Posts Tagged ‘love’

You came into the world quickly and quietly, with minimal fuss, two weeks earlier than expected. We thought we were ready but in reality, we were not ready at all. The bag wasn’t packed, I had only finished working a few days before, and our new van, purchased specifically for your arrival, was in the shop.

I packed a bag for your sister while having contractions and managed to somehow forget her shoes. We dropped her at grandma’s house just as the sun came up and made our way to the hospital.

And shortly thereafter, you arrived, into the world and into our family. You broke into our hearts not with loud screams and willful ways, but rather with quiet smiles and a few bats of those amazing eye lashes.

I’ll be honest, I was afraid.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it again, afraid that the love for another would not be the same as the first. Of course I didn’t need to be scared, and here we are, six years later, still proving that we could do it again and that while no two kinds of love are the same, that doesn’t make them unequal.

You taught me, even from that very first day, that plans are made to be broken and not everything in life can be scheduled. If becoming a mother the first time was about expectations, doing it for the second time was about acceptance. The first time was about holding on, the second time was about letting go.

You taught me to give myself a break, and that it really didn’t matter which kid had the most baby pictures in the photo albums. You taught me to appreciate the moments because, no matter how much I wish otherwise, my baby is not a baby for very long.

I am amazed by your kindness and your gentle spirit. You reach out to hold my hand when we walk, and more and more I am realizing that you do it not because you want, but rather because you know I do.

I see you trying to be strong and brave, a big boy turning into a little man. But I also see the times it all gets to be too much. The times you go and find your blanket and come to me, asking to cuddle. I fear for the days when you no longer seek me out, asking for a hug and a story. I know those days will come and so I cherish these, tucking them away in my heart to be brought out and relived in the coming years.
You turned six today and went off to school wearing a little button that proclaimed you to be the “Birthday Boy.” You are so excited to finally be old enough to sleep on the top bunk, to ride a scooter, to stay up late on weekends.

I see you rushing forward, eyes wide at all that life will bring and so I will encourage you to go, to take it all in, to experience everything you dream of and so much more.
And when you need me, I will be right here behind you, whenever you need a cuddle.

Happy birthday, Bud Bud. I love you.

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The bride wore white and walked down the aisle of the church on her father’s arm. The groom stood at the alter with a look so pure I could hardly take my eyes off him.

The vows were traditional and simple. I love personal vows but there’s also something so beautifully touching about hearing the old-fashioned words uttered in such a place.

To love, honour and cherish.

From this day forward.

As long as we both shall live.

The bride and I have been friends for years, after having worked together over a decade ago. We now live in different cities and see each other rarely but she thought enough of our friendship to invite me to this day.

And I thought enough of our friendship to know that I wouldn’t miss it.

I have been to my share of weddings and while some people dread them, the pomp, the expense, the time, I honestly love them. I love to see the ways that two people choose to show their love to each other and in this world where hate all too often gets all the attention. I love to see a celebration of all that is good and simple and hopeful.

Others may remember the dress or the food or the music, but I always remember the moments. The ones that made me laugh, or cry, or ache with love for the two people whose day we are celebrating.

From this past weekend I will remember how her mom stopped to compose herself before being escorted down the aisle to take her place, tears glistening in her eyes.

I will remember how my friend took deep breaths and clutched her bouquet tightly as she turned the corner, down the aisle toward her groom.

I will remember how the photographer almost knocked over a flower arrangement while the couple exchanged rings.

I will remember the feeling of the groom’s heartfelt, eloquent, laughter- and tear-filled speech long after I forget the actual words he spoke.

I will remember the dance shared by the bride and her father, as he mouthed along to the words of the song and she smiled and hugged him close.

I hold on to these moments, file them away to be pulled out on the grey days when nothing makes sense. Because on that day, in those moments, all that mattered were those two people, and the honour I felt in being asked to share in their love.

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I’ve tried to explain it to people, the connection I feel to this place , but I can never find the right words.

“I love it here,” I say to them, but it doesn’t encompass it, doesn’t even begin to wrap itself around the feeling I get when I’m here.
I fell in love here; I’m sure that’s part of it. I met the man who would become my family here. Around every corner there are memories, places we visited, conversations we had. I found love, understanding, friendship here, but I also found so much more.

I found myself here.

I found out who I was away from everything I knew. I figured out how to be me, apart from all of them.

I made choices based on my own opinions, nothing else. I discovered I was stronger than I thought, but also more fragile. I realized it was okay to lean on others, to ask for help, and to accept it. I learned that being independent is important but so too is knowing that together we are so much stronger.

I went where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go. I discovered that getting lost was half the fun. I learned that with a bus pass and a map, the city opened up in front of me like a treasure chest.

I have lived in places that I loved, before and since, but no other place has ever felt like home in the same way. It become a part of me, a part of my story, writing its words and painting its pictures on the pages of my life.

When I feel sad and alone, it is the place I dream of going. It somehow fills the cracks left by everyday life, makes them smooth again. After every visit, no matter how short, I feel invigorated, as though I have found something I didn’t know was missing.

I am drawn to its streets, long-lost memories flooding my brain. I want to turn to the person next to me and tell them stories, all of the things that happened here, the minutia of time well spent.

I remember who I was here. I remember the girl with the dreams, the hopes, the belief that things were possible. And her imagination rubs off on me, the woman she has become, too often jaded and disheartened by the intervening years.

She makes me start to believe again, she makes me want to live up to all the expectations she had for us.

And so as the car speeds down the highway and I have to once again say goodbye, I am not sad. I know I will come again, and when I do I know it will be here waiting to welcome me back.

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I sit with a million questions racing around in my head.  Most of them involve “did you” and “can you” or “how about if” and “when are you?”  They are all about logistics and decisions to be made, plans to be finalized.  The day to day of the every day.

We sit on the couch in silence, watching tv.  The kids are asleep – or at least quiet enough that we can pretend they are.  Now is our time.

I used to think we should talk more.  I used to think that married people spent hours talking about their hopes and dreams and plans for the future.  Then I became a married person, married to another person, and I realized that’s not how it was going to be.  Maybe that’s how it is in other people’s marriages but not in this one.

I used to feel bad about that.  I used to believe that our marriage had to live up to the expectations I had of other people’s marriages.  I’m not sure why I ever thought that, but I did.  There were many arguments that focused less on things that were actually wrong and more on what I perceived to be wrong.

We sit on the couch in peaceful silence, laughing periodically at the same parts in our favourite tv show.  I look over, at the face I have looked at thousands of times, the face that I have loved for almost half of my life, and I bite my lip.

There are things in my head that I thought needed to be said but they really don’t.  There will be time enough later to discuss all of the things that need to be done, and who is going to do them, and when, and who is going to watch the kids while the other person is doing all of the things that need to be done.  That can all be discussed another time. Not now.

We’re busy.

We’re busy sitting.

I used to try to fill the silences, so sure that they were supposed to be filled.  So sure that love existed not in the silences, but in the words.

Along with so many other things, he has taught me that I was wrong about that.

Yes, there are times to talk, and ask the questions, and plan for the future, and dream and wish together and yes, we do all of those things.  But not all of the time, and that’s okay.

Now when I sit on the couch with him I enjoy the silence.  And I look over at him and I realize love exists in the fact that we sit here together on the couch, in silence.  He could choose to be somewhere else, in another room, in another house, with another person.  But he doesn’t.  He chooses to be here, on this couch, in this house, with me.

And I choose the same thing.

We don’t have to be here but we are; because we want to be.

So we sit on the couch together.  And when he looks over at me I will smile and I won’t say anything.  I will save the questions for another time.

Right now I have the only answer I really need.

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Apparently the call came on Monday morning. I say apparently because, as is often the case with these family things, the news took some time to make its way down the tangled branches of the family tree to where I am.

They got the call Monday morning and I got my call on Monday night. The news traveled to the west coast and back, predetermined by some kind of family hierarchy which still alludes me.

No matter. I knew it would come eventually.

“They have a room available for her,” my mom said. “She moves on Thursday.”

And there it was. Ready or not; the time had come. The day that we had all been anxiously awaiting with equal parts anticipation and dread for the last year or so had now arrived. We knew in our heads it was the right thing, the practical thing, the smart thing. But now, faced with the reality of an actual date and a definite time, it didn’t seem quite so right, quite so smart.

I managed to hold it together for the rest of that night and most of the following day. In the arguments that took place between my head and my heart, my head was most often the victor. It’s time. There are no other options. This is for the best. And for the 24 hours after the call I even almost convinced myself that I believed it.

I believed it until it occurred to me that after more than 61 years together, my grandparents would soon be spending their last night in the same bed. They would no longer brush their teeth together at the same sink, pull up the same blankets around their chins, wake up in the same room, looking out the same window.

Ready or not.

I believed it until I started to wonder what will go through each of their minds as they lay down that first night apart, now miles away from each other? Will my grandfather question the decision that ultimately was his to make? Will my grandmother’s disease finally become more of a blessing than a burden, the fog under which she now lives blissfully shielding her from the new reality?

And then I couldn’t hold it together any longer. I sought refuge in the shower, thankful for the water pouring out of the shower head, disguising my tears; grateful for the sound of the water drowning out my sobs. As sad as I was for them, I knew that selfishly, the tears were actually for me. The reality finally sinking in that we could never go back. Never go back to a time when my grandmother ruled that house, aware of all that went on within its four walls, so capable, so loving, so everything a grandmother should be.

Never will we go back to a time when I would stumble out of my bed each morning of my summer vacation and find her sitting quietly at the kitchen table writing in her diary, as she did each day for as long as I can remember. I would sit beside her and we would plan our day – a movie, some shopping, a walk “down street” to pick up lottery tickets.

The adult in me knows we can’t go back; that she hasn’t been able to do those things for many years. But the child inside still clung to the hope that maybe she would come back, be her old self again, return to what she once was just as quickly as she had slipped away. That as long as she stayed in that house it would be possible, not likely, but possible.

Ready or not.

Tonight she will spend what is most likely her last night in her house, the only home she has known for the past 40 years. She will have a little bag packed for her and make her way slowly down the two steps and out the front door and that will be that.

Ready or not.

She will come back from time to time, but more as a visitor than the woman of the house. If there is any kindness at all in her disease I hope she doesn’t understand, doesn’t realize, doesn’t grasp the reality of what is happening, of the decision that has been made for her.

I don’t know what it will be like to visit her somewhere other than that house, to form memories of her in a new place, separate from the things that I associate with her, apart from my grandfather, still a couple but perhaps no longer the team they always seemed to be.

I will try to be strong, put on a smile and say things like “you seem to be settling in well” and “here’s some flowers to brighten up your room.” I will try to make the words come out, to not get stuck in my throat, tangled with all the words that I really want to say – that she doesn’t belong there, that it’s not her home, that there must be some other option.

But I know there isn’t another option, just like I know she’s not ever going to go back to being the grandmother that I remember. We all just have to try and make the best of things as they are. Time will continue to move on, and we will each have to adapt to things as they are now, not as they used to be.

Whether we’re ready to, or not.

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I could see him, but he couldn’t see me. He was sitting on the bench by his cubby with the other kids; shoes changed, backpack on, singing some kind of good-by song to mark the end of the day.

He was doing some of the hand gestures that went along with the song, but not all. I could tell he thought the song was kind of lame but the “good boy” in him meant that he would play along.

I stood outside in the rain. Beads of water dripped down from the edges of my droopy umbrella and the water squished between my toes, but I hardly noticed.

I was too busy watching him.

I waved, tried to catch his eye but he wasn’t looking. Another child stood up and blocked my view. I turned away from the window and moved closer to the door in preparation for the end of school bell. It was then that I noticed the growing group of parents gathered near me.

Some were holding umbrellas, some wrestled other children while waiting for the bell, some just stood quietly. But all were crowded around the windows, watching their kids, just as I was watching mine.

When one of the parents would finally catch their child’s eye they would wave, a huge smile spreading across their cheeks, and I laughed to see that almost without fail, they would each then blow a kiss.

The parents came in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all colours, speaking all languages. I’m sure there are a hundred different ways to say I love you, a hundred different words in a hundred different languages to express the love between a parent and child.

Or, as I learned standing in the rain outside my son’s classroom window on the first day of school, you can simply place a kiss in the palm of your hand and blow.

And then no words are needed.

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Inspired by Ramble Ramble who, in turn, was inspired by Shalini, I’ve decided to share a piece of my own “how we met” story.  It’s something I wrote a little while ago but I didn’t know what to do with it.  Now, it just seemed to fit.  If you have a minute, definitely check out the two posts that inspired me to share this (and all of the comments – there are really some great stories in there!)

A little background: we met when we lived across the hall from each other in our first year of university; started off as acquaintances, then friends, then something more.

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I learned that doors each have a distinct sound.  Some squeak, some rub, some bang. His door made a small groaning sound before the large metal lock would click into place. I used to be able to pick the sound of his door out from any other door in the hallway. Kind of funny because all of the doors looked exactly the same and, in theory, should have all sounded the same.  No matter though, I knew which one was his.

In the beginning, when we were just friends, the sound of his door closing would make me smile.  It meant that he was back from class, or the gym, and it meant I could go over and knock.  He would open the door with that smile, and I would smile back.  He would offer me some peach iced tea and a passion flakie.  I would sit cross-legged on his bed and we would talk about our days.

Later, when I decided I wanted more than friendship, I strained to hear the sound of the door.  I sat at the desk in my room, pretending to study, reading the same paragraph over and over, just waiting to hear it.  And then I would.  Then the internal debate would be how to play it cool, how to not go running over there right away, like some pathetic school girl with a crush.  But crushing I was, and it just continued to grow.  I had no idea if he felt the same, so I crushed in silence.

The night before I was leaving to fly home for Christmas Break, I remember sitting on the counter in my room, a small bit of countertop right beside the sink, just enough room to curl up on.  I’m not quite sure how I ended up there but it seemed like the right place to be.  I was crying.  I was so excited to be going home after four  months of being away from my family but I was also scared.  Scared to go back to being at home, without all of the freedom I had grown to love.  Scared to go back to all the drama of high school friends, and old high school loves, both of which I had already started to outgrow during my short time away.

Then I heard his door close.  I had it timed down to the second.  I knew that after hearing the door slam, it would only be eight seconds before he reached my door.  His room was just across the corridor and three doors down.  Then he knocked.  My roommate had finished her exams and was already on her way home; same with my other two closest friends who lived next door.  We joked that it was kind of funny that the person from the farthest away (me) was the last one to get to go home.

I yelled for him to come in.  As soon as he saw me he knew something was wrong.  He came over and stood in front of me.  I turned toward him and he opened his arms to me.  All the guys I had known before him would have been afraid of my tears; would have sat across the room from me, not wanting to deal with my emotions.  He just opened his arms and held me.  I got lost in him; it felt so right.  For once I wasn’t afraid to show who I was and what I was feeling; I didn’t try to hide myself from him.

We spent the evening talking and laughing and when it got really late, he went back across the hall and I heard the door close.  I curled up and went to sleep.  The next day I said goodbye to him as he left to drive home for the break.  We hugged, mostly friendly, nothing more.  He turned and took two steps away; and then turned back.  He took the two steps back toward me, stopped and kissed me on the cheek.

Our friendship ended right then and there.

Now, 15 years later, I can still close my eyes and hear the sound his door made when it closed.

And my heart still beats a little faster.

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