Thursday, July 30, 2015

Love outlives us all

We said our final goodbye to Evan's dad, Jerry, yesterday. Jerry passed away in February, with his boys and Peggy at his side. Jerry fought a long, hard battle with mesothelioma, a cancer that he acquired through working with asbestos many many years ago. Yesterday, Evan, Evan's brother, Scott, Peggy, and I walked slowly and thoughtfully to Jerry's grave sight, where his ashes would be buried. The weather was warm, breezy, and sunny, but a storm was brewing in the North. We held each other, shed some tears, and remembered Jerry. I remember meeting Jerry for the first time as a 17 year old girl. He was a large, stoic, intimidating man. It took a few occasions to realize that Jerry liked me, and enjoyed my company. Once I knew he approved and genuinely liked me, we teased each other back and forth - he always had a twinkle in his eye. I briefly lived with Jerry and Peggy while I did a work placement in Red Deer. Wow. Did I ever feel loved in that home! One day Jerry came home with a  scarf that he had picked out for me - one he thought would go perfectly with the new coat I had bought. At that point, I knew that Jerry cared for me deeply, and accepted me as a part of his family - someone who was suited to the son he treasured so much. I remember camping with Jerry - laughing and telling ghost stories late into the night. I remember dancing with Jerry on our wedding day. Jerry was so happy that day - I could feel the joy radiating from him. As we danced (I could never figure out his trademark dance move), he told me that he was so proud to have me as a daughter. I've never felt more accepted, loved, and proud to be a Lindsay. I'm going to miss my twinkling-eyed Jerry, and my heart just breaks for Peggy, Evan, and Scott.

As we stood around Jerry's ashes, Scott looked up at the sky and said, "Well that's weird." We looked up and saw a rainbow circling around the sun. It was pretty incredible. It was so apparent that Jerry was with us. He would have loved seeing us all together, remembering him. He is so loved, and always will be.

This is also the week that the world lost Ryan. It was 4 years ago on July 31. I am thankful that the tragic memories of that day on the river have been pushed aside to the part of my brain that doesn't allow access anymore. The brain is funny like that. My memories of Ryan continue to be his enthusiasm and zest for life. This year, especially, has been one where I've thought about Ryan a lot. The words of the Minister: "Use Ryan's life to inspire your own," have resonated in my mind for the last 4 years. Our decision to "sell it all" and move to a tropical island was most certainly inspired by Ryan. He would have loved it! I can still hear that high pitched excited voice, "F'n deadly man!" One day Evan and I commented, "Ryan would have been our first guest here - he probably would have made some home made boat and found a way to get here by sea!" I feel Ryan's energy around me all the time and it makes me feel incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to know him and learn from him during the years that we did have together. It's amazing how time heals and I hope and pray that time is healing the hearts of Ryan's friends and family and that time will heal the hearts of those of us who love and miss Jerry so much right now.

So that's pretty heavy stuff - it's been a heavy few weeks but I'm feeling much better these days and I'm physically and mentally strong enough now to process the events over the past 6 months and help to support Evan and his family.

One of my biggest fears about moving away was that things would change. Things have changed. A lot. But there's no need to fear it. With moving away, the sale of the gym, rumours, and untruths, Evan and I were faced with the reality that some of our friendships were not as strong as we had thought. If this was Facebook, Evan and I would have been "unfriended." Haha (awkward laugh). At first, it hurt. But something really awesome happened: our true friends really came through - they showed how much they love and support us. Not just our Canadian friends, but our newly acquired buddies on the island. Some people really surprised us, reaching out to offer help in any way they could. They have been there for us through everything - even the ugly (lots of ugly from me! Sorry!) -  and have demonstrated to us that no matter what changes, they will stand by us. We needed them, and they were there for us, no questions asked. Unconditional, uncomplicated love. Awesomeness! We have 3 weeks left before we move back to the island. 3 weeks! OMG. I intend to spend the next 3 weeks showing my friends and family how much I love and appreciate all of them. I love you guys! Thank you.

I also have 3 weeks to continue to improve my walking.  For the first time since January, I am now able to walk crutchless (that's crutchless, not crotchless haha) indoors, but I'm still using 1 crutch when walking outside. I wear 2 giant, awkward braces on my legs. Let me tell ya, It's very difficult to pull that look off, but I know I can rock this, and have a newly acquired wardrobe of long, slinky skirts. I'm really really good at walking backwards - if I could spend the rest of my life walking backwards, I'd bet set. I'm also a very speedy sideways walker (like a ninja crab). Stairs are difficult, but doable, and the pain varies from day to day (I actually pulled a muscle in my ass this week! Who knew that a muscle in a such a presently tiny area could hurt so bad!!!) Overall, progress is great and things are moving along. I'm still a little scared, but definitely hopeful.

Cheers to telling the ones who mean the most to you how you feel. Friends: get ready for 3 weeks of Kirstie Love! Haha.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I can do this by my (EXPLETIVE) self!

Oh the toddler years. Although I can't speak from the personal experience of raising a toddler, I can definitely say that as an observer, the toddler years often appear to be a very challenging time for both parent and child. Toddlers can be defiant. They can be impulsive. They can constantly challenge their boundaries and assert their independence - which can be difficult for parents when they want to foster their toddler's growth, yet keep their child safe from harm.

Cue Kirstie: weeks 6-8 of recovery. As I have gained more independence and strength, I have also morphed into a defiant, impatient, angry little toddler. This is slightly ironic as, apparently (so I've heard), I was a terrible 2 year old who banged my head against the floor until it bruised if I did not get my way (Hello people, just give me my way! duh).

For 6 weeks after surgery, I depended heavily on family and friends to feed me, water me, bathe me (a job I allocated to Evan ONLY - good times, hey Ev? wink wink. Haha), and basically tend to my beck and call. When you feel sore, sick, and listless, this is much needed and appreciated. But something happened….I began to feel better.

Evan's mom, Peggy, came and stayed with us for a month. I don't think either of us planned on her staying for a whole month, but it just flew by, and we both enjoyed each other's company so much. I really love Peggy, and not just because she's my mother-in-law and the best cook ever. Peggy is also my good friend. She's honest and funny. She makes me laugh. She's easy to talk to. We are both going through a tough time in our lives, and it felt good to go through it together. Also, we both share a hatred of the "inspirational" saying:  "Time to pull up your big girl panties." People need to stop saying that! It does NOT inspire one who is struggling. Plus, I've never seen a table at Victoria's Secret that displays "big girl panties." It's dumb. Rant over. In addition to being a super friend and confidante, Peg also cleaned and re-organized my entire house! Hello? Awesomeness! I am so grateful for that. Side note: before Peggy arrived, Evan insisted on using only paper plates, as he decided to "strike" against washing dishes. Thank goodness for the arrival of my Peggy!

Anyway, every day my mom, who we all know is incredibly awesome as well, would come over and I would get a visit with the "moms." (someday I'll look back on those hours as some of the best, I'm sure!) The visit would always start with a run-down of what I had eaten. I still need to gain about 15 pounds to be healthy again, and I know Peggy and my mom were just concerned that I wasn't eating enough. You know moms. One particular day, I was lying on the couch and mom walked in my house.

Peggy said, "Hi Lynne, SHE ate her whole bowl of porridge today!"

"Wow! I also brought HER yogurt. Maybe SHE'LL eat that!"

"SHE'LL probably like that!"

That's when it happened. That's when I suddenly morphed into….ANGRY TODDLER KIRSTIE.

"I am right here!" I shouted, "I am NOT a SHE or a HER. I am RIGHT HERE!"

Oops. Shame on the moms for trying to keep me alive and healthy! Thankfully, the moms shrugged off my little tantrum and we moved on. My mom did admit that as soon as I left the room she said to Peggy, "Well SHE is NOT having a good day." Haha. I did notice that I was never a pronoun again (FYI: SHE did eat the yogurt. It was good).

It happened again a few days later. The stairs in our cabin that lead to our master bedroom are basically death stairs. They are long. They are slippery. They are steep. And I mean steep, people! For some reason they are bright yellow so when you're falling to your death, you're also blinded by an offensive yellow hue. Not wanting to give up my comfy master bed, Evan has been carrying me up the steep stairs every night. Sounds romantic, right? Not when you have absolutely no say over your bedtime. It turned into a bit of an issue. One evening Evan informed me that he had an early start the next day and would like to go to bed at 9:30. 9:30??? What, am I like 8 years old? What the heck am I going to do in bed at 9:30? It's still light outside - I can hear children tubing behind a boat at 9:30! People are watering their lawns at 9:30!  Even Peggy was completely insulted with my bedtime, "Evan, Kirstie and I were supposed to watch CSI at 9!" She would joke about it as we watched TV at night, "Uh oh Kirstie, he's coming to get you and take you to bed!" Evan had a solution for me, "Why don't you just sleep downstairs" (in the not so comfy smaller bed). Cue Angry toddler Kirstie. "NO, that's fine. I will find a way to get up those damn stairs by myself."

And I did.

Backwards on my bum (not much cushioning there these days!), crutches in hand, I tricep pushed my way up those stairs at 11pm - the time that I CHOSE to go to bed. Unfortunately, halfway up the death trap, one crutch slipped out of my grasp and tumbled to the floor. Shit. So at this point I was stuck halfway up the bright yellow staircase, 1 crutch down. Hearing Evan snoring softly, refusing to ask for help, I continued up the stairs on my ass and dragged myself to my bed with the help of my amazing triceps (thank god those still work). It took me at least 20 minutes. There. The next day when I awoke, the other crutch, the casualty crutch, stood quietly beside my bed. Ev and I never discussed what may or may not have occurred during my independent stair climbing episode. I am proud to say that I now have a solid strategy that gets me up that horrid staircase independently every evening - when I DECIDE to go to bed.

Behold: The yellow staircase…of death
In addition to my defiance, I have also apparently lost my ability to share with others. As I mentioned earlier, Peg is the ultimate cook. Her baking is to die for. Peggy's signature creation is the skor bite. Graham wafer crust topped with skor bar pieces, chocolate, and condensed milk - this dessert will bring you to your knees. Unfortunately my angry stomach is just not havin' it these days. In Peg's wisdom, she baked all my favourites, including the skor bites, and froze them for me - to be consumed once I was feeling better. My evil friends (you know the ones who have been helping keep me alive and happy for the last 6 weeks) found the frozen baking, and to my horror, began snacking on a few items. As I watched them devour my treats with pleasure, crumbs falling off their chins, Toddler Kirstie began to rage full force.

"You jerks! Those are mine!" I half-joked, (but not really), "Peg made those for ME. They are MINE!"

My friends' sticky little guilty faces looked up at me in disbelief.

"Kirstie. You have to learn how to share. Since you've had your surgery you've turned into a food hoarder. Come on now."

Um. OK. Fine. Sharing is caring or whatever. I'll take a time out in the corner and think about what I've done.

The final straw that broke the toddler's back occurred just a few days ago. Every evening, I've been soaking in my hot tub for a half hour or so. It's wonderful. My joints feel so much better, it's quiet, I can watch the loons on the lake, It smells divine (Evan added a tropical scent to the water) - it really is a blissful event that I anticipate daily. Each night, I let Evan know when I'd like to get in the hot tub, and bless Evan's heart, he picks me up and puts me in the hot tub. He really is a very patient person. One night, however, I caught a slight eye roll when I made my hot tub request. Perhaps there was something in his eye? It's difficult to ascertain. But I detected an eye roll. An exasperated eye roll.

"You know what? I'm going to get in and out of the hot tub myself today!" I stated defiantly. Evan watched from the window as, again, I tricep pushed my bony little bum up the hot tub steps. Crutches leaning against hot tub, sitting happily in my bubbly water, I exclaimed proudly, "I'm fine!"

10 minutes later, Evan and Dundee came out to see how I was doing, "I'm just going to take the dog for a walk. Are you sure you're ok?" asked Ev.

"Oh ya. My crutches are right here. I can get out by myself. I'm good. You go ahead," I responded proudly insolently.

Not more than 2 minutes after he left for his hour long walk with the dog, my crutches slipped and fell off the edge of the hot tub, bounced off the deck with a THUD (I kid you not), and landed in the middle of my freakin yard.

Initially in a bit of shock, i stared dumbly at those A-hole crutches - gleaming in the sun, mocking me from the grass.

And then I had a temper tantrum. A full blown toddler temper tantrum. I turned the jets on high in an attempt to dampen my infuriated words.

"YOU (EXPLETIVE) crutches. I (EXPLETIVE)  hate you! This isn't  (EXPLETIVE) fair. I (EXPLETIVE) just want to (EXPLETIVE) do this my (EXPLETIVE) self."
 (at least at age 36 I possess an expansive vocabulary to communicate my displeasure)

I smacked the water with my hands. I sobbed into my coconut-scented bubbles. If there would have been a floor I'm sure I would have banged my head against it.

Once the tantrum was over. I sat helpless in that hot tub and realized that my trusty little triceps were not getting me out of this one. I would simply have to admit defeat and wait in that tub until Evan returned from his walk. I would have to ask him for help.

Although a hot tub overlooking a lake is really not a terrible place to be stranded, over an hour later, I was subdued and slightly demoralized. Sweat dripping down my face I noticed that my fingers and toes were pruned, my skin was raw from excessive chlorine exposure, and I was floating on the surface like a hard boiled egg. Evan returned and saw my crutches on the grass.

"Please help me," I said meekly.

He nodded, picked up the crutches and calmly placed them against the hot tub.

Minding my manners I smiled gratefully, "Thank you," I said.

You tell those crutches, Evan!
No tantrum here. Just chillin' in my tub, happy as a clam (Are clams really happy?)

Remember that time when the crutches were used for good, and not for evil?