… Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
Psalms 30:5b NKJV
As I start this blog post, I am sitting on a plane headed towards Alberta to not only visit my daughters and grandchildren, but to say hello to my newest grandson. We’re also there to celebrate a couple of birthdays, one of them being mine. Traveling with me on this journey is Joelle’s sister, Debby. You might say that we have become as close as brother and sister throughout this journey of life and the loss of Joelle. If anyone was there for Joelle during her seventeen month long battle with cancer, it was Debby. When Joelle passed away, I can remember Debby telling me that she didn’t get to spend enough time with Joelle. “It just wasn’t enough. There was supposed to be more time. It’s not fair!”, she cried. All I could think was that thirty-six years wasn’t enough time with Joelle. There was supposed to be more time for us, with the kids now grown up. With no disrespect meant towards Debby, it should have been Joelle beside me on the flight out west to say hello to our new grandson, Aaron. It should have been Joelle celebrating my birthday with me, as well celebrating my grandson, Connor’s birthday. It’s just not fair!!
As unfair as life is, both of us have no choice but to deal with the loss and learn how to begin celebrate life again. As big of a loss as it is for me, it is just as big a loss for Debby, just in a different way. Experience has taught me that losing a sister is a totally different feeling than losing a spouse. Just as losing a parent is different. It’s not less of a loss. It’s just a different loss and just as painful. I can say that I know from experience because I have experienced those kinds of losses. Relearning to live from these losses is a process, albeit a painful one.
I’m feeling, however, that the process this time is starting more fragile than any other time. It’s more fragile to me because Joelle was a huge part of my life and when she died, a huge part of me died and the part of me that remains feels rather lifeless at the moment. Yes, I am still alive and I have managed to move forward and get back into routines such as work, and I was able to list a few work accomplishments to my name. I’m also working at keeping the promises I made to Joelle, such as taking care of my health. But, I can’t really say that I am really living. I learned how to move and am learning to move on. Now I have to learn how to live. I won’t be surprised if this winds up being a lifelong process. I mean, it took me 50+ years to discover my strengths as someone with Aspbergers Syndrome in a world of people where I think and act bizarrely different.
Funny enough, as I write this part of my blog, it finds me back in Ontario in one of my usual thinking/praying spots with my thumbs to my BlackBerry spilling my thoughts, as disjointed as they might be. I can definitely say that it was a bittersweet visit. Part of the healing for not just Debby and myself, but for my daughters and their children as well. I recall my fondest memories of my arrival in Alberta which give me reason to believe that life will exist beyond this time. My grandchildren were proof of that. I can still almost feel that feeling in my left arm of as I remembered Arielle jumping into it when she got down the stairs and saw me for the first time since October. I almost think she could have broken my arm judging by how hard she ran and jumped, but I wouldn’t have traded the moment. I also remembered Julianna asking me if I will always remember grandma, and I promised her with tears in my eyes that I would always remember her. Perhaps, that was her way of telling me that I am still here and while I will always have the memories and thousands of stories of Joelle (I always tell everyone that Joelle is the girl with a thousand stories), there’s still a future. There is a Dawn beyond the darkness. There is a life to be lived and I have to learn how to live it.
I face this learning process with so many questions, with one of them being how to face it? Truth is, this part of life didn’t really come equipped with a manual. The bible deals with suffering and death on a spiritual level and does give me faith, but sometimes no matter how time I read books like Job, nothing really prepared me for this on such a huge level. Yes, there are many documents on the internet from many cancer survivors who claim they are experts, but the truth is that they are only experts in their experiences and all I can really do is read them and pick and choose what works for me. Even there, nothing might apply and I still have to figure out life for myself. It doesn’t mean forsaking praying and sometimes being still and waiting for an answer. But it often means thinking for myself because no one is going to do it for me, and when they do, they’re only out to serve their own interests. At the moment, the bottom line is that I will be walking this road with a bible in one hand, a guitar in the other, a computer hanging on my side and camera around my neck, and unless God has other plans, I will be able to record what I have learned, or more to the point re-learned, how to live.