Daily Life, family


I’ve been trying to find a way to talk about this for a couple weeks now. I just couldn’t put it to words. Maybe I was afraid that if I wrote about it, it would seem more real. More sudden. I wanted the time to stretch and last forever. Byron, my faithful furry companion for nearly 15 years, had to be put down on Monday and my heart is shattered. I want to tell his story.

At the end of high school, I was going through all the usual dramas and changes that come with closing such a big chapter of my life. I was going into a program where I knew no one, to a university where very few of my friends would be attending. Pat and I were talking about going our separate ways and my parents were facing serious health problems. My sister was planning to move away and my world seemed completely upside down. One day, my mom and I went to visit my Dad’s daughter, Kim. She and I (and especially She and Mum) had always had a really difficult relationship, so it was a big step that she invited us over. We chatted and hung out and it was really nice. When I arrived at her home, she introduced me to the fuzz ball that was sleeping in a small flower pot. She sighed and grumbled about this tiny kitten that was destroying all of her house plants by sleeping on them and squishing them.

She was a bartender/waitress, and one day on her way into work, she saw a group of young boys attempting to kill a tiny kitten. She went hulk rage on them, and rescued the tiny thing that fit into the palm of her hand. She brought the kitten home and he was promptly named “Mo” by her husband (As in “I said NO MORE PETS!”). So, she was looking for a home for wee mo. I loved him, but my Mom was not convinced. Well, Mo was sure. He woke up and chose me. The entire visit he spent in my lap or arms, and when I went to leave, I found him in my purse. My mother gave the kitty one of her looks. He stared back and they obviously communicated for a minute before she said “Alright, bring him home.”

A fluffy kitten, snuggled in a box at Christmas
Byron, 5 months later. Still wee and hiding in a box at Christmas.

We had always had pets while I was growing up, but I had never had my own (aside from Sparky, the one eyed Beta fish that lived forever). I was scared and nervous about this tiny little thing being my own responsibility, but I needn’t be. We took to each other immediately.

He became Byron shortly thereafter. You see, I was an English Lit nerd and wanted something suitably geeky for a name. I thought about it long and hard. I chose the legendary lover poet as inspiration because this cat made people love him. I kid you not, it didn’t matter if you hated cats or were a crazy cat person, Byron would own your heart within the first meeting. He loved people, and was so sweet with everyone.

In University, he was my constant companion. He would snuggle into my arms during all nighters, he would snooze on my books and knock over my empty tea mugs. I discovered during this time that he had an absolute hatred or insane love of muffins. If I had a muffin from the tea cart at school forgotten in my bag, he would find it, drag it out of my bag and DESTROY it. I mean, it would look like an explosive took out the muffin. There would be muffin bits all over for DAYS.

Byron, taking his usual position while I worked on essays at the last minute.
Byron, taking his usual position while I worked on essays at the last minute.

He came with me (despite my father offering quite aggressively that I could leave him with them) when I moved in with my best friends. He befriended their cats and continued to steal the hearts of everyone he came in contact with.

Byron and The Professor
Byron and The Professor, my roommate’s kitty

It was in my first apartment that he went through another one of his lives. Somehow, he managed to swallow a massive darning needle. The next day I discovered this on my way out the door because he was coughing blood between bites of food. Thankfully, they were able to remove the needle and Byron was absolutely fine.

Large darning needle in a pill bottle labeled "Byron's Needle"

He came with me to three apartments and back to my parents home in between each. Every single time he adapted very well until the last apartment (which should have been a sign). My roommate disliked him, he acted out (he was in his teenage rebellion phase). He would slam the kitchen cupboards, would go on hunger strikes and would knock over any glass or mug left unattended.

My vet recommended that perhaps he was a social kitty and was miserable being the only pet for the first time in his life. My roommate had talked about getting a cat, but after months of waiting, I decided to adopt another rescue on my own, and brought Cole into our home. He and Byron were not immediate friends. It took a couple weeks, but eventually, they were your typical big brother and younger brother…fighting, snuggling and playing.

Two long hair cats, snuggling and sleeping on a love seat
Byron and Cole, brothers.

Before I moved in with Pat, I was back at my parents place. It was during this time that Byron lost yet another life. My Dad’s son’s middle child decided to throw a billiards ball at Byron’s head one day before Sunday dinner, giving Byron a bloody nose and a bad concussion. I have never felt such a massive anger towards a child before this moment. The family diffused the situation and I took Byron upstairs to tend to him. This was the second time he had been abused by a small boy, and it broke my heart for him.

When Pat and I moved in together, it was an unspoken rule that the cats would come with me. Pat had never had pets, and so it was a definite adjustment. Within a year, I had manipulated my way into us adding a dog to the mix too.

Byron, Maddie and cole
Byron, Maddie and cole

There we were, our own little family. It stayed this way for 4 years or so before I had Liam. He cuddled with me when I was depressed, anxious, sick or sad. He comforted me when my parents died, always knowing when something was wrong and when I needed him most. He let me cry into his fur while he took his post on my lap, snuggled into the crook of my arm. He was more than a cat to me. I didn’t think I could ever be that person who loved an animal that much, but here I was. He was family.

Keeping me company while I was super sick
Keeping me company while I was super sick

When I was pregnant, it was like I was made of all things awesome for kitties. Cole and Byron would not leave me alone. It was never just one of them, either. It was always both.

Pregnant and covered in kitties
Pregnant and covered in kitties

As you can imagine, I was worried about how Byron would take to a little boy after all of the trauma he had had. Abused animals can be unpredictable, especially around people that remind them of their past abuse. To everyone’s surprise, Byron loved Liam and took to him like none of the other pets did. Cole runs whenever Liam is around. Seriously, if Liam is awake, Cole is no where to be found. Maddie tolerates him, but is too old and grumpy for his shenanigans. Byron on the other hand, would demand love and attention from Liam, even when Liam was too rough or reckless with him.

Liam and Byron
Liam and Byron

So, when we found out I was pregnant a second time, I expected the same kind of kitty magnet. While they both liked snuggles, it wasn’t the same with Byron. He started peeing everywhere but the litter box. He would target Liam’s bed and our laundry. Eventually, he started crapping everywhere too and I started to worry. You see, in all those years together, he had never once peed outside the litter box. Not when injured, not when abused, not when he was lonely and wanted a furrbuddy. My mommy sense was tingling, and it wasn’t good. We took him to the vet after all of the typical behavioral fixes didn’t work (rescue remedy pet drops in their water, pheromone sprays and plug ins, extra litter boxes, cleaning more often, etc…). His blood work came back fine, but the vet found a large malignant mass in his mouth. My heart dropped and I knew it was time. We took a week and a half to digest the news and make our decision. By the end of the week, we noticed he was in pain more frequently, he was starting to have trouble eating. My dear friend was dying, and it was up to us to decide what to do next.

Byron and I, in that final week
Byron and I, in that final week
Saying my goodbyes during his final week
Saying my goodbyes during his final week

I am not one of those people who believe in kitty chemo. I didn’t want  him to suffer for my benefit. I wanted him to be at peace. On Monday the 6th of July, we took him to the vet and said our final goodbyes. As he lay in my lap, right before the procedure, I felt the baby kick rapidly and Byron snuggled up against it. I broke down.

I can’t tell you how hard it is to lose yet another loved one to cancer. I keep expecting to see him on his chair in the kitchen, or to have him crawl up on to his favourite spot on the back of the couch, behind me.

During his last week, his favourite spot
During his last week, his favourite spot

Goodbye dear friend. Thank you for your kindness, your love, your ridiculous antics and your uniqueness. I will miss you so very much.

Daily Life, Depression, Health

Fuck April

If you are a long time reader, you know that this is not my favourite month. If not, you may be confused. Why hate April? April is a time of flowers and the sun warming us up again! It’s so pretty and awesome! Well, not for this babe.

Consider this a warning that I may be bummed or absent this month. Why?  Well, 5 years ago, our place was pretty much ready to be sold and we were in the midst of moving in with my mother. I was her fulltime caregiver and was moving in to help her through her final months. I was set to move on April 1st, but circumstances resulted in some reno delays, so we rescheduled for April 10th. That first week of April, I was in and out of the house pretty much daily. I was bringing boxes, finishing up our room and getting feedback from Mom on what we needed to do to finish up my change to becoming her full time care (I would be the one taking care of finances, bills, getting her to appointments, getting results, etc…as her health declined).

Easter weekend arrived and the family descended upon the house. Mom wasn’t feeling great, so everyone cooked for her (in all of the years of family dinners, she never gave up cooking the main course. Never. This should have been a sign). I remember thinking she looked so small and tired. She basically hung out on the couch the entire visit. On April 7th or 8th, after a being away for a day, but in constant contact by phone, I arrived to find her best friends at the house. I was dropping off some more boxes and on my way to buy some more with a friend who had a pickup. Her best friends informed me she had declined (and was hiding it from me, because it was Mom. Ugh). I had no idea that this would be her last day at home. That she would pass away the next day. I had no idea that my Dad’s kids, people I considered siblings, would completely lose their minds and turn on me. That it would take 2 years for us to complete the estate and that I would end up with a diagnosis of PTSD, severe anxiety and depression.

That same time, 2 years later, when everything wrapped up with the estate, I had my beautiful baby boy. As my labour began, I had no idea that I would struggle through 32 hours of labour, that I would end up getting an emergency c-section, my kid in the NICU, a week long hospital stay, terrible recovery, a relapse of PTSD and severe PPA and PPD.

Here I am, 3 years since then, 5 years since my mother died, that I am going through a difficult time again. I don’t want to get into it. I’m not ready to. I have been missing my parents so terribly, hell, I miss my family. These horrible times have shaped me. I have been forged through flame. I forgive myself for my failings during my mother’s illness and the mess of the estate. I am finally ok with my birth story and that I couldn’t be more in love with my stunningly amazing baby boy (who is a freaking preschooler now). I have incredible people in my life who support and love me. Because of these hardships, I am ok, despite things being tough.

So, fuck April. I am so much stronger than you give me credit for.

Daily Life, family

Indian Summer

Last week I was hunting through boxes and closets to find the winter items I packed away (thinking we would be moved and unpacked before I needed them. Oh, how plans change). Yesterday, I dressed my son in shorts and a tshirt for our afternoon walk. Indian Summer is upon us and it’s perfect. I love waking up to a chilly room, only to be comfortable enough to have lunch out on the deck.

This week was an odd one. We continued on our 21 Day Fix journey, while also trying to finish up this house business (Spoiler: Still not done. Who is surprised? Not me). Tracy and I have been plotting and planning, hoping to get here here before all the leaves fall. I’m not sure if it will work out, but it’s nice to have something to look forward to and dream about. I  miss my sister so much. She is my other half. It’s funny, how this distance between us was the catalyst to our relationship changing and strengthening, but it is also the thing that keeps us apart. I hate that our country is so freaking big and expensive to cross. We haven’t seen each other in over a year. The Sutherland sisters need a reunion.

30291_1391604722082_4998285_nThis past week also marked 6 years since my Dad passed. I am doing surprisingly ok, but I have found that it has made me nostalgic. I looked back at some old family pictures. It is still a shock to see how different my life and family were back then. I wouldn’t change what I have now for the world, but it’s hard not to miss people that you once considered siblings. I miss some of the friendships that I had then. How life seemed just a little less…complicated.

Easter 2008
Easter 2008

Of course, I was in my 20s then, a young woman who had just moved in with her long term boyfriend. It’s amazing how quickly living without a support system you have known your own life can become so normal. You adapt. You build a new family. You redefine. I’m on the other side of it all now. I wasn’t sure I would ever make it here, but I did. We survived.

Oh, fall. You do this to me every year. I’ve let my coffee go cold and my son has been watching far too much tv this morning. Have a wonderful weekend, all.


5 Years

Five years is a significant amount of time. People have 5 year plans. Five years ago, my world was completely different.

In 2008, I was dating Pat but things weren’t going great. I was annoyed that he still hadn’t proposed (we had been together for about 6 years). We had been living together for almost 2 years and I was getting the feeling it was never going to happen. I was working a job that I hated (Reception at a very small engineering and manufacturing firm that made add-on armor for tanks for the Canadian department of defense.), making almost no money. I was very concerned about money at the time. My group of friends had just changed significantly, and I was feeling lonely and depressed. I was trying so hard to be cool and to fit in. I went from my high school posse to a new group of misfits – punk folks who had serious relationship issues and basically acted like teenagers 24/7. My mother was going through treatment for her cancer and was going to be having minor heart surgery to fix her tachycardia. My Dad was her primary caregiver, but was starting to get resentful of being left at home all summer while she went out with friends.

Me, 2008
Me, 2008

On September 24th, 2008, I was at work. I remember being in a good mood. I was trying something new with my makeup that day. I was wearing real lipstick and had done a heavier eye. A couple of the shop guys had commented that I looked like I was trying too hard so I was starting to get bitchy. I was talking to the finance manager when the phone rang. I answered it and it was my Mom. She sounded wrong. She had just had the heart surgery a day or two before, so I was worried she was having problems. She told me to get home. Now. Dad was unconscious on the floor and the paramedics were working on him. She didn’t know which hospital they would be going to, so she wanted me to meet her at the house first. I panicked a bit. I ran around, trying to figure out how I was going to get there (I had no car at the time). The finance manager offered to drive me.

I got to the house and was confused to see a fire truck driving away. There was two cop cars and an ambulance. The paramedics were packing up. I didn’t understand. I told one of them that I was the daughter and he blithely said that my Dad was dead on the kitchen floor. I asked about my mother and he seemed confused. I explained that she had just had a procedure on her heart and he shrugged it off. I found her and took care of her. I felt ridiculous with my face full of makeup. I felt obscene. I rubbed it all off. My father’s body lay where my mother had dragged him to perform CPR. We had to leave him there for the coroner to check him out.

The rest of the day consisted of making terrible phone calls, getting my sister home from Calgary with her friend, Lacy, as support for her. You see, I thought she was all alone out there and needed someone to get her to us. My Dad’s kids came over, Pat came to me. He became my rock. Mom’s friends flocked to her side, as did mine. We joked, we laughed, we drank lots of coffee and waited with broken hearts for the coroner to take him away. Someone had put a blanket over him, finally. He lay there for something like 4 hours. It was horrible and beautiful, the way that death normally is. The family came together and we clung to each other desperately. I helped Mom plan the funeral.

Family on the day of Dad's Funeral
Family on the day of Dad’s Funeral
Family on the day of Dad’s burial

Five years later, I sit here with my son on the floor, playing with the Guitar Hero guitar, growling like a tiger, while Sesame street plays in the background. My Dad’s children, people I called Brother and Sister for my whole life, haven’t been a part of my life in years and are now only in my mind as characters in my nightmares. My mother is dead, and my husband is my best friend (He proposed 2 months after my father’s death, by the way). My sister is a University graduate, home owner, and is in the process of starting her own business, all in Calgary. My family home is gone. My group of friends is completely different and I finally feel…whole. And supported. And loved. I am getting treatment for my depression. I work at an amazing place, with amazing people. I have tattoos and piercings, just like I always wanted but was too worried about how others would see me. We’re almost broke, but it doesn’t matter because we are getting through and we are happy.

Me, 2013. Priorities are a little different.
Me, 2013
Me, 2013

Daddy, I love you and I miss you. I often have dreams that you and I are sitting at the kitchen table, having one of our late night talks. I love seeing so much of you in my son. You were my person. If ever I had a decision to make and I didn’t know what to do, I knew I could talk it out with you. You never made me feel like I was too sensitive or emotional, unlike the rest of the family. You got me. You knew me and you loved me for who I was. xo

JR Sutherland, 1938-2008
JR Sutherland, 1938-2008


Everyone processes grief differently. Loss is a fluid changing thing. I remember being surprised at how I reacted to my parents deaths. I always had pictured hysterics, fainting, sobbing. The reality of it was much quieter, and yet, again, both losses were felt differently.

Friday I was surprised to see a face I knew and recognized in a news story. A girl that I had known from dance was missing and had been missing since Wednesday evening. Since then, I have been obsessively following every detail on facebook and in the news. Yesterday we found out that she had been murdered. She and I had not been close. We haven’t seen each other in years and barely talked online. This past week I was thinking about contacting her because she recently got a new tattoo at my fave tattoo shop. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel or react. People tell me they are sorry for my loss, but I am not suffering. Am i? I don’t think I am. Send your thoughts instead to her loved ones. I feel so badly for her husband, family and close friends. i have found myself getting angry at speculation that one of them could be involved. I keep thinking about details that I have read.

So, I am snuggling my boy a little closer. I called my sister. I am spending time with loved ones. I’m working on Liam’s baby album.

Rest in Peace, Melissa.
Rest in Peace, Melissa.

Rest in peace, dear lady. May the fucker that hurt you be caught quickly.

Baby, Daily Life, Uncategorized


I keep trying to plug away at Liam’s 4 month post (and now 5 month post). Knowing I have those to do, I freeze. I don’t know how to write until I get those done. The pressure I put on myself is ridiculous, and I’m starting to realise that I have more important things to worry about. I enjoy posting, so why sabotage myself?

Monday is the anniversary of my dad’s death. It will be four years since he died suddenly at home. My whole life changed that day. Every year, around this time, I find myself struggling. I don’t sleep well, I get moody, and I want to hide away with a giant cake, 15 blankets, a gallon of tea and a good book. As a mom, I don’t get that option anymore. I need to keep pressing on. I need to survive on a max of 6 hours interrupted sleep in a 12 hr period. I need to smile, laugh, sing and dance through puke, screams, teething and poopsplosions. Luckily, my kid is adorable, sassy and incredibly charming. 
I look for comfort in other places. I will make a pot of tea like I used to for Dad and I. I will use the tea cups he bought me because he knew I’d appreciate them. I will call my sister and we will do what we can to make each other laugh, despite how sad we both feel. 
Yesterday, I pulled this old thing out
This thing has been around forever. Mum had to send box tabs from Tang boxes to get it. For some reason, I always thought juice tasted better when served from it. It’s a small reminder of my childhood, back before things got complicated by half siblings, drama with estates and illness. Back when my parents’ best friends were aunts and uncles to me, not someone I had to impress and party with to stay on their good side. 
Remembering life with my parents and my sister helps me figure out how I want to raise Liam. The kind of people I want around him and the kind of experiences I want him to have. It’s sad, but at the same time, there are so many beautiful times to remember. So many sweet little things to draw comfort from. 
I’ll get to our milestone posts when I can. In the mean time, I’m going to post more random things when I can. 
Daily Life

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