Wednesday, 26 March 2014


The sun was shining in our bedroom this morning well before I opened the blinds. Mike woke up with a smile on his face that wouldn’t quit. He always smiles when he first sees me, but this one didn’t stop…it was like he had a secret or something.

Since writing my recent blog post, Faced With Grace in which I talk about living with a lack of sleep, we have slept! It’s been great to get a full nights sleep…with just one or two interruptions.  Mike has been more comfortable and able to sleep well, so I sleep well and we both feel better. That might explain the constant smile this morning or Mike does have a secret. Nevertheless, it was the perfect way to start the day. 

                                        Out for a walk on the first day of Spring

Saturday, 15 March 2014

You Can Kiss Me Now

I wouldn’t trade the last three years with ALS for anything. I know that sounds a little crazy, but let me explain: Some women/men lose their husbands/wives suddenly. There is no warning. Like my friend’s friend who lost her husband in a work related accident. She got an unexpected call one day…just like that…he was gone. I wonder what their last words were. Did they kiss before he left for work that day? Or was he scrambling to get out the door while she scrambled eggs, packed lunches and got the kids up and ready for school? Because that’s how it is…that’s what life is like. 

Pre ALS, Mike and I were often going in different directions. He worked two jobs and I worked part time and considered raising our children my full time work. It was good, but Mike and I were like two ships passing in the night (literally because Mike worked full time nights as well as some days and afternoons). We didn’t always kiss hello and good bye and our “I love You”s were few and far between.

But one day, someone wearing a white jacket holding a clip board and a bunch of test results said to me, “You have 3 to 5 years to tell your husband how much you love him.” I got a warning. My friend’s friend didn’t. No one told her the morning of her husband’s death that she had three to five hours to tell him how much she loved him. No one told her to make sure she kissed him good bye that day before he left.

At first I thought the doctor in the white coat with the bad news was our enemy, but now I believe she was a friend; a messenger of good news. I was given three to five years to kiss Mike every morning, every night and every time I go out and come back again. I got a warning. My friend’s friend didn’t get a warning and my guess is she would tell me I’m really lucky.

One day a few weeks ago I was scrambling to get out the door. I can’t remember if I was going to teach a class or if I had an appointment but wherever I was going I was running a little late. I was gathering everything I needed for my time out and I was making sure Mike was all ready for his time with his care giver. I always make sure Mike is comfortable before I walk away and on this particular day, it took a little longer to get everything just right. Mike watched me buzz around like a bee and then just when I was ready, I could see he had something to tell me. I was hoping we could make it quick and sure enough he softly spelled it out with ease:  y,o,u,  c,a,n,  k,i,s,s,  m,e,  n,o,w.

Wow, I almost forgot. I almost forgot the most important part of my leaving. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my grandpa would say when we were about to part ways, “You forgot something.” I would kiss his cheek and he would kiss mine. It’s a memory forever etched in my mind.

So ALS I guess, could be considered a gift. I know I might not feel that way everyday, but today I give thanks for ALS. This is the first time I have given thanks for this debilitating disease. Mike gave thanks for ALS shortly after he was diagnosed. I’ll never forget when he said thank you to God for the things he wanted and the things he didn’t want in his life like ALS. He trusted God knew what He was doing.  

I Thessalonians 5:16-17 says: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Another version says, This is what God wants you to do: be full of joy, never stop praying and in everything give thanks.

Our love would never have known these depths had Mike been taken away suddenly. Instead we were give three to five years to rejoice, pray and give thanks together everyday. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

That's a special kiss! Sometimes Leah climbs up on the arm of Mike's chair and spends some quality time with her granddad. Leah will be five years old in a few weeks.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Every Minute Matters

Ahhh, the sounds of an NHL Hockey game…the cheering of happy fans, the familiar voices of enthusiastic commentators and the signature organ music…its all music to Mike’s ears. The National Hockey League took a three week time out for the Winter Olympics and Mike is glad the NHL is back in full swing, even though he really enjoyed watching the Olympics.

We had the Olympic games on almost all day everyday. It was exciting, it was exhilarating and it was a little nerve racking. It’s so much more than sporting events and the world’s finest athleticism, its incredible stories of determination, self sacrifice, and teamwork. We were brought to tears many times witnessing perfect performances, record breaking feats, devastating mistakes, wins, losses and extraordinary comebacks.

We will never forget the woman’s gold medal hockey game between Canada and the US. Talk about a “comeback”! Mike says it was one of the greatest comebacks in hockey history. The Canadian women were down two nothing with less than four minutes to go in the third period. Both teams playing brilliantly and the Americans surely thinking they got this one, Canada scores with only 3 minutes and 20 seconds left in the game. And then they score again with only 55 seconds left in the game. And then they score in overtime to win the game and take the gold!

It was a lesson for all of us…never give up! It was a great reminder…it’s not over until its over! It was a profound statement…every minute counts! It’s quite like how we started thinking when Mike was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

A few of the Canadian women left a note on the men’s locker room door before the men’s semi-final game against the US. In part it said, “Tonight is yours. Own the moment. We are proof that every minute matters….Earn every inch, dictate the pace and go get em!”

The men won that semi-final game 1 - 0 and went on to win the gold medal game against Sweden, 3-0. Wow, that’s great, but back to the women - how excellent of them to educate us on what a difference five minutes can make. They didn’t give up, they knew “its not over until its over” and they finished extremely well…every minute matters indeed!

It reminds me of a friend of mine — a friend who finished well. On a number of occasions throughout the course of our friendship, she had kindly declined any invitation to hear about my faith and the Lord I worshiped and followed. A week before she died, even though very ill, she still wasn’t really interested in talking about God or being prayed for. But only a few days after that, conscious but unresponsive, laying in her hospital bed waiting to escape her sickly body, she had a change of heart. 

I sat beside her and took her hand in mine. Before I said anything about God, I told her what a good wife and outstanding mother she was. I told her what a beautiful person she was inside and out. And I told her what a wonderful friend she was and how she enriched my life. 

Then I simply told her about God’s incredible love for her. How Jesus was waiting for her with open arms. How she could right there and then open the door and invite Him in… accepting Him as her Lord and Saviour. I said a prayer and told her she could pray along with me in her heart to receive forgiveness and peace. When I finished, she rubbed her thumb on the top of my hand and thanked me for coming. We spent the rest of our visit basking in God’s goodness and a couple of days later she went to be with Him. She fought hard, she finished well and every minute mattered! 

Yesterday (Mar 7) marked the 3rd anniversary of Mike’s diagnosis. I am so proud of him. Still content and still so brave, he is finishing well, but it isn’t over until its over. Every minute definitely matters, and we give thanks for each one of them.

If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 22:24

Madison and Hayley Wickenheiser played in the same hockey league last year (CIS). Wickenheiser at the University of Calgary and Madison at neighbouring University, Mount Royal.  Wickenheiser is considered the best female hockey player of all time. She has won four olympic gold medals and one silver. What a great opportunity for Madison to check Hayley and keep her from scoring any goals! 

Madison has since made the very difficult decision to leave her hockey scholarship and a team and coaches she loves and move back home to be with her family and spend what time is left with her dad. She played hockey this season with local team, The Mouse. She enjoyed playing for her old coaches and with long time friends. It's great hockey -- very competitive -- super talented players! 
Above pic - Mount Royal Cougars, below pic - Mount Royal and U of C shake hands post game.