Honouring Lost Friends, and Making New Ones

 

Honouring Lost Friends and Making New Ones

Tish MacWebber

Not that long ago, I wrote about Dealing With Unexpected Grief.  I have lost two friends since I moved to Fredericton, and I had met them both after moving here.  One of those friends died almost a year ago.  She came to mind suddenly when I found out that a band we had seen live together the last time they were in town, was going to be putting on another show here.  I had a bit of a moment when I had a flashback to that show, and I decided to write the story I linked above.

I shared the ad for the show on my wall and asked in my comments if anyone was interested in checking them out with me.  Because of the unexpected grief, I felt I didn’t want to go by myself, in case I got too melancholy.  My friend Kathy asked me to share some of their youtube videos with her, and she decided to join me.  I was so relieved to have a friend with me, it was a show I did not want to attend alone.

 

I found out while I was getting ready to go out that the opening act was a local band, Kill Chicago.  So I jumped on Spotify and had a listen.  I liked what I heard.  So I spent a few minutes online while eating supper and saw a twitter contest for a free vinyl from Kill Chicago for the first person to tweet back.  I tweeted and was told to introduce myself and they would hook me up with a prize.  I chose a CD because I do not have a record player, and while a record is a cool prize, I am practical.

 

Kill Chicago

Kill Chicago

We arrived while they were on stage, and had to stand back a bit.  It is a narrow, long bar, and it was packed!  This made me really happy because I had seen the other band, The Stanfields play here before; in fact, this is the band I was referring to seeing with my friend before she passed away.  It was the biggest crowd I had seen show up for them, (with the exception of the night they played at The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival). I am sure Kill Chicago fans were also contributing to the turnout, but I was really pleased to see the size of the crowd that came to the live show.

During the Kill Chicago set, Kathy made a friend.  There was a woman there with a really cute purse, and boots with bling, sitting nearby.  Kathy said hi, and admired the purse.  It had a Union Jack on it and was made of canvas.  The lady said she loved it because she could throw it in the washing machine, and wanted us to feel the fabric.  My eyes saw the purse but LOVED the boots!  Tan coloured with sparkles all over them.  I would SO wear those boots. Kathy is going to try and have a friend find her that purse, which the lady bought in Freeport, USA.

I happened to see Jon Landry, before the show and said hello.  He was getting ready so sing in the next set, so I didn’t bother him too much.  I think I introduced Kathy, but I can’t remember.  I almost didn’t recognize him, it had been a few years since I saw him at the last live show I went to.

When I saw Jason MacIsaac, I said hello, introduced Kathy, and shared an awkward hug in greeting with Jason.  It would have been funny to watch, it was kind of like a do si do happened before we managed a friendly hug.  He is also in The Stanfields.   When we were growing up in Cape Breton, we used to ride the bus together to and from school.  We had a nice chat while Kill Chicago was rocking out on stage.  We were far enough back, at that point, that it was a little hard to hear at times, but we talked for a good little while.

When he came in from the cold, he couldn’t see very well.  It happens when you have glasses, they fog up.  Kathy then told us that she has a tip for that.  She told us that if you walk into a room backwards, after being out in the cold, and you give a few extra seconds before you turn around, your glasses won’t fog up.  She says it works.  I have not tried it myself yet.  When I do, I will leave a comment below on how well it works.

 

The Stanfields

The Stanfields

 

Kill Chicago finished their set, and The Stanfields had to get ready to take the stage.  I wished Jason luck for a good show and decided to head over to the merchandise table to wait for my free cd.  I had money out just in case, but I was told that it was a gift for replying to the twitter contest, and I could have it.  How awesome is that?  I then asked if the band could sign the cd for me, and most of them signed it.  We decided that this location had a better vantage point, and stayed by the table for the rest of the show. ( No Grammarly, we were not “on” the table, but beside it. LOL)

Kathy and I had a conversation earlier in the night about the heights of different people in the room.  She was feeling tall because most of the people she spends her time with are also tall, so she was realizing why people like myself think that she is tall.  I am not so lucky.  It amused me later on when a kind gentleman who was towering over everyone asked me if he was in my way.  I laughed it off, and told him, no he was fine, because really if it wasn’t him there I would have to look around other people.  It was a nice of him to ask, though.

I was approached by a different man who wanted to know if I knew the band.   I told him I did, and he asked me if I had known John Walter.  It took me a minute to place the name.  I told him I had seen him at other shows, but didn’t know him really well.  I remember the day I asked Jason what had happened.  John was a good friend to the band and was at a fair number of their shows.  He was the lead actor in their first video, The Dirtiest Drunk In The History of Liquor.  One day in November 2015, John hit a patch of black ice with his car.  He died, and I remember that it was a shock to a lot of people that knew him.  Losing a friend is a hard thing to deal with.

The young man introduced himself as Thomas.  He was looking for a safe place to stash the winter coats.  Kathy & I had put ours on the floor by the table, and so I pointed to the floor.  Thomas laughed and said, “I have never seen a finer corner to put my jacket in.” A coat check would have made money that night, for sure.  He asked if he could buy me a drink, in honour of his friend.  I accepted the offer, and he came back with a glass of draft for me.  By the time he was back, I had put two and two together, and I told him the story of missing my friend that night also.  Another friendly hug happened, the side by side kind of a hug.  (You would think I was a huggy type of person, but I’m not most of the time).  The drinks probably made me a little less worried about hugging people.  I had a few in me at that point.  He introduced me to his girlfriend.  I *think* her name was Ashley, but I am not 100% certain.  He told me they were both there to honour their friend’s memory because he was a good friend to them both, and he was with them the night they became a couple. When we were done chatting, they asked me to join them on the dance floor.  I declined, it was a little too crowded there, and I was happy in my little space by the table.  I was able to dance a little and clap and sing with the band from right where we were.

When I reflected for a moment, I do think my friend was there in spirit with me.  I say this because when we attended the show together, there was not a crowd like this time, and we did watch from the sidelines a bit before hitting the dance floor together.  It reminded me of that and thinking that she had cleared a special place from the cosmos to allow me to have a good vantage point for the show with Kathy, made me smile.

The Stanfields had one encore.  Part of it was a favourite from their self-titled debut album, Crocodile Tears. It is quite the memorable tune, and those of us that have been fans since the beginning, know all the words and sang along.  We got our coats, and I had paid Jason earlier for the new CD and DVD I wanted.  They are going to be recording a new album soon. I can’t wait to hear what they do next!   I guess it was the night of the one missing band member because I am missing one signature on the cd I bought from them too.  I’ll try to remember to bring it with me for the next show.

 

 

Kill Chicago and The Stanfields Merchandise

Swag and Merchandise I took home from the show.  Whenever I get a chance, I do like to support local talent and buy directly from the bands.  They get a little more money in their pocket that way, and I am an artist who understands that this is how you keep the bands making more music, by supporting them at live shows.

 

In summary, it was a great experience.  I always have fun when I go to see The Stanfields, and now I will try to make it out to go to see Kill Chicago when I can.  I had recognized a local celebrity at the show, a radio personality,  and we talked briefly while there.  The next day we carried on a facebook chat about the show, and he enjoyed the show,  as a fan as well.   I am glad I was able to be there.  I am also glad Kathy came with me, she is an awesome friend that I don’t get to hang out with as much as I’d like to.  Make time to do things with your friends while they are here so that you can honour them after they are gone.  Then you will have memories to smile about, and stories to share.

Thanks to Kill Chicago and The Stanfields for a fun and memorable live show.

 

My first Guest Blog, and a little more of the back story.

Pink Shirt Day

Pink Shirt Day 2017

Earlier in the year, Kirsty Allen, of her blog The Ramblings of a Madwoman posted an opportunity for guest blogging.  It interested me, as a newbie here, I wanted to give it a whirl and see what happened.  We were given a prompt, and I chose to write about a recent conflict.

I thought about it, as I am Always Thinking…

I replied with an idea about learning how to stand up for myself.  This is something that is a new skill in my life, and I have been improving it in the last few years.  I still have my moments, but I like to think I am more capable of defending myself than I was 10 years ago.

The last Wednesday in February is Pink Shirt Day in Canada.  I am all for raising awareness about the anti-bullying movement, and I shared reminders on my personal facebook wall the day before Pink Shirt Day, 2017.  It came as a surprise when I had negative replies in response to those reminders. I replied in the most constructive way I could, trying to turn around the negativity.  It didn’t go too far, and I did see that one person decided to express their negative thoughts on their own wall.  To each their own.  A good rule of thumb for social media.  If the discussion had continued to escalate on my wall, I would have had to take further action.  Thankfully, it didn’t.

In true Tish fashion, I had made a decision about the best way I could handle this.  I decided that I would use the anger and disappointment I felt as a result of what happened on my wall, and spin it in my guest blog post.

It was a challenge.  I started with the pantser approach I use, and just typed away.  The goal for the word count was 200 to 700 words, in short story format.  When I finished the rough draft, I had 1800 words, give or take a few.  So then I had to get really serious and edit the fluff out of it.  I have certainly had a lot of experience with bullies in my life, there was no shortage of examples.

After a furious editing session, I worked on it for 2 days or more, I had it down to just over 800 words.  I updated Kirsty with my progress and asked her about the size of the picture she needed for the submission to be complete.  With that information, I was able to send it to her.  Then I waited.  I am proud that I was able to send it in before the deadline.  That was important to me, as I am a procrastinator by nature.

It was hard to be patient, but I did that too.  I checked for a response several times a day, waiting for her reply.  I wondered if I missed the mark with the word count,  or if it was not going to be a successful submission.

When I saw Kirsty’s message, I was over the moon happy!  She told me that it would indeed be published, and that, “I really enjoyed reading your piece, it was so relatable and well written that I nearly cried. .” I quoted that at work and for a few days after that.  It validated my talents as a writer, and also really made me feel good that I accomplished the task at hand.

I am pleased to share this story here, in a link format.  There is a reason we Bloggers do this together.  We share stories on each other’s websites to challenge our own writing abilities, but also to increase traffic to each other’s websites.  It may not make much sense to those of you out there just reading my stories that I link to my wall, but in the blogging world, it does matter.  So if you like my story, and you take the time to read it, please take a few minutes to check out The Ramblings of a Madwoman by Kirsty Allen.  I recommend “It’s called Project Echo. We’re a top secret, select group of special people and we’ve been monitoring you.”, as I really enjoyed this story.  I was inspired when I read Motivation March, to leave a comment for her about this piece.  She is a talented writer, and I am liking her stories too.

Here is the link for my first guest submission on Kirsty’s website.  I hope you check it out.  I am proud of how it came together.

It’s not just about the pink shirt, it’s about changing your attitude

 

Weekend Warrior #2

weekend-warrior

It is Sunday.  I am gearing up to do all the things I haven’t done yet this weekend that are on my weekly list.  That is not to say that I have been lying around on my couch until now, either.  I have been out and about this weekend, spending time with friends.  That is important, too.

Friday night I was invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday, hosted by a mutual friend.  I need to make sure that I eat, and that I keep it healthy.  I made deviled eggs, Big Mac Salad, with regular meat and soy meat options, and I made dessert.  We played board games and just dance.

This was my second time making deviled eggs.  They were a hit both times, so I think it may become a potluck staple for me to bring.  They are on plan.  People like them. Win win!

The salad is a version of a THM recipe.  It can be found easily online.  The soy meat was for the vegetarian of the group, and he got the leftovers since it was his birthday celebration. The THM plan is not big on Soy products, but I wanted my friend to have the full Big Mac Salad experience.  So I improvised, and everyone seemed to like the salad too.

Dessert was an adventure.  I made Rainbow cake in mason jars.

I made Unicorn Rainbow Dip for a cake topping, and of course, added rainbow sprinkles.  I probably won’t be making this cake in mason jars when I make it again.  The dip was amazing, and not too sweet like icing would have been.  I think it would be wonderful for cake pops.  I made it the night before, and let it set in the fridge overnight.  This was a quick assembly after work on Friday.  It took longer to make the deviled eggs.  My friends added dips and loaded potato skins and bruschetta and deep fried pickles to the table.  It was a lot of food for a party of 4.

Yesterday I wanted to spend time with another couple that my husband and I are friends with.  We went out for supper, and back to their place to watch some movies on Netflix.  I had not seen the John Wick movie, and they all rewatched while I saw it for the first time.  Now I can be ready for the newly released sequel, that we want to see as a group if we can plan it that way.

I was busy, and now I am scrambling to play catch up before Monday rolls around again.  I am still working from lists.  Some things get done, and other things carry forward to the next weekend.  It is time to crank the tunes and get some chores done.  I have a few hours to spend on that, and then it’s time to get ready for another week at the day job.  Until next weekend, when I become the Weekend Warrior again.  Although I was more of a warrior of the social scene this weekend, there is still some time to make progress on the chores, if I hurry!  Time to Bounce the House once again!

Dealing With Unexpected Grief

angel-1822368_1920

Grief happens, because it is a part of life, and life happens.  We all experience grief in different ways, and at different times.  There are stages for grief, and they are well documented by experts.  My story today was inspired by a recent wave.

I have been lucky, to be 42 years old, I have lost some of my grandparents, and their siblings,and two of my uncles;  but most of my immediate family members are alive. I dread the coming days when that changes.  It will happen, and I will have to deal with it, unless I die before the rest of my family.  I don’t dwell on it, and I don’t live in fear of what will be.  We all have our time, and there is nothing we can do to avoid it.  What we can do is live, and try to follow the moral guidelines we hold dear to our souls.

In the years since I have moved to Fredericton, NB, I have experienced the loss of some friends.  It is a hard thing to learn to live with, the loss of a close friend.  There are two people in particular that I am thinking of.  They were my friends, and I still miss them.

I don’t focus on the loss, once time passes, and the funeral becomes a little less fresh in my mind.  I have a lamp that one of these friends gave me, at my desk.  It has an arm, and hinges to tighten to hold the lamp in the position I want it to stay in.

Every once in a while, the lamp tilts down.  I have always seen this as my friend’s ghost checking up on me.  It may sound silly, but I say hi to him whenever it has fallen down.  This friend became ill when a virus attacked his heart.  He had some time to prepare for the end, and we all knew it would happen.  We had all gathered in the hospital to show support for him and his wife, near the end.  It struck me hardest before he was gone, one of our mutual friends had gone in to see him, and he was not in very good shape.  I wanted to know if she had told him  that my husband and I were there, so he would know.  She said she had told him for us.  When this friend dropped me off at home, I was alone.  I leaned against my door, after I had closed it, and had my cry.  I cried off and on for a week, little fits here and there, but that was my moment when I let myself feel the pain of losing that friend.

On New Year’s Eve, 2016, I was with the same group of friends, celebrating the beginning of 2017.  It was our annual house party, and it is always a potluck.  We meet, have a few drinks, eat, talk, and play games.  If there is a World Juniors Hockey Game being aired, my husband makes our hostess turn on a TV, so he can enjoy what is notably the best hockey in the world, especially if Team Canada is playing.

When we came home, it was 2017.  I had enjoyed a lovely evening, and was in good spirits.  I walked over to my desk, and the lamp had tilted while I was out.  I said hello and happy new year, and did something I haven’t done before.  I sent a group message to the other friends that were at the party with me, and passed on the story, and a happy new year from our friend’s ghost.  It felt like the right thing to do.

The other friend died more recently, we are quickly approaching the one year mark.  We became fast friends when we met on a dance floor.  I had talked to her on occasion before that night. When my friends wanted to bail I asked her if I was welcome to hang out with her for the rest of the evening, and it started a beautiful friendship that ended way too soon.

It was the big C she was fighting when she lost the battle.  Cancer is awful, and she fought like a warrior; until she couldn’t anymore.  My friend was vibrant, beautiful, and had just started a new phase in her life.  She had moved away for school. She was an artist, and learning was something she was passionate about.  We kept in touch on facebook, and she was really enjoying the courses she was taking.

One day she confided in me that she had found a lump, and it was cancer.  I stayed in touch, and we chatted about school, her cats, her treatments, and her apartment adventures.  One day I realized that she hadn’t been saying much.  She was losing her fight. I started a conversation; that was the last one we were going to have.  I was trying to be supportive and positive.  It wasn’t working.  So, I did what I do best.  I got her laughing.  We went down a silly path in that conversation about her feelings about cancer.  She got to vent, creatively.  I like to think I helped her deal, in a very small way.

This week, I saw an ad for a band I like that is coming to town.  I always go to see them, and I don’t plan anything different this time around.  I was sharing it on my wall, when it hit me.  I had introduced my friend to this band before she moved away.  We had a blast, and she liked them, too.  She was a people watcher, and was confused by the mixture of people and styles of the other fans that were there.  We decided that they were Preppies, Hipsters, and Lumberjacks.  Plaid and beards and all mixed with a few clean-cut well dressed glasses wearing people.  An odd mixture, but all present enjoyed the show, as always.  I took her a little out of her comfort zone that night, but we had a lot of fun, and it was worth it.

So the other night, when the memory of seeing the band with her the last time they were in town hit me, I was sitting at my desk; overwhelmed with grief.  I let the tears fall.  It was completely unexpected, but necessary.  That’s the thing about grief, it has to run its course.  Things happen, and you feel sad sometimes.  It is what it is.  It is healthier to deal with the feelings when they arise, instead of bottling them inside, where they fester and grow.  Not letting your feelings out is toxic, and it never ends well, because instead of a healthy release, it could be an explosion, and the aftermath of that could be a bigger disaster than you are able to handle.  So focus on the good times, and the memories that make you smile.  When you need to express your grief, you don’t always get to choose when or how that happens, but it is necessary to help you move past the grief being so heavy on your heart all of the time.  There is nothing wrong with grieving, and I do cry when I am overcome with grief.  I try to be alone if I can, but you can’t plan it every time.  You just have to deal with it, and keep moving forward, until it isn’t so raw.  The important part is to let it out, so you can begin to heal.

It never goes away. I will always miss my friends, but I am still here, and I have to keep on living. One minute at a time, to a day at a time; whatever I am capable of in that moment. My first friend made me promise to take good care of my health, and I am honouring his memory by doing my best to be healthier.  My second friend was an artist, and I am working towards writing a book this year.  She would be proud that I am working on a lifelong goal, and as we had talked about many things during our friendship; she would also be happy to know I am working on my health and cleaning and organizing my house before getting the book started.  She had a preferred method for upkeep on cleaning styles, and I plan to get that method in place when the deep clean is done, so I keep up with it for the long-term.  That is how I am honouring her memory.  This is important too, it helps me keep them in my heart, without causing more grief.  If you don’t have a special way to honour the memory of a lost loved one, start one.

Random acts of kindness are a positive way to do good for someone else, and in your heart, it can be from your loved one, in their memory.  Take whatever time you need to decide what it will be, and follow through.  This way, it won’t just be yourself that you help, it just might help someone else cope a little better in their day, too.  Even if it only makes you feel better for an hour, it is a start, and by helping others, you can begin to help yourself heal in a positive way.