Something

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to write to you all sooner, but none of my ideas quite went where I wanted them to go. This might not be any better, but we’ll see how it goes. Before I start though, I want to thank each and every one of you for all of your support after my last post. That week was one of the toughest I think both Daniel and I have ever had and it would have been even harder without the amazing circle of friends and family we have around us. Now, onto this post, there has been so much on my mind in the last month, that I think I’ll start with a list and maybe, just maybe, we can make some sense everything together.

1. Brittany Maynard and Kara Tippetts

Over the last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about death and dying. It’s kind of funny, I remember reading Chicken Soup for the Soul with my Dad when I was younger and I loved the ‘Death and Dying’ section. He hated it and complained, so naturally, I made him read me more depressing stories. I don’t remember too many of those stories now, but two stories have recently come to my attention and they both make my heart ache. Brittany Maynard and Kara Tippetts are both dying from cancer. As of November 1st, Brittany Maynard chose to end her life in dignity than die slowly and painfully. Kara Tippetts wrote a beautiful letter in response to Brittany’s choice from a perspective on suffering that you rarely hear. I cannot say anything against either of these women or their opinions, but that they are both far braver than me. They have both been on my mind a lot, along with their two opposing views on death and dying. I think two questions that their journeys have highlighted for me are first, can there be dignity in suffering and secondly, does anyone really have control over their death and dying? I’m not going so far as to say that we don’t have control over anything and I’m not necessarily speaking against assisted suicide, I’m just looking back at my personal experience with chronic illness.

2. The Legend of Korra

I don’t know if any of you have watched or even heard of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, but you should give it a try. Yes, it’s a kid’s show, and yes, it’s a cartoon, but it’s one of the best things on tv right now and pretty close to my favourite show of all time. Each season builds on the last and deals with mature topics with such delicacy and understanding. This season, they have dealt with an issue that is rarely shown on television and hardly ever handled properly: PTSD. The fourth season took place three years after the third in the story timeline, and showed Korra grappling with what has happened to her. Three years later and she is still broken, struggling to return to her emotional and physical peak, haunted by an image of herself at her worst. The episode “Korra Alone” focused solely on her painful journey over the last three years and it doesn’t look like there will be a quick fix for Korra. Her story and her struggle have struck a cord with me and I feel her pain as if it were my own. Everything she tries only seems to give her a false hope that she can return to ‘normal’. Again, no one can help her truly regain control over her mental illness and it may be that she has to learn to live with a new ‘normal’.

3. Coetzee

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about two authors over the last few weeks. In my second year of university, I wrote a paper comparing Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment to Coetzee’s Disgrace. I’ve decided to revisit that paper and have been doing some research in my spare time, specifically related to Coetzee’s novels. J. M. Coetzee, a South African writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003, writes poignantly about the difficulty of moving past the blot on South African history that was apartheid. Most critics agree that in his literature, Coetzee struggles to find an appropriate way to move forward. In Disgrace, Coetzee follows David Lurie as he struggles with his own crimes and those perpetrated against his daughter, Lucy. These are such big issues and definitely, one thought is how can an individual be expected to to make amends for such systematic pain? How do we move past retributive justice?

4. Dostoevsky

In his review of Disgrace, Salman Rushdie claims that the weakness of the novel is that it does not “shine a light upon darkness, but merely becomes a part of the darkness it describes” (Rushdie, 2000). However, bringing in Dostoevsky and Crime and Punishment, there might be a different way to look at the ending. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov spends most of the novel struggling with himself about how to find redemption for the murders he committed. Even at the end of the novel, after he’s confessed and in a Siberian prison, he still isn’t at peace with himself. At the very end, something finally changes: time stands still and he imagines he is in the same time period as Abraham. It is here that Raskolnikov’s redemption becomes possible, where time and space is fluid and history has no bearing. In connection to Disgrace, Lurie finds some semblance of peace by euthanizing sick dogs and imagining their pain and their souls in a way he was not able to earlier in the novel. There is still no clear redemption for anyone by the end of Disgrace, but it almost points to something, something outside of South Africa and history that can bring a more lasting healing to a wounded nation.

So, looking back at all that, I’m sorry I don’t think about happier things! It still seems like a bit of a muddle, but I think I’ll try to bring it together. What all these have in common, at least for me, is  that the problems in each situation are bigger than an individual person, or even a nation of people. Our solutions, our human attempts to control disease, mental health and racism all ultimately fail and we are left facing a vast, gaping chasm of nothingness. But lately, all that nothingness has started to look like something. Death is outside of our sense of time, space, history and understanding and it’s in that very fact that I find hope. While we only get glimpses of something greater throughout our lifetime, Death is a gateway to something completely new and bigger than anything here: “After all, to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure”.

As always, thank you for journeying with me,

Laura

Backwards and Forwards

Hello all!

So before I get started, I want to apologize for being so delinquent this past year with my writing. I tried to write multiple times and I just couldn’t do it. Looking back, I think what I should have been writing about was something I was trying my absolute best to ignore and I couldn’t write around it. With that in mind, you might be wondering then, what brought me back. Well, a few things in the last week or so have worked as a catalyst in both good and very bad ways. First, I received a comment from someone who had read one or two of my posts and in some way, found them helpful. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to start writing this in the first place: to help someone going through something similar. Secondly, Daniel and I received some heart-breaking news this week that I’ll touch on a bit later. In between my hiding-under-the-covers and crying phases, I Googled “marrying someone who is sick” (not the best language, but you have to be blunt with Google) and found a blog post that really hit home for me called “Whatever You Do, Don’t Marry a Sick Man” . It was a refreshing and inspiring find after going through lots of depressing posts on message boards from people saying they how their partner’s illness has negatively affected their life. That got me thinking about our own journey and how we got here and what kind of future is now possible for us, and that’s something I want to share with you now.

I’ll start from the beginning. Daniel’s mom was my grade five teacher and that’s how we first met, at the back of her classroom when he had a day off and got dragged to our class. I really don’t remember much about that other than thinking “who’s that weird boy at the back?”. Fast forward a few years and a few family get-togethers, and we wound up at the same high school for grades seven through twelve. We really didn’t have much to do with each other throughout high school, and I only remember hearing about his health problems through overheard conversations with classmates or off-hand comments from my parents. It wasn’t until grade twelve that we started hanging out in the same group of friends and I started to notice him and think “this is someone who I could really like”.

Eventually, after high school, we started dating, but I still didn’t know much about his health problems. One thing that stood out was an off-hand comment about needles he made during a horror movie that hinted at what he had gone through, but even then, it was something that never needed to be fully addressed. My first memory of what Daniel being ‘sick’ really meant didn’t come until after we broke up when I got a text from him saying he was in the hospital. I’d been pretty sheltered up until then, and no one else I knew had ever been in the hospital like that before, so it was a big deal for me and proved just how real and scary Daniel’s health problems could be. Over the next year, he was in the hospital three or four more times and by that time, it was no longer something extraordinary or scary, but something almost – normal.

But this time, a year and a half later, was different. While his previous stays were only for two or three days, one – two – three – four weeks went by this time and he was still in the hospital. I visited him every week, and seeing him again made me remember just how much I liked him when we dated before, and just how much I still did like him. His health problem, which I had then identified as Evan’s Syndrome, had become harder to manage and led to a splenectomy. Not long after he got out of the hospital, we started dating again.

Entering into our second round of dating, we knew this time was different and would last a lot longer. Early on, we learned that Daniel was a candidate for a bone marrow transplant and had several good matches. This terrified the hell out of me and while Daniel was definitely on board for when the time was right, I was scared about what this meant for our future.

Fast forward to now. The bone marrow transplant happened about two years after they found a suitable match and now we’re a year past his bone marrow transplant and a month and a half into our marriage. Not long before our wedding, we met with a young couple that had also gone through a bone marrow transplant a few years ago. One thing I have been holding on from them is the fact that after about two years, his health normalized and now, it is no longer the focus of their life. After seven years, they have days where his health is no longer at the forefront and they can go days without thinking about that. That just sounded so unreal to me, that this thing that is so big and all-consuming now, could slowly fade into the background. That is my dream, and at times it seems so close that I can hardly believe it.

But, that dream that I have been holding onto, took a serious blow this week. Daniel heard from his respirologist that, if his lung function continues to drop, nothing but truly drastic measures might help. We didn’t get much more information than that, but that was enough to send us into a tailspin. I’m scared, and Daniel’s scared, that our life together will be cut drastically short and it’s hard not to feel cheated.

Now back to the article I read about not marrying someone who is sick. I’ve wondered what I would say to someone about to start dating someone who is struggling with their health, or even to my younger self. A part of me would say “stay away, there’s a lot of pain there”. But deeper down, I also know that saying that implies that there is a choice involved, and I guess on the one hand there is, but why should there be? Daniel didn’t have a choice and neither did his family, so why should I? If I really wanted, I could have walked out of those hospital doors three years ago and never looked back. But I didn’t choose to fall in love with someone who is sick, I chose to fall in love with Daniel, and yeah, there’s a lot of pain and heartache, but there’s a lot of love and joy and fun along the way as well. And looking back through our history together, I think I always would have fallen in love with him and would have had to make a choice to NOT fall in love with him. I wish he was healthy now and I wish it was easier, but he isn’t his health problems and neither is our relationship. We’re so much more than that and even in the midst of all this crap, he still manages to put a smile on my face and he happily returns it. So, looking forwards now, we’re going to live. It might look a bit different than we first planned, like more trips instead of moving overseas or having lots of pets instead of kids, but we’ll be together and we’ll do it our way, with smiles on our faces and always ready to laugh.

Thank you all for reading! I hope to write a bit more often and you are more than welcome to bug me to write, because it’s something I enjoy and (usually) never regret once it’s done. Enjoy your fall and Thanksgiving season as the cold draws us closer to those we love.

Laura

Leviathan

Before I begin, I just wanted to thank everyone who passed on their kind words and thoughts after my last post. That was a difficult post to write and much more personal than I usually am, especially in person. Thank you for supporting me and taking a moment of your time to read my often mundane thoughts and for some, leaving messages of encouragement. They meant so much over that week. 

Today I want to write, not about something I’m dealing with right now, but something I dealt with through last winter and this past summer. It may seem cliché, but with Daniel’s daily struggle with his health which affects every aspect of his life, I had my own version of the “why do bad things happen to good people” question. This was always highlighted by how easy things have often come to me. I’ve excelled in university without too much trouble, never struggled to find a job before this fall, and despite going to a small university not recognised by many other educational institutions, I not only got to study at Oxford for a summer, but got straight into a Master’s program at McMaster University. Occasionally, someone mentions how ‘lucky’ I am, or how this must be a path laid out by God because everything has worked out so well for me. Instead of finding these remarks comforting, they often irk me as I reply in my head “What does that mean for Daniel? Why is everything that’s easy for me so hard for him?” If my easy life is a sign that God is watching out for me, does that mean that God is not watching out for him in the same way? The disconnect between Daniel’s struggles and God’s presence in his life was something I felt deeply and struggled with for a while.

Eventually, one night before the transplant, my anger and frustration boiled over and I turned to Job. Instead of sleeping, I read all 42 chapters of Job in about an hour and a half. At first, it was incredibly different than what I was expecting. I remember learning in Sunday School and Religion in high school about God and Satan basically making a bet over Job’s faith. However, this Greek/Roman structure is only the framework for a radical questioning of the contemporary beliefs about what causes our struggles. I was surprised to find that Job was such a real character. He doesn’t simply trust in God, he questions, doubts and fights his friends over God’s relation to our daily struggles. In chapter 38, God answers Job and the rhetoric of God’s response really hit me in a few places. The stream of rhetorical questions not only challenges the worldview of the period (represented by Job’s friends) but reminds us that there is more to the world than humans. God reminds Job (and me) that his worldview includes everything, and there are sacrifices that have to be made.

The passage on the leviathan in chapter 41 really struck me, probably because I had just finished reading Moby Dick not long before. Instead of reading the passage as a comparison between God and Satan, I read the leviathan as a sperm whale. Much like Melville spends pages and pages describing the terrifying greatness of Moby Dick (ex. “The Whiteness of the Whale”), the leviathan of Job is built up as something that cannot be conquered by humans, but by God alone. In conjunction with earlier passages from chapter 38 which emphasizes God’s connection to animals (Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? Or fill the appetite of the young lions when they crouch in their dens? 38:39-40), the passage on the leviathan, to me, illustrates the interconnectedness of us all. In order for the lion to survive, an antelope has to die. It doesn’t mean God hates the antelope and loves the lion, merely that we cannot always flourish or survive. The same goes for the leviathan (keeping in mind I’m talking about it as a whale). While it is a terrifying figure which cannot be conquered by hunters (as both Job and Moby Dick state) it too is humbled by God in death and in turn, feeds and supplies us. 

Coming back to Daniel and my original question about why everything is easy for me and not for Daniel, reading Job (and Moby Dick) helped me remember that there is more involved than just Daniel and me. There is more at stake than just Daniel’s health. His illness and quest for health will hopefully help further developments in immunodeficiencies and bone marrow transplants for others with auto-immune disorders. As has already been proven, life isn’t always so hard, and sometimes, things go smoothly. For me, I hope I can keep my perspective when the inevitable struggle hits. If I need a reminder, I’ll put in The Lion King and sing along to “The Circle of Life” a few times. 

Thanks again for reading and putting up with my first attempt at some sort of analysis since leaving Mac!

Laura

Hard

Hard. It’s a word I’ve used a lot lately, more than I would like. I haven’t written lately because I have no clue what to write about. While Daniel gets stronger each day, everything only seems to get harder. I’m rather ashamed of my feelings lately and wish I was stronger than I am. (I’m reminded of a line from a song I love which states “I’m tough enough to be a flower” haha).

While I know it’s awesome that his energy is up and ‘cabin fever’ is inevitable, I feel a little unneeded. It feels like so much has changed and while I am trying to let Daniel focus on recovering, I miss us. It’s hard to feel close when kissing tastes weird to him, his hands can be sensitive and shaky and he needs a lot of space. Both of our emotions are really close to the surface at the moment as well, which only amplifies every minor frustration we have. The result being that we have had more disagreements this past week than we have in the whole of our two and a half year relationship. However, I am thankful that in the face of this challenge, we continue to talk and work together to get through it. We went to a movie in the afternoon, the first thing vaguely resembling a date we’ve had in the past month and we definitely both needed the time out of the house (and hospital) and just the two of us. I’m looking forward to a time when Daniel is no longer taking 10 medications multiple times a day and illness will no longer be an obstacle or stumbling block for us.

Thanks for reading. I may write these things and invite you to read them, but I usually assume (or imagine) that no one reads them, haha. I always worry that the more people get to know me, the less they will like me and this post feels more personal, so I hope you won’t think any less of me!

Laura

Little Things

So I don’t really know what this post will end up being about. There are a whole lot of thoughts roaming around in my head and I’m overtired to the point of finding everything hysterical, so this may become a bit like herding cats. Read on at the risk of your own sanity!

I guess the big thing going on in my life right now is Daniel’s transplant. He has been in the hospital for going on 18 days now and it has been 10 days since his bone marrow transfusion. It sure has been a roller coaster for everyone involved and the majority of my time is spent at the hospital. It’s kind of gotten to the point where I’ve woken up at home a few times expecting to be at the hospital and then don’t know where I am. Things with Daniel change so quickly that I hate not being there all the time. Just when we thought he might not lose his hair or feel the effects of the chemo too badly, everything changed. I left Saturday night to a Daniel who, while his throat was almost unbearably sore, could still talk, eat a little and had all his hair. When I arrived little over 12 hours later on Sunday, half his beard was gone, his mouth was so swollen he couldn’t properly open or close his mouth, talking was almost impossible and swallowing even a tiny sip of water was impossible. It’s been hard to watch, but even harder to be away and see such a change and know I wasn’t there to help him through it. I have to be reminded often that I can’t be there all the time, and getting a sore throat and not being able to visit for two days because of that was a reinforcement of that hard truth.

Everything that is going on is really a forceful reminder to take nothing for granted, especially the little things. With Daniel feeling so sick and exhausted most of the time, I don’t expect him to worry about or even pay much attention to me. But in the midst of everything, he still manages to try and take care of me, whether at the end of a sleepless night for both of us, he turns his head and whispers a voiceless “thank you” before letting exhaustion overwhelm him; a soft kiss on my nose when his mouth is too sore to open and close let alone eat, or always apologizing less than five minutes after snapping at me out of frustration with the current circumstances. It reminds me of a deeper fear that this experience will be so life-changing that he won’t need or want me anymore, that we won’t make it through. I had this same fear last year when I left for McMaster and we began a year-long long distance relationship. But while that year was hard, it never brought our relationship even close to the breaking point, and as these small gestures demonstrate, this year’s challenges will not break us either. In the meantime, I’ll be at the hospital supporting Daniel in whatever way I can, which at the moment means reading Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince to him as he falls asleep. While it’s hard to look too much into the future at the moment, I look forward to better days, and especially, our wedding which is in 11 months today!!

Thanks for putting up with my slightly scattered thoughts!
Laura

Something to Look Forward To!

It’s been an emotional few days, preparing for Daniel’s time in the hospital and now adjusting to what the next 6 weeks are going to look like. One good thing is that I don’t have to gown up to visit Daniel and can curl up next to him too! The chemo isn’t supposed to hit him until 5-7 days after, so the transplant and chemo will hit him at the same time. All this is an adjustment for me too as I’m trying to figure out how much I can handle and what I need to do in order to keep myself sane and healthy over the upcoming weeks and months so I can best support Daniel. 

But today, I want to focus on something exciting that Daniel and I are both looking forward to: Our Wedding!! We’ve gotten a lot planned over the last few weeks and we’re starting to get really excited now that it’s a little less than a year away! So here are some details we’re super excited about!

  1. My dress! I bought my dress while I was still in Ontario with my Mom and Grandma. I love it and cannot wait to wear it again! Sadly, no pictures or too much description in case Daniel stumbles upon this site, but it’s gorgeous and really works with our venues. 
  2. Our Venues! Assiniboine Park has been a huge part of our relationship as well as my favourite place in the city, so it only makes sense to have it at the centre of our wedding. That means we’re having our morning ceremony under the arbour in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and a brunch reception at Terrace 55! (Daniel always laughs at me when I tell people we’re having a morning wedding, haha)
  3. Time and Date! As I just mentioned, we’re having a morning wedding, a Sunday morning wedding to be specific, and it has been the best decision we’ve made so far! Neither of us are big dancers and alcohol is something we want to downplay as well. We’ve saved $13,000 alone on Terrace 55 by having a brunch reception instead of dinner and got our fabulous photographer for half price as well based solely on the fact we’re having a morning wedding!
  4. Our Photographer! We’ve gone with Melissa Johnstone of Sugar and Soul Photography and are so excited about it! She brings an energy to her work that will help both Daniel and I to open up in front of the camera and is just as quirky as we are!
  5. Rings! Daniel bought me a gorgeous engagement ring, but that’s not what I’m talking about. He’s been almost as excited about finding a ring for him as I was about getting an engagement ring! Because of that, I planned on getting him his ring for Christmas. However, when we went into Vandenberg’s to design a custom band to fit my engagement ring, we found the perfect ring for Daniel too! I went back the day after and got a sunflower (which I drew!) engraved on it in order to surprise him with it before he went into the hospital. He loves it and will wear it on his right hand until we’re married next August! So if you see us, ask to see Daniel’s ring, he’ll be happy to show it off!

Thanks for sharing in our excitement! All this planning has also helped give us something to look forward to as we spend our days in the hospital. 

Lessons in Serenity

I probably sound like a broken record, but this has been a busy week! Daniel goes into the hospital in little over a week, and his transplant is less than a week later. With such little time left, noticeable steps have started taking place. Asides from the many appointments he has, on Sunday, we had an open house for family and friends to come and show their support for Daniel. It was amazing to see such a wide group of people be there for Daniel however they can. After, there was a family dinner, after which everyone got an opportunity to cut Daniel’s hair!! I think I was more nervous than him as one cousin gave him a bald spot right at the very front, and the craziness continued when his sister began cutting our initials into the top of his head. Once everyone left, he went and shaved his head completely and now looks similar to Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender, haha. The next morning, Daniel went and got a mainline IV that comes out of his chest. These have both been drastic changes that make it very hard to ignore what’s going to happen in only nine days! 

Throughout all of these big and scary changes, I can’t help but admire Daniel and the strength he possesses. It really makes me wish I could be stronger as I can’t help but feel that I’m slowly breaking into a million pieces. I don’t know what’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do to shape the outcome of his transplant, and in part, it’s that helplessness in the face of the unknown that has left me feeling especially small and weak. In all of this, I’m reminded of one of my favourite prayers, the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

I’ve never been very good with waiting and patience. I live in the future more often than the present and being with Daniel has continuously been a lesson in serenity as plans I make for next month or next year can get blown to pieces because of his health. It continuously reminds me that I can’t anticipate what’s going to happen, and instead of trying to plan the unknown, I need to take a deep breath, take a step back and try for serenity instead. While serenity is much harder, hopefully I’ll have Daniel around for a long time to continue to teach me. 

Image

Before, after cousins and after he shaved his head. These were all taken the same evening! Pretty crazy!

 

Image

Our initials which Bridgette cut into Daniel’s hair. While it makes for a great picture, I have to admit that it makes me cry inside a little, haha.

 

 

There and Back Again

Hello world! Sorry for my absence, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks since I’ve left Hamilton and journeyed back to Winnipeg.

A few weeks ago, I finished my Master’s degree in English at McMaster University. This time last year, a year seemed like such a long time. I was excited to begin a new adventure in Hamilton, but at the same time, couldn’t imagine a year away from Daniel. Looking back, it’s been a year of ups and downs, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity! Because most MA programs are now only a year, it may not sound like it will be that difficult, only one extra year of school for a whole other degree. However, it’s a crazy year. I spent the first three months just trying to keep my head above water.

A perfect example of this (as my fellow classmates will agree) is the Magic and Witchcraft in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries course I took in the fall. I was a TA for the professor and she had already terrified me before classes had even started. As her TA, I was supposed to attend all of the lectures for the course, but I had a class at the same time. I emailed to tell her and received a response that I would have to arrange to miss my class on certain days. Entering her classroom for my graduate course with her, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, she gave us an assignment, we had to read an academic book on witchcraft and write a review, but she didn’t give us an exact due date, so we expected it would be due in two-three weeks. The second class, the first thing she did was ask for our book reviews. I remember the blank faces as we all looked at each other in panic, haha. Thankfully, we got another week, but it definitely foreshadowed the coming few months. Eventually, after taking my computer with me everywhere (even to church) and frantically writing 500 words at a time, I made it through the first stretch.

After Christmas, I began to get the hang of the grad school thing: mounds of writing, even more reading and lots of binge TV watching to preserve my sanity (I cannot even count how many TV shows I have devoured over the last year). But despite the constant state of hazy panic, I made it through and I had a blast! I had great professors looking out for me, ready to interpret my jumbled thoughts and help me turn them into intelligent papers and even better friends and classmates to laugh with and share our struggles.

In many ways, a year is just too short. It was just long enough to get settled and start making really good friends, but now I’m gone. I hope I can maintain the good friendships and communities I began to establish in Hamilton. I found a fantastic church filled with an amazing community and people that I’m really going to miss this next year. So to all my new Ontario friends, thanks for an awesome year and all of your support!

At least there’s a lot to keep my attention in the next couple of weeks. Appointments leading up to Daniel’s transplant, wedding planning and job hunting! Hopefully there will be some time to sleep in there somewhere!

Laura

Velociraptors

This last month has probably been the most difficult month to be away from home and Daniel. Because it’s my last moth before I’m done my MA and go back to Winnipeg, you’d think (as did I) that it would be the easiest, and would fly by in a haze of newly engaged bliss. Boy, was I wrong. July started with a bang as it brought with it devastating news about close family friends that really affected both Daniel and I. Struggling to support him from afar as well as trying to sort through it while continuing to prepare for his transplant from a province away and finishing up my last course has been almost too much. As a result, my sleep schedule has become almost as messed up as my nursing friend’s and at its worst, I wasn’t falling asleep until 6am consistently, some days waking up two hours later to head off to class, coming  home and collapsing, only to repeat night after night.

One thing I have found that helps is filling my head with something other than all the fear, sadness, hurt and confusion milling around up there. I do this by counting, not sheep, but velociraptors. I know sheep are more traditional, but really, what good does it do to count things that only mix with all the negativity rather than viciously destroy it? And that is what my velociraptors do. They rip, tear and feast on the things and people that won’t let me sleep until my head is filled with nothing but velociraptors. There truly is something soothing about imagining something that has given you nothing but grief suffering through a brutal and painful death by velociraptors.

Also, I love Daniel even more for turning my velociraptor counting into a Harry Potter reference by mentioning it as a way to practice occlumency. If anyone tries to break into my mind, all they will find is a slaughter of velociraptors (I don’t know what a group of velociraptors is called, but if a group of crows is called a murder, velociraptors deserve something just as, if not even more, awesome than that) ready to devour them.

Thanks for willingly venturing into my zany thoughts! I promise you won’t get eaten by a velociraptor….this time.

Laura

Love and a Sunflower Umbrella

I recently got engaged, and I haven’t gotten tired of telling our proposal story, which was truly the best proposal of all time.  One of the most frequently asked questions I have received since getting engaged has been “was it a surprise?”. The answer to this question is both yes and no.

It started a month before the actual proposal, around the time of our two year anniversary when Daniel told me that he had a surprise for me. I have a love-hate relationship with surprises, and waiting a month for a surprise is almost like a form of torture! On the other side, Daniel loves driving me crazy with surprises and watching me go crazy trying to figure out what it is. After begging for hints, a week before I got home, Daniel told me he was going to make me a three-course meal and we were going to get dressed up as well.  That’s when my brain started working overtime and insanity began to set in.

Upon my arrival home, I still had an entire week to wait before the night of the surprise, and after almost driving Daniel to the point of insanity trying to keep it a secret, I promised to stop trying to weedle it out of him. However, Daniel underestimated my sneakiness and while he had a medical test, I was left alone in a waiting room with his phone for a whole hour and a half. Like any normal person, I went through his call history and googled every unidentified number. To my satisfaction, I found one number from a few weeks earlier that belonged to a jewellery store. My sneakiness did not end there, and I devised a plan to find out for sure that the surprise was in fact, from there. That afternoon, I told him he had to call and make sure that the surprise, whatever it was, would be ready in time for Friday. After he called, I inconspicuously stole his phone and confirmed my suspicions! At the very moment I figured out the phone number, Daniel told me to give him back his phone so he could delete the call history. Too bad he was a few hours too late; I knew it was jewellery (or a Disney figurine).

So, going into Friday night, I was 80% sure a proposal was coming. I had gotten my nails done, bought a new dress and spent hours on my hair. And then I walked in the door. The minute I walked in, Daniel (looking handsome in his suit, I might add) immediately began to lower expectations. He told me he had two surprises for me: a fun surprise and a thoughtful surprise. He led me through to the living room to show me the ‘thoughtful surprise’: He had rearranged the living room and put a small table in with a beautiful sunflower centrepiece. With the ‘fun surprise’ left, that’s when I started to doubt my assumption. While he finished up dinner, I went to the washroom and quickly texted a friend to tell her “it’s not what we thought. He’s calling it a fun surprise.” We began our dinner of crab cakes, followed by chicken stuffed with ham, cheese and artichokes with risotto and sautéed kale and peppers, I still have dreams about that chicken, it was absolutely delicious!

After dinner, I could not wait any longer, and asked if I could get my surprise yet. So Daniel went into his room, and came out with….a sunflower umbrella! I was floored. It was beautiful, and I liked it, but after all my trouble of figuring out the jewellery store number, I couldn’t believe it, and I let him know. “What about Independent Jewellers?? You called them! I checked your phone!” Daniel deflected my questions by claiming he had anticipated my sneakiness and had called them as red herrings. I was annoyed and amused at the same time, couldn’t believe the lengths he went to and felt rather foolish for being so sure a proposal was coming. Daniel then suggested we watch something before dessert, so we watched a top gear (what else??) and I grumbled for an hour and Daniel convincingly apologised for fooling me so thoroughly.

Daniel then went to get dessert ready (lemon cake with raspberry filling) while I waited downstairs and texted another friend about the sunflower umbrella, at that point completely convinced there would be no other surprises that evening. Five minutes later, Daniel came and led me upstairs for dessert. He led me into the living room, and sitting on the table was the cake with something written on it. As I got closer, I saw the word “marry,” the glitter of a ring and began freaking out, exclaiming “You have GOT to be kidding me!” It took me at least five minutes to stop communicating in shrieks, alternating between kissing Daniel and storming away from him. The rest of the evening was a blur as we called family and friends and celebrated with our parents. I cannot wait to get home and enjoy being a newly engaged couple as we begin to plan our wedding next August, after Daniel has recovered from his transplant. It was the best surprise ever, precisely because I didn’t think it would be a surprise. I really love my sunflower umbrella now, and it was great for our engagement pictures, which took place in the middle of a downpour!

The rearranged living room, complete with table for two and sunflowers!

The rearranged living room, complete with table for two and sunflowers!

 

Homemade stuffed chicken! I'm marrying an awesome cook!

Homemade stuffed chicken! I’m marrying an awesome cook!

Our engagement cake!

Our engagement cake!