The Joy Will Burn Out The Pain.
I've been sitting at my computer for what feels like a bit too long a time, trying to figure out the best way to explain what has happened to me, and to my mum, in the last few months, that has led us to make the decision to pack up all of our belongings, leave our lives in Montreal, QC (me) & Kingston, ON (my mum), say goodbye to my successful hairdressing business, put my mum's house up for sale, leave our friends and family, and head cross-country to start this new venture, and perhaps new chapter of our lives, on Prince Edward Island.
I suppose there are a few different reasons for this change. But there's only one real reason. The big reason. The devastating catalyst for all of this. And I suppose if I'm going to be honest in the telling of this story, I have to also tell this part. There's no sense sharing a half-story. It's just the truth of our lives, after all. And the truth of our lives is that, at the end of last summer, the anchor of our tiny but tightly-knit family died very suddenly. And, just like that, my mother lost the love of her life, her partner of 26 years, and I lost my dearly beloved paps. And, just like that, our lives would never be the same again.
There is a lot to say about grief. If you've lost someone you love, particularly if you've lost them suddenly, I don't need to tell you what the last months have been like for us. I don't need to explain how grief is the mother of all pain. How it has often felt like I was living in a nightmare from which I couldn't wake. But many people have written about grief far better than I can. And if you wanted to read about grief, you'd probably be reading their books or blogs. So, with all due respect to grief, I'm going to try to stick to the more hopeful part of this story. The part where, a few weeks after my paps' death, my mum and I took a trip to PEI, where my paps was from. Where he was born, raised, and where he lived until he was a young adult. Where he was a boy scout, and a choir boy. Where he proudly attended UPEI, where he buried his own beloved father. Where his dear mother, and his cousins, still live.
We were going to see his side of our family. And to be on his island.
I'll be honest, I was barely functioning at this point. Leaving the house for even the shortest amount of time required an enormous amount of effort. All I could do was wear his UPEI shirts and his shorts, and sit around the house and cry, and write, and go into the yard, pet the neighbour's dog, and cry some more.
But we went anyway. And it was beautiful, as it always is. And we spent time with his family, and they were lovely, as they always are. And we drove around the fair island of the sea. And we cried. And we met people. And they were all so very kind to us. And we scattered some of his ashes on Brackley Beach. And we cried some more. And I ate enough lobster rolls to feed a small army.
And something else happened while we were there. Towards the end of our trip, my mum took me to an old schoolhouse in North Milton. At the time, it was occupied by a sweet, young woman who makes and sells pottery. My mum and paps had visited her on their last trip there together, a few years prior.
And this is where things get a little... Well... Let's just say I'm counting on you to keep an open mind for this part, OK?
So as soon as I got to the schoolhouse, something happened. Something that is hard to explain in a blogpost. Something that is hard to explain even to myself in my own head. All I can say is that, when I set foot in that schoolhouse, I had a very strong feeling that I would be its future occupant. It made no sense at the time. I already had a business. And a life. In Montreal. And my mom had her house in Kingston. And what was left of her life there. And this schoolhouse was on PEI. And didn't even have running water. Or heat. But the feeling inside me was so strong that, after bombarding the kind potter with a million questions, I took a photo because, somehow, I knew that I would eventually need the dimensions/layout of the space because, somehow, I had a sneaking suspicion, that I would be opening a shop there.
Then a bunch of other things happened.
We came back from the trip. I had a slightly intense but extremely healing conversation with a spiritual teacher/medium. I went back to Montreal and back to work. Things felt off. My mum and I spoke on the phone almost every night. Sometimes, we cried. I went to see her every other weekend, on my days off. We decided we needed to live closer to each other. We decided we needed to be together. We couldn't just go back to the lives we were leading before. We realized the extent to which our lives would never be the same. We cried some more. We explored options, did some research, made some calls. We made lists. We weighed pros and cons. We talked to friends and family. I made about 9 different possible life plans for us. And I was reminded of a great line by Joseph Campbell: Find a place inside where there's joy and the joy will burn out the pain.
So that's what i tried to do.
And then we asked for signs.
And we received said signs.
And we listened, very closely, to our guts. To that little voice inside that says: This is what feels good and right to me.
And then we realized.
That all roads and all signs and all guts and inner voices were pointing in the same direction, to the fair island of the sea.
How long are you staying?
Is it a permanent move?
Are you ever coming back?
These are all excellent questions my mum and I have been asked recently, and ones we've asked and continue to ask ourselves, but the truth is: we don't know yet. Life Is crazy, and surprising; that much we've definitely learned in these past months.
We know we're going to PEI. We know this shop is opening in May. We know we're closing it up at the end of September. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. But stay tuned, won't you? I suspect we may be in for an interesting ride.