About callumrussellmaclean

Callum's mom

The Price We Pay For Love

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Grief is the price we pay for love. 

As soon as we open up our hearts, we risk being hurt. And with our children, our hearts are more open and vulnerable than for anyone else. And so the pain is even more profound when they leave us.

But I wouldn’t trade away one single minute that I got to spend with Callum. Even if the price is my broken heart. He was worth it…

Thank you to everyone who lit up their homes for Callum last night.  I wanted to share a couple of photos.  greenhouselightsforcallum

The MacKenzies have a farm about a five minute drive from our house, on the Trans-Canada Highway, just past Stratford.  Tania worked for a while with us at CBC.  She and Greg are great farmers and I love going to their farm stand for fresh produce.  Last night, the MacKenzies turned on the lights in their greenhouses in honour of Callum.  There is nothing planted there yet.  They just wanted to shine as big a light as they could for him.  Thank you Tania and Greg.

greenhouselightsforcallum

From greenhouses to candles. Christmas lights to house lights.  You warmed my heart by showing your love for Callum.

quiltycandlepatonlightsAnd so the question is: what happens now? Another year of sadness begins.  Another year of missing Callum.  It seems unbearable at times. But I have no choice but to go on.  Someone asked me if the pain has lessened at all.  No. It can still sneak up on me and stab me in the heart, as deeply as it ever has.  And the moments when I forget the pain, on the yoga mat for example,  I pay for them later when reality sets in yet again. Callum is gone.  It’s a grim cycle …of slight release and then a blow of pain.  I don’t know what I expected.  I realize that I never thought that much about grief before this.  It is a powerful force.

I’m realizing now that one of Callum’s greatest gifts was in helping me to raise Tristan.  Callum was always telling Tristan to say please and thank you and sorry!  Callum was Tristan’s best friend.  And he showed Tristan what it means to be brave.  I think that is what has carried Tristan through this year.

I will go on. I have to go on, even if it is another year of sadness.  I will do it for Tristan…and, always, for Callum.

Grief is the price we pay for love

About Grief

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As we head towards Wednesday  April 9th, I hope that you are planning to leave a light on Tuesday night in honour of Callum.  We will have our house lights and Christmas lights on.   Readers on P.E.I. know the story of the dad from North Rustico who lost his son in an ATV accident many years ago.  Every year, he puts on a magnificent Christmas light display that gets bigger every year.  Callum and Tristan and I got to see it several years in a row because they had hockey games in Rustico around Christmas.  This dad said he wanted his son to be able to see their house from heaven.  The dad also collected donations for Children’s Wish.  So this is our mini-version of that light show.   Let him see the lights of everyone who loves him and misses him.

  I know that everyone is trying to figure out what to say to me or what to do this week as we approach the first anniversary. I don’t even know myself how to get through it.  It feels as if a massive emotional storm is approaching and I just have to keep my head down and hold on tight to Tristan and Kai and Penny and my friends and just ride out the storm.  Nothing is going to be any better on April 10th.  Callum will still be gone.  And he will have been gone for a year.  I still wake up every day in disbelief that this is my life now.  That’s still going to happen on April 10th.  And on every day after that.  This isn’t going to “go away”.  The grief is never going to leave.  My friends who are bereaved parents themselves say that the pain does start to ease….every so slightly at first.  Yes, I have gone on for a year….put one foot in front of the other….gone through the motions of living.  But my heart is still as broken today as it was on April 9th.  Unless you’ve been through it, you can’t understand what it is like to think that you will not see your child….the person you have loved since the day he was born….you will never see him ever again.  

To the people who think I’m magically going to be better now that one year has passed, please don’t make me feel as if I have somehow failed.  I can’t just snap my fingers and be the person that I used to be.  My world has been shattered.  Everything that I believed in has been shattered.   I can’t just pick myself up and dust myself off.  My heart has been ripped in half.  Those captions you see on Facebook that say “don’t put a timetable on grief”…they are right.  Please stop asking me when I am going back to work.  That I am still able to take care of my house and Tristan and Kai and Penny…and am trying to learn to teach yoga….that is all I can handle.  My life has changed forever.  I still struggle to get through the days without Callum.  He was my rock.  He was my son but also my friend. He and Tristan and I were a team.  There is a massive hole in our lives.  Rebuilding my faith in life is going to take a long, long time.  Please be patient with me.

One of my friends sent me an article today written by a grieving mother: http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/ten-points-i-wish-every-person-knew-about-the-death-of-a-child/   It’s long, so I’d like to share some of her key points.

 By SAMANTHA HAYWARD

The soul-destroying agony of your child dying is only truly known and understood by those who have endured it. Four years on, I still glance down at my daughter’s grave in disbelief. Visiting my child’s grave is surreal. It’s almost like I’ve vacated my body and I’m watching someone I don’t know standing there putting flowers down.

Is this really my life?

Whatever you imagine it might be like to have your child die, multiply that by about a trillion and you’re probably not even close.

On the surface it appears society is accepting of this unbearable sadness and people are supportive and open to talking about it. However, in my situation I’ve been surprised by people’s genuine kindness and empathy as much as I’ve been repeatedly shocked & disappointed by their lack of it. It’s necessary for bereaved parents to be able to talk and, most of all, be able to talk openly. I’ve found it’s the only thing which dispels the trauma.

Sure, friends and family have been supportive, but it’s proven to be the case with me that there is a mandate as for how long their unwavering support, patience, understanding, concern and empathy lasts. The truth is, the situation is so unbearably sad that it becomes incredibly emotionally draining on the other person.

The realization that they can’t fix your sadness sets in, the frustration builds because not even they can see an end in sight, then gradually it starts to impede on the happiness in their life. They haven’t lost their child so why should they spend all their time sad about yours?

I will, for the sake of all the other parents out there with empty arms, write ten things I wish people knew about the loss of a child. Maybe one of my ten points might make a difference to a bereaved parent’s life.

1. Four years on I get up every day with the exact same sadness I had the day Ella died. The only difference is I’m more skilled at hiding it and I’m much more used to the agony of my broken heart. The shock has somewhat lessened, but I do still find myself thinking I can’t believe this happened. I thought that only happened to other people. You asked how I was in the beginning yet you stopped, why? Where did you get the information on what week or month was good to stop asking?

2. Please don’t tell me that all you want is for me to be happy again. Nobody wants that more than I do, but it’s something that can only be achieved with time. On top of that, I have to find a new happiness. The happiness I once felt, that carefree feeling, will never return in its entirety. It also helps to have the patience and understanding from loved ones.

3. Please don’t say ‘I want the old Sam back!’ Or, I can see the old Sam coming back! Sam’s not coming back. This is who I am now. If you only knew the horror I witnessed and endured you would know it’s not humanly possible for me to ever be the same person again. Losing a child changes who you are. I’ve been told my eyes look haunted.

It’s a strange thing for someone to tell a grieving mother, but it’s true – I am haunted. My views on the world have changed, things that were once important are not now and vice versa. I feel as though you’re telling me two things here. Firstly you don’t like the person I am and, secondly if the old Sam’s not coming back I’m out of here. By the way there is nobody that misses the “old Sam” more than me!!! I’m mourning two deaths here; my daughter’s and my former self.

4. If you chose to acknowledge my daughter’s birthday or the anniversary of her death on the first year, it’s terribly gut wrenching when you didn’t bother to acknowledge the second or third or fourth. Do you think any subsequent birthday or anniversary is not as sad for me? It also says to me in very big neon lights that you’ve moved on and forgotten about my daughter.

5. Please stop with the continual comments about how lucky I am to have my other children particularly my daughter. Do I say this to you? Then why say it to me? I’ve buried my daughter do you seriously think I feel lucky?

10. Grieving for a child lasts until you see them again. It’s a lifetime. If you’re wondering how long your friend or family member might be grieving for, the answer is forever. Don’t rush them, don’t trivialize their sadness, don’t make them feel guilty for being sad and when they talk to you, open your ears and listen, really listen to what they’re telling you. It’s possible you’ll learn something. Don’t be so cruel as to give up on them remember it’s not about you it’s about them.

The bottom line is people are uncomfortable with the situation and I really don’t know why. My feelings tell me it is such an horrific thing that most people don’t want to know about it. Maybe they fear through knowing so much they might become obsessed with their own children dying. Parents worry enough about their children already. Do they really need the added worry about knowing how your child died?

What I have had to give emotionally to get through it has dwindled away all my mental strength – just like twenty cents pieces in a kid’s piggy bank.

I’m broke – not broken – I’m broke emotionally. I know all the energy I’ve needed over the last four years has not just been spent on my grief for Ella.

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Back now to me and Callum.  I’m not as angry as this mom.  I know how hard my friends and family have tried to understand and support me.  And I have had some incredible support from the bereaved parents I’ve met over the last year. 

I just want everyone to understand the depth of the pain that I still feel.  One year feels long. 365 days without him.  I will never seem him again.  Some days I have to suppress that thought because it’s too much to bear.  Some days I say it over and over, as if to torture myself and try to build up my pain threshold.  But then some little reminder of him creeps in through my armour and I’m back to where I started.  A mother with a broken heart. Forever.

I hope this week that people will talk about Callum and share stories about him. Please let him know that he’s not forgotten.  And that he was …and is….very loved.  

Love you Call Call.  xo Mom 

 

 

A New Project for Callum

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I haven’t been writing much over the last couple of weeks.  I’m trying very hard just to get through these days.  I think it’s going to be like this until we get past the one year anniversary on April 9th.

At the same time as this sad day approaches,  I have been working on a project that I’m hoping is going to give all of us strength and hope in the days and weeks and months ahead.

Tristan and I are teaming up with Farmers Helping Farmers on a project to build a classroom in Kenya in Callum’s honour.  I’ve created a new blog all about the project that you can visit here. As you will read, Callum had some pretty cool connections to Kenya when he was growing up.  This feels like something that Callum would want to do.

The ultimate goal is that Tristan and I will travel to Kenya and visit Callum’s classroom in 2015.  All of the money that I make teaching yoga will go towards our travel.  But the rest of the fundraisers will be directed towards building the classroom.

These are going to be dark days as we all re-live the memories of Callum’s last days.  But I hope that this project will help bring some light into our sadness.  We all know that this is what he wanted, more than anything.  I am trying to be true to his strength of character and generous heart, even as my own heart breaks…again.

The night of April 8th, I’m hoping that all who loved Callum will leave a light on in his honour.  We’re going to plug in our Christmas lights….just like the dad in North Rustico who created the amazing Christmas display for his son who passed away.  Even one of those battery-operated candles…or a night light…  Just a light for Callum.

We hope that Callum’s Classroom will spark a light in some bright young minds in Kenya. And help bring even a little bit of peace to all of us who miss him so much.

Love you Call-Call.

Mom

Hockey Memories

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This is Callum celebrating the bantam A hockey championship 3 years ago.  Tristan will be playing in the same tournament starting tomorrow….bringing back a lot of memories.  We were in Summerside then, and will be again this weekend.

This team was a “dream team” in the 2010-2011 season.  These players were hand-picked to play on the checking team in A hockey.  The other team was non-checking.  Callum’s team won almost every game.  They won three championships.  Those are the banners that hang above the doorway at the Pownal stadium…and haunt me every time I have to walk under them.  But as you can tell from the expression on his face, Callum was happy to be a champ.  This is his “I’m not going to truly smile, but I am secretly smiling” face.

I am so happy now that Callum ended his hockey career as a champion.  The championship game was his last.  The following September, he went to a tryout, after his cancer diagnosis.  But he had an unrelated pneumonia, and could hardly breathe as he skated.  He only skated one other time, at the New Year’s Eve fundraiser at Pownal for the IWK Children’s Hospital.  

Callum made fun of Tristan and me that same September, when we cried because Tristan was the last player cut from the AAA team.  Callum said that there were a lot bigger things that could go wrong in life than getting cut from a hockey team.  He was certainly right.

This hockey season, Tristan was the captain of his hockey team and scored more than 50 goals.  He could have been playing at a higher level, but most of all, he wanted to be with his friends.  He emerged as a leader on his team.  One of his team-mates even wrote an essay about him at school, on the subject of leadership.  

I’m only mentioning this because Tristan has faced a tremendous loss in the last year.  He lost his only, very beloved, brother.  And he has been still able to achieve his goals.  It’s not as if I have forgotten him in all of this.  But, to his credit, he has proven to be so much more resilient than his mother.  I know that young people are often more resilient. But I would also like to think that he has learned from Callum, about what strength really is.  It’s about carrying on, despite adversity.  

I will be thinking about Callum this weekend in Summerside.  It doesn’t matter if Tristan’s team wins or loses.  With or without a championship, Tristan has shown great courage and character.  He never wants to talk about what happened to Callum.  But I know that he carries his brother in his heart.  As we all do.  

You were a champion, Callum….more than we knew when this photo was taken.  You will always be a champion.

Love Mom

 

Eleven Months Later: What I Still Don’t Understand About Grief

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Eleven months.  Time is so hard to comprehend when you are grieving.  It feels like eleven life times since Callum left us. Or eleven minutes.  The pain certainly feels as if it happened eleven minutes ago.

Everyone else’s life has gone on…as it should.  His friends are turning 17.  In September, they will be entering Grade 12.  His brother is turning 15, the same age Callum was when he died.  Time moves on.  

I’ve been reading a lot about grief recently…trying to figure out the perfect thing to say and write on the one year anniversary.  Some way to explain what this year has been like, and what Callum still means to me.  I know there will be not “perfect” words.  But I have to try.

“Grief is like the ocean.

It comes like waves,

ebbing and flowing.

Sometimes the water is 

calm, and sometimes it

is overwhelming.  All we

can do is learn to swim.”

-Vicki Harrison

I’m not swimming yet.  At best, I’m treading water.  And in the really bad moments, I’m just trying my hardest not to go under.

Eleven months later, I feel as if I’m stuck in some evil version of the movie “Groundhog Day”.  I open my eyes, desperate to find out that this isn’t really happening and that it’s going to the a different day.  But no.  Callum is still gone.  And the band-aid is ripped off my heart again.  Every morning in fact.

I’ve also described my grief as being on a merry-go-round.  If you’ve been reading the blog, you know the basic themes. They go over and over in my head daily.   Why didn’t I know something was wrong?  Why did this happen to us?  Did I do enough to take care of him in those final weeks?  Why was I in such denial about what was happening?  Why should I go on?  Especially when I am walking the dog, the tears flow behind my sunglasses as these thoughts swirl through my head.

Yes, there are sound, rational answers to all of these questions.  There was nothing I could have done.  It happened because one random cell mutated and created the cancer that took over his body.  Yes, I did everything I could and was the best mother I could be under those circumstances.  And yes, I have reasons to go on.

But…oh….the darkness sometimes.  The deep, dark valley of grief as one writer described it.  This is not where Callum wanted me to be.  But he had no idea how much this was going to hurt.  In his mind, everybody would go on and forget him.  He was humble to a fault in some ways.  He always worried more about everyone else around him than he did about himself.

I know I have to put my head down and face the weeks ahead as time marches on towards the one year anniversary on April 9th.  It will just be a day.  A sad day.  A day when I hope everybody will remember what a caring and extraordinary person he was.  But he’ll still be gone on April 10th.  And perhaps that will be the hardest day of all so far. 

“My mind knows you are in a better place,

where there is no pain.

You are at peace.

I understand that, I just wish

I could explain that to my heart.”

 

Love you Call Call.  Today and every day.  xo Mom

Eleven Months of Missing Callum

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“Do not judge the bereaved mother. 

She comes in many forms. 

She is breathing, but she is dying. 

She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. 

She smiles, but her heart sobs. 

She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS, but she is not, all at once. 

She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.” 

- Author unknown

 

Lost Treasure

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Whenever I find a new photo of Callum…it is like a piece of lost treasure! This photo was taken by my cousin Amelita. It was in August…before the first diagnosis in September 2011. Life was good then! I’m so happy she took this picture.

I thought about this photo a lot today.  I was at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where Callum and I spent so many hours together. I was there for a routine colonoscopy.  I have one every five years because my father died at age 65 of colorectal cancer.  It was well advanced by the time they found it.  If he had been screened, it is likely that the cancer would have been very treatable.  So I am diligent about getting screened.  

But it was hard to be lying in that hospital bed.  And then, one of the nurses is the mother of a girl who had gone to school with Callum since Grade One.  So of course we talked about our kids, and about Callum.  His friends are now turning 17.  Their lives have continued on.  He was 15 when he died, the same age that Tristan will turn this April.

Time is so confusing that way.  Callum is frozen in our memories….like in this picture from the cottage. But everyone else has moved on.  Except for me. I seem caught in this never-never land of grief.  How is it that almost a year later I still can’t believe this is happening to us?   

I came across this poem today….and it describes where I am right now.  I am caught in the vise hold of grief….but if I really love Callum, I have to find a way to go on.  The poem is originally titled “She is Gone”, but I’ve changed the she to he.  I know this is the next step, where I have to get to if I am going to make it through this.  It seems impossible, but I know I have to keep on trying. For Tristan.  For my family.  And for Callum.  I love you and miss you Callum. 

You can shed tears that he is gone
or you can smile because he has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that he’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all he’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he’s gone
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
or you can do what he’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

 

One Year Ago

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Well…almost one year ago.  It was Saturday March 2, 2013 that Callum and Tristan and I had our amazing hockey day in Montreal. 

I still can’t believe that it happened.  Incredible thanks to Ron (and Shelly) Kaulbach….our dear friends from the Ottawa River.  Papa put out a call to Ronnie…and he came through with front row seats, right next to the Montreal bench.  Thanks to my dear friend Maria who let us stay at her house.  Her family welcomed us with open arms….and then handed over the keys.  It was Callum and Tristan’s first ever experience in a sauna!!!   Another memory.

And meeting Sidney Crosby.  Wow.  What a treat that was. Thanks to Bruce and everyone else who helped to make that happen.  Sidney was friendly and welcoming.  Beyond what we could have imagined.

What we didn’t know then was that we only had less than six weeks left with Callum.  I went back to re-read my blog from March 2013.  And there is a break….from when we return from Montreal until the “golden fireworks” near the end of the month.

Between those two dates, we received the devastating news.  Any chemotherapy at that point would just prolong Callum’s life, with no promise of quality of life.  It was Callum’s decision to walk away from treatment, and go home.  For all that he had been through, he deserved to make that decision by himself.  And we honoured it.

As I re-live those days, I am still traumatized, one year later.  It’s impossible to explain in words the toll this has taken on my family.  We have been supported beyond belief.  But it is still impossible to reconcile why this has happened.  

To his credit, Tristan has persevered…and been strong.  No one can truly know how deep his wounds are….and how badly he misses his brother.  I get glimpses….but he has friends all around him who make sure he is never alone — thanks to the magic of the XBox headset!!!  To be serious, his friends and their families have rallied around us and made sure that we always have any support that we need.  Tristan has done well at school, on the soccer field (his school won the provincial junior high championship) and on the hockey rink, where he is Team Captain and leading scorer.  I know that Callum would have been proud. He would have had a few pointers.  But he would still be proud!!!  And he is.

Callum’s room still has his Sidney Crosby poster….his photo highlights from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics…and a poster of the best Canadian defencemen from 2010.  It’s hard to believe that we have had another Olympics since then.  I so wanted to talk to him after the women won the Olympic gold!!!  It’s the sort of thing we would discuss…

Where does this leave me?  Still sad with an aching heart, almost one year later.  Every landmark that goes by…another Olympics….another semester at high school….his friends turning 17 (!!!)…..it all hurts.  

I try to treasure the moments we had….like this amazing couple of hours in Montreal.  Will these be enough to carry me through my lifetime?  I guess they will have to be.  For those of you who have a chance to have more….please make the most of them.

Love you Callum…..xo Mom

 

 

 

Until We Meet Again

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This is my dear friend Karin who passed away on Sunday.  We made a point for many years of celebrating our birthdays with a long lunch in August.  I forget how the tradition got started.  But a tradition it was.

Karin came into my life, as she did for so many others, through her fantastic food at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market.  She was always interested in what was new in my life…and eager to chat with Callum and Tristan.  Her Scoobi Doo Pasta was a favourite of the boys. But Callum….Mister Picky Eater….didn’t like the healthy vegetables that she added.  So she created a Callum version of the dish.  She would make it especially for us….ten servings at a time.  In those busy days of preschool and work, Scoobi Doo Pasta saved my bacon, so to speak, many times!!!

One Christmas, we were invited to Karin’s house, to see the kitchen where all the “magic” happened.  There were lots of friends and members of the Zaat family.  The family loves music and I remember a spontaneous drum session erupted at one point.  There were kids everywhere and lots of food and warmth and love.  That’s what Karin was always all about. 

I got to know the family even deeper when I did a documentary for CBC Radio about organ transplants with Karin and her sister Judy.  Judy needed a kidney and Karin wanted to donate.  It was an opportunity to explore the issue….how hard it is to donate organs on P.E.I…but also what compels one family member to want to give that gift to another.  It made sense, of course, because Karin was always all about giving.  I also learned more about their sister Theresa, who had passed away from cancer.   She was definitely part of the sisters’ story as well.  

Karin never did get to donate the kidney.  And in 2008, her journey with cancer began.  I never dreamed that we would someday be following in her footsteps.

From that  point on, Karin became an inspiration for so many people.  It was a brutal diagnosis, as I recall.  But she handled it with dignity.  And as so many people have said, she showed how important it is to always be living….not dying.

Karin was a huge comfort to me when Callum passed away.  She is one of the most spiritual people I know.  She felt very connected to him, and made me feel more at peace too when I was with her.  

I told her that I didn’t think I could go to her funeral.  Instead I wanted to create my own tribute to her, by cooking my way through her “Eat Well” cookbook.  It was probably too ambitious a task….though I’m never giving up!!!  I will finish the book someday.  From October until December, I cooked more than 50 of the  recipes.  Some better than others.  If you saw my attempt to prepare tofu by pressing it between two cutting boards with my blender on top….well, you know the lesson we learned that day.  There are different KINDS of tofu.  Extra soggy and extra dry.  Or something like that.  And I definitely had the wrong one.  She had a pretty good laugh at the photo on Facebook.

Karin and I even had one glorious afternoon in October cooking together.  Working side by side with her was amazing!  I will never forget those precious hours.  

Karin gave me one last gift before she died.  I got a phone call Sunday morning that if I wanted to say good-bye, I needed to get to the hospital soon.  But I was in Moncton, at yoga teacher training, a two hour drive away.  All the way back to P.E.I., I called friends and tried to find out what was going on, to no avail.  When we reached the Island and I was dropped off at my vehicle, I decided to go directly to the hospital.

This was her challenge to me.  I have an aversion to the hospital since Callum died….too many memories.  But for Karin, I walked through those doors.  I knew the room number and went to the nurses’ station there.  And there they told me that she had passed away.

As I walked out the door, tears streaming down my face, I realized that she had worked her magic yet again.  She had made me brave enough to walk through those doors….but had also spared me what would have been incredible pain watching her die.  

I know it’s not all about me.  But I like to think that she could make things happen that way. That was her magic.

In the days since, I have realized how much I relied on her wisdom.  I find it hard to know that I will never hear her voice again telling me that Callum is okay.  I guess she will have to tell me in other ways.  

I am learning that life is a series of hellos and good-byes.  And what matters is how you spend the time between those moments.  We only have any one person in our lives for a certain amount of time.  The gift is to make the most of that time.  Karin taught me that through kindness and love, you make that time better.  

The logo for Karin’s business was the sun.  She always had lots of sun ornaments all around her.  For so many of us, she was ….and always will be our sunshine.   Her light will shine in my heart forever.  

Until we meet again, my friend. 

February 13th

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I have been dreading this day for months.  I took out my datebook from 2013 just to try to remember what life was like before this day.  Callum had an MRI and an Xray on Tuesday the 12th. And then we were meeting with his pediatrician on February 13th to review the results.  I had 3:00 circled in my calendar to pick him up at Charlottetown Rural and go to the QEH.  We didn’t think it would take long.  Just another check-up, like the one at 3 months after chemo.  Oh how wrong we were.

Callum went in, by himself first, to talk to his pediatrician.  We had established that as the protocol.  He had been through enough that he always got the results first.  Then they came out.  He sat beside me as his doctor delivered the news.  The cancer was back. And it was present in a couple of places. 

As I have said, he obviously saw the bump on his leg and never said anything to me.  So I was really the one blind-sided by the news.  I must have looked absolutely stricken by the news because a friend of ours, a nurse, walked by.  I could hardly speak.  

At the same time, part of me said….well, we just do chemo again.  It’s a blow, but we will get through it.  I could never go to the worst case scenario.  For me, it was always about the fight.  Even to his final days, I don’t think I ever admitted to myself that he was going to die.  I don’t know how I could deny that.  But I never thought….die.

Fast forward, one year later.  365 days later.  It’s a meaningless number of days.  They have all been painful since this day.  

I was prepared to just sleep through this anniversary.  I didn’t even want to be conscious on this day.  But yesterday, I was contacted by a friend, who is in treatment for cancer.  He and Callum had become buddies during Callum’s treatment year.  We would cross paths at the QEH every once in a while.  And they would chat and exchange these knowing looks.  They both knew what the other was going through.  And respected each other for having that strength and courage.

I went for lunch with my friend.  And he brought along a book of photos.  He also lost a child, 14 years ago.  Her picture was the first one in his book.  She was absolutely beautiful.  But the point of the book is all the photos that come after her’s.  Since she died, so much good has happened in his life.  All of it unexpected and never dreamed of when his daughter passed away.  And that was his message to me: don’t give up.  Stay open to the possibilities that are to come.  

And I know, that is what Callum would have wanted.  And I believe that he sent this friend today to deliver this particular message.  I am sure I have frustrated the heck out of Callum over the last 10 months.  He underestimated how painful this experience would be…and expected me to just pick up and carry on.  But I say to him….hey, I got a new puppy for Tristan and me,  I’ve taken on a new challenge in teaching yoga….and Tristan and I are getting through.  Not perfectly, but we are doing our best.  

Yes, it was a nightmare that started last year on this day.  But Callum never gave up.  And so none of us can ever give up.  That is his gift to us.

Callum – I love you today more than ever.   xo Mom