Sep 7, 2012

Friendships are Trees

The friendships you create and nurture when you are younger are different than the ones you establish later in life.
The friends who grew up with you knew your entire family. They played in your house and sometimes their siblings and your siblings and a whole gang of neighbourhood kids joined together for a game of baseball or hockey or just to hang around in the park doing nothing and doing everything.
They also knew things that friends you meet later in life will never know like the smell of your house/family. You know the way every family has their “smell”
They also knew if your mom was a good cook and enjoyed her best meals and desserts and they knew what type of food was in your fridge and in your pantry and how much of it they could get away with eating without feeling uncomfortable.
There was that one house where everyone hung out either because the parents were away often or they just didn’t care if there were 20 kids in their basement doing whatever they were doing.
And together you all witnessed your first relationships – boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. They knew “how far” you had gone and “how far” you were willing to go and then one by one you each went “all the way” and it was this whole big amazing scary yet exciting thing. And when the breakups and the tears came, your friends were around you like family because when you are a teenager your friends are sometimes closer to you than your actual family. There is this unspoken “I’ve got your back and I’m in your corner” throughout the years that later in life you wish you still had or you are lucky enough to still have based on whether or not you stayed close and in touch with your childhood friends.

They knew your dog. They walked him with you and they loved him and let him sleep on their lap and he was everyone’s dog and he accompanied all of you throughout your escapades and adventures. They were there when he reached the end of his journey and they hurt for him but mostly for you.
You could always find a place to crash if spending the night at home was not ideal for whatever reason. Perhaps your parents were going through a divorce or you were in a fight with your sibling or you just didn’t feel like being at home. You would stay up all night talking and sometimes share a bed without a second thought and only in the purest way. Then in the morning even if you parted for a few hours to get things done or to go home and shower and change, chances are you were on the phone or back together by the afternoon.
Time was endless. You could be together hour upon hour and it still wasn’t long enough even if you were doing absolutely nothing.
Then we grow up.  We go away to school. We move to another city and start our careers and meet our life partners and have kids and buy a house and meet new friends – often the parents of your kid’s friends. We try to keep in touch with our childhood friends but life is tough and busy and a big puzzle with the pieces all over the floor and stuck in  between the couch cushions and rarely are you able to sit down and put it all back together again where everything fits and nothing is missing.
So the tree starts with the roots and those are your family. Then the trunk begins and that is formed of your childhood friends and then the branches grow and that is yet another stage of your childhood friends as you grow older. Then the tree, although very strong and healthy begins to bud and form leaves and these leaves come and go. They are aplenty in summer but there is fall when they blow away and there is winter when they don’t appear at all and there is spring when they are nothing but a bud and all of that is made up of the friendships you make later in life. They do not have the same intensity or staying power and they have no roots and no trunk because you were not there when those parts of their trees were formed.
The tree is always beautiful in all its seasons but the most special part by far are the roots from which our family has been planted and the trunk from which our friendships has been strengthened. And although the branches may crack and the leaves may fall, there will always be roots deep in the ground and a trunk that stands the test of time.

Sep 6, 2012

The Numbness & The Pain of Mourning

Mourning is an odd thing because losing someone you love does not necessarily put you in a constant state of crying and depression. It actually lifts you in ways you have not been lifted before.
And in the Jewish religion through the Shiva period, you are surrounded by people who truly care about you and in most cases knew the deceased and how many lives they touched.
And anyone who has experienced this week of mourning can attest to the fact that you are so distracted from the fire roaring in your gut that you are able to carry on without falling apart right there and then. But at night after everyone has left and you return home you feel the loss and the pain envelop you and it won’t let you go.
And accompanying that are those final images pulling you down under the water gasping for air. Sleep never comes and you feel lost and alone even if someone is right there beside you. There is an immense crevice of emptiness that cannot be filled.
Mornings are just as terrible. You wake up on automatic. You pick up the phone but you catch yourself somewhere in-between hope and loss and you hang up realizing they will never be on the other end again.
And then there’s the numbness. You are somewhere in-between the grass and the sky. Suddenly these moments come when you feel absolutely nothing and you know for the first time that there really is such a thing as nothing.

And what you really want at the end of that mourning period is to push the rewind button and while the recording tape is moving backward, you want to jump in and grab them.
But it doesn’t work like that because if it did, there would be all of these people tearing and ripping at the recording tape trying to make it stop as if it never happened. We’d all be jumping in there pulling all of those we lost out from the wreckage. We’d be waiting for them to open their eyes and see us and say our names and smile.
So what do we really have? Well there are dreams and there are memories and sometimes they are one and the same. Images of them as they were before the deterioration dance in front of us as they visit to make sure that we know they are alright and at peace.
And this brings us warmth and comfort but there is always the awareness in the back of our minds that the dream will end and we will wake up and they will be gone.

Sep 3, 2012

Saying Goodbye to my Dad

I lost my father this morning and in losing him I lost myself.

I watched him suffer for months and I deeply questioned and disagreed with the pain and indignity that was bestowed upon him.

You  often read in obituaries that the person fought a valiant battle. My father fought an impossible battle but he still fought it with all the realms of possibility and we were there right beside him around the clock as he was there for us throughout our childhood and later into adulthood.

He was a super extroverted person. He spoke to everyone, he spoke to anyone and he listened. He was a radio broadcaster, a DJ, a sports journalist, a talk show host, a radio school teacher, a community man who volunteered and hosted numerous charitable events, the stadium announcer for both the McGill and Concordia teams. At his prime in reporting, he knew all of the Expos, Habs, Alouettees, WWF, jockeys at Blue Bonnets and many celebrities he interviewed on his Sunday radio show for CKVL. He was liked and recognized for his skill in getting everyone to open up and tell him their life stories.

But mostly he was a simple man who loved cheesecake and ice cream and Irish coffee and any drink with an umbrella in it. He loved coaching my brothers teams and picking up my nephews from school and making a detour to McDonald's.

He was extremely funny and rarely serious.

He had several health issues and as they continued to pile up and fall to the ground, he was left beneath the wreckage. But under all of that soot and rubble, you could hear him and feel him hanging on.

My mom spent over 50 years with him - her best friend since they met on a double date at 18 yrs of age. He was with another girl and she was with another guy and my dad called my mother up after that date and asked her out and the rest was history.

Watching her lean over him today holding his hand and kissing him and making sure he knew she was there was healing yet terribly painful. Witnessing the end of their journey, I felt a slice of my life cut and removed from my very being.

I will never seen him again.
I will never see him again.

Losing him has left me floating. I'm not here, I'm not anywhere and I have no idea how to get back to the surface. 

So all I can think of doing right now is closing my eyes and opening my ears and listening for his laughter and his jokes and envisioning him eating a big cherry danish and smiling.

And I know that what I need to remember is not the last thing he said to me but all of the things he said to me that have made me who I am today.

Today I said goodbye to my father. I kissed his forehead and held his hand and told him I loved him and then when everyone left I placed my head on his chest and whispered in his ear "See you on the other side."

And one day I will.

Daddy .... love you you ....and so much more.

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