Time passes…

No matter how much time passes, it doesn’t get any easier. The time between hurting gets bigger, but the hurt is still there, waiting to bubble to the surface. …not always for warned of the triggers, getting through most anniversaries without too much life interruption. But this particular time of year is just hard. As much as I’ve tried to make new traditions… change my associations with this time of the year… I just can’t seem to … stop… can’t stop that train from charging through.


From a time when the hurt was a little more fresh… raw…

Why *is* death such a hard thing to talk about?




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Why is death such a hard thing to talk about?

With the first anniversary of my mother’s death approaching I am publishing a post written several months ago of my experience of this great loss. I will write a happy memoir to follow.
Mom: A life force that lives on within and around me.

Mom: A life force that lives on within and around me.


There is something in our society that makes death one of the most difficult topics of conversation. < I recently listened to a radio interview on Q with mortician, Caitlin Doughty about just such topic > We pretend it’s never going to happen and then when it does happen we pretend it away. I have had the unfortunate reality of losing two very special women, too early in life. My grandmother and my mother both died at the age of 59. They both experienced liver-disease symptoms. They both died within eight weeks of becoming ill. It was twenty-five years after her mother’s death that my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

Losing a loved one is never easy. A sudden death gives no one time to take care of unfinished business, no time to say goodbyes… a long term terminal illness can present new opportunities to right wrongs, take care of business, say goodbye… it also often comes with suffering and pain. My mother’s experience was somewhere in the middle. She knew she would die. She thought she had more time than she had. She began the work of settling her affairs. She said goodbye to most of her closest family and friends.

My mother had no regrets. She lived life just as she wished to, taking opportunities as they came. She became sick too rapidly to follow-through with everything she wished to take care of, unable to return many of the calls of those who loved her and had wanted one last talk and laugh with her and her exuberant spirit. Mom suffered. And we were all thankful that the suffering did not last longer. In her final days she was ready for the suffering to end.

I am still unable to talk about the event of her death much. My father was her main caregiver after she became ill. I provided him, and then mom as well in the end, with all of the support that I could. It was difficult seeing the changes that she was experiencing and the independence she had to gradually, but eventually entirely give up.

I have experienced a great deal of pain in my life, both emotional and physical. But you don’t know pain until you watch a loved one suffer. Until they are no longer able to tell you what they need… Until you are absolutely uncertain that she/he aren’t in a terrible pain that you might have the means to alleviate… if only you knew.

I could never have imagined the helpless feeling I had when I no longer knew. Would one more injection of morphine be enough? Or was this even pain? Perhaps she was trying to tell me something? Maybe it was involuntary and not a sign of anything?

The night we lost mom, we’d already discussed amongst us that – after seeing how the night went – we may need to bring mom to the palliative care room at the hospital. We simply couldn’t make her endure our uncertainty if someone else would know what to do and when.

Mom was a very private woman and while she was comfortable with the care my father, my sister and I provided her with, she was also indignant. She was both discouraged and angry that she had to allow us to step inside of her very private personal space. And she was sorry that she needed to put us through it. All I could do was ask mom to allow me to return the gift of care she had always provided me throughout my life.

On my 37th birthday mom was not doing well. She was confused and mixing things up, forgetful and unable to process what we were saying to her. She was also very aware of this. She was frustrated. And she was apologetic for saying and doing things that were unlike her, and for forgetting things she has never once forgotten. Mom forgot my birthday that day. Dad reminded her, and the moment that she saw me and registered who I was she wished me a very heartfelt happy birthday and apology for forgetting. She had no idea what time of day it was or how long she’d gone without wishing her first born a special day.

The rest of the day was very difficult.

The next day became even more so.

She died one year ago on the night after my birthday, before I had headed to bed to leave her in dad’s care. (I had made a practise of giving dad a couple of hours sleep and taking care of mom’s late night needs, as the night was far from restful for either of them.) The memories of mom’s struggles have now faded a little. I know the visions of her suffering will eventually be gone from my mind. However the experience of not being able to decipher mom’s needs in those final hours and minutes is etched in my mind for the rest of my days. I cannot imagine ever forgetting that feeling of despair, just as I cannot imagine ever forgetting the joy or wholeness of holding my children for the first time.

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at ceilidhontherun dot com, or use my contact form!

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Dad brought me daffodils from mom’s gardens for Mother’s Day

Mom in my memories

Growing up, a forces’ kid, things never stayed the same for long. It was so for my parents too, each air force kids, and then mom becoming a mountie’s wife. Mom knew the life of change, and embraced the adventure we were on. We knew no other way, and thanks to mom, we accepted it as it was. Our constants in our lives, were our parents, and each other. My siblings and I, especially in our early years were close.

Every summer spent on the road, either traveling to a new home, or traveling for the joy of it. Living out of tents, campers, and trailers. We were each others’ closest companions for more of the time I can recall, than we were not. We helped each other make new friends everywhere we went. We were happy, friendly kids. We had the love of our parents and the confidence to do anything we set our minds to, thanks to mom and dad.


Mom’s role varied over the years from stay at home mom, to working mom, and back again, depending on where we lived and what the needs of us kids were. My sister and I never experienced daycare. We played with the neighborhood kids and went to mom and tot exercise classes together. Our first home was a country bungalow in rural Nova Scotia. Where our closest friends were our immediate neighbors, who have been like family ever since, even with all of the miles that were placed between us for most of our succeeding years. Mom kept a constant contact with those who were dearest to her.


My Nanny and Grampy, my auntie, my uncles and aunt, friends who we came to know as extended family. She wrote newsy Christmas letters and made the most of every phone call. I have vivid recollection of mom’s voice chatting animatedly and her laughter filling the room. Our travels always took us to the home of some special friends/family, and often included lasting friends joining us at campgrounds. Mom treated their friends’ children like her own, and their friends did the same with us.


Mom always belonged to a crafters’ guild of some sort, from Stitch n Bitch, to co-op craft store and art association. I always think of mom with handwork on the go. Her mediums varied like the places we called home. Needlepoint and machine sewing, painting and dried flower arrangements. When I think of mom, I think of beautiful craftsmanship and her appreciation of the life surrounding her. Mom wanted to share her skills with us, yet didn’t recognize herself as an artist until her later years.


Mom volunteered at school activities and became a leader at brownies and guides. When we started home economics studies in school, I already knew all of the basic sewing and cooking skills. I was encouraged to follow my heart in so many directions with gymnastics and skating and reading and writing. I went on long hiking camp-outs that most other parents wouldn’t have considered their children ready for. Mom gave me a long lead to explore my interests and learn new things, while still keeping me well within her watchful eye. She fostered independence and responsibility in me.


When I look at the photos I made of mom’s creations and her joys, I am struck by her appreciation for life’s beauty. When I walk into hers and dad’s home I feel embraced by her, even in her absence. The objects and creations that I photographed all come from that place. They are all things that I wanted to capture for the rest of my days in memory of mom. As a reminder of the love she showered us all with.


Memories of Mom (collage)

Memories of Mom

Overcoming the isolation of parenthood

Mommy Connections Halifax

Since recently losing my mom to cancer, the isolation that can accompany being a mom is all the more poignant to me.


I may not be a new mom in the general sense anymore, but I am new to being a mom of a tween, and will be new to parenting a teen, maybe a university student, or a bride, etc. And I remember all too clearly the feeling of isolation of being a new mom.


Like many new moms today, I didn’t live near my mom or mother-in-law. Sure I could pick up the phone and call my mom when I needed support, but it wasn’t the same as being able to sit down over tea, with her in the room seeing the joy, the frustration, the desperation, the inexplicably devote love, or outright helplessness on my face. As moms we try to be all. We expect to be able to inherently know what needs to be done. When those first few challenges come along, we feel like failures when we can’t just figure it out. It can be a truly isolating experience, whether it be facing struggles with nursing, sleep issues or perhaps with colic.


The challenges often leave moms feeling like failures who just can’t do our jobs. My daughter and I had a great breastfeeding relationship from minute one, then suddenly after several weeks she was crying hysterically every time she started to nurse. For days I was so frustrated and upset trying to figure out what was going on. I’d cry while I attempted to nurse my baby who’d until then been so easy and happy. Then after a bit of research figured out that my milk supply was very plentiful and would let down fast and furious as soon as she latched on. It would flood her and she’d choke trying to keep up. I learned a tip that if I manually expressed a little before sitting down with her, the “pressure” seemed to ease off and a steadier slower flow of milk allowed her to keep up. We found our balance and everything settled down, however not without a great deal of beating myself up over it and feeling very alone through the process.


I am a well-connected mom when it comes to family supports and services. I have worked in the field and know where to look. Yet, I found it challenging. I know there are other moms out there who struggle as I did, or more so.


I want to use my own experiences and education/background to help other moms feel less isolated. I spent a lot of time researching programs and options to start my own business and/or resource connecting moms to one another and the resources and supports that families want/need. I recently decided to start my own chapter of Mommy Connections here in Halifax/Dartmouth. As I spend time getting to know potential partners in the community I am more and more excited about the potential to meet my greatest passion of connecting moms and helping families to become better informed and empowered to get their needs met.


What could be better than joining a group of moms who are learning about and engaging in what our community has to offer, before we actually need it? Imagine becoming well-acquainted with moms in our own neighborhood(s) who are experiencing many of the same feelings of joy, excitement and frustration! And imagine knowing exactly where to find that shop that carries those fantastic natural/safe bottles or diapers; or new mom’s yoga class; etc.?!


If you are or know of a new mom or mom-to-be in Halifax/Dartmouth area; or if you are or know of a business interested in connecting with moms please follow/share http://www.mommyconnections.ca/halifax to connect!

Mommy Connections

Missing my mom

It’s been two months. Two months since we buried our mom. I went to the cemetery twice today. First I went alone. I needed a few moments to just be there with mom. I brought some flowers and placed them in the vase/holder on Nanny’s plot next to her since mom’s marker is not in the ground yet. I went back later with my girlies.

Last night I dreamed of mom. It was a bizarre situation in that I was pregnant, then delivering my baby(ies). It turned out at their birth that I was having twins. Mom and dad were at the hospital in a family room with the girls, they stayed while we were still admitted and took turns coming to visit us in our room. Before anyone starts asking… there is no plan for Ian and I to have babies. Getting married doesn’t change the life we’ve been living for the last 4+ years. 😉

Mom was helping me with the twins when we got home, she’d alternate between the two girls taking one with her and allowing me time to spend one on one with my daughters. I felt completely comfortable leaving my newborns in mom’s capable hands. She was really the only one I did, aside from their father. Since waking from my dream I just keep asking myself what I will do when I come across those situations in life when mom is the only person I would ever have relied upon for support?

I miss my mom. My heart aches at her absence. Yet, I still find myself looking for distractions to keep myself from letting the hurting take over. I make new friends. I explore business opportunities. I plan mini-vacations. I read up on election candidates.

Perhaps this is it for me. I’ll keep missing her in spurts and not knowing when the heartache will grow to bursting before quickly subsiding again.

These past two days I have felt particularly unfocused. My mind is moving in a zillion directions and all I really want is for it to quiet and to sit with my mind uninterrupted.

I am hopeful that a get-away with a good friend and a complete break from anything that is part of my daily life and its stressors will help me to quiet my mind again. Perhaps then I can allow the pain to wash over me and pass through, rather than halting it abruptly shortly after it begins and forcing the waves to recede.

What would mom say? And a small #12er update

I thought about mom so much today. And yet, I felt I had very little time to think of her at all.

I screwed up my baking and knew mom would have a good laugh with me about it. Reminding me that I usually prove to her that I did not get my baking skills from her. That it was likely just a hiccup in an otherwise wonderful talent.

There is so much happening that I wish I could talk with her about, from challenges with family, to my plans to get back into a good state of health. I’d love to share all the little details of the business I am considering, to hear her thoughts of what I could do to make it my own.

I want her to walk through the door with her exaggerated exclamations at all of the progress we’ve made in settling into our new home. She’d ask after my 12in12 challenge, and how my quest for greater joy in the big picture of life is going. She’d offer me encouragement at my set-backs and bad pain days, and she’d share with me how she feels/felt the same way sometimes. Mom would find the little celebrations, like how I’ve managed to walk everyday (yippee, today is day 25!), and she’d wonder at how fortunate it is that we bought that treadmill.

Mom would remind me, as if I might have forgotten, of what a good man I have found in Ian. How she knows he only wishes for my happiness, and that I only have to ask and he’ll do everything in his power for me. She’d point out all of the things she’s noticed about how he’s taking care of me, of us, of our family. She’d share again her happiness at our marriage and assure me that she was there with me cheering us on.

She just couldn’t hold on any longer.

She’d be saddened at how some things have unfolded since her passing. But she’d assure me that one can only do so much, and that I have to take care of myself, so that I can take care of those precious not-so-little-anymore girlies. She’d remind me that she’s here in all the wonder of life around us. She’s watching over and keeping an eye on dad out there all by himself.

Mom would ask after the books I am reading, and whether I’m still enjoying the book club. She’d ask after my friends. She’d tell me how much she’s enjoyed my photo projects and the annual family photo calendar I created and gave them again. Mom would have so much to say and ask of me, while as always sharing very little about herself.

The one thing she’d tell me of herself is how much she’s aware of my heartache and that she wishes she could take it away for me. She’d tell me that she remembers how hard it was when she too lost her mom far too young. When she’d had to comfort her children who’d lost their Nanny too soon, and look out for her dad on behalf of everyone, including her mom. She’d want me to be comforted in knowing that she eventually grew to accept her loss, and that I too would come to live on in her absence – finding joy in all of the little things and even more in all of the big things.

Mom would remind me that she’ll be here with me/us in every new dawn.

And for that, I thank you, mom.

Yesterday I buried my mom. She was just 59 years young.

From MomsSlideshow

She was not nearly old enough to be taken by such a ruthless disease. But death does not discriminate. And cancer takes its share of the young.

We did not have enough time together. My mother did not have enough time on this earth. She had so much living left to do. I have so much life left that will require her support. To whom will I turn for those things only mom could ever comfort and guide me through?

How long will it be before I can’t picture that look in her eye when she greeted me after any length of time apart? When will I no longer be able to hear her voice in my mind saying “Hi, sweet girl”?

Why did two of the most wonderful women in my life have to be taken from me at such a premature age?

Yesterday we bade a final farewell with a beautiful send off celebrating the life of a woman who needed little and asked for even less. She had a real appreciation for all she’d been provided with and gave so much of herself to everyone lucky enough to know her.

All day I was very pre-occupied with giving mom a proper send off. While I had my moments of sadness, the day was more about celebrating her life with loved ones and helping my dad through the day. Today felt as I expected it to, as if a giant curtain had fallen. My mother is gone forever and my heart is aching.

My ten-year-old daughter cried for the first time since mom’s passing 12 days ago, today.

I was married last Saturday. Mom was supposed to be there. It was a quiet intimate ceremony planned around her needs in her final days in mom and dad’s home. We stood in front of my mother’s urn, with her watching over us with approval. A friend told me that she pictured my mother, with her mother by her side smiling down on us. Mom would have been telling Nanny all about the people present. I hope she is right. I want to believe mom is happily reunited with her own mother, also taken from us at 59 and far too abruptly.

For me today is a day of reflection, one during which I have allowed myself time with no other responsibilities. Time to nourish a body and mind drained of all energy. Time to just be, with the absence of my mom.

In loving memory of you, Mom

I Have a Dream – ABBA