Building On the Foundation Clo and I Co-Created

It has been a year of change, loss, pain, much learning, grief, joy, awe, love, friendship, mystery, magnificence, growth, astonishing awareness…….so much more even.

A year ago on June 15 at 2:15 am my partner of 23 years took her last breath, held by my two daughters, our 10 year old granddaughter, and me. We were all telling her we loved her and wishing her a safe journey. “Love you, Mamie,” whispered Sydney. I kissed her forehead.

One year later I am totally renovating the kitchen; I have hibernated, walked, talked, cried, laughed, hugged, slept, dreamed, wondered, and grown, oh so very much. I have rediscovered and reconnected to a Nancy who feels strong, independent, content, and happy. For months I feared happiness and courage had abandoned me. Finally I discovered they had only gone underground while I rested and grew stronger.

I have created a new life and built on the life Clo and I once shared together. My eyes find more of myself in the house as I continue to make my changes. First I tackled our shared bedroom and then the down stairs TV space, which was Clo’s hideaway place. I set Clo’s sanctuary and go to place up to welcome our friend Valarie as a house mate. Her energy now fills that space and now and then she and I meet over a glass of wine or a shared meal.

Next I had the kitchen renovated, and now I am having the living room and dining room painted, purchasing some new furniture and moving some that has been there rather a long while out to other homes who will love them as we once loved them. Perfectly lovely furniture, but when I look at it I see Clo sitting in her special chair by the radio listening to the French station and I simply long for things to be the way they were. Isn’t it strange, when she was so sick I longed for there to be peace, now there is peace, I remember her in that chair, I hear Québécois music and I want the past back again?

Clo had very clear and specific ideas about what she wanted her home to look like. I was not nearly so clear so allowed myself to accommodate. She liked bold, I prefer subtle. I would call her style boxy and mine curvy. I like gray and many shades of purple, my office is called Concord Grape. She chose deep greens and rich browns. She had style. I have intuition. My heart has to love what I live with. Her eyes had to feast on the orderliness and beauty of what she lived with. Absolutely there is nothing wrong with either. And I am still learning what my heart and intuition prefer.

It was a revelation to look at the mess our difficult winter left on Clo’s beautiful garden. I had no idea how to tackle it. Clo’s creative self-extended outside our home. She designed and built a beautiful front and back yard for us. I called her a gorilla gardener: she found empty spaces beyond our own yard that begged for love and attention and took them into her heart, got her hands grubby, and laughed in delight when flowers or raspberries or rhubarb, tomatoes or ancestral green beans from her father’s garden in Quebec City, began to thrive in out of the way places. A very dear woman stepped up to the plate and bit by bit, the beauty Clo once created is re-emerging

Clo did not like geraniums. She liked white flowers with many green ferns and bushes. I have red geraniums. For this year at least. I love my splash of colour and my statement that I am taking over at least for now, with a touch of rebellion and a chuckle. I think Clo is growling a bit, and grinning a whole lot. I think Clo believed geraniums to be a bit too plebeian for her taste. They remind me of a Spanish dancer’s swirling red skirt as she dances the flamingo and snaps away with her castanets. I dream I am in Spain or Italy when I line up my red geraniums in the black wrought iron basket that hold place of pride by my kitchen door.

I believe Clo is hovering in my space and in my heart. She smiles kindly and lovingly and I can almost hear her say I always knew you could do it, Pomme. Pomme, apple in French, that is what she called me when she was feeling gentle and sweet toward me, which was more often than not. Even in times of distress between us, when Clo called me Pomme, I knew we would find our way out of any stuck place together.

Not too long ago I was driving with a friend wanting to do a bit of shopping. Of course we couldn’t find a parking space on Queen St so around and around we went. Almost ready to give up and go home, I called upon Clo in my frustration, to send her parking angel to help me. She carried a parking angel in her pocket or carried her on her shoulder, amazingly resourceful and always reliable. Up popped a place for me to park that darn car. Thank you, Clo. I deeply appreciate when you are paying attention.

Life is about change, growth, love, celebration and death, loss, and sorrow. The learning is in the contrast, as Abraham would say. Today, and of late, the contrast feels and looks good to me. I know there are days ahead when it may be harder. Today is about love and it is an easy, soft love. It is also a day of remembering, and I am remembering the good times.

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