Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lunch in Paris and grief

It's quiet at work today, so I have the time to pop in and get a post up for you guys!

I wanted to begin by telling you about an amazing book I just finished reading: Elizabeth Bard's 'Lunch in Paris'. It is the delicious, heartwarming and sometimes heartwrenching story of a young American woman who meets a frenchmen while studying and her move to Paris in order to be with him. There are recipes at the end of every chapter that the author either cooked herself or enjoyed eating after they were made by a member of her family or a friend. All of them were made with fresh, local ingredients, mostly purchased by the author at her local market. I loved every single page of this book and it is one of the few things that has gotten me laughing since I bought it last week. I cannot recommend this book to you highly enough, just make sure that you don't read it while hungry :)

Aside from that, my Sweetheart has come home, safe and sound. I collected him from the airport on Tuesday night and stayed at his place until I had to leave for work yesterday afternoon and then met up with him Downtown last night after he was done attending a conference and headed back to his place. We had a bit of a talk last night about everything that happened to my family and I while we were away and exactly what had happened to my father in order for him to pass away in a matter of days. My poor Sweetheart has had the wind knocked out of him by all this since he was so far away. When I told him that I was having a bit of a hard time yesterday he asked me exactly what was bothering me in order for me to feel upset one day and almost normal the next. I told him that it was not a matter of one specific thing bothering me, that grief just works that way. You are up and down, up and down all the time, but even when you are feeling up, there is always an emptiness in you that was not there before. The sense that your loved one is missing and will never come back. Maybe that eases after a time, but from what I've been told, it never goes away. I have been told though that with time the up days begin increase and eventually outnumber the down days. 

I will admit that the experience of loss and grief has been different from what I thought it would be. I imagined that I would be sad all at once and that when I began to feel better, I would keep feeling better. I expected to feel better in slow in stages, but I definitely never expected to be on what feels more like weeks of PMS. I've been told that this is normal by other people who have been through the loss of someone very dear to them and that the roller coaster will go on for a while yet, so at least I've been warned.

I am just about done my first full day of work since just before my father passed away and it has gone very well, so I'm pleased about that. I had been doing half days since Tuesday of last week. I'm now looking forward to my birthday party with my friends tomorrow and my birthday dinner with my family on Sunday and more than anything else, more time with my Sweetheart. He is going to his brother's place to spend time with his family this evening and overnight, so we will see each other again tomorrow at the restaurant with our friends. I am so, so looking forward to having a much deserved night out with my crew :)

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and look forward to reading your comments. I've missed you guys since I've been blogging less, but I think I'm ready to get back into the loop.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My father's guitar

Hi everyone,

So, things are slowly easing into a new kind of normal for me. I went back to work this week for half days. I had a bit of a false start on Monday, but I worked Tuesday to Thursday. I have three more half days next week, Monday through Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday I will try to work all day and see how it goes. I've done okay so far, but I am very up and down emotionally (typically one day up, one day down, today was an up day) and get tired very easily and from what I've been told things may be like this for a while. I got quite frustrated by it all on Thursday, but then discovered that it was just because I needed a good cry which was something I hadn't had in days.

I do have a few things to look forward to which have been helping me get through the days, one of which was my mission to go and get my father's guitar out of his house so I can learn how to play it. I pulled that off today and am very happy to now have it in my living room. I will work on learning how to play chords first and my goal is to eventually be able to play the 2nd movement of Vivaldi's guitar concerto in D major. My father was given his guitar by a priest he was friends with when he was little, but he never learned to play it. My aunt and uncle had it restored for him this Christmas, it had been sleeping in one of their closets for years and they thought that giving it to him with a book to teach him how to play it would give him a hobby and maybe help him work through his depression. My father was very moved by their gift, but never took the guitar home with him. It still needed to have its neck straightened so my aunt and uncle took it to a luthier (string instrument creator and 'doctor') and did not have the chance to take it back to him before he passed away. That's why, since I am my father's musical child (I inherited my musical ability from him), I have made it a goal to learn how to play the guitar since he never had the chance to.

The other thing I've been looking forward to is my Sweetheart coming home. He will be here on Tuesday, his flight is getting in at 8:35 P.M. if all goes well which it hopefully will. Tuesday happens to be my birthday, so after everything that has happened lately I could not ask for a better gift than finally, finally having my Sweetheart with me. I will be picking him up from the airport, which will be a first for me. Of all the times my Sweetheart has traveled, he has always come home during my work hours or in the middle of the night, so I have never been able to pick him up. I am absolutely thrilled that I will be able to do so this time :)

That's all my news for this week, I'll try and drop by again next week, but since my Sweetheart will be home and I will have birthday celebrations nearly all weekend, I might be a bit late on my next post!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sometimes loving someone means having to let them go

My father smiling at me, Spring 2008

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry I've been silent for a few weeks, but I've had a bit of a rough time. My brother and I had our father rushed to the hospital on the evening of Wednesday, January 23rd after I called him around 6:00 P.M. and he did not sound well at all. My brother came to get me and we drove out to our father's place (about a half hour away). I rode in the ambulance with him to the local hospital, but his condition was too serious for them to handle, so they transferred him to the ICU at the Montreal General Hospital around Midnight. His condition stabilized a bit during the day on Thursday the 24th, but he started going downhill on Friday the 29th and never recovered. My father passed away a bit before 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday, January 29th. He was only 58 and left my brother and I, our mother, our grandparents who are 81 and 86, our aunt and uncle and  many, cousins, extended family members, friends and former colleagues utterly heartbroken. 

I will not into go into the physical details of what exactly caused my father's death, but as you all know he was battling severe depression and had been for some time. He fought and fought and fought, but in the end it was just too much for him to even be able to get out of bed and eat properly. None of us had seen him smile or heard him laugh and joke since October. He had become so deeply unhappy, so despondent. 

My father was an exceptional man. He was extremely intelligent and passionate about his work and sports. He was a perfectionist in everything he did. He was a natural athlete and loved cycling and curling. He was also a foodie and loved trying new foods any time he could. He loved being near water whether it was fishing out on a lake or being near the ocean. I think he had a slight preference for the ocean though, just like me. He also loved photography, especially when travelling. Finally, even though he didn't have the easiest time showing it, I know that he absolutely adored my brother and I. He had an easier time displaying his attachment to my brother because they had more obvious points in common, but I know that he had a very special place in his heart for me and I will forever cherish the fact that out of all the people who visited him in the hospital when he was ill this past summer, I was the only one he spent hours and hours alone with. I was also the last one to spend time alone with my Father when he was conscious that Wednesday night we had to bring  him to the hospital.

We held my father's funeral and burial this week along with a day of visitation and I cannot begin to express how touched I was so see so many people come out to pay their respects to my father. Literally hundreds of people came either to the funeral home or to the funeral service at the church. My father touched so many people during his life, I really had no idea how many.

I'm now trying to get back to some sense of normalcy in my life, but it won't be easy. Yesterday I felt pretty good, but today I've been feeling more down. Things will undoubtedly get easier once my Sweetheart finally gets home in 10 days. Everything with my father happened so quickly that he was not able to make it home in time as the village where he is working in Haiti is so incredibly remote. We have been talking a lot though (he climbs up onto the roof of the house he and E are staying in so he can get a half decent signal on his decrepit Haitian cell phone so we can talk) and he is now purposely coming home on my birthday because he knows that it will not be easy for me to celebrate it without my father.

I will try and keep up some fairly regular posts, but things may be slow for a little while as I get my feet back under me. 

Thank you all for your support while my father was unwell. All the advice I can give you if someone you care for is suffering from mental illness of any kind is to not give up on them for one second, always let them know you love them, never judge them and do everything you can to help them while keeping in mind that you must also be kind to yourself. Also, always remember that the first step someone suffering from mental illness must take if there is to be any hope of their getting better is acknowledging their condition and asking for help. My father was never fully able to do this and we were therefore very limited in what we could do for him. He wanted to get well on his own and never realized just how much danger he was in, not even at the very end. In a way, I take great comfort in that fact. My father did not know he was dying, not even while we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, not even once we were at the hospital. He was not afraid, he did not suffer, I don't even think he felt any pain. They gave him some Valium so they could run some tests on him and he fell asleep and never woke up. I'm glad he went so peacefully, so very glad. Never, ever blame yourself if this sort of thing happens to you. It is not your fault, it is not anyone's fault.