Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Years

To be honest, I don't really have anything to say about today.  I sort of get this feeling I should say something for those who do remember what this day means.  I often think about how I want to write more about the grief process, how I want to write more about the challenges of dealing with a sick child, of "living" at the hosptial, of facing a terminal illness, of going on afterwards ...etc.  But there hardly seems time to write about our lives as it is today let alone spend too much time reflecting.  And really ... I don't know a whole lot about these topics, more then I would like to, but not enough to really write about them.  The only thing I've learned in the last years is how we all cope and deal with situations so completely different.  What works for one is not going to work for the next. 
I often get this feeling that there seems to be more and more sickness and "bad things" in the world in recent years.  I have no idea if this feeling is because I am more emotionally in tune to these things or because I am just getting older and experiencing more of what life really means.  Are trials and sicknesses truly become more common, or is it just me?  I for sure know that I am more emotional, there is no doubt about that.  Grieving is not just something that happens when a person dies, it happens whenever there is a loss of any form ... that includes a loss of good health.  When I hear of a family I know that is experiencing difficulties my heart aches for them. 
This past week we learned of a young boy in our congregation, Thomas, who is not yet three, that has been diagnosised with neuroblasma cancer.  I was coping fine with the fact that November 23rd was coming up, but hearing this sent me through a whole mountian of emotions.  I'm not sure if I am grieving more for what this family is going through and will go through, or for myself and what our family went through. 
That strong desire to hug and hold James is back again.  While a few days ago I would have said that two years ago seems like a lifetime ago, now I feel like I've been thrown back in it, like it was just yesterday.  So often we talk about how it feels like our life with James was just some sort of dream (or nightmare, depending on what part you're at) ... how it seems like a different life, how it's hard to believe that really happened, even though we have so many signs and memories surrounding us to remind us that it indeed did.  The memories are still there and many of them are very clear yet, but the emotions have settled ... until these past few days.  It's amazing how quickly those emotions can be aroused again.
I so often look back and think how  oblivious I was.  I'm not an emotional person ... at least I never was.  I am more of a factual person, accepting things as they are and going with it. The death of James turned me into a water fountain.  The following year was rough as I suddenly had an eye opener as to what is like to be emotional.  Being confronted with several deaths of younger persons within the year following James' death helped fuel that water fountain. I felt further grief that I was more emotional for other peoples situations then I was with James'.    I did not cry on the night we had Visitation Hours for James'.  I think I went home feeling more empty and sick simply because I did not cry.  I hardly cried the day of the funeral.  But as the months went on I cried for many things.  Time taught me that I was living in shock those initial days.  Time has also taught me to be thankful that I'm a factual person,  altho many times I have felt like that makes me a "cold" person
I look further back and wonder how I even made it through those last months with James.   I can still see myself sitting there and listening when the doctors told me that James' illness was terminal, that they would try their best but his prognosis wasn't good.  I heard those words, I accepted them, but I did not get emotional.   I remember that retched night when I came to the realization that James was going to die.  Sobbing myself back to sleep, yet I woke up the next day and went on in my factual way.  I remember how I resigned myself to the fact that James was not going to live after the second Whole Lung Lavage failed to make him better.  I knew he would not live.  How I went on without emotionally breaking down is beyond me.  I truly believe it's because I had no idea what grief was at the time.  I had no idea what it was like to feel so sad that you become physically ill.  I had no idea that the word heartache truly came from feeling like someone was stomping on your entire emtional system, making you feel so sick physically and mentally ill that you didn't know what was happening to yourself.  Even now I cannot truly remember what it felt like. 
At the same time I know the Lord carries us through these times.  I knew that then too ... but sometimes I just wished I were more emotional.  Of course when the emotions come in full force I wish I could turn them off and go back to being matter-of-fact.  I'm just like everyone else - never happy with what God had given me. 
It often strikes me that I like to cry in church.  Ministers make me cry (oh no, what's going to happen in four years?).  I went through a rough year in Hamilton when I felt like I was always about to cry or dripping tears in church.  Would everyone think I was a basket case?  Would they think I had lost it?  Sure they'd know why, but still.  As time went on the factual Steph came back and all was good.  Yesterday morning on the way to church I remember thinking how glad I was I had heard about little Thomas before church for othewise I would have too much trouble getting through church.  It didn't matter though ... I just like to cry in church.  Really ... for all you who see me cry, I don't do it all the time ... I don't do it often enough.  There are times I wish I could jsut cry and get the emotions out ... maybe I should go to church when I feel like that :)
Funny, I started writing having no clue what to write, but my babbling fingers just sort of took off once I started.  While these past days have brought many emotions back to life for us, they are no where near what little Thomas' family is going through right now.  I pray for them and all the children who must suffer so. 
In some ways I don't think much has change for last year.  Does James still effect me everyday?  Do I still think about him everyday?   To be honest I don't know.  James is still very much part of my life and all of our lives.  Since I am factual and not emotional  :) that means I don't always notice when or where he comes into our lives.  Seeing Matthew grow up has most definitely kept James' very much alive. 
It is with mixed emotions that we watch Matthew grow.  We have much joy while at the same time we want to cling to our baby and keep him young.  As each day goes by he gets older and we more and more say farewell to the baby stage in our house.  This in itself causes much emotion, but I think the bigger emotion comes from watching Matthew surpass James.  We are leaving James behind.  James no longer "appears" to be the bigger brother.  While Matthew is still younger then James was when he passed away he is bigger in weight and height.  We find this hard to believe for we still see Matthew as a being a little guy, but we seen James as a little man.  I cannot believe that James was smaller then Matthew is now, my memory tells me he was bigger. When I look at pictures of James he appears so much older then Matthew looks.  It is not just in growth that Matthew surprasses James.  Matthew's abilities, especially his speech and vocab has far suprassed James.  James was delayed in this area and Matthew is right on track (or maybe advanced?).  It hurts to see Matthew get bigger because it reinforces the fact that James is gone.  It makes us feel like we are leaving James behind while we carry on.  It reinforces the fact that James was from a different part and time in our lives.  While these are all facts that we know they are not facts that we so readily want to accept.
What we can accept is that James continues to hold a very dear spot in our hearts.  While some memories will fade many will stay alive and he will always be with us in some way, shape or form.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Today's Lesson

Turn the stove off BEFORE you leave for church.

I am very thankful to report that our house is still standing!!

Just as the minister said "amen" this "little" thought popped into my head ... "did I turn the soup off before we left for church?" I leaned over and mentioned to Rob "I can't remember if I turned the soup off, I don't think I did". His response was to hand me the keys.

We only live five minutes from church. I seen smoke along the way ... but phew, it was just someone out burning stuff in the backyard. Boy did I feel relief when I say the house still standing and no smoke billowing out the windows. "Okay, maybe I didn't leave the stove on".

But the second I pulled in and opened the van door I knew I did ... I could hear the smoke detectors buzzing away.

Because I had left the lid off, the soup had not boiled over. If it had it would have put the flame out and I would have had natural gas to worry about. Instead I had smoke, but thankfully no fire. The house was full and smoke from bottom to top. I promptly turned the stove off, opened all the windows, pulled the batteries out of the smoke detectors, comforted our poor scared rabbit and then went back to church to socialize and pick up the rest of the family. I had been in the house long enough to smell liked smoke, have the stink of smoke stuck in my nostrils and the taste of smoke in my mouth ... but thankfully it wasn't so bad that a little bit of standing out in the fresh air couldn't fix it. We went to the Host Family for lunch (okay, my parents house :), went out for coffee after church and returned shortly after six to a smoke stinky house ... nothing a few days of open windows and a few extra air refresheners can't fix.

Hopefully the smell is gone before you all arive for our housewarming party on Friday night :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Many of you will find it very hard to believe that it actually took 10 days before I was able to find room on my desk to take my computer out of it's box and get it set up.  Harder to believe is that fact that I really didn't miss it.  Sure there were the times where I wished I could pop on and check something out or research something, but mostly I was content to leave it in it's box as long as possible so that I would have no distractions.  For the first five days distractions were indeed kept to a minimum when our phone line also did not work.  No phone, no computer, no internet ... and to top if off my van "died".  Thankfully Rob is able to get a work vehicle until he has time to revive my van ... so we're driving his work-smelling van now.
So my computer is out of it's box ... but I remain internetless ... and by the looks of it it will remain like that for some time yet.  Upon finding out the price of dial-up through our current provider we decided to go straight to wireless (originally we thought we'd stick it out on dial-up as long as possible ... hopefully till Rob returned to school).  It was going to be $3 cheaper to have dial-up then the DSL we had in the city.  As it stands right now if things go as planned it will be $2 cheaper then our DSL (which was the smallest and slowest DSL package availalbe) for us to go to wireless.
That is ... if things work out.  We are hoping to share wireless connections with another family ... and hence the reason it might be a bit before we're connected.  This requires a learning curve for Rob as this is not something normally done.  Okay ... it's done often enough, but not often enough that you can even buy the required equipment in store ... we will have to order it online.  Then Rob will need some guidance on setting it up, but he is determined to figure it out himself and set it up himself so that he knows how it works and is able to figure it out or fix it if something is not functioning properly.
So add that to the long list of things that need to be done around here to make this "home" (really it's already home, but to finetune it :).  For the time being Rob is able to take his laptop to work and collect e-mails at the beginning and end of the day ... so we're not completely out of touch, only much slower in our responses (half the time I forget to check the computer until it's bedtime and then don't feel like responding, and then the computer is gone again the next day ...etc). 
Eventually updates will come and pictures as well.