Monday, July 17, 2017

There's Bad News and There's Good News....

Good morning, Monday!

I realize that you're an understanding crowd, and that I don't need to be all upbeat, all the time around here, but I'm finding it particularly tough at the moment to write blog posts that I enjoy writing and you can enjoy reading.  I feel especially good about two last week -- the tour around Wendy's magical garden and the memorable dinner in Split -- but this has been a very tough week for feeling creative or for acting on any creative impulses. 

Not only has the seven-storey concrete construction across the street ramped up the noise level -- they're beginning to "sculpt"  (drill and polish and cut) the concrete they've poured over the past few months, and that constant sound is wearing. Closing the windows and doors helps, but given the sunshine we've been enjoying, that gets uncomfortable quickly, especially since most of our exterior walls are glass. And the discomfort has me really missing my island home, where summer was always the reward for winter's difficult logistics. 

Yes, I can remind myself, I'm not having to deal with stormy trips across the harbour for groceries. But that's only logic. Part of me grieves a beach whose every rock I knew. I think we're doing well in adjusting to the city, and we've been cycling and kayaking and going to farmers' markets and enjoying the library just across the street. But these last few weeks, I've been craving a kind of solace that is heavily coated with nostalgia, yes, that might never truly have existed, but that beckons from my imagination as tauntingly as any desert mirage. . . . 

All that pales, though, in the light of what's really hurting here. The primary cause that has all my extended family in shock; has us all going back to basics and trying to love the ones we're with in the moments we have in the seismic damage; rejigging those life principles, values, platitudes we live by, and so on. I alluded to this family illness week before last, here, but I couldn't say much then. I can tell you more now because the family of my nephew's wife started this GoFundMe campaign, which means the story is already public. There are details at that link, but the gist is that my "little brother"s son, my nephew Ryan, went to the doctor with symptoms about two weeks ago, the week before his first child was due to be born. He was almost immediately hospitalised for a week of pain control and testing and some radiation, then home for a few days before they were told that he has an advanced, rare (in adults, at least) form of cancer. His wife, Carly, determined that they have a few days together as family before Ryan starts whatever treatments are deemed necessary or helpful, delivered a beautiful little baby girl the weekend before last.



My brother and my lovely sister-in-law were here for a few hours on Saturday, and we had a pleasant lunch, toasting their status as new grandparents with Prosecco left over from toasting our newlyweds a few months ago. The emotional roller-coaster of that visit -- the absolute delight sharing the birth story, looking at the baby pictures, hearing my brother speak of helping with a 4 a.m. feeding, but then breaking down at the thought of what the future holds for these new parents and my beautiful new grand-niece. 

And then while we were visiting, my sister-in-law looked at her phone messaages and burst into tears, seeing that the news was public, with this campaign. I'd just given my brother and SIL the cheque representing what my siblings and I (and my kids) had collected to buy some breathing room for the young couple -- the mortgage still has to be paid, but Ryan is unable to work and it's not at all clear what income they might have from disability, etc., We're lucky we're a large family, and the amount would help for a couple of months, but of course this is a bigger circumstance than getting through the summer. So it's been reassuring and, even more, heartwarming, seeing so many people donate, seeing the funds mount so quickly over the weekend. But I think it was also a kick in the head, having to see it written out, so concretely. . . 

I'm not telling you about this, and posting the link, to solicit your contributions. As you'll see if you post the link, those funds are mounting quite quickly as is, and I know there are always many causes that clamour for our help in all of our lives. I'm just sharing it because the situation is dominating my mind and my emotions for the moment, and we're close, here, you and I. . . 

And I'm going to keep posting, but If the posts are picture-heavy or the prose is a bit flat, you'll understand, I know. 

Finally, sorry for the "downer," especially on a Monday, but sometimes, if you'll pardon the vulgarity, sometimes Shit Gets Real!  And it's not all negative news, is it, when there's a beautiful new baby girl in the world, and she's bringing so much joy to her wonderfully devoted new parents, and there are two brilliant, newly-minted grandparents flashing baby snaps at anyone who cares to have a look. . .  And a world of really kind people who want to help. The amount raised at GoFundMe has gone up by $500 in the time it took me to write this post. So that's it for now, and as they say, I'll see you when I see you. Hope you'll be back, and perhaps a bit patient with what I post in the next while. Wishing you a very good week.

65 comments:

  1. Frances, I was so sorry to hear about your nephew when I read the GoFundMe link you shared over the weekend. My thoughts are with you and your family. The joys and heartaches all at once...shit does indeed get real.

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  2. I am so sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to you and your family. You are in my thoughts.

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  3. Your words are endearing and your heartache is real. I love the realness that comes from your heart. I will keep the family in clear and present thought. Thank you for honest and heartfelt blog. You are right Shit gets real real fast.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Kimberly. Much appreciated.

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  4. There are no words really that tidy up a response to this post in a satisfactory package Frances. I know you know that too, but I'm compelled to add a comment. I am glad you shared this story , not only because we care about you and your extended family, but it is truly stories like that this that give us pause to make ourselves look at life in a different way. A better way, a richer way. It's all well and good to listen to the news the last few weeks of people being evacuated from their homes and losing everything in a fire that may be destroying their community. But my husband and I were talking about this just now. We ask ourselves what we can do to help. We can't wave a magic wand ( and don't we all wish we could ) , but we can all take action to do something to ease the situation for someone in need. Something, anything . I haven't read Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Option B', but it looks like a promising read. You are not my only friend experiencing something like this with adult children. Just when we thought we were through the worst of worries as our children partner up, settle into careers and unwrap all that gifts that life holds for their future. And then this. It's not enough to say my heart goes out to all of you . That's a given. But I'm glad I know there is something specific I can do in support. And you know we are here to listen and learn through the gift of your writing .

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Sandy. These stories are always around us, I suspect, and you're right, when we hear of them more directly, it helps us to be able to help. It's not a magic wand, but it does feel better. And at some level, it's probably important to remember that there are never any guarantees. Make the most of the now, I guess....

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  5. I'm so sorry, Frances. And glad that this young family will be surrounded by love and support.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. I think that being so surrounded has to make a difference.

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  6. Life kicks us in the gut at times, and there's no need to apologize about posting, lack of posting, or quality of posting. The combination of joy and anguish in this post makes a strong cocktail that is drunk by many. It's good to share the good and the bad, when able.
    These days in our province are tough ones, and as Sandi has written, cause us to evaluate what's really important in life. Family is at the top of the list. I will pray for Ryan as he faces this tough reality.
    Hugs to you.

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    1. Thanks, Lorrie. It has felt as if I'm carrying a heavy weight around, almost literally, and the kick in the gut is only second- or third-hand for me. Your prayers are much appreciated. As are the hugs. xo

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  7. Today my sweetheart and I escaped to the ocean to honor my brother's memory.
    16 years ago today he was killed leaving a 2 year old without a Dad.
    I read with dismay the story of your nephew. It is best to share these things and I am so glad you felt you could here.
    Your nephew and all your family are so impacted by this. How shocking and cruel when he is so young and a new Dad.
    God love you all.
    I will go to St Martin's in Trafalgar Square tomorrow morning to light a candle and offer a prayer and hope for superhero strength for your nephew and his ability to fight and prevail. ♡A.in London

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    1. I'm so sorry, A. I lost a brother as well, 40 years ago, very suddenly (a myocardial infarction, he died instantly) before he had children, perhaps a blessing there. I think it's important to share these stories and to know that we can survive more than we imagine possible. We're hopeful that Ryan will have time to get to know his daughter, and she him, and I appreciate your prayers toward that. I know exactly those candles at St Martin's, have lit a few their myself as I know my parents will have also decades ago. Thank you for that image and reminder.

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  8. Ah. I'm so bad at this, Frances. At responding in a heartfelt way that doesn't sound trite, or insincere. Sorry for your nephew and his wife, your brother and his wife, for all of you. How wonderful to have that lovely little girl, but how gut wrenching to have the joy and fear and pain all at the same time. I can imagine with all this emotional upheaval, not to mention the noise, you are missing your island peace and the ability to retreat from the chaos it afforded. But how wonderful that your big and beautiful family (not to mention friends etc) has rallied around the new little family.
    We're here to listen when you need to vent. Life can really be a shit storm at times.
    Sending hugs from the east. xo

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    1. There's no good or bad at these moments, but I often feel that way also. And it is wonderful to see how many people are rallying around my nephew, his wife, and their new little one. Thank you so much for the kind and understanding comment. and the hugs, especially. xo

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  9. What can any of us say . There is such a lot of insincerity on the net but not here with you , you are so honest with us . I imagine you are feeling emotionally drained & your island must seem like a sort of sanctuary . But it's fortunate that you are close to your family whilst this is happening , for their sake & your peace of mind . Stay strong .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Much appreciated, Wendy, and you're absolutely right. If I were still on the island right now, I'd be desperate to get over here and see what I could do help. That reminder is just what I needed today. Thank you.

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  10. For you and your family, I hope knowing you are in the best hospital in BC for treating rare conditions is some consolation. Not only are cutting edge options available there, but, more importantly, this care is delivered with love and compassion. As my niece lay months between life and death, it was the staff who helped all of us get through the days. And the terrible nights. My heart goes out to you all.

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    1. There are so many good people working in oncology and in palliative care, aren't there> Thanks so much for the understanding and for sharing the experience with your niece. xo

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  11. What sad news, all the more bitter sweet with the birth of a grand niece. So many wonderful things are happening in the medical world today that hopefully he will make a full recovery. Fingers crossed. As for you missing your island home, that is only to be expected, particularly at this time of year. Once the construction is complete you will feel more upbeat. You are doing so many great things in your new home. Thinking of you all. B x

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    1. We hope for remission -- full recovery would be miraculous, but who knows, with what is happening in medicine. Thanks for your encouragement and understanding.

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  12. Haven't commented for a while but loved your posts last week Wendy's garden and your beautifully written description of the meal with your family in Croatia. So sorry to hear about your nephew's illness such a difficult time for you and your family. Your yearning for your island sanctuary is perfectly understandable. Hope you'll find the supports you all need at this time. Mary

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Mary. I'm pleased you enjoyed those posts last week, and I very much appreciate your kind words about our family's challenge.

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  13. Gosh, what a difficult time for your family. Life is so blinking random, isn't it? I hope that your nephew gets the best care and will pull through to spend many, many years with his daughter. Hang in there, Frances. Sam xx

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    1. It really is! And that is a very good hope, thank you!

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  14. Very sad to hear about your nephew! The new little family and your extended family will need a lot of compassion and support right now. Thinking of you at this time.

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    1. Thanks, J. They absolutely will -- and it's heartwarming to see how much of that is pouring their way.

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  15. Such heart-rending news--I'm so sorry. I hope there's some piece of the natural world in the city that can become your sanctuary: to visit through every season, and to know as well as your island patch.

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    1. Thanks Elle. And in fact, I've been cycling out to Stanley Park a few mornings a week, and finding sanctuary there in the open space. Planning trips to the Botanical Gardens, and to some of the more forested parks with trails....

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  16. Have come and gone a couple of times as the words aren't coming...just thinking of you all.

    You want your home (the home of your heart) at times like this...

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    1. Thanks, Georgia. I appreciate your presence here, thinking, sorting words, just being with us.

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  17. Thinking of your family and wishing you peace. How wonderful to be able to broaden the platform for your nephew. There are many very kind people in the world. This kindness is the only good that comes from such pain.

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    1. I know you've experienced deep loss and the kindness that can wrap us, in its wake. I'm not sure it's worth the cost, but every time I see it demonstrated again, I marvel.

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  18. That is terrible news. No need to worry about your posts, they are all good.
    Sending caring thoughts your way. Suz from Vancouver

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  19. I have tears in my eyes. Having recently rejoiced in the birth of our first grandchild, it is simply unimaginable to contemplate how we would feel if one of her parents were facing a life-threatening illness. Your nephew and all of your extended family will be in my prayers. -- Denise L. (faithful reader, infrequent commenter -- please don't feel you need to respond!)

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    1. Thanks so much, Denise L. And congratulations on becoming a grandmother! I suspect you might rally, if faced with such a situation, as my sister-in-law (and brother) are. The idea that "It takes a village" -- or at least a bunch of friends or a couple of grandparents or an extended family -- is being clearly demonstrated for this new family.

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  20. I'm so sorry -it is always tough and especially when it it is someone so close and so young
    But it is such a lovely baby girl and she will help,not only to bring the love and joy,but also to increase the courage to fight,and this is good
    In times like this-finding peace and enjoying your garden would be very important for you,so it is awful listening to all this horrible noise and thinking about your island.
    But,the noise will end eventually
    Take care
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. You're right, my nephew is so much in love with his little girl already, and he's very determined to take on the necessary treatments. And his wife is showing amazing strength. Of course, with all this going on, my complaint about noise outside is rather petty, so I need to put my earplugs in and smile, right? ;-)

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    2. I don't think so and don't find your complaint petty-everything matters and you and Paul both have to be in good condition and not tired because of noise and dust-(it could be very exhausting)-,so you could help,if needed :-).
      It is not selfish thing to complain-IMO (and experience!) a lot of "small" things (if a very loud noise could be called small) add to the main problem and it is always important,when dealing with the big problem,to try to find little things that could make you happy for a moment (at least ,sometimes a beautiful memory could help). It really helps,even in a process of therapy and healing
      D

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    3. You are very wise, Dottoressa!

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    4. Thanks so much, Dottoressa! (and she really is, isn't she, Eleonore?!). I have decided you are right, and that looking after myself will help me be readier to help out family when needed. Heading to a quieter spot today ;-)

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  21. My thoughts are with you. It is such a sad situation.
    Ali

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    1. Thanks, Ali. It is, but they are finding hope where they can.

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  22. Frances, I'm so sorry to hear this devastating news. I wish your whole family, including the lovely new little family, the very best as you navigate this awful situation together.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia. They really are a lovely new little family.

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  23. Oh Frances, I am so sorry to read of your nephew's devastating illness. I cannot imagine it, the news and the noise and the way everything must feel as if it is crashing on you all at once. Thank goodness you have each other to rally around, and support. The noise will end although no one knows what else may happen. You and your entire family remain in my thoughts, and of course we are here when you need to vent or just work out your thoughts through words. It is one of your gifts you know, your ability to share both joy and pain with humanity and care. It cannot be easy on you. Hugs and Prayers

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    1. Thanks Mardel. The noise is the least of it, of course, and it will end. I would suffer it tenfold if it tipped the scale in favour of early remission. . . .

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  24. There really aren't words good enough. Such a diagnosis is almost unbelievable. We know first hand, that that the impossible can happen and that there may be remission. Please know that I am holding you in tender thought.

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    1. Stories like those of your situation, your son's strength and determination and willingness to suffer tough treatments -- and then the hoped-for-against-all-odds remission. . . . Well, Hell Yeah! We want some of that!
      Sorry, that just slipped out and seems in awkward contrast with your "tender thought" but I know that you know what I mean. xo

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  25. Again, as everyone has said, I am so sorry your family has to go through this. Such great happiness and sorry at the same time. He and his wife and daughter are lucky to have a large and supportive family to help them through this. I will be hoping for a miracle!

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    1. Thanks so much, Lynn. We are very lucky in having so much support. And yes, a miracle would be good....

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  26. There really are no words during times like this, but the kindness and willingness of others to help, to be there, to listen makes a difference as we muddle through. I am full of tears as I read your nephew's story as I lost my 27 year old son 16 months ago in an accident, so I so relate to the pain you all must be feeling at this devastating diagnosis. There is hope, though - always hope. And as has already been noted, there are wonderful things happening every day in medicine. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers as you muddle through.

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    1. I'm so very sorry, Jeannine. What a devastating loss, and how kind of you to draw from your own experience to offer empathy. This kindness is hope in itself, even beyond the hope you speak of to be found in medicine. Thank you!

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  27. It has taken me an entire day to respond to your post, and I still find that there are no words adequate to your situation and that of your family. Life is so unjust at times. Why can’t this sweet little girl have two healthy parents and a happy family? (Although she does have a wonderful family.)
    Thank you for posting the link to the campaign which gives those who feel close to you the chance of doing something helpful, however small.
    And the noise on top of everything. You say that it is a minor problem, compared to the rest, but it still grates on your nerves when you need all your strength. I’d offer you a week or two by the lakeside in order to rest. It’s a pity that it is too far away…

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    1. So kind of you, Eleonore, and thank you so much for the understanding. I just received in the mail the photo of your wonderful lakeside view, and I will rest there in my imagination. xo

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  28. I am feeling so teary having read this. All the best to all of you is all I can say xx

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  29. I'm very sorry you all have to go through this! Holding good, healing thoughts for your nephew and all the rest of you too.

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    1. Thank you, Murphy. I have to believe those good healing thoughts do make a difference, if not always the way we plan or necessarily recognise.

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  30. Happy news and tragic together - the big pile with flowers growing out of it. How does this all work? Confounding in the extreme. My thoughts are for absolute remission and strength for you and your family. There are no rules and happy endings are real.

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    1. Yes, absolute remission would be wonderful. Why not imagine big?!

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  31. I read this post a while back, but was traveling, so I have waited to return home and recover from jet lag in order to reply. I am so so sorry. I hope strongly for a good outcome, but I can only imagine how sharply tragic it must feel right now. I am glad you have a big family, and that this little family in pain feels comfort in support.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. It's really tough, but it does help to see so much support from friends, family, and the wider community. Heartwarming, truly.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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