly acting as tour guide for you.  Although, full disclosure here,  you should know that I’m a lousy cook and truthfully, I still have to use a GPS to get around Vancouver despite having lived here for the better part of my life. But I would definitely do my best.  I would even try to bake a pie, or better yet, order one for you from a really expensive bakery.

I thank you.  Ben thanks you.  Our kids thank you.  Our family thanks you.  You are a great human being.

With deepest appreciation,

Wendy

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