2008 Youth Journals

2007 Youth Journals



The Big Question...
October, 2008

Do you know what you want to do with the rest of your life? If you do, count yourself lucky. It’s a big question mark for many, including me.

At twenty six, I’m starting to feel like I need to have some direction. I do....sort of. It’s clear that I like to be around people and that I have an interest in those who struggle. University showed to think beyond how things appear and to read quickly. I learned that generalizations can easily be made, but it’s important to be open. Having the ability to be a broad thinker is useful, especially when it comes to people. I am reminded of this every day when an attendant or anyone makes an assumption about me. I am my own, unique, quirky, bubbly, self. I may use a wheelchair and need help with some tasks, but that doesn’t make me just like the next person who also uses a wheelchair. My favourite quote relating to this is, “I am person not a patient.”

I have stretched out obtaining my undergraduate degree, mostly because I don’t know exactly what I want to do. When my peers say, “Join the club,” I don’t feel so bad. Still though, I need to make some choices. Sometimes it seems I don’t really know how to do anything specific. Sure, I read and write, but I am not an expert in any field, except maybe coffee.

The idea of going to school to take a college course focusing on a specific job excites me, but then there’s the big question......what program do I want to take? In the grocery store, I can spend hours debating on what produce or sales to take advantage of that day. Once at the cash register, I often change my mind about an item. If I find decisions at the grocery store tough, a career choice is a long, hard, head-scratcher. The statistics on the number of people who have disabilities who find long-time work is discouraging, but I do try to remember that it’s information from a very broad area. Reading the paper if we are part of any minority can be depressing. At school I met many bright, articulate people with multiple degrees who struggled to find work. Some continued school once they realized that finding a job was so tough. Fortunately, most of those peers have found jobs, but it has taken them a while. They say they reach a point where they are grateful for any work opportunity they are offered. I hope to follow their lead and find work. More important, it would be great if I am happy with my job almost every day. My salary would be an added advantage to working, but I think enjoying what I do trumps the size of the pay check I receive. What is the point of making good money if going to a job every day makes me miserable?

Deciding what to do with my life is biggest challenge right now. A friend explained to me that perhaps I am grappling with reaching a grey cornerstone. Up until now, all of life’s other milestones haven’t been a choice. I went to school, left home, built strong relationships and now I need to find a career that I enjoy. Unlike the other milestones, no one can really tell me which career to choose for myself. It’s up to me. I know I am not alone. Everyone reaches this stage, and maybe I ought to be glad I am here too.


Growing Confidence And Bushy Eyebrows
October, 2008

I will be glad for this year to come to an end. Don’t get me wrong: I try to be grateful for any time I am given to live, but this was not a great year. Remember how I blogged about Mom having a heart attack on Christmas Day? Well, that didn’t start 2008 on the best of notes. Mom is doing well now, but it took her about six months to return to her busy, confident, active self. Her health scare served as a red flag to put herself first – something most Mom’s struggle with, it seems. Mom looks better than she did a year ago, but maybe I am bias. When I am home, I often think about how close she came to a very different ending and this always makes me cry. Life can change in seconds.

Before Mom had heart troubles, I would visit home without thinking twice. My boyfriend lives close to my parents, so I would often combine trips. Sometimes I would come because of an appointment, family function, or holiday. I always knew my bed was waiting for me – such a comfort when you leave home. There were days, I’ll admit, that I was homesick for my family, so I would call and ask to come home and the response was always a happy one.

Mom would always pluck, my eyebrows, clean my ears, and trim my fingernails. These things are both for vanity and hygiene, and not all attendants do them well. Since moving out, my short “spa treatments” with Mom became essential and fun rituals. Once I questioned if it would be easier if I asked a trustworthy attendant to do these jobs. “No,” she told me, “It’s still good to know you need me for some things.” I never asked again. I thought Mom would always be able to pluck my eyebrows.

 The months following Mom’s heart attack are blurry for my family, especially Dad, who took on everything Mom normally did while working and taking care of her. I understand now why the terms “in sickness and health” are part of marriage vows and I have seen what it means to honour them. Since Dad had such a full plate, the last thing I wanted to do was be in the way, but seeing Mom was a must. As often as possible, I would visit Mom and Dad for a few hours at a time, usually bringing with me a small, “heart healthy” present. When someone we love is sick, it’s obvious that we would anything to help them be well again, and that nothing we can buy with make this happen. Somehow though, we feel the need to offer something tangible, besides encouragement and love. The containers of nuts and almond butter I bought Mom made me feel good. Now, she probably doesn’t want to see nuts for a long time.

For the first time, I knew it was up to me to look after myself. Though I had been independent for years, my parents always had my back, ready to rescue me from flues, floods, or jean stains. Now it was my turn to rescue myself. Without the option of going home, I had to be at the forefront of my care. If I needed something extra, I said so and got what I needed. Explaining that my Mom had a heart attack to my attendants brought out more compassion and willingness to help me than I ever expected. I tried to stay extra healthy and spent a lot of time with my boyfriend and his family. When we need good people around us, often all it takes is a look in their direction and they are happy to be there. Maybe I am lucky.

I used to wonder how I would survive if I couldn’t go home occasionally for a night or two. More important, I couldn’t imagine anything happening to my parents. Somehow, I learned, we keep going, even if things are hard.

The last winter was long, cold, and stormy. For a few weeks, I sported some bushy eyebrows and long fingernails until I worked up the courage to ask someone for help. Hopefully this winter won’t be as severe as the last. Mom and I are back to our regular “spa treatments.” Sometimes I resist the urge to say that I can get help from attendants, because I remember how she explained that it feels good to be needed.  


One Cold Lesson
September, 2008

Not long ago, I had a bad day. We all have them, but some are tough to forget. As I have said before, I enjoy the adventure of wheeling around the city. If it’s at all possible to go somewhere without taking Wheel-trans, I’ll do it. There’s less waiting, less stops and less hassle. Recently though, I learned that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

I woke up and looked out the window to a bit of sunshine and blowing trees. That afternoon I had a doctors’ appointment in my old neighbourhood. Getting from my apartment to my old stomping grounds is a trek, but a pretty one. Since our days of being comfortably warm outside are fading, I figured I best take advantage of the chance to wheel to my appointment. These days, it could be sunny one minute and blistering storms the next. Off I went, happy for the time to admire the bright, crunchy leaves and wearing a cozy fleece sweatshirt. If there is such a thing as being blissfully unaware, it was me.

Once out of familiar territory, the cold wind started to pick up. I noticed a lot of people shivering wearing heavy coats. Pushing away my anxiety, I told myself a bit of cold was nothing. By the time I was halfway to my appointment, my arms and legs were numb. Desperate for warmth and shelter, I stopped for a quick coffee and biscotti. I ordered my coffee black, knowing it would be hotter minus my usual milk. I tried to hurry and warm up, but was still chilly when I left the shop. After freezing outside for an hour and a half, it’s hard to warm up with only ten minutes inside and gulping coffee. The second half of my trip was harder than the first, but the only thing that mattered was getting to my appointment. Cold temperatures make spastic muscles tighten, so driving my wheelchair became harder as my steering faltered. With beet red skin and dishevelled hair, I showed up to my appointment five minutes late. Apologizing to my doctor, she responded with a compassionate smile. Sometimes nothing needs explaining. It’s obvious we have been through an ordeal. Throughout my appointment, I couldn’t shake my worry over getting home. Glancing out the window to the sight of the first snow flurries of the year didn’t help. I was screwed and still chilly.

I browsed through stores nearby trying to shake my stubborn chills. Realizing that prolonging the inevitable doesn’t change it, I ventured for home. Things got worse. Freezing, and now with a full bladder, I stopped in stores only to get out of the wind. Three blocks from my apartment, my wheelchair stopped working. Seconds later, my bladder gave out and I wet myself. In soaked pants and stranded, I calmly asked a guy passing by to push me into the shoe store nearby. Once inside, I explained parts of my dilemma to the shore store employees. My wheelchair warmed up, but I knew I couldn’t make it home on my own. As I thanked the store employee for his help, he asked me if I wanted to look at shoes. Smiling, I said no, and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Outside and panicky, my first thought was to call my parents. Why? I’m not sure, but that idea went out the window as soon as I realized that I was too cold to even dial my phone. Again, I asked a passerby to push my wheelchair, explaining that I was too cold to steer myself. He kindly obliged for the entire two blocks home.

Seconds after getting home, a compassionate attendant help me to shower. It was many hours before I felt warm again. I realize now that there is a fine line between adventure and carelessness. My common sense was gone that day. I ignored that little nudge that first told me that maybe it was too cold to wheel. There were many things I could have done differently, including taking the bus or even calling 911 when I could barely move. Sometimes I don’t think. When I ignored my body, it forced me to listen.

I am grateful to all the people who helped me that day. As the kind stranger was steering me closer to my apartment, he asked me how old I was.

“Old enough to know better, sir,” I said, wryly.


Finding extraordinary happiness in ordinary things...
September, 2008

The summer of 2008 will be known as the summer of rain. The skies opened up at least twice a week over June, July and August. I don’t mind rain. Actually, sometimes I like it. There’s something calming about sitting on a porch or under a rooftop and watching raindrops fall. Growing up, my Dad would often sit me on the bench at the front of our house and we would watch the rain together. We didn’t say much. Silence can be peaceful. On the flipside, getting caught in middle of a downpour isn’t quite so calming. Having experienced “crunchy” wet jeans on several occasions, I have to admit that such times are humbling and make fun memories.

I love how easy it is to travel in the summer and that coats are not a necessity. I have done my share of exploring lately, finding new pockets of downtown and frequenting the Farmer’s Market. It’s a funky place that has lessened my trips to the grocery store. I feel good knowing that the food on my plate is from the ground and hasn’t gone through some factory assembly line. I used to think Farmer’s Markets were for Earthy people – the kind who make their own clothes and drink raw milk. (No offense to them!) Now I realize that it’s all about fresh food and a chance to mingle with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. Since moving downtown three years ago, I’m embarrassed that it has taken me until now to make use of such a great place. Each time I’ve returned from the Market, I have bumped into an old friend, been introduced to a new fruit or vegetable, and sampled some of the best baked goods I’ve ever eaten. If that’s what being Earthy involves, I don’t mind.

My parents got a new puppy and she has been the highlight of my summer. Her name is Riley and she is the first dog to come into our family as a puppy. Our two other dogs were past the puppy stage when we adopted them. My parents are learning that puppies and babies aren’t all that different. They both see the world as one big adventure and need to be shown right from wrong. There is no feeling like having a squirmy, excited puppy licking my face, thrilled to welcome me home. When Riley gets too excited, she has a habit of “leaving her mark” wherever she happens to be. The other day, as she was wildly jumping on me and licking my face, I couldn’t stop laughing. My Mom said, “Riley, don’t you pee!” Inside, I was thinking that the warning should have been for me since we all know what can happen when we laugh too hard....

I am a bit sad that fall is in the air, even though I love when the leaves change colour. I will miss summer. I didn’t do anything extraordinary. I suppose I enjoyed ordinary parts of the season, like watching the rain, exploring my neighbourhood and getting to know a new four legged member of my family. Perhaps Dad was trying to show me how to enjoy the ordinary things in life when we would watch the rain come down all those years ago. Though much is different now, I am proud to call myself a rain watcher.


Roses Are Red…
May, 2008

My Grandpa is one of a kind. Maybe everyone says that about their grandfather, but mine really is. Grandpa used to be a pilot. His hearing is shot from all those years in the cockpit. He can't hear normal volume speech - only yelling, so that's what I do. My voice is quite soft, but I really belt it out for Grandpa. 

At eighty two, it’s obvious that Grandpa has Alzheimer’s. Though still quick with a joke, he has trouble remembering names and dates and often repeats the same phrases. Visits with him begin, continue and end with the words, "Roses are red. Violets are blue. It sure is nice sitting here with you." Over and over, Grandpa repeats the same phrases.  It can be sad and irritating, but at least his sentiments are sweet.

In his mid fifties, Grandpa retired from flying and moved to the country where he farmed sheep, cats, chickens, and sometimes turkeys. Much of my childhood was spent on the farm. I learned to value animals and the fresh food they gave us. I’ll take a fresh egg over a grocery store egg any day. Lamb was never on our plates. Sheep were our friends, not our food. I was lucky enough to watch the birth of a few baby lambs. The sight of blood often gets to me, but strangely,  not during the birth of baby lambs. I loved feeding them with baby bottles and hearing the "baaaaa" that can only comes from the sound of real, live sheep. Grandpa would sometimes nurse a sick or premature lamb in the kitchen of his warm house.  Even with the highest hopes and extra care, Grandpa taught us that not every animal is meant to be with us. He never took losing any of his farm family well.

Unfortunately human loss was not unfamiliar to Grandpa either. He lost his first wife to cancer in her early thirties leaving him to raise three children alone. On a cruel day years later, my twenty year-old uncle, who was attending flying school, crashed his plane and lost his life during routine practice. I've often heard Grandpa say, "There are some things in life we never get over. We only learn to accept them." I’ve learned that Grandpa is right.

Love blessed Grandma again nearly a decade later when he met my Grandma, a classy flight attendant who was wise and knew how to cook. Grandma doesn't say too much, but every once in a while, she'll say something that reminds us that it's the witty ones who choose words carefully. Grandma's cooking always makes me happy to be alive. Her pies are in my dreams. Sleep-overs with Grandma and Grandpa provided me a rare chance to get away - something my friends did often and I craved.

These days, Grandpa has a lost, confused look in his eyes, and I worry about the difficult road ahead of him. I know what it’s like to rely on others for care and to have people assume your intelligence is less than average. I’m young. I have the energy to articulate what I need. Grandpa - I’m not so sure.  I want to say to Grandpa that needing help and having some parts of life beyond one’s control can be so frustrating. I want to tell him to speak up and expect respect from his caregivers. However, Grandpa won’t understand. Though I am grieving my beloved grandfather, I understand that he is experiencing a normal stage of aging. I’m glad that Grandpa has been afforded a long, rich life, even though all he can really say is that roses are red and violets are blue and it sure is nice sitting here with me. The best response I can offer Grandpa is a kiss on the cheek, and that seems to be good enough for both of us.   


In The Name Of Toilet Paper…
May, 2008

I just got back from the grocery store. I bought toothpaste and toilet paper - two things no one wants to be without. Toothpaste is easy to carry on my lap. Toilet paper - not so much. To me, it’s a mini wrestling match between my spastic, stiff muscles and the other part of myself that knows exactly what I physically need to do, but can’t. Toilet paper is bulky and awkward. One wrong move and it’s on the floor or halfway across the room. That said, I kind of enjoy the struggle, probably because there aren’t many supplies as light or as necessary as toilet paper, making it a worthwhile battle.

Over my many shopping trips, I have learned that the wheelchair accessible cash register is not always open and the other cash registers are too tight of a fit. Armed with my purchases  and assuming the customer service desk was my best option, I headed there to pay, . No one else was in line, which I found strange. On an average day, there’s at least a few people who found an expired item or often it’s a complaint about poor service.

As I pulled up to the service desk, I asked the cashier my standard, “Is it OK to pay here?”

Cashiers have always said yes. Not today. This cashier looked at me, annoyed.

“The wheelchair cash register is open. You really should go there, but I’ll take you this time.”

“I can go to the other cash register, but it can be hard to fit and the debit machine is too high for me to reach,” I explained. “I’m sorry. I’ll go there next time, “ I continued, hoping the cashier would soften.

No luck - her annoyed expression told me she didn’t care. She seemed to get more grumpy and reached her limit just as I finished paying and was gladly leaving.

“Well, it’s impossible for me to  reach around and give you your purchases. There isn’t enough room. The accessible cash register has been open for twenty minutes. “

I opened my mouth to say that I had offered to go to that cash register, and that, regardless of what cash register I went to, someone would have to help me put my groceries in my bag, because I physically couldn’t. Instead, I  closed my mouth and realized our encounter would be over in less than a minute.

Despite my dislike for her, I thanked the miserable cashier. As I was leaving, I said, “I hope your bad day turns into a good one.” I predict that the only time that cashier smiles is when she is in the middle of brushing her teeth - and only because she has to.


When A Strike Strikes…
April, 2008

You know that person who complains about every little thing? The one at the restaurant who gets frustrated when a waiter brings the wrong order to a table or when a cell phone goes off in the movies? We all know that someone and we try hard not to act similarly.

I hope complaining is never one of my top skills. Sure, I can be a bit nit-picky. When I hear a lot of swearing from someone, I usually point it out in confidence to whoever else is around. I am driven up the wall when a smoker talks to me and blows poisonous air in my face.  If I have the time and energy to be annoyed by this mundane stuff, I remind myself that I’m doing OK.

If you live in “The 416” you’ve probably uttered a complaint or two in the wake of the TTC strike today. No city buses are in service anywhere. Wheel-trans is providing services for life sustaining purposes only. Lots of people are chilling locally today, including me.

The strike was announced just after 11 p.m. last night - leaving many scrambling for a ride home. Luckily I was not one of them, though I’ve been there. There’s no anxiety like being stuck with no rescue in sight.  Nothing brings this fear to life like an awful yellow “No Show” slip for Wheel-trans users like myself. Almost everyone who uses the system knows that slip is a nice way of saying, “You’ve missed your ride so you’re not going anywhere” or “You’ve missed your ride home, so you’ll have to wait for a few hours.” Both options are bad.

I’m grown used to the shriek of the streetcar turning and its “chug, chug” noises late at night  Everything was quieter last night. I usually try to block out the sounds of night dwellers, but with less movement on the streets, I found myself paying more attention. Strangely, things were pretty subdued, I guess people had bigger things to worry about than partying it up.

Today is kind of peaceful. The roads are less congested and pedestrians seem calm - probably because walking is one of their only options.

The strike is inconvenient. I’m not about say it’s a good thing. However, being an optimist, I will point out a few positive things:

As for me, I am reminded today of why I live here. Everything is around me. There’s almost no random reason to hop on a bus. I wheeled to the mall this afternoon as I often do. There were just as many people like myself enjoying the weather and city atmosphere.

My family often encourages me to move closer to home. “What if something happens to you? “You’re so far from us,“ they remind me. Sometimes it would be great to be able to visit more, but I’m down with downtown.  Even if public transit does strike the odd time, I’m not complaining.


Stuck On City Streets
April, 2008

It was Saturday night and my adventure streak surfaced. Maybe the warm weather brought it out. Whatever the reason, I wanted to shake things up a bit.

My boyfriend, Luke was over and we had finished diner and were pondering our options for the evening. He is a movie lover, so I wasn’t surprised when he suggested checking out the brand new theatre close to my apartment. I reminded him that we had seen a movie the previous night and he was seeing another one with a friend the next night.

“Do you really need to see a movie three nights in a row?” I asked Luke. He shook his head. I had the hunch this was one of the times he secretly resented my practical side.

“Since it’s such great weather, why don’t we go exploring? See where we end up?” I suggested, excitedly.

Luke cautiously agreed. Once I get an idea in my head, it’s hard to talk me out of it.

Living downtown is pretty sweet. There is lots of action around me and I rarely have to go far to find what I need. I have a tendency to wander about and come upon new stores, back-streets or shortcuts. How can you know what is out there unless you take the time to find it, right? Being two wheelchairs users, we have learned to go the distance in beautiful weather.

So, off we went. There are streets around me that are very familiar and others that I don’t know so well, because they are bit seedy. If I’m alone, I steer clear of certain areas, but since I was with Luke, I figured it was safe to check out unknown streets. He’s a big guy and we’ve gotten ourselves out of many pickles.

Once we turned into uncharted territory, Luke asked if I knew my way.

“Of course,” I said, confidently. Truthfully, I wasn’t so sure. My sense of direction isn’t the sharpest. I was worried  Luke was suspicious, but he was distracted by finding his favourite chain coffee shop.

“We can stop there on the way home.” I said.

“How far are we going?” Luke asked nervously.

I told him we would see what happens.

My excitement was growing as we got closer to the city’s hot spots - along with Luke questioning “Are you sure you know where we’re going?” He was pleased when we found  the CN tower.

Before we knew it, a throng of party-goers were waiting to be seated in a restaurant/bar and we were smack dab in the middle of the frenzy. Though we were older and not wearing partying attire, I caught the fun vibe in the air and I didn’t even have to pay a cover charge. Somehow I don’t think Luke enjoyed the scene like I did.

When it started getting colder and darker, we thought we’d better head home. I don’t think Luke minded. We were about three blocks from my apartment and crossing a busy street when I noticed Luke wasn’t moving.

“My chair is frozen,” he said, panicked. He panics often, so I wasn’t about to join him. I told him to keep trying to move. He looked annoyed, but I didn’t know if it was from the situation or me. I predicted both.

We encountered some helpful bystanders who took direction well and manually pushed Luke across the road and his wheelchair began working. Relief.

It was short lived. At the next curb, Luke’s chair played the same game and again we met some kind strangers who pushed Luke up the curb and then he could move. This same scenario was repeated all the way home. It was little scary when we hit a drug infested corner. Most of the people who were lingering looked more apt to rip my purse from me than offer to help us. We waited ten minutes before someone who looked trustworthy wandered by.

Once we were safely back at my apartment, we both realized that there some very helpful citizens among the eclectic downtown crowd. If you’re in a tight spot, someone - somewhere has your back (or, in this case, handle-bars).

Later that night as we watched TV, I asked Luke, “Now wasn’t tonight more exciting than going to the movies?”

He just smiled.


Comet, Comet….Where Did You Go?
March, 2008

 I needed Comet – the old, reliable bathroom cleaner. My toilet was due for a good scrub and shinning. I like to respect the place I honour the call of nature. I headed to the drugstore to get some of the green powder I grew up watching my Mom use on her "cleaning Mondays". I remember Comet in a shiny, green, shaker-type container, but apparently we've upgraded to spray bottles and scented spray. I guess I'm old. On the way to the grocery store, I saw a homeless man ranting and raving, a guy in a pink shirt with red leather pants, some suspiciously looking spaced out teenagers, some babies, and lots of elderly people. Crossing the street, I hit a bump the wrong way and almost ended up face first on the road. Thank goodness a helpful lady steadied my wheelchair. There are kind people lurking in the city.

In the grocery store, I found Javex, VIM, Mr. Clean, Lysol, but no Comet. This butcher boy tried to help, but he couldn't find Comet. I tried the Drugstore. Guess what I saw? Javex, VIM, Mr. Clean, Lysol. Not Comet. I headed to Hasty Market where I found, you guessed it, Javex, VIM, Mr. Clean, Lysol, still no Comet anywhere.

Cold and frustrated, I headed back to the grocery store and settled on a no name cleaner. After all the searching with no luck, I didn't really care what kind of cleaner I got. I just wanted something to clean my white bowl.

I came home to find sausage meat in my bag. The checkout chick was really chatty, and wasn't really watching what she was doing. I don't really eat sausage, so somebody, somewhere is looking for the sausage meat they paid for and I scammed for free. Why did it have to be sausage? Why couldn't it be a bag of apples?

The whole Comet searching ordeal was a bust, but at least I was on a mission, though unsuccessful. I can't help but wonder, in a city with streetcars, subways, grocery stores, drug dealers, prostitutes, and boutiques, where the heck is Comet?


A little peace and understanding....
March 14, 2021

My Christmas holiday sucked.  I know it was almost four months ago, but I'll never forget this year. On Christmas Day my mom had a heart attack.

 As the automatic oven timer turned on to cook our turkey, Mom's heart began playing games. I was sleeping in bed and awoke to running and my bedroom doors being swung shut. I heard numbers being dialled and Christmas lights switching on and off - trippy in a very eerie way. If I could have, I would have run upstairs, but I lay there trying to piece it together.

I heard the door open and someone say, "What seems to be the problem, sir?" I knew the question was directed at Dad. It was Mom who was in trouble. I heard talking. I heard the words "breathe." I heard people moving. I heard Mom walking down the stairs and some lady ask how her pain was. I heard Mom say, "This is not good." I saw her walk to the door and I said, "Hi Mom," - not knowing what else to do. That was the beginning. Now is the middle - or maybe the end. I don't know and it's better that way.

I've had some bad days in my twenty-five years, but Christmas Day and the entire week afterwards were the worst so far. Mom's health got worse, not better, until she had surgery. Before Mom got sick, I used to tell my boyfriend that tomorrow was just around the corner as a way to offer comfort.  Now, I have learned that tomorrow can be worse than today.  Looking around our house, everything around me was touched by Mom.  Our stockings and presents were all perfectly arranged waiting for us to open.  Mom had everything set up. Only she was missing.

I am so grateful to say that Mom is home recovering now. . There are moments when I am overcome with the notion that I almost lost my mother - the person who knows me best and who created me. There is a song lyric from Matchbox 20 that says, "There is a little bit of me in everything in you." Well, there is a little bit of my Mom in everything in me.

My deepest fear used to be something happening to one or both of my parents.  I was convinced that if they weren't around, I wouldn't survive. My whole world would fall apart and I would crumble under the pain.  When Mom got sick, it was horrible.  Somehow though, I didn't crumble under the pain.  Life kept moving and Mom survived, which is the first major blessing that came out of Christmas Day.  The second blessing is that, because my deepest fear has partially happened, there is little else I fear. 

I am more emotional now. If someone is kind to me, I cry. If someone is a little rude, I cry. If someone says something sweet, I cry. If I hear a pretty song, I cry. If someone says, "I love you", I cry. If someone pats me on the shoulder, I cry. At any moment, any second, I can just let the tears flow. Maybe it's because I realize how life can change in a second.

Last night I was on the bus on a busy expressway. I looked out the window towards a big stone block with a carving of the words "a little peace and understanding". I took that as a sign that sometimes we don't need to explain why we aren't smiling. People just understand.