Don’t Put the Past on a Pedestal

I was telling a story today at work to one of my colleagues. We had been talking about families and kids the sometimes odd things that they do and how crazy they can drive us. I was sharing a story about two of my boys from many years ago. Two things occurred to me, even as I was blithering on telling her the story.

One: that I was talking and sharing a memory that involved Willie, by name, without hesitation. This may seem like not a big deal, but for me, it is. I routinely talk about my three living sons (by name and very openly) at work but I skirt around ever bringing up anything that involves mentioning Willie. Why? For the reasons that it invites questions from those who might have never heard his name yet and wonder why I never mention that one (yes that has happened)…. and then the awkward “well, because he’s dead” which is a pretty big downer for a work conversation. So , I tend to only share funny things that don’t include him. Except today, it was with one of my staff, alone, who knows he’s dead and what his name is and she has the amazing knack for not ever looking at me with that look that some people get when I mention him. I’ve never told her how he died or details or much at all. She just knows that I have a son who died shortly before I moved here and started working here. It struck me today how good it felt to be able to talk about him and laugh and share and to be able to share him with someone in a positive way – not in a sad way. It felt good.

Two: The other thing that came to mind as I was laughing and telling this story to her was that when we talk about someone who has died, we so often only reminisce about the good. We remember them with biased, rose-coloured glasses way more than we should. “Don’t speak ill of the dead is a common phrase that I’m sure we’ve all heard. They were human and they were fallible though and it’s ok to remember THAT part of who they were too. My son was a great kid, bright and curious with an awesome sense of humour and dry wit that I was so proud of as his Mom. He was also short tempered, annoying and snarky and he could be a real little asshole at times. In short, he was a normal person. A very normal teenager. True, much of his behaviour in his final few months was fueled by mental illness but before that, he was not always a smiling, blooming roses, sunshine and rainbows type of kid. And it’s ok to say that.

So tonight, as I scroll through old pictures of the last trip I took with my boys when we were all together, I share one that captures that sentiment perfectly.

This picture shows a moment caught in time with two of my boys; the young man in the picture, who is the main subject, is my oldest son – he’s now 25 and all grown up and someone I am super proud of (like I am of all of them – have to point that out!). He has his usual face of “I’m letting you take the picture but hurry up” that I know and love so well!

The middle finger in front of him, thrust into the frame at the last second, is Willie’s. A perfect capture of him being a little annoying dork. That too, is something I am super proud to say that I remember, and celebrate, of him.



Dear Universe

An open letter to the Universe:

Dear Universe (or Life or whatever you would like to be addressed as),

I commend you on your tenacity…your many and varied attempts to break me are impressive and you continue to surprise and shock me even as I think I’ve seen it all. Granted, I have only had 42 years to try to decipher whether or not your intention is to find a way to make me tap out of this journey or whether I , like everyone else, is simply here for your amusement and enjoyment… but, 42 years is long enough for me to have garnered some information…

Admittedly, there have been a few occasions where it has looked like you won and I have come close to conceding defeat. Yet, no matter how many times or how long they have lasted; my track record for beating bad days is pretty damn good (that means btw, that I haven’t actually given up ever).

I have never been one to play the games that require great skill at cunning and strategy. Luck has eluded me as well – I find it’s fickleness and uncertainty to be unpleasant to my taste for reason and understanding. I prefer the strength and clarity that comes with knowing not only what I’m up against… but more importantly… what I bring to the table.

So, thank you for showing me what I’m made of and what’s inside of me that I have to fight with. Having seen that sometimes I do slide a bit and falter when I’m pushed; I also see that I always find my grip and dig in and I hold on – without fail. I have simply to say to you today…

You have no idea what I’m capable of and what I can handle… But I do now. Regardless of what comes next… challenge accepted, and I won’t lose.

Me, my Self and I

and P.S. your sense of humour sucks at times.