Category Archives: grief

In loving memory (grief)

Yesterday, I got the bright idea to start writing a short e-book. I wrote about 4,000 words before taking a break for lunch. I came back and started writing again last night around 10 pm. Before I knew it, I had written 7,300 words and it was 1:30 in the morning!

Writing is something that has always been enjoyable to me. I think that comes from reading a lot as a kid. I read thousands of books by the time I turned eighteen and then quit reading for many years out of boredom. Now that I’m getting back into reading, I feel the writer’s bug coming out in me. A lot of that is thanks to my mother.

Before my mother died, we had a conversation about writing books. She had wanted to write a book so badly. But her health took a turn for the worse, and she lived with a terminal illness for years. She wrote daily in her journals. We still find lists tucked into books even now, eight years after her death. I should have helped her write her story down. I feel so guilty about it now.

I wasn’t going to write about my mother today here – because to be honest, I didn’t really think about what day it was. But here we are. Eight years after we said goodbye to my mother.

It’s funny. Why did I get the strong urge to write last night and start a new book? It’s been on my mind for a long time. The last book I wrote was in 2019 called Dream Speak. And the first book, was a short story on my mother’s death called When I Get to Heaven.

That book is so personal to me even now. I remember crying when I finished it. In a way, writing was cathartic for me. I felt sad, that she was gone. But the anger finally washed away with the tears. I had held onto that anger for far too long.

My new book that I’m writing is about my dreams and nightmares. It’s called Dream Walkers, and I’m dedicating it to my mother. She was a force of nature. She was strong willed, determined, and nothing could stop her once she set her mind to it. I think in a lot of ways, I’m like my mother. I get told I look like her all the time. But I also have her stubbornness and the ability to hold grudges. I’m getting better at that though as I age.

Back in 2017, I had a dream about my mother. She used to visit me often in dreams. I believe that our loved ones can come to us while we sleep and we can have full conversations with them. Sometimes the dreams feel so real. I hug her and hold her. I can still smell her perfume.

In this dream, I walked into our beloved family home of 50 years that we sold a couple of years ago. Mum was in the kitchen at the sink. Getting supper ready. I was surprised to hear someone in the kitchen as my dad wasn’t well and couldn’t get food ready.

“Hello? Who’s up there?” I asked as I kicked my boots off and closed the front door.

I remember my hands were shaking as I walked up the stairs and held onto the railing so hard, that my knuckles turned white. I could hear her voice coming from the kitchen. She was humming off-key as she often did.

“You’re here! I have been waiting for you forever!” she exclaimed with a big smile on her face.

“Mum? Is that you?” I said questioning her presence. I had been tricked before in my dreams thinking that my mother had found her way to me, but it wasn’t her. It was always something else.

“It’s me silly!” she said.

She rushed over to me and wrapped her arms around me. She felt warm and I squeezed her right back, smelling the shampoo in her hair and Obsession perfume. She was wearing her favorite polka-dot dress with heels. Her hair was like it was back in the 80’s in an up-do. And more importantly, she was healthy. The oxygen mask was gone and she was moving around freely without pain.

“I have so much to show you! I’ve been so busy, can’t you see? Look at all of this!” she said as she waved her hand towards the table. I turned around and let out a gasp. The table was filled with notes, books, and journals.

“I’ve been busy! Writing non-stop!” she continued.

“Mum, where have you been? I’ve looked for you. I’ve called out to you. I’ve missed you so much,” I said as I grabbed her hand and held it tight. There were tears in my eyes. “I have so much to tell you too.”

“I’ve been here all along, just waiting for you and your dad to come home,” she said. “But look, this is for you. Take what you need out of it. Keep it close. And remember, I love you.”

“What do I do with this all?” I said as I dropped her hand and flipped through one of the books. It was an old book, bound with black leather and the pages were worn.

“Write. Just write. Tell them your story,” she said.

I looked up at her and tears were streaming down my face.

“I don’t understand mum. What do you mean?”

I looked back down at the books and looked back up at my mum…only, she wasn’t there anymore. She was gone. Before I woke up, I could hear her voice from far away…

“Just remember I’m always here with you. I love you.”

Instead of feeling sad when I woke up that morning, I felt warmth around. Comforted. The dream felt so real to me. All the dreams I had of her before that turned into nightmares that left me with feelings of guilt and depression. But after this dream, things turned around. I felt lighter. I could feel her around me.

Today, many years later, she feels so far away from me now. But I often hear her voice in my head – guiding me. Comforting me. She’s nagging me right now and telling me to keep writing and tell my stories.

And so mum, this next chapter, I dedicate to you. I’m here because of you. And all the goods parts of me, I know I got from you and dad too.

I miss you so much. And I hope when it’s time for me to go, that you’re the one who comes to collect me to take me home again.

I love you.

(Also… if you want to read the ebook – head over to my shop page…it felt wrong to advertise here.)

author unknown

Grief. Time doesn’t heal all wounds.

I’m not going to apologize for not writing as much as usual this week. Sometimes I need to take breaks. And other times, I just don’t feel like cooking. That’s what this week has been. But I have some ground beef defrosting in the fridge and perhaps I’ll make a meatloaf and share my recipe with you later today.

I think I just realized why I’ve been quieter this month and haven’t had too many things to say. With COVID, things have been tough as you all know and probably feel for yourselves. My dad is in stage five with Parkinsons and he’s in long-term care. Cases are on the rise and they’re talking about another lockdown. My dad barely survived the last one.

With Parkinsons, comes dementia. Dad had a hard time remembering what was going on from day to day. He went from seeing his kids almost daily between me and my sister. To not seeing anyone for months at all. The depression kicked in. He mostly slept and cried all day, everyday. We were told he was getting the help he needed but he wasn’t.

We’re looking at moving him into the next level of care but this process could take a long time. Up to a year. I’m hoping we can move him closer to my sister so I can visit them more too. They live in Sherwood Park. If that’s the case, then when I move in the spring, I might move closer that way. It makes more sense.

So, I’m really worried about an impending lockdown. Not seeing my dad for months on end nearly killed me too. I live alone. The isolation was damaging.

The other reason I’m not too talkative this week. I turned down a funeral through the church two weeks ago. I played for a funeral last Saturday. And there’s another funeral coming up this Saturday and our family knew the deceased.

Music is something I’ve done for most of my life. It used to bring me such joy. Now with COVID, all the fun parts are gone – seeing people, connecting, meeting new people. It’s not the same. And funerals in general are hard. They’re so hard since dad got sick. He’s my only parent left. I’ve lost all my grandparents – years ago.

I’ve even lost some old friends this year. And it sucks when you can’t even go to the funeral because, COVID.

And so, grief has taken form once again. But I wonder – does it ever really go away?

This morning my neighbour was up early at 6:30 am and woke me up out of a dead sleep. I banged on the wall and fell back into a restless sleep. I had nightmares about the house. Bad. Bad. Nightmares. They’re getting worse. And it’s not just me. My siblings – the women – are ALL having similar dreams. But this one – it was like a bad horror movie at the house and my dead mother was the guest star.

Maybe I need to take a break from horror movies. But it’s almost Halloween.

I just emailed the pastor. He offered to have someone else play for the Sunday All Saint’s service and I took him up on the offer. I can’t do a funeral AND a candle lighting service. My emotions are just wrecked.

I don’t think grief ever really leaves us. Especially when it’s someone like your parent or a loved one. I think some days just are just easier than others because you can keep busy and distracted. But every now and then a dream will happen, or a memory is triggered, and you’re right back to where you were when you first lost that person.

Grief. They say time can truly heal, but I think some hurts never really do.

Grief: Until we meet again

The other night, I was feeling senitmental about music from my childhood. I mentioned Vera Lynn in a post about music from the “early days”. Music that my grandfather and mother loved.

My mother was born and raised in London, England until she was fourteen. The family moved to Canada and if you asked her, she would tell you she was a proud Canadian. But her British roots were important to her.

She loved music from artists like Elton John. She was obsessed with anything to do with the Royal Family and Princess Diana. And she, along with my grandfather loved Vera Lynn’s music.

She also loved tea time. She drank Red Rose tea throughout the day. Whenever my grandfather came over, they enjoyed biscuits with jam and a few cups of tea.

I just cried. I honestly, really just cried when I learned that Vera Lynn died at the age of 103. She popped into my head the other night for no reason. I listened to a few of her old songs like We’ll Meet Again.

These songs always make me tear up.

I lost my grandfather, John, who once served on a Navy ship during the war as a cook. He had so many stories to tell of the war and his travels. He was proud of his service – and proud of his family. He died of natural causes in 2007 at the age of 95.

I never met my grandmother – Vi. She died in 1969, even before my sister was born. She never got to meet any of her grandchildren. I think I look a lot like her. I’m always told I look like my mum.

When my grandfather died in 2007, the same week my aunt Esther died – aid I performed at both funerals – the hardest week of my life – mum listened to this music.

I listen to it when I’m thinking of my own mum, who I lost six years ago.

Grief never really leaves you. It never goes away. You never forget the people who loved you the most.

Music has a way of reminding us of that. And today, while listening to “We’ll Meet Again” – I cried for like the millionth time. Because that’s what this song does.

I like to think that there is an after life. A life where we get to see our loved ones again. I don’t know if there is a heaven. But if there is a place like this – I like to think that my mother is enjoying a cup of tea with her parents right now and listening to this music just like I am.

Rest well, Dame Vera Lynn.

You were part of so many memories from my childhood.