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.

One Lucky Mother

I think I may be the luckiest mother in the world, a lot of which has to do with Ben’s years of dedication to our kids and what he taught them as he led by example.  Resilience is the word of the day, and we all learned it from him.

I had a very easy childhood.  Ben did not.  But Ben learned resilience and I never needed to until I became an adult and, well, adult things happened.  Thank God I had Ben to learn from.  I draw on his lessons constantly now, and often think “What would Ben do?”  I usually know the answer.

On Mother’s Day last year I was deeply suffering.  You can read about it here.  I am still suffering, but on this Mother’s Day there was some laughter and a lot of love.

Last year around this time the girls were in the Volleyball Provincials, and neither they nor I (nor Ben) were able to enjoy it.  This year, however, I spent the day today watching Raegan play in the finals, and I was able to focus and actually see her and finally, after sitting silently on the sidelines for a year, I was able to actually cheer.  Out loud.  Her team took first place in their tier.

From there we went over to Mom and Dad’s and had the traditional Insley Family Bar-b-que.  And we smiled.  And laughed.

You may notice there are people missing from the pictures.  Jaime was working, although I did manage to get 5 minutes with her before she ran off to bed …

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… and Lisa, Brett and the kids couldn’t make it over.  Dad bought an ice cream cake (with gluten.  Sorry, Ben, but I have a feeling you are pigging out on gluten in Heaven anyway) and had it decorated like this…

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… but since Lisa failed to make it to the party, I redecorated it …

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Tough luck, sister.  That’s what you get!  (Not that it matters … I was always the favourite child anyway.)

The kids wrote me a beautiful card …

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… and bought me some flowers and hand cream I had been wanting for about a month.  I love it.  Everyone else thinks it smells horrible.  Oh well.

One final note about the weekend … I woke up with a migraine on Saturday.  As in, I opened my eyes and two seconds later I realized a migraine was coming on strong.  I’m probably the only person in the world who can get a migraine before her day even begins. In any case, I am sick of the migraines and the medications, none of which work.  So I took a spontaneous step and drove myself to the local tattoo and piercing parlour where they stabbed me by hand (it hurt something fierce) through the part of the ear that is said to be an acupuncture point to prevent migraines.  So here is my new teenager-looking ear:

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The top piercing I did actually get as a teenager.  The middle one is the one to prevent migraines.  I’m not so sure how well that will go over at work, but if it stops the migraines then everyone should be grateful.  And if you’re wondering what is on my head, that is a turbie towel.  I just got out of the shower.  Funny side note – I told Jaime that one of the coolest things about her Dad was that he never, ever tried to voice his opinion on anything I did regarding piercings or tattoos, even though it wasn’t until the very end of his life that he became “ok” with tattoos and got his own.  When I got my first tattoo he drove me to the parlour.  When I pierced my nose, he just smiled.  When I came home from Vegas with my second tattoo he said he liked it.  So I know he’s just nodding and smiling right now and saying “It’s your body Wendy.  You get to decide.”  How I loved that about him.

All in all it was a decent weekend.  Another “first” without Ben.  I talked to him a lot this weekend, and I’m so glad that bluetooth is a “thing” now because the other people driving by me likely assume I’m on the phone.  I’m not.  I just like to talk to Ben while I drive.  For some reason talking to him in my head just doesn’t do it for me.  I need to speak the words out loud.

I miss you very much tonight, Ben.  We all do.  Thank you for teaching us resilience by example.  We really wish you were here, but we are managing.  And we are keeping your memory alive.  xo

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.  And to the best one – my own.

One Month

It’s been one month since I lost my true love. (Well, it is one month as I write this, but it will be one month and one day by the time I post it).  Where did the time go?  How can it be that time moved so slowly while Ben was in agonizing pain, and yet moves so quickly away from him now that he’s gone?

The last month has been filled with the extreme of every emotion, from profound and indescribable sadness to overwhelming anger, with bouts of laughter and reminiscing in between.

I want time to stop. Every day that passes takes me one day further away from seeing his face and hearing his voice. I think about the fact that I am 45 years old, and God willing I hope I am only halfway through my life. But then I realize that one day I may look back and find that I have been without him longer then I had him.  Honestly, that literally scares the shit out of me.  I find myself once again in the helpless position of being completely unable to fix this problem.

In the past month I have been occupied with straightening out the banking. I really haven’t had much time to stop, and as I knock things off the list I find myself scared to be finished with it, because having everything in my name alone is one more step towards truly being without him.

I often fear that sanity is escaping me (not news for many of you).  I am scattered and have difficulty remembering anything, including people’s names.  (Anyone who replies to this post may wish to consider providing an explanation of who they are.  Not even kidding).  This week alone I showed up to an ultrasound appointment only to discover I was a month early. I then showed up at the Apple Store to find out I was 24 hours late. Today I showed up for another appointment at the Apple Store at 10:30, and was told I was scheduled for 4pm.  I’m starting to get concerned that I will forget where I live.  You may find me wandering the streets in my pyjamas trying to find someone to help me home.

Tonight I went out to dinner with Nancy and Jeremy. When Nancy first asked me to go, I almost said “no.”  I thought about just staying buried in bed and keeping to myself, but then I changed my mind because I fear that if I hide away on every date that has any type of meaning to me that I will never leave the house again. And since I am already leaning towards being a 45 year old who spends more hours living in her pyjamas then my teenagers, I figured I should push myself a bit.

And so I ventured out to dinner. Neither to celebrate Ben’s life, nor to mourn his loss.  Rather, just to “be.”  It was a nice evening.

I miss your laughter, Ben. XO

Adventures in CT Scanning

Well today was the big day. I finally got my CT Scan to see if the treatment modalities had any effect on my tumours.

It was relatively uneventful. I showed up, they laid me down on the table that slides into the CT donut-looking machine. Then the two nurses tried to do an IV on my right arm – didn’t work. Then they tried my left arm – worked. They slid me into the machine and warned me that they were injecting the dye and I would be feeling “sensations”. I did feel the sensations, which felt like I peed all over myself. Yup pretty bizarre and totally accurate. Anyways…

Then they did the scan, which took all of 3 minutes (I was kind of pissed that I put $4 in the parking meter giving my an 1h20min parking) and said “Ok, we’re done!” Now here comes the reason why I used the word “relatively” in the previous paragraph. Once they rolled my table out of the donut it was time for me to get up. I was offered an arm to assist me, which I accepted. Who turns a pretty girl down? One, two, three and up we went. That’s when I let out the loudest fart you could ever imagine. The second nurse jumped and the one holding my arm started laughing uncontrollably. The second nurse smiled and said “Is that your final remark?” then burst into laughter. What could I say but “Whoops. Sorry about that. I bet that happens all of the time.” Then I joined in.

At least I left them with smiles on their faces. What better gift than a little stinker and a smile.