Monday, 31 December 2007

One final bonus post to kiss this year goodbye.

I shall save you all the drama and just point out that after refusing multiple invitations I couldn't have accepted even if I wanted to, made by those who knew I couldn't accept them but still extended courtesies, we'll just say that Ben is here, he brought Thai food and cake and some sort of non-alcoholic sparkly drink that begins with a number and ends with optimism (that Ruth adores and is hardly ever allowed to have) and we're going to have movie night and then after the kids go to bed we'll break out the whores and liquor.

Of course I'm kidding. If I can't laugh at this point then there is no point.

Happy end of 2007. This might be the first year I don't cry.

Again, kidding.

Poor Ben. He obviously drew the short straw.

Nefarious Rex, Dinosaur Princess.

A year ago, I made a wish for a year that was pain-free, and I threw out a cheeky, offhand comment that in 365 days I would have my answer, if it did turn out to be that.

Today is the final day and I didn't get that wish. I didn't get it in spades, instead surviving the worst year of my life.

But I am still here. Blink twice, pinch yourself. Nope. STILL HERE.

Go, me. Go, Bridget.

The stands are empty today. Everyone's getting ready to celebrate. I have different plans for tonight.

I'm sitting on the floor with a pound of determination, an ounce of courage and a dribbly little thimble full of moxie and I'm gluing the pieces of me back together. It's painstaking work, my arms are aching and I've only just started. I see that a few pieces are missing, and the rest are scratched and chipped but when put together I know you won't be able to notice a thing.

I have until midnight.

Happy New Year to you and yours. May it be everything you wish for and more.

Sunday, 30 December 2007


Nolan had a black cowboy hat that one of his adult sons used to wear around the farm and he gave it to Ben to wear on the ride yesterday morning. Ben hasn't taken it off since.

Damn, I wish he would. I have a weakness for cowboy hats.

He looks good.

Maybe a little too good.

I am so confused. I've been doing a lot of ignoring, pushing away, avoiding and all kinds of other stupid things because I don't want him to wait for me. I'm not ready for anything. I don't think I'll ever be ready. I've been pawning myself off happily on Christian for affection and Christian is happy to oblige. Only Ben is not so happy with that, having come to sit with me last evening and when I got up to get Henry a drink I never came back.

Awkward. The whole thing is awkward and I don't know if I want him to be there waiting on the other side or not. I don't know what to do.

This morning? A little less awkward but not by much as he gave me a wicked grin and ordered me not to make plans after lunch, that he and I are going for a walk in the woods. To talk.

It'd be way easier without the damned hat.

Of course, I still have Jacob's hat, kept for Henry to wear so what do I know?

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Horse latitudes.

We're at Nolan's in case you need us.

Nolan has a hobby farm outside the city, complete with horses, snowmobiles and enough peace and quiet to make me want to stay here forever. Ben has been tinkering with the motorcycles a bit since they are stored here in the winter now. I don't think I've seen Christian or Mark since we got here, they're off snowmobiling. Nolan is a widower. He's in his late sixties (?) and we seem to have a lot in common. He and Jacob met a few years ago when Nolan did some work for Jake as a contractor but I didn't meet him until this fall when Jacob told me the bikes would be stored here.

Nolan called before Christmas and said we should come out, that there was plenty to do and he would love a little holiday company. I doubt he expected four adults and two children so I called and he asked if I remembered the big house. He said it had six bedrooms so just bring everyone and we'd find places.

The kids and I have the coolest room ever. There are antlers on the wall. I don't know if they are real because oooog, I won't be touching them. There's a fireplace and a view of the land that doesn't contain a single power line or road. The guy's rooms are equally neat. The great room and the kitchen are the heart of this house, I could live here forever.

Except for one thing. I'm afraid of the horses. They're huge.

Which is going to make my day interesting. Since I'm leaving now to go riding.

I know. Me. On a horse. First time in ages. Hold your breath.

And try not to laugh.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Self. Destruct.

This subject is no longer off limits. Because he is continuing his madness, and because I no longer care who knows. I'm not the CFO with everything to lose, now, am I? The people who matter have forgiven me and I can't help the rest of you. Don't judge me until you've lost everything you ever wanted.

I'm taking Caleb's attempt at extortion (and slavery) and blowing it wide open. He's not aware of the depths to which my friendships run and how close we all are. And so I told them what happened. It softened them, because they know how destructive I can be when I hurt and they're just relieved I came out of it in one piece.

If you can call it that.

Caleb contacted me with his rare smug brand of formal condolences the day after I found out about Jacob. Caleb, as always, took that as an opportunity and created some business that he absolutely had to be in town for and showed up before sunrise on the red-eye. As soon as Joel took his eyes off me after breakfast I took off. I wanted to show everyone that I was in charge and I wasn't going to take orders from anyone. I had no confidence in what I was doing until I was standing in front of Caleb's hotel room door.

Well, well, if it isn't the princess. Where are all those knights who are supposed to protect you from me?

I just shook my head and stood my ground, tears spilling down my cheeks. He knew I was alone or I wouldn't be there. He clucked and said it was a shame. And then he asked what I expected from him.

Make the pain stop.

He smiled.

Oh, but princess, there's only a couple of ways I can get you to where it won't hurt anymore.


What do I get in return for making you feel better?

It was 48 hours later that Caleb called Ben and told him there was baggage to be picked up. As in, come and get her, I'm through. Flaunting his treasures to Ben who had so briefly looked up to Caleb.

Caleb had left instructions for Ben to be let in and went off to his meetings. Ben burst into the room and found me vaguely unresponsive, naked, bruised, covered with bite marks and dusted head to toe. Dipped in Caleb's toxic icing sugar. It coated my eyelashes, my fingertips. I had headphones on, the stereo turned up so loud, if my hearing wasn't already damaged it would have been. Ben tried to pick me up and was hit with everything at once. I wasn't dressed. A black satin ribbon was still knotted on one wrist. I wasn't coherent.

He found my clothes and gingerly dressed me as I half-slept in a stupor. He forced my lids open, didn't like what he saw and took me out of there, bundled in his jacket, not really walking, a foot off the floor. I don't remember any of it. He wanted me to talk to Jason (a police officer) formally at the very least and I refused.

I went to Caleb willingly looking for an escape from the pain I knew only he could provide. I let him put needles in me. Repeatedly. I let him do whatever he wanted to me. Every time it wore off and I would become afraid or start to cry, he would give me more. And after two days he got bored with the game.

After that arrangements were made to have me flown back to the same posh retreat I just came out of to detox and to be safe. I slept for the first four days and then didn't speak for the next three.

Joel arrived on day four and told me how the kids were and asked me if I was going to break my promises to them too, and that's when I spoke again. That's when I realized that it was time to stop expecting everyone to pick up the pieces for me. I had to gather them together myself, and hold them and when the time is right I will glue them back together.

Caleb came to see me while I was there, and told me what a great time he had with me.

He told me he had wanted to do that for a while now, since we cut off his access to me after Henry was born.

I swore at him but he just laughed and told me he was happy to give me a reminder of Cole and happy to help ease the pain. He told me he'd see me at Christmas and to pass his best wishes along to Ben.

He also gave me a DVD in case I had forgotten the good parts. That was a warning not to slander him, that copies could be sent to everyone I loved but really, I don't care and neither do they. He could put it on the six o'clock news, I wouldn't even flinch at this point.

The clearest thing I remember after he shot me up the fourth time in two days was that he told me I belonged to he and his brother again, and that that was good. That I belonged in the family. That he would look after me.

He said I would be his plaything, that when he comes to the city he'll expect me to be there for his enjoyment and otherwise my friends get my DVD. Best porn they'll ever see and then when I only have him left I'll see what an easy arrangement it would have been and so not to fuck with him.

He underestimated all of us. I told them all what really happened (the painful, unsanitized version) and they closed the circle because they love me more than they hate my mistakes. Caleb can never touch me again.

He arrives today.

I won't be here.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

I'd like a way out now please. Oh, please. Just make this stop.


I suppose some days I should just skip posting but people seem to want to know how I feel.

Fine. Here's the mess, YOU untangle it.

Today I feel hollow and cold and alone despite being surrounded and wounded and bitter and the anger leaves at a pace that agonizes and fights and claws my insides. Far too slowly it's being replaced with a despair I am loathe to acknowledge. At some point I'm going to be forced to move along now, nothing to see here.

I'm not ready.

I'm not ready for life. I'm not ready for the world to present itself to me, I'm not ready to let go of something I worked so damn hard for. It's as if since he wanted me to crash, he wanted to be everything and make me weaker so that he could be stronger and my life with him is to now be cast aside as a shameful secret to be swept quickly under a new rug that we'll just lay down on top of the dirty floor and pretend they don't see the dust, the years of life they are quick to condemn.

I'm angry at myself for not seeing more than I what I saw and yet how could I see past the man he presented to me? He was too busy finding my focus for me, making himself perfect so that I would never know. Why didn't I know? Why did I go against every last tiny piece of advice on not to take flight with a bird who had issues and was the last man on earth anyone expected me to be with?

What would have been so wrong with that life and why did he have to do this?

Hindsight is just another blindfold today. I don't know any more now than I did a month ago, let alone a year ago. I'm not wiser, tougher or better equipped. I'm not better off, by any means, and I'm not different in the ways I should have been different. I only feel as though I briefly stepped into a fairy tale, tasted happily ever after and then suddenly the chef decided it wouldn't be on the menu after all and ushered me out and slammed the door in my face.

The closed sign went up and when the shock wore off it's clear that I still haven't had a damned thing. I look up and down and everything is boarded up. A vacant ghost town stares back at me as if I am the one to rejuvenate it's once lively streets. I can't. I wouldn't know how to begin.

It won't be today.

You wanted a fucking barometer, there. Take it and be sorry you asked. Most days are not good. Most days just opening my damned eyes is hard. Most days I want to shoot myself in the head just for a different kind of pain than this one.

Most days, I don't have a gun. Some ghost town this is.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

A Tuesday out of the ordinary.

This morning was dark and snowy and warm and softly lit in blues and icy whites. A collective clatter of excitement rose up over glitter tattoo airbrush kits and tin space shuttle sets and crisp Harry Potter paperbacks, the spines crying out to be cracked and broken with curiosity.

Stockings were stuffed to capacity and the living room is the usual holiday war-zone of wrapping paper, packaging and tags that failed to connect the givers to the givees no matter how hard I tried, giving up early on in the chaos.

It would have been a perfect Christmas. I'll just say that it was wonderful and touching and comfortable, instead. Santa and his elves were very very good to the kids and I.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, may it be filled with happiness and peace, glitter tattoos and many little dudes in space suits, all over the floor.

If you need me, I'll be over in the corner playing Oblivion and eating candy canes until I throw up. Ben thought that was the Coolest Idea Ever but I was kidding. We have rounds to make, out there in the cold.

Enjoy the day. Enjoy your loved ones. Take a deep breath and remember this.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Oh, just WOW.

The moment I sat down this morning with juice, planning to read the paper while the kids pretended they weren't looking for breaches in the guy's present-wrapping jobs, there was a loud, excited knock on the front door.

I figured maybe it was FedEx with a last-minute gift.

It was not.

It was Ben.


Not snowboarding. Not catching up with his brother and his brother's partner's family. Not having a wonderful vacation.

I came back for you guys, if you'll have me.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Alone in the city of lights.

I went to see Santa yesterday. I told him I would like a crystal ball for Christmas. He said he would see what he could do, but that kind of magic might be beyond his workshop means. I told him it was okay, that really I just wanted my kids to be happy and he looked at them and assured me they were. I got a hug and a candy cane, though, so it wasn't a total loss.

Should I take the Santa-for-hire at his word? Or stay up Monday night and see if I can query the real deal?

All the guys are gone now, having made plans long before Jacob made his, further cemented when I made initial plans to go with Ben, and now left here in town are Sam and Lisabeth and John, the only true westerner in the group. Everyone else has flown or driven out for the holidays, to see their grandparents and extended families. I had so many offers to cancel if I said the word but I held my tongue-they need to go, they need to have fun and not babysit me and not worry.

Besides, I'm an adult. I have cash in my bag and a truck full of gas and a plow on standbye and neighbors and Sam for emergencies and John said he can be here in three minutes should I need him and the house is again FULL of food and presents and we have lots of wood and...

...somehow I have managed to equate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with the apocalypse. Which means I need more sleep. I should have asked Santa for that instead.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Three sleeps til Santa.

This morning I woke up, flipped the switch to turn the world off auto-pilot and grabbed the planet with both hands, pulling hard, pulling it back onto my axis, picking an angle I wanted, and then giving it a good hard spin.

Granted, it might be a little wobbly but it seems to be working...

I need to go buy groceries and get the kids' gifts today. I have help in John, who pointed out the 10 feet of snow we got last night may make driving tough once there are more people about and so if I just tilt the planet down a little I can just slide down to the mall and then I'll give it a kick and it will slide me back into the driveway when I'm finished. I hope it works.

I am also coming down with a cold.

And Ben has gone. I took him to the airport this morning (slowly, the roads are bad). and nothing in life had visibly changed, but I noticed he was tightly gripping his piece of my heart and I must still have a tiny piece inside somewhere that I missed.

Because it lurched again when we said goodbye.

Update: The leafs WON! Because I watched the game. Because I am all shopped out and needed to sit the heck down. Because I'm worn the heck out. Awesome. But the good news is the house is full of food and presents too, because I had a nice big list of things I wanted to get for the kids and I got every last thing on the list.

Because you can fill holes with shopping. Well, at least temporarily.

Running out of time.

It is an extraordinary feeling to wait in the darkness, as people did so long ago, for the longest night of the year to end.


If you're so inclined to count days like I do, this may interest you: there's a live webcast of the solstice at Newgrange in Ireland takes place tomorrow and Saturday morning as well.

I'll be watching. Since there won't be any solstice parties for me this year. How about you?

It's PJ's day and in between his ridiculous (and yet probable) plans to rule the world without ever moving out of his mother's house and the chocolate pie that he's determined to eat all of despite being told it's for dessert, my face hurts from smiling. Until I remember that I am, in fact, smiling and then my face falls and the clouds roll back in.

Therapy went very well, thanks for asking.

PJ also wanted to talk today. Everyone has gotten rid of their gruff, strong exteriors and have opened up quite lovingly. PJ wanted to talk about my plans and Jacob's plans and my plans for Jacob's plans and whether or not I wanted to run screaming from the room before or after his input.

His input surprised me. No one surprises me anymore. I think Jake pulled off the ultimate surprise and then some and I bet it was difficult. Though I think I loved and hated Cole an equal amount and would have wrapped my arms around him for a kiss all the while sticking a knife into his back had I had the strength.

Whatever. I don't deal with that. I don't think about anything save for missing Jacob. Oh and his convoluted, generous and incredibly hypocritical instructions for me in his absence. I wish I could say more, I just can't. I'm an incredibly slow learner when it comes to writing about things first when I should be going to people and telling them first instead. I think about that constantly.

This is about the elephant Jacob left for me.

PJ, always the last hold-out, has surprisingly given his blessing.

If you knew PJ, he's incredibly stoic in between the bites of pie. He takes nothing lightly, absolutely nothing. He's conservative and hesitant and thorough. He's the naysayer, the voice of caution in all things. You don't fuck with PJ. He'll tear you down and leave you bleeding. He's never wrong. He's never one to be impulsive. He won't impulsively choose an ice-cream flavor at the drive-in.

And he said Go for it.

The weirdest part is, I never asked for input and they all came and gave it anyway.

And I am all talked out today.

    I know you well.
    you are a part of me.
    I know you better than I know myself.
    I know you best,
    better than anyone.
    I know you better than I know myself

Friday, 21 December 2007

The expected reception.

(This is an entry about courage. And elephants.)

I knocked on the door of his apartment and it opened before my hand fell to my side.

He was so happy to see me. He put his arms out and made a noise like a sob and then took me into a tight hold against him and rocked and rocked in the conclusion of some sort of chronic agony. He took my face in his hands, burning my hair with his cigarette and I asked him to put it down. He laughed and his eyes were glassy but the smile didn't leave his face even once.

It didn't leave his face as he offered me his last cigarette. I said no and reminded him he quit and he swore softly. He kissed me. Seventeen times. He couldn't sit still, he wouldn't shut up, he wouldn't listen to me when I told him why I was there.

He knew why I was there.

He had been wearing the same jeans for four days now. His boots were scuffed, his hair messed up, and he hadn't shaved at all recently. His eyes darted all over me and back again as he rubbed his face and then stood back up. He hadn't slept.

The kids.

They're with Chris.

You're really here. Jesus, Bridge. What have we been through?

Hell disguised as heaven, Benjamin.

Are you okay?

I will be.

I am learning that I can exist in a place where I can be with someone and feel nothing except companionship and safety and a very gentle sort of love and sometimes it's enough for me. For him it's enough too, it's enough that he has a place in my life neither of us thought he would ever fit into and I'm grateful that he is here for me. I'm grateful that he doesn't ask for more. I may never have more to give him but he'll still be here with me. Like he always is, no matter how hard I've tried to get rid of him and how much I always wanted him back.

Jacob asked me to do this in his letter and I fought so hard against it. I didn't understand it for a very long time, but I think I do now.

There are a lot of people out there who won't agree with this. Maybe the ones who have never met Bridget or Ben or even Jacob who will pass judgement without fully understanding this. I'm not looking for a replacement father for the kids. I'm not looking for a rebound guy to fill the giant hole left by Jacob. Ben is well aware that I don't love him like that, that my heart no longer exists and my every thought is consumed with memories and jabs of pain. He is well-aware that he is following in the footsteps of the greatest love ever and we're both aware that we could end our friendship if things don't go well. It's a risk we're both willing to take. A slow-moving risk, kind of like skiing away from a creeping avalanche.

An adventure embarked on by two grownups who are alone and don't want to be. It's a let's see how it goes, let's see if there's something there after all plan that doesn't include us going away for Christmas, I have decided to stay here. It doesn't involve us jumping into bed either. Because we don't need to. My ridiculous need for affection is well-supplied and frankly I'm not ready to be touched by someone else so overall very little will change for now.

For now.

Don't make me wait ten years for your heart, little bee.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Vegan heroes.

August is here. He's going to be the Official Nightkeeper of All Things Fragile and Princessy. I told him it's a bad plan, since every time he says a single word or walks through a room I am reminded of Jake. He is fair, with a beard and a lot of corduroy and hemp clothing on, he's wearing a simple strand of wooden beads and vegan shoes and everything that comes out of his mouth is colorful Americanized Newfiespeak.

I was gifted a few sleeping pills at the pharmacy this afternoon with instructions to go the hell to bed and sleep and I won't do it unless there is someone here who can be alert for the children, in case of an emergency.

No, I meant like fire or a flood or something. Or a nightmare. Or yes, a fragile and princessy moment, but I'm attempting to keep those to a bare minimum.

By not being awake for them.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Safer places.

(Hi. Crazy disclaimer. Proceed at your own risk. Words with musical accompaniment today. Enjoy.)

Where do you go to get away from ghosts?

    Bye, bye, it's been a sweet love.
    Though this feeling I can't change.
    But please don't take it badly,
    because Lord knows I'm to blame.
    But if I stay here with you girl,
    Things just couldn't be the same.
    Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
    And this bird you'll never change.

I missed one appointment and a dozen calls. The song was on repeat and turned up so loud in my headphones that when Joel finally found me at 6:17 am still sitting on the floor of the pantry that Jacob built and finished (A place for everything, he said), he came inside, shut the door, squeezed in beside me and started talking but I couldn't hear him at all. He could hear the music easily.

I was sitting and listening and rocking and crying and shaking and not being strong enough for fuck all.

Last night Ruth began to cry. Huge tears rolling down her face, she admitted she missed Jacob so bad but she didn't tell me because she didn't want me to get upset and leave again. I rocked her for hours until she fell asleep and my arms and my head ached. I went through the motions of strength and togetherness and somewhere after that I realized that the hugs I get are sanctioned but they aren't the same. There's no one here to be strong for me and why not and it isn't fair.

I knew when I put the song on that it would hurt. Jacob sang that song so much it became his calling card and I knew it would hurt. I wanted to see how much I could make it hurt and I didn't get so far before a battle began to take shape inside my head. The masochist versus the crazy girl who won't remember Jacob at all because she's too weak. That masochist likes it. She likes to hurt, she likes to take risks, she'll chew you up and spit you out. She is alone but she pulls the weakling around by the throat. It must look very comical.

Joel made a move to get up and I grabbed his hand and he paused and looked at me and then sat back down. He sat beside me until it got very light out around the edges of the door and when the song ended next he took my hand and squeezed it and then reached up and opened the door of the pantry. He got up and led me out into the kitchen and PJ and Ben and Chris were sitting there reading the paper in sections and drinking coffee.

For a few moments I was very scared that Joel was going to surprise me with another needle, another trip, another long stay away from everyone I love but he didn't. He told me they didn't have to do that unless I started screaming again. That's when they know I can't process another breath. He said I was simply moving to a new stage of grief and there can be nothing better than acknowledging Jacob's life and admitting I miss him. He said with time it will hurt less the more I do it.

I said I wanted it to hurt the same, because I don't want to get over him.

He nodded and gave me a quick squeeze and left for work. Ben got up and came over and put his arms around me and told me he brought duct tape and he can patch holes but he can't fix them and that I am loved. That I'm not alone. That he's so fucking tired from staring at the pantry all night and now he's going to work and I owe him SuperBig. I started to laugh and then cry again and he looked down and said he'd come back right after work if I wanted and that he was sorry for the shitty things he said to me. I didn't say anything and his frustration flashed and then he quashed it and kissed the top of my head and left.

PJ went and woke up the kids to get them organized for school and Chris told me to go get some sleep. That I should talk to Ben. That I didn't have to hide in a closet to be sad, that I didn't need to hide at all and that he was headed to the guest room to crash for a few hours and I could either curl up with him or go upstairs to my room and sleep but he didn't want to hear a peep until at least 2 pm.

I nodded and came upstairs but I can't sleep. I don't want to take anything. I'm worn out. Why can't I just sleep? I'm soon going to have to post warning signs in front of my face so people don't fall into the sunken black holes that pass for the beautiful green eyes I used to have.

And so they know that I've managed to take the person I gave all my love to and reduce him to a 9 minute anthem from 1973, the world's most perfect song.

Jacob would be so proud.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I hate the nights. If I stay up and just sit and type or read, would you be here? Would you stay with me?

Of course not. No one can. No one knows what this is like, no one could possibly fix this hole, it's on the inside and you can't see how huge it really is.

The love lives of the rich and famous.

Christian and I cleaned the whole house this morning. He played DJ and floor washer and I scrubbed woodwork and glass until my hand hurt too much and now the house shines. I'm just about ready for Christmas. I sent boxes of presents home to Nova Scotia and I have to figure out Christmas day (argh) and all that was left was to give the guys their presents otherwise.

Which were supposed to be surprises. (No worries, they were.)

Actually they were double-surprises. I gave them all adopted polar bears and the bike loan payouts were going to be random surprises discovered later on when their final payout confirmation statements came in the mail a week or two from now. I was trying to be sneaky.

Because they have gone so far above and beyond their friendship duties. They've let me spend hours crying on their shoulders and in their arms. I simply wanted to make their lives easier, the same way they've made mine easier. It goes both ways. I never wanted for much and financially I could do it and so I did.

My guys are touched to the point of adulation. I'd like to beat them all senseless.

Nothing. ever. changes. I love them all, so much.

Chris also asked me to help him go though matches he received from an online dating site he's trying out. I had three major feelings. One, God bless his heart, he's a huge catch and shouldn't have to venture into the unknowns of online hookups. Two, he needs this so bad. He's tired of being alone, tired of not having someone to call his own and not having much luck.

And three, that I can't be involved in any aspect of who he chooses to connect with. Only because between crushes and weird friendships and me being far too important to my friends to the point of their isolation from possible romantic encounters I need to step away from any sort of advice or input when it comes to him breaking away a little and finding his own happiness.

I can see what being tied to someone's approval and expectations gets. How it feels and it isn't fair to anyone and I have my fingers crossed so hard for Christian it's painful. He laughed and told me to not get my hopes up, and I was just happy he confided at all. I'd like us to find a nice line to draw somewhere that would be comfortable and keep him from having his life further messed up on account of me.

It kind of stings a little too. I didn't cause this but I became the cause of all of this and they won't let go any more than I will because too much time means we're too close and too selfish and too old to begin again and maybe we can take what we've got as friends and reshape it enough to let it flourish without suffocating anyone involved. I would love to have a group of friends that included a few girls that took the pressure off me being the center of the universe.

I know. I complain about things others might kill for. This isn't for me, this is for them. I love them so much, and so I'm trying to let them go (okay, but just a little). I want them all to be happy. I want to sign PJ up for this site so much now. Christian is still laughing about that.

It's a nice hope to find in the midst of polishing silver candlesticks and washing down baseboards. The thought that maybe Chris, PJ, Joel and Mark, even August could find loves to call their own, love for love's sake, on their terms, in their lives. Loch is doing it (look- I can be happy for him! Who knew?), they can too, right?

I have so much to look forward to today.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Metal for breakfast.

Well, shit.

Proving how really immature we are, Ben and I just wrapped up yet another blisteringly painful and uncharacteristically loud phone call in which he said cruelly that I was impossible to love but under his skin so far he wished at this point that he had never met me.

I saw his wager and raised him one, pointing out that he was going to sound very fucking ungrateful when he discovered that as his Christmas present I had paid off the loan for his brand new Victory motorcycle. The very same loan that he otherwise would have paid off somewhere around his forty-fifth birthday.

I think I won that round. Or maybe I didn't.

(*The title is an inside joke for the boys, who always say they have metal for breakfast when they ride their bikes to work and then get coffee there.)

Ownership issues.

In a nutshell, I'm too tired and too busy to still be dealing with this.

Ruth is doing better, she's mostly napping and munching on toast. Henry decided he was sick too until Joel came over with a remote control snowmobile to play with in the snow in the backyard. The boys are now out there making Butterfield go crazy.

I'm tired. Did I mention I was tired?

Too tired for Ben to be jealous that Joel is here, seeing as how today is a day off for Joel, just like Ben had Friday through Sunday off and I am lucky that everyone wants to spend their days off with us instead of somewhere fun. Not good enough for Ben, who tried to pull rank talking about the trip to Canmore and made too many assumptions and said some shitty things about Joel and I asked him to stop, I asked so quietly just for him to not go there for once and yeah well, it wouldn't be a new week if Ben and I could ever be on speaking terms for more than a few days at a time.

Especially since I already told him I didn't think we were going to join him for anti-Christmas. Not because I have issues with it but because everyone else seems to.

I need sleep. Sleep and peace of mind, a couple of healthy kids and a magic potion for curing imaginary jealousy. In a gallon spray bottle, if you will.

More elephants you won't appreciate.

Flutters brought on largely by the little pink pills in particular, counted in their measure of the concentrations in my blood at any given moment, spilled and numbered like golden coins and a pat on the head and three more days of expected compliance to the pharmacy gods until the next test.

Emotions drawn out and dissected and balled up and stuffed back inside at the end of ninety minutes, as if they've somehow been improved, when really it's the equivalent of going to the Gap and shaking out every sweater in a neatly folded pile and not quite folding them again as you return them to the shelf. It's effective, but it looks like shit.

Watchful, kind eyes that wouldn't know a sign or a trick if it lit their ass on fire hoping just to make it through a shift without incident, nights punctuated in a huge sigh of relief that makes me fill with shame at what edge they must live on.

Fragility instilled through love, crafted into a tangible flaw that is now woven into my very core. The one thing I can't shake. The one thing I'm told they will never see me without. My shadow. Handle with care, but if you shake me you hear the broken glass inside. Maybe it's too late.

One single plea to let it go. To forget time, to forget history, to forget who we're supposed to be and just be. Without pink pills or therapy or supervised free time or baggage or any other goddamn thing. Just let it go. Just for one moment. Just breathe in the cold air. Just close your eyes.

Just get picked up and dunked into the deep snow on the front lawn. Headfirst.

Maybe it was necessary and it had the desired effect. It broke the ice I keep frozen around my soul and it led to a heart to heart talk that contained the one biggest conversation we haven't really ever had.

The Apology Conversation. The one that's required for Ben to eradicate his inner demons, become a better person and deepen our friendship back to the way it used to be. He is obviously in the lead here. He's surprisingly had this conversation with everyone except for me, because I scare the living daylights out of him. Anyone who tells you I am intimidating has to be lying but I somehow understand.

But last night gave him courage and he just started blurting things out. Excuses and then retractions and then more excuses and finally it came pouring out in a muddle of I'm sorries and I love yous that had me sitting quietly for a moment playing it all back hoping I had heard it properly.

And then I looked up at him, I looked at him sitting there shaking like a leaf, pale and somber, uncharacteristic, looking less like the frat boy I've had such fun with and more like a man who is trying to straighten up his life and I smiled at him. I told him I forgave him and I know how hard he has worked to attend his meetings and be clean and fight his way back into my good graces and win back my trust.

He has my emotional trust but it all hinges on physical trust. Something he had in spades once, a long time ago when he helped me change my clothes around a sling and so many broken bones but something that vanished the night he got drunk and came looking for me. Something we have worked to build back and something he won't ever mess with again. I have to trust him in order to spend any time with him. He stands just a little bit shy of Jacob's height, one of the reasons he wasn't afraid of Jacob and would go down fighting any time. Except Ben doesn't have the same grace. Ben is all elbows and shoulderblades and cheekbones and flashing eyes and inexcusable energies. Ben is dark. Ben is passionate about all the wrong things and always overstepping his boundaries, and so his size makes him a threat by default. Or it did anyway. It doesn't anymore. Whatever desperation, whatever place in his head he existed through last year is gone now, never to return.

He's a lot like me. Flawed. Making mistakes but refusing to be crushed by them. Maybe he's my best friend now at last, maybe he always was, maybe it wasn't Cole that he had so much in common with. Maybe he's smart enough to backpedal and ease off and disappear at the perfect moment when we're too close and too familiar and too grateful for the company close at hand. He's not the bad guy. He's my friend. It's too easy for me to dump on him. If you don't know him in person you might hate him and that's not fair.

After that conversation, an offer for him to stay the night in the guest room (still! with the LOCKED DOOR at the end of the hall for those of you who think I'm awful and am doing things I shouldn't be) was on the tip of my tongue but he got up, grabbed his coat and scarf and then grabbed me in a hug and said he had a very good day and he felt better than he had in a very long time and he was happy to have a fresh start with me.

And he went the hell home.

Just like a good elephant should.

Of course it won't make sense. Ruth has been up throwing up now since midnight and is finally asleep again. I have four loads of laundry and a long day ahead of me. I'm allowed to not make sense.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Leave us alone.

I almost made it to church today. I knew it was a mistake but part of me wanted to go and I got as far as the side door of the building when a reporter appeared out of nowhere and kindly asked how I was doing. I thought maybe he was just a friend of Sam, to be so familiar, until I realized his hand was holding a recorder. Ben gave him a shove and asked him what his problem was and tried to block him but I had already turned, taking the kids and going back down the steps back to the truck. I could hear Sam calling out to me and I didn't turn around and I could feel a hundred eyes on me so I didn't look. I just got back in the truck and belted the kids because they can't manage with mittens on and then I got into the front and locked the doors and drove home, pulling the truck into the garage and sitting there, with the kids asking if we were going to find a new church or maybe can we go inside the house now and I didn't move until Ben pulled on the door handle and pounded on the window, asking me to open the door.

Too tired for this. I can't deal with this.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Not tired.

Coffee at 8 pm, after the movie probably wasn't the smartest plan but it helped bring me back down from the zombiefest that was I am Legend. It was pretty good, I always like Will Smith's serious turns, and God knows Bridget loves her zombies.

They're like, my peoples or something.

I will be up all night now. Alllllll night. Thanks Joel!

Lawyer tag.

    We're all in
    So begin
    Just remember I win
    I win,
    I win,
    I win,
    I win,
    I win,
    I win,
    I win,
    I win.

Never underestimate someone with nothing left to lose.

Friday, 14 December 2007

A treasured book with missing pages.

    I am a lover hater
    I am an instigator
    You are an oversight
    Don't try to compromise
    I'll learn to love to hate it
    I am not integrated

Early therapy this morning (again), squeezed in because I pay well.

I'm not dumb. Money can buy just about anything I don't need.

This morning when I woke up both of my worst nervous habits had moved back in to stay. My friends thought I was dead when I abruptly stopped doing one and then the other but I was quite pleased and then this morning I was told one never even went away, they have simply learned to ignore it.

That would be the head-nodding. I nod, gently, almost imperceptibly when people talk to me and I choose not to listen. It makes me look intent, agreeable and it's unconscious. I didn't even know I did it until it was pointed out after one too many misunderstandings.

This morning my Queen CD went frisbeeing out the passenger-side window, across the field toward the tracks less than a block from my house. Who wants to live forever, indeed.

I sat on my hands the whole way in. On the way home I sat on them again and it was only when I sat down with a fourth cup of coffee that Ben pointed out that the fluttering was almost welcome after not seeing it for a long time. He said it's more endearing and less frightening than when I sit like a statue. He grabbed my wayward hand and kissed my fingers. They're already cracked and split from the cold, from handling wood and washing them a billion times a day, from holding tissues and pictures. From wiping tears and from locking doors seventeen times an hour on my way to bed. And from not caring.

I snatched my hand back, scowling at him. He laughed quietly and changed the subject.

I refused to talk about Jacob today, in therapy or otherwise. I started to sometime this week but I can't so back in the box he goes inside my head and I will touch a memory when I can do it without blinding pain flooding in. It makes me angry. I need those thoughts and I need them now and I can't be forced to confront them. I was doing so good and I have to protect myself and they no longer call it shock or denial. I forget what they said. I was too busy nodding and thinking through the names of all the Warren Miller movies I could name in my head. And not fluttering, goddammit. It's been too long for shock and too far for denial and they tell me I can't outrun it forever.

Oh hell yes I can.

It's better to be perceived as fucked-up and cold.

It's better to be a bitch than a shell of a person.

It's better not to be alone. I don't have to be alone today. Today will be okay. Today is okay

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Oh my fuck, do you want to know something? Something from the deep dark locked file cabinet inside my head of shit I shouldn't say out loud lest I appear to be ungracious or graceless or just plain selfish?

Well, then here's a big one.

I hate being alone.

I hate living alone.

I hate sleeping alone. I hate waking up alone. I hate showering alone and I hate talking to myself from the time the children go to bed to when they wake up in the morning.

Alone and I, well, we don't get along. I've never tasted it for any length of time, I don't think it's something I would enjoy and yet...

Here I am. Forever cursed to be alone.


On becoming a day-counter.

Over a month has passed now. A month that in any of Jacob's imaginary travels would have brought forth a choppy, staticky-quick phone call or a hastily-written postcard on one of his trips, now entirely suspect in light of revelations from his letters to me. A month that in past years would have seen Cole settle into a relaxed-tense state, and everyone else drift off to their own space briefly as we lost a little of the brightest hues in our technicolor world.

Living in that moment just before the shoe drops.

I took that shoe and threw it right through the most beautiful stained glass window in my house.

I made a horrific mess.

The house is warm but it has to be plain now. It's a living museum where even the brightly colored toys scattered on the floor rest in the shadows and memories echo off the ceilings of loves gone by, with a tiny young widow who rattles around the halls high on pills and low on energy and the ghosts come at night when she sleeps. Mostly, anyhow.

I have had a long month of explaining myself despite not needing explanations, details which have already been duly noted and absorbed and it's almost time to fully process what I did the weekend after Jacob died.

And I have to be the one to tell it. I'd rather you get all the facts from me than from Caleb.

But not yet. There are more pressing matters to attend to first. There is the living to attend to, first.

Henry and Ruth both had brief speaking roles and they both sang in the choir last night and did a wonderful job. Three songs and some very bright eyes in the audience. Seven minutes in, after the lights went out and the kindergarten kids shuffled onto the stage, Ben appeared behind me, putting his hand on my head and kissing my ear as he sat down. He passed me my hearing aids. I turned to look at him and he shook his head and pointed to the front, as in, we'll talk later.

I turned back around and proceeded to immerse myself in the concert. It was so cute and funny. I felt like I wasn't going to fall apart for once and I turned around when the lights came on to talk to Ben, just in time to see him slip out the door at the far end of the gym. PJ said that he would collect the children and meet me at the truck if I wanted to follow Ben and so I pushed past a crowd growing at the exit and ran outside into the snow where Ben was walking down the path. I called out to him and he stopped and turned around.

Could you just stop, please?

I didn't want you to feel obligated to spend time with me. You wanted space, here it is.

I want you to be present without expectations.

I don't live without hope.

Me neither.

You're going to talk circles around me for the rest of my life, aren't you?

He didn't have the right, Benny.

It wasn't an instruction, Bridge. It was an inevitability. It was a gentle push.

Did Jacob deal in inevitabilities?

No, but I do.

He smiled and I wanted to kill him and hug him all at the same time. Instead I just stood there staring at him, expressionless.

Jacob wasn't a stupid man, princess.

You're biased now. Somehow you tricked him.

No, the inevitability of life won him over, he just takes the time to look for things most people will never see.

I doubt he saw anything. He was trying to help me.

Exactly. So why won't you let him?

Because it means giving him up forever and I'm so not ready to do that.

He was three inches from me then, because he could hardly hear my whispers.

You don't have to give up anything, Bridge. I wouldn't ask you to do that.

He puts his hands on my arms and I pushed him away.

Ben, you can't ask me for anything at all.
And with that I turned and walked away from him. Because the past month of my life went by in a dizzying blur and it went by in drips and fits and starts like molasses (morelasses). Taking forever, agonizingly, slowly. I can't figure out which end is up, which road to take or what to do next.

Ben, no, he has it all figured out. Jacob had it all figured out and Bridget, well, as usual she has no fucking clue at all.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Less like Jake, more like Bridget.

Wow. There's an abrupt turn. Joel just left an eighth message. He has cleared his (light) afternoon schedule and is bringing soup for lunch and the 2-pack DVD of 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later.

Since if you can't beat a zombie, you might as well join her.

Tonight is dinner for twelve and the Christmas concert at the school.

Staring down the longest day of the year.

    You're right
    I can never lie
    Let me go
    Try to find a home
    I can't wait
    Try to stay awake
    Dead inside
    Bothered by the lie
    You're right

This morning the lights were too bright, the world was too quiet and the pain hurt too much and I made it all the way to the fifth floor lobby when I turned around and jabbed at the button, willing the elevator doors to open and then swallow me whole again before Joel could turn around and realize I was no longer right behind him.

I failed and he turned and came straight over to where I stood with my eyes shut and he took my arm and bent his head in and asked me quietly where I was going.

, I whispered.

He shook his head and straightened his back and asked if I was going to spend my days hiding in my ivory tower playing loud music and disintegrating slowly or if I was going to get my head on straight and get through this, expecting me to fall into line.

The elevator doors opened, and I stepped in and turned around to face him and I told him that today the music was going to win.

The doors closed on his surprised expression and I am now home with the music on so loud I can feel it in my blood, Jacob's shirt on over my clothes and seven messages on the answering machine from Joel telling me he isn't falling for this and I have been rescheduled for tomorrow where I will be expected to be the person my children are depending on.

He is way too much like Jake.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

A little relief, a fourth post. I have no life.

Hey, baby girl.

Hello, Lochlan.

Ben's fine. He came to me before I could go track him down.

Can you talk him out of going to see Caleb?

Too late.

Oh, shit.

No, he's fine, Bridgie. He's here for the night. We're toasting to new beginnings and talking about you.

Oh, that explains the nickname-fest.

I'm on my way to bed soon. Parenthood and alcohol don't mix.

Loch, is Ben drinking?

Of course not. He's not supposed to, right?

Right. Thank God. So he's okay-okay?

The devil didn't eat him, if that's what you were worried about. His soul appears intact, anyway.

I'm glad you called.

So do you want to fill me in on what happened between you and Caleb?

No, not really.

I could always get Ben drunk and then he'll tell me.

That is so not funny, Lochlan.

I know. Sorry. Are you okay?

Should I be?

Eventually. Okay, I'll talk to you tomorrow. I just didn't want you to worry. Ben said he would have called but that you're not speaking to him.

Yeah, I don't know what we're doing. We're fighting.

He thought this would be smoother, baby.

There's nothing to be smooth about. I'm not property.

No one thinks you are.

Everyone thinks I am. I was bequeathed, for fuck's sakes.

No, I don't think it was like that. I think Jake wanted to eliminate some of the pressure.

He didn't and I'm so angry, Loch.

Do me a favor, Bridgie and just talk to Ben. Sort it out so you at least are surrounded by magic and not tension, okay, please?

I'll try, Loch.

Thank you, now I'm going to bed while I can, Miss Hope just passed out cold on Ben.

Send me some more pictures, will you?

Will do. Love you.

Love you too.
Oh, I get it now. It was a cover. Distract her and she's a little hurt that Ben doesn't show up but since they're not so much as speaking she understands and then she comes to find out through the weakest link (ha, thank you Christian) that Ben has flown to Toronto to probably lose his temper all over Caleb because it's been a disaster in the making for weeks now.

Loch has gone to try to head him off. Which should be great seeing as how he's exhausted and a little busy at the moment. I'm so impressed, guys. I can't believe not even one of you tried to prevent this or at least tell me beforehand.
I am out of the kid's school pictures and out of tickets to their Christmas concert. The principal, aware that the kids have several 'honorary uncles' who are close, called to ask how many tickets I might need for the pageant and laughed when I said ten.

I love these guys. Truly I do.

The concessions stand.

I had no idea an elephant and a Christmas tree could peacefully coexist in my living room, but they can.

Between last night and this morning, Santa sent his largest, cutest group of elves in pairs and groups here to make sure the surviving Reilly family has Christmas no matter what decisions I make. I was told that, many times over. There will be no more pressure in either direction from any of the guys.

A tree arrived. It was lit and then decorated, mostly by Ruth and Henry, who were handed various ornaments and the other more touching ornaments were quietly re-wrapped and put away again. There's a wreath on the front door and one on the back gate. The lights are on outside. There's a small mountain of presents under the tree and stockings are hung on the banisters because if we put them on the woodstove we'll burn the house down.

Someone put reindeer antlers on the dog. The cat did not go for hers at all. I laughed until I cried and then I did both at once.

There are brownies defrosting and a turkey freezing. There are invitations that I can accept or not, depending on what I decide about going away for Christmas. There was PJ, Joel, Christian, Mark, Rob, Sam & Lisabeth, Andrew, John, Jason and his wife Julie, August and even a phone call from a busy, sleepless Lochlan letting me now that life is going to go on and they'll make sure I am not left behind. I could hear Hope crying in the background and I was so warm.

There was only one absent elf, for he owns the elephant that is crowding me out of my own head.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Except that children don't drink coffee.

Two sweaters, a wool coat, softened wool scarf tightly tied around my neck, my hair pulled back in a smooth chignon, only my gloves are off as I sit across from him in total silence, both of us lost in quiet habits as I twirl my wedding band around in circles on my ring finger using my thumb and the side of my little finger, an action that sometimes ends in fluttering, and he plays notes on an imaginary fretboard, left hand only. It's like having coffee with Buckethead, and I'm tempted to laugh out loud but instead I put on my sorry face and focus my attentions on the frosted window and the wintery city beyond the glass.

Why is the light so dim in here, and the coffee so rich? Why has all the color drained out of his once-warm golden brown eyes as we meet on neutral territory to try and find some peace? Why is it all so pointless and why can I never get warm? Why won't he just talk to me and better still, why won't I talk to him?

We don't talk, instead I stop twirling my ring and reach across the table to stop his fingers and he covers my tiny hand with his big one and he stares at me and I notice the circles under his washed-out eyes and the set of his face. His own sorry face mirrors mine and I abruptly decide that I can't look at it anymore.

He sees the change in my eyes and grabs my hand tighter but I pull away in spite of his efforts and before he can consider saying whatever he wouldn't say when we had each other's full attention, I am gone in a blur of colors, scents and emotions written all over me: robin's egg blue, brown, sandalwood, blonde, mourning and despair. Thankfully he doesn't chase me.


I hailed a taxi to take me home, settling in the back seat and taking my phone out of my pocket, reaching PJ who had agreed to look after the kids at the last minute. His curiosity was rich in his words but he didn't ask me any questions other than how long I would take to get home. I guessed ten minutes and we hung up. I slipped my phone back into my pocket and then realized I left my gloves on the table beside Ben.

I pulled my phone out again and stared at his name on the already vibrating phone. I answered without speaking, and he said only that he had my gloves and he would bring them the next time he saw me, without making any plans as to time or place. He told me to put my hands in my pockets, that it was cold. An instruction you give to children who don't listen. Careful, deliberate instructions as if they don't know any better. He hung up.

I hadn't even noticed how cold my hands were. I put I them in my pockets.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

I didn't watch the game so the Leafs lost.

Good distractions today included oath-inducing windchill temperatures, an offer of full help in grocery shopping, an afternoon in a dark movie theatre watching The Golden Compass and dinner with royalty (Burger King). It was kind of a fairtytale-hamburgery wintery day.

It was nice. Christian made me laugh not once but twice and now I'm typing away wedged in the crook of his arm on the couch while he flips through every channel on my TV and spoilt boy that he is, points out I need satellite TV and then there would be something to watch.

I'll be asleep in about fifteen minutes I bet. I need to send him home.

Friday, 7 December 2007

I seem to have survived my first full day alone in spite of the ever-choking grapevine now clamoring to let me know that Ben is telling people he is now planning on moving.


Fridays are supposed to be easier days. Days that are light on working hard, days where I can almost breathe and hearts beat on my behalf and I don't have to lift a finger, I don't have to go to therapy, I don't have to answer to anyone.

Ben's days off, that he spends here with me.

Only early this morning as I called Ben and told him he was free from babysitting me for the day because I was going to keep my two coughing-and-miserable kids home on this bone-chilling day, an argument developed over my ability to spend a day home alone. One compounded by my assumption that he'd be relieved to not come over.

Since we both know better, I did it as a formality, a reminder that I am keeping whatever boundaries I worked so hard to build while Jacob was here. Nothing changes and lately there's been so much collective input in my life I'm trying to reel it back in. One of my biggest challenges in life now seems to be not giving over control to everyone else.

I'm finding as the shock wears off and the gravity sets in that aside from losing a good two or three hours a day to dry tears and breathless panic, I'm well versed in faking it and can cope, mostly. Mostly if I only think about Jacob in terms of the shallowest waters of my ocean. If I think too deeply I drown. He was the ocean. It spilled from his hands, it swam in his eyes and I am changed.

Constantly changing. Like the ocean. Carving a landscape with a motion that is relentless and cold.

But back on dry land, my abrupt change in Ben's plans caused a wrinkle and he wasn't happy to let it go and so we fought and it escalated and we both said some amazingly awful things and virtually hung up on each other, me in tears, angry ones that aren't touching in the least. Him with a broken voice spitting hurtfulness that leaves me dumbfounded.

And now I spend my day alone, probably with the kids on the couch, watching movies and snoozing and watching my phone vibrate across the table when people realize that I've shirked the schedule and broken the rules. Maybe it's something I needed to do. I just wish I could have done it while still being on speaking terms with Ben.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Lyrics and legal drugs.

(I'm writing late today, because it's been a long one. I took a dayquil and am borderline narcoleptic so please give me due credit for whatever nonsense you're forced to read next.)

    Sing it for me
    I can't erase the stupid things I say

Jacob and my heart were broken into pieces and everyone got two, one of each:

Joel heads up the professional, what's best for you piece.

Ben is the romantic, the affectionate one. He wields the guitar now.

PJ is the non-procrastinator, the logic. The everyday.

Chris is in bodyguard/secret service mode.

And Caleb is still the devil.

No worries, I didn't give any of my heart to the devil. He just took it and I don't have any pieces left, as I'm sure Jacob swallowed the rest of it right before he stepped off the edge of my world. And if they all get together and try to connect their pieces, they invariably begin to fight over who has the biggest piece, or maybe who has the warmest piece, which piece is the prettiest and which doesn't seem to be part of a heart after all.

Some of them keep trying to destroy their portion. I hate that.

I wish they wouldn't remind me of Jake. I wish they would stop fighting over me. I wish people would stop holding their breath when it comes to Ben. His piece is not larger, or warmer or better than anyone's. There's nothing going on, he's just got open arms and a thorough knowledge of our dear princess so it gives, no, I give him more latitude, I guess. If you want to vilify me for a hug or a cheek-kiss then you're so far off the mark it's not even funny.

I take advantage, as it were. Not the other way around.

Which means that each of those pieces of my heart is lovingly wrapped in yards of misdirected resentment, tied with bows of unease and distrust.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Andante Cantabile.

Maybe in the spring.

It's become my mantra, my answer to everything, my get-out-of-jail-free card. They are slow to catch on. I discovered the effectiveness of those four little words when Ben stopped in last night, only staying long enough to gift us with dinner for three (he didn't stay) and a rosin cake for my bow, asking if I would consider bringing my violin on our trip. I didn't have to say I was still considering whether or not we would be going on the trip in the first place, that would be assumed at this point and hence his reason for talking about it. If he can get me to confirm that we will go then he will feel better.

Instead I said maybe I would play again in the spring, giving him nothing to grasp onto as a confirmation or a denial.

Works for me. Worked for him too. He dropped the subject, told me I looked beautiful in the snow-light and kissed my cheek before turning to head back down the front steps.

Ben. You stupid jerk. Come here.


I could really use a hug from someone over three feet tall.

So could I, but if you're all there is, then it's good enough.

He came back up and stuck me face first into his jacket. He pressed his lips into my hair and breathed warm air on my cold little head, tightening his arms around me and we just stayed that way until he heard Henry calling for me and he called back that I was on my way inside now.

Then he let me go and smiled and went home.

I played for two hours last night. Music for the kids to fall asleep by.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Bridget's flawless Gothic etiquette.

My Christmas/Thank you cards are going out at the end of the week, mostly to the four hundred or so people who sent condolences, brought food, or simply stopped by and offered to keep the kids or walk the dog. Some jobs were easy, some not so easy. Thankfully I didn't get four hundred casseroles, but I got an awful lot of cards and letters with funny little memories of Jacob.

Edward Gorey's angels and hot air balloons. Who knew there was a more perfect card out there for this princess? Yes of course it's morbid and almost virtually tasteless too. Exactly how I needed it to be.

No worries, everyone who gets one will proclaim it to be perfect because it's from me and I'm rather weird.

I'll have all the addresses on envelopes by the end of the week. I've got the kids home today for the snowstorm and Henry has another ear infection and Ruth a bad cold so we bailed on the day and it puts me behind for being able to work on things during the day while I can still write legibly with a pen. That ability tends to disappear after 6 pm.

Mostly the reason I told you about my ridiculous Christmas death cards was to share them with you too. If I had the wherewithal or my act together to make up another two hundred cards to send to those of you who have taken the time to email me with good thoughts and comforts I would but honestly I don't. I don't have the energies to reply to anyone. I can hardly read some of them.

I don't know why you care about me. I don't know why you come back. I like that you do, and I bet you are stronger than I am. I wouldn't come back if I didn't live in here, inside my head.

I wish for you nothing but the best this holiday season.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Silent movies.

I'm a black and white movie. There is no sound. The film grain is pronounced, the visual scratched and scraped away with age, the characters melancholy and desperate. I can walk around the iron gate in the snow and find myself in the cemetery and out pops Dracula and I made my 'surprised' and then 'scared' face before fainting right into his arms.

And everyone laughs and goes home, safe in their colorized, monster-free world. Their music-filled, beautiful world.

For the first time this afternoon, I took my laptop into the pantry and sat down on the floor and shut the doors and played a movie file of Jacob singing his silly karaoke in the kitchen, using a wooden spoon for a microphone, eyebrows knitted in mock concentration. I laughed as the camera zoomed in crazily, attempting to focus on a moving target and then lost it when the song ended and he told me to turn off the camera and come kiss him.

One should always save the total mental and emotional breakdowns for that little spot on the floor right next to the basket holding twenty pounds of russet baking potatoes.

New damage: A to-do list.

-I need to find something great to send to Loch and Keira for Hope. Something wonderful and different. I'm an aunt by default, Keira and I have common ground at last and have declared peace in a long telephone conversation this afternoon that left me warm.

-I need to have the guts to ask Sophie to stop trying to contact me. I spoke briefly with her once to let her know about Jake and I gave up and passed the phone to Sam. He passed the phone back after telling her but I couldn't talk to her.

-I need to choose new godparents for Ruth and Henry.

-I need to change my will to include Jacob's parents. I don't need to but I'd like to. One of Jacob's biggest concerns was that they might need help down the road. Pensions don't go very far and neither do fish.

-I need to keep my mouth shut when PJ wants to vent or express concern (trying to word that objectively was tough).

-I need to make it very clear to Ben that he has no stake in me. He says he knows. I don't trust myself to be satisfied with his position. I need friends, not more people fighting over me. I'm rethinking Christmas already.

-I need to hem the curtains in the living room.

-I need to get a Christmas tree for the kids.

-I need to sell the motorcycle. I thought about keeping it for Henry but that's a lot of trouble and I've had offers. John asked for first refusal.

-I need to sell the hockey gear or donate it or something.

-I need to get the description of Jacob's body out of my head from the report on the desk while I was collecting what was left of his belongings. His twisted cross and shattered new watch and his wallet that was practically emptied in the fall and torn. The backpack full of clothes and his small bible and his guitar that was left in the room. The death certification. I know there was nothing beautiful about his flight but if I dwell too long on the other I can't breathe.

-I need to sleep so I am less crazy. I know, fat chance.

-I need to figure out if I'm going to stay here or move. I need to figure out if there's a difference between holding off on making big decisions in difficult times and prolonging the inevitable. I need to weigh the pros and cons of remaining in a city that I only loved because we were stuck with each other at the time. Now that I'm not bound to it I can run. Running is not as easy as it looks. I've got two kids, 7 pets, 1 truck, a house and a wonderful therapists office riding on my whims.

As if my whims can be trusted.

Case in point: I need to call Caleb and ask him to return my hearing aids and the video he says he has.

Right, Bridget. Always think through the big decisions before you do something you might regret.

Living for miracles.

Today the world stops for a wonderful reason.

Loch became a dad early this morning, in the wee hours when most people were still sleeping. Keira gave birth to his daughter, a beautiful fuzzy blonde 5 lb 6 ounce healthy girl. Her name is Hope.


Sunday, 2 December 2007

Painted in an unfair light.

Part 5482372, Ben versus the world. Give him a break already.

One of the hardest parts about being the close friend of an alcoholic is that the mistakes they make, or the slights of their past tend to overshadow their good deeds, their efforts to change and gain trust and be better forever. As in infinitely, neverendingly.


Looking at what I have written about Ben I can see where he is made out to be the bad guy, mostly through poor self-control and impulsive and sometimes retaliatory actions. Why not? He's the yang to my yin. He and I never grew up, we never made it past the childish outbursts and petulant rock-kicking that can be at once endearing and incredibly fucking annoying.

Put us together and we take it out on each other. People have asked us why we're still friends and I could only say that sometimes there are moments of incredible clarity and gentleness between us that make it worthwhile. We are sometimes the male and female equivalent of your stereotypical asshole person. We have deep personality flaws and wild streaks and that's why we get along so well and so badly all at the same time.

I am less perfect than he is, but you knew that already.

He did come back last night, poured out all of the alcohol, made me eat dinner and sit up until I was sober and then he handed me the key from my front porch and also told me to lock the door at the end of the hall which secures the main part of the house from the den and guest room and he stayed in the guest room last night. Close enough but with enough safeguards in place to help rebuild the trust we've eroded together in the past two years.

I poured him a cup of coffee early this morning and took it to him, unlocking the hallway door and then knocking gently on the door of the room he slept in and invited him to breakfast when he opened the door and took the cup.

He asked me how I felt and I said better and then he asked if we wanted to go play in the snow today, that he would stick around if I wanted him to and hang out with the kids.

It's quarter to four and he's still here. He's piled up the snow in the backyard and is snowboarding out there on the mother of all bunny hills.

He asked me if we, if I wanted to go away for Christmas with him.

I said yes.

His family has a house in Canmore, and we're going to stay there and snowboard and celebrate Christmas quietly with the four of us and without the ghosts of Christmas past breathing down our necks. We're going to enroll the kids in snowboarding classes and we're going to teetotal our way through the holidays together as friends and not fight or be awful or be miserable like we sometimes are here.

He's going to prove that he is trustworthy and I'm going to prove that I'm still alive.

No strings, no expectations (so quash your harsh judgment) and no regrets, because I'm already looking forward to a brief change of scenery.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Liquid princess.

I'm not having more. It's 8:45 pm and I've had two bourbons and I think I'm done. Ben and I had a shouting match out the back door at 8 and once he was gone it was safe to have a drink. Chris called and I lied and said Ben was still here because it was easier than dealing with the disappointment. Who do I care if I disappoint anymore?

No one.

I don't have to answer to anyone. I'm not beholden to anyone. I'm not worried about anyone.

No, Ruth and Henry. I answer to them and everyone else can kiss my ass.

Ben said something about a holiday from the holidays and I waffled and he told me I wasn't interested in living.


Boom. Knock the princess over with a feather.

He said he hated the princess nickname, always has. I told him it was sour grapes and besides, he doesn't get an opinion on my life and he proclaimed to be my friend.

I said, oh really?

Friends don't have hidden agendas.

He acted hurt and I told him to go to a bar and find a Bridget-look-alike and fuck off and leave me alone. He laughed and dragged his palms down his face in incredulity. I don't even care.

I don't care.

Okay I care.

I hope I can get smashed tonight and sleep and sleep and not dream and not hurt and not ache and not die a little more. I don't know how far to go with all these pills. Tomorrow Sam will call and tell me to come to church and he's no better than my mother.

Die a little more.

Ben just called and said he's coming back with food. And that he's sorry and I told him not to be, and not to come. That I was drinking and I don't want him to be exposed to it. He used to have a major drinking problem, one time during which he snuck into my bedroom and tried to touch me and frankly I don't want him to ever be like that again but I trust him when he's sober.

I don't trust me when I'm sober but drunk I think I'll be okay.

He's coming anyway. He said he wasn't going to drink and neither was I anymore.

The Leafs won against Pittsburg, 3-1. The kids have colds again, the snow never stops falling and I really can't wait to see what life throws at me next.

At night the furnace comes on every 23 minutes. I count things.

It's warmer out today, it's damp and wonderful, just like the coldest days of my former Nova Scotia winters, the kind that howl right through your bones and out the other side, as if you aren't even present.

It's a day for warm cinnamon buns and thick scarves and sitting in a chair that makes me miserable while I watch Ruth and Henry draw pictures for their counselor while we talk gently about how we feel.

I'd like to scream.

But I don't.

We stopped on the way home and got a Gingerbread house kit to make. That will be fun, I think.

Thursday was bad, yesterday was interesting and today is sort of a mix of good and difficult. Each day gets a number and today is day 37 and at this point I don't want to hear that it will get easier with time, I'd like to know how to make it easier now.

(That's 37 days since he left, not since he died.)