Dig deep… then dig deeper

I’ve had some pretty challenging days in 2016, some pretty crappy ones, and some ones that have just about kicked my butt. Today was the first day in the 5 years that I’ve been crawling my way towards a better life that I felt like just giving up and going to bed…. for days.

I lost the big present I bought for the boy, I’ve searched the whole house tying to find it – it’s gone. My girl had a catastrophic meltdown about some of the memories she stores about Mr. X yelling at and scaring her, I had to hold her while she cried out her pain. The dog got sick and vomited all over the house.

This was the point where I just wanted to give up. I have been so determined to make sure this is a good Christmas for the kids, a fun season for us. All that along with my frustration with recent divorce issues, the concussion, the broken arm, and other crap was just enough. I was totally overwhelmed and had nothing left to give. In fact, I said that. I’m done, I have nothing left, I just want to go to bed.

And because God is hilarious, about 5 minutes later I get a message that my beloved godmother is getting ready to transition to the next life.

So, a choice had to be made. Go to bed and cry (really wanted to), or go to the hospital and see her, see her daughter – who have been family to me my whole life.

I decided to go.

As soon as I got in the shower all the lights went out – power gone. We were having a massive snow storm and the highway was a mess, maybe it was a blessing I was slowed down.

I stopped and got in my pjs and cried again, really angry with God this time.

Power comes back on, back in the shower, and I soon head out on the road.

There’s something about a crisis that brings one to the most raw, authentic part of one’s being. We were like that. My godmother slept and her daughter and I sat and talked. We shared really deep things, and we talked about the most superficial of things. We really got to know each other in a way that we never have before. There is a blessing in that.

I left this evening and headed to a cousin’s place for the end of a family Christmas party. I still got a few good visits in, ate some good food, and had a few laughs. On the way home we chased some cows in a line down the road. Jacob said Santa may have reindeer in front of him, but I’d rather have these cows, On Hamburger, On Steak, On Roast!!!! Man I love that kid.

We need a tribe. I know I say it all the time, but we do. We can’t do any of this alone. We aren’t made to. My happiness moment is knowing that with the good times and the sad ones we have this amazing group of people in our lives.


Faith, loss, the tribe 

This has been a year of learning to let go, leaning into our faith,  embracing our tribe. 

Today one of our family cats, one that my parents got when my kids were just little, was suddenly called back to heaven. It was heart wrenching. 

Jacob and Tawny have been buddies since he was a little kid. When we would come home to visit, his constant companion was his pal Tawny. When we moved back their friendship only deepened. He was just telling me yesterday how Tawny has always been there for him as a  best friend.  

After he cried in his room for a while he came out and said you know, something I’ve learned after all these losses is that you cry, you feel like the world is over, you remember they are with God, and you learn to move on. 

My cousin (the one we all always turn to in a crisis) and her family came over to help us bury her. Something my tribe knows how to do well is come together and support each other in times of grief. 

We stood at the computer and looked at family photos of our group trip to Italy, oohed and ahhhed at how the kids had grown, how youthful and thin we were all back then, how much fun we had. We measured the kids on the family wall to see how they had grown since  spring. 

And then we went out near where we had scattered my dad’s ashes and buried Tawny. My cousin said a prayer, we shared memories of her, we held each other up, then we came home. 

I talk about my tribe a lot, but I can’t express enough how fortunate I feel to be part of this group of amazing people. So strong in faith, so much love and compassion. I feel so blessed. It’s a weird happiness moment, but I am so happy that we have this strong, loving support system around us. I’m thankful that we had Tawny in our lives. She was a truly loving, wonderful spirit. She will be missed. But, we know she’s sitting happily on Dad’s lap in heaven 

Tawny hanging out with my Dad a few years ago. 


A Dad day

For some reason today has been a day surrounded by memories of my Dad. I was driving this afternoon and was all of a sudden hit with this huge wave of regret. That specific regret is a feeling I try really hard to stuff as far down as I can and pretend it’s not there. I feel so badly that the kids and I weren’t able to come back home much sooner. He was so sick and both of my parents could have used my help. And yet I was stuck in my own horrible situation waiting for my own miracle to arrive (and it did). 

The kids and I spent some time this evening at the creek – which was a place my Dad loved to be at. That spot is filled with so many good memories of swimming in the summer and skating in the winter. I miss him so much but being at the creek was a good reminder that there is so much simple joy that can be easily found. I feel so blessed that it is right here at my back door.

Sitting at the creek, sitting in my emotions, opening my heart – my happiness moment 


Quiet road 

Today’s happiness moment is pretty short and sweet. We did a family walk this morning – my sister and her kids, mom, me and my kids. It was heart happy  to have our family together and enjoying each other’s company. 

I realized part way though the walk that it was starting to feel a bit more normal that Dad wasn’t with us while we did these things and that made me a little sad. That letting go business is so difficult. But I know he would be so happy to see his family out enjoying the day together. 


In Dad’s words

I spent some time this morning looking through the books that Dad put together for us over the past few years. They include some of his photography, but also he did a lot of writing as he shared his spiritual beliefs and told stories of the flowers we used to look at together.

I came across something he wrote for Advent in 2007 that gave me huge comfort today. I miss our talks and I miss his guidance. We didn’t always agree on everything, but I know he always supported and wanted the best for all of his loved ones. I think I took for granted for a lot of years what it was like to go through life knowing that I had these two powerful forces in my parents who would always have my back no matter what showed up ahead of me. I didn’t realize what a unique and special gift that was until I had hit a few bumps in the road and really discovered who really had my back in the dark times.

Dad’s words:

There are times when it is exciting to go fast.  At these times it is very easy to forget to thank Jesus for all that we are given.

But sometimes we get going too fast. Sometimes we try to do too much. As a child at school and a grownup working inside or outside a home. At these times we often forget to ask Jesus to guide us and take  time to pray for his assistance. He is waiting for our call.

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed that we want to go and hide. At these times we are so concerned about our problems that we do not feel Jesus walking through it with us. But he is there with us.

With all this activity, it can be difficult to remember why we’re so busy.

But if we can find just one quiet moment in our day to pause and centre ourselves and think about the awesome, beautiful sacrifice Christ came to make;

If we can spend even a second thanking Him for His ministry, His teachings, and His example, and His life, death and resurrection, we will surely be able to find within ourselves that intangible “Spirit of Christmas” that enables us to give of ourselves until we think we’ve giving it all – and then give just that one bit more – to find that we are able to give whatever is needed at all times of the year.

I have wondered over the past few months what advice Dad would give me as my life has turned inside out and taken a completely different direction. I think of our walks along the ridge while we explored and discussed our Faith, and I think this is pretty much exactly what he would say to me right now.

I am so thankful he took the hours of love labour to put together these books for us to have to remember him by. I am thankful for the guidance he showed me and the unconditional love that was showered on me.

Aside from the deep soul bittersweet happiness of these memories, I have a happiness moment to look forward to later on today. We are gathering with some of the extended tribe to celebrate the other fathers in the family. I feel incredibly blessed that we have so many strong, loving men in our family.

this is one of Dad’s photos of the sunflowers. In the months after he died sunflowers kept showing up in my life all over the place. They remind me that he is still close by.



Who do you want with you?

Something that has been sitting with me since losing dad last year is the question who do I want around me at the end? Which expands to who do I want to surround myself with? What people do I want in my life?

Moving back  home and being surrounded by my tribe has answered a lot of that for me. I want to be surrounded by these strong, kind, loving, faithful, fierce, funny people who are in my family and close circle. 

Today at a family funeral it really hit home how incredibly blessed we are that we have the community and the family that we do. Copithornes are good at pulling together in hard times. I saw it last year when we were in ours, and I saw it again today watching my cousins go through theirs. 

It was a beautiful tribute to uncle Dave. What a blessing to be able to celebrate the life of such a good, strong, kind man. The world needs to remember that there are men like that. 

My happiness moment was sitting with cousins and eating treats that brought us back to our childhood. Family bonding, there’s nothing quite like it. 


A few good men 

We spent this last weekend remembering and celebrating the lives of some really good men in our family.  I was thinking earlier today how incredibly lucky we are that we have men like we do in our extended tribe. 

I look at what I have learned coming through this divorce and I understand how easy it would be to end up angry at men based on that experience. And while I’m still pretty angry at Mr. X (especially as we have to head back to court again just so I can get permission to send my kid to therapy) it makes me appreciate the amazing men we have in our lives. In fact I feel like more than ever the kids and I have very purposeful conversations about the inner strength of these men. 

We spent the weekend remembering my dad, celebrating the birthdays of some uncles in the extended family, and also mourning the loss of one more of these great men. Saying goodbye is always difficult and I feel deeply for my cousins who are in the process of doing that now. 

But how lucky are we that we have this community of strong, moral people to help guide us through life. When you love someone there will always be the pain of loss, but so much better that than to never love at all. 

My sister branding uncle Dave back in the day 

My happiness moment today was driving Jacob to football practice. He’s waited a year to get back to playing and it was awesome to see his excitement. We are blessed. 


The year of change 

What a year this has been. Life is so completely different from where I was at a year ago today. 

A year ago Dad moved to the hospice on what would turn out to be his last day. Being there as he left home was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I both knew we were losing him and couldn’t imagine what life would be like without him at the same time. 

I still have moments where I feel something is wrong and run through what’s going on just to remember that he’s gone. I’ve needed him so much this last year, and yet his departure on his next spiritual journey was what guided me into mine. 

This is one of my favorite photos that Dad took. There is beauty everywhere. 

My happiness moment was a quiet day reflecting and studying, balanced by taking kids out for their Friday evening activities. Those quiet days are few and far between. 


The Coke shirts 

Last year as we began palliative care with Dad, I went to the store and bought matching Coke shirts for him and Jacob. They were always such a tight team those two, and were delighted to have the same outfit (with matching PJ bottoms). 

I was folding laundry this afternoon and pulled one of the Coke shirts out of the basket to fold.  I haven’t seen it in almost a year – I assume it was too painful for Jacob to wear. I was so happy to see it out now. We all seem to be walking into this week with smiles and sorrow. 

Some of the smiles come from remembering my aunts and uncles (his sisters and brothers in law), who along with one of my cousins made the trek out here to see him in his last days. 

Sad as it was, we had so much fun with them. Jacob was so delighted to find out the family gift  is really a thing and that it is something to be laughed about. He still talks about that discovery regularly. He takes pride in developing his abilities. 

The love that was sent to my dad (and us) from family near and far was amazing. It reconnected me with cousins, we shared stories and enjoyed that deep connection that blood brings no matter where you are. 

In a bittersweet happiness moment I sat with that Coke shirt and remembered how much my Dad loved Jacob. 

This is another one of Dad’s photos. Taken along a road that he and Mom used to walk often. 


I’ll wait for you under the bluebells 

I had a good friend remind me today that love never ends. Just because someone is gone does not mean we stop loving them. I remember thinking a year ago at this time as we watched Dad start to slip away that I was so grateful for unconditional love. I knew that not only did I have it here, but that once he was gone that love would stay. 

I feel so frustrated sometimes, so much has happened this year. I’ve had all these spiritual challenges and miracles happen and it’s all the kind of thing I would have talked with him about as we walked the ridge. I still go outside and talk away, andI know he’s listening because I can feel him with me, and God keeps opening doors that I’ve thought were locked. But still. I’d sure love a face to face chat. 

I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life as I have this past year, or sworn, or given thanks. I know for sure it has left me so grateful for where I am and the direction I’m heading. 

This is another one of Dad’s photos. I can imagine him sitting out in a field of bluebells. 

We had snow this morning. Gotta love Alberta – Mother Nature does what she wants. I had to send the kids out to beat snow off of our precious lilac bush. My happiness moment was warching them stand under the trees and beat the snow. Of course it all landed on them which lead to much laughing and shouting.