Stone Dust

My daughter Kathryn wrote a poem. Won a contest and had it performed by Symphony New Brunswick’s string quartet.  

They performed it again today at the grand finale of the sculpture symposium at the harbour.  

I’m the proudest mother in the world.  


 Open letter of thanks to the Saint John Regional Hospital Emergency Staff:


Monday September the 19th marks the two year anniversary since my husband came to the hospital, died, and was brought back to us. 


In thanks and immense gratitude to everything you and the emergency room staff did for us, and the fifth floor cardiac care staff, I wanted to let you know what he has been able to see and do, thanks to your saving his life:


Our oldest son bought his first car.

Our oldest daughter got her first apartment.

Our middle daughter graduated high school and started University

Our youngest daughter had a poem set to music by Symphony New Brunswick

Our youngest son hit 6 feet tall at 14 years old.


We had a wedding and had our children re-marry us for our 20th wedding anniversary.


And most important of all:

We’ve had two more years as a family. Together. 


Those are just highlights, milestones, and major events, but the true measure of our lives these days are made up of the millions and millions of little things that happen every day. The hugs, the kisses, the laughter, even the fights. I never thought I’d be grateful to fight with someone, but damned if I am.


We started out our lives against the odds. Married at 19 and 20. And here we are, 21, almost 22 years later and still going strong.


I will never, ever forget that day. I will never forget what the staff did and watching more than a dozen people spring into action. I will never forget Joe, the paramedic who literally held me upright and told me what was happening as it happened and the fact that no one tried to get me out of that room.

I will never forget the staff on the CCU who let me come and go at any hour because they could see that this man’s life is my whole life. Everything I am is wrapped up in him and what we are together. What we’ve come through, what we’ve hung on to. What we’ve created.


And so, as this two year mark rapidly approaches, I just had to take the time to say thank you. 


From all of us. 


Especially me.


September is a month I don’t generally care for. Historically it has meant the massive back-to-school buys of new backpacks, shoes, supplies and multiply that by five kids each year! We are down to three now, but, with two in high school and one in University, the buys have just gotten bigger. 

Band fees, parking passes, tuition costs etc. 

September also brings a ton of things to be read and signed. Lawwwd how I dislike the sheaf’s of papers that come home needing a parent’s signature. Merely a pet peeve, it is a distinct one and I get tired of reading the same forms over and over. 

We have one teacher this year who refuses refuses to accept any work that is not typed out and printed. Which means, dear parents, that if you don’t already own one, you better run out and buy a printer. I rebel against this particular one. It’s far and away a bigger ask than the old “please bring in a box of Kleenex for the class”. And it’s unfair on the parents. There are still some families out there who don’t have a home computer, let alone a printer. Besides which, it’s important to encourage the kids to actually write out their work. To learn the difference between a first draft and a final copy. I’m getting ranty, I know. This one just makes me mad though.


Another issue with September? The germs. Back to school means germs which means that almost every single year without fail, some sort of cold has gone through our house. Sometimes strep throat. One year, the flu. Yes, it’s good for our immune systems but yuck. No one likes to get sick. And I hate seeing the kids so miserable. Not going to lie, though, I like that they need me. Sure, they can take care of themselves, but, when they’re sick, even the oldest ones want mom to come cover them with a blanket, lay a cool cloth on their forehead and make them a hot toddy and some soup. I like being that version of mom. 


September has new meanings now as well. We had our first kid start University this year. There are three family birthdays in September to celebrate and one, very big, celebration of life. 

The 19th this year will mark two years since Shawn’s heart failure. Two years feels good. It feels safer than one year did. It reminds us that life is fleeting and fragile and we’re too old not to live the life we want. We work hard, and we should work just as hard at keeping our family happy and making time for ourselves. It reminds me too of the absolute outpouring of love and support our family received at the time. It’s important to remember that we all have an impact on the world around us and we touch many, many lives. 


Fall is a great time to focus on the change aspects of life. Because change is literally all around us. And sure, it’s not spring when everything is about being new and reborn, but, maybe that makes fall just a little bit more important. The trees have to shed their leaves, the flowers have to die. You can’t have the new, until the old is gone to make room for it. But, like the proverbial phoenix, sometimes when the old dies, the new is reborn even more glorious than before. 


So sure, I dislike the buying of all the things (no, you DON’T need a third pair of shoes) and the signing of all the forms (what’s THIS one for?), and the endless running around for the right amount of lined paper and coloured highlighters. Yes, I definitely dislike getting sick and watching the kids get sick and especially watching the hubs get sick. 


Yes. I *still* cringe and have to look away when I watch a tv show or movie with cardiac arrest that looks very realistic. And I still cry. At everything.


But, changes are inevitable. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at embracing them. Better at appreciating the “fall” of life, where some things have to be let go of, but just maybe, they’re making way for something better. 

The Bee and the Beav

A little levity for your day. 

Tonight the gorgeous hubs and I drove our daughter and her best friend to the EX in Saint John. We arrived just in time for them to be closing up. We thought it ran until 10 tonight, but sadly, 5:30.  Still , thanks to a generous man who was leaving with his tired small daughter in tow, the girls got a dozen tickets and managed to eke out two rides.  They decided to see a movie instead of the afore planned night at the fair so we dropped them off and headed for home along the back roads.  I drove, and Shawn struck his comfort pose: window open, arm draped along the ledge.  

That’s when it happened.  On a road rife with twists, turns and hills. 

A bee. Flew in. The window. And landed. In. My. Crotch.  

I tried not to panic too hard, but I somehow managed to lift my entire, seat, off the seat while slowing the car and eventually pulling over.  

That’s when I hit the release on my seat belt and did a full pelvic thrust upwards. I howled at Shawn to get it, kill it, but carefully because he is allergic and I didn’t want him to get stung either.  He was frantic with me. “Kill it with what?” He asked. “Your shoe?” We both looked down. He had laces.  It would simply take too long. And my shoes were out because I was using them to keep my body hovered as high over the seat as I could. Lifting one foot to remove a shoe would drop me hard back down and, as I yelped, I didn’t want to be stung on the Beav.  

Thankfully, it appeared our little visitor had already died. Or had he? We didn’t want to wait to find out. Shawn managed to get it into a tissue and drop it out the window. 

We got back on the road, but we laughed. Who? Who else does this happen to?  

No one was stung, happily. And we arrived home with a new annecdote in our ever eventful lives.  

I know I should feel sad, if the bee really did die, because it’s so important to save the bees, but, I’m not ready to donate my honey pot to the cause.  


It’s been almost two years (less a month) to the day since I’ve seen my sister in law Amber and my niece Makayla.  The last time they were here was when Shawn was in a coma following his heart failure and attacks. 

So you can imagine how happy I was a couple of months ago when she called and told us that she and her husband Greg and Miss Mak were going to come down for a holiday/visit this summer.  

I’m tremendously blessed in my in laws.  I have a wonderful bunch of second siblings and parents and Amber and I have always been specifically close.  After all, I’ve known her since she was eight. I watched her grow up and be a teenager and then a young woman. She lived with us for almost a year and I was right there with her when Makayla was born and then when she and Greg were married.  She in turn was here for me that horrific week when we didn’t know if Shawn would live or die. 

All week last week were sending excited texts to one another and yesterday, when they pulled into the driveway, the car was barely turned off before she was out of the car hugging us all amidst squeals of delight. 

Last night we drank too much beer, had The Hip concert on and we talked and laughed and sang for hours.  

It’s going to be an amazing time with them and, I fear, way too short.  But, we’ve learned since September 19th, 2014 and, all of the country remembered last night, time is fleeting at best. 

Grab your loved ones. Sing loudly and live as hard as you can.  

We’re going to holiday the shit out of this week.  Because all too soon, September will be here, and our lives will all slip quietly into yet another chapter.  

And so I sing

I love those hokey, uplifting sayings that always float around the Internet and on signs in kitschy home stores.  

Dance like no one is watching 

Love like you’ve never been hurt

And so on.  You know the ones.  Hallmark philosophy. I think they’re cute, but they also serve as lighthearted reminders that we shouldn’t take ourselves, and life, too seriously.  

I sing. 

My car is my concert hall of choice. I have a weird mix of music in it at any given time. Soundtracks of favourite musicals, Opera, recordings my dad made for me of Irish artists, Chris de Burgh and Adele. Dixie Chicks. Black Eyed Peas. Eminem. Robbie Williams and Blue Rodeo.  I know them all. I know the words, the nuances, the pauses. And I sing them all, everyday.  It relaxes me, fires me up, makes me laugh out loud and sometimes makes me cry.  

My music choice will more often than not, reflect my mood. If you hear Billy Joel blasting from my car, I’m probably in a really good, slightly nostalgic mood.  If it’s opera, I’m lost inside my own head, in my thoughts, memories, or, I’m writing something and plotting pieces of the story.  

We all have difficult moments in our lives.  And they always seem to happen in clusters, don’t they? One or two hard things I can usually handle, but when the hard comes in all at once, I falter.  

So I sing. 

I get out my eclectic collection and find something that is going to speak to me and soothe my mind, ease my tension and bring me out of my head and the swirl of thoughts that threatens to overtake and overwhelm. 

And so I sing. 

Maybe in my car, maybe in my kitchen. Maybe just in my own head.  Because it’s hard work for me to bounce out of the cyclone of negative thoughts that threatens to take over whenever I’m going through something hard.  For someone who has struggled with both depression and anxiety and has been previously medicated for both, it’s been a long journey to get me to a place where I can cope on my own.  But I can’t always do it alone. 

And so I sing.  


I have a love-hate relationship with my birthday.  As a kid, I hated it. Summer birthdays are awful, No one is home, it’s hot and everyone feels kind of lethargic. 

Then I got older and started loving my birthday.  I loved going out with friends, going out with my husband and having the kids bring me lovely handmade gifts and cards.   The day changed into something to be shared as a fun day with the family and that’s when I really started to love it. 

Whenever my birthday falls on a weekend, we tend to make a fuss of it all weekend.  But to be fair, we do this for everyone in the family.  

So Friday.  We decided to get pizza and Shawn and I drove with our daughter Kathryn (16), to pick it up.  I drove, in my slippers, and so they went into the store and I stayed in the car.  While they were in, the Lost Boys song came on the radio. I really like it and I know Kathryn loves it so I turned it up and when they got back in the car, we drove away and Kathryn started to sing along.  

Maybe it’s because I was already feeling nostalgic, since my birthday was two days away.  Maybe it was the sound of her voice or the lyrics.  I suddenly realized that she is no longer a “lost boy”.  That age of innocence and fairies and lands of make believe are almost over for her.  My beautiful baby girl now wears make up and goes on dates and she is no longer full of pig tails and make believe.   I started to tear up. And then I started to cry.  Shawn tried to ask me what was wrong but, I knew if I spoke it would be a loud, ugly sob, so I shook my head.  He gave me a few minutes and when I told him, I could see him reacting as well. 

Now, I should say, of all my kids Kathryn is probably actually the one who has most held on to the magic of childhood and maybe that was also part of why I was so moved.  Anyway, once the emotional vault has been opened with me, it’s hard to close, so I was in or close to tears all night for the opening of the olympics. 

Yesterday we went to the Saint John pride parade and we walked in it this year. With one gay daughter and one daughter who is…questioning, it’s so important for me as a parent to celebrate who they are as individuals and show them the community which is full of more love and acceptance than any other community I’ve had the pleasure to know.  Seeing the smiles on the faces of my family as they walked and all the positive and loving energy in the city was truly remarkable.   

Last night Shawn took me to the movies to see Suicide Squad.  I was never a comic book kid but I’m loving the movies and he is loving bringing me into a world that was a big part of his childhood. Although there were a few obvious plot holes, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We left the theatre just after nine to a late twilight and a very foggy city.   I asked him to drive home along the KV river. 

As most of you who know us know, Shawn is the romantic.  He has been known to give me flowers “just because it’s Thursday” and to romance me with poems and gifts and sweet surprises.  

But last night, with all the wonderful feelings of the day still swirling, I was the romantic one. 

On the river there is a warf where the boats all launch and a huge pier.  The shore has a lighthouse that doesn’t shine it’s top light much, but is still quite pretty.  I asked him to pull in to the parking lot and we got out and walked down into the pier.  There was still a hazy fog everywhere and the water was calm as glass and there was lights from the boats reflecting. I turned on my phone, put on The Luckiest, and asked him to dance with me. 

So he did. We danced on that pier all alone in the fog and the dark and the dancing lights and I realized, Neverland is always there, if you look for it. It just hides behind all the work and the bills and the struggles of everyday life but, when you need it, it’s just below the surface. Or perhaps, dancing on it.  

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