Archive for the 'Chris' Category

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?


The other morning, I looked outside and saw my frosty car. There’s nothing fun about scraping the windows of your car on a cold morning. It’s one of the many reasons I am happy I work from home. Ailish never looked very pleased to be scraping off her car, nor was she thrilled to navigate our snowy neighbourhood roads in the morning.

As I looked at the Forester, I thought to myself that perhaps some day, I should catch a ride in to work with Ailish. It wouldn’t be so bad as last year, because the Forester has remote start. And we could maybe stop for breakfast somewhere. She could go to work, and I could go to a coffee shop with my laptop. And on the way, I could stop at the bench downtown that is dedicated to Ailish’s memory.

It wasn’t until that moment that I remembered why I couldn’t catch a ride with Ailish in the morning. Or ever again.

What Changes

After Ailish and I were engaged, I met up with a friend for tea. She got married in 2008, and I asked her what surprised her most about marriage. She said what most surprised her was how much more she loved her husband now than when she had married him.

This seemed unreasonable to me. In this day and age, relationships don’t work that way. People live together before they get married. They see each other every day. Heck, Ailish and I had bought a house together a year into our relationship. At that point, we were pretty significantly committed to each other, at least financially if nothing else. And everyone else I talked to said that nothing really changes when you get married.

Everyone else was wrong.

Sure, the day to day stuff does not change. You still have work to do. You still have bills to pay. If you are lucky, you still get Friday night dates. You’re probably both better at Settlers of Catan, but that comes from massive amounts of practice, it is not a skill imparted by the universe on your wedding day.

But you have a commitment to each other. You have a promise to look out for each other, to care for each other, to be partners for the rest of your lives. That brings security. You know you can get through the minor disagreements. Mistakes will be forgiven. Decisions can be made together. Crises shared. Sidewalks shovelled if someone stays out late. That commitment simply doesn’t exist until you say your wedding vows.

And with that commitment, with that partnership, once everything else falls away, you can love each other more than before. More than when you were dating, more than when you were engaged.

Ailish and I were married for less than nine months. I was not always the perfect husband, she was not always the perfect wife, though we tried. But we loved each other more in April than we did the prior August, when I was sure I could not possibly love anyone more. And I would have known her better and loved her more perfectly had we been sitting on our front step when we were 81 and 90, yelling at kids to get off our lawn (and shooting them with lasers). It did not work out that way, but I will always be immensely happy for the time we did have together.

Things Chris was better at than Ailish

By request.

Computers and technology generally. Waking up early on the weekend. Relaxing Ailish after a hard day. Finding good tv shows to watch. Running (much to Ailish’s annoyance). You Don’t Know Jack (on the computer). Cooking thai food. General knowledge. Getting cars out of snowy areas. Legal stuff (Ailish thought perhaps I was secretly a lawyer and not a computer programmer). Going to bed early. Laundry. Using dishwasher to get dishes clean. Reading on the bus. Staying awake on the bus. Eating steak for dinner (like a lion). Chess. Playing guitar for Rock Band. Saying “I love you” in the morning (though only by a tiny amount). Keeping warm. Drinking coffee. Writing letters of complaint. Holding hands. Missing Ailish.


The other night, I had a dream about Ailish.

In my dream, everything was a mistake. Ailish had been… misdiagnosed. She was fine, everything was fine. I was somewhat concerned about possible side-effects, but Ailish had a plan for dealing with these. I knew, even in the dream, that things were not going to be fine. I woke up crying, and wishing I could just stay asleep.

I thankfully do not remember very many of my dreams.


I go to visit Ailish’s grave about once a week. Often, but not always, on Fridays.

I am quite looking forward to the spring; the cemetery will install Ailish’s headstone, and I think we have chosen it with thought and love.

When I visit, I tend to walk around, counterclockwise, and often talk, sharing things from my week and expressing how much I miss Ailish. I was there on Wednesday and noticed that the grass has been worn down in a circle from my pacing.


Dealing with estate issues requires patience.

Today, the bus driver was scheduled to appear in court to plead to his charges. I didn’t go to court; there was no point, his hearing was scheduled in front of a Justice of the Peace. In the late afternoon, I called to find out the results. Even with the docket number, there was much confusion. Eventually, after I had been on hold for almost fifteen minutes, the lady on the other end of the phone determined that the case had been further delayed until Wednesday. If I call back in 48 hours, they should be able to tell me what happened. Or maybe the case will be delayed further.

I finally received Ailish’s life insurance cheque, and deposited it today. That process required me to answer some rather invasive questioning from the bank clerk (“What did you sell to the City?”, “Was she a bicylist?”). The transaction also apparently required a bank manager and numerous telephone calls, as well as a detailed description concerning the hold placed on the newly deposited funds.

With that taken care of, I picked up supper from Tim Horton’s, only to have my debit card declined on a $9.51 transaction.

So, back to the bank. Now I have to explain to them how holds work on newly deposited funds. It turns out they had decided to place two holds on my chequing account, leaving my balance rather far in the red.

I’m not quite sure why everything must be so confusing, time-consuming, and difficult. I would have expected banks to regularly deal with cheques, or the court system to regularly deal with cases. But I really should not single out these two examples; pretty much every company I’ve dealt with in the past 145 days has been like this.


Almost two years ago, Ailish convinced me to try jogging. This was a pretty monumental task because I hadn’t run at all since grade 10 in high school, and then only when forced. I was out of shape, hated sweating, and was rather dubious about the whole idea. And we had a wedding to plan.

Ailish, true to her nature, didn’t give a single minute of thought to any of that. Not only were we going to start jogging, but we were going to run a half marathon in the spring.

The first time out, I could hardly run one hundred metres without gasping for air. It took weeks until I could comfortably run five kilometres, and longer still to break 10. Focused as she was on the half-marathon, Ailish often decided it was a better plan to go out for dinner and a couple of drinks, and who was I to complain? Still, come April, 2010, Ailish, Siobhan (Ailish’s sister), and I, we all ran in the Edmonton Police Half Marathon. And we all finished. My time was 2:15:21.

After Ailish died, a year to the day after our first half marathon, I needed some reason to leave the house. My friend, Nicholas, convinced me to sign up for a training camp thing. So for the next sixteen weeks, I ran once again. I still hated every minute. I still don’t like sweating. I still think running is dubious. But once again, I ran a half marathon with my friends, Shane and Nicholas. My time was 2:07:45.

Two sides

There are always two sides to every story.

It is very clear to me when I write stories in this blog that I can only ever provide one side. And the joy of relationships is that there are always two points of view. I wish Ailish was still around so she could explain why she bothered with a slightly crazy, introverted, geeky boy like me. Or tell the stories she thought were important, which I’m sure would have been different from the ones I tell. All the little ways I drove her nuts, or the tricks I had learnt to calm her down. What parts of our relationship was she confident in, what parts still confused her?

All this, too, is lost.

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.