Just a thought... Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. [John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"]
I've strugged with what to write for today's journal, as it's a day that stands out so brightly in our lives, Rob's and mine: the last show from Casa Loma was a year ago today. It was on a Thursday, and then Friday the moving truck came to clear out what we were taking with us from the condo. That night, Rob, Molly and I took a car to the airport and Saturday, our new life in BC began.
I guess I could ask myself what the difference is between what I thought this experience was going to be and what it actually has been. So here, in no particular order, are the those differences in the past 12 months.
We imagined ourselves on boats and planes and in automobiles, but it was going to be a lot more for pleasure than for work. And yet, all of those trips - ferries, commutes to Ontario and drives from Toronto to Ottawa and Kitchener and Peterborough - were all wonderful! We lucked into freelance work that put me on stages in three provinces and for four different companies and, in addition to helping pay the bills, it gave me a reason to put on eyelashes and polish up my emcee game. I loved every one of them and can't wait to do more in 2018.
We thought we'd have a lot more leisure time. Again, see 'freelance' (including an audiobook that dropped out of the clear blue sky). But also that call that came from Wendy Duff in Toronto in April, asking if, when the midday host at Ocean 98.5 in Victoria moved up to another job, I'd consider doing the show. Little did I know how just four months into my so-called "reWirement" I'd start to feel untethered.
You see, all our lives, we prepare (or are told to prepare) financially for retirement, but when it comes to how we fill our days, how we make ourselves feel useful and productive, that's a whole different ball game. It's the biggest advice I'd give to people considering freedom 55, 60, 65 or 80. Make plans. Fill your time. Volunteer. Give of yourself. But don't just sit around. It'll take a toll on your body and your mind. Sleeping in, however, rocks. 100 percent.
I also had no idea how much the book (for which I have a tentative title and is in the editing process on our end before we send it off to our real editor/publisher at HarperCollins in the days to come) was going to take out of me.
When people ask if writing about Lauren, her death and grief in general, in order to help others, has been cathartic (and I'm asked that a lot) I say no. I had to go where I didn't want to be and it was as tough as anything Rob and I both had gone through. But we hope this makes a difference in the lives of other people - not only those who've lost a child, but those dealing with grief or dealing with people in grief - to help them to understand. My life's real and hardest work has come in this past year.
I didn't know how much I'd miss Colin or appreciate the little one- and three-year-olds who live close to us, my second cousins, in helping fill that hole in our hearts. His family is doing well and the three of them are looking forward to a warm family Christmas in frigid Ottawa.
I never imagined that a friend I met because she emailed me as a former listener, fellow writer and newish BC resident, would help Rob and me to land on our feet. The ways Nancy and her husband Charles have helped us adjust and shift our lives into our new future have been too many to count. But we do count ourselves so lucky. Just as we do for my aunt and uncle, who have taken us in like siblings, and made us a part of almost every family event (including those with the two little ones I mentioned). We are so grateful.
This journal feels like it should be an end-of-year edition - and I hadn't decided that until just now. I'll post things to my Facebook page and will link to this journal site if I add a photo or two, or just a saying that I love about this time of year, so please feel free to come back to the journal over the next week or so. But my full edition will return on Tuesday, January 2nd. I'll give Rob these few weeks off and take the time to find more stories to share with you in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime, have a peaceful Christmas and a Serene 2018. I know I express my thanks to you almost daily here, but know that repeating it doesn't make it mean any less - only more.
With love and gratitude - always,
Erin & Rob
(@erindavis on Twitter)