EVERY END HAS A BEGINNING…

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you.  The secret of life is to die before you die and find that there is no death”  Eckhart Tolle

As I begin to write this I am sitting on my front deck with my two beautiful companions, Lumi and Kaos, watching the neighbour hook up his trailer to leave for their annual camping trip.  As I sit here sipping my coffee, his two boys, most likely ages 8 and 10, are running and jumping around the front of their property so excited for this epic camping trip.  The cars and other trailers have arrived one by one as family and friends pull up to the house, obviously joining my neighbour for the trip.  As each car and trailer arrives, the boys do a little dance which sets my Belgian Shepherd off and I have to stop him from running toward the reunion barking like a fool.  As exciting as this little party is, it just pisses off Kaos as he doesn’t know who all these people are and in his mind I need protection from this frenzy of excitement.   I pray he is just as brave during a real threat!

As the convoy of cars and trailers leave, my world goes quiet again and I return to my computer to muse over my writing.  My intention was to write about death and suddenly my thoughts and words take on a different form.   As I watched my neighbour’s family dance and felt the excitement in the air, I ventured back to the boys when they were that young and our annual camping trips.  Life seemed to be so full back then, our lives intertwined with the boys lives as my husband and I wanted to share all of our knowledge and give them as much life as we could, because we both knew that time was short and if we didn’t give them our all, the time would be gone in an instant.  Never before have I realized the depth of this as I sipped my coffee watching the scene across the street unfold before me.  I realized without an ending there is no beginning and without death there is no life.

My mind wanders to my shift last night at the local hospice.  I am part of an army of volunteers whose job is to help transition those facing their last breath over to the other side.  Just looking at the previous sentence, it sounds and looks like a monstrous and depressing job, but it is not.   Being at the hospice is like breathing in the air that we breath and it is as peaceful there as it is here, sitting on my deck sipping my coffee with the sun shining on my face and watching the leaves on my maple tree move from the odd breeze that sweeps through during this season’s hot spell.   When I first inquired about volunteering at the local hospice,  I admit I had an agenda.  I had just become a Reiki practitioner and I wanted to use the knowledge and skill to help others.  Using Reiki on the dying sounds like two opposites as Reiki uses the life force around each and everyone one of us to help those with varying ailments or in different stages of life.  Many hospices have Reiki practitioners on hand to not only help the dying, but to help the grieving family members as well.   To this date I have never used Reiki with any of the patients at the hospice.  I have been asked to use my Reiki skills at different hospice events but I have not used Reiki on the hospice floor.  However, my Reiki skills has given me an advantage when working with the dying.  A Reiki practitioner is merely a tool to pass on the life force energy, just as a hospice volunteer is merely a tool to be an assuring presence to the dying.  All volunteers are expected to take a 33 hour intense training program and essentially the program is meant to weed out people as not everyone is meant to do this job.  The training is meant to help the volunteer with what to expect but until you start working at the hospice, you really have no idea how you will react or how you feel while visiting the dying.

Last night as I arrived at the hospice, I stood at the front lounge and took note of the two names on the stand by the nurses station, in behind the name tags were two butterflies lit up by a tiny bulb.  The names represent the patients who have recently died.  As I said a little prayer, I marveled over one name as I worked with this man the previous week,  The date on the tag was the day before and, working with him the previous week, I didn’t think he would last that long.  However, I noticed as I glanced over the volunteer log notes that he had a lot of family in visiting, every day he had visitors and I realized he lasted that long simply for love because his body was ready to give up the week before.    I work at the hospice once a week and my shift is in the evening from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.  I head to the hospice after a full day at work.  I like the evening shift as so often family members of patients can’t get to the hospice in time for dinner.  It is during dinner I find I am the most busy as some people need help  to eat, others need to have their food cut up and some just want someone to listen to their complaints about the horrible state of the food.  It is in this motion, life itself, that I hear and sense the most amazing stories that lie behind each and every patient.  I find it ironic as I leave behind work and at work it seems that everyone is full of self importance in their position or their seniority or who they are.  They worry if someone has a better parking spot or if someone gets something more than the other.   At the hospice no one cares, everyone is the same and they are all facing the thing that we most fear;  DEATH.

My conversations with the dying are more normal than my conversations with the living.  I’ve come to realize the reason why is essentially the same as the approach my husband and I took with our boys when they were young – time is short and we wanted to give them all our knowledge and love because the moment would be lost in an instant.  The dying face the same dilemma and what I have found is that most don’t want to hide from that fact with useless conversation filled with things that don’t matter.   It’s interesting to me that I have dealt with all walks of life in the process of dying – doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, housewives, police officers and people without homes. The only reason that I have that knowledge is because of the volunteer logs and the volunteers usually find this out from family members.    No one talks about what they did for a living when they’re dying and no one cares because what you did for a living has absolute no bearing on how or when you will die. What does matter is how you lived and how you loved.   Dying essentially comes down to this;  love and dignity and this is  the reason why I volunteer for the Hospice Society.  The Society recognizes dying as important as life itself and every person no matter of their origin or their beliefs are given what they need most – dignity and love.

Last night I was on the floor for about 30 minutes and I realized there was a new patient in the room where another patient died the day before.  The nurses were trying to help him transition to his new surroundings and he was scared and agitated.  There was no family member with him and he was too weak to be walking anywhere.  He did not want to lie down for fear of dying and he kept trying to get up to go where I don’t know but he had two nurses working with him trying to calm him down.  I asked if there was anything I could do and one of the nurses asked if I would sit with him.  I did, I sat with him for most of my shift.  He didn’t talk much, he just wanted the reassurance of someone there. I sat beside him at the edge of the bed the whole time and I kept suggesting that he would be more comfortable lying down and he refused to do so.  Finally after sitting for quite some time, I noticed that his eyes were getting very heavy, I again offered to help him lie down, this time he accepted my offer.  After I adjusted his pillows, his bed and bed rails, I sat beside him and he put his hand out to mine and he asked me to hold his hand as he fell asleep.  As I held his hand I massaged his hand very gently hoping to give him a sense of peace.

I can only assume that holding his hand gave him the peace he needed as he became less agitated, his body then started to relax and he fell into a peaceful sleep.  I sat with him for a little while longer to be sure he was asleep and then I tucked him in and went about the business of fussing with blankets and removing items from his bed and turning out lights.  As I was fussing about, I thought somewhere this gentleman began his life with his mother holding him and assuring him that everything was ok and that he was protected.  As he reaches the end of his life, he wants the same, he wants someone to sit with him and assure everything will be ok and that he is protected.  It’s what we all want and as I drove home last night I thought about this and I realized every end has a beginning.

Johanne Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

where there is death, there is drama

“In the end these things matter most: how well did you love?  How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” Buddha

I’ve always been a straight shooter with zero tolerance for bullshit and I come by that honestly as my father was a straight shooter.   Where there is death there is drama – I hate to sound so cold but it’s true.   I remember my father talking about a man he knew that had died.  He didn’t like the man and according to my father, neither did anyone else.  Yet somehow in death the man became this great man and all loved him.  I can still hear my father’s voice as he said ” the man was an asshole, the only difference about him now is he is a dead asshole.” Don’t get me wrong,  I never speak ill of the dead but if I didn’t like someone in life, I don’t like them any better in death.  My father had a point and a lesson taken from that man’s death was to treat people like you want to be treated.

I believe that no one dies before their time and every life on earth has their own destination time to death.   Life is short and you have to take the time to make sure your loved ones know how much you love them.  In every death there is much to be learned;  how one lived their life, good or bad, is a lesson for the rest of us.   Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and not one of us is better than the other.   After all we all have the same destination – death.  We can’t escape it and sooner or later it’s coming.  How we treat people and how we love is what tells all about us in life  and in death.

Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

A great musician died yesterday and I have no idea how he lived his life. I only knew his music.  He was a talented self-taught musician that defied human logic.  The video below is a look at just the man and his talent.  The world was blessed to witness his talent and the video below cuts through all the celebrity circus and takes you to the core and raw Prince Rogers Nelson.  I hope Prince’s life was filled with the same amount of love as his talent.  Enjoy…

 

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME..

 

His name was Wayne and I met him years ago at Manning Park, BC.  My mother-in-law has a cabin in Manning Park and my husband and I spent many weekends at the hill when the boys were younger teaching them how to ski.  Wayne was the bus driver, he drove guests from the hotel to the ski hill daily many times a day.  I never really had a chance to stop and talk to him at length as he was always dashing from here to there.  I would run into him on the way out of the cafeteria as he stopped for a quick coffee or on the way out of the ski school office as he gathered up his passengers.  Every time I walked past Wayne he would give me a huge smile and stop for a second to ask how I was doing, how Drew was doing and the boys – never once did he not stop.  After our ski day was done we would all pile into our vehicle and head down the narrow mountain road back to our cabin only to drive by Wayne in his bus as he was heading back to pick up the last group of skiers to take them back to the hotel.   He would whip right past us but not without a big smile, honk of the horn and a greeting.  That was Wayne, he was a bus driver during the winter and in the summer he worked in the park’s campgrounds.   While camping at Manning one summer, a staff vehicle pulled up to the site across from us and I noticed it was Wayne.  When he realized it was our family he gave us a big warm smile and came over to ensure we were all well.   After talking to Wayne you were always left with a special feeling, Wayne just had that way about him.  He was genuine, he wasn’t kissing your ass, he wasn’t phony, he wasn’t trying to find out the latest gossip, he was just a really nice guy.  A couple of weeks ago I was saddened to hear that he suffered a heart attack and passed away.   Wayne’s memorial was this past weekend and my mother-in-law attended.  When she got home, Sunday afternoon, she told me that the memorial was packed with people, “wall to wall of people” she said.  Staff members, customers, people from the area, people from far away – they all came.   My mother-in-law said that some of the staff of Manning were surprised that so many people came.  I burst out laughing and my mother-in-law laughed right along with me.  Society can be so trivial at times, people are impressed with positions, money, fame and so many people are only kind to people who can get them somewhere.  Wayne didn’t care who you were and he never worried about positions or money.    He genuinely liked people and people genuinely liked Wayne.  I didn’t even know Wayne’s last name until the memorial was announced on Facebook, but when someone mentioned Wayne at Manning  you just knew what Wayne they were talking about.  As my mother-in-law was waiting to enter the room where the memorial took place, she recognized the man standing beside her.  This man has been coming to Manning Park from the States for a ski vacation for years.   “I’m surprised to see you here” my mother-in-law said.  With tears in his eyes he said “I had to come.”  Wayne built a life out of love, kindness, simplicity, honesty, empathy, compassion and people came.

GOOD FRIDAY – FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR APRIL 18, 2014

good friday collage

The simple cross you see in the collage was made by my son a few years ago.  In our house there are a couple of celtic crosses hanging on the walls.  The cross I like best is the one my son made.    Made out of clothes pegs all of it –  including Jesus.  A boy’s simple representation of a man who simply had a message “love one another as I have loved you.”  The flowers represent renewal as I plan to use this weekend to rest, renew, pray, worship and contemplate.  To all a joyful and blessed Easter.

THE WAY OF TRUTH ALWAYS WINS…

She walked into the room and she knew, she had never seen death before but the smell of death permeated the room.  As she got to the side of her father’s bed, she noticed that he had been stripped of all his clothing, the middle of his torso was covered with a bed sheet, he was lying vertically across the bed and his legs were dangling over the side.  Her step-mother woke her up a few moments ago and said “wake up your father says he’s having a heart-attack but he doesn’t want me to phone the ambulance.”  Standing over her father, she knew this was bullshit, his flesh was a shade of grey she had never seen before, his breathing was very shallow and the smell that filled her nostrils clearly told her that the end was near.  She knew that even if her father wanted to die, it was more natural to want to live and no human being wanted to be lying in their own filth barely breathing and in pain.  Slowly she turned to her step-mother, resisting the urge to scream, and said in a very calm but commanding voice “phone the ambulance now.”

Her mind was racing as she was standing over her father, how come the ambulance wasn’t called, how long had her father been lying like this, questions, questions, questions running through her mind.  Her mind was so pre-occupied that she barely heard it but when she focused again on her father, his lips were moving.  She bent down as close as she could and he said “where is Theresa?”  “I’m right here Dad,” she said.  She grabbed his hand and held on and she felt a tiny bit of pressure as her father squeezed her hand and through his shallow breathing she heard what was barely a whisper – “I love you more than you know.”  “I love you too Dad” she said staring at him in utter disbelief.    She looked up and saw that her father’s wife had entered the room and was watching the scene.   Theresa found it strange that her father did not ask about his wife, he asked the whereabouts of his daughter and made sure she knew that he loved her but never did he ask for his wife.

It seemed to take forever for the ambulance to arrive but finally they arrived and put an oxygen mask over her father’s face, rolled him onto a stretcher and rushed him into the ambulance.  Theresa and her step-mother raced to the car and were about to leave for the hospital when her step-mother suddenly stopped the car and asked Theresa to go inside and get a change of clothes for her father  because he would need clothes for when he came home from the hospital.   Theresa was a little perplexed because it was very obvious to her that father was not coming home.  Rather than waste time arguing, Theresa just did as she was asked – she went back to her father’s bedroom quickly put an outfit together for her father and rushed back to the car.

They arrived at the hospital where Theresa was greeted by one of the ambulance attendants and he came rushing up to her and said “your father looked good as we brought him in, he was talking, he seemed better.”  Theresa stood there and stared at the man, what a stupid thing to say to a daughter of a man who is obviously dying.  Rather than say what she thought, she kept walking.   They were ushered into a private  waiting room and Theresa was waiting for the inevitable announcement that her father was dead.  It couldn’t have been any more than 30 minutes before the doctor appeared and told her and her step-mother what Theresa already knew – her father was gone.  Her step-mother immediately started to yell “what am I going to do” and then sobbed.  Theresa was prepared to be told that her father was dead and she calmly asked the doctor if she could see her father.  As they walked into the emergency room and she approached  the bed where her father now lay, she could see that his skin was now  a blue/purple colour and he looked very puffy.  Even though the doctor told her he was dead she had to be certain.  She no longer felt his presence and from behind her she could hear her father’s wife crying.  One of the hospital workers pointed to a ring her father was wearing on his right hand and said that the ring was very tight-fitting but they would try to get the ring off in one piece and if they succeeded who should they give the ring too?  Before her step-mother could speak Theresa spoke for her brother.  “That ring belongs to my brother.”  Her step-mother went to say something but Theresa interrupted her and said ” Dad told me last night that if he should die, he wanted my brother to have this ring.”  Dad had been wearing that ring since he was seventeen years old and now his son was  about to turn seventeen years old and last night her father mentioned the irony of his son being seventeen, the same age his mother gave him the ring.  Now standing at the edge of the hospital bed where her father now laid, she was prepared to lurch anyone who dared to take the ring – it belonged to her brother, her father made that clear.

As her memory raced back to the night before, Theresa was now certain that something was different about her father.  He spoke of so many things he had never spoken to her about.  He spoke about the reasons and ramifications of his divorce to her mother ten years earlier, he spoke of his recent troubles at work, his time spent in the Navy during the war and he spoke of his love for all of his children.   She realized now that this was God’s gift to her – her last moments with her father.  She felt closer to her father that night than she ever had and now standing by her father’s body demanding that her father’s wishes be kept regarding his ring she looked down at the bag she was holding and she felt angry. 

All the while waiting in the hospital room to hear of her father’s impending death, she was holding that stupid bag and now as she looked down she could see the brown loafer shoes, the brown dress pants and the checkered sweater she quickly grabbed at the insistence of her father’s wife.   Theresa knew her father wasn’t coming home and she angrily thought as she listened to the howl of his wife “how could she not get he was a goner.”  As they walked out into the hallway of the emergency area of the hospital, her stepsister, Kerry, came rushing in asking the whereabouts of her father.  All three woman were  pulled into a private room where Kerry, was told that her step-father had died and immediately Kerry started to sob.  Through her sobbing Theresa heard her say “I knew when I got up for work at 5:30 am that something was really wrong, he was crying out in pain.”

Moments later in the hallway before the entrance way to the emergency room, Theresa pulled Kerry aside.  “Did you say Dad was crying out in pain when you got up for work this morning.”  “Yes,” Kerry said, “he was in obvious pain and very uncomfortable.”  Theresa’s eyes flashed an anger that she was sure her step-sister recognized.  Between the hours of 5:30 am and 8:30 am when her step-mother woke Theresa up to announce that she thought her father was having a heart-attack, her father had been lying in pain.  Did he try to get up?  Is that why he was lying vertically across the bed with his legs dangling over the side of his bed?   Did her step-mother leave and not realize he was in pain?  “Impossible” Theresa thought, she must have known he was in pain.  By the time Theresa was woken out of her sleep, her step-mother was all ready for work; did she sit in front of her mirror and fix her hair and make-up while her father was yelling out in pain?  The thoughts overwhelmed Theresa as she tried to push the horrible scenes out of her mind.

All three of them walked out of the hospital and as Theresa looked down into the brown bag holding her father’s clothes, she started to feel a numbness go through her whole body.  She couldn’t think anymore – her father was gone and it was obvious he had been deprived of a right that Theresa felt that everyone deserved – the right to die with dignity.  Theresa knew all too well what was next, she had to contact her siblings, and other family members, a funeral would be planned and she would greet her siblings and family as they arrived from near and far.  She tried desperately to push the thoughts of her father’s last moments here on this earth aside as she prepared to spend the next few days honouring her father.

The next few days during the viewings and the funeral were a blur to Theresa, she kept going back over the last conversation she had with her father the night before his death and it was clear to her he knew he was going to die.  Thinking about her father’s health, she was sure that if the ambulance had been called earlier he would have been more comfortable but she didn’t think it would have made the difference in the outcome.

Theresa’s life moved on but she found she was haunted by her father’s last moment.  Theresa felt if she had woken up earlier, she could have made the difference in her father’s death.  The constant flashbacks bothered her so much that Theresa fell into a deep depression a year after her father’s death.   Not sure where to turn she started to see a counsellor who told her that something shocking or devastating had to have happened to her.   Theresa continued to deny that anything shocking or devastating had happened to her unable to process her father’s death.  Several months into the depression, Theresa had a vivid dream.   In her dream she was back at the kitchen table with her father having that last conversation before he died.   In her dream she told her father that it was late and she was tired that they must really get to bed.  He walked her up to her room and gave her a kiss on her forehead and said goodnight – as she walked into the room he said “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” as he slowly closed the door.  Theresa said “no dad – don’t close the door, you know how I hate to sleep with the door closed.”  Her father said “I don’t want you to be disturbed by people getting ready for work in the morning.”  “It’s ok dad, I’m so tired a bomb wouldn’t wake me up.”  “Ok sweetheart, I’ll leave the door open – goodnight – I love you.”  “Love you too dad.”  In the dream Theresa watched as her father walked away from the doorway to his bedroom.   Theresa woke with a start as the dream was so vivid and the dream revealed the very last moments she spent with her father.   Theresa now understood what had been haunting her for the last year or so – when Theresa’s step-mother came in the room to wake her up to declare “your father is having a heart attack, but he doesn’t want me to call the ambulance.”  Theresa was already awake,  she was stirring from a deep sleep and now Theresa remembered clearly  – her step-mother came barging into her bedroom after she opened the bedroom door.  Someone had closed that door and she was sure it wasn’t her father.   Someone didn’t want her to hear the commotion going on in the house that morning.

Theresa believed the vivid dream was a confirmation of what she felt was true all along.  Her father was neglected when he needed his loved ones the most.  The dream also served as a message from Theresa’s father – it was time to embrace fully what happened, forgive and move on.  As Theresa slowly started letting go of the haunting she read a quote by Gandhi and kept that quote close to her heart – “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.  There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall.  Think of it always.”

by momwhearingloss

WRITING ON THE WALL

pink heart

Sitting below the stairs in that grey, cold, inhabitable space, Charlotte recalled the sense of peace and calmness the cramped and lifeless space brought to her so many years ago.  It all started when Charlotte was seven years old and out of nowhere the eruption would happen.  Her parents would be screaming at each other at the top of their lungs and Charlotte couldn’t decide which behavioural method of her parents she preferred; the yelling and screaming or the quiet as a mouse nonsense that seemed to go on for days disrupting the whole house and always left Charlotte feeling bad about herself.

On this day, her parents were yelling and screaming and Charlotte found herself at the back door.  She opened the door and slipped out into the beautiful sunlight as if she was entering another dimension.  Slowly she walked down the pathway, paying attention to every stepping stone she stepped on, careful to make sure her whole foot fit into each stone and every step was taken with a painstaking effort to ensure that she never stepped on the cracks, surely this would “break her mother’s back.”  She found herself around the side of the house staring at her feet as she stepped on each stepping stone when suddenly she heard “are you alright sweetie?”  Charlotte looked up to see her sweet neighbour, Mr. Brown, looking over the fence at her with such concern in his face.

Charlotte instantly felt grateful as she was sure he could hear the yelling and screaming coming out of the open windows of the house.  Thankfully she was standing at the garage side of the house where there were no windows and the yelling and screaming sounded as if the fight was coming from a far off location.   She gave Mr. Brown the biggest smile she could, looked at him straight in the eyes and as confident as a seven-year old could be, she said; “thank you for asking Mr. Brown, everything is good and will get better soon.”  “If you ever want to talk sweetie you just say so.”  Off she skipped away like she hadn’t a care in the world, all the while feeling the stare of Mr. Brown on her back and even though she was not looking at him, she knew he was shaking his head in disgust.  Her parents were always fighting and it was obvious he knew all about it and he was concerned for his little neighbour.  Charlotte would never in a million years betray her parents but she appreciated Mr. Brown’s concern and his gesture gave the situation some lightness.  At least he cared, her parents had no idea where she was and at this moment they didn’t care; they were consumed by anger and jealousy.

Down to the end of the house, across the driveway and up the walkway she found herself at the front door of the house.  What she was doing there she had no idea, the last place she wanted to be was inside that house.  In the moment she was standing there she saw her father near the front window and in a panic she ran up the steps and under the stairway where she sat amongst stones, spiders, ants and dust.  Charlotte closed her eyes and tried to remember when her parents weren’t fighting.  If they weren’t fighting then they weren’t talking to each other, she couldn’t remember if they were ever happy, did they ever smile?  Not really, they never smiled, both of them seemed miserable.  Sitting underneath the stairs Charlotte tried to think of happy thoughts and smile.  It was tough to do because in order for her to have happy thoughts she had to block out all the yelling and screaming.

Charlotte’s desire to be happy was far stronger than her desire to listen to her parents stupid fights.  She would close her eyes and think about the time her daddy took her to a farm in the country and let her ride a horse.  That day her dad had the biggest smile she had ever seen.  She grabbed hold of those reigns and kicked that horse to get him going like she was an old pro, problem was she had no idea what she was doing and that old horse took off with her on it.  She fell off that horse and Charlotte’s anger gave away to all caution when she walked straight up to that old horse grabbed those reigns and got right back on as if nothing happened.  When she glanced over at her father he was smiling from ear to ear.  In the car on the way home, her father told her he was so proud of her for being so strong and confident.

She never forgot that moment  and now siting under the stairs she tried to be so strong and confident.  Charlotte imagined herself riding a beautiful black horse, with a white diamond fluff of fur on the top of his head, up and down the beach staring at the ocean and feeling like she could hear God talking to her in the roar of the waves.  She imagined God was telling her “Charlotte, everything is going to be alright, just keep listening to the universe.”  Charlotte opened her eyes and there in front of her by her feet was a stick of pink chalk.  She must have missed it when she first crawled underneath the stairs.  Charlotte picked up the pink chalk and drew a giant heart in the slanted concrete where on the other side the staircase came down to the walkway that opened up to the driveway.  In the middle of the heart she wrote “Charlotte and love”, she then went over the top of those two words with the pink chalk over and over again.

Thirty years later Charlotte was driving down that old street with her husband and children.  Charlotte asked Steve to stop the car and she found herself standing at the front door in front of that staircase.  In the background she could hear Steve and the children yelling out the car window; “Charlotte, mom, what are you doing?”  Charlotte had learned many moons ago to block out noise she did not want to hear.

As if in a trance, she walked toward the side of that staircase and pushed her way past the overgrown bushes, that were  just little twigs thirty years earlier, ducked her head underneath that staircase and sat with her legs crossed as if she was seven years old again.  Staring at the slanted piece of concrete she could see the faint pink chalk writing shaped like a heart and in the centre she could make out “Charlotte and Love.”   Closing her eyes she pictured herself on that beautiful black horse with the white diamond fluff of fur on the top of his head riding down the beach and she took a deep breath to smell the salted air feeling the mist of the sea dripping down her forehead, arms and legs.  Charlotte’s Mother and father were long dead and sitting under that staircase looking at her chalked heart, “Charlotte and love” she had written so many years ago, she realized the survivor tactics she taught herself so long ago had many times saved her from herself over the years.

Opening her eyes she could hear Steve’s footsteps, sensing the motion of Steve pushing away the overgrown shrubs, she waited for him to look in and find her in that grey, cold inhabitable space.  “Should I ask what it is that you are doing and why you are sitting under this staircase with your legs crossed as if you are practicing Yoga moves?”  Charlotte made a move toward Steve and gave him a big kiss on the lips and said “no honey, just know that I love you and the children more than anything on this earth and that love sprouted from this grey, cold inhabitable space many years ago.”

Johanne Fraser