The impact of thoughts and words


“Be careful of your thoughts when you’re alone. And be careful of your words when you’re with people.”  Author unknown

I love this concept. It is so true. Your thoughts can have a domino effect, one tumbling into another into another. Negative thoughts can cause a lot of harm – to ourselves and ultimately, to others.  Conversely, positive thoughts about ourselves, our families, friends, and coworkers build us up and help us act kindly; to be gentle with ourselves and with others.

Negative words, cruel words, words that wound deeply are to be avoided. Sometimes anger can cause a lot of harm because we are reacting to a perceived injustice.  So choosing our words wisely is a very good idea.

Sometimes life throws a wrench into our carefully laid plans. When this happens I try to see the lesson I need to learn. Sometimes the most painful of events lead us to the best situations and circumstances for our greater good. Change can be painful, but if we can find the silver lining; meet the challenge; overcome the obstacles, I think it can make us better people. But, we need to be open to receive the blessing in disguise.

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Grief and grieving


There have been a series of setbacks in my life, but the one I have been most affected by was the sudden and preventable death of my brother, Chris. Since his death I have done my best to honor his memory and have written a lot about Chris, the impact his passing has had on my life and the struggles with grief since then.  I don’t know if every family is the same, but for me, personally, the bond formed in childhood is a life-long bond that even death cannot erase. And so I have been playing with the words grief and grieving and have found this acronym for “grieve” to be true:

Granting

Really

Intense

Emotions

Voice

Empathy

 

When your heart is ripped open and the wound goes deep into your soul it becomes very difficult to get through the days. And each experience of grief triggers every single past experience with other loved ones. Like some kind of heinous dominoe effect each fresh bereavement carries with it the ability to marshal forth every memory of pain ever experienced. So in my experience it is very important to be incredibly gentle with yourself as you traverse the minefields of grief.  Grief can make you feel a little crazy and definitely off balance.  Here is what grief, as an acronym, means to me:

Going

Round (and round)

Inside

Emotional

Fractures

 

I miss my brother. We all do. I hope that sharing my grief and pain helps others going through similar circumstances know they are not alone.  May everyone going through the turmoil of grief be healed and know the love and comfort of family members and friends. I know mine have helped me tremendously.

Goodbye January! I am glad to see you go


winter

 

My mind is overwhelmed with all the goings on over this past month. I am exceedingly grateful to say good-bye to January – that cold, heartless month that seems to deliver punch after punch for several years now. Honestly, I hold my breath throughout December, dreading what new misery January will bring. But, perhaps it is only my overactive imagination and superstitious nature that makes me think of January as the epitome of hell – a frozen, dark, and lifeless hell.

So welcome February, for even though the storms may continue, the shortest month of the year brings us ever closer to spring and new life.

I will hunker down with my hot cup of tea in hand and dream of better days and the burst of greenery just around the bend.

Ups and downs on life’s roller coaster


Well, it’s been a very bumpy month so far. But, on positive note, my husband is out of hospital and hopefully will gain back his strength. After a total of three weeks in hospital I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and feel more hopeful for the future, whatever it may bring. And I sincerely hope it is better health for my life partner, best friend, and spouse.

At the other end of the spectrum is the ongoing drama of the trial, which resumes tomorrow.  I have no idea what it may bring – I think my whole family will be glad to see an end to this painful journey through the criminal justice system. And, of course, I cannot help but think of Chris, and of his children.  It’s been a long, hard row to hoe. If you follow this blog you know that I am referring to the trial of the man who killed my brother when he crashed into his vehicle on Nov. 19, 2016. He faces several charges, among them impaired driving causing death.

The trial was slated to continue on the 8th of this month, but that date was cancelled due to the illness of the defense attorney. And so here we are, waiting to see what transpires next. It hasn’t been pleasant, this waiting game, to say the least. My heart goes out to my niece and nephew who have been going through the grief of losing their father compounded by the stress and anguish of the trial.  I know how difficult it has been for me, and I am his sibling. Yet, everyone who knew my brother well were shocked and deeply wounded when he died. It wasn’t only that he died, but the manner in which it came about – snatched from life in the most preventable of circumstances.; And so all the people who knew Chris, no matter what the relationship, have been deeply affected by the tragedy of his death.

What can I write that would make people think twice before climbing behind the wheel of any vehicle if their judgment is impaired in any way? Sometimes I wonder if my efforts mean anything at all. But, if nothing else, people will know that Chris lived and that his life mattered….and he is forever loved…. forever missed.

School shootings


The other day my niece shared a news story about a school shooting in Kentucky; it saddened me and made me think of the drama, the pain, and the shock of another school shooting in Brampton, Ontario in 1975 at Brampton Centennial Secondary School. It was the school I went to and where several classmates had been hurt and three, including the shooter, died.

I knew the shooter, Michael Slobodian, and I knew the teacher that died, Margaret Wright, and I knew John Slinger, one of the dead, but only in passing. Michael had been the boyfriend of a girl I knew. He was also in several of my classes, including the English class where Mrs. Wright was our teacher. She had recently moved to Brampton from New Brunswick, if memory serves. And she was the mother of two young children.  I also remember Dean Naden, who lived a couple of houses down the street from the Slobodians. He tried to reason with Michael, but was shot for his efforts. I remember Ernie Nicols, whose family set up equipment in their yard for their son to practice for track and field events. Ernie ended up paralyzed after he was shot that day.

There are more, many more. Many people were hurt that day and many were traumatized.

It was an event that would mark me for the rest of my life. I think about it every time there is another such tragedy. I remember the sirens, the rampant rumors, the fear, and the panic. I remember gathering in our basement with my sister and our friends that evening. There was a lot of weeping and a lot of questions.

I remember going door to door with a petition to gather support for gun control legislation.  I remember the man who argued with me for a long time about the right to bear arms. He was a “new” Canadian and had emigrated from a country that offered few liberties. He felt government should not make such laws. I felt then, as I do now, that there is no place in society for the indiscriminate sale of guns, especially high powered rifles that are not needed for the hunting of game.

Michael Slobodian was sixteen years old – a child still. I think of him and still wonder, “why”?  I believe that children – all children – should be treated kindly and with respect. I read once that the way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice. Let our words to children be those of love, kindness, caring, and deep respect.

Sorrow Unexpected


 

Piercing sorrow

Squeezes my heart

At unexpected times

In unexpected ways

Keep going; keep busy

Keep going; keep busy

I drive myself

Harder and harder

Running from the demons

Of pain, of anguish

I dare not stop to rest

For sorrow sits

Where I lay my head

Rushing to nowhere

Since you are gone

And comfort is not mine to know

Laughter and song

Seem light years away

Tucked into my memory

And there they will stay

I push and I struggle

To avoid the grief

For your death left a numbness

Your passing beyond belief

 

I wrote this little poem for my brother, Chris, on December 2, 2016. It was just a short time after he was killed when an impaired driver collided with his vehicle as he was heading home from work. Every day we go about our business thinking it is just one more day. No doubt Chris also thought it was just another day. I am sharing it to remind my readers and myself that every day is special; every day a gift. Let us all use our days wisely.

On death and dying


Despite all the worry and despite all the pain my mind returns to my little brother – taken too soon. He and my husband were pretty good buddies. They shared a lot, including open heart surgery within months of one another. He called a lot after Randy’s operation. And after his own a few months later he and Randy would share “war stories” of the after effects through many phone calls. It was an experience that seemed to strengthen the bond they already shared. In the past few weeks I was pained at the idea of my life partner leaving me forever. I dreamed of Chris and wondered if he would be there to greet his buddy once again.

Over the past years I have had to deal with one crisis after another as my husband’s health failed. He will never again be “healthy” as most of us think of it. There has simply been too much damage done to his heart and kidneys due to diabetes. And once again he is in crisis. Once again I am preparing myself for the inevitable. Having said that, I also know he could live another 5, 10, or even 20 years, despite the present situation.  There are, of course, a lot of variables.

My husband is the consummate clown. He loves to make me laugh – he loves making anybody laugh. It hurts to see him worn out and weary.  It hurts to think of life without him by my side.

Yet death comes to each of us – there is no escaping that fact.  So I will hold the precious memories of our life together close to my heart while anticipating the memories we will continue to make as long as life goes on. Death is part of life. And life, as hard as it seems sometimes, is a precious, precious thing.