Choices, Consequences, and a personal Confession

I am old school. I believe that there are consequences to the choices we make. I was taught to own up to my “mistakes”. If I did something wrong I was expected to apologize and to make amends. I am glad I was taught this from an early age.

Like most children I had an innate curiosity about everything and (from my mother’s viewpoint) a never ending list of questions. I am sure I tried her patience considerably and I will be forever grateful for her enduring love and the lessons she taught me.

I remember when my mother caught me pulling the wings off house flies. I remember the frustration I had felt with the flies that were bothering me. I remember wanting to exact revenge on these creatures that were tormenting me. I remember my mother’s anger with me and her deep disappointment with my cruelty.  She killed the flies to put them out of their misery, and I, in turn, was horrified that she killed them. I hadn’t wanted them dead – I simply wanted them to stop flying around and pestering me.

I was very young; I don’t really know exactly how old I was. But I was old enough to be taught a lesson: A lesson about choices and about consequences. And although I don’t remember the words my mother said I do remember a long lecture.  And I remember the gist of the lesson: all creatures great and small deserve our respect; no creature should be abused in any way; life is precious, even the life of an insect. I learned that I, as small and as young as I was, could inflict pain. And I learned it was definitely not okay to do so. The consequence of my choice to pull the wings off the flies resulted in their deaths, for which I did feel very badly. That was my consequence – to feel the weight of my choice, my decision.

We each have an innate goodness and we also have a shadow side, a darkness that dwells within each, or so I have been told. And it makes sense to me. I lived it! But my point is not to dwell on the darker aspects of human nature; conversely it is to reflect on how we overcome it. There have been many books written on the subject by authors much wiser than I. So I will not attempt to answer this great mystery of good and evil in a mere blog post.

The events of the past year with its emphasis on death, on law, and the criminal justice system has caused me to think more deeply about life, love, and forgiveness. It has also given me much to consider as far as the consequences of our choices go. I think one of the reasons I have been so angry with the man who caused my brother’s death was his decision to plead not guilty, when it seemed abundantly clear to me that he was indeed guilty. I felt he should “man up” and confess to his decision to drink and drive and take his lumps.

I cannot speak for this man. I don’t know why he made the choices he made. But I do understand the very human inclination to self preservation. I am quite certain none of us want to know what the inside of a jail cell looks like. I am also quite certain that none of us want to experience what prison life might be like – from what I’ve seen represented on television and in movies it sure does not seem pleasant. So it makes sense that his man wants to avoid an education on life behind bars. Regretfully, by making this choice he has inflicted more pain on a grieving family.

Perhaps, like the small child I once was, I have wanted revenge; to inflict pain, as I have felt pain; to play God; to decide this man’s fate.

Thankfully that is not my job. Though God knows I have judged him harshly enough in my mind.

I still don’t have any answers. I am not God – I am not all-seeing or all-knowing. I just hope that as I walk this road I find the willingness to forgive – even if I can never forget.

Seeking Christmas Spirit

It’s hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it – this dark cloud that has cast its shadow over everything magical and good. Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, but it is exceedingly difficult to get into any semblance of Christmas spirit this year. My brother’s death on the 19th of November last year did not conjure as  deep a darkness that following the trial of his killer has this year; The next court date is the 8th of January when the defense will do their best to plant seeds of doubt in the judge’s mind.  That date looms over me like a huge black mountain and seems impossible to scale, or to set aside. God knows I am trying. It is a bitter pill to swallow, this knowing that the defendant will be celebrating Christmas with his loved ones while we, the family of the man he killed, do our best to put aside the pain and anguish of our brother’s needless death. Life is not fair – but then who ever promised it would be?

I have read stories that tell us that we agree to certain conditions and circumstances before we are born on this earth. That is a comfort to me in a strange way. I can imagine Chris making the decision to be the one to die in order to save the lives of other people who were travelling the highway that day – one of which was a young mother with her three children in her car.

Chris possessed a generosity of spirit that is hard to convey. He was a truly selfless person in many ways. And he was very kind. So I can totally imagine him agreeing to play the role of victim in this scenario. Ah but he was more than the victim of an impaired driver. The many people who approached me and my sisters and brothers following his funeral attest to the mark he made on this world. And not in any big splashy way, but in the small acts of kindness he performed daily. It is this knowing that gives me comfort that no criminal trial or any amount of anguish can ever take away.

Putting up the Christmas tree

We put up the Christmas tree last evening and started decorating the house. It’s not finished yet. There are lots of finishing touches yet to be done, but I have to admit there is something about placing treasured ornaments on the boughs that gave me a much needed lift. The past month has been very trying. As I placed owl ornaments on the tree I thought of Chris – he collected owls. Was there some cosmic spirit at work that moved my daughter to give me owl ornaments? She bought them a few years ago – long before the tragic events that took our brother from us. Now I see owls everywhere – they have become quite a fad in recent years. Owls represent wisdom and a spirituality that lies within the dark of night. May this dark night usher forth the faith and wisdom we all need in our family and in our society and may the peaceful spirit of Christmas bring us all solace and good will.

I will stand for you

I will stand for you, my brother, my friend

I will hold your children in my thoughts

In my prayers

In my thoughts

Wherever they go

Whatever they do

I will tell them the stories of you

Of days long gone

When we sat on grassy hillsides and watched

The waves on the ocean

When we jostled each other to be the first

When we fought with one another

And when we loved one another

When we were there for one another

And I will help them see

How you live on in them

Their kindness and sweetness

An echo of you

Their gentleness and strength

A testament to you

Their generosity and thoughtfulness

A legacy more true

Than the finest riches

Oh how proud you must be

To look down from heaven and see

How deeply rooted your lessons be

From this day forward this is my oath to  you

You will not be forgotten

And I will stand for you

Celebrating Autumn


It’s officially fall now, I have a pot of split pea soup bubbling on the stove. The days are still warm enough to enjoy walks in the woods. I had a chuckle at a little squirrel that didn’t see or hear me in time to scurry off and instead froze like a statue to the branch it was on – Small delights on a beautiful sunny day. I enjoy the beauty of the season – but lament that it’s far too short. Far too soon the temperature will plummet and frost will decorate trees once festooned in colour. Every season has its merits, but fall has a delight all its own. Life is good!

A Fond Farewell

“The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. Maybe they always have been and will be. Maybe we’ve lived a thousand lives before this one and in each of them we’ve found each other. And maybe each time, we’ve been forced apart for the same reasons. That means that this goodbye is both a goodbye for the past ten thousand years and a prelude to what will come.”
Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

shadows on the rocksThere are people that cross your path and leave you a better person for having met them. Hillary is just such a person. She is wise well beyond her years and I feel genuinely blessed to have gotten to know her a little. Every interaction with her is like a golden opportunity to soak up her wisdom and bask in her kindness. The thing is I don’t think she knows just how special she truly is.  Sadly, the time has come when we will part ways. She is going to university this fall and although her school is a mere 4-5 hour drive away life just won’t be the same. For I will no longer see her on a regular basis and I will miss her. She brings a ray of sunshine to my life, a sweetness that is difficult to describe. So I have been grieving the loss that is fast approaching, while trying my best to celebrate her next steps into the world.

Saying goodbye to those near and dear to us is never easy. It is as if a small piece of one’s heart goes with them – but perhaps this is a good thing, for surely they also leave a small piece of themselves with us for safe keeping. That is the joy and the beauty of relationships. So I will keep treasured memories close to my heart and take them out from time to time and remember… is such a fleeting thing and to have been blessed with the goodness of people like Hillary makes me feel rich indeed. My cup truly runneth over.

When your muse dies


When your muse dies,

Or seems to have fled

And your soul shrivels up

words fail

And the light goes out

The world is full of darkness

Where there is no inspiration

And all seems dismal

Suddenly a flash of lightening colours the sky

With a momentary brightness

And in the storm

Hope rises up

To tell me:

This, too, shall pass

So worry not

All is well

And all will be well