Sunday, 31 December 2017

A new New Years Eve

This is the first new years eve since losing Terry that I have wanted to celebrate. I spent the first turning of a new year after he died with close family eating good food and saw out the worst year of my life with a sigh and "fuck you good riddance". I could not wait for the year to not be 2014, the year only about that he died. I felt nothing save grief and hate. The last two were spent at my close friend Cindy's, I wanted to be away from crowds and couples in general. Feeling that absence of the one I love to kiss when the year turned was too much to have other couples throwing it in my face- even if they were not -it felt that way to the grieving widow. I opted out for quiet instead. I had nothing to celebrate, I was just seeing out another year without him. So the fuck what.

This year feels slightly, ever so slightly different. I'll take that. I decided on a whim I would hold a small party at my house with my close friends and family. I went out and bought special treats, saw a recipe of a yummy treat I'd like to try and share that I will attempt with love and gratitude in my heart.  I will also treat myself to oysters and champagne to ring in the new year. I will dress up, I will dance and make a lot of noise, I might even get a lot tipsy as I welcome 2018 with a slight sense of hope and longing. This is new, I'll take this as well.

I want to analyze why I am okay with celebrating, what it means for me and how come this year is different, thinking if I can encapsulate it perfectly in a post here that I can hang on to this tiny piece of magic through the year. I have learned though over these past few years that it doesn't work that way. Knowing is not equated with understanding.  I know Terry is dead I don't understand why I have to live here without him. It will never be something I understand, and I need to let that go or it will weigh me down further than I want to go. I know I can survive, I know I can feel some gratitude for friends and family, I can celebrate. I don't understand why this year -four new years eve's after he is gone- why I am doing just that. And you know what? I don't care to understand it, I am just doing it. It's about fucking time. I deserve it.

Past new years eve's had been wonderful when I was married and with him, I often danced the night away, kissed him at midnight celebrating the end of a year and the start of a new year with him. One of my favorite new year's was a night we stayed in and had a delicious dinner together made by him, danced in our living room and rung in the new year the right way. I will cherish that one and the 34 new years eve's I got to celebrate with him. This one I don't. That just has to be okay - because what is my alternative? I am grateful today that he is in my heart as I go about my preparations, he would be proud of me for moving forward, for not crying alone in bed, for living, for surviving. I know it - I don't understand why it has to be so - but I know this.

Happy new year darling. Happy new year everyone.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Matriarchal Musings

It occurred to me as I was talking to my really good friend last night that I am a Matriarch. I am the head of this family now, there is just me as parent- that makes me a Matriarch. That word evokes for me lots of images and heavily laden meaning. In my mind matriarchs are older, wiser, have much more power and authority and they usually have an agenda. Maybe I saw a lot of bad movies? The definition of a matriarch states, "a woman who is the head of a family or tribe; or.." an older woman who is powerful within a family or organization"  or... "a domineering matriarch". See it's not just me.  I envision matriarchs as women like Polly on Peaky Blinders or Maggie Smith's role as Lady Violet Crawley on Downton Abbey. You get the picture. But hey, I also am a matriarch, of this fine tribe my husband and I brought into this world.  And with that comes responsibility, and shamefully I admit, a responsibility I have sorely neglected these past almost four years.

Grief is a selfish monster. It consumes you whole rendering you incapable of seeing beyond the border of self. It's like a baby who doesn't know the big world yet, only the breast, the feeding, the going from wet to dry, the mother or father who exists only for the meeting of these basics needs that make the entire baby personality. Grief does that to you. It did to me, I have never been as selfish in my life as I have been while consumed in this grief- and I have been selfish- so I know what I am talking about here. I have seen only my own suffering, I have shunned family and friends to wallow in this suffering. I have not seen the suffering of others, only I can feel this grief, how can anyone feel grief such as I do - me the wife the one who knew him best, longest etc etc. Oh, I have come out of my grief coma a few times and glimpsed it over these past years. A word from my sister about him that I heard, a tear in anothers eye that I saw. But my children I have neglected sorely in this area. Maybe a part of my brain told me I can't cope with their grief as well, maybe I didn't want to see that hurt on top of experiencing my own it being all too much to bear, maybe I only saw it as they have someone to comfort them, I don't, let their someone do that. Selfish.

I have no idea what it is like to lose a parent. Mine are still alive and well. I am 55 years old. My son was 21 years old when he lost his dad, just at the end of a difficult first year in university going into exams. My daughter was 28 pregnant with her second child after just losing her previous one full term, My eldest son was 30 recently home from two tours in Afghanistan living across the country. My other daughters 23 and 28 lost in their life's direction. I never considered the impact of his death on their young lives, only my own. I think of this now with shame and regret. I know I tried in my way in the early days to be there for them. I gathered them for Sunday dinners the first few months but I wearied easily, I slipped into my personal tour of grieving without them. I failed them in theirs.

So when I was talking to my friend about the circumstances of my children's present lives it hit me, I am a single parent. I am their only parent, I am the matriarch of this family and I need to step up to that role, that responsibility. I see the effects of the loss in their lives, in all of ours. Some very difficult to see. Grief the monster that wrecks havoc, did.  I don't have an answer in what to do here, save be more present to them. I can't fix what's broke, I can only be one post left standing under the foundation of our home. A precarious balance indeed. Maybe one thing I can do is I can build on that foundation, shore it up, see the good under there in all their lives. How they persisted in their resilience to overcome the havoc and kaos. They married, they bought and made homes, they graduated, they survived! We stayed together.

I can tell you all that I am sorry I failed you but I am here now, I am ready to listen now, I can take on your burdens now, I am stronger, I am available if you want and need me. I understand grief, not yours- but mine- and we can compare notes, we can go from there. We can continue to laugh and remember him fondly together, we can cry and miss him together too. Yes I am the surviving parent, I am your mom, I am not just the grieving widow anymore. I am the matriarch of this beautiful family that I love. And I love you all more than anything in this world.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas is a time to pause in the busyness of life and spend some quality time with family or ones you love. For those who have no one it must be extremely hard, I can only imagine a tiny bit- I know what it feels like to not have Terry at Christmas but I can't imagine if I didn't have these ones I love in my Christmas. My children, son-in-laws, my grandchildren, parents, sister. To be alone without them would be truly unbearable. What I feel without Terry multiplied by many many times- yeah unbearable. This year I tried really hard to not think about loss, to instead think about all I had and have and how grateful I am for it, for being with them all. Having them lighting up my life and filling it as they do.

My house was full from Christmas eve to late Christmas night. It was glorious and wonderful and special. Matt and Mary were home for the first time to celebrate Christmas with us since Terry died. Their happiness was contagious, simply contagious. I saw it through their eyes and it was a nice sight indeed. My camera captured a tiny bit of it in this shot. Mary had not celebrated Christmas with Rupert ever and she couldn't wait to see him and Molly open gifts. It meant so much to her and you can see that in her smile here as she hugs him. I had a moment, a brief moment where I grieved that Terry had never had the joy she is experiencing here, that he and Rupert never will. I just allowed it a brief moment - ever so fleeting it was there, I acknowledged it, I let it go-  into the ether with him as a heartfelt prayer from my this time present- consciousness. It was right to give this credence.

This is how I imagine life will be here on in. I think this might be how it happens, you gradually allow yourself to see the good to feel it to live it even if it's through others not yourself. You have moments of attaching that good moment you now can experience to the one you lost and you honor that intrusion. You no longer see it as a segue to an hour of crying, to dipping into the depression again. You just honor that moment- the presence of your loss and the absence of your lost one- in it. Oh the moments of out and out crying and grief still exist- they no longer show up as waves threatening to drown you and sweep you out to sea, but they exist. They come more unexpectedly I find and catch me unaware. Perhaps that is a good sign, it might mean I am busy getting on with living and coming out of the land of the undead. The time spent in the land of the undead gets shorter and I visit less often. This frees up some space to see the moments like the one I captured above. It makes room to hear the joy in my son in laws voice as he tells me how his Christmas is so special here with my family this year. This is good, it is how I heard it happens, it is happening for me.

It does not mean I don't still grieve and miss my love, I have much space in my heart for that as well. As I spoke about in my previous post, it is there. I will always reserve that piece of my heart, nothing will fill that space, nothing - and that is as I believe it should be. It was just very good this year at Christmas to know my heart can feel both reserve for Terry and my grief in missing him, and joy and happiness in my family. This dichotomy works for me.

St. Jude- the patron saint of lost causes

I came across this picture on my external drive, one I had forgotten about. His last Christmas. A good one, I was so in love with him. We had patched up our bad times and forgiveness was in the air between us. I had my makeup done by Candice and we were heading out to my sisters for a fun Christmas night. My house was packed with family and I had taken pictures of everyone in front of the tree, and wanted a fun one of me and him. We had always been so serious, so filled with caring for others and the drama around all things. I wanted it to be light and fun, I was sitting on his lap and whispering in his ear, look at the camera darling, he was always looking at me so I had to tell him. I love him so. I know he loved me. He'd worked so hard this Christmas making the turkey and feeding us all, I now know first hand how much work that was.  It was snowing, a lot, the last Christmas it snowed. It's been appropriately dull and rainy every Christmas since. I hope it never snows on Christmas again. This was perfection. Look how happy we are.

So, I didn't see that he'd been losing weight. I was pleased with how he looked, he spent a lot of time in the gym strengthening his body for his new knee surgery, so he'd be in shape for a good recovery. He did that. He was well on his way to recovery, he was back to work, he was good, just a little weight gone. I so love this picture because it was the last time we were together before the elephant came into the room, before the unknowing and the knowing, it captures the last happiness of us. There was no other portent or foreshadowing of what was to come, save him showing me the way to dissemble the artificial tree after Christmas. I remember saying to him, "why are you not going to be here next year to do it or something"? I had a moment of thinking of how sad that would be and summarily dismissed it. We'd had our bad luck, none was due us, nothing would touch us now in these happy times, new grandchild, one on the way, enjoying the fruits of our 30 year marriage. But as Shakespeare said, "expectation is the root of all heartache".

Early the following year the first thing I noticed was how quiet he had gotten. He had not much to say, he felt distant. I thought he was working too hard and talked to him about retiring. But there was a distant in us, a divide. I talked to others of it, said he was becoming like my brother not my husband. Eventually he started to nap more, didn't do the regular chores he had always done, and the ones he was doing were slipshod, haphazard, not like him. He had a bad cold in February, one he couldn't shake and I made fun of his man cold. Secretly I was upset he was not the strong active man I knew. I remember one day in March in the woods walking Pax, I caught myself daydreaming about reviving him from a heart attack on the floor in our living room. Now given my past, and my premonitions about my sons death, this scared the shit out of me - as it should have. Why the hell am I here in the woods walking and thinking of reviving my husband as he lays dying on the floor? I remember crying then over this strange ominous daydream. I remember not saying anything to him.  Hence, all this amasses, it layered over the weeks- as things do that are wrong - as they build to more wrongness. I ignored why, but I saw the what. I was seeing the portents then. I said nothing.


He is taking forever to make me a cup of tea, what the fuck is he doing in there?, I take notice and realize it's been quiet for a long period of time. I think this but what I am feeling is the dread, the layer of dark mischief that has entered our home, it's around me like a blanket made of snakes. I can't get myself up out of the chair to go see what is happening with him, he has been in there about 25 minutes! WTF (there is a wise women inside who is saying go look) the frightened girl wins, and oh she is so damn scared there is something wrong, oh so wrong here. But instead, I get angry I think jesus he used to be able to get me tea and toast in 5 minutes flat, I'm not moving, I worked and I am tired, what the hell is his problem. I ask him, "Terry what the hell are you doing"? I don't get up and see, I am too terrified -now I can remember that this was the feeling- then I didn't let it penetrate through to me. I was not fully conscious in what was happening. He brings me barely warm tea, one piece of toast not two, like I asked, barely buttered- how he knows I hate it. It's not like him, something is wrong. I don't ask. He is getting old, he is tired I think, he needs to see the doc about his fucking cold. There are more portents as the days bleed into March, you get the picture. This the worse one I can think of now, it hurts to brings others to the fore. I knew but didn't.  I remained silent. I made up excuses, my anxiety rising over the weeks to the point where I believed I was dying, I told him so.

The point in this is that I didn't speak from my heart honestly and truthfully with intention when I should of. I had been conditioned to "pretend" I'm ok you're ok from the time I was a little girl. We don't tell our deepest desires or needs or fears to others. We make nice. We ignore the elephant in the room, we ignore the elephant even as he is dying in the room. I told my husband absolutely everything, my deepest secrets, my fears and dreams and desires our entire marriage. Until this, until his dying. I still do not know why. I think maybe it was a matter to dark to explore. A true case of you can't see the forest for the tree you just smashed into, of hindsight is 20/20. I can't blame him for not telling me that something was wrong. I tried this out in therapy, it's just not true. He was too far gone to explain, to articulate, the mets into his brain probably, the toxins from his dying liver clouding all his judgement and abilities. And I wanted him to get at the chores he always did, I wanted to have toast and tea brought to me after work, who's at fault? Who didn't step up?

By the time I did it was way too late, 6 days from death too late. I live with that. I grieve that, I can't change that just like I can't change that I smoked when pregnant and lost a child to SIDS that I laid him on his tummy, covered him too tightly and warmly and smoked and he died of SIDS. I can't change any of it. I can only learn from it.  In the end this is what the post is about. It's for anyone who has regrets. Use me as an example, and tell yourself -there I don't have it as bad as her thank God. And go from there. It's all I can do, save decide to quickly or slowly kill myself, all I can do is learn from my lesson. And I have. I speak my truth, my guts come out through my mouth, right or wrong I tell what I feel, what I think. If that elephant is shitting in my living room I am going to notice, I am going to say hey, will you look at that! There is a elephant shitting in the living room, get a fucking shovel and clean this up. I can not be the good girl who was raised in the 60's to be nice, I can not stay silent when I think something is wrong, when it's bad, when I am watching a death in the making. I will speak the truth each and every time. Terry taught me this.

"Another conversation with no destination
Another battle never won
And each side is a loser
So who cares who fired the gun?
And I'm learning, so I'm leaving
And even though I'm grieving
I'm trying to find the meaning
Let loss reveal it
Let loss reveal it
St. Jude, the patron saint of the lost causes
St. Jude, we were lost before she started
St. Jude, we lay in bed as she whipped around us
St. Jude, maybe I've always been more comfortable in chaos
And I was on the island and you were there too
But somehow through the storm I couldn't get to you
St. Jude, somehow she knew
And she came to give her blessing while causing devastation
And I couldn't keep my mouth shut, I just had to mention
Grabbing your attention"

St. Jude- Florence and the Machine

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Happy Merry Winter Solstice

Into the shortest day and the longest night we go. The winter solstice happens at 11:28 a.m. EST on Dec. 21 -- which is when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. At that moment, the North
Pole is tilted the farthest it can be away from the Sun. It's a culmination of all those dark days that have led up to this since late September, when going to work and returning is done in the dark. I dislike those days, so this, the last day of them, comes as a welcome relief. After today those dark days start to get shorter and shorter. We work towards the long hopeful days of spring and summer, those beautiful June days when the sun doesn't even decide to prepare setting until around 930 ish.

Traditionally over time the winter solstice has been celebrated with feasts, banquets of food getting together and eating and celebrating. Maybe those people (at least in the northern hemisphere) were so fed up with the dark and so depressed they had to make some merry. I am participating in much of that merry making these days, lots of celebrating and going to my friends and families homes and feasting. Now it's under the guise of pre Christmas celebrating. Maybe that is how Christmas came to be, until the Christians hijacked it and called it Christmas and said it was when Jesus was born. Like seriously how do they know? I think I will stick to this season being about celebrating the end of those long ass dark days.

I never was a big lover of Christmas. December 25th, that date that is a big deal to well mostly Christians and all their descendants. A day that creates a lot of running around and celebrating for one day, then it is over. Lots of those descendants don't have any foundation or knowledge in what they are celebrating, it could be July 21st to them, it's just a day. I wish it was July 21st, it would be warmer and I could be celebrating Christmas at the cottage, like I've always wanted to.  But for me the best part about this time of year is the meeting of family and friends at their houses and eating and celebrating before that December 25th date, the foreplay to Christmas so to speak.  Even as a kid, I loved the going to my aunts and uncles houses and visiting them best, not the gifts, in fact, except for turkey, the day was mostly anticlimactic.

Terry changed that for me, and having our children. He came from a family that knew how to feast, he was a lover of Christmas and it was contagious. He had all these traditions he wanted to embrace and make for us and our children. Buying them all new pj's about a week before and watching a Christmas movie, buying a new ornament to put in the house each year, coming up with a new ruse for the kids about santa and how he had arrived last night, getting that perfect gift the kids really wanted and pretending it was unattainable so he could see the surprise on their faces in the morning when they did get it.  And what he did for me!  Always surprising me with the perfect gifts, there was never enough he could get me, from diamond earrings to bedroom sets, to rocking chairs to lingerie to meditation cushions to cameras. He loved to surprise me, he would wrap the gifts so beautifully, no cheap paper from him, no matter how poor we were, only the best thickest shiniest most gorgeous wrapping. Sometimes he would decorate them with soft feathered birds that could later be put on the tree. Man he took the time and that said so much to me. He also used to get the last of my gifts on Christmas eve, he'd go out and say "oh I got something I need to do I'll be back later ", then the whole elaborate hour or two in the bedroom wrapping them on Christmas eve. It was his thing. It is a beautiful memory of my past Christmases that I will always cherish. He wrapped me in its magic with his kind thoughtful love. I miss him so. Not the gifts, but the magic he wrapped me in with these traditions, with his love.

And that brings me to the other point of this post. For widows and widowers this time of year sucks. We only have our memories, they comfort but they are a cold bittersweet comfort. They are like being wrapped in a warm blanket but unable to feel its heat. Those memories so precious hurt alot because no more are coming. Because they, not him, are all I have, because they fade over time, or worst because I see others making memories for their loved ones. This makes me happysad, it's awful to feel happysad- it's lonely and selfish and awful, but for me unavoidable- at least these past 4 Christmases now without him. I don't know what to tell others in this situation. What I have done (save for the first Christmas when I just cried and hated my way through it) is I have feasted and surrounded myself with family and friends. Yes I have faked the feelings many times, they just are not there, yes I look the other way and ignore the lovers exchange their gifts, but I go through the motions. I pretend sometimes.

When not pretending I am on the inside celebrating that long haul to the warm June days, the fact that the light days are coming up and I can soon walk at night in the woods with Pax, I am shopping for others and pretending I don't see that gift box below the lingerie in the store window, I am baking the cake Paige made me feel hungry again with when Justin died for others I love, I am feasting for others still hungry, for me still hungry. I do not know what else to do, I do not know what advice to give those who lost a spouse at this time of year. Tell yourself it's another day? Celebrate the end of dark days, embrace the happy merry winter solstice? Ignore it and go see a movie or have a fine meal in an empty restaurant? I'm sorry I don't know yet what works, if I find out I will let you know in a future blog. Truthfully, that day will never be the same after your spouse died so you need to make it your own different day. Honor those memories that you had in your quiet way, shed your tears if you want or need to and just get through it.

Perhaps you may even want to drop me a line here and tell me your story, about your loved one and Christmas, about how you get through it. I will hear your story and honor it with you.

Monday, 11 December 2017

The ever present puppeteer

Lets face it, it's here to stay, you just can't live without it, well almost. I bank with it, I shop with it, I connect with other human beings with it. I see my grandchildren with it, my son out west, my extended family with it. I look up phone numbers, tell people where I am going to meet them, get my news and books from it. I express my every mood, get inspiration, feel joy, anger, awe, laughter, resentment, pride, fascination and grief with and from it. I hear my music with it, watch all my favorite shows and movies, I got a degree through it, I found and lost romantic relationships because of it.

And herein lies the fucking problem. Is it real? This is a question I have been asking myself lately. Is my life truly real anymore when it is managed and controlled and highlighted and reflected through the fucking internet? When I come home and I greet my sweet pax and he wants a hug and I give him one and I feed him and I talk to him....this is real. Me interacting with my dog.  But then. I realize I am alone, no other humans live here with me and I am alone. So I seek to escape that. I think I do that out of habit now.  See I never had to live alone, I went from my parents home to my husbands. Our home always filled with people, always. Now I am alone. And it is uncomfortable and foreign. So I seek to escape it. I reach for a computer, (I have three devices that connect me to the internet) and sometimes all three are open. I might be messengering someone on my phone, looking up sites on the laptop, opening up my music playlists on my tablet, reading mail from one, answering it on another. dings and rings going off making me feel like I am wanted and not alone, like I am alive in the world and connected to it. It's a blip of a rush to look and see oh maybe here is something to investigate, then the let down and sense of acknowledging the truth when you see that once again it's an ad or a company wanting your money. It's a person you don't know liking something else from someone you may or may not know. It's sitting there waiting for you as the ever present go to, the repetitive phone check, to see who else hypothetically wants me instead of who is sitting in front of me. It's the ultimate ego builder this false sense that you are loved and wanted. HAH! But I keep looking, I keep hoping, for what I don't know, I keep the connection open just in case. It is bizarre, it is sad, it is not good, it is wrong, I no longer want it. It is bad for me, like the alcohol is for the alcoholic, yet so hard to let go. But I must, it is time.

I have lately noticed that I am happiest when I am not online, when I am not plugged in, when I am reading a book or dancing to music or baking or talking face to face or even over the phone with a human being-  fuck doing anything except being online.  When I am not partaking in this massive fake false sense of connection, this false ego-building bullshit- this artificial lie I have believed.

I have forgotten how to talk to people now because of this. I have become shy and unable to partake in small talk to strangers, yet I can spill my guts and deepest thoughts in a blog online because it's anonymous--- or that is the lie I told myself. Of course it is not, and it has ramifications, some I have not even considered or thought of yet.  So does online dating, just as treacherous and dangerous as looking for mr goodbar.  My youngest was right, online dating is doomed to failure, you don't have the looking across the room and catching the eye connection, the slow build to get to know a person face to face, voice to voice, heart to heart. Instead your guts get spilled through the wires way too fucking soon, on the dirty road - and man those ropes of intestines covered in shit laid bare there on the dirty road is some nasty. Doomed. And you can't put them back in, those spilled guts.
I have learned hard lessons there. Shitty hard lessons, but hey knowledge is power. Go from there.

And then there is the whole photography thing, in the day people did it  printed it put it on walls in galleries and others saw and bought it. Not today. You take a picture and post it on your page or in instagram- for what? To see how many like you get? To be sad about how many you don't get? What am I doing that for? Do people really like my post, my picture? Really? Or is the thumb automatically drawn to the like button from habit or a sense of obligation before scrolling, do they even see it, would they come to a gallery to view it, would they buy it? Even for cheap? Most likely no. And why do I want that anyway, my pictures need to be for me not for a false like. They are not, until they are I need to stop. Stop fooling myself because it just makes all this falseness so easy to keep hiding behind a screen and try to make myself feel good or needed or admired or wanted. It's not working only I can make myself feel good. Full stop. I have become one of the ones who just don't know the difference anymore- from what is a real human connection and what isn't. Like some of the young ones out there who don't know the world before the internet. They don't know the effort it took to make a connection, to keep it, to build that friendship, that love you worked for, that realness. I want that back.

So I have decided I am going offline. Off the crack fb the fuck pof and other dating sites. I will post a picture through onecrowphotography on instagram if I think it has purpose for an audience. I will continue to write here if I think I have something meaningful to say. Maybe when I go offline and find myself - find who I am without it- I might find that I have nothing to say, I might find I have something to say. We will see. Right now I don't. I have nothing to show, nothing to say. I have to talk to myself now for awhile. I want to be my own puppeteer now.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

December 6th, 2017

It is the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion, the biggest explosion world wide until the atomic bomb was dropped in Japan. A day of horrific tragedy for thousands of Haligonians. Our own 911, pre-911. I remember my grandparents telling me the stories of the day, how they had escaped the disaster, the death all around them. I can't even imagine how awful it must have been with the lack of social services we enjoy today, with the devastating snow storm the next morning freezing all those out in the streets having just lost their homes. I can only hear the stories from those who told them, and see a glimpse from the book I am presently reading, Barometer Rising, from the play I attended about the ghosts who spoke their horror. One hundred years and the day is remembered, through stories, photos, remembrance celebrations, people gathering to pray for the lost souls, for their distant relatives they possibly never met.

Our city has risen out of those ashes. As I walked to work yesterday I thought about how the streets would have looked then, about what would have been there then and what was built since. The change that happened since the horror. I thought about how our city is currently thriving, saw the new buildings sit on the harbour shores that were blasted bare 100 years ago, viewed the new tankers roll into the "stream" between the twin cities, walked side by side with the people moving about who don't even know the history or have any connection with those who do.  Life has continued, improved and just happened since that 100 year old explosion.

I have my own personal explosion in my life dated December 6th. It is a day I remember as well. A day where my own ships collided in the night leaving a wiped out devastated family in its wake. A day when at its last minutes my son died in his crib of SIDS. I share other's remembrances of this date, the loss this day entails. Mine is only 34 years ago, theirs 100. I continue my life like my city does. I too have new growth, new people, new landscapes in my personal life since this tragic date. This is life, this is how it happens, it just goes on. Us with our own personal tragedies and remembrances moving through it and surviving despite it.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

December review

In December  I like to look back over the year that was. I usually write each January a list of things I hope to accomplish for the year, I reopened that list and took a peek to see how I did. I accomplished 5 of my 12 things on this year's list, and it's not over yet so I have time to do more.

This year has been a year of growth for sure. First and foremost it was a year where I survived as a widow, without Terry. I didn't throw myself off the bridge from grief and loneliness like I wanted to sometimes. But I didn't, instead I chose to survive. This is my biggest accomplishment this year. Being without him. Surviving without him to share the good and bad I experienced this year.

This year my son graduated with honors in his undergrad degree in chemistry A first for my children, hopefully not the last. The celebration at my cottage was one for the books and it was the first happiest thing about this year bar none.

I set off to PEI by myself to a week long photography workshop, I met new friends and I learned about my craft, I met some of my photography idols and I was graced with a mentor in the process. It was a true growth experience in many unexpected ways. The learning continues, even in the fact that I once again lost my desire to photograph afterward, this too has been a lesson for me. One that is okay now that I stopped fighting it and finding the meaning as to why. Sometimes there is no reason, no meaning it just is what it is and that is okay for now. If that alone was the lesson it's one I needed to learn. Because in the past I had to always find the meaning, like in some way that legitimizes whatever it is I am going through, but I learned sometimes there is just no reason. Full stop! My mentor helped me to see this. And that every picture does not have to cause that feeling of excitement when you see it on the viewfinder, that sometimes when you are farther along in your craft you don't experience this as much, it takes a lot more to get that. See the light, see the light on it, see the light within it.  Lesson learned.  I am looking for the light within it.

The last of my children left home this year, and I have an empty nest for the first time since 1983. It was not as bad as I thought it would be, yes I miss them, but I know this is the natural progression of things and the way it should and even needs to be. It was a transition I always thought I would go through with my love, that we would revel in the new found freedom of each other alone again like in the days when we were newly in love. But I transitioned alone, there might be many more transitions alone I will need to learn how to deal with. If this was the litmus test, I passed.

I built a cottage for myself, well let's be honest, I had it built for me. I made great strides in my serenity acre by the sea. It's a place that brings me mega amounts of peace and comfort and oneness with nature and the god of my understanding. All those feelings I felt with yoga and meditation (two things I have not been able to get back to this year) but that is okay too. I will get there. I have a huge deck on serenity acres over looking the ocean, a perfect place to meditate and do yoga, when the time is right. And that is okay too. Another lesson learned. I don't have to attain all my goals, I just have to keep striving toward them.

I gave up therapy this year, a full year not seeing one and I am just fine thank you very much. I have friends who are the best therapists in the world and they are free. I know what to do, I no longer need to tell a therapist I need to do it, I just need to do it. Like...forgive a little bit each day those old feelings that haunt me, like.. put the guilt in the back forty- plow it under - it serves no purpose anymore. If it surfaces deal. It will always surface despite my best efforts, but I can look it in the eye with a new understanding today. With a dose of self love. Like.. feel the grief when it surfaces, cry if you want to, let go of what is heavy if you need to it's okay to let it go, holding it just pulls me under. Like.. remember whenever you want to- it won't kill you to remember, it will hurt a little less each time. The day will come when the remembering is happy and doesn't hurt, even if it's not now, with this many years in- this many years from seeing and hearing him, one day it will come.

I took a foray into relationships with men this year. Although none worked out, that wasn't the point. Fuck that is freeing to know. I did learn a few very valuable lessons in this process, one being, that I can transfer the generosity I learned from my relationship with my husband to others. That I have many pearls to offer, that I can remain myself and be authentic- truly authentic in a relationship with others. The fact that those men chose to want it too much, abuse it, and not want it all doesn't matter. That is their lesson. What a lesson that was for me- that sometimes the lesson isn't mine it's someone else's. I can, despite it all, remain authentic and generous and myself. Another man may want it and recognize it someday, if not, I do. Lesson learned.

I need to clean my fridge again, it brings me back to last year around this time when I did that (and in between since then ha ha!) and I started writing about my journey in this blog. I cleaned out the old  with all the memories attached to the old bottles and condiments that Terry had bought and cooked with and how that felt then. How new and sad that was then, how it is so different now, how this journey just keeps on going and changing. Now all the stuff in my fridge is new- the connections I have with them are my own not his. I bought everything in there. Life this year has been like that, new stuff without him with no connection to him, just new memories and things and events. Soon the last gifts he gave me will be gone, the slippers he gave me on his last Christmas are wearing out, the hot rollers will give up the ghost soon too. But those are just things, things I grasped onto crying and attaching bittersweet memories to like a drowning women, fearful that if I didn't have them I would lose him again somehow. I don't feel that way anymore. I have memories that will never fade, I have lessons he taught me that I have internalized forever. This is hopeful, this doesn't end up wearing out or breaking.  I know this to be true, just like I know this grief won't break me. Just like I know new lessons await in the new year.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

In this life, I lived it

In the life I have - I lived it.
I have made many mistakes, I know my weaknesses
my tumultuous blunders that played on the psyche
Yet in this life, I have lived it.

In this life someone touched my heart
It has affected me
in how I lived through the years
its mark embedded as a good sanskar resulting in
a life I live fully without regret

When faced with logic or emotion
I chose emotion each and every time
not one known to toe the line, I bucked reason
So at times I lived my life in pain and remorse

It is a hard road to live passionately
you are disappointed constantly
you except too much, won't settle for too little
in living this life I live fully and completely

I have tried to squelch it, this passion
the creativity, the longing, the need
it won't go, it hides in the waiting and wanting
for me to live it  live it passionately this life now

I have laid this heart bare, in a gooey mess
only to be drop kicked in life's other philosophies
these heart felt feelings gouged insanely deep
even in this life I have yet to live- it waits for me

These new heartaches, I embrace you 
because to not feel is to not live
I choose true heartfelt anything over ennui
I live life, I live this beautiful life I have

So take your heart and ardent zeal with you
your truth and soul felt intentions deserving proclamation
shine forth with all the precious offering you can bestow
especially as I live this life yet lived.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Montreal Cacophony

Elegant city stretched out before me
full to its November brim with
shiek condo's garnering city views
wait staff and chef's hopping in the kitchens
metrosexual men in their tight grey suits wearing
Italian shoes, man buns and trimmed beards
oysters with raspberry and coriander
parisienne omelettes, chocolate croissants
foie gras, filet mignon, veal shank, charcuteries
wine, old fashioned's, drambuie, whiskey sours
boulangerie's, boucherie's, p√Ętisserie's, markets
Fluevogs to covet and obtain in old Montreal
Daniel's google maps app leads to treasures
museums and Leonard Cohen to revel in
hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
sexual sexy city, sex shops, strip shows
St. Catherine's street, love protests and coppers
live jazz in festive surroundings, chandeliers and mirrors
snotty waitresses in silver mini dresses rush through
concrete jungle, construction zones, subway perfection
Jean Talon Market, LeExpress, Schwartz's, Biddles
Uber cars arrive wafting perfume with drivers named  
marijuana in the street, the vibe underground
and antique chairs covered in gold lamé
this the beautiful cacophony that is Montreal

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A momentary loss of sensation

It's been awhile since I have been in my happy place. For the record I have not sat and meditated as a regular practice since his death, in the past I did this 30 minutes a day. So as a result ??? maybe, maybe not??? some days it feels like I lost myself and can't seem to find my way back to her. I used to be slightly retrospective and in tune rather than flitting around lost and exasperated. I know where I need to be, where I need to go to be the women I am. Sometimes like today I just can't seem to go there for some reason. I feel like I am off my moorings. Like a twelve year old feels. Stupid and silly and lost and dumb. And forgetful, I am so forgetful, what is that about? It's about lack of intention. What is my intention as I move forward in this life journey? I have no answer, I am stumped. My mind in one direction my feelings in another. I have no desire for work, it sucks the life out of me. This is not good, this is shameful actually but I can't even get the energy up to change it. And I fucking hate it, for the record I fucking hate this feeling of being lost, this feeling of not being in my happy place. It's time to go to that field with the tall wheat, the grass blowing in the wind, golden sun shining down on me, in my meditative state. My grandmother close by, my son and Terry in the field guiding me with their wisdom on life's questions, of which I have many.

Iurie and Daniel took this picture of me in my happy place, we had discovered it was my actual happy place on this photo trip to Tuscany when I overheard them saying this is where the opening scene of the gladiator was shot. Well that is the scene I picture when I go to my happy place. Imagine me not knowing I was actually there, and I did not believe him. He said, wait there, stand there I want to do something, then he took this shot. He proved to me I was in the place. I remember feeling such wonder, such fucking wonder! I sat down and I took this photo of the sun setting in the grass to replicate my scene in my head. I knew what to do then, I knew how to feel and what to do. It was simple, just create it.

But I got away from that, I left my meditation, I turned from healing and left yoga, left that beautiful feeling when you work your body for good when you breath and breath your way to the answer.  I have no answers now, I have lost my creativity and do not know how to get it back, this scares me because it means I am lost to myself. I am this close to giving up photography, my efforts and results sadden and stifle me further. I stopped walking in nature, feeling the woods and what it means to my soul, the tears I shed in the confines of the protective forest, how it held me. I don't have that anymore.

Just sit down Sussey. Sit in your field and breath. Feel where you need to go what you need to do, how to gain your self back. It's all there for the taking you just have to want it. It is there just for you, no one else, yours to have for you.

Sunday, 5 November 2017


I love that creative flow that you get into, when you have an idea and you think on it and nurture it from inception to birth. I had an idea about this badly photographed picture above, this picture that has very special meaning to me, despite it's not coming out the way I wanted it to. This picture is the scene off my balcony of my cottage serenity acre. See previous post titled the same for the inception of this idea. I love this scene as well because it was taken the fall after Terry died, on a trip with Pam and Patrick to Cape Breton to photograph the fall foliage. On this trip was where I saw and felt him in everything. Where every sunrise and sunset was glorious in their display night and day just for me and me alone and offered, I believed, by him in the heavens. I saw the milky way later this night, I gasped at the red underlit clouds (muted here but glorious in my memory). I remembered his ashes strewn below my feet on this beach, this rock he often sat on or laid beside sunning himself. It has a lot of meaning this scene.

So I asked our stained glass artist in resident at the cottage, my cousin's wife Debbie to commission a window with her interpretation of this scene so I could have it forever captured. So it could become a physical part of serenity acre. I was more than pleasantly surprised at her end product. Her interpretation was special and the meaning she attached to it surprised and delighted me. Not only because it was splendid but because it was not what I had suspected. It was a "window" into a side of her I didn't know. She had interpreted all the rocks on this piece, not just the one with Terry's ashes in it but all the others (they represent all my children and grandchildren, even myself) and she left room for some to have our own memories attached to. I can really dig that, if you get my drift. So that along with the beauty of her interpretation really awed me. I delighted in the fact that an idea can go from inception to creation, I delighted even more that it was others who helped the process. Just as in what happens in life. When we allow others to come in and work on our little slices of life.

I have this beautiful work of art on my living room wall right now, it hangs there for me to gaze upon it all winter and spring until I bring it to the cottage and give it it's permanent home in the wall. Now this picture below does not do it justice, there is no light behind it yet, and it was taken with my iphone. When at serenity acre the light will bounce from the three facing windows onto it and make the colors come alive, they will look different depending on the time of day, and on where the sun shines through. It will be brilliant in its colors, in its creative hard work Debbie put into it, in its memory of mine, in its meaning. It will last as long as the cottage for all to see and revel in. Some down the line might not know its significance, they might guess it's the scene outside the cottage (as my granddaughter Molly did when she saw it) but not understand why it was created.  But I know. The creator of the piece knows, and together we know how and why this gem was born.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

All souls day

All souls day. The souls I witnessed passing, the ones who are gone to I know not where, it causes me pause for thought today.

Today is a bittersweet day. One where I remember the wonderful birth of my first born son Justin Timothy Charlton, oh the sweet memories I have. I still remember what he looked like when I first laid eyes on him, I still recall the details of the difficult and long birth if I think hard about it, the way the doctor looked, the way I felt about what I had accomplished. It is also a day where I feel bitter regret that I did not get to see him grow up to be the 34 year old man who should be celebrating his birthday. Justin died of SIDS at the age of five and a half weeks. I wonder sometimes who he would have been, how he would have matured, what job, what life circumstances he would have lived and created. Would I have a daughter in law and grandchildren from him, would he of remained single, been gay with a wonderful partner I could love also? All these unknowns surface on this his birthday, all the unrealized dreams for him that I grieved as well as the loss of him in the physical sense.

Thirty four years is a long long time. I am not the new mother I was then, the young girl really who fell in love so so deeply and totally with this tiny human they put in my arms. I have raised and let go of five other children since this day 34 years ago. I was shaped and changed by these humans I was allowed to mother for awhile, who were trusted to me in their life journey for a short time. A trust I never took lightly but because I am human I faltered in at times. I wasn't perfect but my love for him and for my surviving children (who are all here because of Justin I believe) was perfect. Of that I am certain. My love for them was perfect.

I, having lived like I have, with lots of death and adverse events in my life, often wonder what else is coming that will shape and teach me. I only hope death gives me a wide berth and a vacation for the next number of decades, I've had my share for now. Today I will think on birth, on your birth my dear Justin. The wonder you imparted in the short life you had here with me was beyond comparison. You taught me I could love more than one person, that I could create perfection. I had never felt love like I did when I first saw you and held you, what a gift that was you gave me. You have taught me self forgiveness as I struggled to live the years past your death. You accomplished a lot in five and a half weeks.

Now, your perfection knows no earthly bounds, you are in the universe in that perfection somewhere- a part of me- out there. A part of my own little soul created 34 years ago whom I can pray to or talk to or think about on this all souls day. Happy birthday my sweet Justin.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Leave what's heavy

"If you're lost and you're lonely
Go and figure out why
Take a trip to your dark side
Go on and have a good cry
Cause we're all lonely
Yeah we're all lonely together"

I woke heavy, that ever happen to you? Not sure why- but being who I am- I explored it. I knew eventually it would surface, I just needed to review some history, listen to some music, to my heart, my intuition and it would come. Eventually I had to put it away and work. So I did. I had a little cry and I went to work. Here in my -what is fast becoming- comfy homey-like apartment. I still felt the heaviness but work is a grand distraction. However, like returning to the scene of a crime you know you shouldn't you do it anyway, and I could not let it be. I wanted to see what was bothering me. Maybe I am under this grand illusion that if I know I can fix. Life is not that simple of course. Tangled and complex emotions took hold this am. From grief to coping mechanisms I use in life it was all there tangled up like Christmas tree lights each season when they are brought up from the basement.

And while marking my papers I looked down at it and realized how worn it is now. It's heavy and worn. It's broken and finished somehow. And it was oh so sad. A diamond missing, the emerald (my six year anniversary gift) dulled and craggy and sunken, about to fall out and be lost forever. I remembered the time I took the three original rings to be designed into this one, I remember wondering if he would be insulted and hurt by my change in the originals. I remember us walking from picking it up, how beautiful it looked then, all shiny and new, how I loved the one ring. I remember the comments I got. Secretly though I always felt bad about this ring, that I changed my three he gave me into one I wanted. I never stopped feeling that way despite loving the ring. I don't think he felt that, just me.

Suddenly I knew, it was time to come off now. It was time and as I pulled and pulled it felt tighter and tighter and the need to be free from this became ever more evident, ever more urgent. I was time, but it was so so sad. I ran cold ice water over my hand to help its progress, I tore my flesh, I yelled and screamed through the physical and emotional pain that surfaced. It came free. It was time and it was so so sad.  When I looked at it's sad sorry state I knew it was time and that this wasn't a bad thing, despite my really really good cry after I was released from it, it was a good cry I had. It's what was heavy and what I needed to let go of today.  I decided to keep his band for now, the one we bought on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. This ring I let go today was mine, it was about me and I needed to let go of that.

Leave what's heavy
What's heavy behind
Leave what's heavy
What's heavy behind

Friday, 27 October 2017


I read a study about people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived. Every single one of them stated they felt instant regret as soon as they leaped. Think about that. To go from a state of such bereft desolation, pain and despair that to die is a relief, a chosen escape, to in an instant knowing that was all so so wrong. I can only partly imagine this scenario. Sadly, I have been in the depth of this type of despair in my life a few times, happily I never took any drastic steps. Happily I know that pain does heal and the despair recedes and is replaced with life.

Nothing is permanent. Not our most despairing feelings, not our greatest joys. It is kind of one of those enigma's in life, why can't we grasp and keep what is good? What is right?  What we desire? Damned if I know. Why does life shift and change and no longer remain permanent? Would it be boring if it stayed the same? Would we die inside if we lived a life the same with the same wonderful feelings and sameness around us? I can't answer that because I have not lived that life. I guess maybe somewhere some people might have? Maybe they lived a life where no one they loved died or changed -where they stayed in the same house, the same city the same life with the same loved ones and they just lived out life without any change or loss. It could happen maybe.

More to the reality is that we specks on this blue dot get tossed and thrown hither and fro to the winds of change. We all know it we have songs about it, movies and books and art reflect our common humanity as beings who must have our little pieces of permanence ripped from our arms, our hearts our souls. So here is what I was thinking about that.  That what a fucking marvel it is that we as humans know how to adapt and cope with impermanence. I've watched and studied those people I know humans who adapted well to huge change- new jobs, lost jobs- changes in lifestyle, loss of spouses, children- they all survived to tell the tale. They not only survived they thrived!

It makes my heart leap with joy that this is so, that it is possible to survive the greatest impermanence life can throw our way. Give it to me despite my death grip, pry those fingers, that mindset loose, walk out of the woods, step down from that railing because life is gonna sock it to you. You can go willing or go fighting but you will go, you will experience change. I fucking dare you to deny it Sussey. You too are becoming one of those you studied.

I feel it and it is not bad, it is not scary, it is welcome. It is coming my way plowing through the drudgery and staleness of my "permanent" roosting of widowhood. Hah move the fuck over the times they are changin as Dylan said. Let me blow in the wind of change, I want to feel that again. The newness the excitement to learn the newness.  And I thought just maybe we die when we no longer need to change, maybe we are dead when we are in a state of permanence. And then I thought- embrace change and life,  because you deserve it Sussey.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The forest for the trees

Sometimes it becomes hard to see the forest for the trees. Ever been there? When you seem lost in a quagmire of confusion and uncertainty. I move in the dark, unable to see the present or future on my own terms. It's fuzzy and foresty. Between those trees are bright stars but the view is blocked by branches and tree trunks and forest. And I can't seem to see my way to the clearing and those beautiful stars.

Last night I tossed and turned in bed until 230 am. I resolved nothing, I mused about everything, I sighed and cried and read and shed blankets and fussed and mussed. Fuck I hate nights like this. Lots has happened in my life recently but I have not had time to process it all. Work is too busy, life is too busy, I have no time for settling down on the forest floor and looking at those trees and smelling that beautiful smell and saying yup this is the forest.  Those are the trees. There they are.

My photography and my reading and my writing and new relationships and my self are all up there on those branches and I can't reach them tonight. I am floating in a bed of pine needles on a forest floor with things in the way of my view. These 230 am musings confuse me and muddle my sense of who I am and what I want to be. They trip me up over the truth of what I need versus what I want versus what I can have.  They leave me feeling like I am eight years old again.  It used to be clearer, now it is not. Kind of like this post, not really clear is it? Can't really see the forest for the tress eh?  Welcome to my world.

Life is really funny like that. When we reach for stars and that view of the beautiful forest and get blocked by the trees at every turn.

As with everything in my life these past three and a half years since Terry died, I wait for the change, I try to process it, I try to stay patient and calm the fuck down.  But sometimes it doesn't happen and instead you have a sleepless night in Dartmouth and a blocked view of the forest.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Man who walks amoung the stars

As I get older I will hear more and more about the deaths of those I grew up listening to and idolizing. But I expected it would happen when I was much older, not now.  He was only 53!  I am only 55. I want life to stand still and stop this. I am not ready. I am so tired of death, I want life. I hate fuck cancer but I hate it doubly today because it took Gord Downie. Our embodiment of Canadianna. I was blessed to see him in action in 2007 and again in 2015.  Him on the stage moving his body to his music to his words from the heart. He was mesmerizing, so unbelievably so, pure magnetism-I could not take my eyes off him. I still see him and his stage antics. The music and songs make my entire body break out in goosebumps, I just have to hear the beautiful riff and vocal "sundown in the paris of the prairies"..  And what is so wonderful is that you probably know exactly what I am talking about.

I can't pick a favorite Hip song, oh many come close to the top; Bobcaygeon; Wheat Kings; Ahead by a Century; Fiddlers Green; Morning Moon. But seriously how do you even begin to choose from all that talent?  His lesser known songs are even more beautiful; Last night I dreamed you didn't love me; Put it off; Pigeon camera, and my favorite- It's a good life if you don't weaken. He won't ever be dead, but he has died- if you get my drift.

And that brings me to what his death has me thinking about today.  This overwhelming urge to live each day fuller. To not squander or waste the opportunity to live fully and completely everyday. Every. Single. Day. It's a physical feeling I feel, somewhere in my chest- in my breath. It makes my heart beat faster and causes a slight overall vibration. I have an increase of energy and sense of aliveness. This physical manifestation of life as I think and feel it should be lived.  This feeling is often times in the background and comes out of me on days like this. I heard about his death and had a good cry, and this has been there.

I want to go around and kiss everyone on the lips. Gord you had it right!
I want to cure cancer instead of saying fuck to it
I want to sit up all night and watch the stars move, fuck sleep you can do it when you're dead
I want to get on that motorcycle  now  before the snow flies
I want to love love love the ones I love and hug the ones I don't
I want to take those risks, speak from my heart
I want to fly overseas again and cry in the Tuscan fields
I want to live fully and completely

Sometimes I feel like I am trudging through the mundaneness of life waiting in the wings for the time when my life will begin. This is not how one should live because as I know so well this will catch up to me. You can die waiting, many have-- I don't want to die waiting. "No dress rehearsal this is our life"! People die at 53, at 65, life is so so fucking short, good people do die young. I feel paralyzed at times to do something about this except rage at anyone who will listen. I don't want to be pragmatic, I want to be idealistic wild and crazy.

I want to live like Gord danced!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A girl and her dog

Pax has been my constant companion for the past 5 years and 6 months. I remember the day I picked him out with Terry, Mary, Candice and Michael. We all went to Middleton and hung out in Roy's barn watching the baby collies that late winter. Roy showed us how the collies can herd sheep and jump fences and do tricks. They were splendid dogs. We met his mom and dad and said yes okay what about him - we will take the one with the broken white collar. I don't think his eyes were even open.  We returned April 17th, 2012 to pick him up. Me driving home, Terry holding him in a basket.

We were branching out for another go with a canine companion. About a year previous we had put our shepherd down because his hips had gone and he could not walk much anymore. It broke my heart, I still see him being put into the car to go to the vet. I remember how much I cried afterward, how we all did, how lonely it was to run in the woods without him by my side. I never thought I would be ready again for another to take his place. But as life happens, life happened. A co worker needed her husky exercised and I offered to take him when I ran. That dog jumped out of his skin when he saw me coming, he was a sweetie and it was good to have a running buddy again. Even if it made me cry over missing my Rembrandt.  And this husky wore me down, made me want that connection with a dog again. So I knew it was time to bring one into my life.

Pax is a special dog, no really he is. He is gentle beyond (you can put your hand with food right into his mouth and he won't bite down on it only the food). He loves to cuddle on the bed, on your lap, in your chair with you, on the floor you name it he wants to cuddle. He knows my emotions- when I am sad he comes and lays his head on my lap and looks at me with his beautiful and somewhat sad brown eyes. When I am upset or angry he sulks off anxiously into the den to lay in the corner (yes he is a tad anxious poor soul). If he could say I love you mommy he would.  It is this moment in the hall of the apartment on the way outside, this thing I noticed he does. He does not pull on the lease, he holds back and stays right by my left side and looks up at me as we walk toward the door his head and body really close to my side, just looking at me. He has done it numerous times, it's one of those moments, a connection between a girl and her dog that just will forever resonate in my heart. I always look to see if he will do it, most times he does not  but sometimes I get lucky. I love you too Pax, I would do anything for you.

In the past Pax was Terry's dog. He was the one who played frisbee and ball with him everyday in and outside of the house. I was the one who took him for runs in the woods but Terry fed him and played with him. I remember Terry saying he was afraid he wouldn't see Pax again when he was in the ER sick. He loved that dog too. Pax loved him, but would not stay on his sick bed. Pax got more anxious after Terry died. Pax loved Terry too obviously.  But he has me now, and I try hard to make him miss that master less and love this mistress more. He and I both together on this journey.

Pax met lots of people this weekend, he loved them all, he is fickle that way- going into someone elses bed for a cuddle without a second thought of me! Hah! I love it though, his open heart. I love bringing him to his second home, the cottage makes him very happy so I tried to ensure he got there almost every weekend this summer. I love this picture my friend took of him on my deck this past weekend. He looks like a puppy all fuzzy and back lit with the sun.

Hey Pax you and I are companions, you are my constant. I loves you to pieces, I know both you and I can have other companions, find others to give our hearts to, but please continue to walk by my side and look me in the eyes on our walks out the apartment door.

Friday, 13 October 2017

In the groove

Sometimes I feel at one. Ever been there, you know- in the groove so to speak? At one with nature and all that is around you. Even to the extent that you can almost read nature. I "feel" where the moon is without really knowing, I don't know north versus south but I just feel that moon is coming up there soon,  I feel or sense it below the horizon just over there. That kind of groove.

I call it being at one. Having a connection to the higher consciousness be it with all kindred spirits we share this planet with or be it with the sun, moon and stars that this beautiful blue dot wears as accessories. This feeling in the groove has been there a long time with me (oh it was missing for a few years for sure, but it is there when I allow myself to become conscious to it). I remember very vividly at the age of seven playing outdoors alone, no one around and feeling this way. This memory has stayed with me as a very good one. I only need walk in nature and I feel it again. In the groove.

Feelings-- they are so mysterious. I am fascinated. I guess this explains my desire to be a psychotherapist-- although I never reached that goal- I became my own- I have nevertheless always been intrigued with feelings. The extremes, the subtle, the unexpected, the ones that heal you, the ones that slay you. Couple happy feelings with nature- beautiful nature like a huge orange harvest moon and some heartfelt happiness and voila! In the groove. 

What about the collective consciousness, about what Jung taught us? That unconscious we share with others here on earth, the past experiences and even memories from our ancestors that are passed on to us, that are not ours- but we are born with. Was the fact that others on the ferry this evening were all looking at this moon and snapping pictures of it influencing my feeling? The women and men who said wow.  The lovers who sat close by me, her head on his shoulder looking at this beauty- did it signal my joy I am feeling in my heart right now? Or was it memories I already had before my birth of how others gazed upon a harvest moon and felt in the groove 1000's of years ago? Was it just me feeling in the groove, me, myself and I - not influenced by anyone or anything except what I was experiencing in that present moment?

It doesn't matter.  Oh it is fun for a person like me with my personality to engage these thoughts and questions and ponder on them and where these ponderings take me, but in the end it truly does not matter. I feel good, in the groove, the moon was stunning, my heart leaped in appreciation, my breath taken away with it's beauty as it rose exactly where I had anticipated.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

I killed a crow today

I killed a crow today. It was shocking. The little creature- a youngin- that was on the road, almost at the yellow line, standing there. I wasn't speeding, but didn't slow because I know how smart they are and how they always leave at the last second. This one did fly up at the last second but to my dismay and horror it flew into my windshield, directly into my side of the windshield. Right in front of my face. Black feathers flying, body thumping, in my face - the startling death of a crow. Of course this upset me terribly. I had to pull over. It reminded me of the time my sister hit a dog and came bawling her eyes out to us and was shaken. I was so sad. I had to tell someone, someone I care for, I had to confess.

For anyone who knows me well knows the crow has significance in my life. It was Terry's special connection with nature. He fed crows at our house, he loved them and read books about them and talked about them and to them. One time he found a dead crow, he had it in our garden and he took a picture of it staged and surrounded by greenery. I never understood this and found it bizarre and even silly. I think I asked why but do not remember his answer, maybe he needed this ritualization of the dead crow for some reason. Nevertheless, because they are connected with my dead husband and because it smacked me square in the face, my mind went to the significance of this. At first I grappled with is this a sign or a coincidence? Is this a sign or premonition of something terrible to come - one crow sorrow and all that. Being a person who has had significant come true premonitions (maybe a later post, maybe not) of course I'd go there. Then I thought deeper into the meaning of this. Perhaps it is an end to grieving in this phase and a moving on to new hopeful events in my life now? Perhaps it was a fucking coincidence nothing else, just a crow in the road that couldn't fly quick enough out of the way of my car.   But...ahh somehow no that didn't quite fit.

Then, as often is the case with me, other things happen. A confluence of little coincidences so to speak to just bring home the message - in case you missed the dead crow in your face. A song came on my playlist, ah yes me and my songs and what they say and mean to me.  See previous post "I'm moving through the dark of a long night". Well didn't that song come on. It is from War on Drugs new album called A Deeper Understanding (haha), the song called "Thinking of a place" and it has these words in it, I'm moving through the dark of a long night.  And I posted a blog about it. And here is the song again on my playlist of 900+ songs right after I leave the roadside, tears put away. Coincidence? I don't know but I committed to listening to the song in detail. This song by the way is also the song I spoke about in yesterday's post, where I witnessed Pam and Patrick dance to it in the kitchen.  Why is it there? Making me feel all these feelings? Well let's put aside it's spectacular guitar riffs, soulful steel guitar notes, the fact it is about 10 minutes long and is to me two songs into one, both a mournful and a hopeful joyous song. A little ditty of genius.  Let's put that aside. This song comes on and I must listen. I just killed a crow. I feel life's confluence happening here, music has always spoken to me, it my lover since age 15. Stay with me.

At first the song is sad it talks about meeting someone, first seeing them as light in life then them leaving, the sadness of that.

"It was back in Little Bend that I saw you
Light was changing on the water
Where birds above had flown
There was pain in your eyes
So you vanished in the night
Missouri River in the distance
So I lied upon the lawn

I remember walking against the darkness of the beach
Love is like a ghost in the distance, ever-reached
Travel through the night 'cause there is no fear
Alone but right behind till I watched you disappear"

The song is mournful and quiet, it kinda ends - it's unexpected when this happens you want to keep hearing the riffs the melody and beautiful magical words, you say no, it shouldn't end there, I want more  need to ... hear the hope. Then it changes  it fades out almost to a stop and but (happily you think) oh yes, it starts again. He talks about moving through the long dark night. The healing journey I guess because his love dissappeared. Then the song builds and builds and it comes back with even more beautiful music that grabs you and you get lost in it  just lost, you can't believe it almost ended way back there, and yet here it is still going on, the words ringing true, because they are what you were waiting for, you just knew it  you were waiting for this. They are about healing and finding new love and new life and new ways to journey through the dark night. It is oh so moving. It is oh so hopeful too.

"Come and take my hand, babe
There's a turn in the road that we've been taking
Let it set you free
Because there's a rhythm in the way that we've been moving
Yeah, there's a darkness over there, but we ain't going

See it through through my eyes
Walk me to the water
Hold my hand as something turns to me
And turns me into you
Lead me through the night
Pull me from the water
Hold my hand as something turns to me
Turns me into you"

This - all songs that grab me, like dead crows that smack me in the face -forced me to listen, to hear. I can only conclude that this was an ending or sorts, the crow, the serenade maybe confirmed it. A ending to this phase of grief.

The song speaks of a new beginning. I have moved into a new phase, a new beginning.

And it is good.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s what the old folks used to call a large day. Spectacular in many varied ways, be it weather, sunrises or sunsets that force you to look. Or perhaps it’s work done, wise words to the young or from the young, gestures with love, understanding and forthrightness all combined with magic in how the hours unfold lazily. And unfold lazily it did, with languid abandon to time and chores and anxieties. It was one of those in the moment days- all day.  Also, it was one of those days when you miss a companion by your side, someone to catch it as well, see it through each others eyes, so you’d have the shared memory for later. All they would need to say is “remember thanksgiving weekend at the camp in 2017 that day we called the large day”.... and you’d be transported here again.

In this day of days many moments showed me love between people. My sis and her hubby dancing to War on Drugs in the kitchen after a fantastic turkey supper. My cousin with a warm hug and genuine happiness for me as he saw the progress I am making in my serenity acre, this sanctuary of rest on my grief journey. Another cousin working on a beautiful piece of art for me. A walk on a new beach, feet in the water and on the warm sand, frolicking in the warm sun feeling it in every sense you have. Pax smiling at me. Fooling myself into believing it’s still summer.  All that love shared.

I started my day alone in the dark at 530 am on my deck photographing. Watching the sun’s slow dawn, the mist rolling in, the moon setting over a calm flat mirror of water. Coyotes howling for breakfast in the woods nearby and loons looning their soft mournful cry. Yes it’s thanksgiving, and I am thankful.  A beautiful feeling I am grateful to relive. I enjoyed the morning alone and it was ok. I have discovered I like alone time - me the extrovert....imagine that! It helps me think, it puts me in tune with that unknown entity we all sometimes feel touch us. A hammock or a deck chair to lie in and just gaze at sparkly sea water or let a tear of gratitude leak out without all the explaining that may follow. I seek it now, just a few alone spaces in a day is all I need, a companion is missed, but nonetheless I am finding I like alone. Surprise surprise.

So it is pretty easy to express warm thoughts of thanks on this thanksgiving weekend when the day reigns as large as this one. Thankfulness and gratitude for my family whom I marvel everyday they are alive. Today it doesn’t just feel like a quick thought of kindness sent off into the ether in the hopes there is a divine connectedness working with that prayer. Today it feels like that divine connectedness took that prayer and sent it back into my heart. Filling it with love. Like a happy thank you for giving that thanks.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Life savers

Sometimes when I look at my life over the past 8 years or so, I am sad. Much of it had been harsh and heavy. Lots of work in my career and work on myself to end with death of a spouse. On the GAF I would score high. I believe chronic stress has taken a toil on my body. I have turned away from healing gentle ways and fallen into bad habits. No exercise, bad diet etc. Here's news - it is time to stop looking there. Instead now I find I am looking with envy toward others with healthy clean living habits. They are life savers. I want that for me now. As a strong person who can go for what I want- whether it is to let myself go down the drain or let myself heal on a whole new level- I choose healing.
"This desperation
Separation, condemnation
Revelation in temptation
Isolation, desolation
Let it go"

I have a plan, not a goal. I can reach it, I see it there on the periphery. October is one of those times of the year when all is new again. I met Terry in early October, and we started our life together. I had Jeremy in October, a new mother with a new life to care for. It's a season of change and of new starts. People call it the mini new year, when change is about in the air. I see an opportunity to start afresh every fall when the crisp air arrives. I am tired of looking back, have been for awhile now.  I realize you can't drown your sorrows, you just need to swallow them, that way they don't keep coming up. Be at one with them. Take them in whole, into your soul. They are all a part of you all those sorrows. They shape you forever. They are life savers if you let them be.

I was told, you will have hope again, slowly all the dark you needed to escape into will be replaced with moving toward things in a light instead.  I was told, you deserve to be happy I want to see you happy.  I was told it will change, it sucks now but it won't always.  Life savers.

"If I could through myself
Set your spirit free, I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day"

I have spent a number of these last three years trying to stay the same, go back, relive, remember and I have concluded that this is futile. And for a very --what occurred to me at the time as a profound truth others might have seen or known all along--good reason, and that is  holy shit of course it is futile to go back, how could you, you are not the same person!  It was a simple statement by my mentor in photography. She another life saver. You are not the same person anymore Sussey and you can't yet know who the new you is.  Some core values and tenants remain, but how I live them out is changed. Who I live them out with will change. It is no longer my sweet Terry by my side, he only remains in my heart. This new Sussey moves forward grabbing those life savers thrown to me, towards this change of season, change of being - with the good of what she once was and hope in what she will become.

To let it go
And so to fade away
To let it go
And so, fade away
Wide awake
I'm wide awake
Wide awake
I'm not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Women in their 50's

They have so much to offer, wisdom, financial security, sexual prowess and experience. A certain je ne sais quoiNo fear of a little blue or pink line on the ole pee stick. No busyness with snotty kids and messy diapers. Women over 50 rock, I see why younger men are attracted to older women now (and yes I have had more than one 35 year old contact me online) (although it creeps me out big time-  I get why they are attracted). I feel sorry for the old men going for the young things.  Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren have got it all over any of the Kardashians, Taylor Swift or Katie Perry. All over!

Before I get started this is not a oh the widow is horny post (see the art of the kiss post for that). This goes far beyond that notion, although there is nothing wrong with horny. But that is only one component in the passionate over 50 women. I was watching this hilarious show last night called Big Mouth. It starts off with these grade eights in puberty and all the fun and foibles that that entails. I felt so sorry for them in between nearly pissing my pants laughing at them. I had forgotten how awful and fraught with angst that period of life was when our bodies change and we start blossoming sexually. Wow I went through that??? Somehow all I am left remembering of that time is a few kissing sessions and feeling penises for the first time. That and how I wanted to tear off my acne-ravaged face my entire high school years. Fuck!  Thank Christ that is over. (well most of it tee hee)

Now, as a mature women in her 50's I have a body I half admire, one that can look damn good by the way with a camera and some well positioned poses. No pimples, but yes some scars, belly fat and sun spots I could do without but hey it shows I lived and lived well. I no longer am ashamed of my face or my body (that in itself is fucking sexy). My hair has never looked better because I have money to spend on it (especially after it's colored and curled). I can go out and buy a gorgeous bra and underwear set and still look good in it. But I am not talking about only skin deep sexual beauty, I am talking about the knowledge that older women my age have. About life, about relationships, about how passion works and doesn't work, about what they want and how they can go about getting it without games like sending those notes to the guys best friend as we did in grade eight. It's this self knowledge that is sexy. This is very appealing to me, and I see it in older women. That knowing what they like and asking for it! Yes asking and knowing how to get it even if rejected because they know rejection isn't the end of the world. They know they can get it from themselves. Powerful wise women over 50.

I look forward to the day I take myself out to a nice dinner and movie alone, only me for company. I am very close to that. It's taken awhile but I am close. I feel the power in being a single women. The power to say no, or to say yes, to decide I want this today. To seek it and bask in it and enjoy it and be totally aware and open to the joy and yes the consequences of it. That is freeing, that is sexy and powerful. My girlfriend took boudoir pictures of me last weekend. This was something I never would have considered even 10 years ago, at that time I bought into the whole body shaming culture the fashion industry spouts off. It was actually suggested by a friend to do it for myself. And although at first I hesitated, later I rethought it and said why not? Life is full of choices we make, zillions each day, month, and year that lead us to the paths we go down. I was happy with my choice that day and the results.

As I get older I have less fear in being authentic, in just being myself, as well as speaking my truth to those I encounter in life. I have nothing to hide, in fact I have something to share so my journey and heart have been public this last year. Another conscious and thoughtful decision I made, knowing all the consequences. Even though I heard both sides of the public versus private debate, and have weighed them, I remain happy in my intentions and decisions to be public on this blog. When and if it no longer feels right in my intentions I will decide differently.

Today my truth is that in life the road forks into many divergent paths. In my youth I took the quiet, safe make everyone happy paved road. In my 50's I am taking a bumpy uncharted road. On both roads I carried with me my passion, I felt everything fully- all the good all the bad, all the tragic, all of it I felt fully and completely. Sometimes it took awhile to come to me, sometimes it over rode my sensibilities but fuck I never ever regretted living a passionate life. To seek a path is not really the matter here, what the matter is  is  did you walk down it with your passion? If you didn't, if you aren't- stop. Do it before it is too late. Take this fucking world by the tail and go for a wild ride!