An example to follow: My brother, my friend


He was a very funny little guy and much smaller than his classmates, but his heart, oh my, his heart, that was bigger than words can describe with any sense of justice to a very kind and humane man he grew to be. Giving came second nature to him. Sharing was never something he struggled with, and that never, ever changed. He was brave. He was courageous. He was smart and caring and compassionate. Today marks the third-year anniversary of a terrible day for our family. The day that big, loving, generous heart stopped beating, forever. And the day that left a hole in each of our hearts that time does not heal and dates such as this reminds us of just what was lost on that highway. That highway. That day. When time stopped as we tried our best to wrestle with the shock and dismay; the pain and the sorrow.  That sorrow and pain that we continue to struggle with because it was all so very preventable and so surreal.

Surreal because he did not die of natural causes. Surreal because he was stolen. He died at the hands of an impaired driver. And so, it hurts more, somehow, knowing he had absolutely no control over his fate as he drove home that day.  I try very hard not to go there, not to imagine what he was feeling as he came upon that car hurtling toward him with no place to go to safely avoid the collision. But on this day … on this day it is nearly impossible to avoid thoughts of him. And thoughts of him invariably morph into the manner in which he died. To add salt to the wounds the impaired driver walked away with barely a scratch. A bump on his head and a sprained wrist the only evidence of his crime.

The impaired driver was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and received a prison sentence. It doesn’t matter much because one day that impaired driver will walk free. Our brother walks free too, on the other side of the veil where we cannot see. All we can do is pray for strength and courage to carry on. And, perhaps with the grace of God, emulate to some degree the empathy, kindness, compassion, and love that were his hallmarks. Please, Divine One, let us follow his example.

The blessings of being broken


She sat on the sofa not moving while the litany of destructive self recriminations began. She was too weak to stop it. It played on and on with one accusation following another in a never-ending loop. The mental pain was excruciating. She wanted to die just to end the pain. Yet, thoughts of her children stayed her hand. Who would find her dead body? No, she could not do that to them.

Despite the fact she knew she was not the mother she wanted to be; despite all the times she was distracted and preoccupied by the nonstop judge that ruled her mind and kept her hostage; despite the strong inner critic who chained her to the whipping post day after day after day and lashed her repeatedly with words both cruel and untrue.

Then one day the pain became too great. She decided to end it. She could not go on this way, and really, her children would be better off without her. She was merely existing, not living. She did not deserve their love; did not deserve to be their mother. And the children deserved so much more than she could give. In fact, she had nothing to give. She was empty, totally drained of joy or happiness.

She was broken, utterly and entirely spent. She cried and cried – screamed out her pain, but no one heard – no one. At least, that was what she thought and believed at the time.

When you reach rock bottom; when you can sink no lower, it is then you begin to rise. The ascent was slow at first, very slow. She thought she’d never see the light at the end of that dark tunnel. But she had strength – more strength than she knew.  She crawled in increments so tiny as to be microscopic. She did not see much change, at first. The inner voice tortured her still, but now there were small moments of quiet – moments of peace she’d never known before.

Those moments stretched into hours. Then eventually into days, and then weeks, until finally she emerged from the darkness.

She stretched her arms up toward the sky and turned in circles laughing up at the sun. And the blessings – oh the blessings – she felt the breeze tease the hair on her arms. She felt the sun warm against her skin. Breathed deeply the aroma of the sweet grass and briny air. And gazed about her like one newly born. She filled her senses with life.

 Like someone blind suddenly given the gift of sight her eyes were opened. She had much to give and gave it unstintingly. Compassion for others flooded her heart. She was healed. Yet the gift of memory allowed her to be a blessing to others. She never forgot her journey through that dark and bitter tunnel.

And so, it was and is and will be until the clock winds down and her days on earth are done, that brokenness leads to blessings untold and reaches out to heal others trapped inside the tunnel.

New life, new reasons to celebrate


“The littlest feet make the biggest footprints on our hearts.” – Author unknown

I woke up this morning to the happy news that my niece had her baby girl. Life is so wondrous and so precious. This is my brother’s first grandchild and her birth has been much anticipated. She has given us something wonderful to focus on and a much-needed break from the jumble of emotions this past 18 months have been. If you follow this blog you know my brother was killed by an impaired driver a year and a half ago. This precious child is bringing healing and a new focus on the joys of life. While I am saddened that Chris is not here to hold this precious baby, I am rejoicing that she has arrived safe and sound and both mother and child are recuperating from the rigors of childbirth. Yes, life is fragile, but life is also very, very good.

Two years since the wildfire


I wrote this yesterday, but was without internet due to moving to our new home….

3 May 2018 Two years since the wildfire

Last night our friend who rents the basement suite of this house accidentally set off the fire alarm while making toast. We have moved into a new home and the fire alarm is very loud and a disembodied voice instructed us there was a fire – there wasn’t. It was just smoke from overcooked bread. We were surprised to say the least as the siren continued for a minute or two. We had just gone to bed. And until I heard the voice saying, “Danger! Fire!” I thought my daughter had inadvertently triggered the door alarm. I did not panic, but as I think back it is interesting to me that the alarm did not trigger any “fight or flight response” especially on the eve of the two year anniversary of the wildfires. But afterward we all laughed about it and went back to bed. I was comforted with knowing if there ever is a fire we will get an instant and noisy warning – no one could sleep through that alarm!

It’s been two years since the wildfire that was nicknamed “the beast” roared into our city and caused the evacuation of approximately 80,000 people. Shortly before that event I had been out picking up household goods. Outside the store there were literally thousands of white feathers in a long row beside the building. White feathers (or feathers in general) are said to be a sign that angels are near. I was amazed at the number of feathers laying on the ground. As I think back on those feathers I cannot help but think angels certainly were nearby when we evacuated the city. There were no direct fatalities as a result of the wildfire. Sadly, two young people were killed in a collision as they were driving to Edmonton, so the wildfire did cause deaths albeit indirectly. It remains a source of wonder that more people were not killed. The wall of smoke on the edge of town was so intense that we literally could not see past the hood of the truck.

I wrote this poem and posted it on the first anniversary of the wildfires. I consider it to be divine intervention and the fine work of first responders that kept nearly everyone safe that day. I am adding my poem, ‘A thousand feathers’, as a tribute to all the angels, ethereal and otherwise, who helped us escape the flames.

 

A thousand feathers

A thousand feathers lay upon the ground

It may be there were thousands more

I did not stop to count them

But left them to be carried in the breeze

As I hastened on my way

And I wondered as I scurried

why

It seemed as though heaven’s angels

Had been stripped of their attire

Perhaps exchanged instead for that of steel

Did they fold their wings around us when we had to flee?

That day hell’s inferno came to be

And flames encircled on every side

Licking at our heels as we sought to leave

Did angels see us through the wall of smoke

Where daylight failed and darkness

Tried to steal our hope and faith in all we believed

Yet hell itself cannot succeed

When a thousand feathers lay upon the ground

And angels fly with agile strength

To do battle in our name

May 2, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother


He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother!

That song plays in my head a lot. It’s a tough week. I am keeping my siblings and especially Chris’s children close to my heart. I worry about them all and hope they are given all they need each and every day. It’s like an uphill battle against ferocious winds getting through these days of court dates and new testimony from witnesses – and I am not even there physically! I cannot imagine how tough this is for my teen-aged niece. I love her so much. I text with her every day to let her know I am thinking of her and her brother as they travel this arduous journey.

We cannot know the lessons we may learn from such an experience, but I hope that in the end it will enlighten us, inspire us, and make us all better people.  Please. God, let it make us better and not bitter.

Grieving and Solace


One year ago, but it feels like forever – each day a long battle with seconds and minutes leading up to this one. They have been days of unbelievable agony and days of sweet solace as family and friends reached out to one another to comfort, to support, and to befriend; to bind the deep wounds and to heal.

We have learned that at least three other drivers narrowly escaped a fatal collision that day.  One was a young mother with her three children in the car. But my brother was not so fortunate.  My brother was ripped from our lives in that violent, senseless, so-called “accident”. I have a lot of trouble with that word, mostly because it was no “accident” when that other driver lifted that bottle to his lips prior to getting behind the wheel, transforming his vehicle into a murder weapon.

Still, what does it all matter? Nothing will bring Chris back to us. He is gone and we are left to pick up the pieces. There is anger – no, there is RAGE – like nothing I have ever felt before. It passes. There is pain like I have never known before.  It passes, at least until the next wave.

I am reaching deep inside myself for something positive to say. This morning I was thinking of a book I once read by Henri Nouwen. In it he describes his struggles with grief following the death of his mother. And he leaves words of comfort and wisdom with these thoughts: had his mother not died, she would not have been able to infuse the spirits of all her loved ones with her own spirit of love and of peace.  I take comfort from his ideas.

Chris has left us all many gifts. His death brought us all even closer to one another. His generosity, his kindness, his ability to make light of life’s struggles, his wit and  his incredible sense of humour live on in all of us. Perhaps in some way we are infused with his spirit. That is my hope and my solace. So today I will celebrate his life and give thanks for all the blessings he continues to bestow.

It’s all about support


Many of you who follow this blog know my family is faced with a tremendous challenge in the form of a court trial, which began a week ago. It will be ongoing throughout the month of November. In case you don’t know this trial came about due to the death of my brother. He was killed when an impaired driver crashed into his vehicle as he was headed home from work.

It’s been hard – enough said. But this blog is about the support I have received, including that given by my coworkers. People may not realize how much it means, the gestures and the kind words.

My coworkers have lent a sympathetic ear, have given hugs, and have given me reasons to smile. The opportunity to be silly for a few minutes is very important to me – I need to take a break from the stress and pain, it is healing. Laughter acts like a tonic, easing the agony and reminding me of all that is still good in life. So I just wanted to give a shout out to the team at work who have helped me so much, even when they don’t say a word!

Let there be healing


a-natural-cave-carved-out-by-the-sea-on-the-gravels-nature-trail-port-au-port-nl

Some day are filled with agony. It is what it is. Some days I find strength and comfort in places that surprise me. I am so grateful for that. We must soldier on. Frozen feelings melt. Kind words of support and love are like balm to my soul. I am not alone in my grief; many are the people who join me here. Some hearts are full of anger and rage – hearts that feel alone, broken and forgotten. Some hearts are loving and forgiving – But whatever lies within, it is human – human to love, human to hurt, human to want to lash back at that which causes pain.  I hope I can find a way to sow seeds of peace and of love – to let hurting hearts know you are not alone, to bind the wounds and let healing begin. Please, God, let there be healing, let there be love.

Love is patient. Love is kind

It does not envy, it does not boast.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,

It is not easily angered,

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil

But rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts,

Always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

  • 1 Corinthians 13.4