The ME Report

Originally posted March 9, 2016

Colin’s Medical Examiner’s Report arrived in the mail last week and I was shocked at the overpowering sorrow that flooded me. The past 7 months have been full of unimaginable burdens, and I keep trusting that it will get easier, but it doesn’t. And it surprises me.
How naïve I have been to the process of losing my husband and my daughter. I have hoped that my strength and resolve would aid me as I step through this valley of the shadow of death, but it cannot change what is ahead of me. And it can’t lessen the pain that is here or the pain that is yet to come.
The more I consider my loss and how profound it is, the more I realize my naïveté to what grief really is. I want to do everything right, face everything head on and get through this tough patch. But grief is this eternal vehicle that will not be hurried, and yet can’t be stopped. It is slow and steady and unavoidable. It takes its time, it is not efficient and it never lets you miss a stop for good behaviour.
It changes constantly, almost like it is keeping you from figuring out the system. Forcing you to stand guard for each new facet that it brings. When it is fresh and new and everything you know is different. Or when the numbness and shock fade and there is no buffer for the constant pain that it brings. Or when the barrage of sorrow is so constant you can barely stand from exhaustion.
I am confident, beyond hopeful, that one day I will look back and see how far I have come through this. Not to a place of understanding or happiness at losing Colin and Madeline, but the knowledge of God’s faithfulness. But my reality now is that I am here, and that hopeful point is in the far distance. There is no way to gauge how much time and suffering and pain I must endure to get from A to B. This is the overwhelming part.
As I sat crying over every bruise, laceration, and broken bone documented on Colin’s body, and read the the final words written about his death; I felt weak. And my fragility scared me; it made me want to have an excuse for that moment. Lack of sleep, hormones, a bad day… And that is when it hit me. Colin died. Madeline died in my arms. That is my excuse.
It is part of our human nature to be weak and fragile. It is ok to cry months after you lose a loved one. We are allowed to fall apart, not be strong, and ache for what once was. There are responsibilities, two very important ones, but I am still just a woman who lost her husband, and mother who lost her daughter. And there will be moments when that is all I can be.

V-Day

Originally posted February 13, 2016

So I watched the movie “Valentine’s Day” the other night. Just because it seemed appropriate for this time of year, and I love to torture myself like that. It’s funny and cute; and managed to open a flood gate of emotions with regards to this lovers holiday.
Ironically, in our three years of dating, one year of engagement, and almost 12 years of marriage we would have only spent a couple of actual February 14ths together. Whether Colin was playing or coaching, basketball usually got in the way. If I remember correctly, last Valentines Day we spent it with Colin’s basketball team and families during a tournament. I made soups, chilli, bread and biscuits. The boys helped to decorate lots of cupcakes; and when I wasn’t hostessing I was entertaining our three kids in a gymnasium during games. That was “The day of love” for us.
And to be honest, Colin wasn’t the romancing type. Flowers, music and candle light dinners weren’t his natural thing. He was more of a ‘take the boys along on a basketball tournament even though he’s exhausted’ or ‘help the wife renovate another room when he’d rather watch hockey’ or ‘spend an hour rocking Madeline to sleep because Mom wants a break’ or ‘give up his own hobbies to meet the needs of his family’ kind of guy.
And when I think back on the way that Colin loved me and loved his children it is very obvious that buying chocolates and flowers would have been the easier choice. Not that I didn’t receive the traditional tokens of affection that husbands give to wives, it just wasn’t a big part of our relationship.
The sacrifices that he made for us are more apparent now as all the holes surface. His selfless, unconditional, and tireless love was what drove him to make those hard choices. Allowing us, and wanting us to be a part of every facet of his life is so telling of how he felt. And I cannot think of any part of my life that was separate from him.
Colin knew everything about me. Even the darkest, deepest parts of me were safe with him. He was home to me. And when he would walk in the door at the end of the day everything seemed right. That back door would shut, my heart would smile, and all four of us would vie for his attention.
When thinking back to who I was when we first met I am grateful that anyone would choose to commit to spending their life with me. And Colin not only chose that, but honoured that vow valiantly to his dying breath. Leaving the bar impossibly high.
So that is what I will try to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. Our epic love.

God is Good?

Originally posted January 23, 2016

Just to be clear, when you have news that you are glad about and then you state God is good, those two facts are completely independent. They may both be true, but the one has nothing to do with the other.
I can understand that when something goes the way you want, or even starts rough, but then ends in the best case scenario; you may want to acknowledge the goodness of God. But ask yourself, had things not turned out rosey, would you still tag on a “God is good”? And it’s true, He is good. But I see a HUGE danger in the association of our happiness and God’s goodness.
God is good. Always, despite everything that is happening in our world. Regardless of the errors of the past or the uncertainty of the future, God is good. Yet when we tie that goodness to the outcome of our personal circumstances, it makes it seem like the character of God is dependant on whether or not things work out for us. As if He could change and be something other then who He is. That is not possible. And that is the beauty of God; in spite of everything that we know constantly changing, He does not. Will not. Can not.
And thank goodness. What use would there be for a God that could be externally controlled. A sovereign whose will could change from something outside of Himself. That is not God, but man.
So when Colin paid the ultimate sacrifice for our family with his body, God is good. And when I sang my last lullaby to Madeline in my arms before the doctors took her off all the machines, God is still good.
Be careful what you are attributing His goodness to, because I promise you it doesn’t have anything to do with you.

Half A Year

Originally posted January 13, 2016

Yesterday marked 6 months since the accident. Half a year, yet almost a lifetime. A day of many memories.
So many places, songs, dates, and even foods remind me of Colin and Madeline. Their memories are tied to most everything in my life. It can bring joy to my heart and tears to my eyes when I think of each of them throughout the day. My favourites are the ones that make the boys and I laugh out loud.
And surprisingly, these memories are not usually the things that trigger sadness and hurt. The pain and ache often comes when I think of all that I had anticipated for our future.
The things I wanted to do with Madeline, and the close relationship that was growing between her and her brothers. Witnessing the adoration between Madeline and her daddy, or Colin teaching his boys how to be men. Parenting and growing old together with the man I love.
Many of these dreams were simple everyday occurrences to fit in with our simple life. Yet all were things I had hoped for and pondered. Some were more poignant and anticipated than others, but still are things that I now must lose as well. And re-lose, each time I stumble upon a reminder or see someone else living my dream.
Which I imagine is a large part of the reason why being in Madeline’s room is so unbearable; and the thought of going through her stuff terrifies me. Every drawer and box I go through will be like losing her all over again. Over and over. Like sorting through a graveyard of things most dear to me. Relentless, brutal, scarring, and raw.
I don’t think that my heart is ready for that…  But I don’t suppose it ever really will be.

Know Christmas

Originally posted December 29, 2015
This Christmas season was so full. Full of great food, special gifts, new memories and especially emotions. It feels like there hasn’t been one human emotion that has not graced my presence this past month. My heart has run the gamut of beautiful to ugly, sometimes in the span of minutes. And all of it has been encompassing and powerful and exhausting.
There has been wonder at the surprise baskets on the doorstep. Humility at the many Christmas cards and gifts from complete strangers. Joy watching others spending time with my boys. Peace sitting in front of the fire after the kids are in bed.
Envy as I watch whole families celebrating together. Aching  when I see a mother snuggle with her baby. Frustration as I lament my lack of freedom as a single parent. Fear when I think ahead to the new year, and the next one after that. Emptiness as I lie in bed alone each night.
Yet, even-though they can be fleeting and risk being overpowered, some emotions stand out from the others.
Love for the people in our lives who keep filling the gap, and the One who prompts them.
And, even hope. Hope for redemption, and the assurance that He knows.

No Christmas…

Originally posted November 30, 2015

Christmas has been a favourite season for me. The preparation, the anticipation, and especially the almost two whole weeks of uninterrupted family time.
Now as I sit here on the edge of December, I desperately want to fast forward through it all. Through the cookie baking, tree trimming, and gift wrapping; skip the concerts, and carol singing; mute all the “Merry Christmases” and holiday greetings. Just because it hurts so much.
I look ahead to a month where everything is a reminder that I will never be whole again. That our family is broken. That there is a great loneliness in our home. And I am so overwhelmed.
And even though MY reality does not change the beauty of what Christmas is about, it is a constant reminder that from here out every memory made will be without Colin and Madeline.

Looking Good

Originally posted October 22, 2015

When someone tells me I’m ‘looking good’ or ‘doing well’, it is meant as an encouragement. And I casually wonder, is that on the “regular” scale? Or the all-things-considering-we-have-lowered-our-standards scale?
And then a part of me feels guilty. Thinking, we shouldn’t be doing good. I am NOT okay. I am barely held together with sticks and glue and at any moment I might fall apart.
My kids are here, and clothed, and fed; and I am here, and clothed, and mostly fed. By the grace of God we got out of bed this morning, but if we were left to our own schemes that may not be the case. Yet we lace up our strong boots and put on our brave faces over and over again.
And so many times in our day we are blessed because of those painfully hard and deliberate decisions. And so I can’t regret being strong and choosing life. But I wonder at the balance of authenticity. How can you marry genuineness and perseverance? Can you be real, without baring all you pain? Is it possible to even function while fully embracing your devastation?
Loss is a personal journey that can feel like a public theatre. And for a woman who has always had a plan, I am having to endure constant uncharted territory.
If death is the ultimate equalizer, then grief is the warm-up.

Surviving 2 Months

Originally posted September 12, 2015

We have survived 2 months.
Living that contradiction of ‘like yesterday’ but ‘like eternity’.
As we celebrate Emmett’s actual birthday today, I am reminded of so many “firsts” that we have walked through in that time. Big ones, like an anniversary, two birthdays, first days of school; and littler ones, like grocery shopping, doctor appointments, sleeping alone.
It has been a steep learning curve. With the tragic, the mundane, and especially this beast we call grief. And as I hear another song, and read another poem or meme about how suffering brings about character development or personal beauty; I want to be clear that I would trade ALL that, everything I own, even my life to undo what happened two months ago. Without hesitation.
I think there is this misunderstanding that if we believe in life after physical death, then we can embrace suffering. That there is this greater purpose and one day we will understand why. But I am convinced that there is a flaw in that thinking. From my first memory of the accident until now, I have never asked why. I know why. When you exist in a world that wants to live independently from the One who created it, things like this will happen. There is no mystery. Do I think that God believed my boys would be better off without their father, I needed a new husband, I should not be a mother to Madeline, my boys shouldn’t have a sister? Absolutely not. But this is not a reflection on who He is, but rather on the state of man.
He is the same God today as he was 3 months ago when I said to Colin, “ My life is perfect.” He was sovereign then, He still is now. He was good then, He still is now.
I don’t believe that I will ever stand here and say, “I get it now. I understand why this had to happen.” But I will, and can say, “I trust You. I know You are big enough to fill in the gaps. I know You will have us covered. I know You love me.
I know we can turn surviving into thriving.