Monday, 27 October 2014

A Death in the Family

Sixteen years and one month.  One month.  One month since I last blogged about her, 2 days since her wellness check at the Vet gave her an all-clear.  One month since it seemed, however improbable, that she would live forever.  She didn’t.

Murphy passed away very early Friday morning with our hands and our voices her last experience.  I had at least wanted that much.  I am grateful that it didn’t happen while C2 was travelling, or at the office.  I am grateful that it didn’t happen while I was at work and she would have been alone.  I am grateful it didn’t happen while we were in Canada at Christmas.  I am grateful but I am grieving.  We three are.

I am grieving her presence, which is so familiar to me; our house is loud with her absence.  When C2 comes downstairs in the morning, he looks at the corner of the living room to her bed, “to make sure she’s still breathing” he used to joke.  That corner is conspicuously empty now.  When I come into the house, I open my mouth to holler “hi Murph” then stop.  I still think to her schedule and automatically open my mouth to ask C2 “have you let her out to pee” at night before I stop.  I look to my feet as I’m cooking or preparing food where she would always be and her absence takes my breath away.

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach…repeatedly.  We three do.  I’m sorry if you cannot relate to the grief of losing a much-loved animal but she was so much more than that for us.  She has been our constant companion through time and place, our touchstone.   After 16 years, we should have been ready.  We were prepared but we weren’t ready.

J stayed home from school on Friday and we went for a long walk by the river and talked and remembered and cried, and then did it again.  It helped, especially him.  C2 came home early since he couldn’t keep it together at work.  We went to Ikea and bought bookshelves, came home, and redecorated a room from top to bottom.  That got us through that day.

The next day, we spent the afternoon at the Perth Diwali festival, the Indian Festival of Lights, which spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.  Seemed the right thing to do.  The Masala Dosa temporarily filled the hole in our stomachs.

Yesterday, we went for a long beach walk, collected shells, and talked more.  I know that in a few weeks, this feeling of being kicked in the stomach will shift away from sadness and towards recalling happy memories with a smile in my heart.  I wish I could fast-forward to that place.

It was love at first sight for both of them

The last thing I said to her before she died was to “go find Sam”, her beloved Golden Retriever friend, and equally loved dog of our friends Marc and Nathalie.  I choose to believe that after leaving us, her indomitable spirit found his, and that they are together in Fish Creek Park in Calgary playing and chasing each other as they once did.  That's where she walked with me every day the summer J was born, sitting at my feet at Annie's  Cafe sharing my muffin, and whimpering at the mocking squeaks of the Prairie Dogs.  That's where she swam in the river, climbed hills, played in the snow, and mountain-biked with us.  That’s where we’ll spread her ashes so that’s where she can stay.

Friday, 10 October 2014

A New Job, Mental Health, and School Holidays why it's been a month since I last posted, in spite of my best intentions.  My free time has been so limited, in fact, that I fully expect to take two days to write this relatively short post, between ignoring the dusty tumbleweeds drifting by, finding time to have a shower, collecting J from tennis camp, and trying to spend  quality time with him since school holidays are usually full of precious JAM (J and mum) moments.

Righto, so back to the beginning, a month ago I started a new job, an NGO - perfect!  New field (mental health) and much to learn in short time; I love a challenge so still perfect!  Part-time - perfect,  However, part-time has morphed into near full-time at the moment which would ordinarily be fine, however has been made more complicated by (a)  my mum was in her final three weeks with us  (b)  J has two weeks of school holidays and (c) C2 is in the USA - oy!

This last month has been about trying to skill up very fast on the basic principles and statistics of the current mental health crisis in Australia, trying to skill up equally fast so that I can work respectfully with the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who are key stakeholders in my project, trying to make my mum's last three weeks with us not just about doing our washing and making our dinners, and reminding J that he really does have a loving and present mother.  Toss into the middle of that, a 3-day trip to Sydney (completely awesome)  to accompany my mum part-way back to Canada, and well, it's been quite a month!

The Sydney opera house....and a pirate ship?

I can cope with my current chaos because I know that balance is around the corner; that sweet spot where my brain, body, and soul are fully engaged and there is still milk in my refrigerator.  For the moment, that symmetry is elusive, but I know it's close.  At least the chaos is helping me not notice that my mum has returned to Canada.

One of the highlights during the school holidays was reclaiming our old annual J-Day tradition.  On J-Day, J chooses all meals and activities which not supposed to cost any much money.  This year started with a waffle breakfast, followed by a trip into the city to our favorite sushi restaurant.  J and I can do an impressive amount of damage at a sushi train!  J bought a new toy at Target (he paid) and I bought some artisinal rock candy on Hay Street (I paid).  Home-made chicken soup was the dinner request.  It was a JAM-filled day which ended with a 4-hour Skype call/virtual playdate with his best mate from Geneva while I binge-watched Season 3 of "Once Upon a Time" on Netflix.

Our sushi consumption, why yes those are all our plates,  impressive right?

Geneva calling....still best mates

Chicken soup
On another subject, for those of you who stay awake at night wondering just how far Perth is from North America,  J and I had 2 days and 2 full nights' sleep while C2 was traveling from Perth to Gillette, Wyoming this week....seriously.   I cannot tell you how excited I am for our journey to Canada this Christmas which will be our first from Perth.  It promises to be similarly grueling, dang, I knew there had be a price for living in paradise.