Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Fairy-tale endings

Unlike the clarity with which we'd started our relationship, there was never a clear end to it.  The relationship lingered for years in limbo, where we were cycling through being apart, trying to be friends, trying to see other people, and trying to work things out.

For my incredible memory, it is odd that I don't remember all the details.  I do remember 'the final straw'.  It was early in 2011.  It facilitated the events that led me to meet my business partner for the restaurant in Baltimore, and eventually wind up miles away and busy for an extended period of time.

I also distinctly remember the last time we saw each other face to face.  It was after I'd returned from Baltimore.  I remember feeling like everything I was so afraid of--settling down, commitment, building a family--was no longer scary, and that I was finally ready.  It was one-sided, however.  He wasn't ready this time.  He reminded me of what he'd told me when first we'd broken up: that he needed five years to get over how I'd hurt him.

In that moment, I decided that if this was the man that I wanted to build a life with, then I was going to fulfill his request.  I wasn't going to push this time to get my way.  I was going to appreciate this man for who he was, and do as he requested.

So, I waited for that five year mark.  

Unbeknownst to me, he was counting from a date two years earlier than mine.  Such are the perils of poor communication.  Only in May of this year did I learn that five years was up for him the year before, while I was patiently waiting for another year.

I've had some months to digest this.  He wanted to but didn't reach out to me.  Why?  I can no longer sit back and hope that he'll understand that time apart doesn't heal our wounds.  We do.  We do with effort, time, patience and care.  Without any of those things, we have nothing, and nothing is all we have now.  There was a time when our lives were so intertwined that he was part of me.  No longer.

So much for fairy-tale endings.  All I ask is that if you know what you want, go for it without apology, without restraint, without indifference.  

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Suggestions

Uninvited apparitions
appearing hauntingly in the night.
Softly whispering suggestions
that you've sincerely tried to fight.
But your body can't deny
the truths you bury out of sight.
The frustration will illuminate
what the tension will incite.

One spark will light the fire,
and one breath will fan the flame.
One touch and the reminder 
of why to me it was you came.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Tools

The people around us
serve us as both
mirrors and lenses,
two very handy tools
for understanding ourselves
and the world around us.  

Just remember
that both can distort the image.  

You need to understand the tool
in order to get the most
out of using it.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Kidney disease

My father passed away six years ago, several weeks after going into cardiac arrest on Valentine's Day as a result of massive kidney failure.
We didn't know his kidneys had been failing. Our family doctor did, and he knew that my father hadn't once seen the nephrologist to which he'd been referred in all the years that he'd had the opportunity.  It took me years to accept that he was a grown man and knew exactly what he was doing through the time that he had ignored it.  He had been a pre-med student, after all.
For years, I felt like I should have seen the signs and daily beat up on myself for failing him. I also harboured a lot of anger and resentment toward our former family doctor.  The truth is that my father was not in good health, and between the excema, gout, several strokes and various other ailments, we just didn't see the symptoms.  We couldn't have, and he lied about it.  My mom had taken care of him on her own that whole time.  We were there, but she bore the brunt of it.  Knowing now how truly unwell she was, I become overwhelmed with guilt whenever I think about it. I wish I had helped more. And though it was always a priority for me, I had my own cross to bear at that point in time in my life, a story for another blog post.
Our family doctor retired a year or so later.  My father's situation aside, I am just disappointed with his treatment of our family and the loyalty we gave him in spite of it.
It wasn't long after my father passed away that my sister and I started paying really close attention to my mom's health.  It, too, was quite poor. It had always been. We had always accompanied our parents to their medical appointments but we trusted that they were listening to the doctor.  My father's passing changed that.  I learned that my dad refused treatments and medications for anything and everything. Accordingly, we began to watch our mom's health like a hawk.
I learned quickly that she didn't like to take her blood pressure medication because it made her nauseous, that she requested but was never given an alternate drug, and that she had been almost blind in her left eye for and indeterminate length of time and was due for a vitrechtomy.  She did manage to take sufficiently good care of her diabetes.  She really liked her endocrinologist and enjoyed visiting him. 
But my father's passing really affected her.  They had known each other since they were little children, growing up in their small town of Atimonan during WWII.  They were there through each other's other relationships, friends, family, school, and first jobs. They watched each other grow into adulthood before they got involved and married.  They remained strong while my mom came to Canada for work seven years before my dad followed in the 70's.  They started a whole new journey having me and my sister in the 80's.  I watched my parents weather rough storms where we didn't know if we would have a place to live, or food to eat.  I watched every disaster and the closeness that ensued.  In old age, I watched them go for walks together; enjoy morning coffee; watch Raptors, Leafs, tennis; stay up all night playing Scrabble trying to beat each other.  They were life-partners; through anything, they knew they'd be by each other's side.  And although she never said it, I know she missed him. For all her femininity, she is the toughest lady I know--there's what I saw as her daughter, but also what we had heard about her life before us.
It was only months after we lost my father that she suffered a series of strokes and was put into critical care--incidentally at the same hospital where my father had been admitted earlier that year--and I would learn what it truly meant to be a caregiver.  Up to that point, we thought we had been really active caregivers for our parents, having watched them both come in and out of the hospital for various health concerns since we were little children, but it was only the start.  This was the hospital stay where we learned that my mom's kidneys, too, had been failing and were already down to 15% functionality.  This was when I learned the consequence of not managing your blood pressure.  This was the event that robbed my mom of the dexterity in her fingers, preventing her from being able to administer her insulin shots. This was the stay when I learned simultaneously how superior the hospital's medical team was to the team composed of our family doctor and series of specialists to whom she'd been referred, and how immensely important it is to have family at the hospital to advocate for the elderly for everything from preventing doping patients with morphine to shut them up, pushing back on pressure to admit family to nursing homes, and demanding more information and tests.  All of this was foreign to us; we had no other family here in Canada or friends going through this at the time.  Our parents were old enough to be our grandparents.  I was 27 and had to learn quickly how to manage this, getting my education, paying all the bills and my own mental and physical health.
To be continued.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Boop

When we started seeing each other, Nick would poke my nose and in a robotic tone, say, "Boop."  Amused but perplexed, I would ask him why, and he would just do it again.  Poke, "Boop."

Months passed, and I stopped asking.  I just always laughed whenever he did it.

Then one evening, when I was feeling really sad about something, he poked me on my nose and said, "Boop. It's your smile button. It never fails. Push the button ... Boop!"

This was cute for a couple of reasons.  One was that he had kept it to himself for perhaps over a year.  Second, that it worked infallibly and I'd had no idea.

I wonder how many more smile buttons I have, and how I'll find them.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Insomnia

Most nights I can't sleep.  I'm hurriedly awakened in the middle of the night to greet silence, alone in my room, by what has to be my own unconscious thoughts creating this persistent unease. I'm scared.
For all my foresight, I can't suppress the unpredictability, incalculablility of what happens next.
Is it lonely?  Will I be alone?  Will I care?  Will I have pushed everyone away?  Will I have preferred it? 

When my work is done, the homework finished, and other burdens laid to rest, who will I be? 
Perhaps it's this question that plagues me in my sleep.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Boredom and Gratitude

I don't feel like writing these days. Instead, I have spent a lot of time going back over old posts, seeing where my head was at. Man, I was sad.  I was sad for a long, long time.  I feel estranged from the person who wrote these posts, not in a way that suggests regret, but rather just because of the distance generated from the passage of time.

I don't know how else to explain it than to say simply that I have never been happier, and the happiness is rooted in a contentment with everything.  It is more than acceptance.  It is certainly not indifference. It is gratitude.

There were years there when I feared that I wouldn't find this peace, that I would spend the rest of my life searching for it.  Maybe I'll lose it again, but I doubt it.  It seems more something to build on than something that I move through cyclically, because if it isn't, I expect it to mean that I'm not learning.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The outfit

Scent can evoke memories.  We know this.  So can visual cues.  An outfit can do this for me.  I can look at a dress and it can bring me right back to a moment in time.

Perhaps it's time I purge my closet.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Dust Settling

Everything happens in good time, so let it.  Can't rush dust to settle; it has the opposite effect.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Gratitude

It's only 8:38 a.m. on this Sunday and I've had the chance to check in with four really close friends this morning.

I woke up this morning thinking about being single and how at times it feels as though I have this endless well of love and no one to shower in it. Then my friends remind me that this is not true.

I love and care so much, so deeply.  And the reciprocation from all of these wonderful people makes me feel so grateful that it brings tears to my eyes.

I wish everyone could feel this.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Walls

I could see you
Through all the walls you'd built.
Entrapped by all the suffering
And pain and all the guilt.

I climbed to the top to reach you.
To extend to you my hand.
Unwilling, you declined and I
Wanted to understand.

I dove in, I did not tear down
All the walls you'd built.
I surrounded myself with all your pain
And suffering and guilt.

And when I had my answers
To what brought your walls about,
You still had not taken my hand
And I could not climb out.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Love

I think love can look like a lot of things besides marriage, a house and kids if we open up our minds and try. The key word in there is "try".

Nick taught me so much about life and love. I thought I knew what I wanted and needed, but he showed me I was wrong. So much was immaterial. 

Relationships require trust, respect, loyalty and honesty to thrive.  Those four values can bridge gaps created by superficialities like age, socioeconomic status, and distance.

Now I know.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Generosity

Where it all began: in grade eleven, Daniel was moved to be seated beside me in Mr. Muccilli's French class (and Frank was seated in front of me, as usual). Admittedly, this wasn't when we first met. Daniel likes to tell the tale of how we were introduced to each other the previous year: he complimented me by saying I looked like I was in Grade 11, and I told him he looked like a "niner". But anyway, we really started talking in French class. Around the end of October, and after deciding that I "liked" him and all of my girlfriends were sick of hearing about it, they all pitched in to buy a ticket for him to the Halloween Dance. (I had my own ticket.) School dances weren't his scene. I went to all of them, and had never seen him at a single one. So I was surprised when my friend told me that when she had called him to give him the ticket and invite him to come that he agreed.

There was much more to that night, I know, but I mention this story for one very important and seemingly insignificant reason: he sang to me. Like every (every?) teenage girl, I fantasized about being serenaded, or at the very least, singing a duet with the boy of my dreams. That night, he and I were slow dancing through some fast song when he sang "Kiss The Girl" from The Little Mermaid into my ear, and then we kissed.

I was so impressed with Daniel from that evening. Daniel is by no means (no offense, Daniel) a singer, nor does he even like to sing for fun. He had the courage to step outside his comfort zone and do something that he really didn't want to do for me because he knew it would make me happy. It was better than any song anyone had ever sung to me.

Because of the sincerity and symbolism of it, this is one of the best gifts I have ever received. I knew then the way I know now that it wasn't something that he'd do for just anyone, and that is what made it special.

Perhaps it helped that I knew him well enough to know how special the effort truly was: it's hard to assess the meaningfulness of a gift when you aren't very well acquainted with the giver.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Caregiving

My tagline mentions caregiving, but I don't have a single post about it.  Let this be the inaugural one.  My sister and I have been exposed to the world of elderly caregiving since we were teenagers, so we have a lot of expertise in navigating the full gamut of services this city, province and country have to offer.  CCAC, Wheel Trans, tax benefits, etc.  We have done it all.

There was a time when it was daunting.  We felt lost, alone, and very confused.  Now that I see my friends beginning to embark on this journey, I realize that all this experience will help me help them.

We are only alone if we don't let people in.


Friday, 25 March 2016

Spring Thoughts

I used to go for daily walks alone, and write in a little notebook.  I still have many of these notebooks.  Around the time that I stopped doing this, I was forewarned that I would.  A then-new friend from whom I've since gained significant insight on life, love and everything in between, told me that I wouldn't need to anymore. Even if that's true - that I don't need to write to myself - I do miss the benefit of seeing what changes such short periods of time could bring.  It was a reminder of how unpredictable and exciting life could be.  I tended to capture all of the little things that get lost in the constant shuffle of daily life.  Perhaps, should I resume, it would not be because I need to but choose to...

Looking back at older versions of myself through the lens of age and experience makes me feel content.  It's been an interesting tale.  I wonder what the next three years will bring.





Friday, 5 February 2016

The Story

I had originally written this back when he was first charged.  I hesitated to post it. Now that we're watching the trial, I thought, you know what, I called it.
__________________

I can see so many parallels between what I experienced and the accounts described - anonymous and not - by Jian's alleged victims.  Well, Jian just lawyered up with one of the best.  Forgive my cynicism but I have no faith that he could be charged as the criminal that he allegedly is in the eyes of the law ... any more than any of the other predators out there who haven't faced penalty or reprimand.

If I could say something to all those out there who cannot understand why the victims would not come forward, then it would be this: not all crimes are criminally punishable and coming forward only means reliving the experiences over and over again until the legal proceedings conclude.  These women aren't seeking legal judgement any more than I was when I was in their situation.  It was just to share the story; to expose the truth; to cast doubt on the image of this seemingly perfect man.

It is a financially and emotionally draining process to pursue charges, even when you have proof that would hold up in court.  In my case, I had a team of lawyers who, knowing we had a solid case with medical records and more, advised me to instead focus on myself and not on seeking justice.  Why?  They told me that libel suits would be launched against me following any criminal charges I laid, and that I would be held up for thousands of dollars in legal fees defending myself against false attacks on my character, while having to relive the emotional trauma over and over again for years to come.

I shared my allegations; he backlashed. It resulted in my having to endure 6 full days of interrogations regarding the events in question, and one full year's worth of attacks on my character that took the form of several hundred page documents "supported" by "testimony" and pedaled off as "evidence".

I documented everything thoroughly and supplied my extensive evidence.  I did my part.  The rest is on their heads.

I feel satisfaction knowing that my account brought it to a shade of grey. Without it, it most certainly would have been painted black and white. I can't control how the shades of grey are perceived. I am giving you my account of the story.  That is all I can do.

If I could say anything to the women, then it would be this: I'm glad you told the story.  The story is important.  When I'm on my death bed and I look back on my life, I will be proud that I told it, that I wasn't censored into silence by fear of the repercussions.  The rest was out of my control.
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