Suzy Snapper
Friday, January 11, 2008
A New Year to begin

What a month. So many times I wanted to write a follow up to my last post. I had a whole story in mind, with photos and layouts. However, I just couldn't. Now that I'm in a better place, it just seems...not the right time, somehow.

My Uncle passed away December 17, the day after I last blogged. He was peaceful and that was in no small part because of the talk we had. After I left that day, he fell into a coma and he slipped away just before noon on the Monday.

I thought I was ok with it all. However, in retrospect, I wasn't. I was angry, guilty, frustrated and most of all, terribly sad. I wanted so badly to hear his voice again. I wanted to be able to ask questions. I didn't realize at the time how emotional it was to be with someone in their final hours. When other family members would mumble 'huh, that's sad' or other similar condolences, I would get angry as I didn't have the words to tell them how much it affected me. And at the same time, not to make it about me. So I 'turtled'. Went right back into my cave and stopped communicating for a bit. I think over the last year, it's been very strenuous emotionally and I just cracked. Thankfully, that's passed now.

So, onto other things, it's a new year - 2008. A good friend of mine wrote this morning about the new year -

According to numerology everything goes in cycles, if you take the year 2007
and add the digits break it down to one digit, your end number is 9...the end of
a cycle, which for me explains a lot about my 2007. It also lends more
understanding as to why for some of us 2008 truly seems like a new
beginning..broken down it is a "1" the beginning of a new cycle.

All the more reason to lay down some solid foundations this year,
sow some very important seeds and see what this cycle brings. I for one am
pretty excited as my mind is already buzzing and whirling with thoughts and
revolutionary as they say it great to have dreams...but this is the
year to start building the foundations that in the long run will support

I hope so. I have such high hopes for this year.

So far, I have joined a Photo A Day project. You can read about it here. I will begin posting a photo on Flickr. And I intend, once again, to post more here as well. A lot of family history stories, likely. Lately I have been drawn to a lot of historical fiction as well, so that may come into play too.
An interesting blog, for example, that's caught my interest lately is this one. It's the story of a WWI soldier writing home to his family. Not unlike the letters I have in my possession, but unfortunately I don't have enough preservered to keep up a story like the one in that blog.
The photo above was taken by my house just after Christmas. A beautiful area, and I could spend many hours - and have - creating photographs there.
So for those of your reading this, may 2008 be a great year for you.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Full Circle
It's interesting some times how the universe makes things happen in certain ways. How certain situations present themselves in a way you could never have expected.

Our family, like many families, has had some difficult times. I grew up knowing my four aunts, but there were two uncles in the family that I knew nothing about. Sure, there were twitterings and comments but they were a mystery to me.

My older uncle, I knew, had quite a few children and an Irish wife who was the first war bride to arrive in Canada after World War 2. They lived only a mile or so away but we didn't know them or see them. I grew up wishing I had cousins my own age, and always wondered about who they were. Later, as I did the family research and found more questions than answers, I felt even more that part of who I am was missing from my life.

There were moments when we'd catch a glimpse of them, and even a couple of confusing visits - usually on Christmas after a few drinks when my Mom or one of her sisters decided it was time for me to meet them but by and large, I never knew who they were.

My younger uncle was even more intriguing to me. He had left the family fold when I was just 8, but was old enough to remember him. He had a wife and three children. Three children who were my age and again, I always missed them terribly. There were 'sightings' over the years...a random comment to friend of my mothers on a bus from whom would have been my cousin, a quick glimpse on a ferry sometime in the mid-80s. I asked my Mom so many times where they were or if she knew anything. It always made her sad for me to ask, and she would wistfully say she knew nothing. However, I knew it wasn't without issue and there were more than a few dark reasons why he had left.

In 2001, I received an email from R. He was my younger uncle's youngest son and had been looking at a family tree site and found my information. At first, his Dad asked him not to contact me. 'Too much water under the bridge', 'Let sleeping dogs lie', he told his son. But R. thankfully - as I would have done too - didn't listen. When he emailed, he was pensive. I knew our family. He however did not. While I remembered them as an 8 year old girl, he remembered nothing except toddler-like glimpses of a long ago time.

We organized a reunion soon after and the sisters got to meet their little brother. To be in that house that day, to see the look on everyone's face, was a rare privilege and one I won't soon forget. For the next year, we saw each other quite a few times. But then things began to fade again. We both fell back into the old ways. We knew where each other was but we just seemed to take it for granted.

In the summer, I received a call from my Aunt J. Uncle T was sick. They'd found malignant tumours in his colon. It didn't look good at all. I planned to visit, but it was hard for me to get away as they lived in Victoria. When the surgery happened, it turned out better than expected and he was rallying, I let it go. We received email updates though, as he continued with his treatments. The day he turned 65, back in September, he was told the worst was behind him.

Meanwhile, I had regained contact with the family of my elder Uncle. We had begun rebuilding the relationships that should have begun years ago. I had visited my cousins and it was like putting a jig-saw puzzle back into place with a piece that had been missing from the box. When the group of us was together, the bond was so strong and so right that each time it was like my soul had just drank a Red Bull.

However, again, the dark secrets still held power over us and we took things slowly. One night, one of my cousins - the one closest in age and personality to me - gained the courage to tell me what the rift had been about. It was a shocking admission and one I'm not prepared to talk about publicly, but it was like releasing a heavy burden I had no idea I was carrying. Once it was out, we began to truly become a family again.

My cousin M asked me to come to her house for Christmas dinner. But I felt awkward. While she and I were close, and the other female cousins too, I didn't know how I'd feel attending her family dinner with the entire group together. Would I be intruding? It was also a ferry ride away in Victoria. So I declined. I told her I felt she and I needed more time to talk one on one before I met the entire family.

On Thursday, I received a call that broke my heart. It was from my Uncle T's wife. He was not doing well. He had been taken to palliative care and wasn't expected to see Christmas. And he'd asked for me.

So yesterday, I made the trip to Victoria. It was the first time for me to take that trip in over a decade. It meant giving up concert tickets to Bon Jovi and conquering a fear of driving where I didn't know where I was going. But I knew how important it was. My mom and the other sisters are no longer able to travel. So not only was I going for me, I was going for my entire family.

As I walked in the door of his room, his eyes lit up and his smile warmed my heart. We spent 6 hours together. When I saw him, he was strong sprited and fiesty. His humour was infectious and we laughed, and talked without catching a breath all day. Gone was the mysterious man who left the family many years ago, and replaced was a wonderful, genuine, warm-hearted man that I'd always hoped and knew somehow he would be.

There were so many stories. So many things to discuss. So many fences to mend. But as the day progressed, we did it justice. It is a day I will cherish always.

I had decided to visit Cousin M for dinner as well. After declining the dinner, the fates had seen differently and I now knew I was supposed to meet this 'other branch'. As Uncle T began to tire near the end of our visit, he was at peace and was buoyed by the fact that I would be visiting his brother's family. A family he hadn't seen himself since the early 60s.

After leaving, I made my way over to my cousin M's. While the majority of the guests were people I'd never met, I felt as if I'd walked into a home I'd been in all my life.

They knew I'd had an emotional day but met me with just the right mix of empathy and lightheartedness that I soon was smiling and laughing along with them.

I met the rest of the girls, and can't say enough about how much I feel like something has clicked back in place. It is an odd but rewarding feeling to feel reconnected to people you knew you were missing but didn't know why. The drama and the issues of the past are firmly where they need to be - in the past. As we spoke last night, we made a pact to rise above. It only has power if we let it and the strength of this family simply won't allow that. The fact that our bond is so strong even without the shared memories speaks to how important our family connection is.

I was meant to have that day yesterday. To reunite with my Mom's two brothers' families. I had no idea it would come together like it did, but I believe fate had a hand in making it happen. As I held my Cousin M's baby, I knew we had come full circle.

Sadly, my Uncle T passed into a coma a few hours after I left. He still lingers but it won't be long now until he passes into the next world. However, I know he does so in peace. And I know he'll never be too far away from me, or the rest of his family.

Friday, November 23, 2007
Friday Thought

This photo was taken at dusk a few nights ago.

Resolve to keep happy, and your joy
and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties
- Helen Keller.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Time flies

Where has the time gone? Has it really been the better part of two months since I've blogged? Well, apparently it has. Some of that is self-imposed, some of it is just plain life getting in the way.

I've wondered often whether to continue my blog or what direction to take. Some times I think my time in the blogging world is ending, but at the same time, I know deeply that I have the need to write. And write somewhere that has interaction.

So the last two months, in a nutshell of course, have entailed a lot of healing. Pelvis cracks are not as fun as they sound. As the doctor said, it's the one part of your body you simply can't take the pressure off of. If you're sitting, or standing, or laying down, there is strain on your pelvis. Turns out in subsequent xrays, I had not one but two cracks. Cracks, mind you, not actual breaks. But that's still more than I'd like to deal with ever again.

The facial laceration seems to have ended up being somewhat more serious than first thought. I have some paralysis and muscle damage. Cosmetically, it's barely noticeable (but of course I notice it) but the concern is more 'structural'. The muscles and nerves around my eye are misfiring, causing me to have double - sometimes blurry - vision and aches. I see the neurosurgeon on January 21. Pretty quick for a specialist.

Along with that, there have been the expected back and neck pain. Almost an afterthought, but I'd have been surprised with the magnitude of the accident if it hadn't of been. I have taken to walking with my camera when I feel up to it, and still it brings me peace to be able to get out and create photographs. The one above was taken by my house just as a big storm was coming in over the straight.

This has overall been a positive event. Sure, getting hit by a bus isn't everyone's first choice in life, but it has really given me pause. I am finding out what's truly important and what isn't. And I'm not afraid to let go of what isn't.

My last post was right after the high school reunion on September 29. What a night! A full year of planning - we often joked it was like planning a wedding except we made our guests pay for tickets! In the end, 155 people attended and the parties went on until 6am.

It was a life-changing event for me. I refound friends whom I drifted away from for reasons unknown. I became friends with new people that I barely knew in school, yet now found many similarities and new ground.

The photo above is of three of us from the planning committee - and I'm on the right in case you're wondering. There were 6 of us in total. A good group. Although the varied personalities certainly brought challenges to the planning. But all in all, it was an amazing event.

My job also has become very fulfilling. It was the best move I could have made to change jobs, and I'm finding myself building roots - something I haven't done for a few years. It's calming, it's energizing and it's exactly what I need right now.

This is a photo from my office. You see in the photo the Harbour Centre, one of Vancouver's premiere landmarks.

My other main activity of late, besides the photography, has been historical research. Could it be I'm nearly ready to write this novel that's been floating around in my head? If not, I am surely more educated about the Irish history between 1919-1923 than I ever thought I would be.

So that's my nutshell. Cracked open and ready to begin again. I have been donig
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Today is Thanksgiving, and a day to reflect on all the blessings this year. This time around, it's especially poignant as we celebrate the anniversary of my Dad's heart attack.

I thought in honour of that, I would mention a few things I am truly grateful for this year. It has been an extremely challenging year, but at the same time, those challenges have brought me to a place that would previously been unattainable.

  • I am thankful for the precious time with my parents. As they age and their health becomes more frail, I become increasingly aware of how important each and every moment is. One year ago today, we were on the side of a highway with my Dad in cardiac arrest. As I held onto him that night after calling 911, I truly thought it would be the last day. As he was lifted into the ambulance, I thought that would be the last time I would see him looking at me. That didn't happen. He came through his quintuple bypass and while he did not completely recover, he is with us and the family has become closer for it. My Mom's COPD has become more challenging. As we face the deterioration of her breathing, I am struck by how strong she is. She teaches me to greet challenges with a smile and to stay positive no matter what the situation.
  • I am thankful for reconnecting with my extended family. My cousins from both sides of the family. On my Mom's side, I have reconnected with my Mom's brother's daughters and there is a kinship there that goes beyond the similar physical features. When we are together, something feels like it clicks back into place. On my Dad's side, I am thrilled to have found my cousin, Jill. While we haven't had a chance to meet yet in person, I know the day will be come.
  • For a long time, I wished I had a sister. Having been the only daughter in a family of 5, I often longed for that kinship. I watched my Mom and her sisters and wanted that so badly. I now have that in my nieces. At 23 and 25, they have grown into amazing young women whom I'm proud to call my sisters. I've watched them grow up, helped them along the way, and now we are extremely close. Through the difficulties this last year has brought, it is these girls who have supported me and me them.
  • I am thankful I had the courage to leave a job that was emotionally draining me. A negative atmosphere that bred resentment, anger and fear. In less than a year, I felt myself becoming increasingly introverted and I knew during my trip to DC and NY earlier this year that I had to get away before those things became ingrained. I had never left a job in that manner before, and it took a lot to break myself of this situation. However, my new job has shown me that I made the right decision. I go to work happy now, and can't wait to return after a weekend.
  • I am thankful for taking a chance and becoming involved in my high school reunion planning. Through this experience, I was able to renew old friendships, release old hurts, and even begin new friendships. I did not have a positive experience in high school. It coloured a lot of my opinions but I found by taking a conscious step to let go of those old scars, I was able to allow myself to new beginnings. It is an amazing feeling to be able to come full circle. The friends I met through this experience are ones that I truly believe I will continue to have in my life.
  • I am thankful for my health. Two cancer scares this year made me reflect on the fragility of life. I had two procedures to remove the bad cells and had the all-clear about 4 weeks ago. Having the car accident has also changed me. I thought I knew how precious life was, but obviously, I need to spend more time remembering that. I am thankful to have that chance. The pelvis will heal, the scars will fade, but I will never forget how quickly life changes. I am thankful for that lesson.
  • I am thankful for my friends. When things get rough, to know you don't walk alone is so important. This year has allowed me to see my true friends for who they are and appreciate the fact I have them in my life.

On that, I wish you all a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 24, 2007
Moving along

I am healing, albeit slowly.

Today I went to work for the first time without the cane, which was a big improvement. However, tonight I am experiencing a lot of numbness and tingling in my lower legs and my arms. I don't know if it's related to walking without the cane or just a new progression, but I will likely have to have another visit to the doctor in the next couple of days.

I'm lucky to be alive, of that I have no doubt, but it doesn't stop from being a little frustrated by the healing process.

On Saturday though, my friends took me out to the local pub to celebrate my 30 and 4/5's birthday. I had an absolutely wonderful time and it was the perfect opportunity to relax and rewind a little. The picture is my niece and I.

Another short post, unfortunately, as I'm having a little trouble with the keyboard but hopefully the next one will be a little longer.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Do you believe in orbs?

I do. Maybe that's what makes me see something in this photo, and maybe not.

Since my accident, I have been feeling a very strong presence with me. I have been jokingly calling it my 'angel'.

Last night, I took this photo with a clean lens. I tried to recreate it several times, to no avail. Sure, it could be a dust spot, but the face is eerie.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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