Happy Anniversary to Us

Dear Ben,

Happy Anniversary.  Twenty three years.

In hindsight we probably should have invested some money in a proper videographer.

That day was definitely not the wedding we had planned, was it?  It was hot, we were sweaty, the limo broke down on the side of the road, my hair wasn’t looking it’s best and the DJ at the reception (aka: our limo driver) used records instead of cd’s.  Records, Ben. It was like we were back in the late 80’s again!  Do you remember what you said?  You said, “It can only get better from here.”  You were right.

We had a lot of change between September 24, 1994 and September 24, 1995, didn’t we?  That may have been the most change crammed into one year that we ever experienced over the twenty to follow.  Do you remember how we planned and built our first home together?  How we stayed up late and drew it out on graph paper so we could plan out where to put the furniture we couldn’t afford.  I remember you made little couches out of graph paper so we could move them around.  Do you remember how we carved our initials in the sidewalk when it was finally finished?

Do you remember how, shortly after our house was built and we moved in, that we discovered we were having a baby?  In fact we found out the day before our first anniversary.  We had a secret as you went off to work that afternoon.

The 20 years between that video and this picture were quite the ride, weren’t they?

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That was us on the plane in 2015, on September 23rd, on our way to LA to spend our 21st anniversary watching Doyle Bramhall jam on his guitar.  Your dream.  I am so fucking glad you got to experience that.  I am so fucking glad we had that time.  And I’m sorry for using the word “fucking” so emphatically, but it’s appropriate, don’t you think?  I also miss you so fucking badly.

Here you are, on our 21st anniversary:

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Here you are, on our 22nd anniversary:

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I am tempted to dig that up so I can refill your bottle of Kracken.  I feel like you need a fresh bottle so you can raise a glass with me, but then again, I suspect you probably have full access to all the Kracken you want up there in Heaven.  Or at least all the wine you want, for sure.

Here’s the link (click here) to some of the video from our anniversary last year, in case you want to revisit how we all finished off that bottle in your honour.  Even Dad, who was sick.

Ben, I miss you terribly.  I think you know that though.  I feel you around a lot, so I think you must know.  I wouldn’t trade a minute of our lives together.  None of it.  We didn’t really have the easiest twenty one years, but the challenges we faced certainly made us a stronger couple and I’m really grateful to have known that kind of love.  The honest kind.  The kind where we could admit that there were times we couldn’t stand each other but we pushed through and came out the other side stronger and happier.  I think we set a good example for the kids, with our marriage.  I didn’t always think that, but now I do.  They have now been taught what real love looks like in real life, not on Face Book.  And they have seen the most honest, true and profound love they ever could as they watched us navigate the last months of your life here on earth.

Thanks for being my partner.  I wish I had thirty more anniversaries with you here together, but I am grateful for the twenty one we had.  I know that’s more than most.

I know that anniversary gifts weren’t really our thing, but if you’re feeling extra generous this year then there is one thing I would really love and it won’t cost you a dime.  I want to see you in my dreams tonight.  Please.  I want to talk to you again for five minutes.  I want to see you when I tell you I love you, and I want to hear you say, “And ‘oo”.  Please.  Please.  

Happy anniversary Ben, as they say.  I will search for you today.

With everlasting, eternal love and gratitude for the time I had with you,

Your bride.

 

 

It Must Have Super Powers

On the post I wrote for Soaring Spirits this week, I put forth this question to all the widows reading that blog:

Did you ever feel so consumed by your own grief that you have forgotten that others grieve too?  That they grieve not only for the loss of your spouse, who may have been a friend to them, but possibly they grieve also for other people that you may know absolutely nothing about?  Do you find that during this time of all consuming grief, you have forgotten that other people have suffered loss too?

My reason for proposing that question was because recently, the realization that others grieve too has hit me hard.

For the last 19 months I have been consumed by my own grief and I didn’t have room to consider the possibility that anyone else in my life could be carrying around a similar, agonizing grief from their own past.  That wasn’t on my radar at all.  Lately though … lately my eyes have opened a bit to the world around me as I have slowly started to awaken from my drugged slumber (figuratively drugged, not literally), and I have been surprised to discover that others – not random strangers but actual people who are a part of my life – have suffered their own agonizing losses that I knew nothing about.  How could I have not known??

Years ago I had a colleague who became a friend.  We worked together for a brief period of time before I was transferred, and although we didn’t work together for long, she was one of those people I have always considered a friend regardless of time and distance.  She’s someone you don’t forget.

The day after Ben died I had to go into my office building to meet with the Chaplain and I walked right into her for the first time in years.  I recall that she called out my name, burst into tears and hugged me long and hard.  I was moved by how much compassion she had for my situation, although I was far too deep into my own devastation to give it much more than a passing thought.  On some vague level I recall being a little surprised by how upset she was on my behalf, but we are about the same age and have kids the same age so I guess I assumed that she could imagine on some level the difficulties I was about to face.  It never occurred to me to consider that the reason she was able to feel my pain so deeply could be due to a past significant loss of her own.  After all, her husband was alive and well, and although I knew her dad had passed away she was a middle aged adult by the time it happened and (although terribly sad and not something I want to even think about happening for many many years) it is just not quite the same thing.  Anyway, I went on to my meeting with the Chaplain and pushed the thoughts of her and everyone else out of my mind.

Fast forward 19 months and this old friend contacted me recently to see if I wanted to have coffee with her and catch up.  She came over and we visited for a couple of hours, and she let me ramble on endlessly about Ben.  Fresh ears, you know?  It was nice to talk about Ben to someone who hadn’t already heard all the stories about the nightmare we lived.  I like to tell those stories because talking about it takes away some of the power that those memories have to hurt me, and of course I just like to discuss Ben in any way, shape or form.  She was very compassionate and she was visibly moved by my loss, and I found that so touching.  I mean, naturally I think there is no greater loss in the world than that of losing Ben, but to see someone else who never met him be so touched made me feel like she cares about living in a world where Ben does not exist.  She made me feel as though she wished she knew him, and that made me feel good.

After having an emotional conversation for a couple of hours she eventually needed to leave (or escape), and as she was leaving she mentioned that her brother had been killed in an accident when they were teens.  Just like that. She said she thinks about him every day.  And in that instant I realized that not only had she lived a terrible, aching loss of her own, but she relived it through me because our conversation brought back memories of all that pain.  For the first time in a long time I was overcome with an emotion that was not my own grief.  I’m not even sure what it was.  Compassion?  Understanding? Guilt, shame or embarrassment over not having known and never having asked?  Probably a bit of all of those.  I recognized that she had lived through pain that was similar to my own.  A terrible, life altering loss.  The kind from which one never fully recovers.  A kind of loss like mine.  And although I had clearly understood on some subconscious level that there was more going on for her than just consoling an old, casual friend from the past, I had never stopped to ask her.  I had never asked her why she seemed to understand so well, or why she clearly felt my pain so deeply.  I should have asked.  It never occurred to me that she could have ever had reason to grieve like I do.

Over the last 19 months I have never paused to ask her, or any of the other unexpected and random people who showed up to help for reasons unknown, why they seemed to understand just a little bit more than everyone else.  I know why most people showed up.  It was because they loved Ben, or they love me, or both, and we have close, ongoing relationships.  But why had certain people, some almost strangers, shown up unexpectedly and knowing exactly how to help or exactly what to say?  After all, these people didn’t know me well and couldn’t possibly know a pain like mine, right?

Clearly, I was wrong.

With regards to my friend who disclosed that her brother had been killed, I could probably use the excuse that we had never had the opportunity to develop and nurture a close relationship, so how could I have been expected to ask her if she had reason to know my pain?  But the thing is … on some level I did know.  I knew because her overt sadness on my behalf was more than most others felt.  I could inherently feel that it was different, and I have felt that difference on a couple of other occasions.  I’ve felt the difference from people who were merely acquaintances in my ‘real life’ but who felt compelled to reach out to me in a way that was subtly different from the rest.  One of them, I later learned, had lost her sister when she was a teen.  Three others had lost their fathers when they were kids, and therefore knew the pain that my children would be enduring.  I had not known, but I feel like I should have.  I feel like I should have asked.

So basically, that’s what I’ve been thinking about for the last few days.  I’ve been acknowledging that my pain is great, but there are others out there who experience it also.  (Although, as I’ve mentioned before, my pain is most certainly greater than those who lost a pet.  I will stand behind that statement forever.)  There are hurting hearts out there all over the place, and I never knew it.  Somehow, all these people managed pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward, and then use what they learned to be able to help people in need, like myself.  They understand how much it hurts to have your heart broken, but they demonstrate how to be brave enough to allow it to break all over again for someone else, just so they can help that person.

A local Mountie was killed in an accident within the last couple of weeks, and he left behind his wife and two young boys. My heart hurts because I know what is in store for her.  A mutual friend sent me a text assuring me that he and several other coworkers will take care of that family always.  When I read those words I couldn’t help but think, “I know you mean it.  I know you really, really mean it.  I believe you mean it.  But unfortunately, it’s just not true.  It’s not true because all of your lives will go on, just as they should, yet her husband will remain dead.  You may help her with the insurance paperwork, you may collect her husband’s uniform, and you may text or call her or drop in once in awhile.  And all those things are nice and so well intentioned, but every Christmas you will be with your own family.  You will not be with her on her wedding anniversary.  You will not be waking up beside her in the morning.  She has to do all those things and more on her own. ”

I sent the member’s wife a message and let her know that I know.  She has, most unfortunately, just become an unwilling member of the exclusive club that no one wants to join.  So if she needs me, if she needs someone who really knows, I will try to be the person for her that other ‘almost strangers’ have been for me.  Because they knew.  And I know too.

Recently I was reading through my blog and I came across a comment that was written by my friend two years ago in response to the pain I was suffering.  She wrote, “Oh my woman … how can a heart break so many times and still we live?  It must have superpowers.”  How true those words ring to me now, as I recognize all those hearts out there that have been shattered in the past, and still they put themselves back out there to help the next one.  To be able to not only live after heartbreak but to use that pain to help ease the suffering of others is indeed a great, great superpower.  I will not close my eyes to the pain of others any more.  I choose that superpower.

 

Bettering Myself

Humour me for a moment while you read the next two paragraphs, and trust that this post is not all gloom and doom.

Two years ago today, Ben’s world came crashing down around him.  He went to see Dr B for the results of his MRI which was supposed to determine whether or not he would need back surgery or a cortisone injection.  Instead, he received his death sentence.

He didn’t tell me about it for two days, so I lived in blissful oblivion and whistled my way through the next 48 hours doing and saying exactly what I wanted.  My most prominent memory is coming home from work on April 8th and saying “Why didn’t you empty the dishwasher while I was at work??!!”  Yes, Ben had just been given a death sentence and I was worried about the dishes. Not my proudest moment.  Granted, I still had no idea that our lives had just come to a screeching halt, but my annoyance over the dishes remains one of the things I remember and sure wish I could take back.  (Let that be a lesson to anyone reading this … shut up and stop complaining about trivial things.  Take a moment right now to stop and throw some love out to your other half.  No matter what happens, the two of you will not be together until the end of time.  One of you is going to have to live like I am currently living … without my Love and carrying regret over the fact that I bitched about the dishes.)  If you’re interested, I wrote about that day in this post.

Moving forward, I recently came across a blog post written by a fellow named Benjamin P. Hardy, titled “50 Ways (that) Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms.”  (For the record, the word “that” was not in the title, but I thought it should be.)  His post struck a chord with me because I happen to agree with many of the 50 points on his list for living my best life, although I currently do not adhere to them.

That is about to change.

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So, on this most significant day that my brain currently recognizes as “The Day Ben Found Out He Was Dying,” I have decided to begin something that he would be most proud of. Something he would have done himself, because he was a man who spent every day of his adult life trying to become a better person than he was the day before.  And although some of his self improvement schemes were annoying, like his continual preaching “Everyone must go gluten free! You will die if you don’t go gluten free!”  (I assume you can see the irony in that one), most of his efforts could only be admired as he regularly searched for ways to expand his mind, improve his overall health and fitness, and to be a great Dad and partner.

 

With Ben as my inspiration, I have decided to use Mr. Hardy’s list to improve myself.  I’m going to challenge myself to act on one of his suggestions per week until I work my way through most of them.  I look forward to seeing how I come out the other side, and I may be able to change the name of this day to “The Day I Changed My Life In Honour Of Ben.” Or at least combine the two titles.  That’ll be a mouthful.

*Note that I said I was going to act on “most” of Mr. Hardy’s suggestions.  Not all of them. That’s because some of his suggestions are things I already do (see #5) and some are just crazy. (see #1)

Here’s the list, pared down without all the extra detail around why it is important to do each one and how it will positively effect you if you do.  If I’m moved to blog about each one I try then I will provide his detailed explanation at the top of each post.  (I say “if I’m moved” to blog about how I do because I don’t want to commit to do that and then not follow through.  Let me get some momentum going and see how I do.):

  1. Stop consuming caffeine (See?  Crazy.  Not doing it. Well, maybe.  But not right away)
  2. Pray or meditate morning, mid-day, and night
  3. Read 1 book per week
  4. Write in your journal 5 minutes per day
  5. Marry the person you love (Definitely already knocked this one out of the park)
  6. Make a bucket list and actively knock items off
  7. Stop consuming refined sugar (ouch)
  8. Fast from all food and caloric beverages 24 hours once per week
  9. Fast from the internet 24 hours once per week
  10. Stop consuming the news or reading the newspaper
  11. Do something everyday that terrifies you
  12. Do something kind for someone else daily
  13. Go to bed early and rise early
  14. Get 7+ hours of sleep each night
  15. Replace warm showers with cold ones
  16. Say “No” to people, obligations, requests, and opportunities you’re    not interested in from now on
  17. Say “Thank you” every time you’re served by someone
  18. Say “I love you” 3+ times a day to the most important people in your life
  19. Consume 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up
  20. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts on 1.5 or 2x speed, your brain will change faster
  21. Decide where you’ll be in five years and get there in two
  22. Remove all non-essentials from your life (start with your closet)
  23. Consume a tablespoon of coconut oil once per day
  24. Buy a juicer and juice a few times per week
  25. Choose to have faith in something bigger than yourself, skepticism is easy
  26. Stop obsessing about the outcome
  27. Give at least one guilt-free hour to relaxation per day
  28. Genuinely apologize to people you’ve mistreated
  29. Make friends with five people who inspire you
  30. Save 10 percent or more of your income
  31. Tithe or give 10 percent of your income away
  32. Drink 64–100 ounces of water per day
  33. Buy a small place rather than rent (Done)
  34. Check your email and social media at least 60–90 minutes after you wake up
  35. Make a few radical changes to your life each year (Well, clearly I’m no slouch in this department.  Lose Ben.  Retire.  What more does he want?)
  36. Define what wealth and happiness mean to you
  37. Change the way you feel, think, and act about money”
  38. Invest only in industries you are informed about
  39. Create an automated income source that takes care of the fundamentals (Done.  But I’m going to think on this one anyway.)
  40. Have multiple income streams (the more the better)  (Again, done.  But again, I’m still going to think on this one and see what else I can do.  I don’t think my current income streams are what he had in mind.)
  41. Track at least one habit/behaviour you’re trying to improve
  42. Have no more than 3 items on your to-do list each day
  43. Make your bed first thing in the morning
  44. Make one audacious request per week (what do you have to lose?)
  45. Be spontaneously generous with a stranger at least once per month
  46. Write and place a short, thoughtful note for someone once per day
  47. Become good friends with your parents (Done.  Thank God.  I can’t imagine how I would have survived without them.  I think I will change this one to: Become good friends with your adult children.)
  48. Floss your teeth
  49. Eat at least one meal with your family per day
  50. Spend time reflecting on your blessings at least once per day

Well, there you have it.  The List.  I think I may add some of my own that aren’t included on here, like:

  1. Work out or get some type of strenuous exercise 5 times per week and
  2. Spend time outside in nature every day

Those ones would be numbers 51 and 52 but I can’t seem to make the numbering work. Perhaps I should add “learn how to use numbering in a blog.” Anyway, you get the picture.  Writing this blog post today fulfills #4.  I’m exhausted.  Haha.

Now that I’ve publicly declared my intent I will begin by choosing which one of the above points I will start with.  I’m not doing them in numerical order.  My plan is to practice each one regularly for a week and see what sticks. Hopefully a week of flossing and another week of drinking lots of water will turn into habits that I can continue throughout the following weeks into forever, as I attempt the rest of the points.

Number 48 is probably a wise place to begin.

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I think Sundays will be a good day to begin something new each week.  I guess that means I don’t have to floss until tomorrow.

Have a fantastic weekend and do something nice for your spouse.

 

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Spring Has Sprung

I’ve always thought of Spring as a new beginning, and this one is no different.  In fact, as I write these words I am counting down the last of (approximately) eleven hours to another new beginning.  At midnight tonight I will be officially retired from the RCMP.  A pensioner.  HA!  You have no idea how much that word makes me laugh.  If I close my eyes for 30 seconds I can literally see, hear and feel those early days where I privately thought of the “Over 40’s” in the RCMP as “Dinosaurs.” I “tolerated” them but thought it was time for them to move over and let the new blood in.  Good grief.

When I close my eyes I can see these Training days as if they happened moments ago:

… and the first post …

It’s true that the older you get, the faster time passes.  I am now acutely aware that every day is, in some way, a “last time.”  Today it is the “last day I am a police officer.”  I’m moving over and making room for this …

Hahahahaha!

Starting this new life without Ben is not something I ever thought I’d be doing, and yet here I am.  The other day I read this:

“You are living without the person you can’t possibly have lost. The loneliness can not be captured in any word, phrase or song. It’s palpable, breathtaking and seemingly void of all reality. It’s cold, cruel and takes your heart to a level of pain you didn’t even realize existed before death laid its cold hand on your barely beating heart.”

Those words capture the way I have felt since the moment Ben took his last breath, and it will remain the way I feel on some level until the day I die.  But I am also acutely aware of the fact that I am not dead.  Ben’s body is dead.  Mine is not.  Fair or unfair, that’s just the way it is.  Sometimes I have to say the words out loud to myself to both believe them and to remind myself that my life does, indeed, go on.  And Ben would want it to.

So, in the spirit of continuing to move forward, I whisked Raegan off to New York for a week of sightseeing … just the two of us.  Unfortunately, I was super sick the whole time we were there, but I loved every second of being with her one on one.  I love that we have New York all to ourselves.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the 911 Memorial Museum.  We were there for several hours and I could have stayed several more.  This art covers one of the walls, and I loved it so much I now have the saying on my key chain beside the guitar pick with “The Titan” on it.

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No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time.  Damn right.

Raegan and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and, as usual, left a little piece of Ben there until the end of time.  Or until the bridge is replaced, anyway.  This time it was Raegan who whipped out the marker before I had even thought of it …

While Raegan and I explored New York, and Zak attended classes at school (sorry Zak … that is the life of a student), Jaime explored Australia and New Zealand with her classmates.

 

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She had a great time, by all accounts, and now is prepping for the big day … GRADUATION!!  (Well, first her birthday … can’t believe she’s almost 18 … and then grad).

Despite the fact that Zak didn’t travel over Spring Break, what he has done is far more inspiring.  Today my boy celebrates three years of sobriety!  I am thrilled.  Ben is thrilled for sure.  You may recall how that first sobriety anniversary was bittersweet for us.  (You can read Ben’s post about it here. )  Zak hit his one year sober-versary a mere two days before Ben received his death sentence.  Talk about sobering (pun intended).  But as Ben wrote, Zak was a source of inspiration for him, and I love that both of them got to experience it. And since I’m in a bragging mood … here is my inspirational man-child with his equally inspirational girl friend.

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Ahhhhh …. my pride cup runneth over.

And so, despite the fact that my grief continues to haunt me every moment, it now does so at a lower volume.  Low enough between waves that I find I can enjoy some of what life has to offer again.

One last thing … while I was going through some photos I rediscovered these two.  The one of Ben was taken in Hollywood on our honeymoon in 1994.  The one of the girls was taken in the exact same spot just weeks shy of 22 years later.  Funny how life works.  I sometimes imagine it as this continual reel of film where you can see all the things that happen in one spot over the years.  Perhaps our grandchildren will visit this same spot one day.

Happy April 6th.  Happy Spring.  Happy birthday, Lelita.  Happy sober-versary, Zak. Happy retirement, me.

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Forever missing you Ben. #BenTheTitan

This One Is For Robert K.

So, apparently I lied on February 5th when I said I was done posting on this blog. Although, in my defense I did say that I was going to stay non committal …  I left myself a little opening incase I felt moved to blog, and I happen to feel moved to blog.

Recently I decided to sell Ben’s Apple Extreme Something-Or-Other.  I didn’t really know what it was and had to google it in order to find out, but I did know that it wasn’t being used and hadn’t been used for the entire year.  Like everything else Ben bought it was essentially brand new with the box and everything it came with originally.

I put an ad on Craigslist and had several texts back and forth with some guy who wanted to buy it but he wanted me to drive it out to Pacific Center for him.  I may get a thrill from collecting a dollar or two by selling off unused items, but certainly not enough to drive into Vancouver to pass it on.  No thanks.  If you can’t come here to pick it up then you’d best find another one elsewhere.  (Silly guy, because it was a great deal.)  Anyway, the guy was a bit of a goof and kept texting me at all hours of the night over the course of last weekend until he finally believed me that I wouldn’t be bringing it to him.  He said he’d think about it, and then on Monday he texted me a photo of an Apple Extreme Something-Or-Other he had bought from someone else.  Really?  Not sure what the point of that was.  The conversation that followed went something like this:

Me: “and?”

Him:”I bought one from someone else so I don’t need to buy yours.”

Me: “good thing I didn’t drive to Vancouver then.”

Him: “well I would have bought yours if you had brought it to me.”

Me: “I am not that desperate for a  buck.”

So that was that and I was kind of chuckling over the fact that he seemed to think I would be shattered that he would not be making the purchase, when my phone went ‘ding’ and I looked at my email.  Lo and behold, right at that moment another gentleman was asking me if it was still for sale, and there began another conversation that made me smile:

Him: “Still have the Apple Extreme?”

Me: “Ironic that I should receive this email today (long story) but as it turns out I do have it.”

Him: “Perfect.  Tomorrow evening for pickup work for you?”

Me: “Well, apparently I will not be out on some wildly romantic Valentines excursion so it seems that tomorrow will in fact be a good time for pickup.”

Him: “I totally forgot about VDay being tomorrow!! How about Wednesday as my lovely wife expects me around!?”

Me: “Ha!  I’d suggest you pretend that it didn’t take an anonymous craigslist seller to remind you about Valentine’s Day.  Wednesday is fine.”

Him: “I pretend real well because at my age I forget real easy.”

laughing

I got a laugh and a sale at the same time.

Wednesday night rolled around and my craigslist buyer arrived at my front door.  I opened the door and was greeted by Robert.  Robert-With-The-Friendly-Smile and cash in hand which I happily traded him for the Apple Extreme Something-Or-Other.  And then, surprise surprise, he handed me a gift bag containing a bottle of wine, a box of chocolate and a Starbucks card.  I was so puzzled until this lovely man explained.  He told me that he and his wife had read my blog.  So had their daughters.  And he told me he thought I was wonderful.  Then he gave me a hug and away he went, leaving me with tears in my eyes, a smile on my face and a reminder of how amazing people are.

I don’t know how to reach Robert K.  I sent him a FB message but we all know how those work when you aren’t “friends” with someone.  He’ll probably discover it in a few years. So I wanted to write another post that I hope he sees just to say …

thank-you-robert

You made my one-day-after-Valentines-Day-alone a little sweeter.  And you reminded me about all the lovely people out there who are not Craigslist Killers (yes, that thought always crosses my mind before I sell something) but instead just want to bring a little light into someone else’s day.  I’m not amazing, but you are.  You are amazing, Robert and Robert’s wife.  Amazing.  Thank you.

You would think that for someone who suggested she may not blog again, that would be the end of this unexpected post. But it’s not. I have one more story about selling off Ben’s unused items that also made me laugh the day after I met The Amazing Robert.

Recently Raegan and I discovered a brand new OtterBox for an iPhone 6 plus (Ben’s) that was still in it’s package.  Neither of us could imagine why he hadn’t used it considering how expensive they are, but I have no need for it so I priced it for a quick sale on the local FB site.  It sold immediately and a lady came by to pick it up.  Sale over and I did not expect to hear from her again.  But I did.  I received a private FB message from her that read:

Hi Wendy. I had a look at the case when I got home tonight and I realized that it is not a Otter box you sold me. It is called a crseology case. A cheap Chinese import. I would like to know if this was a mistake.

OMG.  I could feel my face turn red and there wasn’t even anyone around to see.  I quickly looked at the photos I had taken of the case (kept in the original Otterbox) and discovered that she was right.  The word “Crseology” was stamped right on it and I had never noticed. How completely humiliating.  I had to convince a complete stranger that I had not intentionally ripped her off and that in fact it was all Ben’s fault.  Lol. I felt like I was stammering with embarrassment as I wrote back to her.

Needless to say I returned her money with my head hanging in shame (metaphorically, since I actually eTransferred it back to her).  I have no idea how that phone case made it into an Otterbox case, but here is my best guess.  I suspect that my sweet Ben who always liked to save a buck ordered an Otterbox online by someone who was advertising them for cheap.  Not one to pass up a bargain, I suspect he made that purchase from an unreliable seller and got ripped off but didn’t want to tell me about it because he thought I would tease and torment him relentlessly.  Which I would have, to be honest.

Now you may ask yourself why Ben wouldn’t have just thrown the case and the box in the garbage so that I would never find out, right?  That would have been the reasonable thing to do, but this is Ben we’re talking about.  Ben The Hoarder who never threw anything away.  Ben The Hoarder who kept every box from everything he ever purchased, “just incase.”  (Admittedly though, his need to save boxes has earned me some extra money over this last year when I have been able to advertise items that still have their original packaging. So I guess it might not have been the worst habit ever.)  I suspect that he just couldn’t bring himself to get rid of it.  “Just incase.”

I imagine he is laughing his head off over my awkward moment, since he knows I would have laughed at him if I had known what happened at the time.

That’s all for today, folks.  I’ll see if the mood hits me again.

Hug your families.

Fart Stories Are Funnier, But You Get My Heart

I finally took the leap and called someone in to fix my computers. They have all been quite a mess since Ben died. Anyway, he had to haul them away and it is hard to use my phone to write blog posts … hence my silence.

Today, as usual, I was flipping through my calendar and the blog to see what I was doing this day last year. It’s how I keep Ben close and trick myself into thinking he’s still here. (I live in this weird place somewhere in the middle of reality and wishful thinking.) I found this post from last year. I remember my fingers on the keyboard as I typed it out. Chris had also been recently diagnosed and Ben was suffering through that heartbreak too.

I wrote out my hope that Ben and I would be living in the moment together 50 years in the future, but I knew it wasn’t true. Like every other day that passed, I knew that Thanksgiving 2015 was to be our last Thanksgiving together. I embraced it at that moment but I wasn’t able to hang onto it. Thanksgiving has always been my favourite holiday and last year was no different. Our family was together and Ben was still reasonably strong, but I knew our last moments were ticking away.

I’m so sorry that I couldn’t save you, Ben. I think that thought every day. I’m just so sorry.

Yesterday we gathered together as a family once again – this year with one new boyfriend and one new girlfriend in the mix. Neither of them had the pleasure of knowing The Titan, but they joined us in a shot of Kracken to remember him.

Here’s hoping everyone enjoyed the day and gave their family a little extra love. Here’s to Ben.

Mom is a widow

As Dan pointed out in my previous post, fart stories are funnier then my musings about watching Ben suffer.  I agree … they are.  I laughed when I read Ben’s post too.

I do want to tell funny stories of how we are getting through this, and in fact there are some.  Our life is not all doom and gloom and I don’t want anyone to think it is.  I smile and laugh with Ben every day (mostly when he farts, ironically), and although we tend to avoid actual discussions about “living in the moment” and “mindfulness” it is clear that is where we both are.  Thats a good thing, I think.  Everyone talks about doing it but then gets carried away with life and the years pass without anyone knowing where they went.  Well, we are really doing it.  We are living and loving in the moment.  Hopefully we will…

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And So Completes The Circle

Yesterday was our anniversary.  Sept 24th.  We would have been married for 22 years.

On our wedding day in 1994 the weather was sunny and hot, and our limo broke down on the side of the Mary Hill Bypass in Port Coquitlam.  As we stood on the side of the road with sweat running down our faces I recall saying that things could only go up from there. I was right, and in the end we had 21 years, 3 months and 20 days together.  Far too short, but I’m grateful for every moment of it.

Twenty one years ago we celebrated our first anniversary.  We gave each other Ironman watches that we couldn’t really afford but needed for work. Ben still has his.  Well, I suppose I have it now.

Every year afterwards for several anniversaries we would spend the day wandering Granville Island together.  We continued the tradition even after we had kids – we would drop them at Mom and Dad’s and head down there for the day.  One year we saw David Hasselhoff wearing sparkly gold pants.  I’m not sure when we abandoned that tradition – likely when the kids started playing soccer – but we started a new tradition and went out for dinner every year, usually trying some type of new cuisine.  I remember once we went to a pub which was very unusual for us.  I can recall what I was wearing and how Ben took picture of me and kept it as the home page on his phone for a long time.

For our 20th anniversary Ben surprised me by letting me know that he had been secretly saving money and had saved enough for us to go to New York.  Unfortunately, Ben was also really suffering with back pain and we had just decided to get him a hot tub.  We got the hot tub for free but had to spend the anniversary money installing a patio slab that would support it.  (Surprise!  No trip to New York!) I can still see Ben looking at me and saying, “It’s the thought that counts, right?”  Yes Ben, it is most certainly the thought that counts.

For our 21st anniversary we flew to LA to watch Doyle Bramhall II in concert.  A dream come true for Ben, especially when we ended up meeting him and also running into Bryan Callen too.  I knew at the time that it was to be our last anniversary together.

For our 22nd anniversary, I buried Ben in the little cemetery near our house.

We stood at Ben’s grave site and released the Kracken until the bottle was empty, while we listened to a song that would have made Ben laugh and say “Hell yeah!” Take a listen and imagine Ben downing a shot every time Lukas Graham says “everyone better be wasted.”

 

Zak also played a song that is near to his heart.  Take a moment to listen.

When the bottle was empty we placed it inside the grave alongside Ben’s shot glass.  I hope he’s drinking himself silly in Heaven.

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We took turns shoveling.

Who could have ever imagined as I walked into the church to meet my best friend that it would all be over 22 years later to the exact day?

 

Our wedding day has now become the day I buried my husband.  And so completes the circle.

Just for fun, I’ll show you how my sister and niece ended the day.  Make sure you have your speakers on: