The day I lost him part two.

Part one can be found here.

Time stood still right then and there.

I remember my Aunt Brenda running in, about two minutes too late to say good-bye. I’ll never forget the look on her face; she looked almost as if my dad had betrayed her in some way by not waiting. In some ways I think he/fate did it to spare her somehow. It all happened so fast.

My other aunt was there, she hugged me as I ugly cried all over her. Snot bubbles and all, which is so much more gross when you’re 36. I remember saying to her that I don’t know how she does what she does and her saying to me that days like today, she didn’t either. I developed a whole new respect for people who work in hospice care that day.

It was a surreal scene, everyone crammed into my dad’s living room, made smaller by the hospital bed. Everyone on their phone’s making the dreaded phone call to let everyone know. The kids weren’t back yet and I couldn’t help but think how heartbroken they were going to be when they arrived.

The nurse arrived to pronounce him and as I was standing in the kitchen alternating between hyperventilating and crying and saying that I can’t do this she says to me, “Oh so you’re Stephanie. I’ve heard so much about you, he was waiting for you to get here.” I don’t remember what I said at that moment, if anything at all. I just remember her saying something along the lines of he was waiting for you, can you imagine him being in pain like that for the next few weeks until your scheduled arrival?

As if I would have waited until March 10th (my originally scheduled trip) to see my ailing father.  

The disdainful look on her face was a bit much. I was in a state of shock, which might have been a good thing because I get my mouth shut and silently stared at her with tears streaming down my face until I made her uncomfortable and she left the room. She needed to officially pronounce my dad and dispose of/remove all the medical stuff.

That feeling you get where you feel nothing and everything all at once. It’s overwhelming; it’s what I envision drowning to feel like.

The house just kept filling up with people. Friends and family poured in to show their support and pay their respects before my father got taken away. It was a beautiful thing to see so many people come together; I just wish it was under nicer circumstances.

A part of what happened after my dad passed were a blur, what really stands out to me is when the funeral home arrived. I didn’t know what to expect, this was a first time thing for me. They were so kind and respectful. Even the way they handled my father, it was so respectful and not morbid at all. They brought their own gurney in and they wrapped my father in a crisp white sheet. Then they wrapped him in a quilt, almost like they were tucking him in for a nap. I remember thinking that he looked cozy and peaceful and he would have liked that quilt. It was really pretty and looked like it was made with love.

I followed them out, determined to see my father’s final journey to the very end. He was there when I was brought into this world, so it only felt right to be there by his side as he left it. I liked that they didn’t show up in a hearse. They have a specially adapted car that looks a lot less conspicuous, which helps keep the nosy neighbours at bay. I was given a bag by one of the funeral directors for my fathers’ final belongings and other things that my mom would need for the final arrangements. They were so kind. Also very good looking, so that helped too (ha).

Death takes away your ability to be rational I have discovered.

Nothing makes sense to you and things that most people would consider trivial suddenly became the most important things of all.

I took it upon myself to find something for my father to be cremated in. My dad was a pretty basic guy when it came to clothes. He was a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. I agonized over giving him just the right pair of jeans and what kind of camo shirt should I give him. Did I give him a new pair of boots? I had an absurd thought that they would be stiff and hard to walk in because they’re new. I was also torn between giving him the one’s he always wore and donating the new ones to charity. My father had to have his boots custom made because of a medical snafu so he had a lift on the left.

Everything had to be just so*.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and yet I couldn’t stop. Trying to sleep meant that I had no distractions and I had to face the fact that my father was gone and I wasn’t ready to do that. Instead I stayed up and went through my fathers safe and his paperwork looking for my parents marriage certificate because the funeral home needed it.

That too was bittersweet. I found all kinds of things that my father had held onto through the years. I remember making a coupon for my dad when I was like in grade three; it was for fathers’ day. He kept it all these years. I put it in his casket when I went to say my final goodbye.


It’s scary and amazing how much can happen in as little as 24 hours. A lot can happen in just one day.  


*So imagine my OCD induced horror when we went to the funeral home to say a final good bye and they had kept on the shirt that he died in and he didn’t have his hat. This was the biggest deal ever at that moment and the funeral director felt so bad that he offered to change my dad’s shirt. I’m not that unreasonable, so I kindly accepted his offer to instead fold it nicely and place it in there with him. His hat was located, Chelsea put it on him and I made sure he had his glasses. Only then did it look like him.


My father ended up with more stuff in his casket to ‘take with him into eternity’ than he usually did for a trip.


The day I lost him.

I’m trying to cope with my grief, and in doing so I am writing out my journey. It’s cathartic for me and I am hoping that it will help clear my mind.

Friday February 27th 2015 10:30 am

“Steph, the Dr was just here. How fast can you fly home? Your father isn’t expected to last much longer and we need you to get here as fast as possible.”

I got the call. The one that you know is coming, but don’t want it to. I hung up the phone and my whole world had tilted on its axis. I was standing in our bedroom, clutching my phone screaming and crying and struggling to breathe. This was it, my father was dying for real this time and I had to go home.
I wasn’t rational, I went online to try and find a flight or a bus for that night. Flights were stupid expensive and there was no way I was going about this alone. I had Nick up my ass and in my face to go pack; he would book my ticket and meet me in Ontario.

No. No. No.

What I needed was for him to just go away for five minutes because my world had just spun horribly out of control and I needed to hold onto some semblance of such. He meant well, but it wasn’t what I needed right then and there.
I’d never flown before, which throws a lot of people off. However I didn’t have the luxury of travelling when I was a child and as an adult when you choose to be a Chef, you never have the time or the money simultaneously to go anywhere good.
It wasn’t enough that my father was dying; I also had to fly for the first time ever.

Fuck you universe. Seriously, fuck you.

Phone calls were made, tickets were bought, transportation arranged. I was flying to Toronto the following morning. I talked to my dad a few times that day. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it was time. He sounded so jovial and happy. It was his last hurrah and he made it count.
I had gotten into the habit of calling my dad every morning in the past few weeks. Our conversations weren’t riveting in any means, mostly small talk and an excuse to say I love you, just in case. Every time we would hang up, my father would cry. He tried to hide it, but I always knew.
Saturday morning in the cab, it was early 6:30 am, I called my dad.

No one picked up.

The flood of guilt hit me like a truck. I thought that my father had died and I had missed it because I didn’t go home the night before. I could have but didn’t because I wasn’t ready to face it and a million other things.

Enter my second panic attack in the last 24 hours.

I sat in the cab, shaking the whole way, willing myself not to cry and freak out. We just managed to grab the airport shuttle from Lionel Groulx metro and halfway there, I tried my dad’s cell again. Marilyn (his caregiver) picked up. I stopped breathing, I thought he was gone forever and I never got to say good-bye. Turns out, she was about to call me.

Dad was still with us but he had a rough night. His all day/night crown royal bender had caught up with him. It affected his medication and he was in rough shape because of it. The Doctor had offered him something stronger to keep him comfortable but he refused.
Because of me.

He was suffering and in pain because of me. He wanted to be alert when I got there. He didn’t want to be out of it.
I didn’t find that out until later though.

We made it to the airport in plenty of time, my anxiety was all over the place and that got kicked up a few notches when it was time to board. Thank god I got assigned seating so that Nick and I could sit together. We flew Porter since they go right downtown. My cousin had offered to pick us up at the airport and I gratefully accepted.
Nick made a point to tell our flight attendant that it was my first flight. She politely inquired as to why I was flying that day. I debated lying, why ruin her day? She had a genuine smile. I found myself telling her the truth however. My father was dying and I was flying home to say good-bye. She didn’t miss a beat, and looked me in the eye and said “well I’m happy that we’re able to get you home quickly.” Me too I said. Thanks.

She was so kind. Our flight was short, just over an hour but I could see her looking at me from time to time since we were only in the second row from the cockpit. In spite of the circumstances, my anxiety and a million other things my first flight was one of the most wondrous things I have ever experienced. I was so fascinated to be soaring so high above the clouds. I can’t describe it, but it was awesome and for a moment I was able to forget my reason for flying in the first place.

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My cousin arrived just as we got out of the airport and we were making the final leg of our journey to my dad’s house in Cambridge.
I called my mom to see if she needed/wanted anything and she told me to hurry. That changed the mood exponentially. One minute we were driving along and the next the true realization really started to sink in. That’s the funny thing about shock, there are moments of clarity and moments when you are just stunned stupid.

I rushed to my dad’s bedside; he was in rough shape, shaking so badly. You could see that he was in pain and I just wanted to do anything I could to make it stop. I started bawling immediately, I tried not too. I wanted to be strong for my dad but I couldn’t stop crying. He knew I was there, he kept asking for a pen and a piece of paper. Which his caregiver refused, she said that there would be time to talk later. She would give him his meds to help slow down his erratic breathing and then we could talk. He insisted and I felt guilty because I didn’t speak up. Even if it was just a scribble, it would have been something. Yet I kept telling him that it was OK. The pained and panicked look on his face was more than I could take. He closed his eyes and seemed to relax a little.

I sat on his bed beside him, talking to him and stoking his hair. They had bathed my dad that day in anticipation of my visit. I remember how nice it smelled, it was comforting.

I was telling my dad about the flight and how magical it was to be soaring above the clouds. That was the last time he looked at me, knowing he was still conscious I told him about Nick and I getting married. Nick really wanted to ask my dad for his blessing but we got there too late and he wasn’t really able to communicate much.
At some point I grabbed my camera, I wanted one last picture with my dad. It as one of the most awkward images I have ever taken in my entire life. It’s now my most treasured possession.

Waiting for him to go was agony. I kept telling him that it was OK to go. My cousins said their good-byes, as did my mom. My aunt, who is a hospice nurse held his hand. Thank god for her. She knew it was almost time; we called my aunt and my sister. This was it, it was almost over. He looked so peaceful. My sister arrived and said whatever it was that she needed to say. Just as she finished saying I love you, he was gone.

On Feb 28th 2015 at 1:21 pm my father was finally called home.


The surreal life.

In May 2014 I took a massive leap of faith and applied for school at Concordia University. My end goal being a diploma in professional photography and a second one in Digital Photographic Imaging. I was tired of the culinary industry and had developed such a hatred for it, I wanted to move on. I was slated to begin towards the end of June.

On June 11th 2014 (about 2 weeks after making such a huge decision) I got word that my father was dying. On June 12th 2014 I had an amazing birthday and on June 13th 2014 I lost my job.

Funny how things can change so damn fast.  

You hear about stories like this all the time, they might fascinate you, appall you, inspire you or perhaps scare you. Which is all fine and well…

Until it actually happens to you.  

My first thought was to immediately drop out of school (before I had even started) and run home. Home being Ontario. I didn’t, I internally rationalized it by telling myself that my dad’s death sentence was quite new and he might have years to live. So why waste it, just in case. Either way, I was loosing my dad, it was really just a question of when. I figured that I would get myself a new job right away and just keep going to school part time and that would be that.

Except life never works out quite like you planned.

I never did get another job. No one wants to hire someone who’s been in my position and I can’t say I blame them. We (future husband and I) were broke, but we figured it out. I ended up going to school full time and completed my final course for digital photographic imaging (Photoshop) in October 2015. While I had technically graduated university, it hadn’t sunk in yet because I didn’t have my grades yet. So it was a fair assumption that I would pass, at the very least. I checked my final grades today and I almost fell out of my chair when I seen my final grade. It was/is the highest grade I have ever gotten in my entire life. Which was a surprise to me because that last class was a struggle. Once I got over the shock, I sat there and cried, so hard.

It was finally over and I had made it. Not unscathed by any means…

I’m pretty humble overall as a person. It’s one of my better qualities and no one likes that jerk who brags (sorry). This diploma represents so much more than my education overall. It’s a accumulation of:

  • Debt. So much debt. Which we have most paid off (YAY).
  • Grief. I lost my dad on February 28th 2015 and it hit me hard.
  • Battling through class when you’re waiting for ‘that call’.
  • It’s getting that call and hiding in an empty classroom bawling because you know that you’re going to loose your dad sooner rather than later and you’re helpless against it.
  • It’s having your mom text you and knowing that the following phone call most likely won’t be happy news.
  • It’s focusing every ounce of who you are and pouring your heart into final projects that can take up to 60+ hours.
  • It’s referencing your notes and realizing you missed something important.
  • Watching countless videos on YouTube because you can’t figure out how to do that thing.
  • It’s missing meals and quiet time with the man you love because you’re staring at a computer screen.
  • It’s trying to quiet the voice in your head because depression is an asshole that lies.
  • It’s trying to quell your anxiety because your deadlines are looming and why can’t you find inspiration already.
  • It’s late nights and early mornings.
  • It’s missing weddings and other occasions because you have to hand in your final(s).
  • Tension headaches and sore backs. Awful eating habits and so much more.

That’s not all though.

  • It’s the professors who rally around you and let you leave class so that you can text/call your family.
  • Those same professors also give you deadline extensions and/or present for you so that you can go home and bury your father.
  • It’s your boyfriend turned fiancee who never stops encouraging you, even when he resents that you spend more time with your computer than with him.
  • It’s the friends and the family who rally around you during your darkest time and encourage you to not give up and remind you why you started on this journey in the first place.
  • It’s all the really cool things you learned to do with images that you never even dreamed of.
  • It’s all the amazing and talented people you meet who become your friends.
  • It’s discovering a talent that you didn’t know you even had.
  • It’s being inspired by the guy who delivers your parcels in the afternoon.

It’s all that and more. I can’t wait to get my diploma so I can hang it in my home with so much pride. It’s been one hell of a journey and it still doesn’t feel real, but at the same time, it feels pretty amazing just the same.

So if you ever think that you can’t…

Trust me. You can.


You’re not invited.

It’s been brought to my attention that you would be hurt if I didn’t invite you to my wedding.

Hurt?!? Really?!?

Fuck you!
You should have thought about that before you shit on me for the last time. You are delusional if you think that I can just walk away from this and ‘forgive and forget’.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how ANY of this works as a matter of fact. I will NOT, under any circumstances, reward bad behaviour.

Perhaps you ‘forgot’ about the following incidents that have plagued me since last July.
I haven’t forgotten, and here’s a reminder for you.

-July 2014 you took the liberty of talking shit about me to several of my friends; behind my back when I came home to Ontario last summer.
Oh, you thought that I didn’t know?
I have VERY loyal friends who felt that I had the right to know what people were saying about me behind my back. You have a mouth the size of the Grand Canyon and you stop at nothing to try and make me look bad.

You are petty and jealous. You won’t succeed in making me look bad; you however are doing a fine job of making yourself look bad, along with jealous, petty, bitter and conniving. You just can’t help yourself.

You damaged several relationships with your petty bullshit. Thankfully I was able to restore most of them because people can see through you. That was uncalled for regardless.

In spite of it all, with the holidays coming up and knowing that it was most likely going to be my father’s last Christmas, I decided to be the bigger person and let it go. Even just for the holidays. So I did. It was one of the best Christmases I have had in a while and thankfully you managed to keep that toxic mouth of yours shut so that you didn’t ruin the holiday for the rest of us.

Let’s fast forward to February of this year. My father passes away and some piece of shit robs my childhood home and steals pretty much every damn thing.

ONCE AGAIN you take it to Facebook to spew forth your stupid petty bullshit.
I took you off my friends list; I couldn’t deal with you and your shit any longer.
You however took it a step further and blocked me. This is fine by me because now I don’t need to see –or- hear anymore of your toxic lies.


May rolls around, it’s the weekend of my father’s memorial service. I arrived in Ontario on the Friday and there you were, furiously texting away on your phone. I seen you take a picture of me, one that I did not authorize, followed up by more furious texting. So it’s pretty obvious that you were once again, talking shit about me. Don’t try and deny that, I’m not deaf; in fact my hearing is just fine. If you’re going to try and sneak a picture of me, perhaps you should turn the sound off your damn phone.

My aunt drives you home, where you couldn’t resist yet another opportunity to talk shit about me. Which of course is brought to MY attention because fuck you.
My aunt took it upon herself to fill me in on how you lied to her about how I had been talking shit about you on Facebook, which is your MO, NOT mine. I am not that tacky thank you.
No need to get into specifics but the reality of the situation is this, after I was given the opportunity to explain MY side of the story to my aunt, even she said and I quote:” What is wrong with her?” Not ME. She was talking about YOU.

The next day, the day that I was honoring my father at his memorial service, you once again tried to steal the show and be the center of attention by being a bitter and vicious bitch.

You foolishly shoot your mouth off about me AT MY FATHERS FUNERAL to my family and friends and once again try and play the victim as you always do and expect me to NOT find out about it?!?

Are you brain dead?

And yet after alllllll that (and there is SO much more) you have the audacity to tell my mom that you would be hurt if you weren’t invited to my wedding?

You don’t get to pretend that everything is OK because YOU decided that it was because it’s not. Not even remotely close.
Learn how to deal with your fucking anger; no one is willing to indulge your sorry ass anymore. You aren’t adult enough, nor capable enough to deal with anger.

Lovely example you’re setting for your children by ignoring the problem for months and months and then all of a sudden out of no where you loose your shit several months later, scream and yell at people and then when YOU have your say, you think it’s over.


Everyone keeps telling me to be the bigger person (once again) and let it go. This isn’t fucking frozen! 

I can’t trust you, and yet you want me to invite you to one of the most important days of my life?

I don’t fucking think so.

I even found a perfect song for you. (NSFW) or this one seems to be pretty accurate as well.