#meetoo

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I have hesitated to #metoo for various reasons. 

– How many times do I have to tell my stories? It is not enjoyable to constantly have to rehash in an attempt to make people care. 

– I heard the debate about it early on and didn’t want to be judged. But, I also don’t want to be judged for not joining in. 

– The anxiety of whether to post, or not, pisses me off. First of all, I shouldn’t have to worry about it because these things should never have happened to me. They should never happen to anyone. 

Secondly, it saddens me that this is still such a problem. 

Thirdly, it brings up feelings towards men that are unfair. I know that there are great men out there. I have them as friends and in my family. 

Fourthly, it feels so empty compared to the trauma, the pain and the shame that every single #metoo event has had in my life. 

And finally, I questioned the validity of the movement because it seemed to me that it would only be affective if every one who had suffered sexual assault actually joined in. And that’s when it hit me…

#metoo

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Just Get Off Your Ass and Do It

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I’ve been in a rut. Life has changed time and again over the past 5 months and I think I am just starting to feel the effects of it now.

As of April: I left my job of almost 7 years, we packed-up our house and moved from the city to the country (moving-in with my parents), I stayed home and took care of my son for 4 months, my husband got a job with hours that have drastically altered our family dynamic, my son started school, I can’t get a Doctor (despite calling the clinic almost every week to see if anyone is taking new patients), I got a casual job at the local school board and I have also started school as a full-time University Student (working on my BA in English through Queens Distance).

I tend to be the type of person who just ‘puts my nose to the ground’ and gets-on with things, without dwelling much on the enormity of things, because I fear that if I let myself think about it, I will drown.

The problem?

I take it out on my health. Instead of allowing myself to think about it, feel the emotions and work-through it all, I eat. I eat them away.

The truth is, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted and tired and I feel overwhelmed.

Take a look in my rubbish bin next to my desk and you’ll find it overflowing with cans of Diet Pepsi, Cheezies and Aero wrappers. Granted, they are the mini Halloween-sized ones, but when you’re eating 5 of them at a time, I think that excuse loses its strength.

People often comment on how they think I am brave, or strong, but the reality is – I’m a wimp.

I hide my fear in food.

I’ve been trying to get myself ‘back on track’ for months now. I was doing so well with things until around my Birthday, followed by my Mom’s, when I let myself fall off the rails.

This is the longest stretch of time in almost 2 years that I have been lost in this place where I feel out of control and at a loss to bring myself back into focus.

This has troubled me, and I’ve been embarrassed to write about it because, on paper, it would seem that my life is pretty good. I should have things together.

My husband has a solid job.

My son is in school.

We have settled-into our new living arrangement (for the most part).

I have a casual job.

I’m finally working-towards my lifelong dream of obtaining a University Degree. Not just obtaining the degree, but being a full-time university student.

This should be my time of life. I should be excelling and ‘walking on clouds’.

So, why do I feel like I’ve been dragging myself through a mud run?

Guilt plays a part in it. I feel a sense of guilt for not being at a full-time job. I feel like I’m never, fully, doing my share. I’m not the sole-caregiver of my child, I’m not busy cleaning the house/yard and taking care of my folks all day long, I’m not out at a job earning a pay cheque all day.

I’m working on something that feels selfish.

I know there are plenty of arguments as to why this is not selfish. But, I’ve never really been good at putting myself first.

I want to write. I want to be a writer.

And, as you can tell by this post, I need the help.

My thought process is all-over the place. I jump from one topic to another with very little transition. I have a lot to say, but can never seem to get it down, or out quickly or clearly enough.

I saw a piece on a news channel recently talking about the current top books, or something. I didn’t really hear what the piece was about because I saw the image on the screen, a stack of recently published books, and heard a freight train in my head as tears filled my eyes.

I wanted my name, my book, to be on that screen.

Filling up from the bottom of my toes and spilling-out the top of my head was this overwhelming desire to create something, in print, that would speak to people. Something that would be read and loved and carried all dog-eared in book-bags everywhere.

I have always written. I have over 30 notebooks and journals.

I have a lot I want to say.

I also want to feel better – physically.

So, as I sat here tonight (trying to focus on my homework), one thought just kept running-through my mind – “JUST GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO IT.”

So, here I am.

Again.

The Decision to Move

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When my Mom phoned to let me know she had called an ambulance to bring my stepdad to the hospital, it was as if the world around me grew still, despite the fact that I was standing in the middle of a bustling Nathan Phillip’s Square in downtown Toronto at the very first Winter Festival being held there.

My husband, child and in-laws kept walking and I could see them pointing towards the ice skaters and, more excitedly, towards the Zamboni. But, my heart had sunk to my shoes and tears were streaming down my cheeks.

I didn’t want to spoil their moment, but I was feeling desperate. I just wanted to get away and be somewhere I could have a good cry. But, I didn’t want to scare my son.

I hung-up with my Mother and eventually rejoined my family. I explained what was going on to my husband while his parents entertained the kid. My gut instinct was to get in a plane and go be with my parents. However, this was very much complicated by the fact that our in-laws had flown all the way from New Zealand to be with us, we didn’t have any other vacation days (so I’d have to take a pay-loss), we were broke so I would have to borrow the money to go as it was, I and I have a 3-year old that I had to consider.

My husband calmed me and told me to just wait to hear some more news about what was going-on before I panicked too much.

It wasn’t until recently, when we moved-back to be with my parents, that I learned just how dire the situation was and just how terrified my parents had been. These are difficult things to convey over text or phone calls, I suppose.

When talking to my Mom in that week and a half, I was trying to discern from what she said and how she sounded whether, or not, they really needed me there.

After getting off the phone with her one evening I broke-down. When my husband came to see what was happening I sobbed “I hate feeling like I am waiting to get that nightmare call that we had better come now or it will be too late…”

My Stepdad had gone through 11 rounds of chemo for colon cancer, and this was the year after he had been flown to Ottawa for a triple bypass. Now, he was in hospital with sepsis and my Mother had said that they were struggling to keep his organs functioning.

I knew it was serious, but did not know how serious or how scared both of my parents were going-through this. I guess that’s a compliment to how well they handled it together. Still, I hate thinking that they had to go through it alone.

Once my Stepdad was out of the hospital, I said to my husband, through more sobbing one night: “I NEVER want to be in that position again. Having to ask my Mom to let me know when it got to the ‘you need to come now because he’s dying’ stage.”

I hated being in that position. I didn’t wan to wait until it was too late. I wanted to spend time with him while there was still time to spend. I wanted my son to be able to build memories of his grandparents of playing games, laughing over dinner, sharing ice cream treats and going for car rides and not just sitting in a hospital saying ‘goodbye’.

So, we made the decision to uproot our lives, and move home.

It was a decision that required a lot of sacrifice, and there are times I still can burst into tears when something I miss about our old home strikes or when my Son asks something like: “Can we go to the tick-tock park?” (A park we used to frequent behind city hall, where the large clock on old city hall, would chime on the hour).

But, the pain and the loss we experience over leaving the city that we all dearly loved pales in comparison to the pain and the loss we would feel if we had decided to stay and, instead, forfeited the time we now get to spend with family.

You just cannot put a price on that.

People say it all the time, but until you are staring it in the face it can be tough to comprehend;

life is short.

You have to look at what really matters to you and be prepared to move heaven and earth to make it happen.

It may be very difficult at times when we are missing our beloved city, but that is grief, not regret. I will never regret choosing time with my family over our life in the city.

We never know how much more time we have together. I’m determined to make the most of it.

259 Time to Focus on Me Again

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Now that I’ve moved and we are more settled in, it’s time to try and start focusing on the weight loss again. 
I’ve done fairly well at maintaining, around, a 5lbs range of what I weighed when we left Toronto.
But, I’m slowly drifting further and further away from that number. I was around 245 when I left Toronto and I’ve been lingering around 249 the past week.
Time to get serious and start focusing on that number going down again.
But, this has become much more complicated than it was before. Instead of living with 2 other people with whom I had to coordinate meal-times/foods, I now live with 4 other people.
When in Toronto, I had my diet sorted 5 days/week and was working really hard to bring the weekends into line as well.
On weekdays I would have water & homemade mocha and a green smoothie in the morning; a salad or grilled chicken and veggies for lunch and eggs and toast for dinner. This worked great for me and I was happy with it for those 5 days.
Since being here, I eat eggs in the morning, try to make something healthy for lunch, dinner can be almost anything and we go-through Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s several times/week. Top this off with the fact that I’m more physically active and getting lots of fresh air which makes me hungry all the time…and it’s bad news.
The other night while having dinner with the family I had a sort of revelation: I don’t have to feel guilty about wanting to eat what I need to in order to take care of myself.
I don’t have to feel bad or guilty if I don’t eat food that has been prepared, especially if I let my Mom know in advance what I would be eating.
I need to do what I need to do to take care of myself.
This is a huge and difficult lesson for someone like me who always feels it is my responsibility to take-care of others and ensure that they are happy. 
I am going to make my goal to stay within my calories at least 3 days this week. I will communicate clearly so that I don’t have to feel guilty about hurting feelings or offending anyone.
I am moving weight loss higher-up on my list of priorities again now that things have settled down a bit.
It’s ok to put other people and their needs first for a time, when it’s necessary, but I’m important too.
And, now it’s my time.

Empty Time

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A space for writing. A space for thinking. For feeling. For being.
I am old enough to remember life before the internet was in every household and in every hand. I am old enough to recall what it means to spend a day in your bedroom, without Facebook, YouTube or instragram to “entertain” you.

I remember listening to Ace of Base for hours (the entire album, not just that one song – because that’s how you listened to music back then), while doodling fashion design sketches on notepads. I dreamt I might become a fashion designer one day, creating clothes that were comfortable, functional, and cool.

I liked to wear my black Doc. Martens boots with floral babydoll dresses and a well-worn jean jacket. Nobody dressed like that in my town, but I didn’t care. I thought I was ahead of my time and, having watched “Reality Bites” more than once, believed I was a Winona Ryder-esque misfit.

This brief soirée into fashion design came from the most unusual place – Archie comics.

I loved Archie comics and I used to own them all. At one point, they started fashion design contests where people could submit outfits for Betty or Veronica. Having seen the winning submissions, I just knew that I could do better than what I was seeing – for Betty, of course. Who the hell cares about Veronica?

There was such an incredible amount of space and time to create back in those days. Time to dream. Time to breathe and just be.

Some of this has been swallowed by adulthood. Time is now used for cooking meals, doing dishes, cleaning the house, taking care of my child, paying bills and the many more responsibilities that age brings with it.

Loss is inevitable when the currency is time.

But, does it always have to be lost? Once we reach a certain age in life are we just doomed to continue losing time until the day we breathe our last?

I don’t think so. I certainly hope not.

I have begun seeking ways to gain time instead of always just losing it. I find I regain a few seconds when I take the time to just look out of a window for a few minutes or sit on the porch swing, empty handed, no music or distractions other than the birds flittering around the bird feeders or landing lightly on the evergreen branches. I gain a minute when I just sit and watch my son playing and allow myself to soak-in every movement and noise he makes. My time bank grows a little bit when I go for a drive and allow myself to breathe-in the landscape around me, letting my mind drift-back to the days of childhood when I used to look-out over the same landscape and dream.

I am on a journey to rediscover the pleasure of empty time. We grow-up and somewhere along the way we buy-in to the concept that empty time is a waste of time. This is simply not true.

Empty time is where life is found. It is where joy exists and time expands.

Empty time is where the magic happens.

I Am Enough

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I used to be afraid of seeing people I knew from growing-up in this town. When I visited my parents, I would dive behind displays in the supermarket, or turn my head when someone I knew was nearby.There is so much in my childhood/teenage years and early adulthood that was absolutely horrible. My relationship with peers was always very tumultuous. I felt weird, odd, strange and always felt like I never really belonged or fit-in.

I seemed to skip-over the teenage years, and didn’t understand what it meant to relax and have fun. I was always on-edge and lonely. I hated high school rallies, sports games, events, etc. I couldn’t understand why everyone seemed so happy while I was so miserable. Because I didn’t understand it, it all seemed fake to me. Everyone seemed fake and I didn’t know how to relate to that.

As I’ve grown-up I’ve started to have a better understanding for what happened in those years, why I was affected the way I was, and have had a better appreciation for the people who were around me at the time.

I have also grown in confidence. Being in the city has helped with this. There are far too many people in a large city for people there to be bothered judging them. Living in a place that, in comparison, is so free from judgement and harsh opinions, was liberating.

Thousands of people walked-by you every day dressed in all-manners of clothing, different levels of attractiveness, poor, rich, dirty, clean…and they were all the same; just another person you were passing on the street.

It is in the city where I began to feel confident wearing tank tops and shorts. I saw woman of all shapes and sizes just dressing to be cool and comfortable on hot summer days and didn’t hear one negative comment from any of the hundreds of people around, about how they looked and I realized – I could do that too.

I remember as a child/teen always wanting to be as “cool” as the “town kids”. The “town kids” had all the “in” name brands: Club Monaco, The Gap, Adidas and even B.U.M. Equipment. I don’t think I owned anything that was name-brand until I finally begged my mother to the point she bought me a B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirt for Christmas. But, my wiener dog, Gus, chewed-up the ‘U’ and my mom decided to stuff the ‘U’ with cotton and patch it with floral material. I hated it, but felt so guilty and pressured to wear it after all her work, that I did. But, I’m sure my ability to ‘fit in’ took several hits for the cause.

The “town kids” also didn’t smell like a barn when they arrived at school. I lived on a farm and did my share of barn chores (mostly shovelling poop), which meant that I always had a bit of a “barn smell” on my skin and clothing. I don’t really know if other people smelled it, I never asked, or if I was just self-conscious about it. But, it is one reason I found it difficult to get out of my comfort zone to hang-out with peers.

I also was a tomboy who never cared for, or bothered, to learn about things like doing hair, makeup, nails, plucking eyebrows, etc. It just didn’t interest me. There were so many other things to do with my time, like climbing trees, going out on the 4-wheeler, milking the cows, raking the hay and playing music.

The ironic thing about this whole period of time is that I thought that I was the one being judged harshly, but have come to understand that I was doing the judging myself. I judged my peers as being fatuous and shallow and determined that I was above that.

There were, at times, reason to feel this way. We were teenagers, after all, but I’m sure now that if I could have been outside of myself and looking at myself on occasion, I would feel the exact same way about me.

Though, I also did a lot of my “teenage stuff” before I was an actual teenager: I skipped school, got in fights, had boyfriends, fooled-around, tried beer and cigarettes, all before grade 9. During Grade 9 I did a bit more of it, and was kind of in one of the ‘cool groups’ (I even participated in a Homecoming float). But, by the end of Grade 9 I guess I just felt ‘over it all’.

I became a bit of a loner. I was just ready to get on with life. I wanted to be an adult, to be a successful writer, musician or University professor. I wanted to be full of knowledge and experience, having traveled the world and lived-through adventure upon adventure.

And here I sit, 15+ years later, having gained knowledge, experience, traveled and lived-through adventure upon adventure, and I’ve returned to this place, where it all began, changed and yet, in many ways, the same.

I still have no interest in town gossip, or want to be friends with people who think it’s ok to be mean to others and I still love to be a tomboy, spending time outside getting dirty, or doing heavy work. But, I no longer think of myself as an “outsider” or feel the need to hide behind shelves at the store if I see someone from my past.

I know now that I am a person, just like everyone else. I have things that are really fantastic about me, things that are unique and totally loveable, and I have things that are annoying about me and things that are weaknesses. And it’s ok.

It’s me.

When I was younger, I never felt like I was enough. It is still something with which I struggle. It’s a common affect of being a child that has gone-through divorce.

But, now I know better. I know that I am me. I am myself.

And I am enough.

Seeking New Daydreams

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When I was younger I spent the bulk of my time lost in daydreams. There was a steady stream of stories and scenarios swirling-around inside of me. These thoughts did not feel detached from me, as I lived through every one with full emotion and feeling.I would have numerous conversations and encounters with crushes as well as heated debates (which I always won) with adversaries on important topics such as LBTQ rights or the plight of small/family-run farms.

I have lost some of this, which I suppose is a good thing since I’m not sure how I would have been able to make it in the world as an adult if I continued to spend all my time lost in my imagination. But, I miss the feelings that these reveries brought with them. My life held so much magic to it back then.

I have been attempting to try and regain some of this magic while keeping a foot solidly in the land of adult responsibilities and duties.

I am trying to be intentional about stopping to soak-in some moments in time. Today, as my son was using the toilet, I stood at the bathroom window while the breeze caused the soft white curtains to dance around me, and stared at the backyard. I tried to memorize each tree, how they looked, how they responded to the wind and took a deep breath to try and memorize the smell of the moment.

The things that are missing from these moments, however, are the questions of who I will be, what I will be doing, who I might be with, and what of my hopes and dreams might I have already fulfilled. Many of these questions have now been answered. The excitement of the unknown, mostly when it comes to the romantic things, has passed.

Truthfully, most of my daydreams were about romance. I liked to imagine a million scenarios that could happen between me and whichever person I had feelings for at the time. It was a fun world in which to live, but one that doesn’t really exist as a married person anymore.

The truth is, I love to imagine and I love to pretend. I do, sometimes, play-out imaginary scenarios of what life might be like if I were married to another person. I will picture us in a house, doing married-life things, just as my husband and I do now, and see how it plays itself out. But, these daydreams are difficult to maintain as I always have to, inevitably, face the question about what the imaginings mean for my husband and child. The old carefree dreams of this romantic are now hopelessly real and complicated.

I miss the nervous thrill of never knowing ‘if it will ever happen’.

It happened.

That’s done.

As a result, I have been starting to dig into my mind and try to find other unknowns, other questions and things that make me feel a similar kind of enjoyable anxiety towards. I want to make some more space for daydreaming again and living here gives me the perfect opportunity to do so.

Now, I just have to find some new daydreams.

Taking Time for Me

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I’m thrilled to be sitting at the dining room table, listening to the oven gently whirring as it cooks my chicken breasts mixed with the sound of birds softly chirping and an occasional car passing-by on the highway.It is peaceful.

I have been longing to write. Craving some solid, uninterrupted and quiet time to be able to sit down and reflect on some things.

Despite living in the (somewhat) country again, it has been a flurry of activity ever since our things arrived. We have finally (mostly) settled-in and my husband has started a full-time job. This also means that, for the first time since my son was 11.2 months old, I am a stay-at-home Mom.

I love my son dearly, and he is wonderful to play with and really well behaved, but I feel like my brain is shrivelling – I miss adult conversation and interaction every day, and having adult tasks/duties and responsibilities in my adult workplace.

I have never imagined that I was really the right ‘make’ to be a stay-at-home Mom and have always, truly, envied woman who seemed so full and fulfilled in the role. The ability to keep themselves challenged and stimulated as individuals while devoting so much of their energy and attention to little ones is truly impressive to me. I am, perhaps, too lazy for this. Or, maybe, too picky or difficult to please.

But, whatever it is that makes it a challenge for me to assume this role, here I am anyways.

I recall before I had given birth to my child that I had this dream of what my days of leave would look like: my baby would be sleeping sweetly, having been fed, changed, cuddled and cared for with perfection by yours truly and I would be serenely sipping a cup of tea while writing my novel.

I don’t think I even wrote one single word (other than facebook posts) for most of that time. And even then, the posts were largely pleading for help, or just posting a cute picture (or 100 cute pictures) of my perfect child.

I have felt challenged, on a personal level, recently to really carve-out time for what it is that is special and important to me and the one thing to which I consistently return is writing.

I know that woman are always talking about this and there seem to be endless articles about the importance of taking time for yourself. But, that is definitely more easily said than done when there is a constant list of things that need to be done.

However, I have really been working on the art of prioritizing and being “ok” with things that are not urgent, being left undone a little bit longer while I enjoy a moment. Yesterday I sat outside while my son had his nap, with a cup of tea and a little slice of carrot cake and I read and caught-up on my “5 Year Journal” entries.

It wasn’t that bad, actually. It didn’t really put me that much further behind in the tasks I was hoping to accomplish. Here I am, Day 2 of trying to be intentional about taking a small chunk of time out of my day to do something that is just for me and so far, so good.

I  Could Get Used to This

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It’s not “home” as I once knew it.

It’s not where I grew up, where I spent years of learning, maturing, laughing, crying, working and resting.

It is not where I rolled on the ground with the dogs, flung hay around for the cows’ lunch, learned to drive, or spent endless hours in my bedroom dreaming and pining for the kind of romantic adventures I had read about. It’s not where I fought with my brother, or where we spent hours recording ourselves on cassette tapes as we played Mario Bros. or watched Degrassi. 

My brother thought the tapes would be worth money one day. 

It is not where I used to sing opera at the top of my lungs in the hay loft, or dance around the calf stalls singing “16 Going on 17” when I was supposed to be cleaning.

No, it is not the home I grew-up in; still, it is home.

It is where my parents live and now, so do we.

Myself, my husband and our 3 year old son. Five of us under one roof. I am glad that we have our own space upstairs and will be much more glad when our things arrive and we have our space filled with our things. We have always been 3. The trinity. A perfect triangle. The 3 Amigos. 

There has been an adjustment period as we have expanded our triangle into a pentagon. The 5 Amigos. Or, as my son likes to point-out, the perfect finger family.

I get impatient with adjustment periods. I want to be settled NOW. I am hard on myself when I feel like I should be doing better, I should be feeling better, I should be more settled, I should have everything set-up and all the details under control. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only been 1 week. Well, 1 week and 3 days. 

Although it has been, in actuality, a short period of time, it has felt as though we have been suspended in this unusual state for many months. I have gone in and out and around various stages of mourning. In the past few days I have cried over the loss of what had been routine family times, back when it was just the 3 of us. 

I have missed coming-downstairs on Sunday morning, after my husband let me sleep-in, to find my boys, sweetly, playing together. I would turn-on classical 96.3 FM and sit at the table with my toast, eggs and tea and just soak-in the sweetness of our trinity.

These moments are gone. They have become memories that feel terribly distant and teasingly close all at the same time. 

But, new moments and new memories are already beginning to establish themselves like the first green buds that poke out of the ground after a forest fire. New life full of new stories and sweet memories are already springing-up. My husband and I have shared many of these while watching our son with his grandparents; when he goes to help Nana feed the birds or bursts out laughing and says “You’re funny, Grampa!” in response to almost anything Grampa says.

And this evening I had a moment of pure perfection while bathing my son. I sat on the little, white stool that he uses to climb up onto the toilet or stands on at the sink to brush his teeth and watched him playing in the tub. As I watched him, the sweet smell of lavender baby wash circled around me and the song “Don’t Grow Up So Fast” by Train played quietly behind me, I realized that life couldn’t get any better than that moment.

Perfection. 100% pure perfection.

I wanted to seize on it, to tie it down, to capture it forever. 

In an attempt to trap the moment as long as I possibly could, I hit repeat on my phone. I sat there soaking in the sweetness, trying desperately to ensure that it was securely planted deep within my mind, somewhere it would never be lost. 

I did this another 4 times.

And I thought the thought that I have had many times since arriving here:

I could get used to this. 

Trying to Feel

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Sitting in the back seat of my Mom’s vehicle, on our way to what will be our new home. In the past couple of weeks I have been asked, what seems like, hundreds of times how I am feeling about moving. 

I’ve always said “exhausted”, but today my husband found a much better word to express how we are feeling: numb.

I have only just started to allow myself to consider how massive this move really is. We are leaving Canada’s largest city, our bustling, noisy, gritty, downtown home to live in a small town. In fact, we are not even in the town, we are outside of it.

And, although, I grew-up in the area, I’ve been away for 18 years. I’m looking forward to the slower pace and being able to do more outdoor activities with my boys. But, I have become a ‘city person’ in many ways, and I will miss the excitement, the diversity, the fact that there is always so much to do, and watching the sunset glistening on the high rises. I will miss the street meat and array of buskers. 

I’ve tried to picture, to imagine, what life may look like for us now, to try to already begin replacing some of these moments and memories with the great things to come, but it is not possible. You cannot reminisce on what has not happened.

And so, what is left to do but to allow myself just to embrace the grief that comes with such life-altering changes? It’s not always easy to embrace grief. We don’t like to feel pain. We avoid it if we can. But, pain is an important part of grief because it allows you to really reflect on how much something has meant to you.

We became a family in Toronto. 

Therefore, here I sit in the back of my mom’s car, embracing the grief. Trying to wrap my ahead around the enormity of what is happening and allow myself to push through the numbness and feel.