Archive for April, 2013
The End

I first wrote in this blog in May, 2011. Now, two years later, this is my last entry.

“One day you are going to lose everything you have. Nothing will prepare you for that day. Not faith… not religion… nothing. When someone you love dies, you will know emptiness… you will know what it is to be completely and utterly alone.” — John Bergin, introduction to The Crow, Special Edition by James O’Barr.

I now understand that you never get over a loss like this. The pain fades, becomes less all-consuming, and it’s easier to remember the happy memories. But you never get over the loss; you have to accept it and make it part of you. I am ten times the person I was before I met Ailish and I would not trade a single moment I had with her.

This past weekend, I ran a 10K Run/Walk/Ride 4 Traffic Safety and then ran the Edmonton Police Foundation Half Marathon the next day (amusingly, they claim I’m in the 40 – 49 age category). It was a perfect way to end off the month. Ailish would have been proud. She also would have categorically refused to run two runs in a single weekend.

This blog has been a place for me to share stories from my life with Ailish. This was my place to talk about Ailish. For every story I told, a hundred people have a hundred stories of their own. Ailish was a central player in so many people’s lives. I’m not out of stories; there are still so many, but this is the last one I’ll tell here.

Thank you.


After Ailish and I had been together for about a year, we decided to move in together.

That’s not true.

After Ailish and I had been together for about a year, we decided to buy a house together.

A house.

You know, at the time, it seemed reasonable. Everything was going really well, and both Ailish and I wanted to stop renting and actually own some real estate. This is how we went about doing that.

It’s worth noting I had been exceptionally bad with my finances in my early to mid twenties. Really, really bad. Just about the only thing that saved me was that my credit card limit was only $1000. Still. I had done some research and found out that bad credit falls off your report after a number of years.It didn’t help that Boardwalk had placed a… well, let’s just say ‘aggressively fictitious’… charge on my report and these things are hard to correct. I had been exceptionally careful for a number of years, but I was rather uncertain about what my credit report would show and it was a painful thing to admit to Ailish.

Ailish, on the other hand, had never missed a payment in her life.

So, we went down to the bank to talk mortgages. Turns out the bank was quite happy. “Your credit report, savings, and net worth are exactly what we like to see.” Huzzah! Armed with a preapproval for a mortgage and a reasonable downpayment, we looked around for a realtor.

And struck out.

We emailed several. We called a few. Nobody called back. Here we were, looking to spend hundreds of thousands of the bank’s money, and nobody wanted to talk to us. Weird. After some effort and a few crossed connections, we did eventually find one, recommended to us by my good friend, Chad. Kevin Grenier.

Now, the best way to work with a realtor is to have a clear idea of what you are looking for, know your price range, be certain of the neighbourhood you are interested in, and work with your realtor, providing feedback on each house you look at. What do you like about this house? What do you wish it had? What’s wrong with it?

But, you know, that’s not how we did it. I mean, we thought we had a clear idea of what we wanted. We wanted a house. You know, one we could live in. One we would love. We had a vague idea of the price range. And, errrm… we had this plan. See, buying a house together only works if it is perfect for both of you. So, Kevin would take us to the next house on the list, Ailish and I would walk in, take a look around, and take notes. We wouldn’t say anything. We wouldn’t express appreciation or disapproval. Our faces would be made of stone, betraying no emotion whatsoever. This way, you see, we could do our own silent reviews, get back out to the car, and compare. “6”. “7.5” “Okay, yeah, we don’t like that one. Let’s see the next.” Kevin, to his credit, was very patient. He prodded us for information, tried to figure out what the heck we were doing and why we were so crazy.

Actually, it worked out quite well for Kevin. He took us around a few houses on a Wednesday evening, none of which we liked. Then another few on Saturday. One of the houses we looked at on Saturday, we just fell in love with. Ailish said she knew just looking at the outside. For me, I knew as soon as I walked in the front door. We looked at a few more that day, but we had already picked out our home.

We demanded a second look on Sunday, and then sat down with Kevin to make an offer. The offer wasn’t immediately accepted; Ailish had demanded a possession date two weeks in the future and it was all but impossible to get her to grant even an extra week. She wanted to move in right now today, please. But, after a bit of back and forth, we did finally settle on a reasonable deal.

Moving was quite stressful. Ailish did most of the work, but it’s still not fun. But anyway, we did move in. And then unpacked everything over the next 24 hours, ahem. She made me promise I would never make her move again.

Your first mortgage payment is due at the end of the month, unlike rent which is due at the beginning. Ailish and I had written up a plain-English agreement between the two of us to cover eventualities such as if one of us lost our job, or if we broke up and had to sell the house. We had also set up a shared account where we’d each transfer our share of the mortgage payments and other expenses. And… well, I forgot. I don’t think I ever saw Ailish more angry than that moment. Here she was, just moved in with a guy she rather liked, and he stiffed her on the very first mortgage payment. I apologised rather a lot for that. I had the money, of course, I just hadn’t got around to setting up automatic payments. From then on, I always made my payment one cycle early, just in case.

We loved our home. When we were looking at places, we quickly decided we needed two living rooms, so we could watch different t.v. shows without bothering each other. It turned out we far preferred each other’s company, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. We had a spare bedroom in the basement, the best idea ever. We pretty much retreated there for the entire summer, spiders aside, as it was so much cooler. I still love this house.


Today, Ailish would have turned 30. This would have been a weekend of celebration, beer, and smiles.

It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post here. There are a million stories I could tell, but I plan to stop writing before the end of this month.

I want to say thank you. This article would probably be most appropriate if left as the final blog post, but it’s going here instead, with one or two more to follow. I have decided to leave out people’s last names. If you see your first name mentioned here, I’m almost certainly talking about you. In no particular order…

Thank you to my family. My mom and my dad (and Sylvia), my brothers David and Matt, and my sister, Helen. And brother-in-law, Travor, and future sister-in-law, Mel! Only family truly understands how crazy you are, and I am deeply grateful for your support despite that craziness.

Thanks to Michael and Dominica and Siobhan and Brian. This has been harder on you than anyone can ever understand, and I am proud to have you as part of my family. I owe you a debt that can never be repaid.

To Sarah and Chad and Tina and Shane and Sandy and Nick and Nicole. I cannot find words to express how wonderful you have all been. Your acceptance and friendship has kept me sane.

Jake, Dane and Erika, Sophie, Janna, I am a poor friend. I am sorry I have done a poor job keeping in contact with you, and I thank you for all the times you have included me. You were all so much more than a ‘friend’ to Ailish, and I wish that words could take away your hurt.

Chris and Leighann, John, Christa, Val, Lonna, Clinton, Greg. You guys. :) So awesome.

My coworkers, including but definitely in no way limited to Fraser and Tys and Remi and Geoff and Dennis, and my boss, Jack. Some days, some weeks, some months sucked, and you guys helped more than you can imagine. You are also are incredibly smart and very wonderful. Also, Krissin; a friendship based entirely on hippo pictures!

To Lorna, thank you for all you have done, and all you have helped me with. I am proud to know how much Ailish meant to you and to her coworkers. She so deeply loved being a part of the City of Edmonton.

Roma (and Graham) and Melina and Heather and my very many twitter buddies. Sexy, smart, funny, wonderful, the lot of you.

To the ten people I will remember as soon as I hit publish, your omission from this list shames me. And some people I deliberately did not mention because you don’t know me and won’t ever read this, but you helped me nonetheless.

And, of course, to Ailish Ruth O’Connor. What could I write that could ever be enough?