A Letter Left At My Front Door

Well, I made it.  While the season is not yet over, I have made it through my first Christmas.  I’m told (from those more seasoned than I) that the second Christmas / year is harder than the first.  Perhaps that’s true, but for now I will allow myself a little bit of self satisfaction knowing that I made through number one.  And I’m still here to tell the story.

Every day is a mixture of good and bad, but in honour of Christmas I’ll start with the good part.

Back in November I wrote this post about Christmas stockings  (click here) and I mused over the fact that I would never again open a stocking from Ben.  He did great stockings, and that is honestly something I will miss so much. So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I wandered downstairs and discovered that my empty stocking had been moved from the fireplace onto the chair, and it was stuffed. Full.  It was overflowing. And I will confess to getting a bit teary eyed as I realized (thought) that my sweet parents had stuffed my stocking after I had gone to bed.

When my Mom came into the family room for our morning coffee I moved my stocking and all the contents (everything was wrapped individually so I couldn’t peek) onto the floor so I could sit on the chair, and I said to my Mom “You didn’t have to do that.”  I was referring to the fact that she and Dad did not have to fill the empty space in my Christmas by taking over the stuffing of my stocking.  Mom didn’t answer me but I assumed that was because her hearing is a little less than it once was (sorry Mom), or because sometimes we all just don’t know what to say in those moments where you find yourself trying to stem the waterworks.

Anyway, I was distracted from the full stocking because everyone wandered downstairs and I was busy taking the yearly Kids-On-The-Stairs photo….

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…. and we all went into the family room as per tradition to open our stockings.  When the kids were finished, I started in on mine.  I forget exactly what I said but at some point while unwrapping the many gifts I said something that made my mom respond, “I didn’t give you that.”  Whaaaattt???  I assumed she was joking but she insisted that she had not stuffed my stocking.  At least not with all those wrapped gifts.

I looked at the kids and asked them who stuffed my stocking, and each of them denied it. Zak said that if he had done it he would have taken the kudos for it (haha) so I knew it wasn’t him.  A Christmas miracle, it seems.  It certainly did appear as though Santa had popped down the chimney after we all went to bed, and I was briefly creeped out as I thought about the fact that an unknown person appeared to have been in the house. (Then I thought we had the makings for a made for tv Christmas movie.)  Anyway, after much prodding I managed to get a teeny confession from Jaime …. she knew who had filled my stocking and she had helped by getting the gifts into it, but she refused to tell me who it was.  She still will not say, and I swear I have no idea at all.

This is what I unwrapped …

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It is possible that a few items were left out when I took this picture, but let me just say to whomever is my Santa … thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I am so moved that someone would do that for me…to try to fill in where Ben is not able.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciated your efforts to try to ease my pain.  Thank you.

Christmas morning continued …

…. and there were smiles amongst the underlying sadness.

Eventually we were finishing up with the gifts and for some reason (I forget exactly) I ended up opening the front door and discovered a note.  Well, technically I did not discover the note immediately.  I actually discovered this:

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I discovered this gigantic Santa sack sitting on my front porch, overflowing with gifts. What the heck?  After hiring a crew to lift it into the family room, I opened the note that came with it:

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I am not often rendered speechless as my nearest and dearest are well aware, but today I was.  As I write this I am teary over the love that flowed from that Santa sack.  I know it was put together to try to help ease the pain of not having My Ben here to be my “Santa”, but in fact what it actually did was serve to remind me, once again, that there is still love in my life.

Paula (Kathy), Connie, Susan, Lelita, Teresa, Christine, Nancy, Lisa, Beth, Jackie, Barb and Lisa … what can I possibly say to you?  There is nothing adequate.  Thank you.  Thank you for thinking of me, and of the kids, when you all have your own families and your own things going on. Thank you for walking with Ben and I every minute of his last nine months.  Thank you for your constant love and support.  Thank you for your kindness.  Thank you for being gentle with my heart.  Thank you for your understanding when my head is not in the game.   Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone.  Thank you for knowing how much it hurts. Thank you for being there for me when Ben died. Thank you for still being there for me a year later, and for being a constant reminder that all is not lost forever in my world. Thank you for your friendship. Thank your for the coffees, the shopping, the laughs, the tears, the dinners, the quiet company, the hugs, the workouts, the pep talks, the yoga, the texts.  Thank you for the insanely overstuffed stocking that made me smile, that I loved so much, and not one bit of that love was due to the actual gifts (although….come on you crazy ladies … who could not love all that?!) but because I was reminded that even when I’m alone, I’m not alone. So … just … thank you.

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When the house was quiet and everyone had left for a bit, I had time to do this …

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It was a nice visit.  I didn’t cry.  But I did do a shot of Kracken while I stood there. 🙂

Tonight there was this:

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That is the table I worked on for weeks.  Napkins folded courtesy of Jaime.  Shot glasses to release the Kracken (why couldn’t he have loved a nice white wine?). Empty spot at the head of the table for Ben.  And there was this:

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And then there was this …

And although Chase wasn’t at our dinner table, I stole this picture taken today from Raegan’s Instagram, because his presence was missed tonight:

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So there you have it.  That was our Christmas.  The first without Ben, but I never really felt alone.

Mom and Dad … if I failed to mention it while you were here (and I think I did), thank you for staying here with us.  Your presence made it easier.  And thank you to all the others out there who came by over the last week to drop off baking and the champagne – because there is really nothing that can’t be helped by deliciously unhealthy eating and some bubbly, am I right?

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that every day is a mix of good and bad.  I started with the good, and honestly I do not have anything bad to follow.  Sad?  Yes.  Lonely?  Yes. I don’t anticipate that ever changing because Ben is never coming back, but I did not feel alone.  Life without Ben is sad, and there’s no getting around it.  Ever. But I did not feel alone.

So thank you.  And Merry Christmas.

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So Much Pain….

Poor Ben.  Not even six hours post chemo and he is writhing in pain.  Literally writhing in pain.  Worse then this:

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Don’t ask me why this always happens.  No one seems to be able to give us an answer.  It just seems as though his pain is greatly exacerbated by the chemo.  The meds really don’t touch it.  It might even hurt this much:

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Yuck.  Anyway, to save myself time I am going to copy most of my recent FB post into this blog, since it has an outline of the better part of our day.  Here it is:

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Isn’t this what everyone does on a Monday afternoon? Mexican food followed by chemo.

As usual, Ben stays in good spirits (well, at least for the camera, but that’s something) despite the issues today.

For example, our first appt was two hours late by the time Dr Cocky McArrogant breezed into the room for 30 seconds and diagnosed Ben’s hearing problem without asking any questions. Much like Crown Counsel, Dr Imso Important clearly hadn’t read the file before walking in the room, because you know his time is much more important then ours.

After that we had issues with Ben’s consent forms for the clinical trial. The same forms that I handed in a couple of weeks ago and said “please please please don’t lose these. They are very important.” Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure the cancer agency “misplaced” them and totally forgot he was supposed to be entered in the POG trial at all. I kicked up some dust today and remedied that. Supposedly his biopsy will now be next week. It should have happened a week ago, so I guess we’ll see.

Anyway, he’s sitting in the chemo chair as I write this. The drama continues, as the chemo nurse had tons of problems getting the IV in. (Cal Traversy, please tell Whitney she needs to transfer to VGH and take care of Ben). Apparently Ben has “crooked veins.” Seriously. Crooked veins. Who has crooked veins??!! What kind of genetics did I marry into?!

He’d better not pass on any of these weird defects to our kids. Crooked veins, funky chromosomes… Ben Saint-Onge I may sue you for failing to provide full disclosure before our wedding day! You definitely led me to believe you were pretty close to perfect at the time. 😏. Now it is too late to toss you aside. I am apparently stuck with you. The statute of limitations for suing one’s spouse for failure to provide full disclosure runs out at the 20 year mark.  Too bad for me.

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There was discussion about putting in a portacath for the next while so they can stop poking him. Also, the drugs cause a lot of pain in his hands so a portacath may help with that since the drug won’t go into his hand. If you want to see how much his hands hurt from that damn drug, try patting him gently on the hand under the guise of comforting him. You will learn some new swears. Lol.

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There will be no personal visits for awhile – Ben’s white blood cell count was down to 1.3 today. It is very likely to now go right down to zero which makes him extremely susceptible to infection. We have BIG plans coming up and we don’t want them messed up! So texts, phone calls etc are all welcome – just no personal visits.  Ben does read his texts and emails….sometimes it takes him a while to respond.  Please don’t take that as a sign he doesn’t want to hear from you….he’s likely just sick and / or trying to rid himself of pain.  In fact, random “feel better” texts, stupid jokes and / or funny pictures that make him laugh will be extremely helpful in keeping his spirits up this week.  His body is doing a lot of work right now:

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So thats it for now.  Ben will likely be preoccupied the next few days with feeling really crappy, and I will likely be preoccupied with cleaning up vomit.  Perhaps after that, Ben will feel well enough to disclose Surprise #2.  In the meantime, lets just say that we intend to

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Thats right.

PS. We have decided to always pronounce ‘chemo’ with a “ch” sound. Like CHew or CHoice. Because it makes us laugh. So when you see me write “chemo”, make sure you read it as you know we are saying it. It takes away the seriousness of it. And we are tired of chchchemo being serious. (You pronounced the “ch” that time, didn’t you? Yeah you did. 😉)

xo

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.  😏