• Gumpo.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever actually written about this before.

    I had an experience the night my grandfather died that has stayed with me for almost 20 years… it’s like an imprint on my heart. I’ve wrestled back and forth over whether or not it was real, but my memory of that night is so crystal clear, so I feel like it was. I don’t speak about it very often as it always makes me very emotional (I’m already ugly crying as I type).

    I’ve always hesitated writing about it because it was just so personal for me, but at the same time I want to record it and share it. Over the last few months I’ve felt very impressed to write this out, and my word for 2020 is “Listen”, so… here I am.

    When I was sixteen, we sold our house up north and moved in with my grandmother. My Dad was already working at his new job in our new town seven hours away, and my mom stayed behind with us to sell the house and let us finish out the school year. I loved living in that house–it has always been wrapped up in happy memories for me and it was a perfect way to say goodbye to a city I loved before we moved.

    In my family, my grandpa was affectionately known as “Gumpo” (a name that has now been passed on to the next generation). My Gumpo had been quite sick for a while before we moved in. He had moved to a long term care facility to better care for his health needs, and we would often visit him. His health declined a little shortly after we moved, and he had spent some time in the hospital. My mother went to visit him pretty much every day, and often asked me to go with her. I loved Gumpo deeply, but hospitals creeped me out and I sometimes had a difficult time going. One night, she asked me if I wanted to go but I declined as I already had plans with my friends (and the boy I had a crush on).

    When I got in that night, everyone was either already asleep or getting ready for bed. I wasn’t tired, so I decided to watch a movie. I curled up in my grandfather’s big brown chair and watched What’s Love Got to Do With It. When it finished I went on the computer and wrote in my journal, and it was nearly 2am when I started getting ready for bed.

    It took me about 15 or 20 minutes to get washed up and changed, then I turned off the light and crawled into my bed at my grandparent’s house. My mom was living in the basement, and I was just down the hall from my grandma’s bedroom. She slept with her door open, so it was easy for her to shuffle down the hallway to the bathroom if she needed it.

    As I lay in the quiet darkness of my room, I felt this overwhelming impression that I wasn’t alone. I didn’t feel afraid, and when I looked down I felt that there was someone standing at the end of my bed. I can’t tell you how I know, but even in the total darkness I felt so strongly that it was my Gumpo. I felt his presence there for a few minutes, and then it was gone. More than anything, I remember the stillness of the room during that time… it was filled with peace. I looked at the clock and marked the time in my mind, then fell asleep.

    A few hours later, I woke up to hear my Grammy crying down the hall, sobbing his name over and over. I flew out of bed and crept down the hall to learn that my Gumpo had passed away in the night–right at the time I had felt his presence with me in my room. That took me several days to process, and it was some time before I even told my mom what had happened.

    I don’t know why he came to see me, but I believe in my heart that he did. Maybe he wanted to prepare me to help my Mom and my Grandma, or maybe I was just the only one awake as he came to the house one last time as he left this world… but I’m glad that I was. There’s so much about death and the afterlife that I still don’t understand, but I do have an absolute concrete faith that we will have the chance to be together again with those we love.

    So his presence in my room that night has never like goodbye, just… until we meet again. I know we will. I know he’s up there waiting for me with the rest of my family we have loved and lost. One of my favourite family photos was taken when I was a little girl, with all of us together and me perched on his knee. When we lost our baby last year, one of the things that got me through those dark days was imagining that same family gathering in heaven waiting for me–with her perched on his knee. I know she’s in good hands… and some day we will be together again.

    It’s funny how these moments can have such a profound impact on you. It lasted only a minute or two and I was only sixteen. But telling it, reliving it, it could have been yesterday. I still don’t fully understand it, but I’m grateful it happened.

    I miss him a lot. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a pretty perfect Gumpo. I was a lucky hot dog to be his granddaughter.

    Until we meet again. 💓

  • Delivery Day!

    Today was delivery day!

    I was a feeling weird mix of emotions about it yesterday. The prospect of groceries was exciting, but I was also nervous about potentially bringing germs into my home. Remember when grocery shopping was not stressful and like a mini-vacation out of the house?

    Those were good times.

    I had them delivered into the garage, then went out with gloves and Lysol to wipe my life away. I transferred them all into my own cloth bags and brought them into the house where I removed whatever packaging I could and cleaned the rest.

    Grocery shopping is definitely not a vacation anymore. (But I’m also grateful that I was able to GET them and have them delivered. So, you know… small blessings.)

    Some shoes I ordered last week also arrived today! DSW is having a 40% sale in their online store, and I ordered some summer sandals for the boys. I also decided to get myself a little something, because I wanted some happy and anyone who knows me well knows that shoes are one of my great loves. I found some cute Sketchers for walks with the kids, and excitedly pulled them out of the box to try them on.

    I pulled at the laces to open them up, but they wouldn’t budge. I tugged and tugged, but no go. I wondered if they were just decorative and I had mistakenly bought slip on shoes, but no. They were supposed to be functional… so I took a closer look.

    The laces had been sewn in place. On both sides. It looked very pretty, but was highly problematic. I had to attack them with my sewing scissors for a good 10 minutes to get all the little tiny stitches out to try them on.

    It felt a little like DSW was trying to give me a two-for-one: new shoes AND a complicated puzzle to do because they know we’re stuck at home and need some excitement in our lives.

    And let me tell you, it was exciiiiiting. When I finally got to try my shoes on it felt like I had really worked for it. I EARNED them. Thanks, DSW.

    In other news, I’m over this rain.

  • One Year Later.

    Today is superhero day.

    I have a confession to make: while I wanted to do this Self-Isolation Spirit Week to help other families, a big motivation for creating it was selfish. I knew I would need a distraction this week… and there is a specific reason that I chose today as “Superhero” Day.

    I think this COVID-19 crisis is redefining who we see as superheroes. To me, first responders now include doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, grocery clerks, restaurant cooks, pharmacists, delivery drivers and so many others. These people are putting themselves at risk so that we don’t have to. If that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.

    …but I also believe there’s another group of heroes out there fighting quietly. Another group wearing a different kind of mask. Another group of heroes quietly fighting to be brave for their families.

    They are everywhere. Some wear their masks in public, others keep their crests hidden close to their heart. They are your mothers, aunts, sisters, friends and cousins. It might be you.

    A year ago today, it was me. A year ago today I learned that I was having a miscarriage and endured the most traumatic experience of my life. My scars are healing, but they are still there. I needed this spirit week to distract me from the roller coaster of emotions I have been wrestling with for the last few days. So you see, spirit week was for you… but in so many ways, I needed it for me.

    I was really reluctant to talk about this right now with everything that’s going on in the world. I’ve been trying to keep things light and happy to lift others, but inside there has been a weight on my heart as this day approached. I wasn’t sure if talking about this would help anyone… and if it’s not helping, then what’s the point?

    Then, as always, the universe sent me a gentle reminder of why I started my Miscarriage Project in the first place. Over the past week, I’ve had several women reach out to me to ask if they could share my blog posts and my contact into with friends and family members who are living this right now. It was a reminder that miscarriages don’t stop just because we are in self-isolation. It was a reminder that there are women and families who are struggling and may not have the same access to their support communities because we are in self-isolation.

    I needed to take a break for a while because my own grief felt heavy… but it was the push I needed to talk and share and hopefully help someone else get through this.

    To be honest, I have been dreading this day. Being here has brought back so many feelings from where I was a year ago… first laying in agony through my ultrasound praying for my baby’s life, then later being brought to the hospital in an ambulance, praying for my own.

    When I wrote about my miscarriage last year, there were pieces that felt too fresh to write. I wasn’t ready. The piece I struggle most with were those hours in the middle of the night when I was alone. M stayed with me until almost 2am, then I sent him home to get some much needed rest so he could be there for our children in the morning. I knew they would need their Dad as they began to process this loss.

    In the quiet of my hospital room, I knew what was happening to my body wasn’t normal…. I knew I was bleeding too much. I could read it on the faces of my nurses whenever they came in, and when doctor #3 came in just after 3am to tell me to prepare for the possibility of a transfusion if things didn’t turn around in the next 60 minutes. I lay in the quiet darkness on my aching tailbone and wept as I prayed. I prayed that the bleeding would stop so that I could go home. I prayed that I would live through this and not leave my beautiful children without a mother. It was a dark moment for me and I have only ever felt fear like that one other time in my life.

    I’m still processing and working through it. For a while I was almost embarrassed that I’m not “over” it. To be honest, I don’t know if I ever will be. That trauma and the loss of our baby changed me. Every day is a little easier, but the scars are still there… and they always will be.

    And I’m learning to be okay with that.

    I don’t know why this happened to me, or why it happens to so many others. I do believe that it has helped me learn more empathy, more understanding. It’s made me want to spread kindness and light wherever I can, because I’ve learned firsthand that you just don’t know what others are carrying on their shoulders.

    So that is why I think these women and their partners are super heroes too. This weight of grief after a miscarriage is so heavy, but they carry it with grace. Most don’t ever let on that they are carrying this sorrow in a quiet corner of their heart.

    The weather forecast for this morning originally called for rain, but instead I woke up to glorious sunshine. I felt like it was a small sign reaffirming that the future is bright. A year ago, March 26th was the worst day of my life. It was full of anxiety, fear, grief and hurt.

    Today, as I stood at my window and watched how my backyard was bathed in sunlight, I felt peace.

  • I Went to the Store.

    I can’t say that I ever thought that me leaving the house to go to the grocery store would be newsworthy, but these are strange, strange times.

    I’ve been debating whether or not to go for three days. I haven’t been grocery shopping since March 10th, before everything went crazy. I have an online order coming from Walmart next Monday, but I’m nervous that I won’t be able to get all the things on my list. A friend told me yesterday that her order was altered with substitutions and several things were not included as they were out of stock by the time her order was ready for pick up. As we have a family full of food sensitivities, I need some pretty specific things to keep us going.

    Last night I decided I was just going to do it. I can’t believe how stressed I was about going grocery shopping, but I totally was. I had another white night and slept fitfully… but I got up super early and was there 10 minutes before the store opened for regular shopping.

    I wore gloves, left my purse in the van and all I took inside were my keys (zipped in my pocket), my list and one credit card. I was so grateful that the store was quiet and there were very few shoppers out. I was able to get everything on my list, plus a few bonus items I wasn’t expecting to find.

    Cooking for my two gluten-free children through this has been interesting. The largest bag of GF flour that I can find in the stores is 2.5lbs, and it costs $10 a bag. I hate that it’s SO much more expensive than regular flour, but I need it to do basically anything. I lucked out and found 2 bags this morning, and may have done an excited gasp in the store when I found it. I also couldn’t order any almond milk online, but found some at the store so I am a happy, happy mama.

    I was nervous about bringing things from outside into my home, so I did something that is maybe extreme but made me feel better. I brought a container of lysol wipes with me and left them in the back of my van. Instead of bagging my things in the store, I just put them all back in my cart after paying and went outside. I seriously wiped down every container or can before putting it into a bag.

    I can only imagine what I looked like to people in the parking lot–standing in the sleet, wiping down my items before putting them into my bags. It took a few minutes, but I felt better about bringing them into my home after.

    When I got home, I wiped down everything I had touched (purse handles, credit card, phone, steering wheel, door handles, etc), left my coat in the garage and brought everything in. Then I put everything I had worn into the wash and went straight to the shower.

    I feel absolutely ridiculous saying all this, but I really wanted to to EVERYTHING I could to prevent this virus from coming into my home. My home is my sanctuary. My safe space. I almost feel like I violated it by going out, but I know we’re going to need to go to the store from time to time.

    So I’m just trying to do everything I can to keep us healthy.

    Someday I know I’ll probably forget how afraid I was to go to the store and all the freaking precautions I had to take just to get some raspberries and almond milk. Someday I’ll walk casually through the doors, touch all the things and not be afraid to be in an aisle with a stranger.

    I’m really, really looking forward to that.

  • Schedulish*

    I haven’t been grocery shopping in almost two weeks.

    We’re still fine and have lots in our food storage, but I’m basically out of produce, eggs and almond milk. I’ve heard good things about the “click & collect” option, so I decided to give it a whirl. I’m trying to stay home as much as possible, so this seemed like good middle ground.

    It was actually kind of fun perusing through the virtual aisles to see what I could find. It took a while, but almost everything I was hoping to find was “in stock” (at the time) and I went to check out. I figured it would be a couple of days and wasn’t in a major rush.

    ….I was not expecting the earliest time slot to be next Monday, nine days from the point of order. Just to see, I peeked at another grocery store in town that also does click & collect. It was also a 8 – 9 day wait.

    *sigh*

    I put my order in, and decided to splurge on the delivery option because it just seemed easier. In 8 days from now I’ll be swimming in groceries, but I might have to get a little creative until then. I’m still debating trying to make one dash out to the store just to get essentials, but we’ll see.

    Today was “make a schedule to survive home learning” day! I’ve seen a billion of them floating around Facebook, but I wanted to make my own. I am someone that thrives on a routine, and apparently I’ve passed that trait onto my children. Everyone in this household is happier when we are running on some semblance of a schedule so I wanted to rough something out. This is what I’m looking at this week:

    Note that there was some serious white-out action under where I have “LUNCH TIME” written. This mama got a little too excited for “Quiet Time” and accidentally wrote it where lunch should be. I almost left it. Is lunch really that important? (I kid. Sort of.)

    After I finished making I also realized that the lines aren’t straight so I did some deep breathing and managed to talk myself out of remaking it. My perfectionist heart doesn’t love it but it’s colourful and DONE so there it is.

    Also, if you angle your photos just right it almost looks straight! Eh? Eh? Look at me, winning all over the place today.

    So, we’ll see how it goes. I may throw the whole thing out the window tomorrow if it’s a total disaster, but I’m going to try and do a little bit of learning with my kids each day. I also believe that this is different and overwhelming for kids too so I don’t want them to feel stressed about “homework” either.

    I bought some cute workbooks from Dollarama before the world fell apart, and I’ve been trying to collect some online resources for them as well. If we can help H along with his reading and S with her writing then I will be super happy with that. I’d also love to blend in some life skills with this– sewing, cooking, gardening, chores, etc. These are also really important things to learn at home too.

    I do have some very important advice for you though regarding homeschooling: do whatever works for you. If it’s too stressful, let it go. If following a really rigid schedule keeps you and yours happy and sane, run with it. If following a sometimes schedule blended with screen time works for you, then that’s magic. Do not compare your new normal with anyone else’s. Just… love your kids. Be with them when and how you can. If you are trying to balance working from home too, do whatever works for you.

    And that’s all I’m going to say about that. <3

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