Five Years Going on Six

Five Years Going on Six

When our oldest daughter arrived in this world, very early in the morning, in early spring, it changed my life. I was scared. Scared for my wife’s health as she was rushed off to emergency surgery. Scared for myself as I spent three hours holding my first child in my arms, afraid to move a muscle. I was also thrilled, excited, over-the-top with the idea of being a father. I wanted to be the best father I could be. Or, perhaps better stated at the time was that I didn’t want to be to my daughter like my father was to me; absent. Consequently, over my daughter’s first year of life, I missed her first words, her first steps, and all of those other firsts, because I was caught up with my new career, literally working twelve hour days if not more, and sometimes six plus days a week.

Then my son arrived and I felt blessed. I had a son and I had a daughter. It was amazing. Now we were back in that valley city, my career was getting more enjoyable, we had purchased our first home, I was making a bit more money, so things were not as stressed as they once were. However, my wife and I were struggling in our relationship because of the miscarriage that we had, and my broken past catching up to me.

Communication was just a word and we were only beginning to realize that we both came from two completely different family styles in how conflicts were dealt with. This also was the time that our Baptist pastor turned independent, unceremoniously, and was now an active part of our lives, telling us how to be and how to exist and what to believe – all through regular weekly doses, on top of additional interactions through my involvement with the activities out at the large ranch – an hour out of the valley.

Under a year after my son was born we had our third child, a daughter. My wife’s pregnancy was difficult with her and my daughter had some medical concerns for the first few months of her life. My wife and I were enjoying our enlarging family and I was enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame in this valley city – winning awards and being invited to teach and lead workshops all around. I was truly enjoying all of my community involvement, along with a successful restaurant and saw no end to where this might lead.

Until my life was threatened.

Then, everything changed.

I quit all of my community involvement. I withdrew from the public spotlight, tail between my legs, not sure what had gone wrong in order to have it feel as badly as it did. My name quit showing up in the local newspaper and eventually I faded away from conversation in the local coffee shops. That spotlight which was on me and my family was fading. Through the fading of the popularity and the accolades there was one voice that remained, and now began to grow in its strength and volume; the voice of the Baptist pastor. He was now balancing his changing ministry opportunities on the island with what he was doing back home in the valley and we remained a constant source of ministry for him.

I was still broken and he wanted to fix me.

When my wife was pregnant with our fourth child the pregnancy was a very hard and difficult one. We were concerned because of increased bleeding that had been happening with each pregnancy, and with the health concerns that came up with our third child there was anxiety now mixed into the regular excitement. When our daughter was born, she was born a month premature and weighed a mere five pounds. She literally fit in the palm of my hand and her entire hand couldn’t wrap around my thumb. Surprisingly, apart from remaining in the hospital for a couple of weeks due to being premature, she had no other medical conditions. And, like the other pregnancies, my wife recovered very well from the surgeries and life went on, just with one more child added to the mix.

It had been five years since we had gotten married. Five years, three cities, six homes, four children, and one miscarriage. Five years, three promotions, the death of my brother, the estrangement from my parents, the community and corporate awards and recognition, and my life being threatened. Five years, four churches, and one pastor who was now fully entrenched in our lives and our marriage.

A lot can happen in five years. It is enough to cause anyone’s head to spin.

Our sixth year anniversary was days away and my wife had news for me.

We were pregnant.

The Cost of Public Life

The Cost of Public Life

In the midst of turning our home into our piece of paradise I had also turned the restaurant around from closing. As a result, corporate rewarded my staff and myself for work well done and I quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a top performer in the company. This included winning numerous regional, provincial, and even national awards for sales, training, customer performance, and community involvement. At the peak of all this fanfare I attended a conference in the largest Eastern Canada’s city, along with 1,200 other managers and was awarded one of three top presidential awards.

But the reality was I was bored.

I knew my job inside and out and found it entirely un-fulfilling. On more than one occasion, I would take my assistant manager out in the morning to shoot a game of pool, instead of taking our time to open the restaurant – just because we could. I began to crave more, that sense of wanting to do something more with my life, to accomplish great things, to contribute in amazing ways to the betterment of society around me. Often, during this time I would talk about the desire to become a “pillar of the community”. So I started looking for ways to do so.

I became a member of the local Rotary Club. I was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, consequently becoming a Director with them, then the Chairperson of a crime-prevention committee, set up with the mandate to address the growing petty crime against businesses that were on the increase in this valley city. This then lead to me writing a weekly newspaper column and then that lead to me having a weekly radio commentary.

I ran for City Council – twice – during these years, just missing out the second time by a hundred or so votes. When there was a violent home invasion in the community, the City brought together community members to discuss the increase crime in the valley and I was a part of that. Out of those discussions, a group of concerned citizens got together and we founded a non-profit organization with the mandate to develop a restorative justice program for the valley. I lead this organization and consequently received a Governor General Award from the Province for my work in setting up the program.

Out of that experience I would travel around to some neighboring communities with a government elected official, speaking at various community gatherings, talking about the work that we had done back in the valley city. I was asked to sit on a special panel in a large neighboring city who were trying to get something similar started there. Not a week would go by without my name in the paper, or some mention of me in the various circles I was involved in. It was at the point that as I walked downtown, people would recognize me and would stop to talk or ask questions.

It was energizing.

But, it came at a cost that I wasn’t expecting.

There were two significant events that occurred. The first event was when I was working hard at the restaurant to build the sales. I did a lot of innovative local advertising and marketing in order to get those sales, which meant that I was an aggressive competitor to any similar restaurants in the valley city. One particular restaurant took offense and began to write threatening letters, sending them unsigned, in large brown manila envelopes. They were vague threats, telling me to back off and stop doing what I was doing or else. I laughed it off and was fired up even more to make sure that this competitor’s voice was squashed. When they would post coupons or ads, I made sure that I offered to my customer’s the opportunity to utilize their coupons in my restaurant. It was very successful and my sales soared. But enough was enough and one day corporate head office for the province called me up. They informed me that they had received some nasty letters from this particular business owner regarding my actions. Corporate head office asked me to back off and to stop my local advertising because they did not want to aggravate this business person any more than I already had.

I obliged but the passion and desire I had to pursue excellence was gone. I resolved myself to going through the motions, losing interest quite quickly in what I was doing as a career and work direction.

The second event was far more chilling. Over the years there was a significant outdoor yearly entertainment event that our valley city hosted. At this event were beer gardens, and specifically the local Chamber of Commerce ran those beer gardens. Surprisingly, the revenue generated from the running of those beer gardens was almost 100% of the total yearly operating costs for the Chamber of Commerce. Not so surprisingly was the massive increase in crime that occurred during the week that this large event was in the community. Consequently, through my weekly newspaper column and radio commentary I became a critic of this event.

That didn’t go over so well with the local Chamber of Commerce. In an effort to minimize any conflict, I had resigned from the Chamber of Commerce, instead focusing my effort on the non-profit work and the restorative justice program. However, to some, I was still a strong voice in the community, and in particular within the business community, and so when my critique of this event increased, it caught the attention of the Chamber of Commerce. Actually, it caught the attention of the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. He got it. He understood what was happening. He was already hearing back from the organizer of the event who did not enjoy reading or listening to this community voice criticizing his massive event. The organizer didn’t like it so much that there were murmurings that he may get another organization to run the beer gardens.

The Chairman couldn’t have that happen, given how much revenue it generated for them. So, instead, the Chairman opted to approach me. His approach, however, was less than professional.

He threatened my life.

This just got serious.

Up to this point I had been enjoying the public life – the spotlight – the influence I had and the change that I was a part of. I felt like I was accomplishing something with my life, doing good for my community, and achieving those dreams of becoming a pillar in my community. But this? I didn’t expect this. I was young and I had a young family and this was a small community. I weighed my options and realized quite quickly that I was outgunned here. The Chairman had been a part of this city of decades. He was very well known and was part of the ‘establishment’. Just like the competitor who took it to corporate head office, I wouldn’t be able to recover from this successfully.

I abruptly quit both my weekly column and radio commentary, making vague references to the cost on myself and my family for speaking out. I resigned from everything I was doing in the community and withdrew back to my little home.

Safe, secure, and uneventful.

Almost Paradise

Almost Paradise

It started as a run-down rental unit owned by a local slum-lord who thought she was doing people a favour by allowing them to rent this place for below market value. When we purchased the place our shoes didn’t come off for a week until we could rip up the red shag carpet that was dirty and reeked of animal urine and feces. We pulled several truck loads of household garbage out from underneath the trailer because apparently putting the garbage out on the curb for community pick-up was not an option. And when the heavy rains came, and there was a sheet of water pouring down on the inside of our back door, we still were not fazed or scared off, because in all of it we saw the potential of the place.

It was the second trailer in on a cul-de-sac of other trailers. Each of us owned the land and the trailer. Our place was the worst on the block. Our neighbours all had significant improvements and when we began to fix up the place we were never short on compliments from everyone on what we were doing. This cul-de-sac was located in a quiet corner of the city, away from major intersections, close to a couple schools, a park, and a corner store. It was also close to the highway leading out of the city and the view from our back yard showed off the tallest mountain in the valley.

There were monuments to a grander time in the life of this place. The entire backyard was comprised of a rather sophisticated system of raised garden beds, now since long neglected and beyond repair. There was a garden shed crammed into the corner of the back yard and several overgrown shrubs that lined one side of the fence line. The neighbours behind us had a large weeping tree, which offered a safe harbour for the birds and some shade on both sides of the fence.

Over the next couple of years this run-down trailer was transformed. We tore up all the flooring, gutted the kitchen, redid the bathroom, upgraded plumbing, and electrical, did some furnace work, built a huge addition, which ended up being the master bedroom complete with a walk-out to a patio in our back yard. We replaced a bunch of windows, installed air-conditioning, built a new front porch and a new fence. We sided the entire place, and re-did the entire yard with new sod and new plants. I built a heart-shaped garden by our front pathway, and we had tulips and roses planted everywhere.

The old neglected trailer turned into a warm and very welcoming home where we brought three of our children home from the hospital. The home was bright, inviting, and our little piece of paradise. We would entertain friends and family here, celebrated the holidays here, and gradually got to know a bunch of our neighbours. Even though I was struggling emotionally as I was working through my past trauma and loss, this home was my retreat – a place where I could sit on our swing, on our deck, with my wife late at night, enjoying a treat from the local pizza place, just staring at the stars.

When my brother died, his truck ended up sitting in my driveway, a consolation prize for his departure, and yet, as painful as it was to see his truck sitting there for the short time that I had it, it also brought a sense of comfort to me in the context of my home. It was as if he had visited this place – as he never got to see the finished product – family sharing in the joy of one another – the milestones of life, so to speak. When I finally sold the truck to one of his friends, it was only after I had a chance to say goodbye, like a long extended visit from a loved one whom you haven’t seen for years.

Quite often my wife would be loading up the children for a walk downtown or to a friend or family’s place, and the sight of this woman pulling a wagon with at least one child along for the ride, with the others walking in single file behind her, drew some curious glances along the way. This parade of such would become even more popular if it was a journey to the grocery store and on the way home there was at least one of the children using all of their strength to carry a four-liter jug of milk, the size of it almost the same size as their upper body.

We didn’t mind. After all, we had our magical place where we could all retreat back to. In this place we started homeschooling our children, my wife having the opportunity to teach all of our children how to read, how to write – quite often I would arrive home after work to find at least one of the children sitting at our dining room table with some books in front of them, looking very academic, while my wife was busy with other projects or crafts or cooking up something delicious in our kitchen.

It was idyllic.

In the midst of life’s storms and in those early years when a young married couple were learning how to love one another, how to communicate to one another having come from completely different families, and how to raise children in the midst of it all – we had our quaint little home on a cul-de-sac to remind us daily of what was really important in life. Out of all the places I have ever lived and all the homes I had lived in – it was this one that I have loved the most.

Almost paradise.

 

Fragmented At The Hands Of A Male

Fragmented At The Hands Of A Male

I made an early connection to this man, drawn in by the clarity of his teaching and his apparent love for us – for me. Very quickly, I wanted to make a meaningful connection to him so I gave him a coffee and told him I wanted – no needed to be accountable to him. I desired to be a better husband, a better man, and this man was offering a way for me to be that. I was also aware at my own failings in my life up to this point, in my attempt to have any meaningful connection to a man. Instead, I had been harmed repeatedly by many men over the years.

Those early months were amazing. I was enjoying my relationship with him. I was enjoying learning how to be a husband, a father, and a man of God. I enjoyed our traveling out to the ranch as it really felt like two friends connecting. When he transitioned to the church on the island my heart would grieve when he was gone. I was invited to go down to the island on a couple of occasions with him – to visit and to engage with the ministry there. It was like two friends spending a fun weekend together.

Time went on and the church on the island asked him to leave. He left and took half the church with him, instead starting a home church at one of the previous elder’s homes in the same city. I had the opportunity to travel down a couple of times to visit this new ministry as well, sharing in his grief over the situation, as he explained where the church had gone wrong.

Meanwhile, back in the valley city, our prayer meetings were growing and some amazing things were happening. When he would come back from the island, one of the very first things he would make a point of doing was to contact me and ask for great detail around what had happened during the prayer meetings, and in the lives of the people here for the week or so that he was gone.

I obliged.

He would seem upset that while he was down on the island, all this great ministry and answers to prayer were happening back in this valley city. When he was back home he would then want to participate in all those meetings, and at times – it seemed he wanted us to recreate what had happened. His intense focus on the lives of everyone then lead to his focusing on my own painful journey through my past. I had expressed already my desire to find freedom – to find healing from my past loss and trauma, and so during the island breaks when he was back in town, that became his primary focus.

It came to a place where I was beginning to dread him coming back to the valley. First I would be instructed to update him on the happenings of everyone’s lives, sometimes recreating certain events so he could gain better understanding. Then the attention would turn to me, where he would challenge me on my own fragmentation, my own struggle with my emotional experiences, my own poor behavior, and resistance to finding freedom in Christ – to regurgitate his words.

The prayer group that was meeting out at the ranch was continuing, although it had grown much smaller and was now for the most part – only men. At first, this was a comforting place for me, but slowly it evolved into a deliberate place in which to focus their energies on my ‘freedom’ – lead by this pastor. As they pushed I was becoming more and more fragmented – my emotional experiences being released without the space or the safety in which to explore what the hell was going on. Instead it was all squished into a place called freedom and I was doing it all wrong.

Much of those times I was heavily fragmented, experiencing intense flashbacks of my own sexual abuse story – although all undefined. I was falling apart and relied on my old coping mechanisms, utilizing dissociation in order to cope with my current reality. At the climax of this period was a particular evening where after some intense prayer, this pastor was determined to lead me back to this image of a door that had come up in previous prayer sessions. This door, in some fashion, symbolized something from my past, and this pastor – this man –  was hell bound to find out what it was. I had much anxiety around approaching this door and opening it.

I remember breaking. That is the best way to describe the experience. I was being flooded with fragmented emotions and images, and I found myself completely overwhelmed. I shut down and completely disconnected. I was done. I did not open that door. I ran from that place. I pulled away from the prayer meetings. I pulled away from the group. This made this man upset and he reset his label of rebelliousness on me with renewed passion. I was now in danger of losing the intimacy of friendship with this man and I did not know what to do.

I didn’t oblige him and that left me vulnerable and quite broken.

Vulnerability, One Kilometer At A Time

Vulnerability, One Kilometer At A Time

It started with the conference in the neighboring city. That followed by a coffee at my restaurant where I asked to be accountable to him. What the hell does that mean? I have no idea, but it feels like I was giving him permission to use me for his own sick satisfaction. At least that is how I am feeling now as I just typed that sentence. Next, the church asked him to leave, and my wife and I invite him and his wife over to talk and pray. Next thing we know, that has turned into a weekly prayer meeting. 

His life was its own interesting journey over the next year and a half. He took a variety of odd jobs in and around the valley, always looking to do some sort of ministry wherever he was,which lead to interesting stories that he would share whenever we would get together. And we got together a lot. So much so, that I considered him my friend more than my pastor or even a pastor.

A year and a half. A relatively short period of time but interestingly, this time frame corresponded with me losing my brother, and the growing strain in my family relationships.

He seemed to want to listen. He seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. My wife and I were still learning how to communicate with one another. She grew up in a family where throwing things at each other while yelling and screaming was the norm in terms of conflict, whereas I grew up in silence. And not just typical, disconnected silence, but deliberate, premeditated, stubborn silence. Thus, we had not learned yet how to fight with one another, which meant that our conflicts with one another left a lot of scars.

This psuedo-pastor took an interest in me and I enjoyed the strong teaching that he provided me. When he was working at a large ranch doing construction, an opportunity arose to have a prayer meeting once a week out at the ranch. He invited me to go along – an hour’s drive one way. I jumped at the opportunity, if only for the chance to talk to someone who seemed interested in what I had to say.

As the days and weeks passed by, I began to let my guard down more and more, opening up with him and sharing all of my hurts and pains, losses, trauma – my entire life’s story. He shared just enough with me to make it all sound familiar and safe, letting me open up and share more. As I shared, he shaped the conversation into biblical and spiritual themes. He introduced some spiritual theology, which gave names, labels, and explanations to my emotional experiences. When we would pray, he would pray for me in very specific ways, inviting me to respond in those same very specific ways.

I obliged.

Months went by and an opportunity was beginning to form for him to potentially relocate to the same island where my wife and I got married. In fact, it would be in a church, in a small community, not that far away from the community we were married in. He traveled down to this island church and that began to be his new rhythm. He would travel down to the island and spend a few days there before coming back up to the valley city. As expected, the church loved him and welcomed him with open arms.

He created an opportunity for a bunch of us from the now quite large prayer meeting at our home to travel with him down to the island to interact and share with the church one Sunday morning. Each of us took a few minutes to stand up in front of the church and share with them our experiences, our stories, and ultimately profess our support for this pastor. We didn’t know it at the time but trouble was brewing there, that mirrored what had happened at the church back in the valley city.

But, we obliged.

I continued to meet with him quite regularly; Weekly prayer meeting at our home, when he was back from the island, I would travel with him out to the ranch, and then there were the individual counseling sessions at his home, and the times that he would come over and counsel my wife and I. He had very quickly become a major part of our family. Of our relationship. Of our marriage.

My wife was beginning to see him on her own as well. We both were aware of our own brokenness and sought his wisdom and insight as to how to deal with it – how to get well. We both became vulnerable to him, sharing, perhaps, more with him then with each other.

The counseling work that he was doing with me began to increase in terms of expected behavioral changes. He had decided that my progress was being inhibited by my rebelliousness.

I believed him.

And so I struggled through it. After all, I wanted to be a better father and a better husband. I wanted to be a better person – a better Christian. Life was getting more and more complicated. There were growing issues with the church we were attending. They had just decided to let their pastor go. I was trying to deal with the loss of my brother and trying not to hate my mother and father for making that happen. In my personal counseling, I was dealing with my own journey of suicide, my occultic background, and all of my poor decisions.

I couldn’t find the language for my own emotional experiences so I hurled myself into my work, or into various community service, relying on my psuedo-pastor friend to tell me what I was feeling and why I was feeling it. After awhile this became the norm. Both my wife and I would look at each other during difficult times and say, “Maybe you should set up an appointment to see our pastor.”

Vulnerability out of a place of safety creates intimacy and deep connection. I had learned how to be vulnerable but it wasn’t with my wife. I was at the mercy of my pastor and I was about to be confronted by him for not behaving correctly. My soul was open, wounded, raw, and exposed. My emotions were leaking out all over the place and I was overwhelmed by all of it. I had spent my entire life not dealing with my emotional experiences, all except anger, and consequently had become disconnected with myself – dissociated and fragmented.

And now, here stood a man ready to put me all back together again.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I am not sure if it was the death of my brother that spurred me on or the ongoing feeding of this emptiness within my chest. Either way, my longing for a sense of identity, for meaning out of my own brokenness and chaos, a longing for affirmation and a sense of wholeness, all began to lead me into more and more community involvement.

In the first year of running the restaurant the company let me know that the restaurant was actually doing quite poorly and so they gave me one year to turn it around or else they would close the operation. I would be fine as far of job protection, as they realized that one year is a short amount of time, so they promised that they would just transfer me to another restaurant in another city if it didn’t work out here.

But, I liked it here. And I felt an immense responsibility to the twenty or so employees who were working for me. I also liked the challenge. Perhaps my brother’s death just gave me the excuse to pour myself more into my work but either way by the time that fiscal year was over I had grown the business by close to 30% and had shaved off a lot of inefficiencies in the operation, adding to a very healthy bottom line. Not only was the store saved, but I had received a bonus, my staff received a bonus, and I also began to win a number of both provincial and national awards for my work.

But it wasn’t enough.

I became a member of the Rotary Club. I became a member of the Chamber of Commerce. I ran for public office – twice. While I was part of the Chamber of Commerce I became the chair of a special committee formed to address the rising crime – in particular business related crime – in the community. This lead into my starting a weekly radio and newspaper commentary on the community. Then an elderly man was brutally murdered in a home invasion. That enraged the community and I became a part of a special committee that the city set up. This involvement then lead to founding a non-profit organization that included in the name community justice center.

This center and focus of the group was to establish a restorative justice model for the community. I received a special award from the governor general because of that work. I traveled with the local member of the legislative assembly – a minister at the time, to various communities where I would lead workshops on crime prevention and restorative justice. I was asked by the attorney general to be a part of a special panel workshop held in a neighboring city on restorative justice, where there were high-ranking city officials from the entire region, all to talk to the success that our city had.

I worked with the provincial vehicle insurance agency and the local school system and the city to set up the first ever mock realistic accident to deal with the dangers of drunk driving. This meant shutting down the city’s core intersection for the lunch hour while the mock accident happened. Various emergency agencies participated in this ‘live drama’ for the community and students who suddenly came upon this scene during their lunch felt the impact of the event by bursting into tears at the realistic sight.

But it all wasn’t enough.

Our family continued to grow. Our son was born later that same year that I lost my brother. Shortly after, my wife was pregnant with our third child, and in the midst of a toddler, a newborn, and a pregnancy we (meaning mostly her) took on the daunting task of building an addition onto our home, along with gutting our kitchen to put in a new one. For a month, our kitchen was moved to our living room. Floors were ripped up, walls taken apart, building materials were mixed in with breakfast cereal. Her father did the framing of the addition, her brother helped me with the tearing apart and the rebuilding of the kitchen, and our psuedo-pastor lent a hand, in-between his own odd jobs to fill his time and provide some sort of income for his family.

We lived in a perpetual state of chaos for quite a few months, my growing community and extra-curricular activities eating more and more into my family time. This only grew worse as time went on. I had the restaurant to run and I had these various community meetings to attend, both in the city and outside of the city. Somewhere in the middle of this hectic journey, I traveled two and a half hours – one way – once a week, for twelve or so weeks, to another city in order to take some specialized suicide prevention training, in hopes to establish a specialized suicide prevention center in our city.

Then we had this ongoing weekly prayer meeting that was beginning to add in numbers and length. We were also attending a local church, doing the Sunday morning thing but also participating in the other church events that would come up. Between my community involvement, my wife’s various participation with different groups and events, the prayer meeting, the church events, the renovations, it resulted in a time-frame of about two years where it was all we could do but to survive the day.

We both didn’t seem to mind it all, at the time. We both had the energy for it, the enthusiasm for what was happening all around us, but I often look back with much regret at this time. Yeah, I accomplished a lot in those few years, both personally and generatively – in the community and beyond. Yeah, I won some amazing awards and found a lot of recognition – not a week would go by without my name being mentioned in the local media for something. I couldn’t walk down the street without being recognized and invited into various conversations. In a way I became a mini-celebrity and this was my fifteen minutes of fame.

But it wasn’t enough.

Roadtrip to Loneliness

Roadtrip to Loneliness

My wife and I have solved the world’s problems a thousand times over with our drives. We define happiness as having a full tank of gas and some money for food. Case in point: It has been two and a half years since we purchased our newest vehicle, brand new off the lot with 1 or 2 kilometers on it. We now have over 125,000km on it. Only a handful of those kilometers were actual destination-minded ‘trips’. The rest were meanderings, down empty highways and bi-ways, to no place in particular where we would talk or listen, sometimes at the same time, taking time to think and file our thoughts, feeling safe with each other.

My driving passion started before I had my license as a young teenager. As I worked my way through my various vehicles as I was growing up I could say that apart from everything those vehicles were not – undriven was not one of them. Every single one of them I loaded on the kilometers before passing them along. So, even as a married couple, now with a child and another one on the way, all we knew was that our children better adapt quickly to ‘road trips’ because we didn’t want to change that. And for the most part, that worked. We would have to plan a bit more and carry a bit more supplies with us, but overall our children tolerated our sudden road trips well.

So it was no surprise, I suppose, that during the incredibly difficult few weeks right after my brother’s funeral – on one particular occasion – my wife and I were driving, our daughter strapped into her car seat in the back, content to either nap or look out the window – and that driving turned into more of an event. We drove onto the major highway system that intersected in this valley and headed toward the coast. We had no intention of driving to the coast but the highway through the mountain pass is a beautiful one and there are several places where we would drive to before turning around and heading back home.

But we didn’t. We just continued driving. And driving. And driving. Four and a half hours later we were all the way down to the coast and were now parked in a harbour where there are large vehicle ferries ready to take its occupants to the various islands that border this most western province.

I got out of the car and shook the cobwebs from my head. It was not my intention to drive here. I was in auto-pilot and just drove. I couldn’t drive any more without getting onto a ferry and my wife and I teased that idea around for awhile before common sense reminded us that we had a child to take care of and we had very little supplies with us, let alone anything for an overnight, which is what this was bordering on becoming. I opted for the view instead.

I stood there in that parking lot staring out into the harbour with the pacific ocean as its backdrop. As I stood there and I stared it was as if I connected once again to that little boy standing behind the fence on that raging river, longing to get to the other side, longing to find freedom from their circumstances. I remember the image of that boy standing on the other side of the bank, wet, tired, and hungry, but happy. I can see him from where I stood at the shore line – see him waving his arms frantically saying something that I couldn’t hear but still understood. I was both of those individuals. I was stuck on both sides of this mass of water between us.

I now needed to learn to be okay with my loneliness all over again.