Monday, October 20, 2008

My life in Canada (January 2003 - December 2004)

January 2003 - December 2003:

This year was a more tragic year for me. We started the New Year fantastic and were still enjoying the fact that our Christmas was so great because my parents were with us here in Canada during this beautiful part of the year. A few months later I received some sad very news. My mom called on May 25th, which was a Sunday morning. She was crying and told me that my dad had an accident. He fell with his bike right onto his head. He hurt his neck and there could be permanent damage. At that moment he was paralized from the neck down and the doctors would not know what the future could bring. I could not believe world fell apart and the feeling of sadness that came over me is too hard to describe. I just knew that I had to go back home and support my parents for a while. Michael agreed with me and understood that I had to go. I made arrangements and flew home on May 28th. Michael could not come with me because he couldn't get off from work. I would miss him so much, but I had to go. My dad was on breathing machines, but he was with it. He was happy to see me and I was happy to see him although he looked awful. Dad was in ICU for 7 weeks, then he learned how to breath on his own and he is able to move his arms a little bit. I was there for 2 months and then it was time for me to go home again to be with Michael. It was very hard to say goodbye to my parents again, but my parents understand me so's so comforting! My Dad is still in the hospital...he still has a whole year of rehab to go through, but that's ok as long he will get better. His upper body is getting better and he feels most things in that area.

The only thing that does not work are his hands and fingers...but that might still come. He can move his legs very little, but the doctors don't really know if he will ever be able to walk again?But they say it'll still take a year before we will know for sure what will be permanently paralyzed and what not. At least he is all with it and nothing wrong with his head or brain. I do have to say that my dad has a huge will power which is fantastic and he keeps on hoping and being positive, which can only benefit him! I am in contact with my mom and dad almost every day and I hope to go back again next year. I was in Belgium from the end of May till the end of July 2003. Once I got back home it was so good to be with Michael again. I missed him sooo much, it was so hard! There was also a brand new car waiting for us at home. We didn't plan on buying a new car yet, but the car he wanted was going to look very different in the near future, so he wanted this model. He even got it for a good deal as they really want to sell them before the new line comes in. We have a brand new Toyota Solara now. Wow, what a car! I also found a very nice job at an Intermediate Care Facility in Surrey. The shifts are really nice as I always work the same shift which is the afternoon shift from 3.00pm to 11.00pm. I always work 4 days and then I am 2 days off, which is very nice. I am the charge nurse and I am happy that they gave me that responsibility. For the rest of the year nothing much really happened, had our usual Christmas, dad is now in another hospital on a rehab ward and he is waiting for a room in a really good rehab centre. Hopefully that won't take too long.

Michael and his brand new car

January 2004 - December 2004:

This year I finally got my Permanent Resident Card for Canada...that took long enough, but I have it now and I am very happy with it! I still work at the same place and I really enjoy it. I have wonderful colleagues that I get along with very well and I enjoy working with older people...they are so greatful and sweet. As for Michael and I, we are still going strong and we are still very happy! Marriage is still for the future. This year we like to visit my parents in Belgium and then next year in July we are planning to get married. We are planning to get married in the beautiful town of Revelstoke, near the Canadian Rockies. We will have the wedding while we are at Mara Lake, because everybody is there at that time. We will go and visit a few places while we are at Mara Lake this year that we are thinking of for our wedding. My Dad finally got a room in that rehab centre and he is progressing slowly day by day. My dad is so motivated and he is able to move his arms more and his legs move too, but not enough to be able to walk again. They got him an electric wheelchair and he knows how to operate that one already, so he is doing pretty good. My dad keeps on doing his best and he is so positive. For my mom it's very hard as she is dependent on other people to drive her to the rehab centre. My mom can't drive and she needs a ride each time. My mom is coping well, I have to admire her...but of course there are days that she feels like she can't handle it anymore. But my mom is doing great, she is so strong, I never thought she could be that strong. I am very happy that she is so positive too and that my dad is super positive.

In the meantime I also got my Canadian drivers license...that was easy to get, much easier than it was in Belgium. We also want to go for a trip to Belgium to see my parents in September, we plan to go for 2-3 weeks. We went for our yearly holiday to Mara Lake and it was good to see everybody again. The weather was hot and sunny, so we did quite some swimming in the lake. The first weekend the weather was a little cloudy so we went to this Griffin Lake to see what kind of a place it would be for our wedding next year. Oh my!!! What a beautiful place! We talked to the owners who have a lodge there and they are willing to help us have our wedding ceremony there. We are so happy as we love this place sooooo much!!! After our afternoon at Griffin Lake we bumped into a suspension bridge and it happened to be free admission on Sundays...lucky for us it was Sunday! It was a great suspension bridge hanging over Crazy Creek Waterfalls...beautiful waterfalls, really worth seeing! We also stopped at the Three Valley Gap to have a look around which was quite nice. The hotel at Three Valley Gap is quite unique. After that week at Mara Lake we went to Clearwater to visit Wells Gray Provincial Park. We stayed there for about 3 nights at a lovely B&B with view over the Clearwater River. We had our own private suite with full kitchen, full bathroom, dining room, living room with TV/DVD/VCR and a nice bedroom. There was also a beautiful patio overlooking the river with a bbq for our use. We mainly spend our time visiting Wells Gray Provincial Park. What a great park, so much beautiful nature and so unspoiled with tons of great waterfalls and views. It was so hot and sunny, but we enjoyed our time so much together! We did quite some hikes up in the forests over there and got close to some amazing waterfalls...that was such a great trip! We got back around the 23rd of July and then it was time to get back in the normal routine again and go to work.

The place we plan to get married in open air
Michael and I at the Helmcken Falls, Well Gray Park

Michael on the patio of the place we stayed near Wells Gray Park

On my first day off after my first week back at work I got very sad dad passed away (on July 28th, 2004) suddenly at the rehab centre. He died from a lung embolism (blood clot in the lungs). My whole world fell apart once again! Michael was at work that day and I called him after I got off the phone with my mom. Michael was in shock and couldn't believe it, he came home from work right away. We knew we wanted to go back to Belgium together! Michael and I did our best to make arrangements to go to Belgium. At my work they would give me at least 3 weeks off for this and for Michael it was the same. So, on July 30th we flew back to Belgium to stay there for 2 weeks with my mom in these hard times. It was hard to attend those services and the funeral. I couldn't believe I lost my dad forever!!! We had a nice time with my mom and helped her arrange some of the things that needed to be done. We also visited some other family members and some of my friends. It was nice to see everybody again, but it was just too bad that it had to be in such sad times again! After 2 weeks (on Aug. 12th) we had to say goodbye again and leave my mom behind, that was painful and hard. Thankfully she has lots of family, friends and neighbours that will support her in these sad time. In these difficult times my mom and I are in touch almost every day over the phone so we can support each other. It's really good that we have each other to talk about this and to deal with the pain and sadness! I will miss my dad like crazy, he was the best dad in the world!

My mom and Dad at the Rehab centre

Dear Dad, you have struggled for the past 14 months to overcome the complications of your bike accident. You did end up being paralyzed from the waist down and had to rely on an electric wheelchair...but that didn't stop you from making the best of it and to keep on working hard to get better. Each time we talked on the phone you said you were doing so great and that you were getting stronger and stronger. The confidence and powerful will you had blew my mind, but I was so happy that you were able to have such a great attitude.You were so excited because Mom wanted to make the house a comfortable and accessible home for you. She was in the middle of getting things rebuild and customized in the house especially for you so you could come home in a couple of months.Sadly enough it did not happen because you left us so soon. Too young and too sudden for us. You were the best Dad someone could've ever had. I will miss you deeply and think of you every single day. You helped to make my life what it is today and I thank you for that! I hope you are in a better place'll be in my heart forever until we meet again!!!

Well, back in Canada it is hard to be away from my mother who needs me the most now that my dad is gone. Thankfully some of her friends and family are there for her whenever she needs someone. And her mind is also occupied with the tons of paperwork that come along with this. My mom and I are in touch twice a week and just talking helps a lot to get through these hard times. I am so glad that I have Michael in my life who is there for me to support me, to comfort me and to make me smile on the days that I am sad! We had a nice Christmas this year, but of course the pain of losing my dad is especially present at this time of the year. But overall we enjoyed Christmas and we had about 10 days off together. We just enjoyed our time and did all the things we like to do together. It didn't matter what we were doing, as long as we were together.This time of the year we also started talking some more about our upcoming wedding in July 2005. I really wanted for my mother to be present, but she was afraid to come by herself without having my dad by her side. I figure that it might be a good idea to invite my brother and his family as well to our wedding. This way my mom didn't have to come alone and I would also have my brother at our wedding...which would be sooo nice! My brother and family accepted our invitation and would like to come to our wedding together with my mother. I would do all the arranging of that after New Year, so we could start looking around for accommodations and all the rest that comes along with it!

Please see my next post "My life in Canada (January 2005 - July 2005) for the rest of the story!"

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