The orange was the size of a watermelon to me
Well at least that is my memory
Sunshine made my bare feet burn upon the road
Far away we’d roam I’d be howlin’ out a song in the back seat

The boys would laugh and tease about my black feet
They’d tell stories that would warm my soul
Motorbikes and chrome
Jimmy could not wait to get home

Homebird sing
Fly me high on an angel’s wing
Homebird sing
Leave out nothing tell me everything

Everywhere we went just looked the same to me
The skys were blue and the grass was green
I wonder how different I might see them now
Yet I see them somehow

Through the fallen memories when that angel baby sings

Oh the little magic that his solo brings
Making up songs and words and singin’ from the soul
Oh the stories told
None but him and Jimmy could know

Homebird sing

Fly me high on an angel’s wing
Homebird sing
Leave out nothing tell me everything

Homebird sing

Fly me high on an angel’s wing
Homebird sing
Leave out nothing tell me everything

Vance Foy Best

Me v.4.6

When I was a little girl and someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up – easy answer.

I wanted to be a Mom and a writer. Clear shiny vision of the grown up me. It never wavered. I loved babies, and my life was lived within the pages of books. So many books.

I am neither. My body has so many flaws – too many to count – but the worst was it would not allow me to grow a little human that I could love with all my heart.

As for the writing – well this is about as close as I’ve gotten to that. I pursued numbers and order and planning and keeping everything running smoothly for other people’s businesses. I had a head for numbers. Who knew? Certainly not me. Accounting. Project management. Dry, real, black and white – no grey. No room for imagination or adventure. Just ensuring that things kept ticking along nicely behind the scenes. I was good at it, and I came to love it. I was proud of my work.

But then my brain broke. It just all came to a screeching halt. There was so much that led up to that moment, and I had come very close to that ledge many times prior to that….single moment….when I just couldn’t anymore.

There have been several “me’s”. Some I’m so proud of, some I hate, and some I wish I could comfort and repair.

And now, I’m standing on another ledge. I need to pull in all my resources and try to fashion a life for this new me that will make me feel safe, happy, and alive.

The me in the mirror is a total stranger. Menopause and years of depression, illness, surgeries, medical mistakes and a fatigue so heavy that I can’t stand up straight anymore has made me unrecognizable. My outside makes me want to cry. I used to take pride in my appearance. I knew what costumes to wear, what my hair and makeup should look like so the people around me were fooled into believing that I had it all under control. Pulled together. Real. Not the mess that I was in my head. I learned to fake it. I spent so much time waiting for people to realize I was an imposter. I didn’t belong there. And eventually it became too much and I had to stop and sit in a corner for a while.

I had so many wounds to heal – physical, emotional, mental…it just all got too crazy.

So there were tests and doctors and hospitals and surgeries and pills….so may pills. And mistakes.

I don’t know about everyone else, but for most of my life I trusted the “specialists”. I believed what they told me. I took their pills. I let them cut into me. I opened up my heart and soul and let them take a good look around. But they were all just people – just like me – trying their best to make it right, to be real.

I now know that the only person I can trust with me is me. I question everything. I look deep into the eyes of the people being paid to “fix” me – trying to see if there’s someone there who actually gives a damn about the creation of Me v. 4.6.

We all live our lives in blocks, in chapters. We live, we fail, we adapt, we love, we hurt, we fall, and at various points in our story, we have to rebuild. We have to make choices. Sometimes they’re easy and everything just sort of shifts into place, and sometimes we’re faced with a wall that is so dense and so high that a handful of pills seems like a pretty good choice.

I’ve been in this place before many times. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people who have been there. It’s so frightening, and yet so tempting.

The truth is that I am very much alone. I have to do this by myself. I have a wonderful partner, but he too has flaws and has difficulty with improvising and compromising and changing tracks. I can’t count on him to pick me up, fix me, make me happy, make me want to wake up in the morning. That is far too much to ask of one person.

The family I wanted, the family I thought I could create if I was good enough and worked hard enough, simply doesn’t exist. It never will. I have to try to be content with the slot that is waiting for me. I can’t make people love me unconditionally. It has taken me 57 years to figure this out. The “family” I have, the life I live looks nothing like it was meant to.

So, I can either take that handful of pills and close me eyes and disappear. Or, I can pull together whatever is left of me and build v. 4.6.

I know I can’t ask ML or all the specialists in my enormous medical file to build this new me. I have to pull myself as tall as I can, and start taking steps. One at a time. I know I will fail and fall, but I hope that if and when that happens, I can get back up and try something else. Something that works for me.

ML kissed me good night tonight. He hasn’t done that for a very long time. He kissed me like a lover would, not a bored husband, or a room mate. A “take my breath away kiss” that ignited a little spark in me. It was both wonderful and terrifying. I know now that I have to work with him to build that spark into a flame. I want to feel that “oh my” feeling again. He’s made his move.

And yes, I am so grateful.

She Lives!

Yep, for all of you who hoped I had taken my sorry wrinkly depressed ass off to some far off corner – tough.

I appear to be made of stronger stuff. I bear a few more scars, and I know I have changed mentally in so many ways, and yes, I have cried oceans.

ML beat Lymphoma…so far. Tomorrow it will be one year exactly since he got his diagnosis. I know this because it’s also my birthday. Next month he goes back in to his specialist for a full scan and then – and only then – I will breathe freely again.

But he’s a worry. He keeps falling – hard – he’s still weak and the residual damage from his stroke has made healing just that little bit harder. He’s had three more carcinomas removed (yesterday – which now makes 11 – he may soon be more skin cancer scars than skin), has had cataract surgery on one eye and will have the other one done next week. Maybe. We’re in hard lockdown thanks the the Delta strain of the Covid virus and we may just need to stay here together until it’s safe.

Cancer is a little bitch. It leaves it’s slime and foul smell on everything. It’s left it’s mark everywhere – and it’s changed our relationship completely.

This year – and I can hardly believe this – it’s our 25th year. We’re not celebrating, we’re trying desperately to find a way to reconfigure our marriage that works for the both of us as we are now. We’ve both changed and that big bomb that drops into your life and keeps you separated and tiptoing around hit out house deep and hard. I’ve lived in a cancer house before, and it feels like it’s been lurking around us for far too long now.

To be truthful, as awful as cancer is, it’s the repairing and getting rid of it part that really takes a toll. ML did it silently and stoically. Living in that noxious bubble injected with a pandemic would make most people fall to their knees. ML just kept himself to himself. After a massive “discussion” yesterday, he held and kissed me for the first time since he got sick. And yes, it’s like starting a relationship with a new person. He’s changed, I’ve changed, we’ve both been just treading murky water going nowhere for months. No talking, no affection, just a lot of loneliness and tears. And I didn’t know how to fix it. We may still need some professional help – I’m not ready to walk away just yet – and really, he truly is all I’ve got. His parents were always a big support for us both and they’re both sadly gone….and oddly so is everyone else. Illness has that effect and isolating because of Covid hasn’t helped either.

The phone doesn’t help either. I needed to be held, to be listed to, and so did he. But we didn’t let ourselves get close enough to each other to offer warmth and a little bit of love. We were room mates who really didn’t like each other very much living in a house that still looks like we just moved in today, only now there’s a thick layer of dust on the unpacked boxes. You’d be amazed with how little two people need to live. It’s uncomfortable and bleak, but neither of us have quite built up the strength – and we just don’t know where to start. If I shower once a week it’s a win. Sad. I used to be extremely high maintenance, but with telehealth and home deliveries….what’s the point. It just makes me sore and tired.

It did, however, occur to me that I owed it to the man who loves me and married this hot mess to at least make an effort. I showered on monday, waxed my legs yesterday (it’s cold and I sort of miss the coverage), and I’ve done nothing with my hair since ML shaved my head when he started chemo. It’s come back thin, salt and pepper, and just sort of blah. ML’s hair has grown back thicker and darker, and he no longer has a “thin” patch on the back of his head. Bastard.

Tonight – I bathe. I’m in pain today so anything else is just not happening. I have no meds – our chemist will deliver our meds tomorrow. I’m hoping a bath with dissolve a bit of the ache and make me warm and sleepy. A girl can dream.

In the meantime, you’re welcome to watch us patch up what’s left of us and try to bring some joy back to fill the big hold in the middle of our home. And if we can get Covid under control, we might even be able to get our house cleaned, and someone to come in and finish off all the little “fixes” that drive me nuts. I want this to be our happy forever house – untainted by grief. And we’ve both agreed that our next move will be into a retirement home, with a couple of suitcases and hopefully Milly with us.

(I’ll just have to figure out what to do with the approximately 600 bottles of fragrance I’ve lovingly collected over the years. No, I’m not kidding. When I do something, I go big. I may not shower enough, but I do try to stay clean and there’s always a bottle of gorgeous close at hand).

Milly still loves us and divides her cuddle time quite neatly between us. I’m grateful.

Cry Me An Ocean

Is it possible to cry oneself dry?

I wonder this often. In all my crying styles – the “I’m alone so I can wail and cry”, the “goes on forever snotty red blotchy face cry”, the “comes in short bursts and just when I think I’m done cry…”, and finally, the “goes on forever cry”.

This is my in the dark cry. It is quiet and it is the most painful. My chest hurts, my heart hurts, and it truly feels as though the tears will never end. This is the cry caused not by one cut to the bone blow, but by a thousand tiny cuts that make everything that I am ache.

This cry may not have a specific purpose, or it may have begun with a specific purpose, but then it spirals and meanders and picks up hundreds and hundreds of more painful cuts along the way. I can cry this way for hours – ML is tucked in bed and dry and I am free to just let it all pour away. But it doesn’t. That small lump that is left in a specific place somewhere deep between my heart and lungs and throat and soul remains.

This is the cry of all the hurt and anger and suffering and sadness of a lifetime of trying to carry on. We all must try to carry on mustn’t we? There is life to be lived, things to be done, bills to be paid, laundry to fold – it can’t all stop so that we can sit in the dark while streams of hot salty tears pour out of us. And what was the point of it all when it all dries up? Can we make ourselves ill by allowing too many tears to fall?

Cathartic? No, not really. Shameful. I’m a grown ass woman who takes a heaping handful of pills everyday just so I don’t have to sit in the dark and cry when I should be resting so I can carry on. There is a house to clean, a garden to tame, a husband to hold….I must regain my strength (does anyone know just where one goes to order said strength online? I’ve looked and simply cannot find the website) as there is just so so much to do. I don’t have time for self pity. I should be used to the pain by now. Dust off your shoulders, pull up your big girl pants and get on with it. And yet, the water falls. Wet, hot, sad, angry….We buy a lot of tissues.

If I could harness the energy of this torrent of tears and turn it around….turn it into something positive, could I make a difference? Could I help change the horrifying world we are currently living in? Could I wash away ML’s sickness just as the woman in the bible washed Jesus’s feet with her hair and a small bowl of oil? Could I capture it all and send it to all the farmers in Australia killing thousands of cattle and sheep because there is no water to grow grass for them to feed? Could I erase the dust they live with and breathe in everyday that flies around in desperation?

Would that I could.

Forgive me my tears. They are fruitless and selfish and will come back again night after night after night. Tears for all the good people who suffer. Tears for all the loneliness and illness and fear. These are not just my tears. I cry for those who have lived beyond crying. I could take more medication and make myself numb. I could take even more and make myself disappear. But that solves nothing – even less than these tears.

I have just enough love in my life to keep going. As long as those who still love me allow me my tears, I will carry on. Our world has changed forever. My life has changed forever. My tears are my touchstone, my constant. They remind me that I am human and whole.

I am grateful.

Looking Forward….

ML keeps falling. He’s exhausted and weak and still does all the things he needs to do. He fell yesterday taking out the rubbish bins. Gravel and blood arm and leg. I try to fix it, but it hurts him – it seems everything I do hurts him.

It was afterwards when we were cuddling together in a warm bed that I noticed for the first time that his eyebrows are gone. They probably fell out a long time ago and I just didn’t see it. Why didn’t I see it until now? Maybe I haven’t been really looking at him, but at his illness. He looks odd without eyebrows – his hair is normally dark and they always stood out. But, I suppose without hair, no eyebrows made sense. It made me cry. Eyebrows. Bruises and open wounds and scrapes and blood and gravel….and what’s going on inside. I don’t want him to see me cry. But it was the eyebrows that got me this morning.

Wadding and betadine and gravel and blood….all that I could handle. Take a deep breath, clean him up and just cover it all up with dressings. But the eyebrows. Gone.

Next year he’ll have hair again. And eyebrows. I have to believe that. I can keep cleaning scrapes and cuts and icing bruises, but there is nothing I can do for eyebrows.

To whoever is in charge, don’t take anymore of him away from me. He’s mine. I paid for him over years of pain and loneliness. I earned him. He’s mine. Please leave me what you can.

I’ll be very grateful.

Rounding the Bend

ML is now “in remission” – which is to say he has no active lymphomas, and his blood counts are “almost normal”. This has allowed us both to start breathing freely again and we’re living a little more again. The clouds have thinned and lifted, but the sun hasn’t fully made itself seen.

He still has a little less than half of his chemotherapy to go through – which is much more brutal than either of us could ever have imagined. His hair has not grown back at all after our mutual head shavings – his head is covered with a dusting of baby fine fluff while mine just looks like a really bad home haircut….which it was. I don’t miss my hair, but I do miss my strong robust husband. His skin is grey, he is far too thin for the skin he’s living in, and he’s always either exhausted or angry.

I want my husband back. I must be patient. I’m not good at patient. I’m also not good at standing on the sidelines, but I have been shut out of his treatments and appointments. He does not discuss any of the details with me willingly – every bit of information I receive is by listening in on phone calls. Ml has also not told anyone – none of his family or friends – that he is ill. We DO NOT use the “C” word in this house, which I can understand – it’s more than a little scary, and I have to be very gentle when I need to get food and drink into him, and remind him to take his meds.

I get it. He’s been my care giver for almost ten years now, and it does get annoying to be told what to do and when to do it. I need help with just about everything, so we only do the bare minimum around here – the rest can simply slide until we’re out of the “C” woods and back in the clearing. Add his sick Dad to all that’s happening, and I’m surprised we’re all still standing.

But, we are standing. We all have roofs, we’re all fed, we all get the medication we need when we need it. Telehealth is a godsend, so is the ability to have pretty much everything delivered to our door without having to interact with another human. ML has a wonderful team of Drs who make sure that he gets what he needs, but there are so many things that would make our lives easier and better – home nursing, a cleaner, a gardener….but it’s all so hard and neither of us has the strength or the patience to make it all happen. Too many hurdles, so many forms and phone calls….so the garden is a mess, the dust bunnies roam free, but we have a list of “must haves” and “must do’s”, and that’s what gets done first.

And no, we are still not completely unpacked or moved in to our new house, so we haven’t had a chance to enjoy where we live now. It’s not clean – not “us” clean…and we live surrounded by half packed boxes and bags. It makes me and my OCD nuts, but my priority is keeping ML clean, dry, and fed. I do my best.

Cancer is not new to either of us. We’ve both been around it all of our lives, but when it lands square in your lap, and it’s a huge shock as ML’s so young and has been through so much, the anger at whomever or whatever bubbles to the surface daily.

And sleep. We both need sleep. Neither of us sleep. I always have one ear open – I’m scared I’ll miss something ….I can’t even think about sleeping through ML needing me. And ML – he’s in pain. His mouth is full of sores, every muscle aches and his hands feel like they’re on fire.

And yet, he carries on – running errands and caring for both his Dad and me. Leaving the house with his mask and rubbing sanitiser on his already burning hands. He rarely complains, he rarely speaks, he simply carries on….making his way around the bend heading for the finish line. I’m on the sidelines….supplying water and cheering him on silently. It’s all I can do. But our love is still very much there – I will never let that change.

I’m grateful.

Hold On

We’ve seen the holy, the lonely, the sinners and
Been to the promise, the garden, the wasteland

The truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on

When we fight, when we lie
When the weakness shows
When we laugh, when we cry
When it’s all exposed

The truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on
We hold on, we hold on
Oh, love, we hold on together

We scream like sisters and brothers
Drew hard lines
We love like star crossed, blind eyes
Seeing light

Oh, the truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on
We hold on, we hold on

Oh, love, we hold on together

When we fight, when we lie
When the weakness shows
When we laugh, when we cry
When it’s all exposed

The truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on
We hold on
We hold on

We holdin’ on, we hold on
Oh, love, we hold on together
We hold on, holdin’ on
Oh, love, we hold on together

Ian Brendon Scott / Mark Anthony Jackson / Sarah Grace Mclaughlin

Holy Schitt!

I’m elated – and just a little bit pissed.

Schitt’s creek was mine. I started watching before the world even knew where the creek was. It was my happy Canadian pleasure – a little bit of home that made me glow.

I knew that no one else was watching. It was too smart and too well written. No slapstick, no obvious humour, just beautiful subtle emotions taking it’s audience on a gentle loving ride.

It was a story of acceptance, of love, of eyebrows and eyerolling, shrugs, and nose boops. It made me laugh and cry. But it was mine.

And now? Thanks to Netflix and an almost clean sweep at the 2020 Emmy Awards, it belongs to the world – and the world knows just how incredible it is. The growth of John, Moira, David and Alexis – watching them learn to live in a world so strange to them, learning to love unconditionally – it all made me feel so proud to be Canadian.

My little secret will now go down in history. There’s talk of a possible movie. Please, please, please just leave it be. The arc is sheer perfection. There is nothing else to be said. Selfishly, do I want more? Of course I do. But it’s perfect as it is. Don’t mess with that.

The world needs smart, gentle comedies. No irritating laugh tracks. Superb writing. Stories that teach but do not preach. Stories that make you feel warm and fuzzy.

The people of the Creek have helped me more than they will ever know. Streaming episodes at 2:00 am when my brain is racing and sleep is impossible. I’d insert myself into that run down little motel – much like the ones we stayed in on holidays when I was a kid in Canada, and just get lost for a little while.

Twilight Motel, Okanagan Falls British Columbia Canada

Thank you Eugene and Dan. Thank you for producing something gentle, funny, and loving. I am so proud of what you’ve accomplished, but a tiny bit of the creek will always be mine, and mine alone.

I’m grateful.

Rest in Peace Ms Ginsburg

As a woman, I would like to thank you, Ruth, for all that you’ve done. For every fight you fought, for always being there, for being fair and brilliant. For all the energy you expended so we could maintain the freedoms that we take for granted.

Rest now. You have done more than your share. We thank you, we fear for the future. We will try to continue your fight. Selfishly, I wish you could have held on for just one more month.

We will look to you for inspiration. You will shine in history forever.