Friday, 31 July 2009

Thursday, 30 July 2009

July = 07


















What did you do for either July 1st (Canada Day) or July 4th (Independence Day)? July 1st seems so long ago. I just don’t recall.

Did you watch fireworks? No, I saw no fireworks this year. I think the last time I saw fireworks was at the Forks on New Years Eve 1999. Wahid and I bundled up really warm and braved the cold to be out under the stars with the rest of mankind. I just realized that is wrong because Angelique and Don and Wahid and I went on a Canada Day and stood in bushes full of mosquitoes a few years ago.

Did you blast the air conditioning for most of July? Absolutely, everyone knows I can not stand to be hot. Although it has been off for a little while as it is quite cool in Winnipeg right now.

Best thing that happened in July? The best thing was the birth of my first grandson Domenic. He is beautiful and I am over the moon about him.

Did you celebrate any weddings in July? July 5th was our anniversary. July 17th was Angelique’s wedding anniversary. And on July 11th, not only did I attend my niece Natalie’s wedding, but I performed the marriage ceremony.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Thoughts From Then


















I was happy and for the most part I knew it.

Flashbacks From The Month Of July

July 3, 2003

*I am happy in the direction my energy is flowing. Physically sex excites and inspires me. Emotionally my family (my husband and children) excite and inspire me. Intellectually books and conversations excite and inspire me. Spiritually a beautiful flower, a blue sky, and my children excite and inspire me. Financially getting out of debt and having a savings account excites and inspires me.

*For these things all to happen more often I need to get off the speedway and relax more. Devote more time to outside the house.

*Things that steal my life energy are worries regarding family’s health, my weight, and the way I shut down. I could help clear these situations up by living one day at a time, and deal with health concerns when they come up, lose weight and be more active, and open up in my dialogue (if pissed off then state why and say what I want). People are not mind readers.

July 14, 2004

*Is it really possible that Angelique will be married in three days? Amazing!

*We went to Hafeez and Deb’s wedding and had such a wonderful time. Wait, I am going to keep this journal an ‘I’ journal. Therefore, I had a wonderful time and I danced all night.

*I believe that old men would differ about what they like about being male than younger men.

*Wahid gives me love and comfort and companionship. Nathan gives me love, a smile, joy, and stress.

*Dad gives me my social skills, the gift of the gab, and warnings of laziness; he also reminds me to keep your mind active. Dad has strongly influenced my life by helping me to be the person I am. He naturally would as he is my parent. He has taught me social skills and an acceptance of people, he has also drilled into me ‘that every situation can be handled no matter what; when the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ Dad has taught me to be self-reliant.

*Wahid is probably the man who has influenced my life the most. We have been married for 29 years and have during this time, been intimate sexually and mentally, and sometimes we have been one and not the other. But through it all Wahid’s kindness, patience, and genuine understanding have made me kinder, more patient, and more understanding. I think for a long time, and I mean until just recently, I never truly got Wahid.

*I would get frustrated because I expected him to be a certain way and he never was. Now I truly love and get him for who he is, not for what I thought he should be. Also, now I see I would not have wanted him to be other than who he is. He is better than anything I could have hoped for in my dreams. I love and admire him.

*My Dad’s best friend, my Uncle Matt also had an influence on me when I was a child. In a family of 13 children he always made me feel special and loved. He was Dutch and kind and soft-spoken.

*I think life is perfect because men are in it. I like that they are who they are.

*Because of my father’s rules and example, I feel I can do anything I want to do as long as it is legal and as long as it doesn’t hurt other people.

*In some strange way I feel a sense of entitlement. I feel smart and well liked and that there is no one I can’t win over in a social context. I believe I can have fun while at the same time never losing sight of keeping myself in control.

*My parents never fought in front of us kids.

July 26, 2004

*I have some wonderful gifts, one of which is appreciating people and letting them know how happy I am that they are here. Validation is a gift. I have this gift. Love myself and believe in me. Validate my own self.

July 27, 2004

*If I pulled out all the stops I would be the me I know I could be. When I’m in my full power, I am able to bring joy; I am able to fully appreciate myself and other people around me. When I am in my full power, there is nothing I wouldn’t be able to do.

*To defuse stress I need to realize what I have control over and do something about it and realize what I have no control over and let it go. Act when I need to act but don’t anticipate negative things.

July 14, 2005

*Five opinions I have that I am not willing to compromise on are:

-- Regardless of creed or colour all people are created equal.

-- Take people as you find them; not as others tell you they are.

-- Everyone has a right to be heard.

-- I don’t believe that if other people don’t believe in Jesus/God that they won’t see God/Heaven or an equivalent.

-- There are many paths to the same God.

*To fully express my own desires I need to be more selfish. You know, having written this I remind myself that life is about balance, and I do express my own desires and I do live my life reflecting someone else’s priorities.

*It can’t only be about me and at the same time, it can’t only be about others. I count and the other people I care about count. It never has to be at the expense of either me or them losing themselves.

*When something goes wrong I turn to my family.

*Seven of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen are:

-- The faces of my children and Wahid.

-- The ocean in Tobago.

-- The island of Mykanos in Greece.

-- Angelique on her wedding day.

-- The sky – morning, noon, or evening.

-- When I first met (laid eyes on) my children.

-- Helping Angelique get her classroom ready.

*How come I’m 49 and I don’t have many (at least 49) joyful moments. I think I am always on; always guarded. Guarded against what? Looking the fool; not having a tight control of myself? What’s up?

*I’m questioning whether I am just thankless? I need to teach myself to find joy, not to wait for it to find me.

July 5, 2006

*Our anniversary spent having a blood transfusion.

July 14, 2007

*I am grateful to Wahid for putting his family above everything; respect he has always shown me; hard work he does to support our family; showing me a man with tremendous character; for my beautiful children; and trying because life is hard sometimes.

Flash Forward

I am happy and for the most part I know it.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Grateful














I want all of you to know that the hope, compassion, prayers, powerful energy, and downright loving thoughts that you have been sending to me and my family especially my Mom, Jacquie, and Sheldon is truly amazing and absolutely appreciated.

My very dear friend Karin did this painting for me in her journal on July 23rd, which was the day of Jacquie and Sheldon’s surgery and she described the image to me.

“I know you are each standing in the flames, but I also know you are each surrounded by each other and rings of others, who see you in light and love, who are praying for you and holding you in strength.”

I have had many dear friends mention on their blogs what has been happening in my life and asking for further prayers or loving energy. I have had more paintings done and poems written and I want you all to know I will never forget this.

I want to repeat the sentiments my dear Allegra wrote.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The kindness of strangers is truly the milk of human kindness, and we all know, myself in particular, what a restoring force that can be when everything around seems to be turning against us.”

I am forever grateful to each and every one of you for the support that you have shown to me.

Love Renee xoxoxo

*artwork by Karin Bartimole

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Times Three No. 4















Have you ever been as lucky as I am to have a nephew like Sheldon in your life? If you have, then you know just how lucky I am.

Thursday

Colette and I leave at 6:30 a.m. to get to the hospital on time to see Jacquie before her surgery. Ben and Jennifer are there and so we get to spend some time together.

Jacquie is strong but she is completely exhausted.

Colette and I are alone with Jacquie and I tell her that when I am getting something done or if I am in a machine I say the 23rd psalm, especially the part of ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me.’

As I tell her this Colette and I are crying. Jacquie touches my head and says ‘You two, I am not going to die.’ I tell her we know that, it is just I want to remind her that she is never alone, no matter what.’ Jacquie says she is going to say that when they start putting the screws in her head.

Jacquie’s surgery was to start at 9:30 instead it starts at 10:40.

Last week when Sheldon heard that he has cancer and Nathan shaved his head. He gave himself an alter-ego and called himself ‘Hector the Mexican cancer killing bastard.’ You have to know here that Sheldon is funny, and I mean really funny. (His alter-ego is of someone that is not afraid of anything.)

Jennifer took her Mom to the operating room and said before they brought her in the room, that Jacquie had wanted to call Sheldon to encourage him and wish him luck in his surgery. They got her through to St. Boniface on the phone. Jacquie called him Hector and he answers back Maria. It was very funny to me.

Jeanine is with Sheldon and I don’t know exactly when his surgery starts but in the end they were both having surgery at the same time.

Suzie, Mickey, Camille, Colette, and I are all waiting for Jacquie. We talk, we cry, we play a game, we do crosswords, we are silent, we cry, we re-assure each other. 4.5 hours later the surgeon comes in and tells us that Jacquie did well.

He was able to take out a frozen square which the pathologist was able to do some tests on immediately and through that test we find out that it is brain cancer, it is aggressive, and it is 4.1 cm. Another biopsy was taken and should be back in about a week and that will give us the rest of the information. We also learn that they were able to remove half of the tumor.

I phone Ben immediately and tell him and he lets me know that he will go and tell Gilbert and Jennifer. I will stay with Jacquie until he gets back to the hospital with Jennifer and Chrisy.

The rest of the sisters leave so that Ben and Jennifer can have some privacy. The sisters leave Health Sciences to go to St. Boniface and see how Sheldon is making out. I think Jeanine, Joey, and Shelly are at St. Boniface already with Sheldon.

They allow me in the recovery room and I sit with Jacquie. Right away she says ‘Hi Renee.’ I ask if she is in pain and if she remembers anything. I tell her I love her. I tell her the kids will be here soon and they will see her when she is in the step-down room.

Jacquie said she remembers when they told her that the cancer originated in the brain and that she said to them, well that is a good thing then; and the surgeon said ‘not necessarily.’ And then she said she didn’t hear anything else he said.

As she sleeps I am crying and counting numbers in the room so that I don’t start sobbing and wake her up or scare her. I add up the bed numbers, her blood pressure numbers, her oxygen level, etc. etc. I have to keep myself from thinking of her little grandchildren and how much she adores them. And how much they would miss her and she would miss them. I remind myself she isn’t going anywhere yet.

They ask me to leave as they are moving her up to the 5th floor for step-down. I go up there and as I am walking down the hall she comes in.

After 30 minutes I go in and she is a little more awake and as a matter of fact she looks better than she has for days. The stress of waiting for this operation is at least over.

I ask her if she is in pain and if she needs more medicine, she tells me that the drain in her head hurts. I look and see all the staples in her head.

I ask if anything hurt during surgery and she said that the staples were the only thing that hurt. I asked in what way; like a pinch; are like a shooting pain; or what exactly? Jacquie in her deadpan way says ‘Renee, it hurt like getting staples stapled into your fucking head.’ I laughed and she smiled. And I have laughed ever since thinking about it.

Ben, Jennifer, and Chrisy came and we are wrecks. Ben is very strong and holding us all together, but we are all wrecked. We stay for a few hours and then leave. Jennifer stays with her Mom and Angelique came and stayed with Jennifer.

Ben drops me off and goes to St. Boniface to stay overnight with Sheldon. Sheldon is still not out of surgery.

Friday

2:00 a.m. Sheldon is finally coming out of recovery.

At 8:10 Jennifer calls to see if I am coming up to see her Mom. I tell her I will be there around 9:00 a.m. with Gilbert.

When Gilbert and I get there Jennifer is gone with Jacquie for a CT scan. We wait for about an hour for her to come back.

While we are waiting, Suzie and Camille come in. Not long after Colette and Shelly come in, and not long after that Dane comes up with some flowers for Auntie Jacquie.

I tell them that Gil is going to go in first with Jennifer because only two visitors are allowed in there at a time. Then after that, I will go in and then it can go in the order of the people that have come to visit.

I also say that if after Suzie and Camille visit Jacquie that they come and visit with Sheldon so I can go home as my back is sore. Colette and Shelly will stay with Jacquie till another visitor comes. You see Jacquie doesn’t want Sheldon left alone.

I thought that was all agreed too, but it didn't get done that way.

Jacquie looked good. We stared into each others eyes for a very long time. No words were needed. After Jacquie tells me how happy she was to get to see a picture of Domenic that Angelique brought her and how much she loves him already.

Jennifer, Gil and I went to the hospital to see Sheldon. He was in good spirits but boy I felt so broken up.

Sheldon was in surgery for a very long time, I don’t even know how long. He went in at around 2 p.m. and came out around 2 a.m. At one point they didn’t think he would make it.

You see, Sheldon wouldn’t stop bleeding.

They removed a tumor the size of a small football. It was pressing against the pancreas and the liver.

They had to remove Sheldon’s stomach. The surgery was so long and so difficult they decided to move his esophagus to his neck and in about six months they will go back in and reattach it to his intestines.

I was devastated. I am devastated.

Sheldon will have a feeding tube for about six months. During that time he will have to start chemotherapy. After that they said he will heal enough to reconnect everything. Sheldon has a long road ahead of him.

I got to spend the whole day with Sheldon yesterday. I got there around 11 and stayed till 4:15 p.m. and Sheldon is amazing.

Sheldon is the most amazing 25 year-old I have ever met.

When I was crying he would say ‘Auntie Renee it is okay.’ ‘Auntie Renee, I am thankful they removed my stomach because they have saved my life,’ when Sheldon said that I started to feel thankful too.

The doctor came in and Sheldon thanked him for saving his life. The doctor said that at one point they didn’t think he was going to make it. But that Sheldon was doing really well right now. He told Sheldon not to care about the bag at his neck or the feeding tube, because they are nothing, they are only there for a short time. That six months was not a long time and that before he knew it he would be able to eat and drink again. The doctor made me feel better.

Throughout the day I saw how remarkable Sheldon is. How he was grateful and looking at his life as a fresh start. That he is here and everyday is a new beginning. That he will do whatever he has to do and that this will one day be a bad memory.

He was his usual self and even when he got back from the recovery room he told Ben to hold his hand and when Ben did he said ‘now we are peeing together.’ He told the male nurse while he was making him comfortable that ‘I have a man crush on you Ken.’ He is amazing.

He cried when he thought of his Mom and I cried too.

Colette came up and showed him a video that his Mom got her to record and so it was nice for Sheldon that he got to see that his Mom was doing well.

Mom, Harry, and Stacy came up to see Sheldon and Mom was crying and telling Sheldon how he looked so good. Sheldon said ‘Grandma I’m okay, I’m okay Grandma.’ Mom said she had the worst day in her life with both of them in surgery. (The H1N1 was no longer considered for Mom so she had been removed from isolation.)

They told me that Angelique brought the baby to the hospital to see Mom and that she was downstairs. I was going to see her for a few minutes but the two men said they had to leave right away. In the end I could have gone and seen her as they stayed for about 30 minutes. (I was fucking pissed but would never argue in front of Sheldon. I wanted to be with him and would never want him to think he was a burden.)

Suzie and Camille came up around 4:15 and so did Ben and Chrisy. I went up to see my Mom and stayed till about 5:15 p.m. and then phoned home. I could barely walk to the car as my back feels like dead meat.

Nathan was coming up to see Sheldon and I went home.

Sheldon and Jacquie’s attitudes are remarkable. They are brave. We are warriors. St. Michael, Guardian Angel of Warriors fight with us. We are in the battle of our lives. We are in hell and have to march straight through.

God just give us one break. Please let Sheldon’s biopsy results be good. Let Sheldon be cured of cancer. It would be nice for Jacquie too, but at this point, please let Sheldon be okay. Jacquie and I would both be very happy to leave this earth if you can give Sheldon a full life.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Times Three No. 3













Have you ever been as lucky as I am to have a sister like Jacquie in your life? If you have, then you know just how lucky I am.

Wednesday

Colette and I go to the hospital to see Sheldon at 8:30 a.m. When we get there, Sheldon is talking with Shelly and Joey. Joey stayed overnight with Sheldon.

All day long we hear the stories that he will be operated on today. He won’t be operated on. They are doing another scope. They aren’t going to do the scope.

He is getting more blood transfusions and has had four units so far this morning. We think he may be released again. Sheldon and I have discussed that when he is released he will stay with me at our house.

Sheldon and I are talking; whispering to each other really.

I have told Sheldon he is a warrior now. “You are a Warrior now Sheldon. This is war and you are in the battle of your life. You can do it. Whatever you need to do, you can do it.” He is 25 and knows that he is up for the job.

“Are you okay?” ‘Yes. It is what it is and I will be okay.’ “Yes, dear Sheldon, you will be.”

Ben and Chrisy come in and they will stay with Sheldon and so Colette and I leave. We will come back in a few hours as Ben is going to stay the night with his Mom in the hospital. Jennifer will come and sleep the night with Sheldon.

I go get tea and then go to the 5th floor to visit my Mom. I put on a gown, gloves, mask, and glasses. I love my Mom so much and we have a nice visit. It is a hard day and she is worried. Mom tells me that I am a wonderful person. I tell her that I love her.

It is 1:50 p.m. I go see Sheldon; Ben tells me that the doctor and oncologist have both been up. They are going to give him a scope and the oncologist believes from everything he has seen that it is gastric lymphoma. So there is huge hope for it to be cured with chemotherapy.

It is 2:30 p.m. and I need to go home, I need to sit for five minutes, I need to have a sleep.

I go to bed at 4:10 p.m. and Ben calls me at 4:30 p.m. to tell me that they are going to give Sheldon the operation either tonight or tomorrow. The scope showed that the tumor is still bleeding and it won’t stop.

At 5:30 I get out of bed and go talk to Nathan. He is sick and has bronchitis. Wahid and I go to St. Boniface in the emergency department where Sheldon is still waiting. Gord is sitting with Sheldon and tells us they showed him the pictures of the scope. The tumor is bleeding all over the place.

Suzie, Camille, and Jeannine come in. Jennifer arrives to stay the night. The nurse tells us he is finally being moved to the 4th floor which is where the surgical department is.

Suzie starts crying and telling me that Jacquie’s operation has changed. They are doing a bigger surgery on a bigger part of the brain.

I tell Wahid, let’s go and see Jacquie immediately.

Jacquie is exhausted. Jacquie is in pain. Jacquie and Ben and Wahid and I sit and visit. Jacquie kind of falls asleep and then wakes up.

Jacquie and Ben tell us that the surgeons have a new plan. Jacquie will have a bigger part of her brain cut into. They are going to take a frozen square out. They will get the pathology to look at this square and it should only take fifteen minutes to determine the where, when, whys of this cancer. If in fact it is cancer which they are absolutely certain about. Jacquie’s head will be left open while they determine all of this. Then they will continue the surgery by marking the parts of Jacquie’s brain where feelings are (We all forgot to tell them that Jacquie's brain is nothing but feelings. Feelings for everyone but herself). They will scoop out the cancerous part, or as much as it is safe to do; after Jacquie will be given radiation and chemo.

The operation should take about four to six hours.

Ben is Jacquie’s oldest child. Jennifer is Jacquie’s only daughter. Sheldon is Jacquie’s youngest son.

All of Jacquie’s children are amazing and she is so proud of all of them. They are so amazing. Ben is sleeping over in the hospital with his Mom. Jennifer is sleeping over in another hospital a few miles away with her younger brother.

I tell Jacquie how much I love her. She tells me not to worry about her as she is in shut-down mode, I tell her unfortunately I’m not in it, and she tells me well hurry up and place yourself there.

Jacquie’s operation is at 9:30 a.m. today. I tell her that I will see her in the morning. I tell her I am afraid and she tells me that she will be okay. I kiss her and hug her. Wahid kisses her and hugs her for a long time. Ben and I are both in tears.

Wahid and I leave and Ben finds us half way down the hall.

‘Auntie Renee my Mom said to tell you TOGETHER STRONG.’

I’m bawling and tell him that I have to go back and see her and tell her TOGETHER STRONG too.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever

While I am telling her TOGETHER STRONG and practically lying on top of her; she tells me to tell all of my angels to pray for her. To pray for her and her son that will be operated on; on the same day.

Please everyone pray and send the most wonderful and loving energy to my darling sister and her amazing son.

God please.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Times Three No. 2


















Proof that only bad things happen to good people.

Sunday

Nathan ‘Mom, Auntie Jacquie called and wants to know if we want to go see her and Sheldon, so we need to go right away.’

We go, Nathan shaves Sheldon’s head and we take pictures and laugh our heads off. They hang out in the pool. Jacquie and I whisper our fears and then quickly remind each other of hope and what the results better be.

Monday

Two a.m. and Nathan says ‘Mom, you have to get up, Auntie Jacquie called and we have to rush back to the hospital the ambulance is at her house.’

I fly out of bed and brush my teeth and comb my hair and shove on the clothes that are lying on the floor.

Nathan turns to Jacquie’s house and I ask “Where are you going, we have to go to the hospital?” ‘Auntie Jacquie said to stop at her house first.’

Ambulance and fire truck are outside. We park on the street and I run in the rain while lightning is flashing.

I run in the house and I see Sheldon standing in the hall. I am completely disoriented by this “Sheldon what are you doing standing?” ‘It’s not for me Auntie Renee.” I see his Dad standing around the corner. I look in the bedroom and Jacquie is being put on the stretcher.

Jacquie is clear and wise and calm and brave and telling them what is wrong.

I go tell Nathan to come in the house and that he will stay with Sheldon but if Sheldon looks dizzy or feels faint to call 911. Gilbert and I drive to the hospital.

Jacquie can not move her left side of her body. They have been doing the tests, she had a CT scan earlier in June and the neurologist said that it wasn’t her brain. They think she is not getting enough oxygen to the spine. MIR will need to be done.

At 6:30 a.m. I call Mickey to come and stay with Jacquie because I am dead tired and need to go home and sleep. Wahid picks me up, and I sleep for two hours.

I have to be back at the hospital because I have my own cancer appointment and will be there for two hours getting pamidronite.

I get my treatment and then go see Jacquie. Jacquie is numb on her whole side and can’t move. We wait.

I go see my Mom who is still quarantined. They have lost her swab to test for H1N1 so she needs a new one and will have to stay in quarantine for ten more days.

I go to Angelique’s for lunch and phone to set up the appointments for Sheldon with surgery and oncology.

I am back down with Jacquie, I am very worried. The doctor comes in and tells her oldest son and I that they are transferring her to Health Sciences.

The CT scan that was clean was not so clean after all. The MIR shows a brain tumor over four centimeters. Jacquie is calm. Jacquie is cool as a cucumber. Jacquie doesn’t care because she is thinking of her young son.

They are transferring Jacquie by ambulance and I am to go with her. I climb in the ambulance and sit beside Jacquie. We talk; she just wants to make sure Sheldon is okay. I tell her he will be. I tell her he is my son once removed and I will make him my priority until she is back on her feet.

Nothing is real. I am in the twilight zone.

We get out of the ambulance and I trot behind the men pushing Jacquie. We wait, we get taken to another room, and they do an EKG. Her heart is good. Because her left side is numb she is slumping. The nurse moves her over and Jacquie felt she was going to fall off the bed. Jacquie says ‘Be careful, you almost pushed me off the fucking bed.’ The nurse looks offended. I tell Jacquie she only feels that way, but there is lots of room.

Jacquie’s left side is numb and the bed she is on is broken. We get left alone for ten minutes and Jacquie is slumping on the bed. I am holding her with both arms and pushing her so she doesn’t fall. She is saying that she is in pain and can’t take anymore. I am laughing my head off. She starts laughing her head off. We are both so god damn tired, and so she continues and keeps making me laugh. I have a sore stomach because she is making me laugh. ‘Honest to God Renee, I am about to snap!’

The doctor sees us and tells us the top surgeon will see her in the morning. They will have to do a biopsy of the tumor. They will cut her head and take out the bone, take out a piece of the tumor and put the bone back on.

Tuesday

It is 12:30 a.m. I get home and go to bed.

I get picked up for the hospital at 6:30 a.m. so that Jacquie’s husband and I can get to the appointment to see the top surgeon.

He comes to talk to Jacquie at 7:10 a.m.

Not good news. They think it is cancer. The biopsy will tell us. The doctor asks Jacquie if she has any questions. She has some, but sounds as calm as if she was asking what kind of mustard he was going to put on her sandwich.

Jacquie is calm and brave and in shut-down mode.

(I was just thinking is it only Tuesday, but its not it is now Wednesday at 12:33 a.m.)

I stay till 4 p.m. but I must go home and have a sleep. I hate that my darling sister has this. I don’t think I can stand anymore.

Is this a cosmic joke? Are we the laughingstock of the universe? Do you want me to say “Uncle?”

I fall asleep at 6 p.m. and wake up at 8 p.m. Ben has called me and Sheldon has been rushed back to St. Boniface. Colette and I go to the hospital.

His blood is back down to 69 but when the surgeon came in; he said they don’t think it is internal bleeding again. They give him another blood transfusion.

Joey is going to sleep the night at the hospital with Sheldon; I tell him I need to go to bed but will be up first thing in the morning.

“I love you Sheldon.” ‘I love you too Auntie Renee.’

My Mom is lying in a hospital bed thinking of her daughter and grandson. Please send all your prayers and positive energy to my dear Mom.

Sheldon should have his results in a week. Please send all your prayers and positive energy to our dear boy.

Jacquie will have her surgery on Thursday. Please send all your prayers and positive energy to my dear sister.

I love you Mom.

I love you Sheldon.

Oh my God Jacquie, how I love you.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Times Three


















Fifty years have been added onto my life in just three days. When God giveth he makes sure to taketh times three. He insists on payment for his pound of flesh.

One

“Hi Nathan.” ‘Mom, Grandma is in the hospital she was rushed by ambulance.’ Nadalene is on her way here.’

My mother was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday, July 15th. She was struggling to breathe and had a lung infection and respiratory problems.

I arrived at the hospital first thing in the morning and was met by Mickey, Colette, and Jeannine who were just coming from her room. Colette and Jeannine had slept overnight with her.

When I got to the room my cousin Rosemary was fixing her bed and plumping up pillows to make Mom as comfortable as possible. My Mom was gasping for breath.

While I was there the nurses told Mickey and I that because of the respiratory problems she was going to be placed in a private room because of H1N1 (swine flue). Even though they felt that she did not have it, it was new hospital protocol.

We have been gowned and masked and get to visit all we like.

Mom is much better and they think she will be out of the isolation room within a few days.

Two

‘Renee’ followed by silence and crying. “Hello? Hello?” More crying. “Has Mom died?” ‘No.’

My sister is very ill and cannot go to the hospital and asks if I can, as her son is being rushed into emergency as his blood is very low. “Yes, I can go immediately.”

We think it is a bleeding ulcer. Blood levels keep dropping. There is internal bleeding. X-rays are done, CT scan is done, and now a scope has to be done.

My nephew comes back from the CT and tells me ‘It is not what we thought. It is not a bleeding ulcer.’

The doctor talks to me ‘It is lymphoma and we think it is gastric lymphoma.’

I have to tell my sister, his mother.

Three

Mickey sleeps over night with my nephew and I go first thing in the morning.

After five units of blood his blood is still dropping and it is now down to 62. The surgeons come in and say they may have to remove his stomach if the internal bleeding does not stop.

Mickey talks to the doctor privately ‘Can you live without your stomach?’ ‘Yes’ the doctor says ‘you can.’

After another unit of blood and four hours later the bleeding has stopped.

The doctor states ‘He can go home now and oncology will phone. We are still waiting on the biopsy but as soon as it is done there will be more testing and chemo will have to start.’

The doctors say it is a curable cancer. Of course they have to wait for all results, but right now I am running with ‘it can be cured.’

It has to be, we love him so much.

He is only 25.

He is very brave.

I am willing to be the pound of flesh, just leave him alone.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wednesday's Women No. 30


















I am a tale as old as time. Some call me Mother Nature and others call me the great Earth Mother or Mother Earth. It really doesn’t matter what you call me, what matters is how you treat me.

Some say I come from the clouds while others say I come from the Earth itself. What does it matter? What difference does it make?

I am the Mother of life and at my breast you all feed. I nourish the plants which in turn nourish all living things whether in the seas, in the air, or on the earth.

I have never forgotten you, why have you forgotten me? I weep for you, why do you not weep for me?

*artwork by David M. Bowers

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Regarding Domenic


















I have a wonderful tale to tell. It is a tale of a very brave woman who labored and labored and shared with her very own mother a beautiful little baby boy.

The brave woman in question is my very own daughter Angelique and the beautiful little baby boy is my very own grandson Domenic.

Magic was afoot, love was in the air, people were getting married and a beautiful little black haired boy was getting ready to be born on the same day in July that his great-aunt had been born 55 years previous.

A Christmas delivery happened on the 12th day of July. It was shortly after noon when the earth smiled in pleasure to welcome Domenic. Domenic was born on July 12, 2009. And though Josephine is Domenic’s big sister, he really is the bigger brother as he weighed 5 lbs. 8 oz. which was 2 oz. more than Josephine.

So my head is spinning and I don’t quite know where the days have gone. But I am happy, very happy indeed.

I did know. I could imagine. I definitely believed it. You see I had already had his big sister for two years. I already knew that love could be this grand. I got it.

My grandson, Domenic Mathias Khan St-Hilaire has given me more pleasure in one day than I have had in years of living. We are better for having Josephine and now her little brother in our lives. Nothing is taken for granted; I know how lucky I am to see them.

Domenic looks quite a bit like his big sister but just as there is no duplicating her, there is no duplicating him. He is one of a kind. There is no one else in the world like him and there never has been and there never will be.

Domenic your future is without boundaries, you have the hopes and dreams of all the tomorrows ahead of you. You are a gift and I love you unconditionally and beyond eternity.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Regarding Jacquie















Jacquie was 1 ½ years old when I was born. Jacquie had two older brothers and had four older sisters; she was the 5th girl born and the 7th child in a family that would be comprised of 13 children. Jacquie was the middle child in our family having six older and six younger siblings.

Jacquie is the only other member of my family that was born in The Pas, Manitoba. I happen to be the other. Our Dad was working on the trains at the time and the local priest, Father Rene Major, was the person who suggested both of our first names; Jacqueline and Renee.

Many of my earliest memories of Jacquie are of her hanging out with Camille. The two of them were inseparable.

I have so many memories of Jacquie from my childhood. I remember Jacquie as being serious and athletic. Jacquie was the top female athlete at our school and there is nothing Jacquie could not play well. I don’t remember a sports team that she wasn’t the captain of. And you know Jacquie always took it in stride and as a matter of fact. I remember cheerleading and Jacquie would ask ‘Why do you want to do that?’ And I was like ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ And she would say ‘Well you can play on the team instead.’ And I would be like ‘Why would I want to do that?’

Jacquie is the one person in the family that everyone is crazy about. Whether you are her sister, brother, mother, father, niece or nephew or even great niece like Josephine they are all crazy about her.

Jacquie is the only person I know that I would say that when she sees God, he will say ‘Well done!’ She is also the one person that when I see God and he is interrogating me hard, I am going to ask that Jacquie come and negotiate for me; as she is tenacious and never gives up. I am sure with her negotiations she can get God to slip me in the backdoor of Heaven.

Jacquie and I had so much fun when we were in high school and I have so many memories from our teen years.

I remember when I was in Grade 8 telling the teacher that Jacquie was having some problems and that I would have to be excused from the class at some point during the day to go to her classroom to make sure she was okay, and it would have to happen for about a month, I could bring the teacher a note if she needed. She said it would not be a problem. So everyday I would climb the stairs at school and go to Jacquie’s class, knock on the door and tell the teacher I needed to see Jacquie. Now Jacquie hated attention being drawn to her and would get up from her desk and come to the door, shut the door, and stand in the hall with me while I said ‘Our Father who art in Heaven’ and we would kill ourselves laughing (in a silent church-type way) and then she would go back in her class with a red face and everyday it would be repeated except by the second week just when I would knock the kids would say in unison ‘Jacquie, Renee is here.’ har har har.

I remember when we went to Banff and I was probably 16 and Jacquie 17 ½ and we both had boyfriends. We were staying there for a few days and Colette and I met the cutest French boys from Quebec. They could barely speak English which was even cuter.

Anyway some of the boys liked Jacquie and wanted to see if they could meet her. I got Jacquie to come for a walk with me and Colette and we ended up at a big open fire pit. Jacquie was so straight laced she would barely talk to the boys. I’m like going to kiss one and she is disgusted because we have boyfriends and I’m like so what? Anyway, I for one know she wishes she had kissed them now.

Jacquie was a beautiful child with auburn hair, lots of freckles, and blue eyes. I would say that Jacquie and Mickey are the most beautiful looking women in the family.

I’m laughing because I’m thinking of another school incident where Jacquie was in Grade 11 and they were trying out those open classrooms and so the Grade 9’s were in there too and Jacquie would pretend to her teacher that I did not know how to speak and so Jacquie would interpret for me. I would go to her side of the class and make hand signals and Jacquie would have to tell the teacher what I was saying. Jacquie would look at my hands so seriously and then look up to the teacher and say that ‘Renee needs a quarter for milk or Renee needs to borrow a pencil.’ One time I did it and Jacquie said that we both had to be excused so we left the school so Jacquie could go home and watch some soap opera wedding.

Most of my memories with Jacquie involved either fun at school or fighting with her over her boyfriend. I would always say he was a creep and she would always want to kill me for saying it. One time when my parents were away on holidays and Suzie was watching us, Colette and I were fighting with Jacquie, Camille and Suzie. Jacquie was coming at me because I said her boyfriend was a loser (amongst other things) and I picked up my parents coffee table and threw it on her. Well holy shit, Colette screams at me to run and we both hightail it the fuck out of there while Jacquie, Suzie, and Camille chase us. Har har har, what fun. Good times.

Nadalene gave Jacquie the name A.J. (Auntie Jacquie) and so that is what they all call her, except Nathan on many occasions just says ‘Auntie Jack.’ Since we have had kids we have become the very best of sisters and our children have attended the same school and sometimes been in the same classrooms as they are the same age and they too have become the best of friends. Josephine is always wanting to go to A.J.’s pool.

When I was diagnosed with cancer Jacquie was completely devastated. She seemed more devastated then me.

To tell you what a saint Jacquie is, she quit her job to take care of me for the first two years that I was going through chemo. She took care of me everyday so that my husband and children could keep working and doing what they needed to do. Jacquie is the most selfless person I have ever known. I seriously don’t understand that kind of love. I am grateful however.

Jacquie is serious and has the memory of an elephant. When Shelly can’t remember what her kids did when they were little she will call Jacquie and Jacquie will tell her what they weighed and when they walked.

I am Jacquie’s favourite sister and she would freely admit it.

Describing Jacquie I would say that she is very attractive. Jacquie has the nicest hair of all of us and beautiful blue eyes. Jacquie is compassionate, strong, loyal, selfless, kind and considerate. Jacquie has always had pets and animals love her. I am happy that Jacquie is my sister.

‘Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.’ ~~ Susan Scarf Merrell ~~

I love my sister and she means the world to me. Jacquie thank you for the privilege.

Happy 55th Birthday Jacquie. Love Renee, Wahid, Angelique, Nadalene, Nathan, and Josephine.

*artwork by Kelly Vivanco

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Thursday, 9 July 2009

I Find


















A woman approached the great Indian saint, Ramakrishna, and said: ‘I find that I do not love God. The concept does not move me.’ He asked her “Is there nothing in the world that you do love?” And she said ‘Yes, I love my little nephew.’ Ramakrishna replied “There He is.”

~~ Unknown ~~

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Pages 27 - 30














‘Cancer – 50 Essential Things to Do’ is a book by Greg Anderson which I used as a guide to journal what I needed to work through in the immediate aftermath of being diagnosed with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer in February, 2006. I’m broken down and I need the paths of others who have gone before me. I need them to lead me across the water and to tell me how best to save myself.

Quotes from the book will be in italics.

Find A Positive Support Group (28):

Cancer patients who regularly attend support group meetings live longer than those who do not.

In a study of patients with advanced breast cancer, those who attended a weekly two hour support group session had a life expectancy twice that of non-attendees (Standford University).

Two types of support groups are informational and psychosocial.

Psychosocial support groups are more critical to survival.

Look for groups that take a stance of hope without denying the reality of the illness.

You want to encourage personal growth, not have a pity party.

Read And Study These Books (29):

Knowledge is power. Educate yourself!

Wahid said ‘you cannot be in denial about your health.’

Make sure you read books that are current; as changes to cancer treatments and outcomes change every day.

Discover Your Beliefs (30):

Cancer, no matter how advanced, may or may not mean death.

*A wide range of treatments do exist. The difficulties in recovery are far outweighed by the benefits.


Your response to a problem is more powerful than the problem itself.

The fact is, there are long-term survivors of every type of cancer, including many patients who have been told by their doctors that there was no hope.


When I think of my cancer diagnosis, my thought is let’s get started on my treatment and get rid of the cancer from my body.

I believe my cancer treatment is going to be successful and that no matter what the treatment is, it will be more than doable.

The one thing I believe would best help me is conventional treatment and a positive attitude.

Reframe Your Cancer (31):

Cancer is not a threat, it is a challenge.

Your mind and spirit have cancer only if you allow it to.

What belief about cancer do you want to change? That it can spread faster than my treatment can get to it.

What does holding this belief currently gain you? Absolutely nothing.

How might you change that belief and view cancer as a positive challenge? I can change that belief by remembering that my medical team is constantly doing tests and knows exactly where my cancer is and is giving me the best treatment to eradicate the cancer. I have the best minds and the best of medicine at my disposal.

Writing this down and bringing it out in the open has already helped me. My belief in my treatment is strong.

*My experience of the illness will be largely determined by the way I think. Too true!

The way I think is something I can choose.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Happy Anniversary No. 2


















Today is our 34th wedding anniversary and I think that we are happy enough.

In my post entitled Happy Anniversary http://circlingmyhead.blogspot.com/2008/07/happy-anniversary.html I talked about my wedding. If you are interested in reading it, I hope you enjoy it. As I mentioned in that post I can only give you my version as Wahid prefers to keep his version out of my blog.

I look back on these 34 years since our wedding day. I reminisce and think that it took me forever to become 34 years old, never mind be married for 34 years.

The past 34 years have not been perfect. We have had our struggles and survived. We are loyal and committed and we choose to love each other every day.

I make a conscious choice to love Wahid every day (it is not a hard thing to do).

We were so young and so naïve when we got married. But you know what; maybe that was a really good thing. Those were the times when you just let the days come to you, carefree days where you had faith in each other and the world. There was the faith that love would always be there like the comfiest sort of blanket which covered you in warmth trailing a scent of wildflowers in its wake.

Our marriage has been a collection of regular days which were inserted with four miracles; Angelique, Nadalene, Nathan, and Josephine.

That we have gotten this far was not a miracle and it really wasn’t a lot of work.

Stretched out behind us are 34 years of putting our egos aside, of having children and focusing our attentions on their needs and not ours. Of having children that simultaneously drag us apart and sew us together.

In the midst of the marriage I thought time would keep a steady pace but now as I look back on it I see that it has been speeding up.

I have mostly been happy in my marriage; but is happiness the measure of a marriage? I ask that question because everyone always talks about how happy they are. How their marriage is and always has been fantastic.

I don’t believe that people themselves are happy all of the time, so how can they be happy in their marriage all of the time? Just because someone is not happy at some points in their marriage does not mean they have a bad marriage.

I believe that when you are doing things in the marriage you have to stop thinking about how it could be better and enjoy it the way it is. Let your head be present in the experience and not outside of the experience criticizing it; thinking about how it could be better and how it is not good enough, when in fact, it is more than good enough. In my marriage, for me, there has been a real need to drop the fantasy and enjoy the reality.

Wahid is very good looking; and I mean very good looking. And while I was watching him the other night I was overcome with affection for him. I am overcome with love and respect for this man who has walked with me in marriage for the past 34 years. I am comforted knowing that he is in my life.

I know that any problems we have had are small potatoes compares to what may be ahead of us as now we live in tornado conditions. I know that with Wahid in my life his support will help give me the strength I need to see myself through.

Happy Anniversary Wahid; you are better than any fantasy could ever be.

Love Renee xoxox

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Friday, 3 July 2009

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Regarding Shelly


















I was five years old when my sister Shelly was born. Shelly had three older brothers and eight older sisters; she was the 9th girl born and the 12th child in a family that would be comprised of 13 children.

Many of my earliest memories of Shelly are of her lying beside me in bed and telling me little stories of her days at school and then I would always tell her how brave and how rightly she behaved in every single situation.

I have so many memories of Shelly from my childhood. I remember Shelly as being a little more quiet than the rest of us and also a little more loved by all of us.

Shelly being the youngest girl has always been spoiled and well loved by all of her sisters. We are all crazy about Shelly. In many ways I think Shelly is the most serious of all of us girls while at the same time she has a real ability of being so funny.

Shelly and I had the most fun ever in our shared bed for three (Mickey also slept with us). I remember Shelly trying to teach me how to crochet night after night after night and if I remember correctly the wool was yellow and in the end I think Shelly made a scarf out of it. I have always read a lot and I remember Shelly would go to bed and I would go with her just so that I could read to her while she fell asleep. Sometimes I think she must have been like my little doll and I could never get enough of her.

When Wahid and I first started dating Shelly was only 12 or 13 and she met Wahid at the bus stop for me because I was sick. He offered her a cigarillo and she told me later in bed and we laughed our heads off. I mean who would offer a 12 year old a cigarillo?

I remember when we traveled across Canada and the States, I always wanted Shelly to be able to come in our car because she was such a cool kid (and truth be told when she wasn't around I felt like I was missing an arm). Shelly totally knew how to chill and go with the flow. But sometimes we would have to take the other kids because they wanted a turn in the crazy car with me and Suzie too, and when that would happen I remember always whispering ‘You can come with us at the next stop okay Shelly?’ And she would say ‘Okay.’ And sure enough at the next stop I would ask ‘Mom can Shelly come with us now?’ and Mom always said ‘Okay Shelly, go with Renee.’

Shelly was a beautiful child with dark brown hair down to her waist and blue eyes. Shelly would probably tie with Jacquie for the most freckles in the family. She was covered. Shelly is a gorgeous woman with incredible eyes.

Most of my memories with Shelly don’t necessarily stand out as hilarious memories but more always as heartwarming meaningful memories; memories that I hold dear to my heart. We have always had serious conversations about any and everything. Me telling Shelly what I believed in; and Shelly telling me right back that she believed in the exact same thing. We were truly a match made in bed-partner Heaven.

When Angelique and Nadalene were babies and I worked evenings Shelly would come over right after school to baby-sit them until Wahid came home. Shelly would take them to dance classes and acted like a little mother. They loved their Auntie Shelly and they still do. Shelly was my bridesmaid and is Nathan’s Godmother.

Josephine takes right after her grandma in how she feels about Auntie Shelly. Yesterday when she saw that Shelly was coming to the house she screamed 'Shelly' and flew to the door and into Shelly's arms. I myself have wanted to do that same thing too many times to count.

Shelly is quiet and smart and introspective. I think that she is sometimes misunderstood because she is probably the most different of all the sisters. I always get Shelly though, it is as if I know exactly where she is coming from.

Even though Shelly was the youngest girl; she was also the coolest in many ways.

I am Shelly’s favourite although for years she has tried to say that she loves all her sisters the same. Others have bought it, but I know it is total bullshit.

Describing Shelly I would say that she is very attractive and looks younger than she is. Shelly has beautiful blue eyes and is smart, compassionate, cool, loyal, and witty. I am happy that Shelly is my sister.

A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double. ~~ Toni Morrison ~~

I love my sister and she means the world to me. Shelly thank you for the privilege.

Happy 48th Birthday Shelly. Love Renee, Wahid, Angelique, Nadalene, Nathan, and Josephine.

*artwork by Kelly Vivanco

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Canada Day No. 2














Shouting out a great Canada Day from my beautiful province of Manitoba where you just raise your arm and you can touch the stars.

I have many reasons to be proud of who I am and where I come from. And today on Canada day I would like to tell you one of the reasons why I am very proud to be a Canadian.

In 2005, Canada passed a law to legalize same-sex marriage and when that happened I was very proud. Canada along with Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Belgium, Netherlands, and Norway recognize the rights of all their citizens to marry.

By becoming the fourth country in the world to allow same-sex marriage; I believe it has only enhanced Canada’s image as a decent and tolerant nation. By recognizing the commitment of marriage between same-sex couples, Canada has signaled to the world that there is a secure place for homosexuals in our country.

Welcoming homosexuals into the compact of marriage is the surest sign a society can send that it no longer considers them beyond the pale.

Happy Canada Day everyone!