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I turned 45 last Friday.

 

Funny thing just now—my fingers went mysteriously rogue and plunked in 24 the first time ‘round.

 

Strange.

 

It’s not a marker birthday or anything. It’s not like 21 or 40, but it is half way to 90 and I’ll admit that’s been slightly mind-boggling for me. Is that even a possibility? Can you be slightly mind-boggled or is the very word itself a full-on admission of a complete and utter flabbergast?

 

Technically, it’s middle-aged. I’m at mid-point. I’ve officially crossed the line between what was and what will be. This half versus that half. That is, assuming I make it to 90. There’s always a chance I may not. In which case, I am more than half way through my life. How in the world did I get here?

 

And, what happens now?

 

I can remember stretching out on the sun-warmed carpet in my family room sixteen years ago and promising myself I’d publish a book by the time I turned 30. (Who hasn’t promised themselves that? I can hear you asking) I was 29 then. I didn’t make it. But in the sixteen years since, I’ve raised a family, worked and written a book, albeit terrible and unpublishable, it is a book nonetheless.

 

Well, I’ve had a week to unboggle and now that my head is clear, I’ve come to a place where I realize I’m not only content with my age, but overjoyed to arrive at it. This year has taught me that. I am the fortunate one. I got here. I did make it. My goals are still on the table. I get the chance to keep going. I’m lucky to wake with hope beside me. I can continue my journey with possibility.

 

I get to live.

 

And, of course, make my own laundry soap. Because I hear that’s what 45 year-olds do…

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Two years ago today…

As all good things must come to an end, I thought life with Rowan would go on forever. No, you’re not confused. You needn’t read that sentence again. It’ll still say the same thing.

You see, I’ve been known to remark once or thrice that she really must be the World’s Worst Dog. I haven’t hidden my rants or rages. My sputterings and spews have been no secret. I have openly complained and cried in frustration. I’ve fallen and forgiven for all to see. I’ve been a martyr at best.

You understand, right? I mean, she filled my life with insane and unnatural amounts of hair and stained my carpets to the brink of despair. She chewed up precious belongings and sabotaged our prized Wisteria. Her incessant howls cost us neighbors and got her ixnayed from our camping roster. She dragged garbage out over the floors and snatched lavish steaks off the barbie. Walks were harrowing horrors as she pulled and strained with all her might. She vanished when unleashed and ignored our frantic pleas for her return. Yes, without a doubt, she was the world’s worst dog.

But this week, she lay at my feet, panting and whimpering, immobilized and pained. Helpless.

And all I could remember were her ears flapping in the wind, her saucer eyes and her soppy, sweet demeanor. As my family spread out to sleep on the couches and the floor because she could no longer make the trip up to our rooms, I thought of the way she once guarded our house and made us feel safe. While we set our alarm for her 3am meds, I envisioned the way her legs splayed out to the sides as she scrambled to meet us each time we came through the door. While we hand-fed her a homemade turkey and quinoa mix with little sips of water, I wished for the once annoying click of her nails on the wooden floor. And as we changed out the cool packs soothing her collapsing neck, I swore I heard all the laughter she’d brought into our home over the last seven and a half years.

This week, she could do none of that. She simply lay, gasping, blinking, scared and scarred and I realized what I must’ve known all along. She wasn’t the world’s worst dog. She’d be my family’s best memory.

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Note: Rowan was taken from us by an inoperable case of Intervertebral Disc Disease

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What was once decent in life, can, like magic, become disproportionate in death.

 

Our memories switch off the ability to recall missteps, unpleasantries and altercations. It takes those things by the neck and drags them deep into the folds of our conscience, tucking them in for a Snow White sleep.

 

The brain, nature, survival, whatever we choose to call it, takes over, and we remember solely the good—the kind words said, the times they made us smile, their soars and their successes.

 

But for the majority of breaths—theirs and ours—we brush our teeth, drive to work, eat our dinner and wash the dishes. One day comes after the other and we forge on, comfortable in the knowledge that we simply like, and contently love.

 

It’s that very love that protects us. It shields. It transforms what’s now gone into only what we need to remain—good deeds, helping hands and a softness of spirit.

 

And this is understandable. After all, less is more. We tend to scrape away disagreeable to accommodate the palatable on our plates.

 

But this wasn’t my Papa’s way. In life, as in death, he had no tolerance for waste.

 

That’s why he only made room for extraordinary his whole life long.

In loving memory of John Martin Murphy Sep 6 1927 - Dec 24  2014

In loving memory of John Martin Murphy
Sep 6 1927 – Dec 24
2014

 

 

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It can be tough to keep going. Everyone has reasons—some physical, some mental, some…imaginary.

 

You’ve given it your all, done all you can and you’re tired.

 

Maybe you’ve been trying to lose weight, but can’t seem to shed more than a pound or two, perhaps you’re training for a new job and things simply aren’t clicking, you might have been blogging for years and a high-profile publicist has somehow failed to swoop in and make you a star, maybe every query you’ve ever sent has ended up in the slush pile or it might just be that the expensive tooth whitening system you succumbed to buying just isn’t delivering those shocking pearly whites.

 

Unfortunately, I get it. I am very familiar with the rigorous tear down of the emotional psyche. No surprise there. Why do you think it occurs to me to write posts like this?

 

So last Sunday, I watched my daughter play yet another soccer game. She’s a good little player. Usually the oldest and almost always the smallest. She’s phenomenal with ball control, but sometimes doesn’t have the physical strength to match the other players. She was on a team at 4 and 5 years old, but quit shortly after for whatever reason of the day she gave back then, probably a blister, but decided to start up again two years ago. She’s almost 14. She’s playing with girls who never quit. Girls who have been playing since they were 3, 4 and 5 years old. Needless to say, it has taken her some time to build enough confidence to do more than run the ball for more than a few feet or make a quick pass to another teammate.

 

But Sunday was a great day. The weather was invigorating—cold and crisp with the odd burst of energizing sun. We played on a beautiful landscape adjacent to the prestigious grounds of UBC. The team played particularly well and incredibly hard. We were treated to all kinds of fancy footwork and the opportunities to cheer were plentiful.

 

And cheer we did.

 

Especially when my determined little girl seized the chance to strategically chip the ball up over the goalie’s head and score for her first time on a Rep level team.

 

Everyone needs a goal. What’s yours?

Not from Sunday, but a good one, nonetheless. (Photo cred goes to Kori Balaberda)

Not from Sunday, but a good one, nonetheless. Ava is the one in all black. (Photo cred goes to Kori Balaberda)

 

 

 

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I dreamt all three of my children before they were born.

 

Now don’t click that little x. I am the most skeptical, non-hocus-pocus person you’ll ever meet. Promise. It comes standard with my RBF. (That was for a special friend, but I figure you may as well enjoy a laugh at my expense too.)

 

So, sanity aside, I did dream up all three of my kids before I ever met them. At three different stages of pregnancy, I had three different dreams about three different babies, at three different ages. My oldest was a newborn in my dream, my middle, three months and my daughter was just shy of a year.

 

Of course I dream all the time, but these dreams were different. They were tangible. In them, I could see, hear and taste as if awake. I could feel the hairs rise on the back of my neck as the downy silk of their cheeks brushed mine, I understood their dispositions and knew who I’d be meeting when the day finally came.

 

I would wake changed from when I’d gone to sleep. I’d come to know the tots forming in my belly. I’d been privy to what my future held. I’d been blessed with an extra day of their lives.

 

I can tell you there were no surprises. My first came early, slipping into our world as quietly as any living, breathing thing could. Our second, on his due date, with a head full of ebony hair and enough breath in his lungs to make up for his brother. The third, our daughter, swooped in on a magic carpet large enough to carry her and her big personality.

 

And I’d met them all before.

 

I am reminded of this because I was given another gift last night. Again, an extra day. Needless to say (I really hope it’s needless to say) I am not pregnant, but I had one of these dreams. Different, tangible, unmistakable.

 

Ava was about three years old. Her hair was cut into the short bob she used to wear and she wore a baseball cap. I could only see the back of her. Her squidgy little feet were covered in sand and she was struggling to get across a rocky patch. I asked her if she wanted me to pick her up and she said; “Could you, mumma,” in that tiny little voice she used to have.

Ava in her "Ash" cap

Ava in her “Ash” cap

 

My heart skipped and as I scooped her up, she melted in just like she was a part of me. It was one of those good holds. My arms wrapped under her teeny tushe and air could not have come between us.

 

“You’re the best mumma. I love you so much.” She whispered. And with the bubbles on her lips popping in my ear and the warmth of her comforting breaths, I felt the hair, once again, stand on the back of my neck.

 

I used to chalk my unique imaginings up to the whacky hormones of pregnancy, but after last night I know, dreams are just wishes your heart makes.

 

 

 

 

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When my daughter was four, I made her a promise. She was distraught over her dad leaving for a business trip and I told her she could sleep with me anytime he was away.

From. Then. On.

And. She. Did.

She has slept beside me, over the past nine and half years many, many times. More times than I can count. She kicks, punches, head butts and talks. She grinds her teeth reminding me the stresses she’s under and in short, freaks me right out.

But I’m sure you know what I’m going to say. I love having her with me. I love her with ever fiber of my being and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

Because one day, she won’t be beside me.

Before I know it, my girl, the last baby of my brood will be off and out on her own, learning, living and leaving. Breaking free from the nest I have so carefully constructed around her.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a week now but it’s been difficult. Sure, I’ve been busy. In fact, I’ve barely had a moment’s peace. It’s been one job after another⎯never short of something to keep me busy. Which is weird, because I’m down one kid. You’d think I’d have at least a third more time.

Clearly, that’s not how it works.

My boy sailed off to University last week, and I don’t know how to feel. I know what I’m supposed to feel, but how do I really feel? Sad? Forlorn? Deserted? Happy? Proud? Excited? Broke.

Please note⎯that last one isn’t a question.

Truth be told, any mere mortal who reaches this stage in life will undoubtedly feel a cocktail of these emotions but hopefully, will be graced with one overwhelming standout⎯elation. We did it! We raised a child that not only meets the requirements of an excellent school, but one that also wants to go.

Rah, rah us!

Yes, it’s inevitable. Our kids will leave us. They may be eighteen. They may be older. They may be younger. Or heaven forbid, we might have to throw them out by the collar, but eventually they will leave.

In the meantime, I wonder if Ava and I can squeeze into that twin extra long…

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Ooo, I am so torn today.

 

I want to give you more story, partly because I feel pressure to seal that deal, but even more importantly, you’re dying for it. I can tell. Each one of you is waking up every morning with a head full of pressing questions – What color is Helena’s onesie? How many electronic cigarettes does Gladys smoke in a day? What does Anass eat for breakfast to make him, well, such an ass? How can I get my hands on Rick’s number? Do you think Stephanie would mind? And to state the obvious – what color are Bitty’s sheets?

 

I get it. It’s my own fault. There’s no doubt I set you up for this. I mean, I’ve created such a riveting, compelling story line, what do I expect but to be harassed for more? You’re a little intense though. You can lay off just a tad. I appreciate your enthusiasm an’ all, but climbing your way into my dreams and clawing at me like the Walking Dead is slightly off-putting. In fact, I’m not too proud to admit it’s downright scary.

 

Okay, just kidding. Don’t stop. In fact, bring in the White Walkers. I like a good show.

 

Anyway, zombies and icy-eyed cold dudes aside, you’re not getting more story today. There are a couple of other things I feel are more significant for now.

 

It is my 21st wedding anniversary. What can I say? I married when I was 14 – my dowry was irresistible. It has been many years (well, 21 to be exact) of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, the splendid, the dodgy and the dull, all rolled into a wonderfully snug union of seemingly endless time.

Paraplaner 1

And then yesterday, as I sat in the hot sun tempered with a light breeze, watching a paraplaner sail the serenely blue sky above my neighborhood, the phone rang and I realized there is no endless.

Aside from expected soreness, my husband is unharmed as was the other party involved. Our lucky day.

Aside from expected soreness, my husband is unharmed as was the other party involved. Our lucky day.

This, you cannot take for granted.

 

Maybe not yesterday, maybe not tomorrow, but endings there will be. Try to make them happy.

700 Strong

Thank you for this

 

 

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