My Blog

I do not start this journey lightly. The idea of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences is a powerful one. I'm doing this for several reasons, the first has to be for my own therapy. With such an immense loss in my life, I need to give myself every chance to feel a purpose.

Last summer I told Kirsten that, despite her ongoing fight with refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma, I was happy. I was deeply sad, depressed, and struggled with the meaning of it all. But, I was happy. Being with Kirsten made me content. Not having her with me leaves me with a void of true happiness. As I've mentioned to many, I can laugh, have fun, enjoy the moment, even look forward to something, however, that satisfaction of inner happiness is not there.

I am so grateful for the people and dogs in my life. My son, mother, family, Kirsten's family (including the four-legged variety), our friends, and, of course, our Lab Finnegan. Many of you will hear your own voices echoed in my writing. I needed and will continue to need the tremendous support that has been offered to me. Thank you.

I also write for Kirsten. In life, Kirsten, let's say, guided me. She still does and always will. Having said that, I can not guarantee that any future clothing purchases will be entirely fashionable.

As Kirsten was a champion of the healing power of writing, I hope to pay tribute to her. Kirsten has a tremendous legacy because of who she was and how she lived. I wouldn't speak for her, although if I tried, there would be a strong chance of a visitation, but I hope to add to her story.

If my sharing helps anyone who may relate to some of what I'm going through, that would be the best tribute to Kirsten I could give.

Friday, August 26, 2011

All That's New Again

This is a major topic. Doing everything for the first time without KIrsten. Some of these things occurred almost immediately, like walking Finn in Cates Park. Others happened as it felt OK to do, such as our trip to Seattle. And, there are many things that may or may not ever happen again, like taking out Kirsten's beloved boat, Suzy Spitfire.
I'd imagine that this will be a reoccurring topic in the blog.
I just got back from a really difficult first trip back to the Sunshine Coast. Firstly, I'm very grateful for the friends that I visited on Savary Island. They were so generous, thoughtful, and supportive that I'm glad that I had this experience despite the pain that comes from associating places with Kirsten and the full sense of loss that goes with it. So, it's no small thing that I feel my time spent with these loving people more than compensated for the challenging trip.
I do realize that the alternative to having places, people, and things being really painful reminders of my loss would be to have had no experiences with Kirsten, to not have loved her as I do, or to be so heavily sedated that drooling would be my only form of response.
The difficulty of this journey, as was the case with several other trips I've taken, started with the packing. So hard. We loved going away together. She's sort of ruined the idea of looking forward to car trips, taking the ferry, getting on a flight. So selfish.
The first part of the trip was the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Kirsten and I had so many amazing vacations that started at Horsehoe Bay. To the Sunshine Coast, Bowen Island, and Vancouver Island. The latter, of course, including the trip to Tofino to get married. Just the two of us on a beach in Tofino on a perfectly drizzly west coast day eight years ago on August 23rd. This trip to Savary was on our eighth anniversary.
Horseshoe Bay itself was also a place where Kirsten and I had many great times. Sharing oysters and wine, taking photographs, having a coffee on the pier, realizing that when the ferry is leaving at 1:00, we really should be back to the car before 1:00 (yes, we were those people responsible for the empty car in the ferry line up). This is the place were we had a very romantic moment at the beginning of our relationship as we stood in the pouring rain (if you want to picture me shirtless with rippling abs, that's fine). Like in so many places, we laughed here, cried here, shared our dreams here and fell deeper in to love here.
This was also the place that we, Kirsten's mom, step-dad, step-brother, and Miles would come for Kirsten's birthday meal every December 24th. So ,yah, this was the start of my trip to the Sunshine Coast with out her.
They say that having new experiences is an important part of the grieving process. Although I think that this is true, in some sense it's impossible to have a truly new experience and, moreover, these things have to happen when the time is right. Perhaps the next time I go to the Sunshine Coast, it will be easier, but, right now, I feel like I can wait another 10 years.
In anticipation of this trip being difficult, I told myself that I'd take Kirsten with me. As I sat on the ferry, I even closed my eyes and pictured Kirsten sitting beside me. Too much. Too soon. Of course, thinking of Kirsten can be comforting and I'm so grateful to have such amazing memories. However, at this time, the sadness of not having her physically with me and the ongoing realization that I will never have these experiences with her again is overwhelming to say the least.
On to the Sunshine Coast. So, up until this point I hadn't totally lost it. Starting the drive towards Gibsons, I knew it was coming. The Sunshine Coast was one of our favourite places to go and there are strong memories up and down Highway 101. Some of those memories were from a time well before any diagnosis of cancer transformed our lives.
This particular memory was from the beginning of Kirsten's pursuit of me. We were spending New Years with a group of friends at a hotel off of the beach just outside Gibsons. So, there it was as I drove by, the place where we celebrated a new year and where kirsten and I had the talk. This particular talk was about what we would do when she heads back to the University of Regina while I stay here and continue my flegling teaching career. We went for the committed, long-distance, boyfriend/girlfreind set-up. As an aside, this commitment was solidified during my spring break when I chose to fly to Regina over going to Mexico with a group of female teachers. Please re-read the previous sentence to gain an understanding of the depths of my love for Kirsten. So, as I passed the Hotel, it was all there like it was yesterday and the emptiness of the seat beside me was too much. I lost it.
As the landmarks continued to come and go I really questioned my decision to take this trip at this time and on my own. It was all I could do to get to a place where I knew being in the company of friends would help.
On Savary Island, I woke up on the 23rd and imagined that day eight years before. Each day after, I've also imagined our days as newly-weds. It was the beginning of a journey that we chose to go on together. 
The only way to have avoided the almost impossible depths of hurt and despair that I feel now is to not have started that journey. To marry Kirsten is something that I would do over and over again. She is with me forever.
A typical, hold the camera out shot of us on the ferry
This is how we liked to camp on the Sunshine Coast