About Me

My name is Christine. I'm a visual artist, musician, traditional storyteller, DV survivor, and have been a fulltime caregiver for an individual living with various diagnoses. After my marriage, I learned how to play various instruments, started exploring various means of creative expression, worked with at-risk teens/families, volunteered with the local crisis lines, participated in starting up a family resource center, completed my BA, furthered my studies towards becoming an art therapist, managed homes for adults living with disabilities, and facilitated therapeutic music/art sessions. I was doing everything I could so my children and I could have a brighter life, present and future. My physical health, however, continued to show evidence of too many chronic stressors over many decades. This blog is about my journey in discovering peace and better health by meeting life in the most basic and, in my opinion, the most rewarding of ways - by focusing on the riches of simplicity. If you're a new visitor to my blog, you might be interested in starting here: Finding the Riches.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


The next 24-48 hours may be the last for the father of one of my daughter's friends.
I dedicate this post to her.

There's an inner shift that happens when you know that someone close to you, someone
you care for, is dying.

It changes the way you think and feel. And there's a completely different depth to the time
you spend with your loved one.

When Grandpa died, I was already feeling anger because I couldn't afford to visit him in hospital as he was dying and I had nowhere for my son to stay even if I could afford the flight. He was the only grandpa I'd known and I'd had him only through my adult years. When he went into hospital, I was still adjusting to living a low-income lifestyle and dealing with my former husband's seeming hatred. Thankfully, my family made many reassuring phone calls during that time and that sense of unity and support helped heal my anger.  I knew that Parkinson's had been a deep thorn in his flesh. I knew Grandpa had lived a full life and that, throughout the end of that life, he was surrounded by loved ones.

Throughout my teen and adult years, I'd known my mother wasn't well. Heart problems and diabetes were having strong influences on her body. And yet, receiving that phone call that she had died just felt so sudden. I was literally speechless on the phone. I felt crushed. I felt as though the world had stopped and that anything happening outside of the news of my mom's death was happening in slow motion. I was heavily saddened by the news that Mom had been home by herself and had phoned for paramedics by herself and had potentially been alone when she died. And even though I learned the next day that she hadn't, in fact, died alone and that the paramedics had been with her when she died, I still felt heavily saddened that I hadn't been there with her to hold her hand, to caress her face, to kiss her forehead.

When my Nan died, I was with her. I was at the hospital as she was brought in. I was there
while they ran tests. I stayed through those dreadfully long couple of days and nights hoping she'd recover from heart surgery. And then they came and told me she was dying. I sat with her. I softly sang to her. I told her how much I appreciated her in my life and how inspiring she had been in so many ways. I recited Psalms to her that she had taught me as a child. I held her hand, surprised by how the swelling had filled in her hand, puffing it a bit to the point where it now resembled the hand that had held my childhood hand. I was distressed by seeing her tongue resting on her bottom lip under a tube rather than being inside her mouth where it could stay moist and presumably more comfortable. And even though the nurse explained to me that Nan could feel no pain, I was distressed by the single tear that escaped Nan's left eye. What did it mean? Was the nurse mistaken? Was Nan in pain? Or was it, as the nurse had said, simply fluid escaping without any other meaning since Nan was no longer cognizant of anything? Was Nan sad?

Nan's unexpected death was a blow, followed by my son's difficulties in coping with what was going on. He'd had to stay with a respite provider while I was at the hospital with Nan, then he had to learn that Nan had died, then he had to deal with knowing that his family was sad, and that his sister and I would be taking Nan's ashes to another province for her funeral there. He had a lot to deal with and used all sorts of ways to try to figure out how to deal with everything. The day of Nan's service at the local funeral home, we ended up having emergency vehicles at our house shortly after the service, after a nail was stuck into an electrical outlet. It was a difficult time for everyone.

When my Gran was dying, I'd had phone calls while she was in hospital to let me know what was happening. Gran had talked for years about wanting to be with Grandpa. She and I had had many in-depth conversations about our relationship, about life, about thoughts and ideas. I know she wanted
to go. Here's the song I wrote for my Gran:

Before Mom died, I thought I was prepared for her eventual death. I'd known for years that she wasn't well. I sense that maybe that lulled me into some level of non-awareness of my feelings about it. When it happened, I wasn't prepared. I was madly in love with her when I was very young, my preschool legs never carrying me fast enough to run to her when visiting her at work or when she'd come home at the end of the day. Over the years, she'd often caused me to re-examine myself and how I learn from and respond to people and situations. She'd been my cheerleader, my confidante. Did she know that I was aware of and appreciated the gifts she'd given me?

My daughter's friend has had time to journey through this process together with her father. She's a wonderful young woman with a loving family who will have all come together to support each other and will be there for each other during this time. She also has a fantastic group of friends who will circle around her and her family. Many things will have been different for my daughter's friend over the last while since her father's diagnosis. The process of death changes everyone involved. Death changes the living. There will have been those moments when everything seems surreal, and there will have been those moments of intense pain, and all those moments all over the spectrum. She's a strong woman. In time she'll remember that there's also been beauty throughout this process, and she'll continue to gain wisdom as she journeys through this time in her life. May she and her family be beautifully comforted.

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