Right here

Dear Grandma,

How unbelievable it is that you’ve been gone for 5 years now. I know I’ve said this every year, and I’ll continue to do so until the end of time, but it still seems like it was just yesterday when our hearts were broken as you left this world all too soon.


A little less than a year ago, I had the most vivid dream about you. Mind you, it wasn’t the first, but I was at some kind of public place – I don’t remember if it was a mall or an amusement park – and I was searching everywhere for you. I was starting to panic when suddenly, you appeared wearing the same pink dress you were wearing when Kyle and I got married. You simply hugged me and said, “I’m right here.” I woke up after that I honestly haven’t had a dream about you since. I don’t know if that dream was some kind of closure, but I felt a great deal of peace afterwards.

Just because I don’t dream about you anymore doesn’t mean I don’t think about you. I’ll never forget all the wonderful life experiences I was able to have with you (and Grandpa) and every so often something obscure will bring back a flood of memories. A blue lupine flower. Whiskey jacks. Nachos. Palm trees.

The moments come and go, sometimes with a smile and others with a tear, but I cherish every single one of them regardless of how much it hurts sometimes. It makes me remember how important it is to make those memories regardless of how simple or routine the occasion may be. 

I’ll forever be thankful for how unconditional your love was. No matter what kind of personal BS any of your family or friends were going through, you always seemed to stick by them. Whether they needed the biggest hug or room to breathe, you offered it with open arms and an understanding that you’d always be there. 

I like to think that mom is following in your footsteps in being a grandma to Isla and Norah. Many things that I was able to experience with you, such as camping and hot tubbing, Isla has been able to experience with her, and I know Norah will also be just as fortunate. Thank you so much for being such an amazing role model, because I’m so grateful that my girls are able to make memories with their grandma, just as I was able to make them with you.

I love you, Grandma, and even though I no longer dream of you I’ll never stop thinking about you. You’ll always be right here in my heart when I need you.

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Chicken Soup and Mac n’ Cheese

Dear Grandma,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since you so suddenly departed from our lives. It’s been tough – so tough – and not a day goes by where I don’t think about you.

Memories of you sometimes come at the most peculiar times; I may be doing something mundane and routine like changing a diaper or watching TV, or perhaps it’s something more specific, like making homemade soup or attempting to replicate your famous mac n’ cheese. (You made the best homemade chicken soup and mac n’ cheese, hands down, and I don’t think what I make will ever come close to how good yours was.) They never fail to put both a smile on my face and a tear in my eye at the same time.

I never thought someone would have such a significant influence on me, and it’s unfortunate that I’m only truly realizing how much of an influence you had after you’ve passed. Your “isms” speak loud and clear in my head a lot: “Treat others the way you want to be treated!”, “Come on in if your nose is clean!”, or “Kitchen Witch!” Whether silly or serious, I’ll never forget your words of wisdom.

I wish you were able to meet your great-grandbabies. I know Isla and Norah would have adored their Nana. It hurts so much knowing that you passed just a few months before Isla was born, especially because you were so excited to meet her. I’m thankful that you got to “meet” her while I was still pregnant; those moments will forever be etched in my heart.

I really want to thank you for being such an amazing grandmother not only to me and my brother, but to your 16 other grandkids as well. Your love and devotion to you family has influenced us all in so many ways and we can only hope to be as great as you were.

I miss you so much, Grandma, and one day I know I’ll be sitting down with you again to enjoy a bowl of chicken soup and a plate of mac n’ cheese.


Class of 2004

The end of this month marks 10 years since I graduated from high school. Actually, I believe Isla’s birthdate was the day we had our graduation ceremony, and June 30 was the day we had our prom. This weekend, a few of us from our grad class are getting together to catch up and reminisce about high school. (By a few, I mean about 10 of us, which believe it or not, is about 1/2 of our class. Small towns, FTW!) It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since I stepped off the school grounds for the last time.

Yep, that just about sums it up.

Yep, that just about sums it up.

I thought I’d bust out my yearbooks from their dusty home in a box under my stairs to look back and think about high school. You could say that what you’d find in those books would be typical: hearts drawn around past crushes, notes left by classmates telling you to “have an awesome summer” and that they’ll see ya next year

In one yearbook there were numerous snide and rude remarks left beside the photos of girls I didn’t like – something I’m not particularly proud of. It looks like I had a major hate-on for quite a few girls who were older than me. Justified or not, I probably shouldn’t have tarnished my yearbook that way.

While looking through the pages, I also tried to figure out what kind of person I was in high school. In a nutshell, I was kind of all over the place. I wouldn’t say I was popular, but I wouldn’t say I was a “loser.” I hung out with a variety of different crowds throughout those 5 years – from my “core” group of friends who entered into high school from elementary school with me, to my guy friends, to the various groups of people who I fell in and out of friendship with for one reason or another.

Aww, look at how awkward I was ...

Aww, look at how awkward I was …

There was a stint of rebellion in there somewhere too. In grade 10 I decided that I was a little too cool for school and frequently ditched class to hang out in the smoke pit, leave the school grounds, and get high. I’d also sneak out at night to drink with friends. Ah yes, those weren’t exactly my proudest days, but I certainly learned a lot from them. Like how your parents really do give a shit. At my lowest moment, the receptionist at the school spotted me leaving during mid-morning break so she called my mom. Cue my mom and grandma driving all over town looking for me, eventually finding me, dropping me back off at school and then severely punishing me. That was about the end of that phase, to say the least.

Every spring I played on the soccer team, wearing #6 for a couple seasons and the made #14 my number. I played defence and took the role of sweeper in my last year, as well as one of the co-captains. I never played to try and make a university team, I just played because I loved the game. I also played volleyball one year, which wasn’t so bad but not really my cup of tea.

And one can’t think about high school without remembering the guys you dated. There weren’t a lot, less than a handful, and a couple of them really made me wonder what in the world I was really thinking. There was an on-again, off-again guy who my mom wasn’t so keen on, there was a guy during one of the “off-again” periods, and even a month-long stint with a guy friend, which as it turned out, it was much better to just remain friends. There was shameless flirtation – which resulted in a couple of girls wanting to beat me up. Then of course, I started dating Kyle when I was in grade 11, and the rest is history ;) (He jokes that he lucked out in the dating pool and that I just had a lack of options. Not true, haha!)

Come grade 12, I had a pretty general idea of who I was and was OK with being the somewhat reserved and quiet. I didn’t particularly had and super close friends; just a couple of close guy friends who I hung out with in between class and at lunch if I didn’t wander to Kyle’s to eat. I went to class, did my work, and went home. I struggled with grade 12 math, which nearly cost me graduation, but I managed to pull out a D as a final grade. (WHEW.)

I ended up becoming the valedictorian of my class (chosen by submitting an essay, not by overall grades) and didn’t hang around my hometown for too long, working through the summer and then moving to where I am now for university. I go back once or twice a year, but have never really taken the time to really visit those old friends. I know that friendship is a fickle thing. A lot of people I know have friends from high school who they are still BFFs with. Sad to say, but I don’t talk to anyone from high school on a regular basis. I don’t know if distance is to blame, or if it’s just a difference in lifestyles, or if it’s maybe some underlying factor – maybe we weren’t as close as we thought we were.

Prom night for the ASS Class of 2004

Prom night for the ASS Class of 2004

Then there’s the question of if you could change something about the past, would you? I like to think that whatever happens, it happens for a reason; that’s what makes you who you are today. Would I change something about how I acted or what I did in high school? Absolutely. Perhaps I wouldn’t have flirted with another girl’s boyfriend, or kept my mouth shut instead of throwing fuel into the rumour mill, or have convinced myself that you’ll get the guy if you’re “that” girl. But would I be the same person I am today had I not? Most likely not. Who knows what kind of path I would have went down if I did said one thing instead of another, or kept dating the same guy who really wasn’t all that good for me.

I’m thankful for everything I learned in high school, and I’m not just talking about proper English skills and how to ask where the washroom is en Français (not that I’ve had to do that, but you never know!) I’m glad that the small size of our grad class has left us all remaining on speaking terms, more or less. (One of the perks of being from a class of 24 students and a school of 160 is that there’s no avoiding one another whatsoever.) And thanks to Facebook, it’s been easy to keep track of everyone. With the exception of a few people, I have a general idea of what everyone has been up to since  graduation, which makes me sound like a complete stalker. But, it has made this reunion easy to organize. How people did it back in the day is beyond me.

In the end, high school is only as miserable or memorable as you want it to be. It will be interesting to see what, if any, memories are brought up at our reunion tomorrow awkward, awesome, or otherwise.

So, here’s to the class of 2004. We may have gone separate ways, but we’ll always be A.S.S. Rams!