November 27, 2008
I’ve placed my writing desk in an alcove of windows on the third floor of our new home. The view from my window is filled with trees. To my left is a huge maple tree; its branches knock and scrape against the window. Directly in front of me is a large ash; its leaves are still green, although very pale. The rest of the street is lined with trees that have all turned yellow, red and brown. Winter is pushing hard at fall, the cold air tugs urgently and the leaves drop and swirl to the ground in clusters.
To my right the view is clearer, the trees are thinner and I can see over the branches to the street below. There is more traffic than I thought there would be on this street, but the trees muffle the noise. It’s odd, I can hear a leaf blower somewhere down the road, although the bus that just passed below is barely audible. I’m picturing the man standing on his lawn blowing the leaves off his well-clipped grass. Why do I picture a man? I suppose it’s because I’ve never actually seen a woman using one. Why? I wouldn’t use a leaf blower simply because they are so noisy — although I can use a vacuum at 3 a.m. without the slightest hesitation.
Greg has just gone to get us coffee and croissants for a Saturday morning treat. We’ve been through a lot in the last few months. The experts say that the three most stressful things in life are marriage, divorce and moving. We slid through two of those in the last two months — we married in September and bought a house and moved in October — and we gave up ownership of the newspapers amid all these changes. If these are the most stressful things that we’ll face in our lives, then we have a strong foundation to build on. But I’ve never put much faith in experts.
The most stressful experience I’ve had is the illness and death of my father. To feel completely helpless while he lay in his hospital bed wheezing and struggling for each breath and to pray to a god you don’t believe in that you could somehow switch places with him because watching him struggle gets unbearable. To hear “code blue” over the hospital p.a. system and know the doctors are running to his room. Those few minutes while you wait with just a small strand of hope to cling to, those were the longest minutes, the most stress-filled, of my life.
Compared to this, the power outage on our wedding day was nothing to get upset about. We couldn’t shower, but we did have a very cold lake to bath in and our screams on the first jump in will echo in the memories of our family for years to come. I was glad when the power finally came back on, but I know it would have been a wonderful day with or without it. We had choices and solutions and most dilemmas always have a host of them — except for death. And now I’ve a man in my life that I love with all of my heart.
Moving and marriage are joyous compared to the thought that someday the time may come when he falls ill, when the weight of worry comes back to visit once again and stress takes me in its grip. Greg is wonderful and I still can’t believe that he married me. I keep thinking, “My god this amazing man is my husband.” Over the last month he packed everything we have, organized the movers and has spent the last week unpacking while I’ve been working late every night setting up the new offices for the newspaper. He didn’t complain when I missed supper two nights in a row. He didn’t complain when I missed our first Halloween night at the new house.
I’ve suddenly gone from seeing him all day to seeing him for an hour in the morning and an hour or two at night. And yet he doesn’t complain. Not even when two dozen red roses showed up at our door addressed to me, but without a card or note telling who they were from. I’m not sure if someone is trying to unsettle him and I feel a little as if someone was trying to challenge our connection. But Greg laughs and smells the flowers and I know that we have a closeness that no one can touch. Together we are strong and we both thank the flower sender.
Although the newspapers have a new owner, I’ve stayed on as editor and am now working from an office at the corner of King and Yonge. It’s an old building with thick, strong walls and single-paned windows. We’re on the third floor and I can hear the street noises below. The streetcars, sirens, and church bells ringing on Friday evenings bring the life outside in. It’s a good feeling.
A few nights ago, I was working late and I looked down at the rain falling with the cars and street lights and for one brief instant felt as if I was back in the 1920’s. I’m glad I’m not looking down from 20 floors at noiseless movement. The office is divided into three large rooms; an editorial room, our advertising department, and a room we call “the morgue” because of the web programmers who type away in silence all day long. It’s a strange environment, filled with activity, laughter and hard work. But it’s the people who make it such a great place to be.
At times the phones are ringing off the hook; at other times our advertising manager sings, at the top of her lungs, “Don’t go breaking my heart…,” but she has yet to get a reaction from “the morgue.” I can’t help singing back “I won’t go breaking your heart.” The changes fall brings each year are even apparent in this issue of the newspaper. From the new name on the masthead to our size. We’ve moved from a 12-page tab to 20 pages with a clean, glossy cover.
Lately it seems as if all my dreams are coming true. But I can’t help thinking of what my father used to say: “In life we are given a certain amount of good luck and a certain amount of bad. The trick is to make the most of the good and stand strong through the bad.”