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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

remembering – 2015 edition

erin walker 1977-1994

erin walker :: august 6, 1977 – october 23, 1994

when i close my eyes

she’s too young to be forgotten
her world has only just begun
her future is an empty slate
waiting to be filled
and i see her
standing there
when i close my eyes

dancing in the sky
over moonbeams, around clouds
starlight in her eyes
angels in her hair
and i see her
when i close my eyes

child of the sunlight
daughter of the day
sleeping on bed of roses
with flowers in her hair

the wind it softly kissed her cheek
the raindrops fell like tears

and i see her
when i close my eyes

a thousand white candles
their flames dancing with the air
as rocks play tag with ocean

she’s fast asleep
never to be woken

and i see her
when i close my eyes

© catherine healy
October 23, 1994

~~>–<@>–<~~

In 1994, I was 18.

As of tomorrow, I’ll be 3 months away from my 40th birthday.

Something about today was nagging at me. I couldn’t believe that October had vanished in the blink of an eye. I don’t even remember it starting (likely because I was out cold with a flu and fever the first two days of this month).

Today we went out to lunch with a friend who had worked her last day at her current job, and was about to start a new job next week. She’ll be working at a stable, with horses, on the South Shore.

When I got back to my desk, and half way through a task it hit me. Today (and tomorrow) is the 21st anniversary of losing one of my best friends, and her mother because of a car accident. They were on their way home from a riding lesson – horses, south shore, and October.

I often feel like I’m still 18. It’s difficult for me to get my head around the fact that I’ll be turning 40. Having worked in a school environment for so long has added to that baffling concept I am sure. I still think of time in form of semesters.

I will never be 18 again, but Erin will always remain 17. Twenty-one years separates us now. That’s old enough to drink the US. That’s considered adult. An entire lifetime has happened in the years between the accident and today.  It’s mind boggling.

I will always miss Erin, and her mother, Heather. Though I think I have let go of the anger that I carried with me for so long. I think this because I don’t watch the calendar for these two days to approach in October anymore. Now the anniversary sneaks up on me and I remember, fondly, the times we had together. Back then those years felt like forever together, only now am I realizing that more time has passed since the accident than the amount of time we knew each other.

But as always, I remember. And I will always honour that remembrance with this post.

of teen me, and summer, and nostalgia

It is extremely rare that it happens, but occasionally I will have a moment of wishing I was Teen Me again. Trust me when I say that it is extremely rare, because even when I was Teen Me, I couldn’t ever understand why people thought being in their teens was a good thing. I was not a happy teenager. I may have looked it on the outside, but on the inside I was a dark, angry, ink scribble mess. I was shy, depressed, anxious, and was filled with the fear of people not liking me, or hurting me.

But when that rare occasion that I wish I was Teen Me again crops up, it will happen during the summer.

Sunbathing with Lady at Marine Village circa 1989/1990

From the age of 9 months, until I was old enough to be stupid and want to stay HOME, we spent every summer a Marine Village on the shores of Lake Champlain in upstate NY. All. Summer. My mother didn’t work, and my grandparents were retired. We started out just renting one of the cottages there, and then in 1988 my parents bought us a trailer, and my grandparents switched to renting a mobile home. Once we had our own place, we’d open it up over the May long weekend, and spend every weekend there until school was out. That’s when my mum, sister, and my grandparents, would relocate for the summer until school started again after Labour Day. My dad would come down on weekends, and use his vacation time during the summer.

A couch that turns into a bed! Exciting trailer times 1988

I want to go back and be Teen Me in the Summer because I want to tell myself that I don’t have to fear everything, and I can have fun. I wish I could have enjoyed myself more and not look back at these photos and wish that I hadn’t been so reserved, so shy, so sad.

These were the days before internet, and before social media. You kept in touch with friends by writing letters by hand. You went to the payphone at the laundry-mat near the entrance to the camp and used a dime (!!!) to call your summer friends and see if they wanted to hang out.

Starting off our summer at Marine Village upstate NY

I was so insecure. I would hide away in the trailer and read, read, read, and listen to music and sing, sing, sing. So many summer friendships, summer crushes, summer days wasted because I was too shy to really participate in anything. I did, I just wasn’t really there in the moment. I was too busy inside my own head fretting over every little thing. “Did I do something wrong?” “Did I say something wrong?” “Maybe because I don’t like the same things, I’m not good enough.”

Pro Tip: Never get a perm when you already have naturally curly hair. 0.o

I was never a kid who liked to be with kids. While others my age were babysitting children, I was happily watching after people’s pets when they had to leave for a few days. I could spend my days in the water, on the docks, in the park, and be so happy just being outside. I would play with a few kids, but worry so much about what they thought of me, I never actually enjoyed most of that interaction. I long for those days now. I wish I could go back and just relax, and have FUN.

On the Swimming beach @ Marine Village, c.1992

I hated myself then. I see teens of friends I have now and envy their confidence and ability to have fun. I always wanted that, and I could have had it if I wasn’t so scared of being me, or scared of being hurt by people I wanted to like me. (Who did like me, but I didn’t believe it at the time.) I’m not saying that teens today don’t have the same issues that all teens have had, it’s just that I see kids having fun and not worrying too much about it, and I wish I had been able to find that in myself when I was that age. I thought I was ugly. I thought I was fat. FAT! Do you see me in these photos? Good lord! Fat. Teen Me you were a ninny!

my brief flirtation with trying to suntan. I must have blinded everyone around me.

Does that body look fat to you? I only wore that bikini a handful of times, and mostly kept a shirt over myself to cover it up. I didn’t think I was pretty. I felt alone. I wasn’t alone at all, but I felt it.

The older I got, the less I wanted to come spend my summers down at the trailer. What I FOOL I was. Imagine, having almost 3 whole months to do nothing but be in the water, and outside in nature. There was a dairy farm across the street. I would go sit and watch the cows for hours. I loved it there. But my friends back home wanted to do things, and I thought if I was away for too long, they’d forget about me and I’d be back with no friends. (Foolish Teen Me, yet again!)

Those summers at Marine Village were the best. Literally. Even though I didn’t truly believe it at the time, I made so many friends, and so many happy memories out on Lake Champlain. Like how Lady used to somehow slip out of her collar, while tied up next to us in front of the trailer, and suddenly end up in the lake. She’d slither on her belly away from us and we’d only notice when a neighbour would come up and say, “hey, is that your dog in the water?” She did this a few times. It was hilarious. Spending weeks with your family can be tough, but we all did our own thing. I love spending evenings playing cards with my grandparents on their screen porch. I’d do crossward puzzles with them while looking out at the water.

I’d spend so much time in the water. I loved being in the water. Until I got a little older and felt the need to cover up my body at all times, and suddenly became terrified of being eaten by some evil fish hiding in the shadows. Oh, me. On really hot nights we would run down to the end of the dock, and jump in the water to cool off right before bed.

I wish I hadn’t thrown away those summers so easily. Getting to spend months on a beach, in the water, bike riding, walking, playing basketball and tennis in the park….those were the days. Now I save up vacation days and take time off and do nothing. It’s too expensive for us to go places, and it’s not quite the same. I miss those summers of nothing, but everything. Bon fires. Roasting marshmallows. Late nights walking around with your summer friends and just talking and staring at the stars.

I wish I was able to have really enjoyed it then, as I know I did enjoy it now. I want to go back with my self-confidence, and happy to be ME  attitude, and let Teen Me in the Summer live her life to the fullest.

I want the girl who looks happy in these photos to actually BE happy in those photos. I want her to fully enjoy the summer friendships, the summer crushes. I want her to take chances, and have fun. I want her to stop worrying about doing something wrong, and just live her life in the moment.

Because Current Me? Current Me remembers those moments as being the only ones where she was happy being Teen Me. And during the summer it’s the only time I ever think about wanting to BE Teen Me once again. I miss Teen Me sitting out at the end of the dock, looking out over Lake Champlain, and writing songs. I miss Teen Me riding her bike around the camp, and up and down the road to the dead end, or to the corner store (that burnt down. Twice.). I miss Teen Me hanging out with her summer crush and hoping to see him out in his yard while I was out at the end of the dock. (Perfect vantage point, yo.) I miss Teen Me just sitting on the dock, staring at the water for hours. I miss swimming. I miss my grandparents. I miss my summers at Marine Village.

Current Me wishes she could go back and tell Teen Me in the Summer to just breath, smile, laugh. Have fun. Enjoy every second you’re out here in nature, and water, because adulting is hard work, and to get those carefree days back, you need to make a lot of money. Growing up too fast is not worth it. Be happy. You are loved. You are pretty. You sure as hell are NOT fat. You’re awesome Teen Me in the Summer. Enjoy your summer. Be free.

the past is always closer and farther away than you think it is

On Friday, January 23, I turned 39. I am officially in the last year of my 30s. It’s strange to me. Last week when I was looking through my blog for a old photo in archives, I came across this post. I found it oddly time appropriate since the first item on that list was “10 years ago” and it was written 10 years ago from now. It made me sad, and nostalgic, and happy, and, well… wonder. Is it time to change the same answers on this list? Because they are awfully similar to what I am doing now.

So here goes.

10 years ago:
I was 29.
It was 2005.
I got married to my soulmate on July 2.
I was working at the University bookstore.
I thought I’d be moving on from working at McGill. Silly me.
I thought I’d be moving out of Quebec soon. Silly me.
I had amazing friends, but I still suffered from the insecurity that people didn’t really like me.
I had a learner’s permit, and never really practiced driving.

5 years ago:
I was 34.
It was 2010.
I had laser eye surgery. It took 3 years to heal. =/
I saw CATS at Place des Arts with my husband.
I was married for 5 years. That went fast.
I did have a new job, after the bookstore, but it was still at McGill. Now I’m an assistant to a Dean.
I still had my learner’s permit. Maybe this year?
I traveled to NYC by myself to attend Book Expo America.
I thought I’d be moving on from working at McGill soon. Silly me.
I thought I’d be moving out of Quebec soon. Silly me.

3 years ago:
I was 36.
It was 2012.
I was finally driving. Driver’s licence obtained September 2011. Go, me!
My parents moved out of Quebec, to Ontario. Before I did. Go figure.
I traveled to Quebec City with my husband. A short, weekend vacation.
I started Jinx’s Garden. He took it over after I planted it.
I was married for 7 years. That went fast!
I went back to school. First time in 17 years. Scary.
I thought I’d be moving on from working at McGill soon. Silly me.
I thought I’d be moving out of Quebec soon. Silly me.

1 year ago:
I was 38.
It was 2014.
We lost Jinx, unexpectedly and tragically. And we’re still trying to recover.
I shut down my book blog. A difficult but necessary decisions
I celebrated 13 years of working at McGill.
I thought I’d be moving on from working at McGill soon. Silly me.
I thought I’d be moving out of Quebec soon. Silly me.

Today: I am 39.
It is 2015.
I will be married for 10 years in July.
I am still at McGill. Still in Quebec.
I am still recovering from a trauma that happened almost 2 years ago.
I don’t know who I am or who I want to be.
I don’t know where I want to be in life.
I feel slightly broken, though happy at the same time.
I am ready for change. Ready for adventure.
I am very ready to get out of my 30s.
I am ready to leave McGill and leave Quebec.
I am ready for adventure. The good kind.

I might be stuck. I don’t want to be.

I am nowhere near where I thought I’d be ten years ago today. I don’t know where that is, but it certainly isn’t where I currently am in life.

I have no idea how 10 years have passed in the blink of an eye. I don’t feel like that much time has passed at all. Where did it go?

20 years of remembering

erin walker :: august 6, 1977 – october 23, 1994

when i close my eyes

she’s too young to be forgotten
her world has only just begun
her future is an empty slate
waiting to be filled
and i see her
standing there
when i close my eyes

dancing in the sky
over moonbeams, around clouds
starlight in her eyes
angels in her hair
and i see her
when i close my eyes

child of the sunlight
daughter of the day
sleeping on bed of roses
with flowers in her hair

the wind it softly kissed her cheek
the raindrops fell like tears

and i see her
when i close my eyes

a thousand white candles
their flames dancing with the air
as rocks play tag with ocean

she’s fast asleep
never to be woken

and i see her
when i close my eyes

© catherine healy
October 23, 1994

~~>–<@>–<~~

 

I had grand plans for this year. I had even spoken to some music student friends of mine to help me realize it, but life, as it does, got in my way. I had wanted to officially record the song I wrote and gift it to the father/husband and brother/son of Erin and her mother for the 20th anniversary of their accident. I will make that happen at some point, but for now, I will just write in this space, as I have been since I started my blog.

I also had big plans for the post I would write this year, but I’m finding myself staring at the blinking cursor with little to no words to express how I feel. I have been so angry and sad lately about a lot of things and the last year and a half has left me emotionally spent. All I can think of right now is how angry I was at the time, and how angry I feel right now, over how unfair it is that these lives were robbed of long life and their deaths were too soon. Too sudden. Not fair. Lately it seems that anyone who deserves to be punished seems to walk away with barely a scratch, the loss of innocent lives, the loss of GOOD people, just feels like a slap.

I’ll never forget how I felt on October 22 when I was sitting in choir practice feeling like something was wrong. It was dark, cold, rainy, and the air was electric with wrongness. Erin didn’t show up for practice like she was supposed to. I had just seen her the afternoon before and we said we’d see each other that day. I knew, in my bones, something was wrong, but never in a million years would I expect what that Wrongness was.

I used to think about the driver of the truck that hit them as well. I used to wonder if he could be ok after what happened. It was an accident, I know. And now, after dealing with my own PTSD issues, I think of him again and wonder if he ever got over what happened. I don’t know if I could.

I can mostly remember all of the good times, and happy memories, of my years of friendship with Erin, and knowing her mother. I know my own Mum had years of friendship with Heather. Right now I am having a very difficult time in finding the happy in anything and it pains me to have my memories of this anniversary marred by unhappiness and anger.

There is nothing I can change. What happened twenty years ago happened and you can only move on from there. But I have always held on to the anger I felt about how unfair this was. I have managed to suppress it for years but it’s hard this year. It’s too tangled up with my own traumatic recent events and making a big, gloopy mess inside me. I have been thinking about how I will be 40 in a little over a year and there are things I just never got to share with my friend.

How did 20 years pass so fast. How is it even possible that it’s been 20 years since I was a TEEN. I felt like those years would never end and would last forever and yet, here I am with only a year and 3 months standing between me and the age of 40. How is it possible that 2o years have come and gone since this awful day. Some things are just so, so vivid. Sitting on my bed, penning the song above. The absolute fog I was in for weeks after hearing the news. The funeral and how I almost passed out and had to sit down during the mass. The massive amounts of people who attended the joint funeral for Erin and her mother. There were so many people. I didn’t want to wear black because it just seemed so cliché and morbid. I wore purple.  I think Erin would have appreciated that.

Erin was my friend. She always made me laugh. She was funny, sweet, bitchy, bossy, and I used to be so intimidated by her. Sometimes I was sure she didn’t like me and would cry, but she was just honest and blunt, and exuded such confidence. I was always (and still am) intimidated by confident people. Erin had her insecurities but she hid them well. She was a friend I knew I could count on to tell me the truth and how things really were. We wanted to start our own magical coven. We’d spend time trying to light candles with our minds. (It never worked. Bummer.) I was jealous when she came back from summer camp with a BOYFRIEND. I still hadn’t even had my first boyfriend yet. I was jealous of her. I was in awe of her. I was proud of her. I was so happy to have her as one of my best friends. She was fire. She was sparks. She was a firecracker.

She was seventeen. She lived her life with pure effervescence.  Her energy was contagious. So many people loved her. So many people loved her mother, just an older version of the daughter. They were both LIFE. Pure, sparking, raw energy, LIFE.

And  I miss her so much. All the time. Especially in October.

I should let go of this anger, but it’s difficult. I’m working on it. One day I’ll be free of it. I will always remember the happy memories though, and that’s what I should focus on now.

Twenty years is a lifetime. So much has happened since 1994. So much. I wish I could still share this all with her. Hopefully her spirit is out there somewhere watching over me. If she is – she’s likely telling me to man up and get over the anger and just be happy. That’s Erin. 😉

Erin & I – June 1994

so, thirty-eight happened

Unusual for me, I didn’t chronicle my birthday this year. A lot of it has to do with what’s going on in my life (and my head) these days, although I can’t really say why I haven’t blogged in 20 days. I guess I’m just not feeling it much lately.

On January 23rd I turned 38 years old. What a strange age to be. I find it very surreal to be closer to 40 than to 20. In my mind, I’m still closer to my teens than I am to being a grown-up. I’m not sure when this feeling will change, if it changes at all.

I woke up on my birthday and came downstairs to find a hand-made card waiting for me and a gluten-free birthday cake. These wonderful items were both courtesy of my amazing husband. Since it was my birthday, I was turning old, and I have been home on medical leave and feeling sort of out of sorts, I decided that my fancy party t-shirt was the appropriate attire for the day. Shawn got me that shirt for Christmas. Have I mentioned how wonderful my husband is?

In a surprising turn of events, I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday this year. It had nothing to do with age and everything to do with the PTSD crap I’m going through. I didn’t want to see anyone, go anywhere, do anything,or even really talk about my birthday. Two days before my birthday I woke up feeling excited that it WAS ALMOST my day. That was the first sign that I was starting to feel better and I have medication to thank for that.

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a birthday person I am. Generally I start counting down the shopping days until January 23rd in November. I used to write these helpful countdowns in my friends Val’s and Jill’s agendas. I’m helpful like that. This year I didn’t even tell new people I’d met that it was going to be my birthday. I realize this probably doesn’t matter to most of the world, but it’s a huge sign of how Not Myself I have been. I’m getting better but I still feel like I missing a big chunk of myself and I’m a little bitter about that.

So my birthday was spent with my husband and it was pretty quiet. We went to a movie during the day (Frozen) and then we had take-out for dinner. I braved the world and went downtown the next night to have dinner with my boss because I wanted to see her and I miss her a lot. That was nice and it was nice to know I could actually hear about work and not have a major panic attack start. Again, medication to thank for that. Not a huge dosage, but enough to erase the anxiety and fear I have been living with for the last handful of months.

I didn’t even see my in-laws until the start of February. I just wasn’t feeling like being around people or having any attention paid to me. Heck, normally I love attention. heh… I just wanted to be quiet this year. Reflect. Spend time with Shawn. The fact that we’ve both been home for the entire duration of my leave from work has been a blessing in disguise. I don’t know how I’d have gotten through what I was going through if I had to be alone with my thoughts all day.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to digest the fact that I’m two years away from turning 40. It’s not that I think 40 is old, except in my head, I do think 40 is old. I know it’s not. I know more people in their 40s that I would think were in their late 20s if I didn’t know their real ages. I guess the idea of 40, the one that I grew up knowing, my parents’ 40.. or my grandparents’ 40… is still stuck in there somewhere. I have all these questions – when I’m 40 am I too old to keep having rainbow coloured hair? Am I too old to have pigtails when my hair is long, or too old to get more tattoos? Can I still wear t-shirts with cartoons on them? Will I still be cute? Hmm.

Most of this is completely in my head and I don’t totally believe it. It’s another one of those “two people in my head with completely logical and true ideas that do not get along” things. Like how I know I can succeed at school and at the same time think I can’t do school at all. Two differing opinions all living in the same space. It’s enough to make a person dizzy, yo!

So, I had a birthday in January. It’s now February and I’m not sure where the time went. I start back to work this coming Thursday and although it’s a progressive return, I’m not sure how I feel about going back to reality. I’ve been pretty happy in my cocoon at home doing things that I feel like doing when I feel like doing them. Alas. I still need to pay the bills.

When I left work in November I was 37. When I return to work this week, I’m 38 and honestly? It does feel like an entire year has passed in the last 2.5 months. I just hope that 38 treats me better than 37 did.