“I didn’t tell him he could go”

These words were spoken in earnest by the three-and-a-half year old Hannah as I attempted, yet again, to shakily explain where Gampy had gone… four long years ago now. And as this memory comes oozing back to me, I see it so clearly… it was her entirely appropriate declaration of ownership over Robert. She knew with certainty that he was hers; she simply owned him. She owned him, heart and soul.  Surely no man before or since, has been more devoted to a child, or at least that’s how we see it. He made her feel so confident in his love and affection, that she was confused how he could do something so wrong, and without her permission.

IMG_0427 IMG_1710 IMG_1731 IMG_0151IMG_1767

Well, that’s just how Robert could make you feel… and his inner circle basked in the glow. But his open heart reached well beyond our little patchwork of family and friends, it seemed to know no bounds… seriously, he even became besties with my ex.

So when I think of Robert today, I can see that he probably did learn all of this world’s necessary lessons. It’s those of us remaining who have work to do… so I can only hope that he sees the rippling effects that remain, and that some days he is proud of me.

When he worried about dying, and about leaving me on my own, I would look him in the eyes and tell him with complete certainty that in no possible way could our love story be ending.  In full denial, I was the last person to see that he really was dying, but my words turned out to be true anyway. My heart’s relationship to his heart is still going strong; our connection could not be destroyed by mere death. I suppose it’s why they sing songs about it, but I’ve learned that love, in fact, does not die, and that in death we do not part… however I did not tell him he could go either.


… so here’s my poem for tomorrow, after four long, lonesome years:

Although gone from my gaze
you’re large as life
in my heart,
I’ll not be convinced
that in death do us part.



#plywoodpalace #onlydatingfortwomonths #deliriouslyhappy #shirleycutmyheadoff #hesmellsliketheforest

I hate June

Hell… June 24, 2011… we walked into a Dr.’s office, freshly tanned from a Mediterranean cruise… two completely happy people, blessed with everything we ever dreamt of, and more… thinking we actually had the world by the ass. When the Dr. began stating his news something inside me broke, it left my body and went up to the corner of the room and watched all three people crumble.

Of course I’m still not put back together properly, and nothing has been quite right ever since. But plenty has happened. The one really great thing to report now is that Robert’s scholarship fund has reached the target to sustain a $1000 perpetual gift. Thank you everyone!!! And next week we will attend SJA’s graduation and proudly give this award for the third time. (The bad news is that now I’ve gotten greedy and I want the award to support a gift of $2000 so you may not have heard the end of the fundraising!)

What else? The kittens are growing up, I’ve renovated the house, and I’m truly off antidepressants… I mean it this time. Hannah can read, and in two languages (!) She remembers her Gampy and how much he loves her; I often think he sends me hugs through her. I do less counselling appointments and more massage ones now, and have just allowed acupuncture inside my ear in an effort to trigger a ‘happy place’. I made it through a school year without using all my sick days, and have planned another visit to see Edna: the Canadian Psychic…

But on June 24… my physical body is again wrenched by this dreaded anniversary whose approach I think I can even smell as it insists on returning every year. I have to wonder if maybe we don’t operate any differently than birds and plants, whose behaviours are set by the length of the daylight hours…

Hard to believe we’ve circled the sun again, and so little has changed. It’s June, and it’s cold like always, and yet we still hope it will be different. Missing Robert continues to be pretty much a full-time job. Yes, it’s sprinkled with the odd day off, but those are mainly used for simply waiting on him to come home. Down deep inside my cells I somehow keep hoping this will turn out differently…

And so it goes. I know I have plenty to be grateful for, but it’s a struggle to make it feel meaningful without my much better half.


Love and Loss

I’m slowly realizing these two words are fully entwined into the one thing I believe we all want to have;  a meaningful life while we’re here. Yes, loving big means being vulnerable to inconsolable loss, yet we do it anyway… and we’ll keep right on doing it.

Three years after losing Robert, the light in my life, I do still feel eviscerated… but at the same time, I have been shown such strength and love from dear ones, that I know I will now be able to offer these same things to my sweet Kate and Kyle.



So I’m sharing these words I recently wrote for Robert, but could have just as easily been written for Baby Brennan Dunnington, who we bid a sad farewell to today… I like to think Robert and my Dad are helping him learn to fly, all three with their beautifully impish grins…

Those laughing eyes

the warmest hands

the softest heart

and deepest soul

Oh, greatest gift

you were not mine to keep.

missed and loved,

as always,


giving thanks

I have come to understand that gratitude is good medicine for healing and growth… but it’s just not always possible to feel it.

So some days, like today, I force myself to make the list…
in no particular order:

extraordinary  friends,
giant loud-purring kittens,
beautiful little boys,

beautiful boy 10487357_10152675748730555_4282834445469530153_n
free medical care,
the colour purple,
meaningful work,
the honesty and clarity of a six-year-old,
family (original and claimed),
old cheese,
stretchy clothes,
online shopping,
big thick books,
unexpected laughter,
bubble baths,
the generosity of the human spirit,
fuzzy blankets,
mugs of tea,
sad music,
the great fortune to find and then marry the love of my life,
blue flowers…


we are here again, already…

Sitting at home on an unforeseen, and inexplicable, school cancelation day, I realize that it’s time…

…time to describe our new ‘Christmas Survival Basket’, back again by popular demand, is it possible that this year it’s even better than last year? You decide as you look at our Prize Basket Contents! We would dearly love help in selling these if anyone can take a few off our hands, please email me: eileeniebee@gmail.com

…time to invite anyone and everyone to the annual Pancreatic Cancer Walk/Run/Bike event this Saturday, organized by the dedicated team at Craig’s Cause. Did you catch them on the news recently?! Amazingly, this little engine that could has just donated $500k to our local medical community who are furthering research efforts into PC. Brava Stefanie!

…and lastly, probably time to reveal my catification … FYI that is the process of learning to accept one’s life circumstances with the help of kitten therapy… preferably big beautiful kittens…
kitties2tigerstbc-crop 2sept22sept22.1

…nice to know that at least some things are purrfect.

the Increasingly Crazy Cat Lady,


…at a loss

Allow me to report, happily, that we awarded another successful candidate with the second annual Integrity Award in Robert’s name. Here is Steve presenting to Haley Vining at Sir John A’s graduation ceremony on June 28th.

haley vining and steve

It’s a truly happy occasion, bittersweet of course, but one of those moments when I know for certain Robert would be pleased.

I also know I need to spend more time remembering how happy and exuberant Robert was. But it ain’t easy… instead, days have just been spinning themselves into months as I try helplessly to find a way to put a positive spin on my musings… just wrap my head around this emptiness long enough to make a comment with some joy in my voice, and without being utterly dishonest. In truth, that peace is more elusive now than it was a year ago… I am seriously confused by life’s cruelty… and its mystifucking randomness.

Yep, that’s me…still searching for meaning where there is only a void. Words can’t touch it; somehow they’ve all dissolved into platitudes. So I guess what I have found is an appreciation of the universal nature of good old fashioned pain, which is in fact something.

And maybe the new antidepressant isn’t as good as we hoped… but in the interest of remembering the absolute joy that emanated from this wonderful man, I will share a delightful, newly found, photo… thanks to his lovely and dear NSCC buddies. Not possible to look at this one without smiling…

gang fingers zoom



It happened again Friday, Valentine’s Day… the moment I start up my car Beyoncé begins singing this song… and I cry some more. But this cry is becoming a partly  thankful one, thankful and also puzzled about how the universe works. If I listed all the signs I’ve felt and seen since November 2011, people may think I’m losing it… but I cannot resist sharing this one…

windowbox sept 2013

Last summer my south-facing window box planted itself for the first time in 20 years… by that I mean that in June when I would have put new annual plants in there I found petunias were already well underway. Of course, I know they ‘self-seeded’… but why now? And why did they grow so beautifully without me watering or fertilizing them till November…

And then, of course, the greatest gift Robert gave me… sweet Hannah… here is some photo evidence that I choose to see as his presence with us in September as we gathered for Craig’s Cause in his honour:

Oh, I could just go on and on with this list of gifts that keep coming from above… and maybe another day I will.

I do know that I am much better now… actually working full time, finally, even though this secretly means I’ve just gotten better at pretending. However, my experience allows me to notice other people putting their best possible face forward in order to survive, too. A wonderful counsellor told me ” it’s easier to behave your way into a new path of thinking, than to think your way into a new path of behaving”, and I so thank her for that.

Robert’s love and his Halo still surround me, and others.. yes, I know I’m still sharing him with his peeps, as always. Many of those people helped out generously with our Gift Card Basket Ticket sales in the Fall, and we were thrilled to raise  $3,436.55 for Robert’s scholarship. Alicia  Jessome won the basket, so thank you to her and to everyone who supported this cause so dear to our hearts.



what wisdom?

The dreaded anniversary is here, again, and it seems like nothing has changed…

But a few weeks ago when Hannah interrupted our cartoon-watching with an urgent “Gammy! I can’t remember Gampy’s voice” … I was able to calmly walk her to the computer where we watched some of our favourite video clips. I’m including one here that forces me to smile every time…he was trying to help her shake off a very cranky mood:

…and now it helps me shake off mine.

I keep expecting to receive some kind of wisdom about the meaning of life and loss… been looking, reading, asking, praying, and still it eludes me. Perhaps it will do like a butterfly and settle on me when I give up…

Meanwhile I try to live up to Robert’s standards… most of the time… and when I mess up, I fix that by raising money for his Integrity Award…only two weeks left to get your tickets… check it out: Prize Basket Contents 😉

September already…

Ah, summer you’re all finished… the summer of my purple cast and of my discontent. I arrived back at school cranky, and doing intense physio once again this year. And the icing on the cake: first day back was Robert’s 54th birthday. But with the Sampson clan, and Hannah’s little family, we managed to celebrate ‘Gampy’ with dinner and candles and copious amounts of real icing. We all gathered together in the purple house for the first time without him, but I like to think he was at least smiling down on us approvingly. Still, not an easy gig, and I’m so thankful, even humbled, to have all of them in my life.

Yes, summer really is over, new sweaters have appeared, gardens are being permitted to go back to bed, and normally Fall is our kindest season. But school is ratcheting up, too, and I actually want to go back to bed most mornings. Just wishing I could muster more bounce in my step. So, I am learning to breathe instead… you know, in and out, and to just be… I’m permitting myself to be a mess if and when necessary, but doing the best I can do with what I’ve got most of the time.

Our July Auction proceeds have finally worked their way to the SJA Scholarship Donation Page… thank you SO much to everyone who supported this event… look at how well we are doing! 🙂 And very soon, to add to this fund, we will be selling tickets on a wonderful Holiday Basket that will contain everything you might need to survive that season: tickets to MooseHeads, Neptune, and movies, gift certificates for NSLC, and lobster, a $300 Visa… all items either for your enjoyment or for your own gifting.

And this Saturday, September 28th, family and friends are invited to come out and join in the annual Craig’s Cause Pancreatic Cancer Awareness event in Porters Lake. I promise not to be the wreck I was last year, and am not ashamed to say that I am back on antidepressants which gives me some confidence in the aforementioned promise.

…one final note, take a look at Steve presenting the first annual Robert Sampson Integrity Award… and this is one event I am thoroughly convinced that Robert did attend!

Steve and Moataz Ibrahim1