Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's hard being... helpful

Last night, at midnight, Mrs. Spit called out that I needed to put on my shoes and come help. A single mother with her teen aged daughter were moving into the house next door. This woman is in this house thanks to help from Mrs. Spit talking to the owner of the place. We finished at 2 am... but they're coming back with more stuff today.

I am some kind of tired.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A crack in the armour

Tonight I was two different people, yet I was the same person.

I spent time telling the mother of a dead baby that life as the father of a dead baby sucks. It sucks that we are shunted to the sidelines. It sucks that we are expected to not feel the same depth of pain as the mother of our dead baby.

Later, I went over the completed scrapbook of my son that my wife prepared. When I came to the page with the hand and foot-prints of my son, I started to cry. An outpouring of emotion like I haven't had in months flowed over and through me. My eyes stung and the tears flowed. And it sucked.

I am eight and a half months away from the day that my son Gabriel was born, and from the day that my son Gabriel died. And my pain is still welded to the fabric of my being. I don't feel it as vividly every day. But when I paid attention to it tonight, it was as if I had just stepped out of the delivery room after my son was taken to the morgue.

My heart, my body, and my soul weep for the loss of my son. And yet I feel obliged to try and help another man whom I have never met forge his way though the pain that he feels.

Just when I feel like I am coping and wearing this burden of my son's death, it reaches out from an unexpected yet not unfamiliar location and reminds me that I, too, am human and that I, too, still mourn his untimely, unfair, and unjust loss.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Absence makes the heart grow fungus

Sorry for the land of missing posts on this blog.

Work has been... I think stressful comes close to describing it. Regular posting will be returning shortly. Even sooner if my temporary housing gets internet access and I can do this from outside of my office!!!

Off to more paperwork...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Riding the balloon

I was sitting in my baby loss support group tonight when I realized that I had completely missed the fact that it's been eight months since Gabriel was born, and eight months since he died.

Two thirds of a year have passed. Two thirds of a year, and I was tearing up tonight listening to a new member of the 'club' describe the loss of her little boy all of 4 weeks ago to a rare genetic disorder where his lungs didn't work properly. I felt jealousy for a minute, as she had her little boy alive for 5 weeks. Yeah, he was intubated in ICU, but alive.

This woman is still immersed in her grief. Four weeks ago today she and her husband (both doctors) made the decision to take their son off of life support. She is still bewildered by her emotions and grief. It seems so long ago when I was in that place. Yet I can take myself back there so quickly that it astounds me.

Hindsight being 20:20, I can see that the stupidest thing that I did after Gabriel died is that I went back to work. I should have taken at least three months off from work. I wasn't ready to work. I couldn't concentrate on my job. I was not effective. It would have helped me to not work. Eight months out, I'm still not in the same place I was before Gabe died.

As I teared up tonight thinking about my son, my heart just cries out to have him back. I think about how he would be five months old right now. I think about the dreams of the future that I had while he was still growing in Mrs. Spit's womb. I hear men talk about how the birth of their child changed them for the better. I've changed, but not because of the need to raise of child. I've changed because I had to cremate a child and because this still weighs me down.

I realize tonight that as much as I'm interacting in the world, doing my job, continuing on with the business of being a human in this society - I'm still carrying my grief with me wherever I go. My grief is a hot air balloon. When Gabe died, I was carrying the gondola on my shoulders, with the balloon bundled in the basket, completely deflated. Over time, I've been able to inflate the balloon so that the weight I bear is reduced. Of late, I've been holding onto a line to the balloon, just keeping it from drifting away. But there are times when the air in the balloon cools off, and the basket drops back onto my shoulders. Often I can fire the burners and the load lightens. And then there are times, like tonight, when the balloon is almost completely deflated and I feel like I'm being crushed its weight.

I want to set it free, but I cannot. I want to put it down, but I cannot. I want to be in the basket, showing Gabriel a new view of the world that is new and magical. I cannot do any of these things. I can only grieve. Times like this, when the weight is most on my shoulders, I hate this damned balloon.

I just want my son.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Intrasigent rule-bound companies

I had the semi-distinct pleasure of being tasked to observe some pile driving for the past two days.

Rather than take some days off to work on my major home-reno project that has been limping along for a year, and which is taking up about 70% of the main floor of my house, I got to watch some pile driving. For a pipeline company. Building a little metering station.

Now, of all the fun things in the world, counting blows for pile driving ranks right up there in the right up there scale. Similar past-times include: counting leaves on the ground; counting cars on a train; counting blue cars in traffic.

So here I was, doing blow counts. Life wouldn't have been so difficult if the work was not for a pipeline company, working on land owned by a major chemical manufacturing company. But alas, the rules for the land-owning corporation state that we're mandated to wear FRC.

FRC = Fire Retardant Coveralls. Nomex.

First off, I don't own any of these. I work in the bridge construction business. We're not usually too worried about the concrete and steel constructs catching on fire. Usually we're involved with a watercourse... so if there is fire, it's not difficult to deal with. Explosions are few and far between when we're talking about concrete.

Second off, nomex is not what I would classify as a breathable material. It does a good job of holding in body heat and perspiration. Couple this with feet encased in leather steel-toed boots and wearing a hard hat.

The good news is that I was able to borrow some FRC from the contractor for the length of my time on the site.

The bad news is that the weather has been sunny, clear, and 31 degrees Celsius for the past two days.

I've melted and am somehow typing this post from a puddle of goo on the floor...

Wake me when winter arrives please!!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On small towns

I've had the distinct pleasure… err… opportunity… umm… happenchance to visit many small towns in this province that I reside in. It's not what I call home, as that still rests in British Columbia.

So I've seen tiny towns (pop 58), small towns (2,000), bigger towns (4,000). And what always surprises me is the need for people to erect some statuary, some marker, some thing to mark their town in the minds of visitors.

Take Vegreville for my first example:
There is a large Ukrainian community in and around the town. Painted eggs, or Pysankas, are a cultural marker. So they built one huge egg for the travelling public.

Then we have the town of Dawson Creek. They proudly sit in the Peace Region of B.C., anchoring the manic construct of the U.S. Army during World War 2 - the Alaska Highway. So in the centre of town - and not actually ON the highway anymore - there is the Mile Zero marker. I've known people who grew up in this town. They tell me it's always a laugh to see the many people taking "the trip" from somewhere in the continental US up to the "promised land" of Alaska and stopping to take photos of themselves on this marker.

I always wondered - did these people actually notice the scenery through Canada in their headlong rush to the former property of the Tsars?

And lastly for today, I have this beauty of a marker. What relation does a huge squirrel, tucked away in the town park, have to the town of Edson?!?!? I'm told it was on the town seal.

A. Squirrel.

I'm chalking this up to yet another one of those things that I just don't understand.

Tell me about some of the weird, odd, large, or peculiar markers / monuments that you've seen in your travels - or that live in your town.