Friday, 6 January 2017

2016 in Review: The Year of Grief

Poor neglected blog! I lasted posted in May, saying it had been a hard year, and although we have had some very good things happen, overall it remained a year of mourning. Death, or the cold promise of it, seemed to touch so many of those we love:

Baby Matthew: Christmas 2015 I met up with my best friend and celebrated that she was pregnant with her second child. Then, several weeks later, we learned that her son was unlikely to survive past birth. We live on opposite sides of this vast country, so I spent a lot of time praying, crying, and pouring my prayers & hope & grief into the below since I couldn’t provide any of the more hands-on comforts that I’m more comfortable with:

Uncle Roy: At the end of January my mum told me that my uncle had just been diagnosed with cancer. Two weeks later he had passed away.

Auntie Ushie: In May I lost my beautiful Grandaunt Ushie. She is one of those family members who appear in my earliest memories and saying goodbye was like saying goodbye to part of my childhood and the security that comes with that network of extended family.

Aunt Diamonds: David’s Grandaunt passed away and that certainly made an impression. I had never met her, but she often was mentioned in family stories and we miss having the updates about her latest doings via the family grapevine.

Auntie Robin: Alzheimer’s continues its destruction of my sweet aunt’s body & mind. These days I almost never have an opportunity to see her, so reality as it comes in the form of pictures or updates from other family is always a sad shock. Every time I sing I think about the gift she gave me in training my voice. I am thankful for the years I got to know her as an adult, because we share so many similar interests in books & music, but at the same time I grieve for the slow loss of that relationship.

Gramma: Dementia and “old age” continue their work on my darling Gramma. Sometimes when I see her she is as funny & charming as she was a few years ago, but other times it is clear that she doesn’t really understand what’s going on. Mostly I hate how staged and forced-cheerful it feels visiting her in the care-home. We troop in, usually with donuts, and try to visit, but the visits are never very long and it just doesn’t have the same feel as it did when we’d visit her at home. Also, her home sold this year and it was sad seeing that piece of history (my Grandfather built it up into the structure it is today) leave the family even if that was the practical choice.

Baby Hannah: Shortly before Christmas we received urgent prayer requests for the newborn daughter of friends of ours, as she was being rushed to the NICU with serious problems. Although she is now back at home with her family, it seems that the long term diagnosis is probably not good (ie a degenerative problem) and so we continue to pray and to hope for a miracle.

This is hardly everyone, just the ones that I feel that I can maybe share with the world. It seemed to be a punch of fresh grief each month the past year. Yet, as I said, the year was not without its bright spots, especially on the home front. For the first time since we moved back to Canada I felt a bit of stability and routine in our home life and that is a great blessing. With all that was going on this year I felt it was time to really take care of my mental health and the short of it is that I’m feeling much better than I have in a very long time, perhaps in my whole life.

Now that the kids are both 3+ I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We can actually just hang out together, relaxing and having fun, or I can get things done around the house, and basically we are just able to enjoy being together as people rather than just as caregiver & infant dictator. It’s lovely! And it looks like after 2 years of half-assed trying Walter completed his potty training saga all on his own, so that’s been a nice change (it’s been mostly a week!). Plus we put Walter in speech therapy and that did an amazing job with both his clarity and his confidence. Meanwhile, Annie has taught me some strong lessons about learning to accept love, and those have been invaluable. The day I stopped hesitating and finally called her “my besty friend” in return to her usual clamourings brought a huge change in both of us and it’s absolutely delightful to have a mini-me following me everywhere and doing girl-stuff with me.

One day I may cover off the doings of the year, tho’ Instagram has done a much better job of capturing our Liturgical lifestyle and various doings. Mostly, 2016 was a year of cozy domestic doings woven in amongst loss & the inevitable growing up that accompanies it.

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