The Last Blog Post

Not my last blog post. Ben’s last blog post.

Once again I have come around to another one of those “one year” markers.  One year ago today, on December 5, 2015, Ben put pen to paper for the last time. Or fingers to keyboard, to be more exact.  He was scared.  In hindsight I now realize he was even stronger than I was aware of at the time.  Fear had to have been consuming his every thought and yet, with the exception of this post that he wrote, he never really let it show.  My God he was a brave man.  How he loved us to try to keep that fear to himself and not burden us further.

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So here we are one year later and I am remembering when Ben wrote his last post.  I didn’t actually know it was the last one he would ever writeat the time.  I guess if I had put any thought into it I probably should have known, since I certainly knew that it wouldn’t be long before he would be drawing his last breath.

It was around this time that several “lasts” happened.  Ben had recently watched his daughters play the last volleyball games he would ever see.  When he was at that game I knew it would be the last one he would see, so thank God he was greeted by this special scene, if you recall:

By this time last year Ben had seen some of his friends for the last time.  He had played his guitar(s) downstairs in his “man room” for the last time.

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Over the last 11 months I have often thought about all the “last times” we had, and I’ve tried to pinpoint when they happened.  Its not something you normally think about each day.  You don’t generally pick out a new lipstick or buy some oranges and wonder “will this be the last time I buy a new lipstick / oranges?”  But I think about it now and I try to remember those “lasts” even if I didn’t know they were “lasts” at the time.

The last time Ben enjoyed the hot tub that he loved. (I don’t remember.) The last time we went for a walk together.  (I do remember, and I knew it was the last time when it was happening.) The last time we went to the grocery store together.  (Don’t remember).  The last time he cooked a meal.  (I do remember.  New Years Eve.  Gluten free pizza. I actually think in fact it may have also been the last real meal he ever ate.) The last time we shared a Starbucks. (Don’t remember). The last time we saw certain people. (I do remember.  Cal Traversy, Kevin Rolston, Joel Hunt, Sharon Woodburn.  I’m pretty sure they knew it too.) The last time he drove his truck.  (I do remember, because I was scared shitless.)

The last time Ben drove his truck was on December 31st, 2015.  A mere thirteen days before he died. He drove it in the middle of the night when he should not have been driving at all, and I laid awake praying that he would be able to make it safely back home and that it wouldn’t be the last time I would see him alive.  I knew that was coming soon enough and I wasn’t ready.  Not yet.

By the time December had rolled around I knew Ben shouldn’t be driving anymore at all. He was in too much pain and taking way too many drugs and I tried to gently stop him, but he insisted he would “know” when it was time to stop.  (Just like he said he would know if the time ever came that he would need to teach me the banking or how to take care of the hot tub.  And just as I knew would inevitably happen, my stubborn Ben never acknowledged when any of those times came.)

Ben told me he would never risk anyone’s life by driving when he shouldn’t, and I know that in his heart he meant what he said but he was no longer in a position where his judgement could be trusted.  That was a terrible dilemma, let me tell you, and in the end my love for Ben and my desire to see him happy won out over safety.  I simply couldn’t bear for him to be upset with me if I took away his keys like a child, so instead I made sure that our kids didn’t get in the truck again when Ben was driving.

This past weekend a brand new 2016 “last” occurred.  I watched Jaime play volleyball for the last time.  She played in the Provincials and then hung up her court shoes.  Here’s a couple of highlights …

I will admit to being hyper aware of every moment of the last game, and wondering if Ben too had been thinking the same thing as he watched his last volleyball game.

Life is full of lasts, I suppose.  The last time your child wears a diaper, the last day of school, the last day they tolerate you walking them to school, the last day they live in the family home.

It’s also full of firsts.  The first time you meet the person with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life.

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The first time you watch your life partner hold your new baby.

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The first time you dance on the beach.

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The first time your daughter says “tooted”

The first time one of your kids graduate.

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I guess that’s just the way life goes.  One day it’s a “first”, the next day a “last”, and on and on it goes.  That’s what keeps life interesting.  We never know what’s coming right around the corner.  And while that’s probably a good thing, let this serve as a reminder for you to really savour those sweet moments in life.  You just don’t know when it’s a “last.”

Hug your families.

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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.  😏

Family. Chemo. Trucks. But Mostly FAMILY.

I think I mentioned awhile back that we had to cancel holiday plans this summer.  That in itself wouldn’t have been the end of the world (we’ve discovered there are certainly far worse things in life then a missed vacation), but this year we were particularly looking forward to our first vacation in years with Zak.  Finally, after so many incredibly challenging years during which we lived in constant fear of losing our son, life had turned a corner and this was going to be quite the celebration for the five of us.  So yes, in fact it kind of sucked that we had to cancel our holiday plans.

Still, there was no point in wasting tears over something that couldn’t be changed, so instead we promised the kids a “Stay-cation”  where we would explore Vancouver like tourists.  They handled the news like troopers.  (Duh…they are Saint-Onge children.  They are nothing if not resilient.  And besides, the girls had just spent a week at the lake with friends, so they knew better then to complain)   🙂

Saint-Onge Stay-cation was due to start on Monday the 17th, but then that damn cancer and that damn low white blood cell count got together to mess with our plans yet again.  Chemo was postponed – set to take place on Monday the 17th.  Sigh.  So that sucked again, but when life gives you lemons …. well, you know the rest.

Instead of making lemonade, however, we kicked off Saint-Onge Stay-cation on Sunday afternoon with a pre-chemo family bar-b-que.  And this time the entire family was there, which literally NEVER happens!  Thats right … Gramma, Grampa, Auntie Barbie and Makeda, Auntie Lisa / Uncle Brett / Brendan and Jenna (when does that ever happen??!!!) and all five Saint-Onges.  How about that?!  What a treat…

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Ben and Lisa                                                                          ……… and Grampa

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Grampa and the eldest granddaughters           …… and the youngest with their fishing catch

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Barb and Gramma (why so frown-y ladies?)              Jenna and Zak ….. cousin love

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 Grampa and Brett                         Lisa and Brendan                      Makeda and Zak

Somehow we adopted one extra for the evening …. who does he belong to?

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… at least he made himself useful and acted as the resident hairdresser:

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Dawson and Jaime

So much fun was had by all that we wore Ben right out!

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On Monday morning we decided to brunch at one of the restaurants featured on Ben’s current favourite tv show, “Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives.”  Thats right … off went the Saint-Onge’s to The Red Wagon.

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(Please ignore my middle child’s extremely rude hand gesture that I only just noticed now.  Its her father’s fault.  I tried to teach them proper manners, but apparently they follow the “Fun” parent’s example instead of mine)

The Red Wagon falls into the ‘Dive’ category, but I do recommend it for the food.  Not for the bathrooms (which were situated in the kitchen, and they stank something fierce), and not for the seating, and not for the lukewarm drinking water.  But the food was very good, and it was kind of cool eating in the restaurant that had been featured on the show.  Also, they post customer’s art work on their windows, hence this masterpiece:

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From there we did a little shopping, followed by a little blood work at the hospital (white blood cell count up to 3.0), followed by a little chemo.

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Don’t you just love how we make everything a full family affair?  I think the staff at VGH shudders when they see the Saint-Onge name on the appointment list.  We are very loud.  Lol.

In any case, after the chemo we headed off home where unfortunately Ben was hit with the not so lovely chemo after effects within about six hours.  He started running a fever and his temp was high enough that we had to call the hospital to see if they wanted him brought in.  The doctor was really great on the phone and decided to let Ben stay home because the fever was more likely due to the chemo drug then an infection.  So I got to play ER nurse for the night, which would have been fun if it looked like this:

f9fac98960ae0d92bbd004e5c3dd233a but instead, it looked more like this  very-tired-woman1

By the next morning Ben’s body had decided to reject all food and drink, which of course made everything worse for him, including the pain.  So basically the next 48 hours involved sleeping, barfing, and trying to shift positions to find a way to sit that didn’t cause him to poke his eyeballs out just to distract himself from the pain in his lower back.  But now that two days have passed, he is starting to feel slightly better.  Which may have something to do with the fact that we went out tonight and purchased this new addition to the family:

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Thats right folks.  The Saint-Onge’s now own a really, really big pick up truck.  We don’t live on a farm.  We don’t have any hay to haul.  We really have no practical need for a truck.  But Ben has always wanted one and quite frankly I am sick to death of driving a mini van.  So there you have it.  We own a truck.

Ben is very happy, and I take full credit for that because I insisted we buy it.  Maybe later we can buy a farm to go with it.

My advice to you (no charge) …. Hug your families.  Buy a truck if you want one.  Hope that in your lifetime, you are lucky enough to be loved as fiercely as this:

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Wendy  xo