Remember When We Were Young…

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It’s been awhile.  A long while, but a good one.  I can’t recall last time I wrote here.  But, whenever it was last, things have gotten a lot better for me.  In the summer, I began going weekly to a therapist to just talk, this has never worked for me in the past trying this experience, but for whatever reason, this time it’s been great.  It’s been more than just me talking and the stranger across the room writing down notes about how nuts I am according to the books they’ve studied in school.  She listens.  Doesn’t judge.  Isn’t arrogant like the rest of them.  And, we work on things, we do different activities to help with what is dehabilitating to me, and it’s working.  I think that in addition to some other contributing things,  my life seem’s to be getting back on track.  My last session with my doctor, she asked me since you’ve been coming here in the summer, if there was one word you could use to describe your life now, that you would have never said then… What would it be.  It didn’t take me long to come up with the answer.  Easier.  Everything just seems easier, even when things are bad, dealing is just easier.  Easy & Yellow.  I don’t know yellow.  Just a color that comes to mind, things are brighter.  In the past… When I would think about my life, the only colors I’d ever see were dark grey, black and navy.  Now, Its vibrant colors.    And, to further prove that things have been getting better…  It’s now May 4th, and I have just now been hit by the fact that it’s May 4th.

For anyone who has followed this blog, or knows me well enough… Spring is the most difficult time of the year.  I am very short tempered, very standoff-ish, alone, very, very, very sad, disorientated sometimes and likely extremely difficult to deal with.  Usually these things will come and go for me from April till May 7th, and even a few days after.  May 7th.  The day my sister took her life, and my life, all of our lives forever changed.

This year has been different, I sauntered through April without any problems.  I knew this week was coming, but it didn’t take me long to shake it off, and look at it as a day we celebrate Jen’s life, and our memories together. It even sometimes brought a smile to my face.  There were times I almost felt guilty that I wasn’t being crushed by the approaching day.  Had I gotten over it? Had I moved on?  I hope not… What does this mean?  Often times, it was confusing… but, it wasn’t hurting, So I kept on.  …Till this weekend, I started thinking about it more, and more. What am I going to do? Go home? Spend time with family? friends? Or, stay in Calgary, spend it with Amanda? Friends? What the hell do I do…. Or, do I just begin to treat it like any other day. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Watch Playoffs. Go to Hockey. Come Home. Go to Bed & Repeat.  Because, at some point in my life.  I will need to treat May 7th like just another day, because unfortunately, though I feel like it should, and I feel like it sometimes does.  The world does not stop on May 7th, for me or my family. It continues going. People go to work. Business is done as it is any other day.  Maybe I should just join back in, and not make a big deal out of Wednesday.  Maybe then I will get through the day, I’ll be busy, and I’ll forget.  I’ve began thinking about so many different scenarios, and possibilities about Wednesday. I’ve beyond worked myself up about it, once again… Though at least, on the bright side I suppose it’s only five days in advance I’ve done this, instead of 6-8 weeks like the previous years.  Well, as you can imagine… I came to no conclusion. I’d think long and hard about what to do, and then I’d begin to get standoff-ish, cold, irritated and difficult to be around so I’d try and shake myself.  And, again I was able to snap myself out of it and get back to reality.  Wondering if it was really going to be this easy this year.  I really hadn’t lost it, or completely fallen apart yet.  Was I going to survive this time? Or, am I getting blindsided somewhere soon.

Then today…I don’t know why today.  I woke up, I felt good, I even had a great sleep, and slept in. I was even going to leave to leave the house and go get groceries, which, was a feat considering the last week or so, only time I leave the house is for work, or hockey.  Anyway.  The morning continued on as any other…  I had brunch, sat down watched some VICE, talked to mom and then a buddy about planning a little boys weekend this summer in Sylvan Lake…   Ironically, the exact same thing I was doing the afternoon I found out Jen had passed away, with the same person.  Though, at the time I, of course thought nothing of it. I was excited. Great Sunday ahead. Finished off my episode of VICE, set the PVR for the Hawks/Minny game and set out to Save on Foods! What a day.

For whatever reason.. As I parked, and was leaving my truck, I thought hey, let’s take my iPod and headphones while I cruise the aisles.  Great idea.  I actually enjoy the monthly trip to the grocery store, I am a fantastic grocery shopper. I buy all the fantastic shit Amanda won’t buy.  The kebobs, the shrimp, the lobster tails, the salmon, the beef jerky, the cool labelled  BBQ sauce, funky pizzas… Cool stuff.  So, early on I was having a blast… Take out my earphones to grab a couple spolumbos and kebobs from the deli fella… And, boom.  Now I know exactly why I brought my headphones in.  One of my worst fears was on the speaker. There are a few songs I absolutely can not and will not listen to unless on my own terms.  I will do anything I can to remove myself from wherever these selects beats are going.  Wild Horses. Adia. Angel & the one playing…  I Hope You Can Dance – LeeAnn Womack.   Ah, fuck. First though that came to mind…  Why in the hell would they play this song at a grocery store… I would bet my life, there is not a single person who enjoys listening to that song, or is happy listening to that song. No. It’s fucking devastating.  Thank God, I had my headphones. I threw them back on, grabbed my kebobs and got the hell out of there as if the deli man was the one trying to break me with that song.  No way.  You won’t do this deli man! And, I literally sprinted away from the deli counter and down a different aisle.  Fortunately no one was really around to see this.  So I parked the cart.  Took a few deep breaths, turned up my music and tried to carry on.  I could feel my stomach start to twist, my throat swell up, and my hands start to tremble. I stopped again and had a little chat with myself…

“No… You’re fine kid. Not here.  You can’t here! We only have 3 things on this grocery list, and have only gone down 1 aisle, and you’ve ran down one so we’ll need to cruise again to grab bacon bits… Settle down… Deep breaths… 1….2…..3…. We’re alright. We’ve made it this far. Don’t break.  1….2….3….  Ok, I’m good”  I think.  Pfew.

I took out my phone to make it look like I was waiting on someone, or looking for something so I was less of a spectacle for those passing by.  And, All I got out of looking at my phone.  May 4th.  3 more days. Fuck.  My hands started to tremble a lit more.  My stomach knotted a little tighter.  Breathing was a little more difficult.  I was losing it.  I could feel myself starting to tip over the edge. It had hit me.  It’s 3 days away.  Thoughts of Jen started racing through my head.  Memories of her, and then What was Jen feeling like May 4th, 2008.   Was she grocery shopping?  Was life normal?  What was she doing?  How was she feeling? Were there any signs of what was coming? Did she know what was coming? Can I go back and stop this? Can I stop her? No. It’s too late. I am 6 years too late.  Why did this happen. Why is THIS happening. Why am I here. In the middle of Save on Fucking Foods and I am losing it.  I am losing it. Yep. We’re losing it.  I’m  a mess.  What the hell do I do now.  Do I leave? Do I quit? No. We have no groceries, and I’ll have to just come back anyways.  Soldier on Kid. Come on.   So I tried.  Each aisle was harder than the last.  I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t read what the hell was on the list and then remember what it was by the time I stopped looking at it. I even caught myself going down the same aisles multiple times.  Just circling them.  Taking laps aimlessly.  A complete zombie with a grocery cart.  I looked down and avoided eye contact with anyone.  I thought maybe they’ll see my weakness, see that I am losing it right now, laugh at me, think I am a nut.  It was humiliating.   I couldn’t believe this was happening.  Here. Right now.  Really? I just needed to get home.  I did the best I could getting all I needed, and getting the hell out of there.  Usually, I’ll peruse slowly all the aisles and like I said, grab the coolest things.  Not today.  Just get me out there.  Going through the cashier, my hands continued to tremble, my lip quivering, I felt cold, weak, shaky, I was quiet, impatient and avoidant.  I was falling apart at the seams.  The poor cashier.  She was doing a great job, but had I not felt so weak and powerless, I would have just scanned the damn things myself, ripped them out of her hands threw it all in my cart, yelled thank you and darted out of the store as fast I could.  But, I felt far too weak.  So I stood there. Staring into lost space.  Three times she had to ask me Save on Foods points, or gift card?  What? Huh? Me? Oh… Points please.  I could tell the family behind me was getting frustrated with me.  Or, maybe they were just creeped out that when I was staring into space they were in line of my dead gaze.  Finally, I was on my way out.  I was trying my best to run to my truck but I could hardly get myself to move.  My legs felt horribly weak.  I honestly thought I was going to fall over.  I had to lean on my cart as I pushed it to my truck.  And, of course.  I parked at the very back of the parking lot.  Remember… An hour ago, I was feeling great! …  I unloaded everything into truck as fast I could.  I raced to the cart stable, and threw my cart back.  Good Riddance to you, I’m safe! .. Get into my truck, annnnndddd….Nope.  All throughout the last hour I thought I was really falling apart.  The second my head hit the back of my seat.  I had fallen apart.  That was it.  I lost it.  Uncontrollably.  As bad as I can remember.  I didn’t even notice if there were people beside me.  I thought the world had stopped, and it was just me.  It had to have been just me.  Everything kind of went blank, and dark.  Few moments later… Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a family parked two spots down from me, who probably saw this entire debacle of mine.  And thought, what the hell… why are they parked there!  I began to get frustrated, why are you judging me you don’t know what’s going on, Human!   Then I thought same with that family at the till that was clearly getting frustrated with my dead gaze, and my inability to pay attention.  You don’t know what’s going on.  Why are you even here! Isn’t the world stopping.  Leave me alone, judging humans!

On a separate note, I often wish that you could just stick a sign on your back with small details of your story so others could understand why you are maybe struggling, or a little off today.  I think this would be great only if people couldn’t speak, were unable to judge, and WE ALL had these signs.   On normal days, I find the same thing with myself.  I get frustrated with people, all the time…. but, I often forget to think, maybe there is a reason there are out in space today.  Everyone has their problems, and their own story.  It may not be very different than mine.  I don’t know.  That’s why we should all have these signs! …Had I been another person in the grocery store today and came upon myself the way I was… I would have ran my cart head on into myself.  Wake the fuck up, or go home.  If you can’t handle reality today.  Don’t be in it. But, today I was really that person.  I needed the sign.  Don’t kick me. Please.  I am already down.

I could not get home fast enough.  Thankfully I only live a short way away from the grocery store, because surely I was not in any condition to be driving at the moment.  I was driving just as I were walking, and cruising the grocery store.  Just lost.  Empty. Blank.  I can remember driving out of the parking lot, but I don’t remember the rest of the drive.  Even thinking back now and it was only a couple hours ago. I remember leaving the Save on Foods parking lot… I remember parking my truck at home.  The in-between.  No idea.  Poof.  I had landed at home.

Never ever have I been so relieved to get home, have a drink of water and just breathe.  I felt like I had just gone through a marathon.  Maybe I had…  A mental one albeit.


Now that i’ve somewhat pieced together all that had fallen apart awhile ago, I still continue to be held together by a thread, and I imagine I will for the next week.  Standoff-ish.  Avoidant. Cold. Irratible. Impatient. Empty. Blank. Zombie.   It’s the most difficult week of the year for me, and for my entire family, for obvious reasons.  I really thought this year was going to be different, and it was going to be easier.  but, I suppose it’s not going to be.  I am more confident in my ability to get through the days alive, I wasn’t so much in past years.  I know I will get through this year.  But, beginning this morning, apparently… this is and will be the longest week, these will be the longest, hardest and darkest days.  Even as I sit here and write this on a Sunday afternoon… My hands are shaky, My attentiveness is limited, My body feels weak, I feel sick, my stomach feels knotted, and empty.  I feel like something has been lost, like something is missing. Something is missing.


We lost Jen on May 7th, 2008.  That’s a long time ago.  But, for me it seems like it was only last week.  It seems like only this winter I had visited them in Victoria we hung out, walking along the pier in Sidney, arguing about Hockey Vs. Basketball, playing playmobil, trading CDs.  Talking about our lives when we grew up, and what they would be like.  Never did we say they would be like this.  Never did we say that I’d be sitting here one sunday afternoon writing, and weeping about the very moment we are sharing.  I never ever thought about that.  Never.  She talked about having a family, and what she was going to name her kids, and I thought they were the worst names ever.  I talked about hockey.  Everything about it.  We talked about going to Hornby Island.  When we played playmobil when we were young, we had a huge island piece that we often pretended was Hornby Island.  We talked about all kinds of things.  Hell, we even fought, and we argued about all kinds of things too.  But, we never stayed mad at each other for so long.  I looked up to her like I’ve never looked up to anyone in my life.  She was my hero.  I wanted to be just like her.  I didn’t know at the time she was fighting her own monsters the way she was.  But, looking back now, I applaud her for the strength she had going on, and she did a darn good job of soldiering on.  She did such an amazing job of never letting the way she felt inside, effect the way she treated others.  At least around me, and my brother.  I never knew she was that hurt. I was young, and naive but I always thought she was happy, she had fun, she was popular, had lots of friends.  I can remember her having parties in Victoria, and I so badly wanted to be apart of them. I so badly wanted to be friends with her friends.  Looking back now… I was that really annoying little brother that wouldn’t go away, and wouldn’t leave his big sister alone.  But, she was always so patient, kind, and nurturing.  She’d introduce me to her friends, all these girlfriends of hers that I fell in love with instantly.  I can remember everything.  I can remember thinking I can’t wait to be Jen’s age and have friends like her, and have fun like she has.  I just didn’t know she was hurting so bad inside.  I wish I had, maybe I could have helped. Maybe I could have done something.  Maybe I did help. I don’t know. But, maybe there was more I could do so that we could still share those same memories, and instead of me writing about them, telling them to all the strangers on the internet who will read this… I could call her, hey! remember that time Jen… Haha, yea. I’m sorry I was such a turd.

But… Now we are where we are, and these are only just memories, memories that I have, and the only ones that I have.  We can’t create anymore.  There are only these.  That’s the hardest part sometimes.  These images in my mind, are all that I have left.  I wish I could just hear her voice. I forget what she sounded like.  I forget her laugh.  Sometimes I have dreams with her in them, and I can remember.  Dreams where she is happy. She is laughing, smiling, and at peace.  I think this is her telling me she is okay now, she isn’t fighting anymore, and that we’re ok to let go and be happy ourselves.  We have too.


If you were lucky enough to know my sister, this week is likely equally shitty for you too… and, I know I say this every year, and it’s easy to say this and a lot harder to do… But, try and let go of the sadness this week.  Think about her.  Talk to her.  But do so with a smile,  and a laugh. Not a bunch of tears.  Grab yourself a Stella, or a case of them.  For each one you have… Tell a story you remember about Jen, or something about her you remember.   Even if you are by yourself, or with a group of friends, even a group of friends who didn’t know Jen.  Tell them a story about her.  Hell, even send me a story about her, or a memory you have.

Send me an email b.lystang@hotmail.com, or text me  any memories you have of her.  403 808 3321.

It will help me get through the week.  And, it will be something we can all keep and put together for Abbey.

Even if you didn’t know Jen, wherever you are, whatever you do on Wednesday.  Have a drink, and please, toast to my sister.   Thank you.

 


 

 

I miss you so much Jen.  I love you.

 

 

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