Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chugging along through a slump

Gosh, I haven't posted since before Christmas.

I got through Christmas. I put on a good Christmas for Gordon. Maybe a great Christmas. But I also got a nasty cold and came out of the holidays in a funk.

As you've seen here on the blog, I was full of HEY, LIFE! and WOW, OPPORTUNITY! and BLANK CANVAS! sentiments for months. But then I just fell flat and seemed to lose interest in everything. Social life, self-care, home improvement, good food, personal finance, hobbies. It just all went plop and I didn't really dig doing anything any more. Thank goodness for friends and family asking me to come out and do stuff.

Now, I'm not one to shirk responsibilities when others depend on me, so I'm lucky that others depend on me. Business has been picking up at work, so that's good. And Gordon is my inspiration to keep things interesting.

We got out and about to some fun stuff, including an overnight road trip to Hamilton to see Paw Patrol Live.


Something weird happened at that show. The performance began, and soon they got to the big theme song, with all the pups on stage singing the Paw Patrol song.

And I found I was crying.

WTF? Crying because it was beautiful that I was in a theatre beside my little boy, blowing his mind with a live stage show? Crying because his mommy should've been there too? Crying because I had sadness bottled up and pushed down? Crying because I was so bloody tired? I don't know. It was weird.

I also went to Toronto to see comedian Louis CK with Michael Hainsworth. What an amazing performer. He's just so good.

And, some crappy stuff happened.

One day at work, a colleague was so funny that I doubled over laughing and slammed my head into the sharp corner of a desk. Same day, Gordon got bonked in the head by a careless preschooler with a shovel.


Another day, coming back from an outing with G to the London Children's Museum, I crashed our car. Not a big collision, but it disabled the front left wheel. Repairs would cost more than the car was worth, so I donated it to a local charity. Our other vehicle also needs more work than it's worth, so we'll be car shopping.

I've had other ups and downs. Some more bloody injuries -- slicing a piece of my thumb off while unboxing a Christmas present for G, gashing my shin open on some glass in the basement. Wins include attending a Big Wreck concert with a friend, after having seen the band several times with Amanda. She would've loved it -- singer Ian Thornley's voice was the best I've ever heard. And I build a brand-new PC for video editing. This past weekend, I took G to Super Hero Day at a local mall and showed him that even if what you love is dressing up as Spider-Bat-Man, there's a whole bunch of people out there who also like what you like. Life lessons.

Still, it feels like I'm treading water.

Time continues to pass since Amanda died. I think it was last month that the 12th came and went without me realizing it was the month-anniversary. There will be more moments like that where I straddle the line between "this just happened" and "this happened some time ago."

Big things are on the horizon, I know. I've been registering G for junior kindergarten. We need a new roof on the house. A kitchen reno is possible. The yard will need to be cleaned up for spring so Amanda's garden can flourish again. And yeah, I need to buy a car.

I'm back to getting the house tidied up, bit by bit by bit. As much as I put away, gave away, threw away after Amanda died, bits and pieces of our old life are still everywhere, just everywhere. Her electric toothbrush finally went into a drawer this week. But the drawer still has her hair ties and makeup brushes. I'm finding food in the pantry that I know I'll never use. Spelt flour? Nah, not gonna happen. There's a bottle of water in the fridge from her time in the hospital one year ago. Still has the imprint of her hospital card on it.

G has been good but recently opened up about the night Amanda died. He said he knew she was dying when he heard me calling out to her and she wouldn't answer. Then he heard me call 9-1-1 and the police/fire/ambulance arrived. He said he felt sad. Until a few nights ago, we'd never talked about that.

He's confessed to having a hard time remembering mommy. He said he can remember her smile but not much else. I can't have that. So I made him a hardcover book on Shutterfly full of colour photos of the two of them together through the years. I talk to him about things they used to do together. Special things they shared. He will know that she loved him more than anything else in the whole wide world. I won't let him forget.

Tired boy after chocolaty dessert.
So, no great realizations, epiphanies or breakthroughs. Just clomp-clomp-clomping forward into the unknown, trying to pepper the greyness with moments of colour.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

It's been five months today since Amanda died.

Grief continues to evolve. In the beginning, I had a mix of relief and bitterness with the sadness. I was very busy handling things. Then I transitioned into a period of expansive optimism. The past month or so, though, I've been feeling kind worn out, and new flavours of sadness have sprung up.

I've still been pretty busy. Some highlights on the up side?

Halloween with Batman Gordon.
Raffi at Centennial Hall.
Sharon & Bram at Aeolian Hall.
First snow meal of the season.
Dudes with fresh haircuts.
And on the work side, ratings results just came in for the radio station, and there are welcome signs of improvement. My bosses have put me on course to improve my management skills, which I'm grateful for -- I was sent away for a two-day class that was very educational. I've been busy as heck at work. I have enough vacation time left to take....well, until the end of the year off. With all that I've been through this year, I've taken nearly no time for myself. I'm so grateful for Gordon's sleepover nights with nana & grampa -- those nights have given me opportunities to feel like a well-rounded, vital human being in ways that being a dad and boss don't.

I've been hit and miss with my time with G. We've been spending too much time watching TV in the basement (at his urging, though I'm the grown-up), but I try to ensure we're doing special things as well.

Still, for all the good times G and I have been having, we're both feeling sad from time to time.

It hit me suddenly as we put up the Christmas tree. Putting up the tree was not the problem. It was when I opened the box of "good" decorations and pulled out the first one.


A set of ceramic mittens that Amanda glazed and put on the tree for our first Christmas together back in Halifax. I started crying. Gordon saw. That set off a week of one or both of us missing mommy. I think Gordon feels like he's starting to lose her memory. I think he's a little angry at her for not being around any more. He wants her to play with him. For a long time, he seemed pretty static about the whole thing, but it to me like seeing me cry over the decorations opened something up for him that he's not sure how to process.

It took more than a week to get back to it, but we finished decorating the tree. Lots more memories there, including decorations Amanda and G made together last year. Decorations commemorating his first Christmas. Others from the years gone by.

I'm carrying on a blend of traditions from our families -- Christmas PJs for him, a big present from Santa, cleaning up the living room before Santa comes, an advent calendar made of little tins on a magnetic board, a gingerbread house, and I will attempt to make the Land Of Nod Cinnamon Buns that made Christmas morning smell so good these past years.



So, is it the weather, having a cold, fatigue, routine, or something else that's caused my enthusiasm to dip? Or maybe I'm actually depressed and handling it well enough that it's not bad enough to interrupt daily functioning too much?

My therapist has put it to me very directly: I need to make some time for myself, or I'm going to burn out and get very sick. I've already had a nasty lung thing for more than a week. I don't want to get sicker than that.

I'm also still feeling a drive to do something creative to help Gordon and family remember his mom. I'm working on one thing that will be revealed at Christmas. I'm considering another project that will involve a trip to Halifax with Gordon, probably in the Spring. And, I'm still hoping some folks will send in their Amanda memories as I requested back in July. So far, I've had one submission.

Oh, what's the title of this post about? Well, Gordon has been enjoying the heck out of Finding Dory and Finding Nemo. They're lovely movies, though the tale of a nervous dad fish who has to raise his headstrong little boy fish after the death of his wife kind of punches me in the feels every time it's on. Dory's parents teach her to just keep swimming ... just keep swimming ... just keep swimming.


Sometimes I don't know where I'm headed or what's in the waters, but I just keep swimming. If that means we have KD and hot dogs for supper once again while I get my feet back under me, that's what we'll do. I want to serve G well and give him the life Amanda and I imagined for him, but I can't always do that every day. When I can't give Gordon an A+ day, I at least try to give him a B with extra credit for love. And just keep swimming.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who's been in my corner. I feel down but not out. Just kind of bleh and more cautious than a couple of months ago. Y'know what? That's okay. The key is not to make "bleh" my new normal.

So, TL;DR: Bleh for now, some boo-hoo, with an eye toward getting back to the recent yay and future woo-hoo.