Without much doubt, for the majority of us, 2020 has unfolded, and continues to play-out in ways nobody could have thought possible. All the hopes, dreams, and well thought out plans for this year were soon to laid to waste by the fear, paranoia and the realities caused by COVID-19, as well as the fallout from our respective government's actions, reactions, and/or inactions. As people we know and love took ill and/or died, there was, and also is, a huge financial toll on both businesses and individuals throughout the World. No one could have expected all that has happened since late February, nor does anyone have a Crystal Ball to show them what is to come in the near future. Will there be a Vaccine??? Will there be a Second Wave during the Flu Season???
On a certain level, this strangely reminds me of how 2007 was for my family. The year began with a small sense of optimism, with Darrel working with a tutor to potentially go back to school, not as many extended hospital stays, and all five of us spending more time under the same roof than apart for the first time in a long time. We all were aware that there would be many hurdles still to overcome, but for an ever brief time, we almost came to believe that we could be one of the more fortunate families battling against neuroblastoma. The Scan results from early February, and even worse information at Easter time were both brutal and devastating reminders that childhood cancer knows no limits, and rarely shows any mercy.
I have discussed much of what happened during those last few months in previous Blogs, but needless to say, a great many of those hours, days and months are full of moments that blur together in a soupy haze, while others consist of memories that I can still remember in every precise and painful detail 13 years later. After Darrel's death on September 9, 2007, as we attempted to pick up the shambles of our forever broken family, we had no idea how we would cope, or what a "new normal", a normal missing Darrel, could/would/or should even look like. How would this affect my marriage??? How would Kira and Lauren be able to come to terms with losing their brother??? Questions without Answers...for many of us, that is what 2020 has become, much like 2007 was for my family. And just as there will be potential repercussions of COVID to our society for many years to come, adapting to having Darrel taken far too early from us drastically altered the path our lives seemed to be heading before we ever heard the word "neuroblastoma". Both of these are years that I would much sooner forget ever existed, but that is not the way of things. Time does NOT heal ALL wounds, and it seldom lets you choose what to remember and what it allows you to forget.
On Monday, Darrel's dog Lady celebrated her 15th Birthday! I never was much of a "Dog Person", but shortly after he was diagnosed, Darrel, said he wanted a dog, so that is when Lady came into our family. She may be partially blind now, has a few medical issues customary to small breed dogs, and not as sure of her footing as she once was, but Lady is still pretty much the same dog she was when Darrel with still with us. I often think back to Darrel's Visitations at the Funeral Home, and how Lady just curled up on one of Darrel's blankets we had placed up by his Urn. You could almost tell that she knew that she would never ever see her Best Friend again, and she was trying to remain as dignified and calm as she could, for fear of being taken elsewhere. Every once in a while she would wander around and check out, and even greet some of the long line-up of visitors, but would slowly and quietly make her way back to Darrel's side...one last time. I don't recall her ever barking, growling, becoming unsettled or even needing out during that time, but that was one of the more blurry moments after Darrel's passing for me. To this day, I am still so amazed and thankful that the Funeral Home had been so accommodating and insightful from the moment they heard that Darrel had died (and even before, as one of the Funeral Directors lived just down the street from us, and could tell by the comings and goings from our place that we would be contacting him soon). I have never heard of or seen a dog present at a Funeral before or since. It may seem like a small and insignificant gesture, but for my family, it a huge difference.
Later this month, on September 25, it will mark 3 years since my mother passed away. The Love and Bond between a parent and a child is unmatched by anything, but a close second is that between a grandparent and their grandchildren. My Parents (Grandpa and Grandma with the Car according to Darrel) had been there to help us with each of the kids whenever we needed them. It was a bit more difficult at first, when we lived in Brantford and Barrie with Kira, but we were back in Fergus again before Lauren and Darrel were born. There was Pure Joy in their faces every opportunity they had to share with my kids. This was even more true after Darrel was diagnosed with cancer. My Parents took a more active role in keeping a regular routine for my girls when Darrel and his mother were at SickKids in Toronto. As I was working steady Nights, the girls would sleep and spend a great deal of their time with my mother and father. My mother would also help out with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry duties, while still being at her work Full Time, and maintaining their own house too. For some families this would be way too much to ask, but not for mine...and I never even had to ask. They were there then, they were there when things fell apart with Darrel's mother in 2014, and are still there continuing to look out for me and the girls in 2020! Miss You Mom!!
In closing, I encourage everyone to try and find some Positive in all that happens in their daily lives. Whatever it is, there is a good chance that it may never happen exactly like that again. Things can occur beyond our ability to control, fix, or even avoid. If I were to have focused solely on the Negative, I would be bitter, and of little use my daughters or to anyone else...including myself! This is often easier said than done, but I can speak from experience, it is a worthy goal to try and achieve. Thank You.
Love and Miss You Little Man
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please consider turning your Social Media Profile Gold to honour, remember, and support all the children who are literally in a fight for their lives.