Wednesday, April 20, 2011

i wish i could do more.

This has been a tumultuous week. I have felt unsettled, scattered, in a kind of falling down in the dark state while scrambling to keep things relatively together.
An exhausting, intense and dizzifying series of days that drift into nights without sleep and jarring me out of the few deep moments of sleep in the wee hours, my phone is buzzing telling me it's time to wake up. 
Flying solo with four children can be done, and can be done well.
Flying solo with two of them being in school and two of them needing me through the night is also doable, but it comes with a cartload of baggage filled with eye twitches, cranky retorts to innocent statements, and ultra sensitive everything. Everything. It became about survival, not about doing it well, and wishing I could do more.

Then Joel came home. Relief. Kind of. Here and there. But relief nonetheless.

In the walking zombielike state I've been in these past several weeks of being alone, my creativity is beyond stifled. It is downright absent - as any care for being creative is also absent - why bother? I didn't even have the energy this week to sit down at the computer and give a play by play of what's been goin' down in the Luyt house - I am stuck in this heavy state of awaiting test results, hoping for some relief, and underneath it all feeling selfish and short tempered and perplexed and longing for something more.

And then my friend texts me. My dear friend who walked with me through so many dark valleys, who stood ankle deep in my amniotic fluid, who stooped and picked up the broken pieces of my heart an entire year ago. Her Dido, her grandfather, is in the hospital. A massive stroke. "He may only have hours."

Tears. Pain. Ache. This is part of life, too, I know. But it hurts more than I like.

Dido. Her Dido.
I always wanted to know him so much more than I did.
When she and I were nearly neighbors in a big busy city, I would sometimes pass her Dido on the road. I would be headed over to her house to see if she was home, and there would be Dido, up in the tree, adjusting the string of lights. Or there he would be, putting the finishing touches on the flower boxes he built for her house while she was out. Or again, there he would be, fixing the step on her deck that was always a little wobbley. He was at least in his eighties at that time. I know he's in his nineties now. He said goodbye to his wife when I had just met Joel. I remember her funeral like it was yesterday.

My friend's face. Her sister's face. Their own mama's face, Mary, the only daughter, the only child of this Baba and Dido. I always wanted to photograph his face as there is an element of absolute perfection about him. I always wanted to but always felt too shy, like it would be too bold. This Dido, I tell you, has a perfect look about him, always. The way time had etched lines of achingly beautiful character into his skin. His dark and sparkling, smiling eyes, eyes that felt so familiar, eyes that remind me of my own grandmother's eyes, dark and set into his face that tell stories of life, of wisdom, of innocence and mischief at the same time. Whenever I saw him, he was always dressed like he was going somewhere, in that real style that older gentlemen just seem to have - pants, suspenders, button-down shirts, cardigans, hats, real shoes - you know the ones - real shoes. Or boots. He has this way about him that always fascinated me, with his quiet way of watching Steph's own boys get into mischief - the quiet unwavering way he would watch his great grandchildren scamper about and make their mama laugh - make my friend laugh, her laughter bubbling out and overflowing from deep inside her like a freshly opened bottle of soda pop - and he would just take it all in. I have such an admiration for his devotion to his family. He was always such a beautiful man, forever making himself useful and purposeful, driving his red truck and gardening and helping and independent. But he did miss his wife greatly after she was gone. It was as if a piece of his spirit had gone on ahead of him, and without it, he wasn't the same.

I remember stories Steph had told me about the struggle they had in coming to Canada, war time hiding out under cellar doors, and I have remnants of this incredibly beautiful, achingly romantic story of Baba and Dido's wedding rings, how each ring was made from the gold fillings in his teeth, I think? And that he once lost the ring in a field while on the run in the war, and stayed on hands and knees, crawling, feeling, continually searching for it until it was found - and how he swallowed it to not have it be taken away. More than once. That story makes my heart skip a beat.

I feel so far away and helpless. I felt the same way when my dear friend's Baba went, too - but at least I could go to the funeral, throw my arms around my friend hoping it would communicate some kind of caring. Around her sister, my other friend. Around Mary, their mama, the lady who sometimes played a role of a kind of adoptive mama in my life. The lady who, along with Baba, hand knitted items for each of my babies as they arrived in this world. Every time. I still treasure those items, caressing each stitch as it sits, imagining it as it was lovingly cast on, cast off, all the while with my babies in mind - little treasures left behind as a gentle legacy when these special people are called on.

And now its time, again. This sweet Dido is in that deep sleep with the gasping that is so hard for anyone to see, and that I recognize from my nursing days. I wish I could do more to help shelter my friend. Her Dido. In the hospital. Back there. And I wish I could do more.

I feel helpless for my sweet friend, my forever friend. I want to make her supper. And clean her kitchen. And snuggle her sweet babies, draw her a bath, and let her cry it out. And cry with her. And cry with her mama Mary, even though Mary would be so private about it. Oh, Mary - the way you wrung your hands and didn't hold back your tears when wanting to love on and fix whatever was hurting me with everything that entailed becoming Amos's mama - you communicated such love in that wringing of your hands. I wish you could see me wringing my hands and communicating love to you. I know you know its time. I know you know he wants to go on. But I know it still hurts.

So instead I cry here, and I will write it out. Dido, you don't know the impact you had in my life. But you did, nonetheless. I am just one little person that was always a bit shy to talk to you, to tell you how much I admired you, and how special I always thought you were. I wish I could do more to care for your family.

I am happy you get to go on home to Jesus, and to Baba. She's waiting for you.

this is not Steph's actual Baba and Dido - but it is a photo of a Baba and Dido.

I love you, Steph, and Russell and Ana and Harry and George; and Sonia and Eli and Gus and Lewis and Neale - and Mary and Art. (and you too, Michael). My heart and thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time. I wish I could do more.  

I love your Dido. I wish I could do more for you.


  1. mariellegallant@cogeco.caApril 20, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    I love very much what you are writing about, very beautiful, continue please, very lovely to read and very honest, your family is very lucky to have you to tenderly care for them.

    grandma LeBlanc lol to all .

  2. Just lost my long comment (typed one-handed) I go again:

    Goodness, this was beautiful. I mean REALLY beautiful....choking back tears. Your descriptive words painted a lovely I was right there. What a touching story!

    Grandpas and Didos are special. We just celebrated my grandpa's 88th birthday last weekend. I've had this image in my head since last Sunday, and it's kind of unsettling. I keep seeing him turn and wave goodbye; his hand way up high in the hair, fingers dangling as if he was sprinkling magic all over the moment. I remember holding my breath for a split second and almost said, "Hold that pose, let me get my camera." But I didn't, and now I'll just have to etch that picture into the photo-album of my brain...would be real handy to have a "photographic memory" right now :). He's such a cute grandpa.

    Thank you for writing this. You've spurred me on; we will see him again for Easter dinner at our state park. I will definitely be taking pictures this time.

    And I'll bet Dido's family will feel you've done just the right amount....probably even more. This was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life. Even I feel like I know him better because of it; a stranger, thousands of miles away, that would have otherwise known nothing about him. Hey, maybe this can be a prompt for another post: What do you want your legacy to be?

    You've done Dido justice,
    Kelly <3

  3. He sounds beautiful... reminds me a of my Uncle Hugh. Thank God for words on a page for those far away from loved ones...I think this often. As I think of you often. Love and *hugs*.

  4. thinking of you laura.

    i know what it's like to be home without daddy for weeks at a time.
    i know babes that need to be fed and held and snuggled all. night. long.
    i know tired and torn.
    i know dance'n and pray'n and listening to sermons so i don't fall apart or yell and scream.

    bless you in those moments!

  5. Sweet Laura,

    That was a lovely tribute to Steph's Dido. I loved the imagery it brought to mind and the feelings it evoked. I'm sure it will be an encouragement to Steph and her family.

    Hang in there in those tough moments of little sleep, juggling kids, and emptied emotion. Know that you are the apple of His eye and He will not let you go. Hugs to you, sweet friend.

  6. very nice post. Congrats dear blogger


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