48 Years Young

First … let me just say that today is March 13th.  NOT the 14th as this blog seems to show and I can’t seem to fix it. It’s important to me because Ben’s birthday is the 13th.

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Happy birthday to Ben.  One more birthday where we celebrate Ben’s life even though he isn’t here with us, but boy does he deserve to be celebrated anyway.  I hope he knows we celebrate.  I hope he reads these posts.  I hope he sees us, because otherwise it would just be my imagination that tells me that I often feel him near me, and I would not want that to be true.

This birthday celebration looked a little different than the last, because this girl (on the right) flew off to New Zealand and couldn’t be here with us today.  Here she is sitting somewhere on the other side of the world:

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I know she is secretly laughing at me because she is wearing a cute little romper and we are stuck between this…

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… and this …

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Still, before Jaime left on her travels we gathered at the Keg (not Ben’s favourite restaurant) for steak (Ben’s favourite food).   I was lazy this year and didn’t feel like cooking myself.  The poor young waiter asked if we were celebrating anything, and without thinking it through I said “Yes.  A birthday.” So he looked around the table and asked who’s birthday it was, which was awkward, so I said that the birthday boy wasn’t there yet. Then he asked if an extra person was coming (since all chairs were filled) and so I said the birthday boy wouldn’t be coming at all.  He looked thoroughly confused and gave me a strange look, but he left well enough alone.

After dinner we ordered Ben’s birthday cake and Makeda wanted to blow out the candle. The waiter put the cake in front of Makeda and stood by while we sang “Happy birthday dear Ben / Dad / Uncle Ben” and he watched her blow out the candle.  He then proceeded to comp the dessert because he assumed it was the birthday of a little-girl-named-Ben-who-wasn’t-coming-and-then-did.  It wasn’t worth explaining, so I tipped him well for his trouble.

Halfway through dinner a family was seated next to us and I heard “Wendy?”  I looked over and there was an old coworker of Ben’s.  Funny how those things happen.

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And speaking of funny / odd things that happen, there was also this one.  A few weeks back I was feeling a bit low and thinking of Ben while the house was quiet and I didn’t feel like doing much.  I came into my (home) office which, if you haven’t seen it, holds typical office stuff.  A desk, a bookcase, a computer, a printer and a filing cabinet.  That’s about it. Just normal office things made out of wood.  So I sat down at my desk feeling a little morose and I felt something brush my hand.  I looked down and saw this:

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A small white feather.  No idea where it came from.  In fact, there literally was nowhere for it to have come from.  It was the strangest thing.  I’ll take it as a little message from Ben who is (hopefully) often hovering about.  It certainly feels like he is, anyway.  (If he really wants to give me a strong message that he’s hanging around he should work on ensuring that we win the Children’s Hospital Lottery house.  Then not only would I be a believer but I’m pretty sure everyone else who knows me would be too!)  And by the way … don’t bother critiquing my nails in that picture.  I have since remedied that situation.

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Today being Ben’s real birthday … the official “number 48” that Ben never got to see … the local Saint-Onge’s did this …

… followed by this …

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(dinner at Ben’s favourite Thai place) while Miss Jaime did this on the other side of the world …

(The ball on the right is a zorb.  She climbed in it with a go-pro and rolled down the hill.  I can’t wait to see that video.)

Jaime is not the only one travelling though … Raegan and I are (technically) supposed to be flying to NY on Wednesday.  Unfortunately there is apparently a big storm rolling in and all flights have now been cancelled, so we have put an alternate plan together that will hopefully work out.  Fingers crossed.  It is going to cost me an overnight in Toronto and an extra night of hotel in NY which, I have discovered, is not cheap when one books last minute on spring break.  Four hundred and eighty four dollars, in fact.  For one night.  It’s also costing us our aisle seats together on the flight home and sticking us both in middle seats in different rows.  Blech.  But I remind myself that Ben would give pretty much anything to be joining us no matter what the circumstance, and so we will just go with the flow and hope that we land there safely and in time for our Broadway play.

With that, I’ll bid you adieu.  I’ve had a busy day and honestly I just want some time to sit quietly and think about Ben.  I like to let a little bit of that pain in every once in awhile in the hopes that it won’t hurt so much when I think about it in the future.  I did have a bit of that hurt this morning when I “spoke” with an old friend for the first time in 17 years via FB.  He said he hoped that the kids and Ben were well and I, for the first time ever, had to tell him that Ben has died.  Everyone else has just heard it through the RCMP grapevine and I have never had to break that news before.  It hurt a lot.

Happy Birthday Ben.  We love you.  We miss you.  We hope that we make you proud.  We hope you are near.  And we hope you help us win that lottery I mentioned earlier.  But most of all I hope that somehow you know that you are not forgotten and that we honour your memory on days like today.

 

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Profound Sadness and Extreme Joy Can Co-exist

It has been a long and exhausting week for Ben, but finally he received a blood transfusion in time to attend our son’s graduation.  Unfortunately, the transfusion was too late to provide him with any real energy for the occasion and he needed to use a wheelchair, but at least he made it.  (On the plus side, we got rock star parking and got to bypass the line, which is always a good thing!).

Here is what some of the evening looked like

And then there were these people who showed up to celebrate alongside Zak.  The handsome fellow second from the left is Peter.  Peter saved our son’s life.  Simple as that.

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Pete…if you are reading this, we want you to know that we owe you everything.  You not only gave us our son back, but you gave us the best version possible. (I have considered the fact that you may actually possess some weird voodoo power, but at least you aren’t using it for evil so I won’t investigate).

You have given Zak what he needs to make it through this difficult time in his own life, and because we have our son back, the rest of us are also able to face this challenge with one less worry.  United.  As a family.  We would never have had that without you.   We truly can never repay you for what you have done.  Thank You.

So after the Commencement ceremony was a grad party, and then the next evening (tonight) was prom.  By the time Zak was ready for prom, the sizzling Latino vampire blood that had been transfused into Ben yesterday was finally kicking in and giving him some new found energy.  Which resulted in this:

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And this:

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And then just because we are so super proud, I’ll add a couple of these:

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(Pay particular attention to those smashing purple socks in the picture above)

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(Boutineer courtesy of Mama)

So there you go.  Watching Ben in constant pain breaks my heart, which was made worse when he was so low on energy.  But watching our son close a chapter on his life and step forward to start a new one filled me with joy.

As a parting note, I will point out that by 7pm tonight that donor blood was doing such a number on Ben that he asked me on a date, and off for Thai went we.  Check out the color in his face now!  He’s baaaaaack….


Hug your families.  Xo