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.

How A Day Can Turn On A Dime

I finished that last post, and then wandered half heartedly around my back yard thinking about whether or not I had the energy to water my plants.  (I’m trying to grow vegetables this year.)  I decided I didn’t have the energy but had better do it anyway or I will go broke paying Save On prices for organics.

Anyway, when I finished that I walked out the front door to go pick up Raegan, and discovered this sitting on my front step:

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A random gift presumably left to cheer me up.  I have no idea who dropped it off, but THANK YOU.  You brought a smile to my face on an otherwise semi-dreary day.

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OK … that does look slightly like a grimace of sorts, but I’m a bit out of practice.  I do love that I caught the photo of Ben and I from Christmas in the background though.  Now that was a smile!

I picked Raegan up from volleyball and then stopped to get the mail.  I found this:

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Sniff.  Forty people donated to the POG program in Ben’s name.  The program which Dr K referred to as “the future of oncology.”  And here just a couple of hours ago I admitted to having cancelled my automatic donations each month.  Well, didn’t you all just show me! Forty people!  And there were also a lot of donations made to The Last Door in Ben’s name also.  They sent me a list.  There were a few names I didn’t even recognize.  A true testament to how much My Man was loved.  Even in death he continues to make a difference.

I am humbled.  Because he was so loved, I feel loved, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  A pleasant alternative to the feelings from the last few days.

Thank you to the random person who left me flowers, and to all the people who found ways to make a difference in people’s lives and remember Ben at the same time.

Last thing … does everyone recall this tattoo on My Man?

Those are fuzzy pictures taken when the tattoo was pretty fresh, hence all the redness surrounding the shadowing.  Anyway, this is how our beautiful son arrived home tonight:

That’s right … a copy of Ben’s tattoo now sits forever on his son’s arm.  Done by the same artist.

Here they are side by side:

                                          Ben                                                              Zak

Ben would be so proud to share the same tattoo with this boy!  Now I will go to sleep smiling.  How a day can turn on a dime.  xo

 

8,395 Days

That’s how many days I have known Ben.  (Give or take a few days for Leap Years, and then of course there is the fact that he died 47 days ago so I suppose I should subtract those days too.  But I digress….)

I know that it has been eight thousand three hundred and some odd days, because it was this exact day 23 years ago that I landed in Regina at the RCMP Training Academy and promptly met the love of my life.

That morning looked something like this …

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Yup.  Thats me.  Twenty two years old.  Swearing to serve and protect the good people of Canada (not to mention jumping for joy at the knowledge that I would be earning a whopping $31,172 per year. Canadian dollars.)

That afternoon I hopped on a plane and landed in frigid Saskatchewan where I was immediately introduced to my “Big Brother” Troop which happened to be … Troupe Douze.  Ben’s troop.

Within days, this picture was taken …

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Followed shortly after by this one …

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(I’m pretty sure I was not allowed off base when this picture was taken, but Ben was a bad influence and he was very good at sneaking out without getting caught.  He was the one that taught me “If you don’t sign off of base then you can’t forget to sign back in.”  Seemed logical at the time, and I never did get caught).

That picture was followed the next year by this one …

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And these …

Those two were on the cruise ship on our honeymoon.  We had to take them of ourselves.  I love how we always posed.  We laughed a lot together – he really was my best friend and there was no one I would rather be with.

And all of a sudden in the blink of an eye, twenty three years have passed.  We have three beautiful children and we have loved each other even when we couldn’t stand each other. There was never any real question that we would “love, honour and cherish until death do us part.”  I just never imagined that the “death” part would happen before our 22nd wedding anniversary.  In fact, I’m more than a little annoyed at Ben today because he promised me he would live until he was 100.  Literally.  He actually promised me that several times over the duration of our marriage.  And I believed him too, so today I am calling him out as a big fat liar.  (I feel like he is standing behind me as I type this, with his hand on my shoulder, smiling that sweet smile of his and chuckling as he always did. I cannot stay mad at him.)

Today Raegan asked me to pick her up at the Save On mall after school.  When I pulled up, feeling rather gloomy and missing Ben on this 23rd anniversary of the day we met, there stood our beautiful daughter holding out a Starbucks upside-down-long-pour-Americano for me.  Just because.  And I was reminded how grateful I am for the fact that I had Ben for his entire adult life, and now I am so fortunate to be blessed with these pieces of him.  I have so much more than so many others.

Ben, I miss you more then I could ever adequately describe, but these three young people help take the sting away like no one else but you ever could.  Thank you for them.

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Dear Ben … Love, Your Bride

These are the words I spoke at Ben’s service.  I miss him horribly.  I currently waffle between extreme sadness and extreme anger.  I’ll get into the anger part another time. But at this moment I just miss him and my heart aches.  Turns out you really can feel a broken heart.

*****

Often when people are spoken of after they pass away, they are made to sound as though they were a person who lived a perfect life. Ben would not have wanted me to do that. He was way too real for that. He would have wanted me to speak the truth from my heart. So I will. And I’ll just jump right into it.

Ben misled me about what I was getting into when I agreed to be his partner for life. He presented himself as a courageous man, when in fact the reality was that he was petrified of spiders. A spider could live for months in our home because he was not willing to deal with it. I once had to call my kids’ 90 lb nanny to kill a spider because Ben was too scared, and he didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed about it.

The one time I forced him to take care of a spider, he couldn’t bring himself to squish it so he trapped it in a Tupperware container. And then, while he was on duty, he put it in the back of the marked police car, drove it away from our house and emptied a can of pepper spray on it in the back parking lot of the bank.  (That is a true story.  I swear.)

I was sadly disillusioned that day. But I had recently vowed to love him for better or for worse, so here I still am.

Ben was annoyingly forgetful and easily distracted, which was helpful when I was trying to avoid answering a question about how much money I had spent, but not so much when he was getting ready for work in the morning.

Every work day I would say, “Have a good day at work Ben” and he’d say “Shhh. Don’t talk. I need to concentrate. Have you seen my keys? Do you know where my wallet is? Did you take my badge?” The kids and I would laugh at him and then he would get really mad and yell “Why won’t anyone help me find my stuff?!” It was annoying, but I will miss that banter in the mornings.

Ben had an awesome sense of humour. He kept me laughing from the moment I met him. He told off color jokes that were completely inappropriate but had the kids and I rolling on the floor. I had to continually explain to the kids when they were young that even though Daddy was hilarious, they were never allowed to repeat anything he said or they would be expelled from school. Maybe even arrested.

In the beginning I tried to stop him from saying stuff like that in front of the kids, but eventually I gave up. Now I’m stuck with kids who can’t pose for a picture without finding a way to flip the bird at the last second and ruin my family photo.

Ben was ridiculously stubborn. He was literally unable to force his mouth to form the word “sorry.” He would apologize in his own way, by teasing and trying to make us laugh, and he’d say to the kids “look at your mom …. She sticks her jaw out when she’s mad.” But he’d never actually say sorry. It was not his best trait, but definitely some of the funniest times happened when he was trying to be forgiven without actually asking for forgiveness.

But for each one of those crazy and annoying habits that Ben had, he had an equal number of gentle and caring characteristics.

He was a devoted parent.   He loved his career, but parenting was more important to him. He devoted countless hours taking Zak to karate, or hanging out in the rain at soccer, or driving the girls to volleyball. He took them shopping and to movies, he read to them endlessly when they were young, he played Lego and pulled out little fingers that were stuck in flutes, and he kissed knees when they were scraped. He taught them to drive.

His commitment to all our children during the worst of times a few years back was solid and strong. Where other fathers would have turned their backs, Ben rushed forward with his arms wide open to make our kids feel safe and loved. He was passionate about being a good parent. He knew that there could never be a more important job. He understood the impact that fathers’ actions can have on their kids, and he was determined that his impact would only be positive and loving. He succeeded in doing that in the short time he had.

Ben was a husband who stood above the rest. He was vocal about his disdain for men who aren’t true to their families, or who simply aren’t present. I loved that about him. Ben particularly wanted to be an example to his own son of what a real, stand up husband should be, and to demonstrate for his daughters what they should demand from the men in their lives.

With the exception perhaps of anything to do with spiders, Ben was a brave man. He ran towards danger where others run away, and I know this first hand because we were often each other’s only back up on the Sunshine Coast, back in the days when members worked alone. He never showed fear and he treated everyone with respect, regardless of whether or not they deserved it. I am very proud to share a last name with Ben in our policing world.

Ben was a good friend to many. Despite suffering with unimaginable pain at times, he still found it in himself to be a support to his friend Chris who was also suffering with cancer.

Within the last couple of weeks they had an email exchange where they discussed what appeared to be the looming reality of the situation for both of them, and they decided that if the worst should come to pass they would meet in the gym in Heaven, work out together and then have a drink.

Two days after Ben passed away, Chris also passed away. And I am happy that the two of them are together while they wait for the rest of us to walk each other home.

Outside of work and family, Ben had hobbies and passions that brought him great joy. He was an avid guitar player, and our home was filled with the sounds of his acoustic and electric guitars. He passed on his love of music to our kids, but he particularly enjoyed hearing Raegan pick up her guitar and play, or hearing her play a song on the piano that she had learned just by watching it played on You Tube. In those moments he saw a piece of himself.

Ben had many goals in life, and he liked to write down his goals every New Years Eve. He always said that a goal that is not written down is just a wish. This is the first year ever that we didn’t do our goals on New Years Eve, but if he had, I don’t actually think that his goal would have been as simple as to just survive cancer. I think it would have been to ensure that the kids and I were safe, and cared for, and loved. Surviving cancer would have been a bonus, but ultimately, the kids and I were always his priority. And as Ben and I talked about many times, “one beats cancer by how they live, why they live, and the manner in which they live.” And if that is the standard by which to determine who wins the battle, then Ben came out of this with the blue ribbon.

Zak, Jaime, Raegan … I want you to know that your dad was honest, hard working and reliable. He had integrity and strength of character. He honoured his vows. He was a great leader, because he was gentle and led by example, and never expected of anyone what he wasn’t prepared to offer himself.

Your Dad loved us deeply and fiercely, and he did not want to leave us. He tried so hard, because he didn’t want to miss one moment of what is sure to be your extraordinary lives.

He himself was an extraordinary man, and you can take solace in the fact that he was so loved, just by looking around this room at the people here today. Their hearts are broken, just like ours.

Dad wanted you to know that you should not waste your time worrying, because worrying never bought anyone a moment of extra time. If he was here he would tell you to laugh every day, don’t take yourself too seriously, and above all, to make sure you play a meaningful role in the world.

I promise all three of you that I will be strong. I will not break, so don’t worry. What has happened to us as a family is devastating for now, but don’t allow fear to rule your lives. It is ok to grieve, its good to grieve, but it’s a passage and not a place to stay. And Dad would want you to laugh.

The last 10 months have been indescribably difficult, but in many ways Ben and I also experienced some of the most beautiful moments of our lives. This year was a reminder to us that people are so good. After years of being exposed to the ugly side of humanity through work, we had kindness after kindness thrust upon us. Unexpected gestures of love that moved us deeply, and allowed us to remember that people are good. That’s a blessing for which we were both so grateful.

In addition to the countless number of people who cooked for us, drove our kids around, sat with us through our sadness and enjoyed meals with us on the better days, we also found ourselves surrounded by doctors and nurses who truly cared and went above and beyond what they are paid to do.

We are so grateful to our family and friends working in the medical profession who helped us out time after time, and cared for us in our home, right until the very end. And there are no words to tell my sweet family how grateful Ben was to all of you. Barb – without you, we all would have been standing here months ago. Your hard work gave Ben and I extra time together. Thank you.

And to Andre B, our patient, patient doctor, who is here today. Ben wanted you to know that he was truly, forever grateful for the kindness you showed at the beginning when you had to break the bad news, and at the end when you answered his questions honestly. I’m grateful for all the moments in between where you tolerated me and found time for me that I know you didn’t really have available. I am really forever indebted. You are such an asset to your profession.

It hurts me deeply to have to say goodbye today to one of the greatest men I have ever known. Since I was 22 years old, it has always been Ben. He was always our light in the dark.

Thank you Ben, for choosing me to be the other half of you. I will never forget you. I will deeply miss you forever. I hope you are enjoying that drink with Chris in Heaven.

I love you.

Video taken on January 10th, three days before Ben passed away as we enjoyed the last moments that he was reasonably coherent.  He kept his sense of humour right to the end.  How I miss him.