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365 days

One year

On Monday July 21st 2014 my family and I commemorated the one year passing of my father, poppy, daddy, Ed.

As I took the week off from work, I came home from the cottage to meet my family at the cemetery where my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, both nieces and my mom met to release yellow helium balloons, each telling what we missed about the man who united us and kept us strong.  Why yellow you might ask?  Yellow means hope and regardless, we still all have hope for our own futures.  Their stories are theirs to tell, but I will confess my story here – it was short and sweet, like me – as my dad would say.

In 365 days, days that went to fast, yet not fast enough I have accomplished so much because of my father. I got a dog whom I adore, who makes me laugh and pull my hair out on a regular basis and I love him. I bought a home that resembles my childhood home yet is all mine and has enough differences to not make it a replica. I went in on a cottage with my friend where I can spend cool summer nights around the campfire imagining my father shaking his head at my craziness – I mean really, I am not a “country” girl, why would I need my own cottage?! And finally I survived with half a heart. These last four years I have lost my best friend, my grandmother and my father – all three of whom gave me purpose and helped keep me grounded and with the loss of those three – physically (or mentally in my ex’s case), I am no longer living with a full heart. Each day I wake with an ache that will never disappear.

My father was a responsible man, a loving man who wanted the best for his children so he saved his money and made smart investments so my brother and I were left with inheritances that have allowed us to build, create and fulfill some of our dreams.

At the end of the day I’d live with my father forever if it meant having him back, being able to tell him I love him just one more time – but that wasn’t the plan. It never is. So I’ve had to say goodbye and work on making him proud. I know he would be. He’d love my house…if he were alive it would have been the house he picked out for me. Simba would have driven him nuts but at the end of the day, he would have smiled knowing how happy Simba has made me. As far as the cottage is concerned – well he probably couldn’t have cared less about it because he is a city boy and a cottage was never his idea of fun, but he would have been happy that I am happy – that’s all he wanted.

My family and I finished the night off at the Keg – my dads favourite restaurant, where we feasted on good food and a night of jokes that allowed the evening to be much brighter than the tears and sadness the cemetery had brought.

Dad, I miss you. We all do. You were taken to soon and of course much to quick. Sometimes I wonder how I will get through the day without you, I pick up the phone all the time about to dial your number before realizing no one is there to answer it. My heart breaks for my unborn children who will never meet you or be held in your arms. My nieces and nephew are so lucky to have had a relationship with you – especially Ryann, she misses you every day – your loss is evident on her entire soul and a part of her has suffered more than any of us. Please continue to shine down on us and fill us with your light, because dad, some days seem really dark

Love

Nicole

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Go away – no really go away…to school

Last week I was fortunate to have dinner with a girlfriend whose daughter has left for University…already you ask? I mean it’s July!!!!

Yes but this beauty *and she is a gorgeous girl* has been given a scholarship for soccer to a school in the States so their “camp” starts now and games start in August because the season is so short. So yes, the young woman who I met over four years ago when she was entering High school has now left to live in a dorm, with strangers and to officially begin living!

When I was in highschool, I always knew I wanted to go away to University. Not that I didn’t love my dad or my friends, but my dad was strict and living under his roof with his rules was wearing on our relationship and I knew our fighting would only worsen had I chosen to go to York or UfT or a community college. I needed out – so I only applied to schools with a minimum two-hour car ride (granted I turned down Lakehead a 24 hour car ride because that was a bit to North for me).

Going to Trent was a decision I can’t come to regret no matter how much I doubt the actual value of my education there. The school and teachers and classes were great, but it was too different and I felt so out of touch to thoroughly learn much of anything useful. But the best thing about Trent was the whole idea of LIVING ON CAMPUS!!!!

I loved every minute of campus life. Besides the fact that Trent’s campus is by far the most beautiful campus in Ontario, I lived in the best “house” – Otonabee college. The majority of my classes (the majority of most first year classes) was in the Wenjak Theater which was inside Otonabee college so I wore pajamas and sweat pants to a lot of early morning classes in order to come back to my room and fall back asleep again. My friends lived with me (but not in my room so I was able to get some sleep) and I ate every meal with my housemates – some of whom became my closest confidants.

I had access to every cafeteria with my meal card – though stayed mostly in Otonabee because the Peterborough winter could be harsh crossing the bridge on foot to other colleges (about a 10 minute walk) like Lady Eaton and Champlain which hosted a Pita Pit! The library on campus was huge and helpful and although the Bus system in Peterborough is BRUTAL, the Trent Express ran regularly to get us from campus to downtown Peterborough.

Like the majority of second year students, I moved off campus to enjoy downtown living, but nothing quite compared to my Otonabee College experience and I am grateful for it.

I began to think of little Koko Bean…would I want him or her to move away from me…to live on campus where I don’t have access to them 24/7? Where I am a phone call away, but not a close drive away? Ohhhhhhh gosh…I want to say yes. I want to say that I will force Koko to go away to school to get the whole freshman experience, but it’s not fair to say I will because at the end of the day I just don’t know. For now – for sure that kid is leaving and enjoying their late teens/early twenties experiencing life away from me, their ever-loving – all encompassing mother, but when the time comes, will I be as brave as my friend sending her only daughter hundreds of miles away to play soccer? Time *hopefully* will tell

For now I wish Ms. Smith an amazing first year!

Love Nicole

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We’re best friends like friends should be…

I’ve decided to dedicate a blog to all the friends in my life throughout my decades because I’ve realized since my dads passing, and maybe even before that – back to when the ex and I broke up – that my friends are my family and they are such a diverse group of women (and some men) that I wouldn’t survive without them…so this blog is for you…for who? Well here I go:

I briefly keep in touch with friends pre-high school thanks to the social media world we now live in; friends like Amy whom I’ve known since birth and lived next door to well into my twenties, guys like Shaun who now live in the U.S, but texts me daily with biblical and self motivating speeches and of course my Sedgemount Drive neighbours who have supported and loved me as long as they’ve known me.

However my strongest friendships formed well into and after high school. But I’ll start with high school to give this blog a chronological order.

My strongest friendships from “the good old days of Cedarbrae” stem from two ladies Nancy and Kristi. Nancy has been my ally since ninth grade computer classe. We hung out in the same social circle and had an amazing summer filled with Spice Girls and Mikes Hard Lemonade (no officer we were not of age and I apologize profusely). Throughout the past twenty years we have had highs and lows, been close and grown apart and gotten close again, but at the end of the day this woman has a piece of my heart and I will never not have her in mine.

Now Kristilee, booboo, my love, is a different story altogether. We weren’t close in high school – at all. In fact it’s only been the last 4-5 years where my love and adoration for this amazing woman has grown. She is by far the strongest, most loving, bravest person I have met and I am SO grateful to call her one of my absolute soul mates. Without her, my life would be very different and even though I may not see her often, she is never far from my thoughts.

While in highschool I started dating a guy who I was convinced would be my husband and father of my children and I instantly became friends with his sister Rochelle.  The relationship died soon after I graduated University (but 4.5 years ain’t bad) but my friendship with Rochelle and her husband David has grown to the point where I consider her my sister and him, my brother.  I treat her kids like my own and constantly introduce them as my god-kids because even though religiously and legally they may not be, in my heart they are and I know in Rochelles heart they are too.  She is the one who gave me the shoe fetish (103 and counting Ro!) and who made regular pedicures a reality.

Moving away to Peterborough at 19 and going to University changed a lot of my friendships. I met people whom I didn’t have a lot in common with yet fell for anyway. Friendships blossomed with five in particular: Brendan (Brendo), Derek, Nicole, Bev and Nathan. I spent my whole four years of University loving and hating these people equally. Because of our differences, we fought like cats and dogs, but at the end of the day, I respected these people and cared about each of them as individuals.

After our four years together, we all moved across Ontario, back to our respective hometowns or further and these friendships slowly fell apart…except with Brendo. My zookeeper bff has remained in my life and fought to stay in it. I know I disappoint him repeatedly with not being as involved in our friendship as I should be, but I hope he knows how much I care about him and that I am WELL aware that words are meaningless and I hope to spend more time with him and his new wife very soon.

For the first 25 years of my life I have had these great friendships with people I haven’t even mentioned here because time, distance (and a lack of Facebook pre-2006) made it very difficult to stay in touch, but since then…post University life I have made some friendships with people I have NO doubt will forever be in my world and whom I could not and would not want to live without.

When my ex and I started dating he was really getting involved in numerous baseball teams and I was trying to support him by attending his tournaments and game nights. Other girlfriends were there too, cheering on their men from the bleachers and I’ve met and become extremely close with three such ladies.

The first one I met was Erin, she is the angel who brought Simba into my world and whose couch I have slept on when the above ex left me 5 years later and moved on with his life, and who cradled me in her arms when my father passed away last year. She is the one who cried tears of joy with me when my house officially became my house and the one who sends me hilarious pictures throughout the day to make me smile. She started our introduction off with the following conversation:
E- hey, so do you smoke weed?
N – nope
E – like not on weekdays?
N- nope never…
And then she looked at me like I was a strange alien who had ceased to exist to her in that moment. We still giggle over it because her boyfriend (my realtor) was completely humiliated at that conversation, but honestly I thought it was great. We have had numerous hilarious conversations since then that have kept our friendship light, but tight!

I met Kim at a Provincial baseball tournament in September 2009. She was newly pregnant with her first baby and I didn’t know anything about her except she was dating Jeff, a guy on the team. I didn’t really get to know her all that well that weekend, but saw her a few more times at other games and her boyfriend and mine played together quite often so we consistently ended up on the bleachers cheering and joking around together. In October 2010, when the ex and I had separated, she invited me to Chicago to help her find her wedding dress and needing the distraction, I eagerly accepted. We’ve been close ever since and actually I was a bridesmaid in her 2012 wedding to Jeff and she is the amazing friend I just bought the cottage with. Needless to say I have no doubts that we will be friends for many years to come and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her son and daughter come into the world and grow and develop into the sweetest children. Her and Jeff and the two kids feel like my family. I see them often and look forward to each visit!

Now Nancy (another Nancy – I know how many Nancy’s of our age could there possibly be?) I met through her (now) husband Travis who played ball with the ex and who lived next door to us with his ex girlfriend. I didn’t know Nancy for a long time and whether it was because of my friendship with her husband’s ex or she just didn’t like me, I don’t know why – but it took us awhile to catch up. However, now that the wedding is over, her first child has been born and we have gotten to know each other I am EXTREMELY grateful to Travis for bringing this woman into my world. She is strong and she is a fighter and she is a great mother and a loving wife. Anyone who knows Nancy is lucky…her dedication to her family and her job is inspiring. Because of her long work hours I don’t see her nearly as much as I want to, but thankfully she joined my book club and now I know I will see her at least once a month!!!

There are other friends I haven’t mentioned – Agnes and Rob who I met through work and who have infiltrated my world in the most positive way possible; Alexandra who I met while working at the library in my last year of high school and whom makes me blush and giggle while I live vicariously through her and of course Andrea who was very good friends with my ex and whose wedding made me cry tears of happiness as I witnessed her dreams came true. You four may not have a paragraph dedicated to our meeting and interactions, but you make me a better person for having known you!

Thank you…
Love
Nicole