Talking to my shadow.

Nothing could have prepared me for this.  Not those seven months of battle and ultimately acceptance that we were going to lose the war. Not the countless hours of therapy. Nothing paved the way for this unrelenting pain of having you stolen from me.

I suppose what I am experiencing can be classed as PTSD.    I just seem unable to get a handle on this life of mine.  I remain aimless and feel trapped.  I find peace, moment by moment when out in nature.  Nature is never silent, but it is devoid of mechanical noise.  It frees me to wool gather, visit our memories or merely breathe, deeply.

I listened to a song called Forever Young.  That’s you now.  I am old.  I guess that’s how it’s supposed to shake out except I won’t be old for as long as you were young.

I know you are wandering the universe. I know you are the shadow I see so often. We hear the music you and I. Those are the moments I smile.

Fear (the noun)

Agitation, alarm, angst, apprehension, despair, foreboding, panic, phobia, unease, trepidation and on and on and on. According to my Canadian Thesaurus there are twenty seven formal synonyms to denote fear. In contrast, there are only three antonyms with which to battle fear; aplomb, confidence, courage.

This little bit of research is a result of a question asked of me a few years ago; what is my greatest fear? I must admit the query conjured up easy answers, at first. Fear of illness, losing love, life, mind, body soul…you get the idea. Upon further introspection however, I discovered the answer became less clear.

Things I feared as a child generally no longer hold power over me. Scary movies and snakes are the exceptions. Where night-time phobias ruled my childish life, I came to welcome the velvet comforter of the night, particularly after a trying day. My childhood nightmares gave way to the more fanciful dreams of adulthood, dreams that took me to far off places and fed my need for adventure.

There are many events that colour a child’s life. My early existence was full of such happenings; moments of violent words and actions that produced gut destroying anxiety. As I grew in to teen years, the silent treatment was de rigueur between mother and me. While there were no hurtful words, the result was still the same, I suffered. I lived in a most confusing world. I didn’t know how to take ownership of all the fears I had growing up. I was afraid my dad would leave and never come back (he was the sane adult in my world). Would I be able to protect my younger brother? I was scared of failing in school, never “amounting to anything”, terrified, to the point of throwing up prior to going on stage for public speaking, singing or playing the piano. The last three activities, not the throwing up part, were mandated by school and mother. Like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, my fears were well fed. I have been asked many times how I survived. My stock answer is an honest one, “I don’t know, I just did.”

Through some miracle or other I was blessed with the most wonderful of friends. The girls and their families kept me sane and offered sanctuary when needed. These girls, women now, are still friends decades later and I treasure all three.

Occasionally I’ve harboured a fear of being alone to the end of my life. However, the fear of being in a really terrible and debilitating relationship outweighs being alone. Besides, I’m not a solitary soul. I have wonderful people in my world; all of whom I love with a deep and full heart. They stand side by side with me against all the fears that bite at my heels. They keep me standing.

I do, in some strange, convoluted way, give credit to my mother for my inner strength. Her life was not without pain and challenges. She survived and did the best job she could with the tools she had in her life’s repertoire, and I survived her. It took a fair amount of therapy during my more adult years to come to that understanding. I outgrew the fears, sewed up the scars and still love the person who gave me life. Because, in truth, without my parents, I wouldn’t have had the best adventure of my life, my daughter. That’s when the fears of my childhood were left behind; and new ones took root.


Moving through the woods on the cusp of dawn, my senses were under siege from the sounds and scents found there. I broke through the silken bars of webs, built for much smaller game than me. The wardens of the silk prisons, still coddled by the crisp pre-sun air were disgruntled at this most obtrusive wake-up call. I wreaked havoc on their domain on the way to where the forest, sand and water meet. Perhaps there was a twinge of remorse, or not.

I saw the story in the silver birch and white pine. They stood together in a crowd, seeking the light, side by side. They seemed glad in the twining together of their trunks and branches. They are secure and strong. The whisper of the barely there leaves called me towards the edge. My breath caught at the sight of the early sun making a golden puddle on the lake’s wrinkled surface. I heard, before seeing, the plop of a seagull as it dove for breakfast.

I shucked my sandals and moved to the water’s edge. The sand moguls crunched and flowed under my steps. How I love that sensation. The history of the earth is there, right under feet and hands. Every grain of sand, every shell, every stone has a story to tell.

I eased myself down on a discarded beach towel and revelled in the changing palette of the sunrise. The sun warmed my face as my mind drifted to memories of you. I heard your giggles dancing across the ripples on the water. We were building drippy sand castles. We talked, laughed and yes, concentrated on the task at hand. Walking the shore line, your tiny, somewhat gritty hand in mine you asked important questions. “Mommy, when you die, can I have those rings?” I said I hoped she didn’t mind waiting for a long time, but yes, she could have them. She smiled that world lighting smile, and my heart blew up. To myself I whispered, “My darling daughter, whatever is in my power to give you, it’s yours”.

My “I love you baby girl” floated on the morning breezes as I took my leave of our special place. Sometimes there is peace there.

Introducing… me

I never quite know how to respond to the “about me” option. I am a person with all that entails. I have good days, I have bad days. I’m mostly sad wearing a smile mask. I suppose as I move along in this blog thing, more will be revealed to you and to me. I would say, first and foremost, I survive.  Frankly I’m learning that’s not enough. 

Why this venue

I am navigating the treacherous path of grief, having had my daughter, my only child, stolen by cancer.  I am trying to find purpose and some semblance of joy again.  Perhaps that’s the point of this blog.   I do have a couple of side kicks; girls who love car rides and never ask, “Are we there yet”.  Daisy and Scarlett, like me enjoy the exploration before the destination.   This is going to be some kind of exploration with no particular destination in view.

I have another side kick, a shadow. My beloved daughter is with me always. Knowing this gets me through the days and nights. I tell her everything.