Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Last September

Last September I visited my brother in the hospital where he was being treated for cancer, and I remember talking with him in the room he shared with three other cancer patients. Four patients separated by L-shaped curtains. Over that weekend, my brother would periodically fall asleep during our visit and that would allow me a few minutes to overhear the other families chatting with their loved ones in the same room. It was impossible not to eavesdrop. Considering the circumstances it was inevitable. With a respectful glance here and there we all informally agreed and understood.

During those times, I listened to a young man react when his father shared an important regret. I listened to a husband and wife play a well-worn game with their adorable curly-haired pre-school daughter. The fourth bed was empty; at the time I tried not to think about why. Occasionally a nurse would stop by. Briefly looking out the window, I watched some staff throw a birthday party/bbq in the parking lot for a young cancer patient. Amidst all these quiet and soft goings-on, my brother would wake and we would continue our own quiet conversations, as quiet as my brother cared to be.

I found this both heart-rending yet comforting. Don't get me wrong, I know this wasn't about me. But watching my brother sleep, I began to grasp the magnitude of how many people are affected by cancer daily: patients, families, medical professionals. I also began to see that he was not alone in this: many others were sharing the same journey. A sad journey, but still, not alone. He had his wife's support and dedication, terrific children and friends and even one good friend going through cancer herself. I knew all this but my heart wanted more, mostly to ease my guilt and anger and frustration and powerlessness because I would soon leave him and return to my home over 1000 kilometers away.

Today I wonder, during his six months of treatment, what other quiet and soft goings-on he overheard every time he had chemo and radiation and what sort of fear or comfort or both they provided and I hope, hope, hope they helped him feel not alone.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One for you.

R.I.P.
Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would I’d never leave.” ~A.A. Milne

Someone suggested to me recently that memories are like any of our senses: we can taste them, smell them, see them, hear them, and of course, we can feel them. This is intriguing to me because I tend to think of memories in the past, something I can time-travel to watch from a slight distance. But maybe though, maybe memory is something we can truly re-inhabit like any sensory experience happening in the now?  Maybe I could crawl inside a memory like wading into a summer lake until the cold freshness of it covers my head.

For me, it was a beauty of a thought. Maybe memories aren’t quite as real as reality but it doesn’t mean they’re not real. They’re real. They can still cause goose-bumps. Tonight I’m conjuring memories. I need some right now. And in this moment, these memories feel as real to me as the sunrise this morning:


1. A dirt-bike ride on a dusty summer road.
2. Sitting on the back of a skidoo watching a white rabbit hop through the trees.
3. Standing with my brothers on a snowpile in our snowsuits.
4. A Black Ford truck with red velvet curtains.
5. A little girl with big fluffy curls sitting on the floor waiting for her Dad to hand her another present.
6. A fawn in my proud brother’s arms.
7. Watching my brother watch a smash-up derby.
8. One word uttered with a sort-of tired and teasing declaration: “Idiot.”
9. A little dog named Sophie waiting at the door for him to return.
10. 

I left the last one blank for you. I hope you take a moment and inhabit one of your favourite memories. Don’t wait. Do it now. Because, as we all know, moments disappear much too suddenly, so suddenly they can break a guy's heart. Still though, isn’t it grand that some things that happen in life never quite unhappen? For that, at least, I am thankful.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ever have...?

crap table

Ever have one of those days where you tell your wife, sure, no problem, go ahead and set up your craft/card-making table in my man-cave, but inside, a little part of you is dying?

Ever have one of those weekends where you decide to clean out a few closets and a few rooms and they film it for a show called Hoarders?

Ever have one of those years where you get a bank statement and it says you made a total of $1.38 interest on your savings account for the entire year?

Ever have one of those seconds where you blink and your kid seems taller than you are and you wonder where time went?

Ever have one of those coffee breaks where you think you had a really good nap but it was only like two minutes, and (awkwardness) it was during a meeting?

Ever have one of those weeks when none of the plug-ins in any of your bathrooms work and so you phone an electrician and after you explain you’ve tried that, and that, and that, he still says he can’t come and gives you a few tips on how to play with those electrical wires yourself and so you google it six different ways and then resign yourself to inevitable and imminent electrocution.

Ever have one of those 15 minutes you’ll never get back because someone pocket-dialed you from Oregon but you don’t know anyone from Oregon and so you let it go to voice mail and then you have to remember what your voice mail password is and then when you finally listen to your voice mail it’s all garbled talking but you listen to the very end anyway because there is the remote possibility that someone has been kidnapped and all these mumbles are actually clues and you might need to rescue the dialer and you could be their absolute last hope but the rational side (sliver) of your brain is reminding you that you probably watch way too much TV. 

Ever have one of those days when you wonder if you'll ever have one of those days that aren't one of those days?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

the trail.

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail." ~unknown

#outgrowtherutnotthetrail
#ormakeyourowntrail
#leaveatrailforsomeoneelse
#snowshoetrailblazing
#thanksmac&t

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pigs Flying? Sure.

Grumpy Pig
Everyone always talks about January. Sooooooooooo long. Sooooooooo depressing. Soooooooo cold. Soooooooooo dark. But I say, what about February?!

It’s sooooooo short but the days get longer thus it’s completely confusing. There’s more light to interrupt sleep. There’s Valentines Day and all the pressure associated with that. Depressing. And chocolate. And flowers. Those are imported from other countries and that leaves a serious carbon footprint. And people get engaged. And married. And we all know how that turns out. And the groundhogs. Don’t get me started on the rodents. Do the lemmings get their own day? No. And that is probably why they jump off cliffs.

And another thing: this year there’s no February 29. Total rip-off. We should get to make up an extra day every year. Just one. Every. Single Year. Is that too much to ask? I’m thinking work would be optional of course. And we wouldn’t age. And on that extra day we could eat everything we want without consequences. And well, that reminds me of other things that are never going to happen:

1.      Pigs flying.

I’m tired of that. Such and such and such when pigs fly. What?! Of course this expression isn’t intended literally but considering the groundhog thing, if there were any possibility of pigs flying it would definitely happen in February. Think about it. But there’s this problem too: it would likely happen on February 30, maybe the 31st. Not too likely then is it? So frustrating.

Problems eh? Problems all the time. Problems. Problems. Problems...

(Pssssst grumpy people...here’s a message for you from someone who says it much better than I: “Be careful how you interpret the world: it's like that.” ~Erich Heller)
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