Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Letter to my Daughter

Dear Kell,

Happy Birthday Kell! Some people would say that  you would of  been 38 years old today. I would phrase it as you are 38 years old.  It has been a busy year. Paige is growing  leaps and bounds. She is in school now.  I tried to convince her earlier this year that Sylvester could use the computer to email his friends. Her response was perfect and of course left me without words " Cats have  paws, not  fingers.They can't email" Who am I trying to kid? The baby boy who you already know is getting bigger. He is starting to kick up a storm. Paige  kisses ever so gently your sister's tummy and tells the baby she loves him.  No worries Kell, I will take care of Paige when the baby is born.

 I saw your best  friend Rachel yesterday. She introduced me to her little one as Kelly-Anne's mommy. I was so touched!  Rachel, like Kim have both assured that their children know who you are. They are  keeping your memory and your life alive within their own lives and families. You must be so proud of them.

The house is decorated for Christmas. I take very little credit for this undertaking. Jules with his aptitude for the arts, has to his perfection and joy done an amazing  job as always.

Recently, women  here in Canada and elsewhere are coming  forward and speaking out  now about how they have been violated, be it sexual or other by prominent men.  It 's about time don't you think that women should be allowed to speak out without  feeling that  they will  face repercussions. I could  just imagine you being a journalist and interviewing these women, for many being public figures. You would of been so passionate in supporting them.

I often think about your career path...the what ifs....especially today, I know you would of accomplished so much....where you would of been living...definitely not Quebec. You would of been taken by your travels to remote countries, different cultures, the need to make change and help those less fortunate.

Today, I celebrate your life. A little bubbly tonight with dinner. You continue to touch  my life and so many others. You continue from afar to be so present in our lives.

Kim, Joe and Paige with travel soon out west. Paige will wave  to you as she flies high in the sky. Wave back please, so she knows you are protecting her.

I send all my love to you today. Our door is always opened.

Mom & Jules  xo

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mom ! It's a Boy !

Her voice as  I remember, one that will never fade was clear and to the point. It was an early Friday morning in September as I lay awake contemplating my day. The sun was shining and coming through the blinds and drapes. I lay on my left side and suddenly, there  speaking directly into my right ear, I  heard so clearly.... Mom ! It's a boy! I quickly turned but no one was  there. Kelly-Anne had come and left in a flash of a few seconds. It was her. I laid there stunned and said but it is too early to know. Kim is only a few weeks  pregnant. Then I thought, well of course she would  know. Look who she hangs out with.

God knows us way before any one else does. Kelly-Anne must of skipped  out from Heaven to  give me the news. I can just picture her doing so...so typical of Kelly-Anne.

Fast forward to  an ultrasound some weeks later and  hearing Kim  giggle with joy over the phone after seeing the baby. I asked...  so was your sister right?  Kim said yes it is a boy! I thought I was  going to fall off my chair. I was overwhelmed with joy and amazed that Kelly-Anne was right.

This afternoon I needed to take a nap after an exhausting morning downtown. I  needed to be up at  certain time to receive a phone call.  As I awoke and lay in bed my left arm was extended out. There she was again as I looked at my hand, Kelly-Anne tapped on my hand. I felt her presence. She knew I had to make a decision while taking the anticipated call. She wanted me to know that she was  near by and  supporting my decision.

You can choose to believe my stories. For me, they are real. I have lived this. I believe in God and the work of the Holy Spirit. I  believe that Kelly-Anne is with God in his house of many rooms. I believe she is safe and watching over her family and friends.

Never far is my daughter, always by my side.

Monday, October 2, 2017

October Memories

As a child, well actually for the better part of half of my life, the autumn season  consisted of  colorful leaves carpeting the streets, the celebration of Thanksgiving with extended family, mom 's turkey roasting in the oven and my birthday. Gathering with cousins, a warm sweater and a fresh breeze while walking in the park are memories that I will never forget.

In 1992, that all changed. My dear father at the age of 71 passed away on Thanksgiving weekend after being stricken with cancer six weeks earlier. The cancer took him very quickly and of course our family was not prepared to loose such a wonderful caring man. Thanksgiving was never the same again. I went through the motions, I cooked, went to church and remembered those that were not here with us. I  did it for the girls. As the years  passed, it became easier. Dad was never forgotten on the anniversary.

Fast forward to 2004, we buried Kelly-Anne on Thanksgiving Monday. I was numbed for many years after her horrific death. I could not ever allow myself to enjoy the fall season again. I asked myself  if  I would ever  enjoy the autumn leaves, Thanksgiving or my birthday. It wasn't fair to Kelly-Anne that I celebrate. I was suffering from survivor's guilt.

Today, on the week of the thirteenth anniversary of her passing, I can say that I now enjoy the colorful leaves, the smell of a turkey roasting and giving thanks for another birthday and the years that God entrusted Kelly-Anne to me.

Just last week, I encouraged Paige to walk with me through the leaves as we listened to the crunching sound. I said to her that I loved walking in the leaves when I was her age. Well truth be told, I once again love walking on the leaves. It is called healing,....acceptance and living my life the way Kelly-Anne would expect me to.

On this day  thirteen years ago, I sat in a hospital negotiating with God, any doctor or nurse that would come into the trauma unit to see Kelly-Anne. I wanted a solution to heal my daughter.

On October 5th the  decision to turn off the life support was made. It was an Anglican  ethics nurse who I  knew that helped me make the final decision. Her words and motions are still clear today as they were thirteen years ago. She stood along side me next to where Kelly-Anne laid. She motioned with her arms over Kelly-Anne showing that what was there lying in the bed was a shell and that her soul had already gone to heaven. It was then that we said  goodbye to my beautiful loving daughter.

This week I will shed a tear or two. My daughter did not  die in vain. This Friday the rugby community will remember Kelly-Anne with the Kelly-Anne Cup. The game starts at 7:00 p.m at Concordia field on Sherbrooke St. West in Montreal.  Each year we designate the donation at the door to  Women Aware,  an amazing organization helping women who are victims of domestic abuse. Please try to join us.

                                               Memory eternal Kelly-Anne.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Six Reasons Why

I received that dreaded phone call a few weeks ago from an agent at the  Parole Board. He told me that the parole hearing is set for September 29th for Kelly-Anne's killer and I could assist if I wanted to or attend through a video - conference. Thirteen years after Kelly-Anne was brutally murdered, her  killer is allowed by law a hearing to discuss his possible release for  full  parole. Can you imagine full parole at 13 years?  I still  cannot  wrap my head around that one.

Our laws in Canada need to be reviewed, discussed and changed. Even if a murderer has no interest in being paroled, the parole board is obliged by law to grant  the inmate a hearing at our tax payer's expense. Even if the reports from the case management team tell us that he isn't ready to face our streets, he still gets a hearing. Go figure.

I made a decision. After spending a week where I was so physically sick while writing a compelling,  and touching letter to the parole board, I have decided not to participate any further in this fiasco.

Here are my reasons:

1. I trust in God.
2. I trust in the work of the commissioners of the Parole Board who will make the right decision.
3. I will not allow the killer to think he controls me and my emotions by dragging me through his circus.
4. I have no more time to give this killer, nor does he deserve my time.
5. I  have better things to do like keep my daughter's memory alive and build awareness about changes needed within our  parole laws and of course, domestic violence.
6. I have a loving family and close friends that support my decisions.

A comment :

Doreen as always I read your postings and I grow closer to Kelly-Anne with each word you write. I admire your strength and tenacity and with this posting the six reasons you have decided to embrace shows me why you are my hero. Much love to you as always..

Many thanks Deborah.....I am touched. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The First Day of School

I can remember the first day of school for Kelly-Anne as if it were just yesterday. She was off to  higher learning at kindergarten. I find it interesting how not just for  myself, that we tend to remember  special, meaningful times in our lives, while others events are simply erased from our memory.

I remember it was a cloudy day. I had shopped for Kelly-Anne and  can even see her now clearly  sitting on the  grass waiting in anticipation for the  school bus to arrive. She wore a beige blouse with a  Peter Pan collar, a blue plaid kilted skirt, a pair of knee high navy blue socks and a pair of leather
navy shoes with a strap across the foot. She carried a red plaid school bag with a Scottish terrier imprinted on the front of the bag. I remember that I made her a name tag and pinned it to her blouse. I even included the  house phone number....no cells in those days!

She was serious about going to school. I remember an expression of deep though and slight wonder as she awaited the bus. There were a few neighbourhood children also waiting.  One in particular, a young  boy with his mother. His mom assured me that  her son would take care of  Kelly-Anne on the bus and that  he would get her to the  right teacher.

Once Kelly-Anne boarded the bus, I felt that slight knot in my throat. There I was with the other moms waving goodbye to our kids.

A few hours later, I  waited for the  bus to return. There she was smiling ear to ear as she stepped down the stairs from the bus....the beginning of  many years of a wonderful school experience.

Now fast forward thirty - three years later, I get to relive that same experience with Paige. I will be with her on the first day of school. I will  walk her to the bus stop and wave to her as she starts a new chapter in her life.

The circle of life and gosh I am so happy to be apart of it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Grandma ?

Last week I had the pleasure of spending time with my Grand daughter. Between crafts, baking, hair  and hospital appointments, making popsicles, the park and splash pad we had a great time. Laughter fills that house and Paige has the spirit and smile to make every one's day  just a little brighter.

She is articulate and has quite a vocabulary. She asks alot of questions.We often talk about  Aunt Kell. It's a good thing as Paige is slowly getting to know her aunt from afar. Last week I noticed  a little red dog which use to belong to Kelly-Anne. She named him Marmaduke and he traveled everywhere with her. Paige loves that little dog and his name. She is now taking care of  him.

Much to my surprise Paige ask me in her own words.... " Grandma, why did Aunt Kell die ? I went numb. I didn't know what to say and just quietly said  that she just died  then quickly changed the subject. I didn't  want to  say anything more nor felt is was my place to do so.

I remember saying in my victim impact statement in court back in  2006 that I did not  know  how Kim would ever eventually tell her children about what happened to their Aunt Kell and honestly, today, I still do not know how Kim will manage this task.

It is often said that children observe and retain much more than we realize. Paige is one of those kids. Too advanced for her age. Today's upbringing is different than 30 some years ago. Children learn differently.

Paige asked me to read from her Children's Bible last week. She is asking  questions about God. She wants to hear the different  stories  and  wants to pray. She loves to say Amen at the end of  the prayers. It is a truly a  beautiful age. I love watching her grow and grasping the beauty of life.

We all need to see life through a child, the innocence, the perfection...even running through a splash pad in shorts and a t -shirt can be liberating.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It Really is a Small World

This week I reconnected again with Kelly-Anne 's favorite sport which is Competitive Life guarding. That reconnection came as a big surprise as I met a man who I spent the better part of a day with who knew Kelly-Anne and traveled in the same circles as she did. They competed at the same competitions and had the same circle of friends. It was amazing to be with this  man and to feel  at the same time that  Kelly-Anne was present with us.

There is always  a little part of my heart that  gets crushed. This man, just like  all her other friends, have  married and are bringing up  young families....and that is really so  beautiful.  I am so happy for them, especially when I hear that their children are involved in sports.

My regret is only that I wish Kelly-Anne would of had  that same opportunity...to be married, have a career and raise a family. She would of been an amazing mom.

The quiet of my home today allows me to  recharge and relax. The pool awaits me this afternoon. I reflect on Kelly-Anne and her enthusiasm for her love of life, the water, the sun.

Life continues and each day brings a joy that allows me to mask the pain.  New friends, new accomplishments and  new beginnings...I continue to learn and be the best I can.

I have a great role model to follow.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

This morning over my  cup of coffee I was thinking that after all this years without Kelly-Anne, my Mother's Day should be easier to look forward to. I realized that really not much has changed at all. It really isn't easier. There is still that void...something is missing from the equation.

Paige doesn't replace her aunt. She makes life a little easier, a little more special. That infectious smile coupled with her multiple facial expressions can only make me smile. She certainly knows how to ham it up!

However, I ask my self why do I continue to feel that the black cloud still hovers over me...that I still am different than other moms; that the dining room table still is missing someone around it.

I reflected this past week about the recent abuse cases and trials in the news. Workplace abuse seems to be the for runner these days...a  Conservative  Senator steps down from his job because he was having a sexual relationship with a minor. A pastor,  at that,  one  respected and  looked up to in the church and community. A married man with a family. Why is this happening....power, control ? It makes me sick and  the worst is there is no talk of anyone pressing charges against him. Who else has he abused?

Almost  thirteen years later, I still am looking for positive change in our society, in our personal relationships, in our workplaces, on the street and in our schools. Children continue to be bullied and to be abused in their own homes. Women are still being diminished in the workplace and still afraid to leave their abusive relationships. However, there is one thing we are doing more of now. We are  talking about it. Talk is cheap but our actions will make change.

I  reflect on my own mother...her favorite saying was God gave you a brain, use it. Today, I remember my mother who was not afraid get down on the floor and play with Kelly-Anne and Kim. Her home and family was her life. The girls were always excited to see their grandmother. I feel the same about Paige......I am my mother's daughter.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms far and near and to those who are moms to so many. A mother is more than just a blood line. It is love.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Past Relived

Today, I started my day early. The family is coming in from  out of town. The crock pot is on  and  the deviled eggs are all prepared. The lamb will soon go into the oven. The Easter menu is typical of how I was raised. This year, the Orthodox celebrate Easter the same Sunday as all other Christians. The Orthodox Easter is always celebrated after Passover. I can remember as  a child my mom running to the stores  on Easter Monday to buy the good chocolate at half price. That she would say was a  plus to being Orthodox and celebrating after the others.

Today we will have our dinner and continue some of the traditions. I await Paige's arrival as we will color eggs together. It's exciting to relive  once again the special moments like the  holidays with Paige. It  brings me back to Easter  egg hunts with Kelly-Anne  and Kim. They had  big colorful baskets and  were quite good at finding the hidden eggs. Kelly-Anne 's smile and her laughter are wonderful memories of Easter past. The bunny cakes we would make ...... floppy ears and all !

We have hidden Easter eggs for Paige. The tradition continues.

Easter isn't about the chocolate bunnies and little summer toys. I want Paige to understand what this  special  time is really all about. Kim and a close friend for many years growing up  had a tradition of going to Good Friday service then spending the day together doing an Easter activity.

Traditions whether with friends or family are special. We can create our own at any time in our lives.

The Easter message is one of hope; how Jesus died so we may live...His  pain on the cross reminds me daily that his suffering was far worse than mine.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Forever Changed

I realized something  on Ash Wednesday when I stood before our Bishop as she made the sign of the cross on my forehead boldly with black ashes. She said in my words...that I  will return to dust.
Powerful isn't it...my reality as it is for all, we are not getting out of here alive. We will all return to dust one day.

I have been in my own way been running away from that reality for the past 12 or so years...I  guess the fact that Kelly-Anne returned to dust so early in her life was hard to accept. Life is moving forward so quickly these days...the months are flying by as are the years. And the harsh reality is that I am getting older, but somehow my mind and body don't actually feel my age.

And that is a good thing ! My body and mind tell me to stay active... my job, my family, my friends, my swimming, my socializing...it's all the good stuff. I feel happy, I can smile, I feel accomplished.

But our lives are not in our hands...God calls us  when it is our time...unless as I have always maintained that Kelly-Anne's killer decided to  intervene in  God's plan  for her. A cold blooded act that I know God cried with  Kelly-Anne's family and  friends.

My life forever changed in 2004 and  my life continues to change today. However, how I view and understand others and see our constantly changing  world is without a doubt beautiful and  painful. The beauty of new life, the seasons changing, a warm smile from another human and the pain of poverty, violence and hatred make up the world we live in. But the real decision comes from within us as to how we are willing to live our lives.

I have said so often that Kelly-Anne was the kind of person who loved life and all that it had to offer. Her family, friends, sports, her jobs which  all she gave 100 % too. She was accomplished. She lived her life to the fullest....her one life.

Remember folks, it is only one life....

Monday, February 20, 2017

SPVM.....Something to Smile About

The Montreal Police  made me smile last night. I had three different encounters with three different  employees from the Service de Police de Montreal. Nothing serious to be concerned about...so I wont elaborate. From the first call in, to the second call made to my house, to the police officer responding, I could not have asked  for better service with respect and  concern for my situation. This is community policing, their great concern for the community.

The police officer on the scene took his time to listen to my concerns, gave me sound advise and reflected  on the laws. It is rare that I  have to call 911 and I do prefer it  that way.  I have not interacted with many police officers except those that I know personally since Kelly-Anne  was murdered.

Last evening's encounter reminded me of a  time after Kelly-Anne passed that I could not look at a police car especially with flashing lights at night. I would  panic and refrained from driving alone  just to avoid police cars and their lights. Last night I realized that I can do that now. Through the years I have learned how to live my life as a normal human being without the stress that  I
suffered in the earlier years. It is about coping, believing in myself and knowing how Kelly-Anne would want  me to live my life. It is about learning to live without my daughter and slowly move away  from the black cloud that  identified me being  different from other moms.

When people ask me how many children  I have, my answer is that I have two daughters. My oldest lives in Heaven and my youngest lives out of town.  It's the truth...as tragic and unfair as it is.

Life is changing, I am changing...maybe Paige has something to  do with that...maybe she  is giving me the opportunity to relive things in my life that I did with the girls when they were young.

Slowly, I will encounter situations that will allow me to see how I have changed. My life with God's help and a sweet dear angel is helping me change each day. I am stronger, more independent  and happier now than I have been in years.

We never know that we will encounter in our lives...simply know that what ever it is, there is either a lesson to be learned or an experience that will change us forever....

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year... A New Beginning

Welcome to 2017 ! I asked myself last evening as the clock neared midnight what do I wish for myself, my family and friends. The answer was easy-  health, happiness and love. Really is there anything else more important. Love encompasses so much..".love thy neighbour", show compassion to those in need.... take the time to listen to those who need to be heard.

Love....Kelly-Anne  knew how to do all the above...such a great neighbour to many, a listener, and someone who  knew how to help those in need. I remember a time when Kelly-Anne  helped a lady to seek refuge in her home as her husband was  hitting her. Kelly-Anne was there to help this women  and only after her death,  did that women decide to leave her abusive  husband.

This year we hear in Montreal that  the record of homicides is much lower than usual...23 to be exact.
For me that is 23  too many. However, we do not know  how many women continue to  be victims of domestic abuse...silently within their homes.

I hope this year brings about change...how we think and view the world. My hope for people in Syria and Turkey and even closer to home is to be kinder to each other.

Gosh I wish I could spread Kelly-Anne's infectious smile...all I can really do is  keep that smile on my face and play it forward...

A new year...a  new beginning...lets make it the best. Our attitude, our smile can brighten someone 's day....as Mom always said it costs nothing to smile.

Enjoy your year !