My Blog

I do not start this journey lightly. The idea of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences is a powerful one. I'm doing this for several reasons, the first has to be for my own therapy. With such an immense loss in my life, I need to give myself every chance to feel a purpose.

Last summer I told Kirsten that, despite her ongoing fight with refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma, I was happy. I was deeply sad, depressed, and struggled with the meaning of it all. But, I was happy. Being with Kirsten made me content. Not having her with me leaves me with a void of true happiness. As I've mentioned to many, I can laugh, have fun, enjoy the moment, even look forward to something, however, that satisfaction of inner happiness is not there.

I am so grateful for the people and dogs in my life. My son, mother, family, Kirsten's family (including the four-legged variety), our friends, and, of course, our Lab Finnegan. Many of you will hear your own voices echoed in my writing. I needed and will continue to need the tremendous support that has been offered to me. Thank you.

I also write for Kirsten. In life, Kirsten, let's say, guided me. She still does and always will. Having said that, I can not guarantee that any future clothing purchases will be entirely fashionable.

As Kirsten was a champion of the healing power of writing, I hope to pay tribute to her. Kirsten has a tremendous legacy because of who she was and how she lived. I wouldn't speak for her, although if I tried, there would be a strong chance of a visitation, but I hope to add to her story.

If my sharing helps anyone who may relate to some of what I'm going through, that would be the best tribute to Kirsten I could give.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What would Buddha do?

It's been a while since I've submitted a blog entry. I've had many written in my head. Depending on what was going on that week, day, or minute, the entry could have read as acute despair or positive outlook.

Since the last entry, I have moved, bought a new truck, gone to Hawaii with Miles, been accepted for a new and exciting teaching position in September and been accepted into an SFU Masters program, and started making myself meals again. Overall, hard not to say I'm moving forward. So, with all of these things and more going on, is life without Kirsten easier now? The quick answer is no.

It seems that living life and coping with grief co-exist without one dislodging the other. When I was on my way to pick up Miles to go to Hawaii, I started having a familiar feeling of gut-wrenching nostalgia, sadness, and depression about going on a trip without Kirsten. It occurred to me to say to myself that I should see this trip as not without Kirsten, but as a trip with Miles. That thought helped and we had an amazing time. It's not that Kirsten was not on my mind, in fact, she was always on my mind and Miles and I mentioned her several times (the last trip on a plane was when the three of us went to Palm Springs). It's just that I decided to focus on enjoying the moment, being present, and realized that there was nothing more important than that trip with my son.

My experience as a father and Kirsten's as a step-mom were diluted as so much of our lives over that six years was about cancer. I have a responsibility to myself and others to not compound this loss by losing more precious moments. I realize that Kirsten's parents have lost their child and would give anything to have more time with her. I realize that Kirsten would want us to live. In fact, she would be pretty upset if we wasted our lives.

As I said previously, I suppose I'm learning to live with both having such a loss in my life and living my life. I refer back to C.S. Lewis when he talked about the "wound" inflicted by the death of a loved one being analogous to losing a leg. Yes, it “heals”, but you are forever changed. There are constant reminders of the significant absence; there is recurring pain; you may learn to walk again, but it's never the same, and so on. This analogy is certainly one of the greatest descriptors of how I feel.

I'm making the effort to live in the now and cope with my grief. It can be difficult to do when living in the now doesn't include the physical being of Kirsten. Buddhism proposes that we each make our own Heaven and Hell - that these are states of mind and how we feel, our happiness, is a choice. I really do love this concept and I believe it is a wonderful way of living. However, it's difficult to choose to be happy when I am not with Kirsten. Therein lies the dilemma.

    Golfing in Paradise - not a bad way to process
    This one is for you Uncle Ray
    Notably, this is the first time without Kirsten
     that I wanted to capture the moment

    This is an ode to Kirsten and her love of the feet shot