Five years later feels like just yesterday

regrets-on-benchDear Mom,

I’ve been anticipating this date with so much dread and heaviness- February 10th. Exactly five years ago today, February 10th, 2015, you had fallen outside of your place and that eventually led to your passing away, a shock to all of us, including you, I am sure.

It breaks my heart everytime I think about it. And I know they say not to live in the past, but how can I not? That is where you were. And that is where I always want to be- with you. I think a part of me, a big part actually, is not here but either trying to find you or just gone whereve you are.

I break my heart over and over again thinking about what you might have done that morning, before your fall. I am so angry at the homecare worker who not only took you out for a walk to Shoppers Drug Mart to get some groceries, but who also made you walk back even though you said you were tired, wanted a cab, or even a bus, and she said, No, let’s just walk slowly back.

Mom, you hadn’t taken a bus for years and years. The fact that you asked for one- well, she should have realized that you weren’t able to make it home comfortably. That you needed a ride back. That you couldn’t walk more. It might have been a short walk for some people, but not for you- with your heart condition- and the osteoarthritis. I am sorry that I wasn’t more understanding about that myself on some days. I should have walked more slowly along side of you rather than skipping ahead, and I should have held your hand more.

But that day, I wonder about stupid questions. I don’t know if it is just to torture me and make me feel more guilty, or to just try to imagine myself being there with you and going through what you went through with you, as if that would somehow change things or make things better now. I imagine what you went to buy that day. I imagine what your plans were for later that day when you ended up in the hospital instead.

I wonder who the woman was that walked you and what happened when you fell. Did you trip over a step? Were you tired? And how did you hit your face and nose? And how could that stupid woman not have called an ambulance or reported the fall to her employer? That cannot be legal. That is not right! I am so angry still, after five years over this.

I want to see the couple who ended up walking by and finding you on the pavement bleeding, and who eventually called the ambulance for you. I want to meet the one out of the two of them- was it the man?- who let you rest your head in his lap while you waited for the ambulance. I wrote an article in the North Shore News asking if the people who helped you could come forward so I could personally thank them. I wrote the article after you passed away. I know you would have wanted to thank them.

Even though you hated hospitals, you were always so giving to strangers even there too. I remember how you wanted to buy a box of chocolates to give to the hospital staff while you were in the hospital. I was too worried and preoccupied to make it happen for you. I am sorry. I am sorry for so many things. The list goes on and on.

I am sorry that I wasn’t there with you that day when you fell. I am sorry I didn’t come to your place and drive you wherever you needed to go so that you wouldn’t have fallen. I am sorry that I didn’t stand up for you with the homecare woman and the whole company more after all of this to demand they do something about their total negligence. I did go to their office a couple of times to talk to the supervisors in a meeting they set up. But they blamed everything on my grief, on my emotional state. As if it was something I would get over and realize was not their doing.

But here I am five years later still angry as hell and so ashamed that I let the whole thing go. I know they were just scared because their big company’s reputation was on the line, so they through the blame on me and my grief. But I should have stuck in there with it more. I should have stood up for what I really believed. But I didn’t have anyone else on my side to back me up. I didn’t want money or to blame someone. I wanted justice enough to at least make sure this would never happen to someone else. I couldn’t bring you back, but maybe I could try to prevent another family from going through the same carelessness, and have the company take the situation more seriously. It was serious. You are gone. And I feel so ashamed, guilty, broken hearted and angry. I just didn’t know how to fight the fight on my own.

Mostly, I feel angry at myself. A friend of mine- a colleague I used to teach with- saw my article in the newspaper and reached out to me over Facebook to say she was sorry for my loss. And I eventully called the ambulance services and hospital to find out the names of the people who helped you get to the ambulance when the homecare person you were with didn’t. I seem to remember the ambulance service not wanting to give me full names or contact numbers of the couple who helped, probably just to respect their own privacy. So I never knew their full names or got to meet them in person. But the ambulance service assured me that they had passed on the message of eternal gratitude I wanted to send to them.

But I didn’t have the courage to do what I really wanted to- which was to fight for you and your rights. I know it is what I should have done. It was a lot to take on on my own. No one else seemed to see it like I did and I was scared to fight the fight on my own and try to go through the grief and shock I was feeling over losing you. But I know it would have been the right thing to do.

I am sorry that you ended up falling that day mom. I am sorry that you ended up in the hospital. I know you hated hospitals. I am sorry that things got worse, that you even ended up in the hospital over Valentine’s Day when there was a Valentine’s Day event you said that you were really sad not to have made it to.

I kind of hate Valentine’s Day now and these days leading up to it because of all that. Sometimes, I just see broken hearts everywhere on that day. How could I not when the person with the biggest heart, the person who brought me into this world and contributed the most to my loving heart, was scared, hurt, weakening, and in pain that day? How could I be excited about Valentine’s Day when you started getting even worse that day and I had no idea that that was going to be your last Valentine’s?

I think the homecare people who were not taking responsibility for their part in this thought that over time I would forget about it, that I let it go because it would become clear that it had nothing to do with them. Well, instead, the opposite is true. I am ashamed I didn’t stick with what I believe. And I am still angry at the awful way they handled, or really didn’t handle all of this. And you know what one of the worst things to live with is, Mom? Regret. I am full of regret over not going with what I believed was right and worth fighting for. It didn’t go away. It didn’t fade away.

I still feel like this all happened just yesterday. I remember every moment of it. I especially remember the things I didn’t do for you. It was like I was trying to make a million choices of things I thought would help- but I kept picking the wrong ones. And I thought there would be more time to explain and apologize once you got home. I just didn’t know that wouldn’t even be an option.

I am sorry, Mommy. I am sorry for not being there for you better. I am sorry that I made all these wrong decisions because I didn’t know how to juggle a bunch of things or I wasn’t clearly seeing what was most important, or because people were telling me I needed to go home and rest and that you would be fine. They were wrong. And I should not have listened to them. I should have stayed with you.

I wish there was some way I could fix it now. I wish that I could turn back time and turn things around. I still run through the scenarios in my head- of what I needed to do instead of what I did do. As if that could somehow magically undo what happened. I can’t change it. I can’t believe I am still telling myself this after five years. But I can’t help running things through my mind again and again. It doesn’t do anyone any good does it?Maybe I think I need to punish myself for my mistakes with you. But none of this brings you back or makes the past different. And that is something I have to live with somehow.

What would make it better, or what would help me let go of these regrets a little more, is if I knew you are okay now, that your spirit is soaring. I wish that you are now having beautiful Februaries with heavenly plans for Valentine’s Day that no one can ever take from you. I hope your heart and soul is filled with so much love and togetherness and peace and joy.

I hope that it is true that heaven can take care of you in ways that far surpass what we know here on earth. I wish the hearts in heaven are the most welcoming, beautiful, magical and healing and that they surround you and fill you with endless love.

 

Was that you?

hopingDear Mom,

Although for these four years, I keep praying and asking for you to give me a sign that you’re okay, I wonder how to know when the sign has already appeared. What if I just ‘missed’ it?

I’m thinking in particular about what other people might have viewed as a very ‘clear message’ I received a few years ago, not long after you passed away. I just didn’t know whether to believe it. It seemed ‘too’ clear.

I walked into the store Utopia on Lonsdale.

I was looking for something. I wasn’t sure what. A book, a crystal? Something to provide me with a little help in finding peace. Peace over your passing. Peace to feel that you are okay. Peace to feel that I could figure out how to live ‘without’ you, physically, but more importantly, how to make sure to keep you with me, to make sure you are protected and safe.

I wanted to keep us both safe. You from this new space you were or are in, that I don’t know anything about. And me from my grief of losing you and worrying about you. I felt and feel so helpless in trying to connect to you.

It’s a question of faith, I know. But my faith has totally been shaken since you passed away. I wasn’t like that before. I believed so much more in ‘everything happens for a reason’. Nothing made sense though once you were gone, not even all that happened in the few days leading up to it.  It still doesn’t make sense. Where’s the reasoning in that?

That day when I was at Utopia, I was looking to regain some semblance of belief. I must have looked lost in that store. I felt it. But something drew me to a bunch of boxes of tarot cards on a shelf at the back. I remember Michelle had given me a pack  of Ascended Masters cards which made me curious about that whole world a few years back. It seemed interesting and made me wonder at the time. But I couldn’t have told you what I believed about all of that. I don’t really know. It didn’t seem to matter back then anyway.

Before you passed away, I wasn’t as concerned about whether spirit and heavenly connections were real or not.  The idea just kind of came and went in my mind as something possible, but I wasn’t sure.

But now I need real reassurance. See, I can play around with my own belief. But I need something more concrete for you. I always want real assurance when it comes to you.

I remember one of the ladies in the shop saying that the Messages From Heaven pack might be something that could help me. She said that she actually had a pack that was already opened, so I could take a look at it.

Instead of me going through the cards myself, I think she just asked me to ask the universe a question.  I didn’t ask it out loud, but I didn’t need to even think about it. The question that is always at the front of my mind, at the back of my mind, and deep within my heart- the question that always sits there waiting endlessly for an answer- was the one of course that I thought of.

wishing2“Are you okay, Mom?”

I picked a card out, ‘randomly’, without being able to see what the message was. And I flipped it over, or maybe the woman in front of  me did, and I looked, not expecting much.  But it said: I AM SO MUCH BETTER NOW

I think I might have held my breath as I read that.  I was kind of in disbelief. And wanted to cry so much. It may have been held in my throat- the relief, the hope, the surprise at how accurate that card was. Could it be true? Was it really you speaking to me?

I don’t even remember reading or finding out the details that were written about that card in the guidebook for the deck. I am not even sure if I knew that there was one. It’s like I didn’t want to know because it seemed like someone was playing a trick on me. A cruel one.

I might have said something to the woman about it, or maybe I didn’t. I was confused about what was real and what wasn’t. I still am.  Like… did that just happen? I didn’t buy the card deck or look at the rest of the cards in it.  I convinced myself that it was too much of a coincidence. That all the other cards in that deck must say similar things. Of course they do, because they are supposed to be consoling messages from heaven for people like me who are grieving and looking for relief.

It must have been nothing, I thought, even though I wanted it to be something, to be THE thing, and the first of a series of many somethings that would take away my pain, sorrow, worry, grief.  The somethings that would take away your pain, sorrow and grief.  The something that would make me KNOW that my Mom is okay.

But I left feeling defeated. Even after hearing exactly what I wanted to hear or read or see- the exact answer I would have hoped was true- I decided that how could it be? How could it be that easy? Even the message that I wanted to hear couldn’t console me because it was too perfect.

It didn’t come from you. I mean, I didn’t see it coming from your lips or your voice or your hands or heart.  I needed proof that it was true. And so I left unsure, scared, wondering how I would get through any of this, and realizing that no one could help me. If even the very message I wanted to hear, without even realizing it was what I wanted to hear, couldn’t console me, then nothing could, right?

But somewhere in the back of my head, I must have stored the memory of that card, and that moment- the moment when I had a little what if sense of hope show up in my heart. Hope that what if there was some truth to it?  But I was hesitant and thought I was just feeding my mind with too much dreaminess, and a lot of wishful thinking, rather than anything that could be real. So I ‘left’ it.

Until, … maybe a year later? I am not sure of the timing. But it was a long time after, when the very same card showed up for me again, ‘out of nowhere.’

I was at a workshop about writing.  I was excited and inspired at first, but very quickly realized that the speaker was just money hungry. He was doing everything to make more money, without much regard or appreciation for the art of writing. Everything was focused on materialism- from his presentation about how his new business got him his own private jet, to his pushing young students to invest thousands of dollars in him regardless of whether they even had enough money for food or a roof over their head.  I felt like he was preying on the vulnerabilities of those just looking for inspiration and a change in their lives.  He didn’t seem to care genuinely about the messages that these people were actually wanting to share in their writing and books. He only cared about his sales, his fame and how much he or we could buy with it after.

wishing3It was when this woman – a participant in the workshop- said, “But I want to write books that people actually want to read,” that made me realize how ridiculous the workshop was. The woman said out loud what I was thinking all along. I mean, that should be a given right?- to want to write books that people want to read. How could someone not understand that? But she too could feel that the attention was being taken off of the most meaningful parts of writing- the message, the inspiration, the teaching.

The workshop was lacking in depth and soul and integrity. The speaker’s total lack of integrity was just turning me off.  I felt like I was wasting my time in this room, and you know how much I hate wasting time.

So I was trying to find something good that could come from it, the real reason I was there. There had to have been something, or at least I was going to try to convince myself of it.  Otherwise, I was going to feel so foolish for buying into this total sales-pitchy, manipulative approach of this speaker, who was frankly getting on my nerves. I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for his lack of understanding of what is really important in life, or to be angry at him for thinking we would be gullible enough to get swept up into his world.

There was one thing that made me feel better.  A guy.  At the workshop. He was very different from anyone else, not just anyone at the workshop, but anyone who I would have normally met or spoken with.  He was quirky. Okay, so I actually do like quirky guys. But, he was quirky in a different way. He believed in numerology. He noticed numbers everywhere and added up digits, and saw significance in all the numbers- addresses, receipts, phone numbers. And he wore these big rings on his fingers, and interesting crystals around his neck.  He believed in natural healing and in the power of the universe.  I found myself drawn to him, not knowing exactly why at the time. But now I see it: I needed to ‘rebelieve’ in all of this again. In the workings of the universe. In the ‘everything happens for a reason’ way of thinking and feeling.

And this guy was a HUGE believer in synchronicities of numbers and people. It was like there was no question in his mind about it.

Maybe this guy was planted in that workshop as a reminder for me to rebuild my faith in the magical workings of the universe again.

Maybe. So I spent more time with him. We had lunch outside of the workshop and he showed me a few tricks on Ableton, the new music recording program I was trying to learn but was intimidated by. I didn’t know where to start. This guy got me started just by showing me how he would play with it and create his own sounds and beats. He made me see the fun and creative part in it. The exploring. I needed to learn to explore again.

He was playful, and reminded me to be too. I smiled at how he sat on the floor of the Indigo Book store we went into one afternoon.  He just sat there, cross legged in the middle of an aisle of books. He was childlike in that way, all 6 foot, 30-something years old and shaved head of him.  The books he got all curious about had to do with healing and spirit and energies.  He didn’t seem to really care about what other people thought of him. He didn’t seem to have any doubts in the healing from these more natural modalities.  I was dumbfounded and kind of envious by how it was just an absolute to him.

His curiosity for learning and about the universe kept me open to this part of me that used to be more present a few years ago. And I wanted to open it up more. I wanted to believe again, and to bring that part of me back.

He led us to the healing, metaphysics section because he must have wanted to look up something specific in that area. However, I think the universe purposely pulled me in there and used this guy as a vehicle to get me there. There was something I didn’t even know I was needing to look at again.  Oracle cards. They were right there in front of me where this guy had stopped. It didn’t take long for my eyes to go straight to the one labeled Messages From Heaven.  I pulled it out and realized it was the pack of cards I had seen at Utopia over a year or more before.

I knew that I would disappoint myself in looking through all the messages on the cards. I was sure they would all be the same, or similar, to that one card I had picked out at Utopia long before then. But just to humour myself, maybe, I shoved the deck and fanned the cards out again, as the lady at Utopia had taught me to do.

I asked a question in my head: “Are you okay, Mom?” and I thought about the tear stains that I remember on your face in the ICU, how you couldn’t speak or open or move your eyes, and I had no idea what was going on with you. I didn’t know if you were hurt-emotionally, physically, or scared. I didn’t know what it felt like when you were sedated, when the blood clot formed in your intestines, or when you passed away. I was and still am haunted by what you may have gone through. And I wish I had done more to help you.

Without looking at the faces of the cards, I picked one out.

This is what It said:

“My death was painless. Please don’t worry or hold onto guilt.”

 

I gasped again. I don’t know if the guy I was with saw or felt the shock in my face or my energy. I might have tried to hide my emotions. But actually, he was probably a good person to have around me at that time, because of his beliefs about spirit and the universe.  I felt tears of relief and hope at first, in seeing the card’s message. But then I got angry,. I thought why is the universe or life toying with me? All the cards must say the same kind of thing This is just a way, as humans, that we pretend to appease ourselves, ignorantly thinking that our loved ones is really in a better place. How do we know? How does anyone know? I was sure that all the messages must just be generally the same.

I decided to look through the rest of the cards.

I looked and looked and looked through the deck, and to my surprise, the messages were actually all very different. Yes, they were all about grief and healing. But they didn’t speak about the same aspect of death or healing or heaven as the card I had picked out. None of the other cards spoke so directly to my question as the card I picked out.

I also realized that I couldn’t find the card that I picked out at Utopia a year or more before then. Maybe it’s NOT the same deck, I thought? I was kind of confused. But I couldn’t find the card I had picked a year or more ago. It didn’t seem to be in the deck. I thought, I can’t remember exactly what it said. Maybe I made it up? Or maybe this isn’t even the same deck.

Somehow, the guy I was with had the idea that he should pick out a card from the deck. He shuffled the cards thoroughly. I seem to remember his big silver and black rings and the cards moving methodically to recalebrate the deck to match his energy.

And again, with the faces of the cards hidden from his sight, he picked out a card. He flips it over and…

It was my card. Or your card. Or … it was that card I had picked out a year or more ago in Utopia. It was the card I couldn’t find in the deck just a few seconds before when I swear I went through the whole deck. I never told him I was looking for a card. But he picked THE one.

“I am so much better now.”

I don’t know why I couldn’t find it when I first looked.  Maybe I needed someone else to pick it and find it, so the universe could show me that if I don’t trust in myself to choose the right answer, if I don’t believe in the answers when they come up with my pick, then the universe was going to show me through someone else’s ‘choice.’

Could I believe in it now? Should I? The card was picked again, almost two years after the first time. And this guy who was so consciously connected to spirituality, healing, crystals, and faith in the powers of the universe was the one who picked it, ‘randomly’, for me I think, more than for him.

And this time, I definitely read the guide book descriptions for each of the two cards that were picked.  They were exactly what I needed to hear.

Were the messages from you? Or was it just a very crazy coincidence, that happened twice?

More importantly, are you really okay? Was it really painless?

Can you feel it when I ask you questions? Can we still speak to each other crossing heaven and earth?

I so want to believe we can. I can’t live without my mother’s spirit and strength and advice and love. Maybe that in itself should be proof that you are here- that I’m still able to live. I don’t know. But I’m trying to open up to that wonderful possibility.

I want my mother to be happy, at peace, pain free, carefree, loved and with me always.