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Owner, "MAP Wellness" - a culinary nutrition and wellness company. Writer. Passionate cook, raw food chef, reiki practitioner, yoga teacher, and LIVE WELL educator. ​do yoga. enjoy good food. run. plant food. cook. savour wine. read books. buy good food. love. grow your energy. find peace. enjoy food. have passion. skip. eat food. do yoga. listen to jazz. have presence. be present. bike. read. see. hear. be. live. love.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Grace. The word. Not the name.

The last time I saw my dad alive and alert was on April 23, 2011.  My family had gathered at my sister's place in Milton for Easter brunch, and I arrived with Cava in hand, and fear in my heart.  At that point, I can admit that I was not visiting mom and dad as often as I should have been.  Dad's ALS was progressing quite rapidly, and I was in a massive state of my mind we would still have him for another year at least!  My work schedule was going to allow me to spend the 2 months leading up to Christmas (this Christmas) living at home, getting in some real quality time.  As much as I had convinced myself that dad was not going to leave us anytime soon, I was also completely terrified.  Each time I visited, it was such a shock to see how much dad's appearance and demeanor would have changed since the last time, how much weight he had lost, how much more distant and worried that look in his eyes was becoming.  

That's Daddy & I enjoying Easter bubbly.
Yes indeed, that Easter was a reality check.  I was totally floored while watching my pops, his usually strong and athletic legs, now so skinny, pushing his walker around the house, a goofy smile on his unknowing face.  It was after only about 3 hours, that I decided I needed to get out of there.  I was wigging out.  So I left. 

I left, and felt terrible.  My family was upset.  They knew I should have been spending as much time as possible with dad, as that time was so, so precious.  But he was just so weak...and it was once I left that I finally began to really know.  And knowing was the scariest step in the process.  It was one of the hardest days I ever had in dealing with dad's diagnosis...

The definition of the word "grace" is as follows:
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
3. favor or good will.
4. mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace
6. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or
strengthen them.

I like the last two.  However, if we were to refer to definition number one, on that day in Milton, I did not act with much grace at all.  No, I acted in quite the opposite way, stumbling away from the challenge that was my family's reality, running from my fear, and then allowing the guilt to torment me wholly.  And I couldn't go on like that anymore, I needed change. 

It was on the Go bus ride back into the city that I officially decided on what my newest tattoo was to be.  I want to live a deeper, more intensely graceful life, one filled with love, personal growth, and honest forgiveness.  I have also experienced some real mercy from the universe, and it was the strength of spirit that allowed me to survive my darkest of days.   So to sum up my new motto for living, the very next day I made it permanent with that one simple word.  Close to my mind, close to my heart, and close to my soul.  No more excuses, right?

2 weeks later, I left the province on a cross-Canada tour with the TV show that I was working with at the time.  I was gone for almost four weeks, arriving back in Ontario that same week dad was admitted to hospital with the bought of pneumonia that would eventually take his life. As circumstances mercifully allowed, I was able to make the trip to Exeter to be by dad's bedside until the end.  I was blessed to be able to say my goodbyes in person, even if he wasn't awake to hear me.  He did manage to open his eyes and see all of his girls surrounding him with love just as he took his last few breaths, and then he was gone.  Mom says she is pretty sure he waiting for me to arrive before he let go. 

Thank God I made it to the hospital.  And thank God I was there for Easter brunch.

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