It’s really late and I should be going straight to sleep, but here I am in bed listening to one of my favourite Christmas songs and the sound of my beloved Michael breathing…he’s fast asleep beside me. My heart is absolutely full and my cheeks are soaking wet and I wonder how I will ever explain what’s going on inside of me. In four minutes it will be December 27, 2014, and I am grateful beyond words for another night with Mike and the sound of him breathing beside me. Every night I wonder if tonight will be the last time we say good bye.
It’s been a unique Christmas. Some things are the same, but some are very different. Mike says this will most likely be our last Christmas together here on earth so we are clinging to the moments and making this Christmas an extra special one…or I should say God is making it extra special.
We are having a wonderful time with family, but our times alone are extraordinary. The tender moments between sessions of suctioning and uncontrollable coughing and bowel care, are sweet. Its like there’s this glow around us. Maybe it’s all the Christmas lights I put up this year because Mike loves Christmas lights, but it’s a special glow, like angels are among us. It’s been a time of last words, and everyday I wonder why I’m so lucky to be able to say good bye like this. Nothing will go unsaid.
I tell Mike everyday I love him and he gives me the look “I love you too.” A while ago, when I told Mike “I love you,” he wanted the alphabet board. I picked it up and held it right in front of him like I do many times a day. I started, “A? E? I?” He raises his eye brow slightly. “Is it I?” I ask. Yes, it’s “I”. “Is it the letter I?” I question. Yes. “Is “I” the word?” Yes. Then I move on. A? E? I? It’s “I” again. I ask if it’s the letter “I”. I get a slight nod no. J? K? L? It’s “L”. I ask Mike if it’s “love”. He raises his brows. “You love me back?” I say. He smiles, and keeps going. “I love you more than ever,” he spells. With a lump in my throat, I tell him I love him more than ever too.
When we moved out of our house two and a half years ago, I found some old home movies we never had converted to disc. I put the little tapes in a box with the intention of having them put on DVD but I forgot about them. A couple of months ago they came to my mind and I finally took them in to be transferred. The DVDs were ready just before Christmas so I wrapped them up and put them under the tree for Mike…turns out it was the best present I could have received. After Christmas dinner, we all gathered around the TV and watched one of the discs. I randomly chose one marked “new house” not knowing what we’d find…it was perfect. Mike was behind the camera most of the time. It started at our old townhouse on 236th St with our kids and some neighbour kids in the back yard. Mike also showed the empty rooms and packed boxes as we were in the middle of moving. Then Mike was at the river filming the kids and their friends floating down the river on rafts and then swimming in the swimming hole (Davison’s pool). Suddenly, at one point, Mike’s lying on an air mattress on the rock next to the water, suntanning. A random woman comes up to him and offers to put lotion on his back. All smiles and flirty, Mikes like, “Sure, what’s your name?” She replays, “Anything you want it to be,” and proceeds to rub him down with lotion. We were killing ourselves laughing. This is typical Mike Sands. There was also some footage of Mike and Erin’s trip to Toronto that summer. His mum and dad were on there along with his siblings and some nieces and nephews. It was really cool. The video ended in our back yard with little Michaela and Luke playing fetch with our dear departed dog, Isla. It was very special.
In one scene, we were at the townhouse loading up a truck and moving to our new house (old house) on Mountainview Cres. Madison is sitting in a chair in the back of the truck, I’ve got the camera in the passenger’s seat and Nathan is in the middle. Mike gets into the driver’s seat, starts the engine and begins singing, “And they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly…Hills that is, swimming pools, movie stars…” Again, typical Mike Sands…the wise cracks about Granny in the back, the jokes, the laughs…that was Mike! His silliness ten years ago and the laughs they produced this Christmas Day was the greatest gift he could have given me. It was a wonderful gift for everyone in the room.
When I put Mike to bed tonight, I couldn’t contain the tears (which isn’t that unusual these days), and I apologized for not appreciating him more…his silliness, his jokes, his love for making me and others laugh. I apologized for not pouring out joy in his life like he poured out in mine. All of a sudden I could only remember how unkind I was to him sometimes and how loving he was to me. I hugged him and cried and said I was sorry. I held him tight and wished I had shown more appreciation for Mike and all those light and funny moments with him.
Then Mike wanted to say something. It took a while with the alphabet board, but this is what he said, “In all the years we've been together, you’ve never judged me for the countless mistakes I’ve made.” I replied, “What mistakes?” He said, “See, you have forgotten them already.” He continued, “Heaven is about love and forgiveness—you are already there.” He went on to say, “You are the perfect girl for me…God gave me the perfect girl.”
Mike would often tell me I was the perfect girl for him, that he was so lucky to marry the girl of his dreams and how I was his “sweet heart”. But tonight I didn’t feel like a “sweet heart”, I felt a little like a failure. I wanted to go back in time and show him more love and truly embrace the joy he brought into our lives.
I really don’t recall Mike making many mistakes and he apparently has forgotten mine—even though we both made many of course. I guess that’s what love and forgiveness is all about…its about forgetting…or at least putting the past behind you. Mike has spelled out to me a few times, “Heaven is about love and forgiveness.”
Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (American Standard Version).
To forgive and forget is to love with the love of Christ.
Anyway, I’m finishing this post here in my bed next to Mike. It’s weird because in three minutes it will be December 28, exactly twenty-four hours and one minute after I started writing this post. Mike is fast asleep beside me and my ears are attentive to his every breath. His breathing is like music to me and I’m so thankful for twenty-four hours and one minute more with my beloved Mike.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mike and Me
Madison, Nathan, Mike and Erin
Michaela, Luke, Mom, Dad, Erin, Leah, Nathan and Madison
Peter, Michaela, Luke and Elanna