A Beautiful Day Cures Everything

The weather is gorgeous these days in Calgary and I’ve been running around the city, allegedly finishing off errands but in reality I’m just enjoying this good spell and don’t want to be cooped up indoors. And when I do get home, I take my laptop and sit outdoors on the patio, listening to the birds and Matchbox 20, pretending to work, taking my jacket off as the sun comes out from under the clouds and putting it back on when it goes hiding, being healthy and drinking green tea (along with frosted shortbread cookies) and all-in-all daydreaming about how peaceful life is without Jo. So here are the highlights of my day;

I’m supposed to be working on my website. My designer needs my notes and guidelines within two weeks and I haven’t even decided on a blog name yet. Let me tell you it’s proving to be a big pain in my ass trying to brand myself or what I’m going to be doing. How do I put an adjective on me when I’m so flighty and rebellious that I refuse to be defined by a mere adjective, verb or noun? I’m probably going to end up calling it ‘Reem’s jumbling mix of things that are totally unrelated’.

I went to Chinook today. Not by choice but because I had to exchange Jo’s new sneakers for a bigger size and the branch near my house didn’t have his size. It took me 20 minutes of driving around the parking lot trying to find one single empty parking space. By the state of the parking lot I imagined Chinook would be a stampede of people who decided to play hooky on a Tuesday afternoon. Surprisingly Chinook itself was pretty calm and empty. And then I realised where the masses and hoards were hiding; Target! The first three stores opened today in Calgary and apparently all the Calgarians decided they had to go experience the novelty of shopping in an American department store that wasn’t Walmart.

Passing through Shawnessy Boulevard on my drive home, I saw the bouquet of flowers leaning on the street corner and I remembered the horrific accident that I saw there two weeks ago; In the back of my mind, I can see the sun and the light breeze pulling at the paramedics hair as she bent over the prone little body of a three year old girl in the pretty neon hoodie. The traffic lights above listlessly turning from green to yellow to red and then back to green again on an empty intersection that only had a toddler lying in the middle of the street and the emergency responder who was trying to fight for the little girl’s life. The little girl lost the fight the next day in the hospital and I wonder what nightmares the emergency responder lives with now. It put a damper on my day, It had taken me 10 days to stop thinking about the accident and being depressed, but I resolved to go home and enjoy my kids a little bit more because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Did I mention how much I’m enjoying the quiet with Jo in daycare? ūüôā

 

 

Painful Friday

It’s been a bad weekend. For me, for my best friend, for my son’s school and for thousands of people in Connecticut.

My heart is broken, utterly and literally into tiny fragmented pieces. When you become a parent, you open up your heart to a new and excruciating form of pain. Parenting becomes a source of joy and a source of sorrow. A needle prick in your child’s finger is like a stab to the heart. Your mother’s ailing health send’s you into a spiralling attack of panic.

And this weekend all these boundaries were tested. Ailing children, dying children and dying parents. Friday was a day for the books.

Remember this post? I got an email from the school that they were sending home an important letter today. As I read the email, my heart dropped. I pretty much knew what they were going to say and I braced my self. Still, when I opened the letter to read about the poor third grade boy who had finally succumbed to brain cancer and died peacefully with his family back home, my heart cried out in anguish for all the pain and what-if’s his parents would be living through. When we told Adam what had happened that night, he blanked out at the word ‘died’. I mean, why should a kid his age die? Obviously, next came the inevitable question of why little kids die.

And that is the question that must have passed through all our minds after what happened to the kids in Connecticut. You kiss your 6 year old in the morning and send him off to school. You then pick him up in the afternoon in a body bag, with his frail and cuddly frame full of numerous bullets. There is no sense or reason to what happened. And whether you have kids or not, you’re still shattered by the cruelty in this world. Oh, how life is fleeting. You wake up in the morning thinking you have all the time in the world for soccer practices and piano lessons and hand-wringing teenage date nights. Then everything is abruptly snatched in a blink of an eye, or the shot of a gun.

So you hold onto those moments.

Which my best friend is trying hard to do, as she recently found out that her beautiful, strong mother’s cancer – which was severe and critical to begin with – has taken a turn for the worst, much, much worst. I was there when she first found out her mother had cancer almost three years ago. Ironically at the funeral of another friend’s mother. I saw the devastation and shock in her eyes and I watched the endless ups and downs throughout the years as prognosis reports came through and chemotherapy took a toll on the family. One month after the initial discovery, she was told that it was inoperable and incurable. Given a 6 months to a year, she surpassed all expectations. She got time to see her youngest get married, her new grandson light up her world and her eldest succeed in business. But it wasn’t without it’s sacrifices. What my best friend, her mother and the family have gone through could bring down any family but they soldered on. And while I may fervently wish that I was physically beside them at this trying time, my heart and soul lies back home where it is still connected to her and everyone else.

The People We Never Knew

I looked at her across the school playground. She had glowing brown eyes and an infectious smile. Her hair was covered in a bright head scarf that reminded me of my friends back home. She was smiling at her little girl as the bright summer sun beat down and girl danced around on the green grass. Suddenly a fresh wave of home-sickness hit me. I miss my friends, I miss connecting to somebody, anybody.

I look again at the cheerful woman as I hoist Jo from one hip to another. A breeze carries her words to me and I hear the familiar whisper of an exotic language. My exotic language, and in a very similar dialect to where I come from. Too many signs are nudging me, telling me ‘Go, get to know her.’ Still I hesitate, characteristically shy, waiting for a better opportunity. ¬†In a burst the school doors fly open and excited, happy kids shoot out in every direction. Adam is late, as usual. But I see her walking up to slight, handsome boy.There is a frail look about him but he seems¬†to be only a year or two older than Adam. He’s probably in Grade 3. She hugs him and their heads gather together with shared love. As she looks up, she catches my eye and offers a tentative smile. I smile back and turn to Adam, who has just arrived. It’s time to go home.

Over the weeks, we cross paths and share smiles, but nothing more. I keep on trying to muster up the courage to go say hi. I worry about rejection. Or disinterest. And I never make a move. I keep looking for her every day, thinking that this will be the day I connect. But I stop seeing her. Maybe the cold and snow make she her wait in the car. Or maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Either way I can see her no more.

Today I got a letter from Adam’s school. They informed us that one of the Grade 3 boys who had been previously diagnosed with brain cancer has been getting weaker and weaker an is now terminal. His family all flew East where he can spend his remaining days near loved ones.

It has to be her. And the boy. The handsome smiling frail boy that I saw is dying. Physical pain grabs at my heart. I can picture her happy eyes full of tears and sorrow as she sits by the bed of her dying son. I can see the little girl playing in the other room. Scared and anxious but not knowing why. I can see the father sitting in a dark, dark room trying to compose himself so he’ll smile and laugh in front of their son.

I don’t know what I regret more. The fact that I was too scared to reach out and never got to know this family before they broke apart. Or that I could have been of any help to her when she needed it most. Or that I will never see that happy boy again or watch him play and laugh with my son.

I don’t know her. I lost that opportunity. And I don’t think I’ll ever get another chance. But if I could, I would go back to that warm summer afternoon, walk up to her and say,

“Hi. I just moved here and I’m trying to get to know people. Want to get together sometime?”

 

Written in response to the Daily Prompt: Set It Right.