Thursday, June 21, 2012


We've been home for a couple of weeks after spending a few days being completely lazy at Christopher Lake.  We had no agenda, no expectations to live up to.  We slept in late, played in the (cold) lake water on the warmer days, and watched mindless, silly television shows (like America's Funniest Videos, Wipeout, Just For Laughs Gags, and Corner Gas) on the cooler days.  We watched "Milo and Otis" and remembered how Kol had laughed at the animals when he saw the movie the first time.  It was wonderful to just "be" - to not have any agenda, or list of things we needed to do.   We even got to visit with some old friends on the last couple of days there. 
It's a month today since Kolbjorn died.  I don't know how to describe the adjustments we've been forced to make in that time, without Kol.  I'm shocked at the complete range of emotions we've experienced - pain and sadness, relief, guilt and surprisingly, moments of joy.  It's certainly not what I expected.  My dad is the only other person that I've been really close to and lost.  It's so much more painful losing Kol than it was losing dad.  I've cried more tears than I thought possible. 

While we were at the lake, it was easy  to accept that Kol wasn't with us, that he had died.  We had had 2 years to get used to the possibility that Kol might die, and although I never really believed he would, we still had been forced to face that as a possible eventuality.  Maybe it was easier to accept his absence because the lake was never really Kol's element.  Whenever we were at the lake, Kol would disappear into a book and watch as much T.V. as he could get away with.  He liked swimming and playing in the sand, but whereas the girls would spend all day at the beach, Kol got tired of it after about an hour.  Maybe it was easier to accept Kol's absence because it didn't seem real yet that he was dead. 

It was tough coming home again.  Grocery shopping was surprisingly tough - and it wasn't because of the 3 people who stopped to give us hugs and ask us how we were doing (in  the 15 minutes we were actually in the store.)  I cried when I walked past the mangoes.  Kol loved mango sauce.  Then I saw straws and even reached out to grab a bag - I remembered that Kol had used up the last of his favourite green straws when we were working so hard to keep him hydrated - and then I realized that we wouldn't really need bendy straws much any more - and we still have other colours.

One day, maybe about a week and a half ago, Annika was standing in the hallway outside of the bedrooms, and was really fussy.  Mari was with her and at first tried to guess what Annika wanted, and then tried to distract her.  Mari is really good at knowing what Annika wants, and at distracting her if necessary, but this time, nothing worked.   Finally Mari got exasperated and asked "What do you want, Annika?"  Annika leaned against the door frame to Kol's room, and said, "Kol".

We've been trying to keep busy and get on with our lives, and aside from the constant ache of missing Kol, we've been able to get decisions made and to start being productive.  I pretend to garden.  I've had a herb garden since a year or two after we moved to Outlook.  It did well for a couple of years, but it's been neglected recently.  I haven't had much interest in gardening or yard work during the last couple of years.  This year, I've had an incredibly strong desire to get outside and get not only the herb garden, but also the flower beds somewhat rejuvenated.  After I went and spent way too much money on herbs, I found an article about health benefits of gardening which talks a bit about how gardening works as a treatment for depression.  Maybe I instinctively knew what could help me heal.  Or, it could be just like other years, where I have a big burst of energy in the spring, only to lose interest in the summer.  I enjoy buying and planting and planning, but not so much the upkeep. The girls have been joining me outside this year, helping me weed the flower beds. 

Kirk walked in the Spring Sprint on June 9th.  He walked 5km in the pouring rain with his dad.  Birgitte, my sister and brother-in-law and I walked a little way, but Birgitte's feet got sore quickly in her (actually Kol's) Star Wars rubber boots.  We went back to the park, and stood in the pouring rain waiting for him.  ( To be honest - the rain really wasn't that bad, though - we did all have rain clothes on - and it wasn't cold at all, and although it rained constantly, it wasn't really "pouring".)  It was tougher that I expected, though, to see others there who are still fighting brain tumours. Not only was I concerned for them, but I have to admit that I was jealous that they were still alive to fight when Kol isn't.

The following weekend - last weekend - we took part in the Relay for Life here in Outlook.  It was hard being at the Relay this year.  We knew it would be tough, especially after the sprint, but I had no idea how hard it was going to be to be a part of the Relay.  Kirk, Julianna and Mari were on a team, but all of us sat with the team, cheered them on and walked.  Annika got lots of stroller rides.  It was especially tough hearing someone else give "Survivor speech" that Kol had given last year, and seeing all of the luminaries around the track "in memory" of Kol, rather than "in honour" of him.  Kol should have been there.  I know both Kirk and I felt Kol's absence so very intensely that night.

Then came Father's Day.  Our first holiday without Kol.  We made a big deal out of the day - got Kirk lots of cards  and surprised him with a trip to Saskatoon - for supper, and to replace the pair of jeans of his that I cut up while we were at the lake.  It was a good day - good that we kept busy and tried to fill it with fun.

Birgitte had her 7th birthday this week.  Again, we strongly felt Kol's absence.  Kol and Birgitte were such good friends, and Kol loved parties, and doing things for his sisters.  We still had fun - Birgitte's grandparents all came for lunch, and her aunt and uncle surprised her with a visit in the afternoon.  She also got a very special phone call from her godparents. Birgitte loved being the center of attention.

I guess life goes on - but the pain of losing Kol is becoming more intense.  It's getting harder to accept, rather than easier.  Our tears are much closer to the surface.  All of our emotions are, actually.  I'm sure this is a temporary part of the grieving process, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept.  We all have holes in our hearts - shaped like Kol.  It's starting to feel real that he's not here with us, and that he never will be. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kol bears

We were shocked at how many people came to Kolbjorn's funeral or sent us cards and e-mail messages.  I guess it shouldn't surprise us any more, knowing how many lives he's touched, but it does.  Kol was an extra special kid (yes, I'm bragging) and we miss him so incredibly much.

At the funeral, we gave away Kol bears.  Kol bears are little black stuffed bears.  

The name Kolbjorn, (or Kolbjørn as it is written in Norwegian) means black or dark bear.  Kol is an Old Norse word for black, and bjørn is the Norwegian word for bear.

Kolbjorn loved hugs and cuddles.  He would often come sit beside his mom, dad or a sister and rest his head on our shoulders or hold our hands. We sometimes joked that he was our teddy bear. While we can no longer hug him, or feel his head on our shoulders, we have a Kol bear to help us remember him.
Brain Cancer Ribbon
Childhood cancer ribbon
Each Kol bear has 3 ribbons.  The grey ribbons on the Kol bears symbolize mourning, and are also the symbol for brain cancer.  Gold symbolizes joy, what is precious, and the presence of God.  Gold ribbons also symbolize childhood cancer.  White is a symbol of resurrection and everlasting life.  
I know that there were people who weren't at the funeral, or who were but didn't get a bear.  We would like for anyone who would like a bear to remember Kol by to have one.  PLEASE - if you would like a bear let me know!  Or, if you know of someone else who would appreciate having one, tell me their name.  You can  e-mail me, or contact us however you want to.   We also have extra bulletins from the funeral.  Let me know if you'd like me to mail one to you.

I shouldn't be surprised at what kids say any more - our kids have had some incredibly insightful comments - but I am.  I just heard of a little girl who told her mom that she thought Kol stands for "Keep on loving".   It was so sweet, and so appropriate.  It makes me teary.  What makes this even more special is that this girl wasn't at Kol's funeral, so she didn't hear what we said about Kol and "love" in the tribute.
Kol loved intensely.  Our girls' middle names are Hope, Faith, Joy and Grace. Although Kol was named after his grandfathers, we've often thought or joked that Kol's middle name should be "Love".  Kol was passionate about the things he cared about.  He didn't just like something, he LOVED it - he was completely absorbed by it.  He loved reading.  He loved LEGO, Star Wars, and Super Mario.  He loved his family - especially his sisters - and he wasn't afraid of showing it.  He loved his friends of all ages, and he inspired others to love him back. When he was little, we called him "the charmer."  He seemed to instinctively know what to say or do to win people over.   I don't know why, or how, but he was drawn to certain people.   And they were drawn to him. Through his honest smile, quiet strength, and complete enjoyment of the simple things in life, he has shown us how to love too - to reach out and latch on to those things that are important to us.
Keep on loving!

P.S. In case you missed Kirk's post from yesterday, he will be participating in the Saskatoon  Spring Sprint.  Check out yesterday's post for more information.  Also, I have another blog post almost finished, too, so that should be up in the next couple of days. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spring Sprint

I (Kirk) am going to be participating in the 2012 Sprint Sprint in Saskatoon in support of the Brain Tumour Foundation. The Brain Tumour Foundation has been a wonderful support to us these past two years - they have excellent handbooks for brain tumour patients and families, and the support group in Saskatoon is fantastic - so we'd like to be able to give back to them. This is the same event that Kol gave a speech at last year, and had so much fun running with some friends from the Foundation.

If you'd like to, you can donate online to pledge me - I plan to walk (definitely not run!) at least the 2.5km, and depending on how much it's raining, I may even do the full 5km. I know many have already donated to the Brain Tumour Foundation in Kol's memory, and this is very last minute, but thank you for any support you can give. If you're in Outlook or Saskatoon and would rather not use the online donation system, please give me a call and we'll see what we can work out.

P.S. - now that we're back from our family getaway at Christopher Lake, we've got some more blog posts coming over the next couple days. I guess we missed blogging!