Sunday, 30 June 2013

You Are My Sunshine

Our oldest dog Samuel, a Maltese/Shihtzu cross is getting on in years. We found him quite unexpectedly on an unseasonably warm Mother's Day weekend in Cowichan Bay where we had met my parents for lunch. We were walking along the main strip when we came across a large wire crate parked outside a store. In it, with no protection from the sun, was a bedraggled seven-month old Samuel and an assortment of much tinier Shihtzu puppies, all attempting to play with the stoic bigger dog who stared miserably through the wire. I went in the adjacent store and asked if he was for sale and whether I could hold him. With that, the lady lifted him out and into my arms and one look into his old soul eyes and we were a family. We bundled him up in an old towel she gave us and in his last act of defiance against her, he pooped on the floor of the store. From the minute we began the hour long drive home, he settled into my arms and didn't tremble or make a sound all the way home. It was like he knew he had found a safe landing.

We later discovered on his first vet visit that he had ailments typical of severe neglect and having been left, likely in a wooded area, without proper care and attention. He had ticks, severe infections in both ears, was under-weight and the list went on. When we would let him out in the yard, he would paw desperately at the dirt, looking for bugs, as if that was the diet he was accustomed to.

From the beginning it seemed he has suffered more than his fair share of accidents and ailments, including a vicious attack by a German Shepherd in our neighbourhood who was later declared dangerous and leaving him with horrible wounds on his neck and back. Then last year a diagnosis of a form of doggy colitis that caused him significant discomfort. We landed back at the vet hospital yesterday, when the symptoms of his colitis came back with a vengeance after months of relative peace. And so another night to experience the dreadful absence of Samuel, our eternal lap dog, who is happiest with one small white paw perched gingerly on his dad's leg waiting for his tummy to be rubbed. Unapologetically, he is our child - our sweet and perfect boy. And as much as he needs us - our need for him is such that our hearts break at a day away from him - our sunshine, our eternal light.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Hunger Pains

The comic Louis CK uttered the following: "The meal is not over when I'm full. The meal is over when I hate myself". This would rather morbidly describe my relationship with food. Imagine if every decision of every day where food is concerned invokes a stressful mental marathon - the tallying of what may have already been consumed and what is likely to come after. A simple discussion around going for coffee turns into a complicated gymnastics of thought - what size coffee and will there be a temptation with many calories are allowed? All day long - every day - a complicated negotiation - plotting how many hours must go by before the next battle and other moments of complete denial followed by the panic of what has been consumed. I often imagined where all of that energy might have been used had it been directed to something useful and how much I had to compensate to maintain a semblance of normalcy. Of course you learn very quickly none of it is really about food - it is the symptom of a different problem - and yet the symptom never goes away.

I was once asked to draw a picture on a large sheet of paper of what I thought my body looked like, then someone traced my actual body on top of what I'd drawn. I was convinced they had made a mistake as nothing matched the picture I'd created...with its monster arms and cartoon legs - a pencil caricature of the outward appearance I was sure I was showing the world.

I suspect if one is a heroin addict or addicted to alcohol, life may appear to be an endless series of social situations where the drug of choice seems present or perhaps, attainable. However, it is possible to live and breathe without both of those items. Perhaps not happily, but if those demons are overcome one could avoid scenarios where actively saying no is not an issue. But food is the unending temptation and there is not a moment of the day in our food-obsessed culture when people aren't actively anticipating their next meal, analyzing the meal they just had or plotting what they might consume in the future.  If you strip any pleasure out of the experience, what you are left with is a feeling on the other side of normal - and a raw, gnawing hunger for some kind of peace that could consume the moon.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Peas in a Pod

I had a chat the other day with a former colleague who, like me, is exiled from work due to her health. It was the height of comfort to settle in with someone for whom all of the usual questions are already understood and discussing the particular state of "carrying on" when an expiration date hangs like a cramped umbrella over your head. We laughed at how our daily routines have altered from our previous working madness to being traumatized by having two planned outings in our calendar in a week. A casual question from our partners like "Could you pick up something for dinner?" - loaded with meaning - in that it would require actually changing out of our normal pyjamas and leaving the house. And the hurt of being excluded from activities we know we would probably say no to if we were asked. We talked about what a watershed these experiences are - bringing out the most incredible love and caring from unexpected sources - and the chilling silence from some for whom we confused a working relationship with friendship - a phenomenon I've had a lot of time to ponder in my year away. Overall, we all need that validation - even in unfortunate circumstances - that what we are feeling and experiencing goes with the territory and the sense that we truly are not alone. While I long to spare her her current struggle I find myself so grateful to know that someone else has woken up this morning and wondered when or if she'll change out of her bath-robe. A burning question that I already know the answer to.

Monday, 24 June 2013

A Career in Two Boxes

This past week, after almost a year of putting it off, I finally made it back to the Ministry of Health to pick up the two boxes I had left behind when I resigned my post. They had been stored in someone's cupboard and all but forgotten until I called to say I would retrieve them. (Technically, I didn't make it into the building - but to the front door where two of my former staff kindly lugged them to my car.) There is nothing remarkable about the contents - some personal items that passed for decoration in my old office and things I saved and carried with me over the years - announcements that I had worked on that had some meaning, clippings of news stories I'd been part of, photographs, personal notes from staff and Ministers I had worked with and other bits. There are many reasons why it took me this long to make the effort to take them away - not the least of which was the false hope that at some point I would have the option of returning there and my life and job would be as they once were. There was precedence for this, in that I left and went back to the Ministry at least four times for short stints in education and a couple of the health authorities during my 17 year run. But from the beginning this felt different in some intangible way. In the beginning I felt relief at my decision - even elation. I was free and that feeling carried me for a long time. I was incredibly tired after what had been a grueling last couple of years.

Gradually I assimilated and went through the process of setting up my own consulting business - but somewhat half-heartedly, clinging to the notion that once I had recovered - life would return to some kind of normal. Until eight months later and the fateful doctor visit where I discovered my kidneys were failing. In retrospect of course I know that had that visit happened before my decision to leave, I would likely be on paid sick leave right now - a luxury of public service I know - but one that is meant to protect you when bad things happen. But that was not to be and so I get by without it and so far I have managed without leaning on taxpayers for support - something I dearly hope to avoid. But I am at that point where I check my bank balance daily and try to measure how long it will last vs. how long I might have left - a gruesome math exercise but there you have it - it can not be avoided.

So now the boxes - the sum of everything I worked for sit unopened in our front hallway - and I find I can't bring myself to touch them - to feel the weight of this ending and sort through the remains of my working life.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Lord Help the Mister Who Comes Between Me and My Sister

I overheard some women discussing the fact that they would never know what it was like to have a sister. I don't think I'm overstating things to say I sometimes felt the same way, even though I had one. That sounds much harsher than I intend, but the fact is even though we have lived in the same city for much of our adult lives - our paths and experiences were very different and it often felt that we lacked the basic connection or closeness one comes to expect from siblings. When we were very small, our differences led to all sorts of spats and indignities. Karen once famously put tape down the center of the bedroom we shared and forbid me to go on her side - as she believed in order and tidiness and I, on the other hand, did not. It broke down eventually as I couldn't get to the closet.

Karen in many ways carried the role of caretaker after our dad passed away and I think some part of her needed to protect herself by not caving to emotional excess - whereas I carried the drama of my feelings to extremes. She protected me as best she could, appealing to my aunt to give back the soother she'd taken away from me in one of the frequent attempts to wean me from it by saying "just look at her face" - which I assume was crumpled and teary. She would win the prize of most responsible - even when she was very small and she interceded on my behalf on many occasions. At the same time, she found it frustrating to have me tag along and would actively try to escape me when she was trying to enjoy the company of her friends. As we grew older the competitiveness that seems to accompany members of the same family emerged. My mom describes a particular end of year piano concert - and the fact Karen was crying because she didn't get chosen to play and I was crying because I did. This seems to sum up how fundamentally different our world views were - even then.

But Karen has a persistence and sense of duty that has meant in any circumstance, she will be the one to make the overture to keep our family together in all sorts of thoughtful ways. She has a fierce loyalty to her friends, her children and to me - that is admirable in its intensity. She is warm and smart and incapable of saying no to anyone who might need her time or attention and I often felt short-changed by this instinct as it sometimes seemed to leave little time left for me. However, I know from her perspective that I often made excuses for not taking the opportunity - when it was available - of grabbing a window in her busy life.

Now we both find ourselves in many ways making up for lost time and trying to find what unites us, knowing the time available may be limited in a way we didn't anticipate. And in my mind, I am three and she is five and she is holding my hand and leading me down the road and I am happy to hold my palm against hers and put one foot in front of the other.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Baby Love

There is a moment when people stop asking you if you will ever have kids. I suppose it just doesn't seem to be a relevant question anymore. But up until that point, it is a frequent topic of conversation among women of a certain age and it is one I used to get quite frequently. For the most part I would answer that I didn't know - and to be honest I never imagined that I would be very good at it. As with everything else in my life, a major factor in contemplating bringing a child into the world was my eating disorder - and while I know many women successfully navigate through a pregnancy with that affliction - it didn't seem like the best idea - nor did I relish imposing all of my issues on a tiny and helpless human being who would have no option but to put up with me. Still I had moments when despite all of my misgivings I couldn't help but daydream about this phantom child, a small but sturdy wee being who would invariably be introspective and a bit of a worrier. Sometimes a boy, but more often than not a girl - who would escape all of the clouds hanging over my life and flourish in eternal sunshine. But more realistically a flawed but hopefully resilient person who would spend her adult life working through all of the madness her mother imposed.

I remember seeing a doctor once in my early twenties who suggested having a baby might be the key to overcoming my eating disorder because I would be "less selfish". No doubt this would have been true - as anyone with babies knows your life is no longer your own - the natural shift that occurs when your world tilts to their needs. I suppose if you have children there is the vanity of imagining that a little piece of you lives on when you pass. In my case I know my legacy - such as it is - will have to rest with the rememberances of people who knew me and in the words I leave behind - that will naturally fade and wane in the passage of time. And in my heart, I will cradle my never-to-be baby - whose sparkling eyes will glint in the sun.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What We Can't Afford to Lose

A dear friend very unexpectedly lost her mom the other day. They had been together at a family gathering and her mom flew home a few days in advance and passed away while her daughter - and only child - was on her way home. It seemed so incredibly cruel - coming as it did less than a year after she'd lost her dad. I thought about the shock of this news - and all the complicated feelings that come along with losing someone close to us - particularly a parent.

Many people believe we revert to our childhood selves around our parents and in many ways it makes perfect sense as the past is where we knew one another best. So it seems to be a comfort to throw on the coats of the roles we knew so well - no matter how ill-fitting they seem to be at times.  We fight for what is familiar and spend too much time disappointing one another by failing to live up to the expectations that go along with loving someone who is supposed to know you so very well - and yet seems blind to pieces that seem so vital. The words of a parent are fraught with meaning - in a way that defies logic to an outsider - and it can be perilous trying to navigate past the old wounds, the long-simmering hurts we've inflicted on one another. And yet even now, when I feel low - I am a child late at night, feverish and ailing - and my mom is at my bedside rubbing my back and whispering her sympathy and making me feel like I am free to close my eyes and nothing bad will happen. I ache for my friend - for her loss - and for the empty place where her mother's arms once were.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Dear Books...

It's been a long time. Since March 28th to be exact. Forgive me because you know how much I love you, but for some reason since my diagnosis every effort to find relief in your pages has been for naught. I have never gone through a period this long away from you - but I've find it impossible to escape my thoughts long enough to immerse myself in words except in short spurts that don't lend themselves to the kind of time we used to spend together. So today, when my Mom decided a visit to Munro's was in order, what could I do but pretend we had some future together - that it was okay to commit to something that might take more than five minutes because I'll likely be around long enough to get through. So I left the store with two of you - no Kobo reader - real honest to God pages - to turn and hold and savour - until the bitter end.

Dear Shae Alosius Montgomery Greenfield

Well my fishy wee taco, I am gratified to say that after living through many momentous world events - the fall of the Berlin Wall, the apparent end of Apartheid in South Africa, the re-election of the Liberals last month - I have survived long enough to greet the arrival of the Kimye child. In case you missed it - it's a girl and I know your thoughts are filled with many worries on her account such as: Will she have enough closet space? Which of her parents will drive her into therapy first? Will she be spending future holidays with a super-model in Montreal? Will People magazine have to hire even more staff to capture her every moment on film? It was heartening to know Kanye ripped himself away from his adulterous lifestyle to rush to the Kardashian's side and I am sure he was a great help being an unselfish sort always concerned about others. In case you were wondering what to send along to the new arrival, a solid gold rocking horse is available for under 1.3 million dollars. Score!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sunday Serenade

Almost a year since leaving my "real" job and I still can't escape that feeling that only Sunday night can bring. From the time I was in school, Sunday was always my least favourite day of the week. The weekend for me really only covered Friday night and Saturday - Sunday was its' own landscape - carrying all of the particular anticipation and often dread of the Monday that would follow. That night more than any other I would find myself tossing and turning and staring down the clock radio as the minutes and hours ticked by...meaning even less rest to face what would lie ahead. What was left unfinished on Friday evening that would have to be addressed, what homework hadn't been perfectly completed, what rituals would need to be endured - describing some series of activities that would compare to those of colleagues or friends who casually asked "how was your weekend?". When I was young, the Sunday night routine included watching programs like Sonny and Cher or the Carol Burnett Show - and I remember being acutely aware that when the programs were over it would be time to face the torture of going to bed - the racing mind - envisioning the monsters of the coming week and making them larger and nastier than could ever be realized when the morning came. I have no reason to carry the weight of this day around with me - and yet old habits are so hard to let go of. Which brings me here - to just another Sunday night - and a few more monsters to face.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Karma Police

I often tell people I believe in karma - what goes around, comes around - that there are some natural rules of justice that dictate those who have wronged us will find some just reward for their efforts. That punishment will be meted out in equal proportion to the crime - perhaps not immediately but in the fullness of time. Not surprisingly, this is a topic that comes up in Victoria where we are used to seeing flashes of bad judgement and ethical faux pas in the political domain that naturally lead one to say there must be a consequence to this - but it doesn't always work out that way.

Of course suggesting this means that in the context of my own life I have to face the uncomfortable thought that my current state is some divine comeuppance - my penance for some list of misdemeanours that came before. When you grow up in the Catholic faith, as I did, you become accustomed to tallying up your sins - it comes with the territory - as you never know when you might be thrust into the confessional to recite them from memory. So I can look at my current state and elements of my life that came before it as universal payback for the list of wrongs I keep handy or turn it round and say all of this is a cleverly disguised gift - allowing me to feel the weight of the love of people close to me and many who are not so close in the known time I have left. On any given day I find myself pondering what the karma police are saying. The jury is still out.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Art of Letting Go

When I was little I hung onto my small yellow and ultimately frayed blanket with a tenacity bordering on mania. My mom informs me that when she pried it from my hands to wash it - I would stand mournfully in front of the washing machine waiting for the ordeal to end while she attempted to reassure me it would reappear at some point. This should be an indication of my fondness to let go of things - blankets, bad boyfriends, bad habits, bad jobs - I can cling on with Olympian endurance. So I find myself now struggling with the notion of the things that I can't hang onto and trying not to fall any further down the rabbit hole of wishing my final time away on the things I can't have. Chief among them is work and the realization that as much as I imagined stepping back into the life I had - with a job that consumed me - my body is not up to that challenge - and everything I put off, declined or failed to pursue using my work and my slavery to an incessant email trail as an excuse sits there now in my consciousness - a list of what was avoided and what cannot be reclaimed.

I suppose I imagine there are legions of people out there who face challenges similar to mine and do so with benevolent grace. I want to find that place - that acceptance and crawl into it, with my blanket wrapped around me and nothing but love in my heart.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Dear Shae Alosius Montgomery Greenfield

So you are starting a new job. How exciting! We are all beside ourselves with anticipation. I assume you were up half the night wondering what to wear. Fortunately you need not spend time worrying about what to do with your hair. In an effort to assist a few thoughts:

1. Do ensure you are up on current events. For example - I hear the Maple Leafs are out of the play-offs. That was sad. Or, how about those senators? (And by that I don't mean the hockey team - I mean the other disgraced ones in Ottawa)

2. Be punctual! I assume in Toronto this means rising at 330 am for an 830 start.

3. Don't start an office pool on which of your bosses will end up in a grainy video akin to Rob Ford. At least not in the first week. Week two would be acceptable.

4. Smile at everyone. Even the ones in the office who look shifty. They may look that way not because they are deranged but because their cat passed away.

5. Polish your griddle! They were very keen on the pancake-making Shae during the reference check and one assumes they'll now be expecting this...likely not on your first day. Phew!

6. Ensure when you bosses pass by your desk your computer screen saver is something lofty and highbrow - so they know you mean business. Save your monster trucks and Kardashian updates for home.

Best of Jewish luck!

Friday, 7 June 2013

How Much Time is Enough?

I read the other week about a three year old Salt Spring Island girl who passed away after a car accident. I thought about the special kind of hell her family must have now entered and how every moment that passes and every special occasion will be a reminder of her absence - the tyranny of what could have been. It is hard for me to equate anything I may be experiencing with this overwhelming loss of one so young.

Conversely, after a few days in hospital - which is increasingly the domain of the very old - one can't help but ponder how technological advances can keep us going long past our natural sell-date - when quality of life is questionable at best and the daily indignities of helplessness reveal themselves in uncomfortable ways. Either of two inevitabilities seem to occur if you last long enough - a mind as sharp as a nail inside a body that fails to obey the simplest command or a mind that has drifted into Neverland with a body that continues to move and twist and carry on in the oblivion. Nurses and others do their best with these charges - but you can feel the frustration seeping in - and there are uncomfortable moments when the touch of a withered arm or the tone of voice seems a little too sharp and the language often becomes a kind of forced condescension one might use on a child who is misbehaving. And I sat there thankful that during my stay I could drag my I.V. cart around the hallways by myself and get my own drink of water - avoiding the raw and complete dependence of my fellow patients. Family members would show up occasionally or on a pre-set schedule, sitting dutifully by mom or dad's bed, wrapped in the goodness of fulfilling a duty they didn't particularly enjoy, but being present nonetheless. I imagined them ticking off a box each day, no real meaning or emotion but a sign that they'd been a good child - while waiting for an end that will not come.

I think about all of this in the context of contemplating how much time is "enough" on this earthly soil. What moment constitutes enough before it is acceptable or natural to go? How long does one fight to carry on when the body is failing and when is intervention about what other people want when your body has naturally and emphatically spoken?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

When the Parade Passes By...

There is no sugar-coating it - I am in a slump. The kind of slump that makes the thought of putting words out there in the world painful and every idea that flies into my head gets shot down my own personal team of sharp-shooters who would prefer I just remain silent when I am feeling this way. There are lots of reasons and no real reason.

I guess I am starting to feel like a bit of a bystander in my own life - not strong enough to really participate and every event or activity that is a little more taxing than the bare minimum seems to knock me out. For the first time I can say that I am starting to feel physically like a person who has something seriously wrong going on - and while this shouldn't be surprising, I think I was under the illusion it wouldn't happen quite so soon. Then there is the sun. Everyone who knows me would know that in the summer, I love being in the sun and am normally a nice shade of brown by July. (Yes, I know tanning is evil). But because vitamin D is another thing my body can't process properly, I'm supposed to be avoiding it and it's petty and childish, but on a sunny week like this one, forcing myself into the shade makes me dreadfully unhappy. Of course, there is also the fact that my partner Kirk is spending time with his kids in Toronto and will be heading off to Spain on Saturday, a trip I am thrilled he is taking but one I imagined we would take together - maybe - some day. Plus the new cabinet gets announced tomorrow, which I'll admit seems a silly thing to have on the list, but it is the first time in many years when that announcement hasn't been a big deal to me as getting a new minister when you work in government is transformative in so many ways and I know all my former colleagues will be bracing for the changes that are sure to come.

So to sum up, in the course of a week I feel like I've shifted from being "brave" and cheerful and zen-like to being sad and sick of my own thoughts - and I am so disappointed in myself for going there that hiding seems more appropriate than writing right now. It seems the height of self-indulgence to share these things - and yet, here I am. Forcing the words out and waiting for this to pass.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

More Tales From My Grade Two Notebook

All About Myself - November 26, 1973

My name is Michelle. I am eight years old. I have one sister and one brother. I like school very much. I like art and I also like gym. (Liar!) I like to skate but my skates are too small. (Someone buy her some skates, for God's sake!) I used to have a lot of pets but they all died. I sometimes like arithmetic but sometimes I don't. (Mostly don't!) Sometimes I wish I could have long hair but my mother and father think I look cute with short hair. (Again with the hair!) We watched the Grey Cup yesterday and invited my Aunt and Uncle. We had chips and we had pop. It was a good game!

Monday, 3 June 2013

My Nephews - A Love Story

When my sister Karen went into labour, my mom - who had been waiting for her moment to snap into action, hopped on a plane and made it from Prince George to Victoria in a little over an hour where she was picked up by one of my sister's friends who kindly agreed to escort her to the hospital. My mom famously leapt from the still moving car in the parking lot in her haste to set eyes on the chosen one and the love affair with Liam began. He being the first grandchild - there aren't enough words to describe our excitement about his arrival. Sadly I had to wait a few weeks before my introduction - but as I have described to him on many of his birthdays since, if I close my eyes I can still feel the weight of his tiny body on my shoulder when I held him for the first time - and almost 21 years later the memory is in no way diminished. He was beautiful. The first time Karen left me alone with him, I was lifting him out of his little swing when his foot got caught in the seat. As I was trying to free him, I inadvertently bumped his forehead on the top of the swing and he started to cry - which made me start to cry and when my sister came home she found us both wailing - me arguably louder than Liam. Fortunately, we both survived with no permanent damage.

We waited two more years for his brother Andrew to come along - and when first we met he was sitting on his Grandpa's lap with the world's most twinkly eyes and a huge smile. Also a memory I try to embarrass him with on his birthday. I always imagined the time when they were little would be magical and it was - they were curious and full of energy. Liam as a baby learned to hook his toe over the crib and shimmy down and escape causing his Grandma several more grey hairs. Andrew had a passion for the jolly jumper and would happily bob up and down in a doorway, gently spinning, and laughing the entire time. My happiest moments with them was holding one of them in my lap and reading - something they both seemed to love from the time they were little. As much as I treasure the memories of the toddler years, I've found so much more to love as they have evolved into the young men they now are. I have been in agony when they were sad or stressed and ecstatic at all the moments when life went their way.

A few months ago Andrew turned 19 and wrapped up his first year of university. He is talking about being a teacher, following in the footsteps of his parents. And wee Liam, who is no longer tiny, turns 21 this week and wrapped up an amazing year in film school and can do things with a computer that astound us. Their lives are marching on and we all fuss and worry about them just as much now as we did when they were small and I don't expect anything will change that. They are kind and funny and smart - and they will never know how much my heart has broken and expanded by knowing them - how proud I am of the young men they've become - how lost I am at the prospect of not knowing how their stories end.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Remains of the Day

Nora Ephron once wrote about the phenomenon of couples "dating" other couples, a twosome with which you found yourself compatible in a sea of potential other suitors where one or the other of the partners gets on your nerves. Once you've landed on the "ones" - you find yourself anxious for their call and ultimately ease into the knowledge that on special occasions - birthdays and holidays - weekend evenings, you were likely to find yourself in one another's company. Rick and Angela were such a couple in our lives, Rick having known Kirk from work long before I was in the picture and the three of them had bonded in a way that my arrival could have altered, but fortunately didn't.
We dined together, danced together, sat together at staff functions and traveled together on weekend getaways, to concerts and once did a more expansive trip together to Montreal.

It was on that trip to Montreal, that the first signs appeared that something was wrong - nothing blatant - just an under-current of something you couldn't quite put your finger on, and while we all loved the city and did the requisite things one does there, little cracks were starting to show. In the midst of it, someone stole my wallet which seemed to be a fitting occurrence given the mood. The two of them had moved back to Winnipeg for work opportunities by that time, with Rick going on ahead and Angela moving in with us for a time while she wrapped up her work in Victoria. While we were gutted to see them go, I think we imagined a long distant version of our friendship filled with visits and occasional adventures - a less frequent but still relevant connection. But not long after they completed the move we were devastated to learn that they were going their separate ways. It is the habit when such things occur that you are tempted to "pick a side" with the party you feel most wounded. Maybe it was because we were so far away or because we knew that both parties in these situations suffer pain, that we retained some kind of co-existence.

Through the magic of social media we could follow the evolution of their separate lives and today can marvel at the fact that Rick is in a loving relationship, with two of the world's most beautiful kids and is obviously the kind of dad that most men couldn't even aspire to be. Angela has found a wonderful partner of her own and her career has taken off - she owns her own business, works incredibly hard, travels and embraces life with gusto - and as much as our history involves the two of them together - we can see how fate has drawn them to places that seem meant to be. I say all of this because this weekend, for the first time in nine years, we received a visit from Angela, with her partner Jim, and we are navigating a new reality with the same love and appreciation for our shared past - but respect for the new reality - the shifting landscape that brought us here. We love - and yes we miss - the couple they were but embrace the new lives they built out of the ashes - the remains of those old days, which seem so very present when we look in one another's eyes.