Things I’ve Done Since Ben Died

1) Learned to use a drill.  I found about 45 of them in the garage, because in our younger days (and poorer days) Ben used to build everything for us.  I always told him that if he ever got fired from the Force he could be a carpenter. He was really that good. Once he built my mom and dad a gorgeous oak bar which they still use regularly.

Most of the drills are too heavy to be practical for me to use, but I did find a “girl” drill.  And I learned how to charge the battery on it, courtesy of Zak.  Yesterday I used it to remove a bunch of clips that were holding speaker wire to the wall, AND I figured out how to remove all the wire. Which brings me to number 2

2) I learned how to unhook speakers and pull all the wires out of the wall.

3) I have learned how to be practical and get rid of “things.”  Ben was not sentimental that way. Despite the fact that he kept everything, it was more out of laziness than sentimentality. He always said that “things” are just “things.”  You can’t take them with you when you die.

So I have been selling a lot of stuff. Things that just clutter the house and therefore my mind. And I have given items that Ben loved to people he cared about who will also enjoy them, and will care that they belonged to Ben.

Nancy now carries Ben’s “man purse” around. He liked to call it a “bag” or a “satchel”, but the kids and I always told him to call a spade a spade. It’s a purse. Nancy likes it and uses it for work, just like Ben did.

Jeremy rides the stationary bike that Ben spent hours riding. Well, I think right now Jeremy is just circling it from a distance, but he will ride it soon I’m sure.

Jeff has Ben’s challenge coin. I put it in a frame with two pictures of them and photographs of the very humorous text conversation they had when Ben first got sick. It hangs in his office at work.

Zak wears Ben’s watch.  Raegan wears Ben’s sweat pants. (Yes, you read that right. Little Raegan walks around in Ben’s sweats constantly).   Zak also has adopted Ben’s electronics because he’s the only one who appreciates them.  Jaime has a framed picture of the notes she and Ben wrote each other.

Peter has a guitar that Ben left especially for him. Ben tried twice over the last year to tell Peter how much it meant to him that Peter had quite literally saved Zak’s life. Both times Ben tried to tell Peter, he (Ben) became too emotional, so he asked me to give Peter a particular guitar and tell Peter how he felt. I hope I was able to adequately pass on Ben’s message .

The list goes on, but the point is that other then the particularly sentimental items, the rest is just “stuff.”  And “stuff” is just clutter which creates chaos of the mind. So goodbye clutter.

4) I have become more patient and understanding. That probably stems from the entire last year and not just since Ben died.

5). I have paid bills. I’m working on the budget.

6). I have slightly chilled out regarding my hypochondria. Mostly because, to be honest, I tend to think about two things when I’m worried about my health.  The first is that I miss Ben so much and I really want to see him again.  Don’t freak out – I don’t say that in an “I want to die” sort of way. I don’t. That’s not what I mean. I just miss him so much and I know he’ll be waiting for me when the time comes.  So therefore there is less point in freaking out about little aches and pains.  The second thing I think of is that nothing I can ever go through will be as bad and painful as what Ben endured. Not physically, anyway. So I will just try to take whatever comes as it comes.

7).  I made the decision to install central air conditioning.  I got estimates and made the decision myself.  And I got a new hot water tank.  That is not something I ever would have done before without deferring to Ben.  I do wish I had insisted on the a/c last year so Ben could have had some relief from the heat.

In the meantime, I continue to be blessed with the best of family, friends and neighbors. Yesterday I received an unexpected knock on the door and found Jim there with a bunch of tools.  He fixed an outlet cover that Ben left undone for about 4 years, and hung new numbers on my house.



Thank you, Jim.  And thank you for remembering without me asking.  Thank you.

While Jim was hanging the house numbers, my neighbor (who moved in last summer and whom I have only met once) came over and spontaneously mowed my lawn.


In addition to those things, another neighbor has limed my lawn and taken care of other things around the exterior of my house, while on breaks from his own chemo sessions. Yes, you read that correctly. He endures his own health nightmare and still tries to help me out.

I miss Ben, but we are blessed and I’ve discovered that I can actually get a few things done for myself.

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An Honest Love Letter … Saint-Onge Style

To my Groom,

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

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

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

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My Dear Ben … you know I have loved you almost from the moment I met you.

There are plenty of people out there in this world who love you deeply, but none as deeply as I.  This is a truth that I know without a shred of doubt.  Here’s how I know:

I am the only person who is constantly exposed to your flaws.  I am the only person who, for two and half decades, has seen you at your worst, your angriest, and your saddest.  I am the only person who has seen it all every single day of your entire adult life.  I am the only one who truly knows the real you.  And still I love you.

When I think about the fact that I am the one person chosen to be your other half, I feel so blessed.  How lucky am I?

The rest of the world merely gets to see you at your best, which is a great way to see you, but its easy to love people when they are minding their manners.  Every day for 23 years I have been blessed to be the one to bear witness to the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have been blessed to have been the only person you trusted enough with your real self.  I love you more deeply then I could adequately describe.

For any single moment in our life together that I may have failed to recognize how lucky I was, I am truly sorry.  I mean that.

When I was 22, I did not fully understand the trust you were placing in me by choosing me above all others.  I’m not sure I fully understood that until recently.  I think it may take others a full lifetime to begin to grasp that idea.  Some may never get there, and instead they will just casually walk away when the going gets tough.  If there is one thing I am grateful for in this entire, shitty situation, it is the fact that I have been able to suddenly understand / see / feel what others often never do.  A deep, profound, honest understanding of what love really is.  I feel lucky to know that.

I think most people grasp the idea that love is not really about the biggest ring, the nicest house, the newest cars and the best vacations.  Many settle comfortably into that area of love where they feel lucky if they have someone to laugh with, who is happy to see them when they come home at the end of the day, and who rubs their back when they have the flu and are vomiting endlessly.  And they should feel lucky, because many don’t even have that after a few years together.

But you and I, we have all that and so much more.  We are definitely not perfect, but boy do we have more than that. And if I was asked for ten reasons why I really, really love you, I would not say things like “he brings me flowers” or “he rubs my feet” (partly because you do not.  haha.) I would say this:

a)  At 23 years old I mentioned that I may not wish to change my last name when when we got married.  You said, “OK.”  I said that I wanted us to both have the same last name, and why shouldn’t it be Insley?  You said, “OK.”  (I call liar on that one, but I loved you for your response, anyway.)  You suggested we randomly change our last name to Aachmed because it sounds funny and is always at the beginning of the alphabet, and you meant it.  (I am glad I was the one who held fast to common sense that time.)  You made me laugh.

b)  At 23 years old we found out I had cancer, and you never showed any fear.  You very matter of factly came to my appointments and my surgery.  Later on you lied to my parents about the recurrence when I asked you to.  (Then you caved and told the truth when Mom pushed you, but it was a good try.  Thank you)  You brought me Smarties and People Magazines after every general anesthetic for the next year.

c)  For the next decade I was consumed with fear over my health.  At times the fear was debilitating and it deprived us of many moments of happiness when I couldn’t see past it.  You stuck with me.  You took over the care of the kids when I couldn’t do it, you rubbed my back to help me fall asleep, and you listened to my ramblings.  You constantly tried your best to teach me about the power of positivity, and you never quit on me.  You were always my source of strength when I had none.

d)  At 24 years old I saw the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life, running across the floor of our home.  I trapped it but was too scared to do anything else.  You are also petrified of spiders, and you were at work at the time.  When I called you, you came home.  On duty.  In uniform.  You helped me trap the spider in a tupperware container and then, being too scared to kill it, we drove it into town and pepper sprayed it. (Interesting fact…. pepper spray doesn’t affect spiders).  We still laugh about that.

e)  At 27 years old you fell off a roof when arresting a bad guy and broke your tailbone.  Shortly thereafter I went into labor with Zak, and you stayed by my side even when you physically couldn’t stand up due to pain and had to lay down on the dirty hospital floor. But you stayed to welcome your son into the world.  And you glowed when you held him.  And lets face it … its not a secret that Zak was not a cute baby.  🙂  Still, you glowed with pride.  (For anyone reading this who doesn’t know Zak … rest assured he was extremely cute by the time he was 3 months old.  He remains exceptionally handsome to this day.  He looks like his Dad)

f)  At 31 years old you had a boss who worked so much overtime that he nearly doubled his yearly salary, and he bragged to you that he worked so much that he had never managed to make it to one of his kids’ birthday parties.  You, on the other hand, never missed even one of our kids birthday parties.  Ever.  To this day.  How I love you for that.

g)  At 32 years old you stayed entirely calm when we thought my appendix was bursting.  You were reassuring and solid, and the only reason I knew you were scared was because of the speed with which you drove me to the hospital.  You have always been my rock.

h)  At 38 years old I had a major knee surgery and was stuck on the couch in a full leg cast and in unbelievable pain.  In the evening you tucked me in on the couch, brought me everything I needed, left the phone by my side so I could call you upstairs if I needed anything, and then went off to bed.  When I became violently ill, you flew downstairs in your underwear and cared for me for me under what is best described as ‘utterly disgusting circumstances’.  And then, when I was too sick and too scared for you leave my side, you curled up all 6’2″ of yourself on our tiny loveseat next to the couch, with only a baby blanket to cover you, and stayed there all night while I slept.  Just so I would feel secure.

i)  At 44 years old you discovered our beloved baby had an addiction problem and was headed rapidly towards death.  You were there for him instantly.  You supported him with words and with actions.  While others criticized us, passed judgement, or simply ignored our circumstances, your emotional support for our child never waivered.  In addition, you did not hesitate for one moment to spend thousands and thousands of dollars that we did not have to ensure he received the best chance possible.  You are part of the reason we have been given back our most amazing son.  You are part of the reason that the world now gets to experience the wonder that is our boy.

(and let me point out here again that you did not hesitate one second to find money we didn’t have to pay for our son’s return to health.  So when I beg you to return to the naturopath and let them work in conjunction with the oncologist, and you refuse to go simply because of the expense, it kind of makes me want to slap you.  I am not asking you to choose between saving your own life or saving our child’s life.  I am asking you to put the same importance on saving your own life.  Our son is alive and thriving.  Its your turn to allow yourself to be cared for.  I would sell anything and everything if it will help you.  Given the choice, that is what each of our kids would choose too.  “Things” do not matter, my love.  You matter.)

j) At 46 years old you were diagnosed with cancer.  Horrible, horrible cancer.  And you kept that most horrifying news to yourself until all the tests were complete, so that you wouldn’t needlessly scare me.  You remained my rock, even when it was you who needed a rock to lean on.  You still thought of us first.

k) At 46 years old you have battled and kicked and punched this awful disease on a daily basis.  And while sometimes you can still be a bit of an ass, more often then not you do everything with a smile on your face.  I know you do that so we will not be scared.  You stay positive, not only for yourself but for us too.  You continue to do everything you can around the house.  You continue to support the kids, to be there for them, to talk to them.  Whenever possible you still fight through the pain to spend time with them.  Because of your strength, they barely notice that you are sick.  They understand, but your strength allows them to pretend you are well.  I don’t think there is a better gift you could give them.  Some day they will understand what you have done for them.  Each of them would name you as their hero.

I guess that was eleven reasons, and I could still go on.  I find new reasons every day to love you just a little bit more.  And even though cancer has not eradicated your occasional ability to still be an ass,  🙂 I find lately that the list of “Reasons Why Ben Can Be An Ass” gets shorter and shorter.  None of that really seems so important anymore.  I’m grateful for that.

A few weeks ago I looked at you and told you how much the kids and I need you.  That you must win this fight.  That you cannot quit.  You looked back at me, and through your tears you said, “I know.”

I have felt horrible about that moment ever since, and I have been riddled with guilt for putting such an overwhelming sense of responsibility on your shoulders.

So, here’s what I really want you to know ….

I do need you.  We need you.  Given the choice, I do not want to live a moment without you by my side.  We were made for each other.  I know this to be true because I have low tolerance for many others (lol) and yet I am still here with you.  🙂 There is no one else I want to grow old with, nor could there ever be.  That is a fact.

The kids and I anticipate that the end result is that you will kick the shit out of this disease.  We believe that you, our hero, will kick the shit out of this disease.  But we know this is the hardest fight of your life, and I want you to be able to focus on what you need to do for yourself, and not worry about us.  So I do not want you to bear the pressure of feeling that you have to fight for us.  I just want you to focus on you.  And I want you to know that we will all be ok.  Whatever may come, we will be ok.  We will be ok because we have learned from watching you.  You have taught us well.  You have been the best example of resilience, perseverance, and positivity.  Not just in the face of this wretched disease, but through your entire life.  You are a truly amazing man who has overcome obstacles that most are not aware of.  I am endlessly and forever able to provide examples of your awesomeness to our kids.

You will never hear me say that I am grateful for cancer.  I am in no way grateful for cancer at all.  I hate that effin disease and I cannot wait until it is eradicated.  But I am grateful for the opportunity we have been given to think about how lucky we are as a family – to have each other, to love each other, to appreciate each other.  Every moment is special to me now.  As I watch you, I see you feel the same, because you have been loving us softer.

I do not have the talent to express in writing exactly what I am feeling, but I hope this gives you a bit of an idea.  You have given us everything.  You do not owe us anything.  We love you every minute.  We always have.  We always will.  We want all your focus to remain on yourself and your own health.  Thats all.  But you must drink the green juice I make you every day.  I insist.

I remain forever grateful for my life with you.  You are an Honourable Man.  You are a Solid Husband. You are a Marvellous Father.  You are my Best Friend.  You are Less Of An Ass Lately.  You are my Only One.  Also, I know all your secrets so you are stuck with me.  You Frustrate and Challenge Me.

With appreciation, gratitude and love,

Your Bride xox

Surprise Number 1


Check out the smile!

That’s Ben enjoying the beautiful reclining chair that our Mama and Papa were kind enough to bring over last night to give Ben a comfy place to sit.  He can never get comfy because of the pain …. and now he can!  Hopefully this will solve the one problem that has been plaguing us.  (Well, that and the whole cancer thing….)

Thanks Mom and Dad!  You are the best.  That was so generous, and so thoughtful.  We really, really appreciate it.  Check out how happy you made him!  You delivered a Happiness Bomb! Woo hoo!

And in addition, Rae got to be a rebel, break the law and do this… Shhhhhh


We will never tell….

Everyone should ride in a recliner in the back of a pickup  truck, one time in their life.  Don’t worry….we just circled the cul de sac, but we will always pretend we went on a full road trip.  😏

Some Good Days

So these are some of the things that have happened in the last week or so.  First of all, this lovely girl and one of her besties were off to see the Taylor Swift concert in Vancouver.  (Jaime’s third time).  I believe they had a very good time.  Huge shout out to Auntie Lisa who kept an eye on them for me (wink) and to Auntie Colleen who drove them all the way home so that I wouldn’t have to make the trip.  XO to you both.

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Jaime (left) and Kailin  

While those girls were rocking the night away, this is what was going on at home:

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The Leatherdale Girls came to town! That is Jordan (left) with Raegan.  Ben was very happy too…

We had some good times over the weekend.  When Beth and Jordy arrived, Ben had not been feeling well since his last chemo treatment.  As you can see from the picture above, he was still “couch bound” when they arrived.  By the time the long weekend was over he had started to feel much better.  I should probably be insulted that it takes Beth visiting to make him feel better, but … whatever it takes. Lol.  Maybe it was the fact that Beth informed him that he is a difficult patient.  I think she may have threatened him with all sorts of nasty things if his attitude didn’t improve.  Haha.  Whatever she did, it worked, and this is what it looked like as he started to feel better:

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Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and Beth and Jordy had to go home.  Ben and I (and Raegan) consoled each other….

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Hahaha.  The Saint-Onge Family is apparently not capable of taking proper pictures.  Check this out….

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That is Ben’s “model” pose.  His ‘Zoolander’ pose, apparently.  Yes, those are actually on purpose.

Even though Beth and Jordy had to go home, the good news was that Nancy and Jeremy moved back to Canada and now we are neighbours!  Wahoo! Last night the four of us celebrated with Thai food, and briefly contemplated taking one of the cooking lessons that Ben and his dad took at this restaurant.  Then Nancy and I gave our heads a bit of a shake and decided that Ben and Jeremy could do the lesson and we will just reap the benefits.

In all seriousness, I am SO relieved that Nancy is back, and to have her living so close now is blissful.  I am very, very happy.

Ben and I are off to see the oncologist in about 2 hours.  They have had some time to think about a plan, and I guess they will inform us when we meet.  We will also ask when the cementing of Ben’s pelvis is going to happen, because it has been bothering him quite a bit and was supposed to happen within two weeks.  One week has passed and we still don’t have an appointment, so hopefully we will find out today.

I wanted to write this post before we see the oncologist – its been a good couple of days and I think that needs to be appreciated all on its own without any of the other stuff mixed in.  And on that note, I will throw in a random picture of Ben with my beautiful Mama.  Can you believe she is holding a glass of wine?  In the words of Gramma…”I’m shocked“…. not.

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Have a great day. XO