Spirit Birthdays and Butter Tarts

Thanks Giving Dinner

Yesterday, while searching through my email for correspondence with another client, an email from 2013 popped up in front of me.  I did a bit of a double-take, because I recognized the name, though it had been five years since our session.

I wouldn’t normally reach out to a past client like this when we haven’t had contact for years, but I kept thinking about reaching out, getting these little nudges – which are usually invitations to experience something neat, on a spiritual level.

So I sent her a quick hello, in as respectful a way as possible, and suggested that perhaps, this was her dog’s way of saying hi after a few years.  Sometimes they like to take advantages of little connections like this.

Turns out, the pup’s birthday is next week.  While this beautiful dog had left her body, she still wanted to reach out to her human mom, and remind her.

It was very sweet, and pretty cool!  One of those tiny little miracles I enjoy so much as a part of this work.  You can’t *make* them happen, but sometimes if you listen to the little nudges, and reach out carefully and respectfully, neat things like this can happen.

Today, is also my mother’s birthday!  I have a little reminder set up in my calendar, because I don’t want to ever let a December 12th slip by without remembering it’s my mother’s birthday.  I like to just say aloud, Happy Birthday, before I do anything else with my day.

I would say my mom is having a good time in spirit.  I often feel her around when Sweetie and I are travelling or having a good time – I hear her laugh, layered with the laughing of others.  I feel her in the company of my grandmother, her mother, and my great-aunt.  I think they like to travel together, or tag along with us and I’m sure the other family members when we’re enjoying ourselves.

It’s neat, how happy I always perceive her to be, and she wants us to know she’s just fine.

It’s so interesting that birthdays seem to be a good time to connect with our loved ones in spirit.  I think it’s because we are thinking of them, and often the memories are lighter and happier on birthdays, than on other anniversary dates.  A lifetime of celebration creates a lightness around their birthdays – a dynamic energy that’s often full of love and cheerful memories.

I also think it’s easier for *them* to connect with *us*, when we create space for lightness and happy memories.  It takes a little discipline sometimes, and I will admit, my friends, I can get into a habit of being a tad morose on grief-related dates.  But I have some positive advice:

A friend of mine visits her grandfather’s grave on his birthday and eats a butter tart, which he loved.  I thought that was a great idea, so I’ve *also* had butter tarts on the anniversary of my mother’s death, as a way of doing something positive and creating happy habits on these important days.

I also happen to really enjoy butter tarts myself.  I spent a winter once, working on a recipe until I perfected it.  Perhaps I’ll post that later on!

I found I really needed to *do* something, because it does not do me, nor my mother, any good at all to allow myself to get depressed every year around dates of sad events, or dates which REMIND me of sad events.  It’s a lot to carry, and I’ve been working on letting it go.

As I mentioned before, sometimes we *need* to carry our grief with us for a time.  We don’t want to let it go too soon, because in a way, the deepness and length of time we grieve is a way of honoring what that person or animal friend truly meant to us.

But grief is also something you develop a relationship with.  You don’t have to fight it, or get rid of it, or get over it.  I personally welcome grief, especially in the beginning, because I know it’s helping me to get out all the feelings that demand witness.  Grief helps with that.

I also know my sneaky little brain can get into habits of thinking about the same things every day, or at certain times of the year, and I have learned that it can be a positive thing to engage these thoughts and negotiate with them, or re-purpose them, so they’re not something that’s simply happening to you, making you helpless and miserable, but instead something you can interact with, and actively engage, even incorporate into your life.

My mother died in April 2015, and today she would have been 67.  This morning, that thought made me sad.  Relatively speaking, she died young, certainly before anyone expected her to pass.  Of course, her birthday made me a bit sad this morning; that’s okay.  But do you think my mother, laughing and travelling in spirit, would want me to feel sad *all day* on her *birthday!?*  Every year???  OF COURSE NOT.

So for her sake, and my own, I have been incorporating these new little rituals in my life, on these significant dates, so that I can tell my body and my brain that while we can still feel sad, we can also celebrate, connect, and care for ourselves and those we have lost to spirit.

(Whenever I’m talking to myself, I seem to always shift to the plural form, “we”, which usually means my spirit form, my brain consciousness, my body, my dynamic layers of life experience, and all the people I’m connected with – including you, my dear reader, because we are surely as connected to each other through this blog as two trees on opposite edges of a forest, connected through a mass of touching roots.

 

I just realized that I need a happy ritual for my mother’s birthday.  What should it be?

Today, December 12th, and although St. Nicholas Day is December 6th, I have pretty vivid memories of getting little presents in my polished dress shoes on the same day my mother received her birthday presents.  There were sometimes red and white carnations, or a poinsettia from my father, and often there would be chocolate chip bundt cake.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll make that bundt cake recipe.  I need to get a bundt pan.

And I should pick up some stocking stuffers for Sweetie and wrap them!

Tonight is especially lovely, because we have the “Sail Past” in Ucluelet.   It’s this charming community tradition where locals decorate their boats in Christmas lights and sail around the harbour, shooting off fireworks!  It’s quite delightful and part of the charm of living in this small little town.  We have lived here for NINE years now!

WOW!

Anyway.  I guess I’m writing this post to reach out to those of you who may be missing your loved ones in spirit, especially this time of year.  I know it’s hard.  It’s not easy for me to talk about how tough it has been at times.

I’m so grateful to my friends – so many of whom I made through this blog, who have literally shown me how to have positive, happy feelings on days when I might otherwise be inclined to be sad.

I’m so thankful, and I love you all!

Happy Birthday Mom, and Happy Holidays, my friends!

 

 

 

The Overdue Cancer Rant      

fcancer kate sitka

Y’all have heard of the #fuckcancer movement / trend, right?  It’s a way to channel the natural anger that comes from people experiencing what seems like a senseless illness.  The generally accepted track post-diagnosis is to go through this very difficult treatment and hopefully win some good time you likely wouldn’t otherwise have.

My sister and I were discussing my mother’s condition a couple of days ago.

As far as brain cancer complications go, my mother has so far avoided a lot of the potential challenges.  No seizures, she can move around her house, take herself to the bathroom, feed herself.  When you think about how much my mother has lost with terrifying swiftness, it’s easy to forget that she’s actually in pretty good shape.  She watches a lot of TV, and she’s feeling too crappy to really carry on a conversation. 

But in the six months since her treatment began, my mother hasn’t really had one good day.

When my mother was given her diagnosis, she’d just had brain surgery, and she was with my father and sister.  The doctor said the words “glioblastoma multiforme” without explaining the implications: drastically shortened life span, continuous treatment.

What my family was told was that treatment was her best chance at getting some “good days”.  That she’d get through radiation and then “feel better”.  That we’d have a chance to “make some memories” as a family. 

I feel like the docs are never really honest about the side effects of cancer treatment.  My family was never offered counseling, no one to sit down with my mother and say, “Hey, so, let’s discuss your options.  What you want.  What to expect.”

My mother faced enormous pressure to get into treatment *immediately* and was even told that if she chose to delay treatment, she may not be able to access any services in the future.  Basically you’ve got your ticket to the cancer ride, are you on board or not?

My mother got on board.  My family’s fears about the side effects were mitigated with assurances that the treatments weren’t nearly as dramatic now as they used to be, that the medications available for controlling side effects are much more effective now.  They use words like “comfortable”. 

At the time, I was confused why my mother choose to do treatment.  I felt like the docs couldn’t *really* promise that she’d get more time, or feel better, or have ANY good days.

Without radiation and chemo, the tumour probably would have recurred by now and killed her.  There is no way to know whether my mother would have had any “good days” if she’s simply healed from the surgery and tried to see how high she could bounce back. 

It just makes you wonder, because the best conversations I had with my mother since her diagnosis were in that two week period between her surgery and the beginning of radiation.   

My sister and I were wondering if treatment beyond surgery was a mistake…  because now, the docs are out of ideas. 

My mother is nauseous all of the time.  It’s a severe quality of life issue.  They’ve taken her completely off meds, they’ve switched meds around, even tried antidepressants.  She’s still sick.  You know what they said at her last appointment?

“Maybe the radiation has caused brain damage which is causing the nausea.”  ie, the nausea is untreatable. 

Her last MRI was great – no tumour re-growth.  Hurray!  But you know what?  Without re-growth of that tumour, her oncologists won’t refer her to palliative care.  Only under a palliative care model would my mother’s comfort be considered the highest priority.

Did I mention she was never offered palliative care as one of her choices?  My sister, who is a HUGE palliative care advocate, is particularly pissed about this.

I’m confused about it, because I thought the treatment *was* a palliative regime designed to maximize her good days.  No, it was actually designed to just maximize her days.  I can’t help but wonder if she’s contributing to some statistic attached to her treatment center, if they have a vested interest in giving patients more days, since the patients have no means of rating for posterity what sort of days they’re having, how they’re feeling, whether they’d felt the days were worth the cost.

It makes you wonder what the motivation is behind pushing a senior woman through chemotherapy to maybe prolong her life by 6 – 18 months.  Why not lay palliative care on the table right away?  Why not offer counseling and some time to decide?  Why is the only factor prolonging life?

Some people get angry at the disease.  My sister and I, we’re pretty pissed at the medical system.  I once again, suggested pot.  My mother would absolutely qualify for a prescription.  It *might* take the edge off her nausea and maybe even make her a little hungry.  Maybe she could eat, feel satiated and actually have a good nap?  Maybe.

It’s about the only thing the docs haven’t tried.  Apparently, her current oncologist isn’t really pro-pot and won’t write a prescription.  My sister’s working on getting a referral to another oncologist who is a bit more open.  More holistic. 

It pisses me off that a doc can say, “Well, I’m out of ideas but I’m not going to refer you to palliative care, nor will I write you a prescription for a substance that seems to help a lot of other people.  You can continue to retch into a bowl.”

Fuck that oncologist.  And while I’m at it, #fuckcancer

 

 

 

 

 

Faithiness

Faith has become such an important part of my practice this past year. I had a little crisis of faith a while back, and I really needed the support of an intelligent universe. I’d say I’ve received it in spades, although not in a way that I could hold up to others as evidence. You know how that goes.

Most recently, I’ve been contemplating taking a really big leap. I’m still standing on the edge, looking down, thinking about it. I have strongly mixed feelings about leaps of faith. True, every time I’ve taken a leap of faith I’ve ended up better off… but sometimes it feels like you’re smashing against every rock on

the way down.

I was emailing a friend about it, and she said “The Universe has got your back.”

My response? Effing prove it, universe.

That afternoon, I wrote a long letter to the universe, as I tend to do when I feel like the Universe and I need to take a meeting. I outline all my concerns, my goals, what I need, what would be most awesome.

Then I toss it into the court of the Universe. Your move.

I can’t even remember what the reply was – Sweetie, do you remember? All I know is when I got the response, I immediately *knew* it was confirmation. Yes, the Universe has my back. So when I’m ready, all I have to do is jump.

Your move, Kate, quoth the Universe.

Sometimes we need some freaking evidence to lift up our faith in… ourselves? Deity? Angels? Guides?

I’m curious, what have you guys experienced as evidence that supported your faith in the things unseen?