Archive for July, 2011
One Year

Today is 365 days since I married the love of my life, Ailish O’Connor. And 102 days since she died.

We had been together for more than three and a half years. As part of our wedding vows, we each said, “Every day is better with you in it.” This was true before we got married and even more so after. I loved every minute I spent with Ailish. She was my partner, my ally against the cold, cruel world. She was my inspiration, my motivation. She gave me new eyes with which to see the beauty in life. She was the reason behind my smiles.

No relationship is perfect, but it is hard to imagine one with more love than ours.

I am so glad I got to meet Ailish. That I got to know her, to love her, to marry her, to make her happy. That I had a wonderful, magical life with her. I regret only that Ailish and I had such a short time together, and that I could not hold her hand as she died, and tell her one last time how much I loved her.


One of the best things about a relationship is that you develop your own little world. You learn each other’s signals. You partner up to face adversity. And, if you are lucky, you invent crazy little stories.

Hippopotamuses were one of those stories that Ailish and I shared.

I honestly have no idea how hippos came to hold a special significance for us, but I know they were well established within the first six months of our relationship.

Hippos had two major impacts in our imaginary world. First, they were what made you sleepy. By jumping on your head. And they sometimes peed on the floor.

No, really. It’s true. See, neither Ailish nor I would ever be clumsy enough to spill water on the floor. So how else could you explain it other than that the hippo did it? And how better to succeed at a Sunday afternoon nap than to invite a hippo to jump on your head? I mean, really, who wouldn’t be tired after such a commotion?

Pretty early on, we had a little stuffed toy hippo at my place, and one at Ailish’s. As we stayed together, our hippo collection multiplied. We watched the story of Jessica the Hippo with absolute amazement. When we visited the Calgary Zoo, we appreciated how dozy the hippopotamuses were because they are, after all, the source of all doziness.

By the time of her birthday this year, we had at least eight hippos around the house. I placed two of them in Ailish’s casket before she was cremated.

Task manager

On my iPhone, I use a task manager called EpicWin. It lets you enter ‘quests’ instead of tasks. When you complete a quest, you sometimes get loot or to level up your little dude.

I’ve been using this for some time now. When you enter a new quest, you have to categorise it. One of the categories has a heart, so anything I did with Ailish, I assigned to this. By far, most of my entries went into this category.

Now, I use the heart category only when dealing with estate issues.

This is not what I wanted to be doing now. This is not how I wanted to spend my life. Ailish, I miss you so much, all the time and with all my heart.

Keys to Happiness

I’ve been going back and reading some of the very earliest emails that Ailish and I exchanged with each other, back in August, 2007, before we had even met.

One particular bit stood out. Ailish said,

“If a sense of self worth, good friends, a rewarding job, and a significant other are the keys to happiness, I have 3 out of 4 which ain’t bad.”

I was so incredibly happy to read that because I know on the day she died, she had all four. She had me, and she still had her wonderful friends and co-workers, and a job she loved.

Pedestrian avoidance system

I wish this was standard equipment on all motor vehicles.


Last night, I had a dream about Ailish.

Ailish had committed some sort of crime. She was going to be charged and faced the possibility of a jail sentence. She was very distraught, both about the crime itself and about the charges. She was crying. I told Ailish that everything would be okay, we’d get through this together. And then I gave her a big hug.

And then I woke up. We won’t get through this together. But at least I got a hug from Ailish, if only in my dreams.


Every so often, one of us would buy the other a card and leave it under their pillow. Or by the door, or near the coffee maker.

My favourite card is still on my bedside table. It says:

The most perfect place in the world…
… is anywhere with you.

Chris, I love you.
You’re my gondola.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

– Ailish

More TV shows

I previously wrote how much Ailish loved West Wing. I thought perhaps I would list some other shows that Ailish enjoyed.

Again, you have to realise how hard it was to get Ailish to sit still long enough to watch even an hour-long show without commercials. For every show on this list, there were probably five that I tried to convince her to watch, only to be met with scorn or general boredom.

Boston Legal — This is a rather silly show about high-priced lawyers taking outrageous cases. The show has two redeeming factors. First, the friendship that develops through the seasons between Alan Shore (played absolutely perfectly by James Spader) and Denny Crane (played with gusto by William Shatner) is absolutely beautiful and heartwarming. Second, the character of Jerry Espenson (played by Christian Clemenson). Jerry has such an amusing array of tics and hops, Ailish just fell about laughing. Ailish and I were half way through watching this show for a second time (something basically unheard of in Ailish’s world) when she died.

The Big Bang Theory — I suspect much of Ailish’s enjoyment of this show came from watching me break up laughing. Certainly, she found some of the characters to be tiresome. But I think everyone knows about Sheldon. Ailish adored Sheldon and his interactions with the other characters.

The Office — A staple of our Friday evenings. After we got home from date night, Ailish would make noodles (noodles!) and search for chips, and I would queue up The Office. I understand James Spader may be added to the regular cast list next season. It breaks my heart that Ailish won’t get to watch those episodes.

How I Met Your Mother — Less of a must-watch show, but a regular staple for us. All five main characters contribute meaningfully to the show, and the relationships are wonderful.

Top Gear (UK edition) — What? A show about cars? Really? Well, no. It’s not really about cars. You really have to watch it to understand.

These are not all the shows we watched. Nor would they necessarily be the shows Ailish would highlight if she was writing this list herself. Still, they are five shows that we watched and enjoyed regularly.


The vernal equinox marks the first day of spring. The summer solstice marks the first day of summer. That is what I would tell Ailish, but she never really believed me.

Spring was when there was no more snow on the ground. When you could sit outside on a Sunday morning and read the paper. Perhaps you wouldn’t be warm, but you wouldn’t have to dig a path through the snow to do so. Summer was when you could sit out on the patio at your local pub.

Ailish thought it was stupid to define the seasons by dubious astronomical events, particularly when there was quite obviously still snow on the ground. No amount of convincing would make her change her mind. She also thought I was a bit crazy for caring about the specific number of hours of daylight, and found it hard to feign interest when I would (continually) point it out to her. Ailish understood that meteorologists defined the seasons this way, she just did not believe their opinion really counted.

It’s rained for 32 of the past 42 days here in Edmonton. Google says it’s going to rain for the next five. Ailish, I don’t know what happened to summer.

Bedrooms and Spiders

Our house has three bedrooms (and one office). Ailish and I actually managed to use all three.

The master bedroom, of course, was the default. It had the best bed, an adjoining bathroom, clothes, etc.

And then, we had a spare bedroom upstairs. I pretty much never used this, but Ailish did. Ailish and I had very different views on how a person should get up in the morning. I thought you should get up once your alarm clock went off. Or, ideally, wake up just before it went off. Ailish thought of the alarm clock as a sort of suggestion. One to be ignored. Over and over and over again. So, within a week of moving in together, we came up with a different plan. Ailish would wake up to her alarm at 5 or 5:30 in the morning, and walk over to the spare bedroom, where she would proceed to snooze for the next hour or so. Hey, in marriage, you have to make compromises.

We also have a bedroom in the basement. It’s much cooler down there, ideal for the summer months. The major downfall, from Ailish’s point of view, are the spiders. Despite there being no other insects as far as I can see, spiders just love the basement. Ailish hated spiders.

So, every time we slept downstairs, Ailish demanded that I do a spider check. This started out as just checking the corners of the room. Then I had to check the lampshade. The headboard. Then Ailish added the bathroom. I drew the line when she started implying maybe I should just check the whole entire basement, just in case.

I’ve been sleeping in the basement recently. It’s cooler and also darker down there, so it’s slightly easier for me to sleep. Last night, I found two spiders.