1 year.

Today marks the one year anniversary the death – the murder – of my classmate and friend. She was a victim of intimate partner violence. I’m wearing the purple pin today, the same one I wore at her funeral.

There hasn’t been a single day in the past 365 days that I have not thought of her. Her death was a shattering blow to my little world.  I have been lucky, I suppose, not to have yet experienced a sudden, unexpected death in my circle, let alone, a murder.  The world has since felt cruel and unfair and unjust.  When my youngest son smiles, giggles or cries, I think of her youngest. My heart breaks into a million little pieces thinking about that little boy who is the same age as mine and is now growing up without his mother.  When I look at my 9 year old daughter and how she is growing and changing, I think of her two girls, aged 13 and 9 and my heart breaks a little more.

I’ve attended the preliminary hearing of the man accused of killing her and seeing him makes my skin crawl, my blood boil and the rage I feel is unlike anything I have felt before.  Her immediate family cannot attend as they are witnesses, so I try to go when I can.  It is a painfully slow process and I wish it would go faster.  We all need some closure.  Sadly with the state of our justice system, that closure will not (has not) come quickly.

I have read accounts of the families of victims of murder eventually being able to forgive the killers. They are stronger than I can ever be.  I will never forgive that man for what he did to my friend, to his children.   But I know that anger and rage is unhealthy and can eat away at me so I try to keep it buried and I run it off when I can.

She enjoyed running.  She would find the time to comment on my posts about running on social media and every now and then a memory will pop up and I’ll see a comment from her. I can’t lie, it helps ease the pain in one sense, but re-ignites the rage in another. I honestly don’t know how her family is coping, I know they have to push forward for the children, but I wish they didn’t have to. No one deserves this kind of living hell.  No one.

I don’t think I’ll ever quite get over this loss.  I wish I understood why it has affected me so much.  We hadn’t physically seen each other since graduation but with social media, I knew enough about her and “followed her” that I felt we were still connected.  She reached out to me a few times when she moved back to the city and we were pregnant at the same time, but we never found the time to reconnect in person. I think I will always, always regret that. I do know that I need to forgive myself for that.  There was nothing I could have done or said, had I known about her situation, that her closest, trusted friends and family, hadn’t done or said already.

I’m mad at her too.  God, it feels awful to say it, but it’s true.  Why did you stay with him? Why didn’t you run away when he hit you the first time?  Why didn’t you listen to your friends and family then? It could have been all so different.  You might still be alive today.

Fuck.

 

Haunted.

Her image is burned in my memory.  Smiling and appearing happy.

How do you reconcile that image with the next one of her coffin being lowered into the cold ground?

How do you move on when a colleague, a classmate, a friend, a mother is taken from this life in a moment of violence?

How do you stop thinking and imagining what those final moments of her life were like? Did death come quickly? Did she suffer? Was she afraid?

How do you honor her memory when now the focus is on the man accused of her murder? Purple arm bands and purple pins just seem so futile.

How do we ensure justice is served?

 

Of the Heart and Mind.

I had a dream last night which has deeply unsettled me. It was about someone I knew for decades but we had a falling out a few years ago and haven’t spoken since. In this dream we were talking and putting things back together and it felt good. My friend was different. I was different. Our conversation was open, honest, without any egos. In my dream state I felt whole again, not realizing that I had an emptiness to fill.

I woke up early this morning to run with a girlfriend. It was 6:10am and I surprisingly felt quite refreshed and eager to start the day. I could feel the cool morning breeze coming through the window and my world seemed right.

As I searched in the dark for my running clothes, the memories of the dream flooded my consciousness.  Suddenly, reality set in and I remembered that nothing had changed.  In that moment I realized it had all been a dream. None of it was real.

I felt profoundly sad and instantly defeated.

Damn the heart.

Damn the mind.

Sometimes I wish I had done things differently.

Full Steam Ahead to 2015.

Is it just me or did the last 365 days fly by?

Seriously! I blinked and it’s December 31st.  Where has the time gone?

It was an eventful year.  I started the year on maternity leave.  I struggled with one running injury after another and worried I might never run again.  Then I ran 10 km for the first time and managed to repeat that feat at least three more times thereafter. I shaved off almost a minute from my average running speed and ran almost 630 km this year.  WOW!

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I lost two patients to cancer, discovered another area of medicine I’d like to do more of in the future and welcomed 15 new babies to the practice.

I turned 40 and celebrated in style.

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I watched my daughter lose her first tooth and wiped away brave tears as she got her first cast.

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Our family lost a beloved pet (on the left) but we have another beauty amongst us (on the right) who still needs our love and affection more than ever now.

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I am blessed with beautiful friends and family who have consistently been there for me and have supported me this year. I am grateful to them (you know who you are) and am so very fortunate to have you in my life.

My husband is my knight in shining armor. We had so many amazing adventures this year; I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for us.

IMG_9920 IMG_9830 IMG_9697 IMG_1408 IMG_2961 IMG_3292IMG_3126IMG_1409 And finally to my readers and followers:  thank you for reading and contributing.  I look forward to another great year in the blogosphere!

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Gingerbread!

I’ve become friends with a lovely woman over the past few months and she invited me to her annual gingerbread house decorating party last night.  I’ve known about it for a few months and was really looking forward to it.  But as it would happen,  daughter spiked a fever the day before and husband and I spent most of the night up with her holding her hair back as she threw up.  She was lethargic the next day with a fever hovering around 39-40ºC and a deep chest cough.  She was at times delirious from sheer fatigue and the fever was just not letting up despite regular 4 hour dosing of Tylenol.

I was exhausted by the end of the day and when she finally did fall asleep around 5pm I looked down at her with a tremendous feeling of guilt because I knew I was leaving her for the night to attend the party.  Guilt because I was so looking forward to spending an evening with a group of women I barely knew to drink wine and decorate gingerbread houses.  Husband knew how much I was looking forward to the evening and even in his exhausted state took our son to the grocery store to get a list of food and wine for me to bring.  He truly is a wonderful man.

Earlier in the week, I had gone to the local bulk food store to get supplies for decorating the gingerbread house.  I may have gone a little overboard! Have I mentioned yet that I have never decorated a gingerbread house? I really had no concept of how much candy one would need.  It turned out I wasn’t the only one who went overboard!

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The ringolos and BBQ corn chips were for the husband, FYI.

My friend supplied all of the gingerbread houses and when I walked into her house I was giddy with excitement to see everything set up.  photo(23)A few ladies had planned ahead and were quite determined to wine the “contest”.  There was a Florida themed house and another house that depicted a certain celebrity in the media who has been under much scrutiny lately for his sexual practices. The thought and decorating precision that went into these houses was quite impressive.

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And my house?  Pretty wholesome in comparison.

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Needless to say, it was a great night and thankfully daughter woke up this morning with no fever!

Thursday Thirty.

Thirty things I love.

1. Myself.
2. My husband
3. My children
4. My parents and brother
5. My friends
6. My cat
7. Running
8. Chocolate
9. Cross stitching
10. Coffee
11. Wine
12. Bailey’s
13. Martinis – preferably chocolate-y and sweet
14. Steak
15. Being a doctor
16. Being respected
17. Being someone to count on
18. Being my own boss
19. My bed.
20. Chips and dip
21. Ice cold water
22. The sun
23. Baklava
24. The smell of my kids right out of the bath
25. The scale 😉
26. My Guess jeans
27. My boots
28. My nails (they are the longest now they have ever been … ever!)
29. My house
30. My life

10 minutes.

I’ve decided to spend the next ten minutes writing.  It’s part of WordPress’ Daily Post Challenge. I have to write anything I want, but I have to do it for ten minutes.

Nine minutes to go. I’ve just finished my lunch, reflecting on the afternoon ahead of me.  There are a few interesting folks coming to see me.  I called one young woman in because she has an STI (sexually transmitted infection).  It’s the second one she’s had in 6 months.  She admits she’s not using condoms (really? I would never have guessed!), and I really hope this time she’ll take my advice more seriously.

Seven minutes left. Ten minutes is a long time.  I’ve started running 10:1 (run:walk) intervals and it can sometimes feel like an eternity.  I am finding though that it’s getting easier and easier.  I am working my way towards being able to run for a solid 30-45 minutes and to do this I am introducing something called the fartlek.  It’s a Swedish term for “speed play”.  By running, or sprinting, for a specific time (say, 30 seconds) or distance (say, to that hydrant, or 100 m), it trains muscles to work harder and lung capacity to increase.  After a few runs this week where I have incorporated fartleks, I can already feel my stamina improving.

Five minutes left.  That’s how long it took for me to realize that she was going to be a friend for life. We had only ever met as acquaintances but one day, I invited her over for drinks with her husband, and we hit it off immensely.  That was a few years ago, and today she has reached a birthday milestone.  I think she’ll be reading this later, so I wanted to wish her, again, a most wonderful birthday.  The best, my friend, is yet to come.

Three minutes left.  This morning, my baby woke up happy and talking up a storm.  Most of it is still gibberish, but he has started saying “Momma” and “Mommy” a lot more and is even pointing at me when he says it.  It isn’t the first time a child has called me Mommy, but damn if it doesn’t still feel so utterly special and thrilling to hear it again from this little boy.

One minute left.  Wow, that wasn’t hard to do at all.  Thank you, Daily Post!

Today, Records Fell.

The older two kids went to my mother’s last night, so this morning husband and I had a little bit of a sleep-in with the baby.  It was quite nice, actually.  We all ate breakfast together and after my second coffee, I started to get the itch to go for a run.  It’s been four days since I last ran – the last one was a hill repeat and while my legs felt pretty good, I knew I wanted to try for another 10km this week, so I took a few days off to rest.

After the baby went down for his nap, I set out on my run.  As usual, my legs felt tight for the first few kilometers, and once they loosened up a stupid stitch in my right lower ribcage started nagging me.  Around 5km, I started to need a few extra 20-30 second walk breaks which were annoying and I felt like I wanted to just throw in the towel.  But I kept going, walking and stretching when I needed to.  Then, around 7km, I headed toward a splash pad that I knew had a water fountain and I prayed it was still working.  (Our city closes most water parks after Labour Day.)  To my absolute delight and utter relief, the splash pad was running.  So, not only did I stop for a drink of water, I also ran through the water a few times to cool off.

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I felt energized after that and kept going.  The damn side stitch came back though and made the last 2km tough.  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I beat my first two 10km times by almost 3.5 minutes!  Say whut?!?!  I have no idea how that happened.  I certainly didn’t run a negative split, but I suppose a few faster splits made all the difference.  I also wonder if the hills I’ve been doing once a week may also be helping.  You tell me!

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fast10kTo say I was surprised at my time is a bit of an understatement.  Shocked is more like it.  I felt so incredibly sluggish through most of this run, not to mention having to abandon some of my intervals to walk a bit extra here and there, I feel like I can hardly say this was a solid 10km.  But then again, I did travel a distance of 10 km and overall ran about 85% of it, so I should probably stop beating myself up about it.

Then, about an hour after the run, husband wanted to go for a bike ride with me and the baby.  A couple of friends of ours joined us and we had a fantastic afternoon.  I saw a blue heron, a crazy mudslide, and we rode 21.9 km.

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cycling

After a much-needed shower, I took a nap.

On this Saturday, records fell, indeed.

Fabulous and ….

This is the final week of my thirties.

Yikes!

I’m getting old.

Or am I?

I remember turning 30 and thinking that was a big deal.  I was a newly-minted doctor, in the first year of my residency and just a little bit terrified. Terrified of suddenly being an adult.  Working full-time, saving money for a house, trying to pay down my debt. I moved three more times before settling in my home. I paid some debt off while incurring a bit more. Yet, the decade that followed surpassed all of my wildest expectations.  I started my career, I married the love of my life, I bought a house, had three beautiful children, met some wonderful people who became my closest friends.

So, it’s a bit strange to say goodbye to that decade. When I look back on who I was at 30, while I do recognize that young woman, I have grown and experienced so much.  I am starting this new decade with much more confidence than I’ve ever had and I truly believe the best is yet to come.

The birthday celebrations have already begun. Last weekend, husband and I had a wonderful night out with one of his closest friends. We experienced a night on the town unlike any we’ve had in quite some time.  It started off with a vodka bar and ended with a ping-pong game at a local club.  Ping pong!  In between there was a fabulous dinner, lively conversation and a couple of sore feet.

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You see, I rarely wear heels.  My poor little feet were aching by the end of the night and I had to take off my shoes. In the middle of downtown, I took off my shoes and walked the streets.  It was exhilarating!

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I think I’m going to like 40.

A Lovely Sunday in April.

I spent a wonderful Sunday with my children today.  Husband was busy working on the backyard reno I wrote about last week, and the kids being cooped up from being indoors all day yesterday, needed to burn off some energy and were getting in their dad’s way.  So, daughter put on her helmet, got on her scooter and with her little brother (not the baby) in the stroller, off we went to the park at the end of our street.

You could see the energy just dissipate from them – they were outside, in the fresh air, life was good.  After a good chunk of time spent at the park, the kids announced they were hungry, so we set off for home.  Their snack of choice was more breakfast cereal.  They decided they wanted to sit in their chairs, in the driveway, while I tended to the baby who was just waking from his morning nap.  Ten minutes later, when I went outside to see if they were still hungry, I found this:

Big sister provides the cereal, and the milk for her and her brother.

Big sister provides the cereal, and the milk for her and her brother.

A heart melting moment, for sure.

Shortly after their snack, son clearly needed a nap.  He slept for about an hour and a half.  When he woke up he announced he wanted to go to the “big park”. Husband was still working away on the patio and by this time the baby was back down for another nap, so daughter got on her bike this time and off we went.

I love the neighborhood we live in – there is a park within a 10-15 minute walk in every direction around us.  Living in this city is awesome.

Daughter made sure to load up on some snacks.  She brought crackers to the park but decided the squirrels were hungrier.  She came running over to me, sitting on the bench soaking in some springtime sunshine, squealing with delight that she got really close to a squirrel and he took her cracker from her.  She said he was back up on a tree branch and I just had to come see.  I was skeptical that she was able to actually feed the squirrel, but I played along and followed her.  Her brother caught wind of what was happening and joined us.

To my delightful surprise, up in the tree, we saw this:

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Why yes, I think I will eat that cracker, thank you.

Now that I am back to work, I don’t have a lot of strictly one-on-one time with the kids anymore.  Today was such a treat for me – the kids were so happy to be outside and running in the park, and I was so happy that I could share it with them.  Then to see the squirrel eating my daughter’s cracker, ahhhh… she and her brother were so thrilled.  It really doesn’t take a lot to make a kid smile.

I have to say though, that I am spent.  My best friend came over with her son for a few hours and chaos in the house ensued.  Loud, fun, adorable chaos which halted for a few moments while the three kids demonstrated this:

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Seriously folks, is there anything cuter than three kids doing the downward dog?

Then, while husband put the kids to bed, I went outside to have a look at the patio he was so tirelessly working on all day long.   It’s not quite finished yet, but I love it.

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Just when I thought this day couldn’t get much better, I received an email notification from WordPress.   I just logged my 200th follower.  200!!!  I am speechless. Thank you to each and every single one of you for taking the time out of your busy life to stop by here and read my journey in motherhood and medicine.  I am truly grateful.

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