No, i’m not OK actually.

I call my dad everyday now, ever since I got the news that basically changed everything earlier this month.  Life is much, much too short and I don’t want to have that guilt of knowing that I didn’t call my dad that one last time.

Today was no different, I got up early and called my dad.  He has lots of company these days and he tires easily so I try to get to him before everyone else does.  So I was shocked when my phone started ringing at 10 am and it was my mom saying the words that no one ever wants to hear:

“The Doctor was here to see your dad today, they’re not expecting him to make it through the weekend.  How fast can you get on a plane and get here.”

Not a bus or a train.  A plane, because the flight it short, I would get home much faster.  At that moment, it felt like my mom reached through the phone and sucker punched me.

You see, I’ve been pretty far removed from the whole situation with my dad.  I basked in the blissfulness that was my ignorance.  I knew what was coming, I’ve known it since June when the diagnosis first came to light.  Yet I was able to pretend that it wasn’t happening because I didn’t physically see it.  So my first instinct was to say no, if I didn’t go home then this wouldn’t happen.  The last time I fell apart this hard was when I got the news that Jason had passed away.  Yet this just seemed to be somewhat more insulting because it’s my dad.

Had Nick not been there to hold me up, I would have fallen to the floor.  Bawling.  I would have won an Oscar for my epic ugly cry.  Except it wasn’t a performance, this is my life.

I’ve never flown anywhere before.  I’ve never had the luxury of going anywhere special, being a Chef doesn’t really give you the time or the affordability to take any significant time off.  So clearly I have never stepped foot into Montreal’s airport, which is pretty daunting under normal circumstances, even more so when you’re crying so hard that you can’t breathe, let alone think and try to plan an emergency trip home to see your dad to say good-bye.

Also, I am afraid of heights.  So going on a plane alone?  Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Thankfully my other half is much more well traveled than I am and will be able to accompany me to Ontario.  Today has been tough so i’m just trying to keep it together for my family and do what I can from here until I get there.  So I’m OK right now, but that doesn’t last that long.  It comes and goes.  I will forever be astounded at just how hard and fast those feels can hit you.

So if you ask me if i’m OK and I say yes I might be lying.

I’m sorry. 

 

 cell phone pics 051

Tea, toast & tears.

It wasn’t enough to get a letter today from the government informing me that I apparently owe them $758.00 because they ‘re-assessed’ my taxes.  That’s not a huge deal because I have the T4’s to be backing up that bullshit claim.  That’s the one downside to doing your taxes online, you need not hand in your slips, but it’s a damn good thing that I hold onto these things because them ‘readjusting’ the amount of taxes I owe is ridiculous.  Evidently the people at revenue Canada can’t do math?  How do you just “decide” that I didn’t pay as much as I said I did?

There will be none of that thank you very f’ing much.

So I can just add that to the great big pile of stuff I just don’t care to deal with but can’t ignore…

Alas, this isn’t about that.

It’s about my dad. 

Back in June he was diagnosed with lung cancer and emphysema.  Before you put on your judge-y pants, my father quit smoking over 30 years ago so this disease?

Not just limited to smokers.

So there is no cure for emphysema and while my dad was able to kick cancer in the ass, it doesn’t change much.

In fact, it doesn’t change anything at all.

They figure that he’s had this disease for years and it went largely ignored because of our family history of having lousy lungs, so the time that we have is extra precious because we thought that we had more of it.  Something I think that we all take for granted.  Sadly most people don’t get to living until they realize that they’re dying.  We’re pretty candid in my family about pretty much everything and death is no exception.  As soon as the diagnosis was announced my parents made sure that everything was in order and my dad planned his funeral.  So all of his wishes are laid out and we know what he wants and we’ll be certain to make sure that we send him out the way he wants.

Aside from that, life is pretty normal more or less.  It’s always in the back of our minds because it’s not going anywhere, there’s no cure.  Emphysema slowly cuts off your air until you stop breathing.  It’s cruel and while it’s something I try not to think about too hard, I try to make the most of the time I DO have with my dad.  I’ve been trying to get a family picture done twice since I’ve been home because it will most likely be the last.  It never seems to work out and I wonder if it ever will.  I went home in July after I heard the news and Christmas was one of the best one’s my family has had in a long time, it was nice.  Life goes on as it should and while my dad puts on this front of false bravado, I know it’s a ruse.  He’s trying real hard to be brave but I know he’s scared and it breaks my heart because I can’t imagine dying in such an agonizing fashion.

Shit got real when I came home and my dad was outfitted with his oxygen supply.

It got even more real when I seen him at Christmas and he was complaining that he was gaining too much weight from the steroids to help him breathe and yet all the weight gain makes it more difficult to breathe.  Seeing how frustrated he was because he couldn’t catch a break and breathe like a regular person.

Today as I was sitting in class, I got a text from my mom.  Dad has a lung infection, he’s in the hospital.  You should call him.

All of these things take on a whole new meaning when you have emphysema.  So I called my dad, we tried to have random small talk, he asked me about school, listened to me bitch about what douche-bags the tax agency is and tried to be all nice and normal all the while ignoring the fact that you could hear hospital sounds in the background while they tried to find a place for him.  Tried to keep things light and airy when he said he’s trying to stay on this side of the sod (grass) a little longer.

I tried not to fall apart as my dad said I love you to me and heard him start to cry as we were hanging up.  That happens every time we talk now because neither of us knows if that’s the last time.

My father is dying a slow death and it fucking sucks. Part of me really wants this to just be over because the wait/wondering is brutal and scary and emotionally taxing.  I can’t even imagine how terrifying it is for him.  Yet part of me wants him to at least stick it out long enough for me to finish school so he can see me graduate from university.  It’s a really big deal for me and it would be extra special if he was there to witness it.  I know he’s already proud of me, but that’s not really the point.

I can’t handle the feels.

Thank God for Nick.  While tea and toast when I get home from school won’t make it all OK, his hugs are amazing and he doesn’t mind when I come home and fall into his arms as I ugly cry about the injustice of it all.

I just can’t even.

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2014 yearly review

I’m horrible at keeping up with my blog, life has changed A LOT and kept me 50 shades of stupid busy.
-But- I try to do at least this once a year. Even if some things rarely, if ever change throughout the year.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

This list should be long but I’m drawing a blank.  It hasn’t been an adventurous year due to a lack of resources but I try to make it a point to try new things.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I haven’t bothered with them in years.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year, pretty sure most of my loved one’s are done having babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, which is something I am thankful for.  I did however loose a professor to suicide whom I had a deep respect for.

5. What countries did you visit?

Sadly I haven’t left Canada in a long, long time.

6. What would you like to have in 2015that you lacked in 2014?

Being able to communicate in French on a more functional level.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 11th- The day I found out my dad had cancer.

June 13th- The day I got fired from my job.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting A’s in all but one of my classes.

9. What was your biggest failure?

A stupid C in illustration but that’s BS.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes. Nothing too serious

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Camera gear :)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Nick’s, that boy is nothing short of amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My ex BIL along with a few other people who I shall not name.

14. Where did most of your money go?

School & camera gear.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

School actually.  I’m really digging this whole university thing.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Shake it off-Taylor Swift for no reason other than it’s a catchy song.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

I am mostly happier, fatter and richer in a non monetary way.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Practicing my craft (photography), reading more, learning more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being distracted, housework.  Wasting time on things/people/places that didn’t really matter.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I was in Ontario with my family & friends and it was awesome! I had an exceptional Christmas this year!

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Every single day. <3 Nick so very much

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Grey’s & The big bang theory

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Yes. I wouldn’t go far as to say hate but more despise I think would be appropriate.

24. What was the best book you read?

Composition: from snap shots to great shots.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Can’t say I have one of those.

26. What did you want and get?

More work done on my sleeve, which is now almost done!

A shiny new camera and time with the people I love the most.

27. What did you want and not get?

This year, oddly enough I have nothing to add here. It’s a good thing!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Didn’t really watch a lot of movies this year.  Especially one’s that one would consider new but I did see Dear White people with Nick and we both enjoyed it.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 36 and had a small, yet fun gathering with family.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not being in debt and being done school

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Yoga pants, hoodies and t-shirts.  I live for comfort.  Especially when I spend so much time taking pictures, editing and sitting in a classroom.

32. What kept you sane?

-My friends, most of my family. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them this year! I am so very fortunate to have such amazing people in my life!

-Photography.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

That’s not my style, I could care less about that sort of thing.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

This year I paid scant attention to politics period.

35. Who did you miss?

Jason as always.  Nick when I’m on the road without him.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I can’t pick just one, but I’ve met some really great people this year!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

That people you thought you could trust can and will turn on you in an instant.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved
And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly”

Dear Dustin

An open letter to my nephew who turned 18 today.

Dearest Dustin.

I remember when your mom told me she was pregnant with you.

Instant Joy. 

I was SO excited, I couldn’t wait for you to arrive!  I took your mom and dad out to Mr. Sub and your mom got the most disgusting concoction I have ever seen.  I still lived at home and your mom and dad lived next door and I was the one who answered the phone when your mom called in the wee hours of the morning panicking because she was pretty sure that her water broke and she couldn’t pee and could I please get mom.

I was fortunate enough to be let into the delivery room minutes after your arrival, which technically wasn’t allowed but the rules were bent for me that day and I remember the first time I held you in my arms.  Your dad was glaring at me because I was hogging you and had a real hard time giving you back.  I absolutely adored you from that moment and that’s one thing that hasn’t changed.

I promised your parents that I would be your guardian should something happen to them.  I was honored that your parents asked me to be your God mother and I stood before all of our loved one’s and God as I promised to do everything I could in my power to help you, to guide you, to protect you and most importantly to love you no matter what.

I never, ever go back on my word.

I’ll never forget the time you asked me about being gay, which also led to a discussion about adoption all the while wondering where on earth your mother was! Ha ha >.<  We (your mom and I) still laugh about that to this day and about how mortified *I* was.

When you were small, I used to sing you are my sunshine and that has proven to be true all these years.  No matter how rough things got, I could always count on you (and your sister when she arrived) to brighten my day and to remind me of how blessed I truly am.  Through the years there’s been some insane ups and downs.  Lot’s of sleepover’s, trips to the park, ice cream, hugs,  tears, joy, frustrations and times when I was sorry and very angry that I couldn’t be there with you to take the hurt away when I moved to Montreal.  Just remember my dear heart, death before dishonor.  I promised you and your sister that I wouldn’t ever hurt you.

I will beat the snot out of anyone who dares to hurt the love of my life.   

I can’t believe that you’re 18.  *I* was 18 when you came into this world and you have turned into a remarkable young man and I am so proud of you and the man you have become and I can only begin to imagine what an outstanding man you’re going to become.  Here are some pearls of wisdom  and there’s some more here and some more here.  There’s a lot of validity in those pearls of wisdom.  Cherish them.

The only piece of advice I wish to leave to leave you with is this: Be true to yourself, because at the end of the day that’s who you have to live with.  I’ll love you no matter what. xoxo

You are my sunshine.  I’ll love you forever, i’ll like you for always.  As long as i’m living, my nephew you’ll be. <3

All my love, Aunt Stephie