Erin's Journals

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Just a thought…

I walked a mile with Pleasure, she chattered all the way. But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow and ne’er a word said she…but, oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me!

[Robert Browning]

As always, you can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

For a month that has only 28 days, this is a big one. I mean, besides everything going on in Ottawa (and it’s a LOT), we have the Olympics beginning tomorrow plus the Lunar New Year – my year, Year of the Tiger – has begun. Black History month is underway. Groundhog day was yesterday (whatever!) and on top of that, all this week we remember my mom.

Here she is with her girls – this was taken a year-and-a-half before she left us – from left, that’s youngest Leslie, then eldest Heather, Dad, Mom, and middle sisters Cindy and me. Mom and Dad and their four girls…always and still their “girls.”

See, it was ten years ago today that we took her off life support. She suffered a fast and basically fatal brain aneurysm on February 1st.  Then my sisters and I flew in and on February 3rd – this day – we said our goodbyes. Tomorrow is her birthday and she would have turned 89. But it was not to be.

I may have told you this – I know it’s in Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy – but when I was sitting with my dad and sisters at Mom’s bedside after we’d unplugged her, I’d rub her arm and her heart rate numbers would increase. Now, I’ve chalked it up to static electricity or something, but it’s nice to think she was having a reaction to my touch – to our being there.

The way I deal with grief – the way we have to, I think, if we’re going to survive – is with gratitude. You might not think of those two things as going hand-in-hand, and they certainly don’t at first – or for some people at all – but for me, it’s all part of moving forward, of choosing how to react, as Viktor Frankl so beautifully worded it. So how do you find gratitude in losing a parent, long before you – or they – were ready?

I’m so grateful that her aneurysm took her quickly; the last thing Mom would have wanted was to be what she considered a burden to anyone. I’m glad she didn’t live to go through losing Lauren three years later. That would have broken her heart, and it would have shattered further when her grandson Michael died two years after that.

I’m glad she didn’t have to deal with the rampant ass-hattery that has surrounded us over the past two years during a pandemic. Being a retired RN, she’d have had no patience for those who wouldn’t help their fellow person by wearing a mask, keeping their distance and getting their shots. You think it burns my biscuits? Oh, Mom would have had none of it. Plus, with asthma and a heart condition, a positive Covid diagnosis could have meant a painful and lingering death for her.

So yes, there are things to be grateful for, always, even in having to say good-bye to such an amazing role model. She wasn’t perfect, but the best of me comes from the best of her. The rest of me – like my sense of humour – that’s mostly Dad. When I talked to him on Thursday, I asked him how he was doing. He said, “Well, I’m not sure. I’ve never been here [this age] before.” He’s always got a smile and an easy laugh.

By the way, if you have Netflix and haven’t yet watched Ricky Gervais’ beautiful, vulgar, funny, visceral take on loss called After Life, you’re really missing out. The series, three very brief seasons, has just wrapped up for good, so settle in and enjoy. As a take on grief, it’s – if you’ll pardon the pun – dead on, and has resonated with millions around the world, Rob and me included. See, that’s the thing about sharing: when you’re real, whether it’s through humour or tears, through the written word or a two-minute TikTok video, what comes from the heart goes to the heart.

From my heart, I wish you a gentle first February weekend – and wish the best of luck and all the tiger energy to our athletes in Beijing. The obstacles they’ve faced even getting there have been medal-worthy. We were tense just trying to get to our cruise in November with all of the hurdles: would we pass this test and the next one and the last one before we boarded? Now add to that, having to be the absolute best your country has to offer? On blades, skis, boards…whatever? Amazing. Enjoy it all and I’ll be back with you on Monday.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, February 3, 2022