2016: My Walk to Remember 

Everybody dies… but how many people live?

William Wallace (Braveheart)

When I look back at 2016, I really find it hard to say that it was one steaming pile of crap. Yes, I will say that the time between getting the news that Joelle was terminal because the cancer was so aggressive right up to her passing in November were not happy times, they were indeed joyful. Yes, focusing on Joelle’s death can indeed make 2016 look like a pile of suck, but there is one thing we all need to remember about 2016: Joelle lived more in 2016 than most people I know do in their entire life.  

As soon as Joelle discovered that her time here on earth was limited, the first thing that we did was plan a trip to Cuba where we would make our decisions, or more to the point that she would make her decisions and I would stand right beside her, supporting her, right to the end. Every decision was made with a drink in hand. This was blogged in Life’s Moments and Pina Coladas which I wrote sitting by the pool on my BlackBerry. I remember her saying, as we were sitting in a beach chair facing the ocean, “I’m going to live!” This wasn’t a deluded statement meaning that she was suddenly going to be cancer free and we would grow old together. I knew what she meant: she was determined to not take each day she had left for granted. She was determined to squeeze every bit of life out of what was left in that bottle. 

And she did, right up until the day she died. 

Anyone who knew Joelle, knew that Joelle was all about family. She was in Alberta visiting our daughters and grandchildren more times than ever, maximizing every moment she could. She even cashed in her RRSP, and set up what would be her final trip to the mountains with all of our children and grandchildren. She went to Israel to see her family there, and they gave her a party and everyone come to be with her. When Joelle started to get worse and traveling got limited, she held parties here. There were people who traveled to Guelph just to be at her “Celebration of Life” party in July. When the doctors were no longer sure if she would make it to October for that mountain trip, countless people made it possible for her to celebrate what would be her last birthday at Great Wolf Lodge with all of our kids and grandchildren as well as Joelle’s brothers and sister and their families. Joelle wouldn’t back down, after that. She was determined to make it to the mountains for that final time to be with her kids and grandchildren, and that determination paid off. We all went and had a great time there, despite the difficulty for her to travel or even pack a suitcase. 

We also can’t forget our kids and grandchildren that flew out here when Joelle wasn’t able to go out there. Cassidy and I had some great tines this summer going places such as East Side Mario’s and having some quality grandfather –  granddaughter time. Not to mention Connor being here as well as all of Margot’s children. All of them gathered around Joelle this past summer. So there are plenty of joyful moments and Joelle squeezed every moment she could.

Even up to the end, everyone who knows Joelle knows that Joelle was Joelle right up until the final day. She was barking orders at me, even if she couldn’t speak. She was laughing, trying to sing out her love for God which made me melt. Bottom line is that Joelle lived.

So while I am sure that no one would blame me for wanting to watch 2016 become nothing more than a glowing ember, I am not going to say that 2016 sucked. If anything, it was more like one of the tear-jerker movies that Joelle and I would watch and cry over when the main character dies at the end. And I will not deny that there were plenty of great scenes leading up to it. 

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