Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Finding Comfort Within a Dream


     And so it begins ... emotionally, the most challenging few weeks of the year with regards to Michael's absence, from the beginning of December until his birthday early January. Plans for the Christmas season being made, decorations unpacked, seasonal music playing - all things, that for the most part, bring me joy. However, it's hard to ignore the huge spotlight that shines on all that is family, resulting in his absence holding an even larger space in my life.
     During this past weekend, I felt the sadness and tension building in my body, despite having spent a joy-filled afternoon up Grouse Mountain with my grandchildren the day before. While readying for bed Sunday night, I gazed into the bathroom mirror and from deep within my heart, beseeched Michael to please come through in a dream. I needed to connect with him, communicate with him, be with him.  It had been a few years since he had appeared in a dream.
     After waking the next morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and wandered into the living room, surprised to see my husband sitting there, as he's often left for work by 7am. Settling into the comfy lounge chair across from him, I suddenly remembered that I did have a dream about Michael, but before I could even start sharing it with my husband, I began to cry - releasing some of the tension that had been building, along with the surprise that it had actually happened.  
     In the dream, I was walking down the narrow hallway of a house (not my own), when I came to a small room off to the right, its door half way open. Looking in, I noticed a single bed - no other furniture or decor. Lying on his back on top of the bedcover was a young male wearing sweat pants and a black hoodie. As I stepped closer, I saw that he was awake and guessed him to be about 14 years old. My first thought was that he looked very similar to Michael but I knew he was dead and had been an adult when he died, so I was confused. However, when I reached the bed, I knew it was him. I sat down beside him, in awe. With his eyes meeting mine, I took in his radiant round face and sweet smile. My heart melted. As I bent down to hug him, I asked how this was possible, how he was able to appear to me as a boy, fully alive. He explained that it was not easy but that he had chosen to squeeze into this shape so that I would easily recognize him and find comfort. Finding comfort, that I did. Understanding how this all works, no idea at all. Just so glad that it does.
PS - I went into the storage room to find a photo of Michael to add to this post and the first album I pulled out held this one, Christmas 2000 aged 14 wearing his black hoodie 💗 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Love, Love, Love...

     With my husband away doing chores up at the cabin last weekend, I spent numerous hours sorting through everything in our storage room, deciding what to keep, donate, recycle or toss. Much of the work was fairly easy since we've only lived in this home for 6 1/2 years.  
     A bag containing knitting needles and wool, along with the abandoned notion of ever becoming a decent knitter - donate to a friend. The contents of a binder filled with training information for my volunteer position during the 2010 Olympics - recycle. Cake platter, vases, picture frames, artificial flowers, dishes, and numerous knickknacks - donate to charity. Broken stemware  - toss. My mother's Danish-designed casserole dishes, gravy boat and coffee cups, all in mint condition, along with my Oma's soup tureen - relocate to kitchen for daily use.
     When I reached the bottom shelf, I pulled out the box labelled 'Michael's stuff', along with his black 'The Orchard on Bowen' satchel. I carried both inside the house with the intention of revisiting them later that evening, not wanting to distract myself from the task at hand. However, my curiosity soon won out so I opened up the satchel and began flipping through the handouts and scanning the notes he had made during his time in rehab. After a few minutes, I remembered that I had read all of this shortly after he died. It was difficult to reread and I knew I needed to set it aside for now, otherwise I would get pulled too deeply into the sadness.  
     Returning to the storage room, the next box I tackled was filled with decorative items I had collected over many, many years but no longer displayed or used.  Among other things, I found a genie lamp, miniature red book with each page containing the words I love you in  more than 30 languages, quartz crystals, red glass heart, as well as a green stone one. What a beautiful surprise. I vaguely recognized some of the items but have no recollection where any of them came from. It was as if the universe was taking this moment to show me some tangible representations of love that has been, and continues to be, present in my life. I gifted the genie lamp to my granddaughter, a crystal to my grandson, and placed the remaining  items into the dedicated silver bowl in my den, alongside the many other love tokens already there. 
     The following morning, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked along seawall in West Vancouver. Midway along the route, I glanced over at the tiny park tucked in off the  path and stopped in my tracks. Someone had taken the time to rake the fall leaves into the shape of a gorgeous heart.  Love, love, love ...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Perfect Pole Project

     For over a year now, I have been admiring the vibrant art poles livening up the garden of a neighbourhood residence, nestled alongside the forest.  I tried sourcing them online and looking for them at garden centres, to no avail. Then a few weeks ago, I mentioned the art poles to an acquaintance who lives in the area and happens to be an art teacher.  She suggested I could try making some myself using PVC piping and outdoor acrylic paints. Sounded easy enough, a fun project my granddaughter and I could play with at the cabin.  I already had the paints so all I needed now was some piping. 
     On the Saturday before our trip up, I thought about driving down to the hardware store to buy some but decided I needed a little more time to consider diameter and length I might need. My husband and I could go the following day, when we would be out and about anyway.  
     Sunday morning, over breakfast on the back patio, I mentioned the art pole project to my husband and told him about my idea of grabbing some piping later that day.  His comment, delivered very matter-of-factly: " There's a piece of it lying on the front boulevard." What? Really?  Turned out he had noticed it the day before, while mowing the lawn but left it there. Still in my housecoat, I walked around to where our driveway meets the road and sure enough, there on the northeast corner of the property lay a 3 metre length of PVP piping!  It had somehow cleared the concrete barrier separating the sidewalk from the street and landed on our grass.  Hardly believing what I was seeing, I walked over, picked it up and returned to our patio. With a sense of wonderment, I spelled it out for my husband. In all my 62 years, this was the first time I had ever thought about buying a piece of PVC piping.  And in all my 62 years, this was the first time I had ever come across a piece of PVC piping lying in my yard. For these two events to meet up here and now, was sheer perfection. And yes, we had tons of fun painting the art poles which now adorn both our cabin property, and my granddaughter's backyard.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Communication Received, Loud and Clear


     On Friday evening, my brother and his wife arrived at our cabin for a family weekend  that would include fishing, golfing, arts and crafts, along with water play, meals on the beach and late evening campfire stories. For the first time ever, they would sleep in our little trailer (we bought about seven years ago) since all our cabin bedrooms were full, and they had decided against bringing up their trailer.  My husband and I had arrived Thursday, and our oldest daughter and her family had already been up here for a week.
     Saturday morning, my sister-in-law received the shocking news from Spain that her youngest sister (one of eight siblings, all living in Spain) had died of a heart attack, in her sleep. It was of course devastating news, and communicating with her siblings to find out more about the situation was made even more difficult due to the different time zones.
     This morning, I found out that my brother and his wife had been awakened around 5am today by a persistent beeping alarm in the trailer. After much searching, my brother finally found the source of the noise - a CO2/propane alarm located under the bed. After checking the trailer inside and out, he realized there wasn’t a propane tank to be found and no furnace or gas stove was in use so he couldn’t figure out what was causing the beeping. He was eventually able to reach far enough underneath the bed to push the reset button on the alarm which shut off the beeping noise, allowing them to both to doze off again for a couple of hours. My sister-in-law noticed that the beeping had occurred the same time that her sibling were at the tanatorio (funeral parlour) to say their last goodbyes before the funeral which had been arranged for the following day.
     Later this morning, after we all said our goodbyes with big hugs near the top of the stairs, my brother and his wife drove off. Our oldest daughter and her family then got into their truck and as I walked over to them for a last goodbye, I noticed a small, green, plastic heart lying in the grass in the precise spot where we had all just gathered. I could hardly believe that it had not been spotted before now. Each one of us had walked over this exact area many, many times over the course of the weekend.
     While I began cleaning up the cabin, my husband pulled out some trailer information to try and figure out what had caused the alarm’s beeping sound to go off in the first place. After reading it through, he announced, “It looks like it’s an end of life situation”.  What??  He showed me the particular paragraph he was reading - its heading: “End of Life Mode”.  Communication received with love, loud and clear.    

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Nourished in Nature

     A while back, on a cool and cloudy Sunday morning, my husband and I were wondering where to go for a good, long walk. I was thinking False Creek, an area we frequent regularly, when he threw out the idea of the 11 km loop trail around Burnaby Lake. It had been more that a year since we last explored that area, so off we went. 
     About 1/2 hour in on our nature walk, I mentioned to him that seeing a hummingbird nest is still high up on my wish list but that I had no idea how to find one. Even though we have numerous hummers visiting our backyard feeders daily, finding a nest has been fruitless. I continued thinking out loud that maybe I should contact a local Birding Association for some direction. Moments later, my husband said he had a Facebook friend Rob who is an avid birder and photographer, and that maybe he would be able to give me some direction. He told me that they had known each other in high school but were in different grades and not spent much time together. Then a few years ago, Rob had sent my husband a FB request which he accepted. 
     It seemed like this man might be a good resource so I filed the idea to contact him in the future. Then a few minutes later, I decided - Why not now? I asked my husband for his phone and messaged Rob explaining who I was and asking if he had any suggestions on how to find these elusive nests.
     About 45 minutes later, we were now on the other side of the lake when we passed a man and a woman walking together towards us. A few moments after we passed each other, my husband stopped in his tracks, turned around and walked back to where the couple had paused to take photos. He asked the man if his name was Rob. Oh yes, it was - the same Rob I had just messaged!  We explained who we were and mentioned the text message which he had not yet noticed. After a short visit during which Rob shared, among other things, some information with us about hummers and their nests, my husband and I carried on walking the loop trail, both gobsmacked by what we had just experienced. My husband could not get over, a) he had actually taken note of the couple as we passed ( he is generally daydreaming, not noticing much in the way of details), b) walked back to ask the man's name (his nature is to second guess himself, then dismiss a thought like this), and incredulous that he would recognize him. Turns out that Rob only posts his nature photos on FB, none of himself, not even in his profile picture.
     All of this unfolded on a day when I was deeply missing Michael. All morning, it had taken great resolve to keep the intense sadness from tipping into despair, the heartache only beginning to ease midway through our walk.  I am still searching for the tiny hummingbird nest but confident that I will have the joy of seeing one someday. In the meantime, I cherish this sustaining experience of electrifying synchronicity.
Image courtesy of Brigitte Werner 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Who's That Honking?

     Earlier this month, after running errands for the following day's family get-together, I was driving north on Capilano Road when I approached a red light at the Ridgewood Drive intersection, close to my home. First in line was a sedan, followed by a black pickup truck, then me. After the light turned green, the sedan was not quick enough off the mark as far as the truck driver was concerned, so they gave a short honk. It had only been a matter of maybe two seconds, but as far as the truck driver was concerned, that wait was too long. 
      I can also be impatient behind the wheel at times, but a honk two seconds in was pushing it. I was instantly reminded of my son. Mike had also had a pickup truck and liked to travel fast. It flashed through my mind that he too may have honked in that situation. Smiling to myself while slowly shaking my head from side to side with a silent 'oh Mike',  I started following the traffic up the hill. Moments later, I noticed the truck's license plate: MG 8600 which I immediately read as Michael Gibson, born in '86, and now no longer here. By the time I turned into my driveway, I was laughing and flooded with gratitude for this opportunity to add one more occurrence to my long list of fabulous experiences of feeling connected to my son.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Signs of Support

     Tomorrow marks the 8th anniversary of Michael's death. Rather than taking flowers to Boal Memorial on the actual date, as I have in the past, this year I decided ahead of time that I would go this morning - a mental health choice that I felt would make tomorrow a little easier and more uplifting.
     A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me to participate in a community fundraiser - an afternoon Scrabble Tournament taking place on March 7th to raise money for grandmothers in Africa. My husband and I play Scrabble most evenings so I knew it could be an enjoyable event and said "yes", grateful for the distraction, the opportunity to support a good cause, and knowing I would have the support of this friend on a trigger day, another mother who lives with the loss of a child. Later this month will mark seven years since her adult daughter's accidental death.
     This morning, my plan was to walk my younger daughter's chocolate lab Barrett (related to Diesel and born four days before the fatal accident involving Mike, Kelly and Diesel), along the river for about an hour, then take him with me to Boal, which would be his first time there.  After getting into my car (which was parked in the carport), I reached over to close my door when I noticed one small feather lying on the ground nearby. Smiling to myself, I reached down and picked it up, then placed it on the seat beside me - thankful for this little sign.
     After fetching Barrett, I drove to Bridgeman Park, located beside Lynn Creek. Due to the ongoing construction in the area, I had not been there since last spring but today, it felt like the right place to go. I parked the car, leashed up the dog and let him out. He instantly beelined it to a fence post about 30 metres away, to take a pee. As I stood there waiting for him, I looked up at the post and could hardly believe my eyes -  a small, pink heart resting near the top! Obviously, the perfect spot for our walk together today.
     After our river walk, we visited Boal, then after dropping him off, I headed home. Later, I picked up my granddaughter after school and brought her back to my house. She immediately noticed the feather I had now placed on my kitchen counter and told me she had found one that looked exactly the same. Reaching into her backpack, she pulled out a twin feather. When I asked her about it, she told me she had found it while walking along Mosquito Creek during her class field trip this morning, put it into her pocket until she got back to school, then into her knapsack for safekeeping! The signs and loving energy of the day filled my well, placing me in good stead for tomorrow.