homegrown mama

In life, military life on 20122012-01-25T19:21:16+00:0031 9/11 at 19:21

Grief is a gutting experience.

It cuts through all our façades and presumptions and hang-ups; it strikes at the core of who we are. It can drive us to reach out and connect with others, or recoil from the world to look inward for comfort. Everyone deals differently. And depending on your relationship with the person who has passed away, it can alter your life’s course, and force you to rethink your priorities.

For all life’s uncertainties, I have been particularly blessed in the area of grief. That is to say, I have not experienced it much. I didn’t attend my first funeral until grade eight, when a friend’s father died in a work-related accident. Even then, it was far enough removed from me that I was there more to support my friend than to grieve her father, who I barely knew. After that, my aunt passed away from cancer 10 years later, and she was the closest person to me who has ever died. It was a tough one to swallow, as she was particularly close, and I really thought she would pull through. My grandpa passed away a few years ago at a healthy old age, but he always lived on the other side of the country and I rarely saw him. He even travelled out to the West Coast from Ontario for our wedding, but had a heart attack the morning of the big day. He survived, of course, and really impressed all the nurses at the local hospital (a charming fellow, he was). But a couple of years later, he passed on. My parents have both endured parental and sibling loss, but mostly before I was born, so these grandparents and uncles have always been family history and stories to me.

Now that I’m a wife to a soldier, and a mom to small children, worst-case scenarios are frequently on my mind. It’s what we signed up for, isn’t it? Let’s be clear: I do not live in a perpetual state of fear. That is a waste of life and a major cause of undue stress. However, I do have a healthy awareness of how life would change dramatically in the event that something happens to my husband or children. Or me. Maybe I’m just a glass-half-empty kinda gal, but I’ve always considered how my odds of experiencing devastating loss increase as heartbreak seems to happen to other people. Is that morbid? Even so, I suppose my motivation is to avoid being blindsided by the pain and anguish that can come with spontaneous emergencies. So I make myself aware of the possibilities. But truly, no one knows our life’s outcome, and I’m sure this contemplation is all in vain, a defense mechanism for the Type A in me.

My heart has been touched recently, though, as Brandon’s neighbouring communities have banded together to support a local family who did experience the extreme pain of a tragic and sudden death. And I really believe that, even though we all operate with the knowledge that life is short, many of us are shocked that it can be so fragile, that plans, hopes and dreams can be ripped from us so abruptly.

In our hearts, we always want to believe it won’t happen to us. But there it is, right there in front of us. Sadly, the most common lament I hear is, “I wish there was something more I could do.” Don’t we all?

This month’s loss is an injustice felt community-wide. And being part of the greater military family means a lost life is always felt: maybe directly, maybe indirectly. But witnessing the generosity of our neighbours as they banded together to support a grieving family makes me grateful to call this place home.

::To 30…and beyond!::

In life on 20122012-01-16T09:32:58+00:0031 9/11 at 09:32

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

My nana, who turns 89 this year, once told me she’s always felt like a teenager inside. Even while she struggles with the various ailments that come with age, her mind is as sharp as a tack; it’s her body that can’t keep up. She likes to remind us of this, of course.

Nana at age 17 (1940)

Nana now (2010) and Heidi (6 mos old): great nana and great-granddaughter

I suppose it’s true that “age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” (Mark Twain). If we accept the natural progression of time as an inevitable journey all of us endure, maybe the thought of wrinkles, age spots, and memory loss wouldn’t sting so much. But it doesn’t help that we live in a culture hell-bent on defying age, offering a solution to every sagging, expanding, or shriveling body part.

And so, this month, I will turn 30.

Approaching 30 has never put me off to the point where I dread the day I hear the birthday song. Honestly, in the past three years, I have been too busy carrying, bearing, and raising my babies, moving, and learning how to live the military life to spend much time worrying about this number looming over me.

In our 20s, we’re consumed with establishing our identity, learning our skill set, and proving our work ethic. (Ok, let’s not forget the partying and dating!) Many people fall in love, plan a wedding, buy their first home, get a car loan, all those things. But 10 years fly by and you end up on 30’s doorstep, wondering how you got there.

Ten years ago, 30 felt so far away. It was the age I thought I’d be when I’d finally be “grown up”; I anticipated making important decisions, solidifying my career, and starting a family in my 20s. And I did that. But now that 30 is here, I wonder where the heck 20 went?!

In the past year, when I considered my upcoming entry into a new decade, it was admittedly easy for me to feel gloomy and, frankly, a little old. I found a perma-crease in my forehead (it’s not a wrinkle…really…is it?), and I’ve plucked a few grey eyebrow hairs (but no one will ever see a grey hair on my head—even me. Thanks, Belle Color #75!). I’ve taken up sewing and crafting, and I get excited over front-loading laundry machines and state-of-the-art refrigerators.

But while my 20s were jam-packed with self-discovery and putting down roots, I feel like I should have paid closer attention to the details of life passing me by. Now, I’m looking forward to simply living the life I created for myself in the past 10 years. And it’s about time, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what’s great about turning 30; the pressure is off. It’s like an early retirement, of sorts. I don’t expect raising children or living in a military family to be free of challenges and hardship. But I think I can move forward without feeling guilty that I should be “doing” something more than I am at this moment right now.

And haven’t I earned that, at my age?

::word of the year::

In life on 20112012-01-01T07:27:18+00:0031 9/11 at 07:27

Flexible: adj \ˈflek-sə-bəl\

“characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements”

A true challenge for me. Embracing it now.

Happy New Year, friends. What is your word/theme for the year?

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