"To the world you may be one person...but to one person you may be the world..."

About Me

I grew up in a village of 500 people and now live in a beach town of 10 000. Wife to Jeff, Mama to Makenna and Jack. This is my place to share what's up with us, and the place where I sometimes need to pour my heart out about the not so sunshiney moments. This is my happy place. Thanks for stopping by :) Copyright 2012 by Melissa Wormington, that no part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without permission from the publisher.
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The Wormingtons

The Wormingtons
Jeff, Makenna, Jack and Melissa. Spring 2012. Photo credit: Tricia Denomme/Hope Photography

Friday, September 5, 2014

Double Digits

Every year on their birthdays, Jeff and I write each child a letter in their scrapbooks. This is Jack's. To learn more about why we do this, click here.

Dear Makenna,

This is the day you have been waiting all year for.  Double digits.  The big "1-0".  Your 10th birthday and the ninth birthday letter from me to you.

A decade.  I have been a mother for a decade now.  As is tradition, this letter will focus on you, all that you are and all that you and we hope you will be.

In the past year, as in the past several, you have matured.  Grade 4 at school was a good year for you.  You really enjoyed being a part of the SOAR program at Seaforth Public School and through that experience developed an interest in writing that your teacher really encouraged.  While you were exploring different types and styles of writing, your research led you to this blog.  Your nine year old self read many of my tornado entries and that led us to have many conversations about the tornado itself but also about writing.  When I was blogging the tornado I knew in the back of mind you would eventually read it, but I didn't consider that you would read it when you were 9 or while you were at school.  I guess that was naive of me. But that's me - learning as I go.  Over the past 10 years there has been a lot of that.

You continued swimming with the Hurricanes and earned a few more ribbons, most often in your favourite stroke, the butterfly.  You also continued with piano lessons.  At your recital in June your teacher told me she thinks you are ready for t a challenge and to start the conservatory program.  We will see how you like that this year.

While you made some new friends last year thanks in large part to SOAR, Alexis continues to be your BFF.  The two of you spend many hours together.  In August Jen and I took you both to your first concert in Toronto.  It was the "Big Ticket Summer Concert" at Molson Ampitheatre with Megan Nicole, Sabrina Carpenter and Cody Simpson.  You were in awe of the sheer size of the place but you felt pretty special being there.

You have always wanted to be a teacher, and your ability to teach is becoming more and more apparent.  You are fantastic with Jack and this summer taught him, age 6, basic multiplication and division.  You try every now and then to teach him piano, but that's a tough sell.  In exchange you are very good to let him "teach" you about baseball and hockey.

This past winter we vacationed in Cuba as a family with Grandma Tam and Gran and were lucky enough to be joined by Hunter and Halle Chisholm and family.  Swimming with the dolphins was definitely a highlight of that trip for you and you also enjoyed learning about the culture.

Being 10 now, you are wanting more independence.  You walk Maggie or with Jack around the neighbourhood on your own, you sometimes walk to Cravings on the Square for Ice Cream and you are ready to stay home for short periods on your own.  While I admit I enjoy this little bit of freedom, I do wonder how we got doesn't seem possible sometimes.

You continue to hate to wear jeans, love dresses and skirts, but hate brushing your hair, which you are refusing to cut short this year.  Getting your ears pierced this summer was a big milestone moment, although putting earrings in and taking them out proves to be quite the dramatic experience for you thus far.  The thing you love the most about your pierced ears is the bond it gives you with your cherished Aunt Nicole.  Her reaction to it was what you were most excited about the day you got them pierced and she didn't disappoint.

This summer we also had a discussion about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

At the moment you are loving clothes that are black and white and those are the only colours you have worn for the first week of school.  You are also loving Monster High dolls.  As long as these two things are not a preview to a "goth" phase, I will be happy.

You are on a smoothie kick right now and to my delight are happy eating things like cauliflower crust pizza, spaghetti squash and stuffed zucchini boats.   But, truth be told your favourite foods are still cookies and ice cream, hands down.  You are a true Wormington country girl too, given the choice you will have full roast beef or turkey dinner every time over any fast food, ensuring Dad makes the gravy.  You also love potatoes too, doesn't matter what kind, but whipped are your favourite.

 You still refuse to learn to ride a bike.   For the past few years I refused to get you a scooter until you learned to ride a bike.  That changes today though.  Today you will get your scooter, because really, if you aren't going to ride a bike, I'm not going to force it.  You are fierce and determined and persistent and you are a good kid.  So you get your scooter.

You told me a few weeks ago that this birthday is a big deal.  That you will now be "double digits" until you are 99.  I remember feeling that way. And you're right.  This birthday IS a big deal.  For me too.

I have been blessed with a really good daughter.  You are kind, caring and compassionate.  You are a good friend and are great with little ones.  You are empathetic and intuitive.  As you learn along the way so do I, but I am pretty lucky that you are my teacher along this parenthood journey.  I am grateful that you are comfortable and willing to talk to me about the "big things" in your life and really really hope that will continue over the next 10 years as well.  As you gain independence and begin to spread your wings, I am proud of you and will not hold you back. For the most part I very much enjoy this age, a bit of a reprieve from where we've been and where we're headed.  No matter what happens in the years to come, my hope is that what makes you YOU, your core personality, values and strengths always remain.

As long as the girl you have grown into so far is always in there somewhere, I will be a lucky mom.

Thank you for the past 10 years.  You are amazing and I am lucky.  I love you and I love being your mom.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jack is 6.

Every year on their birthdays, Jeff and I write each child a letter in their scrapbooks. This is Jack's. To learn more about why we do this, click here

Dear Jack,
It's hard to believe you are 6.  6 seems old.  In many ways you are a big 6 year old boy.  And yet I am glad that in many other ways you are still my little guy.

You are flourishing in SK.  We are told you are reading at at least a grade two level.  But we knew this.  We feel very blessed to have two excellent readers in you and Makenna.  You love books and bring home all kinds from the school library.  Not your typical storybooks, more like "The history of Hockey" or "All you ever needed to know about Star Wars"...books bigger than your backpack.  I always get a kick out of the look on Daddy's face when he realizes what the two of you will be reading at bedtime.

The big news with you over this past year is that you have found your passion.  It all started when you spent the night at Gran's last Spring.  A lifelong baseball fan, she had the Jays game on TV like she always does.  You took notice, started asking questions and, well...none of us could have predicted what would come next.  Not only did you decide you loved The Blue Jays, you also needed to know everything about them.  You spent hours on the computer analyzing their schedule, checking, re checking and RE checking their player and team stats, practicing your swing infront of the TV and talking ball with whoever would listen.  When The World Series finally ended in June I wasn't sure what you were going to do with your time and energy but quickly realized it wasn't just baseball you were into.  Once you found out Toronto also had a major league hockey team, you simply switched gears and focused all of your attention on The Leafs.  You cheer for them because Gran told you you should always support the home team, no matter what.  Again with the analyzing, the stats and the commentating...oh the commentating.  You are never without a mini stick in your hand and our kitchen floor is already showing the signs of your dedication to the game.  Your mouth can barely keep up to your mind as you are frequently shouting out play by plays as you run back and forth between your imaginary nets.  "Great save by Bernier!"  "Phil Kessel on an open net!".  This past Christmas you got into an in depth conversation with your Uncle Mike about The Leafs and Penguins and at one point he stopped and asked "What, do you work for TSN or what???"  At 5 years old, it blows our mind how much information you retain and can repeat.  Last night when the Leafs won against Vancouver you were thrilled, especially since "Vancouver killed them in November".  How did you even know that? We asked.  Did you read it?  Did you hear them say it on TV?  No, you just remembered.
You're learning about football too.  We had to watch the Superbowl this year.  You are the only one interested in football in this house, but thanks to you, the rest of us have learned more about all sports in the past year, than we ever have before.  We have watched soccer on TV, and Tennis, and Basketball...the list goes on and on.  And now that The Sochi Olympics are on....well, you are just in heaven.
Your closet is starting to fill with sports logo clothing, you bought an air hockey table with Christmas money and for your birthday this year we are redoing yourbed room with a sports theme.  Looks like we have a jock on our hands.

I always swore I would never be a hockey mom and as with  most other things when it comes to you, you have proven me wrong.  I don't even mind though, because I am so so proud of you.  You could barely stand on skates this past August and one season in Developmental Hockey has turned you into a better skater than many adults.  You are so determined and focused at your hockey practices and although you don't love powerskating, it's a joy to watch you because you clearly love the game.  Something else I thought I'd never see was your Daddy  out on the ice as an assistant coach.  He is out there helping at every single practice and I enjoy watching that as well.  It's a great experience for the two of you to share together and something he has never experienced before either.  I still hate cold arenas though, and can't wait for ball season to start.

Your food preferences are still quite varied, as your two favourite dinners are lobster and Kraft Dinner.  On our trip to Cuba a few weeks ago you also discovered a love for both hard boiled eggs, and prawns.  Unfortunately we have also learned over this past year that you have terrible teeth.  You have lost 3 normally and had 3 pulled, with at least 2 more that need to come out.  You inherit this from the Wormington men, and it is truly heartbreaking to see a guy so little go through so much in the dentist's chair.  Thankfully you take most of it in stride, cheered by the promise of the Tooth Fairy.

Your two closest friends are still Hunter and William, and what a trio the three of you make.  You were lucky enough to be able to spend time with Hunter in Cuba, as he and his family  were there as well.  You and William get to hang out at the after school program together most days, and of course, all three of you play hockey together.  We spent New Years Day at a Sarnia Sting OHL game which you guys got to participate in, adn it was great to see you having so much fun together.  After being in both JK and SK together, I'm not sure what will happen if the three of you are separated in grade 1.

You love and look up to your sister, who for the most part is pretty patient with you, just recently starting to play mini sticks with you, as long as you'll still play Littlest Pet Shops and Barbies with her.  She's trying to teach you to play piano now, and doing a pretty good job of it.

You are still the centre of attention and love to be the life of the party. Your cousin Quinn is still your favourite and just seeing you sends your cousin Beckett into fits of giggles. You love to win and HATE to lose.  You had an especially difficult time with this at soccer last summer.  You drive us crazy, but you also melt our hearts.  Your mind never stops thinking, never stops questioning, never stops racing.  Your mouth works hard to keep up.

You still can't pronounce your "R"s or put on your own socks.  This summer you will master riding a bike and are talking about going to sleepover camp.  You are 6 years old now and I cannot believe it.  I will savour those bedtime snuggles and hand holding moments because I think there are less of them ahead of me than there are behind me.  There is something special about the bond between a Mama and her son and I am so blessed to share it with you.

Happy Birthday to you, my Six year old boy.  I hope you have the BEST day.

Love you,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My healthiest year ever.

Today is an anniversary of sorts.  Not a major one, but one just the same.  Exactly 1 year ago I started going to a fitness bootcamp in Goderich.  There was a promotion going on which benefited our local food bank. The price was right, no commitment, so I figured I had nothing to lose.  I knew a lot of other people that had been going for  awhile and loved it.  I knew I needed to do something about my health as in the past year by weight had been steadily climbing, I was wearing the biggest sized clothes I ever had, my eating habits were terrible and my dentist appointments, even with benefits, were expensive.  I was even occasionally starting to get chest pains.

So, I suggested it to a few other friends and together, a year ago today at 6:00am we walked through the door of the gym for the first time.

The workouts are only 30 mins long (one of the selling points for me).  It took me only half of that to walk out feeling, dizzy, overheated and nauseous.  I collected myself in the bathroom, embarassed that I couldn't even make it 30 mins while everyone else in there could.  Then I rejoined the group and finished the workout.

The next day I could barely move.

It took awhile for my body to adjust to the shock treatment I was subjecting it to, but I kept going back.  At first it hurt to sit down.  To walk up the stairs.  To wash my hair.  On some days, I swear, it even hurt to blink.

But, funny story, I was becoming addicted.  I loved going.  And when my month was up, I committed to going for another year.

About 5 months in, I felt stalled  I had lost a bit of weight and was feeling healthier, but couldn't understand why, given the amount of time I was spending there, my clothes weren't much looser.  I learned it was because while I had changed my activity level and had the exercising thing down, my eating habits were still pretty poor.

It was the week before Easter when my husband and I had a serious conversation about eating healthier.  He went out grocery shopping and filled our cupboards and fridge with things that hadn't been there in a long time, if ever. I had his full support.
Change came quickly after that.  I couldn't believe, despite being told so many times, how much of a difference what you eat makes, even when you are actively working out.

In the spring I ran a 5k race in Goderich.  Even after that was finished I still ran, just for fun.  This weekend, I am participating in a fun run/obstacle course type event set up to mimic the popular Tough Mudder competitions.

Inspired, Jeff has joined crossfit.  He is competing with me this weekend at the Lucknow Little Mudder.  He is eating much healthier now too. He received a comment last week stating it looked as if crossfit was paying off.
If only I could get him to quit smoking.  sigh.  

It was one year ago today I walked into the gym for the first time.  I was wearing a pair of Jeff's shorts and an XL Tshirt, with a sportsbra I had had since highschool.  The only one I owned.

In the past year I have lost over 30 lbs.
I have went from size 14-16 jeans size to a size 6-8.  XL shirts to Medium.
I now own a couple of lulu pieces (none of which I paid full price for) and wear them more than I do most of my "nice" clothes.
Jeff wears his own shorts to crossfit.
I run for enjoyment.
Clear dentist appointments.
No more chest pains.

On the first day of school, the mother of one of Jack's friends, who I hadn't seen all summer, commented "You literally worked your butt off!"

Sometimes it's hard to fit it into my schedule.  We have 2 kids who are involved in swim team, swimming lessons and now hockey.  Jeff has commitments with the fire department and I have commitments with Victim Services and its big fundraiser, Dancing with the Stars. I have a house that needs cleaned, a dog that needs attention and a spirit that sometimes, just needs silence.   More often than not, it would be easier not to go to bootcamp or to run.  Easier for Jeff not to go to crossfit.

 I choose to think of the time I take as time I am investing in myself.  I don't care how good or selfless a mother or parent you are.  I don't care how important to you your kids are.  I put my kids' needs ahead of my own too.  But by investing in myself this way, I am putting them first. By getting serious about my health, I am making a promise to them that I am doing everything I can to be healthy for them...around for a long time.    I am modeling to them that my health is important to me.  That I take my health and wellness seriously and so should they. I do this in hopes that as they grow, they will follow by example.  I read a quote that has stuck with me.

"Those who think they have no time to get healthy now will sooner or later have to make time for illness".

I was shopping in a second hand store on my lunch hour today and came across a lulu shirt with this on the front.

I smiled.
 I bought the shirt.
I started because I wasn't comfortable in my body.  I didn't like what I saw in photos.  I was worried about it and at 32 years old I was starting to feel the effects.

This has been my healthiest year ever, and my family's healthiest year ever, in more ways than one.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Makenna turns 9

Every year on their birthdays, Jeff and I write each child a letter in their scrapbooks. This is Makenna's. To learn more about why we do this, click here.  

Dear Makenna,
Happy 9th Birthday!  Today is your third day of grade four.  You are a Junior at Goderich Public School now, becoming one of the big kids.  This year you start taking French and are really looking forward to going to Seaforth to participate in The Gifted Program once a week.  It took a bit of convincing, but you are returning for a second year of swim team with The Huron Hurricanes Aquatic Club.  Last year the only thing holding you back was diving, but you mastered that at Alexis’ birthday this summer, thanks to the teaching skills of some of your friends.  I am glad you have agreed to be on the swim team again, because I really loved watching you last year.  You learned so much in such a short time, racing in the butterfly, breast, back and freestyle races.  I was so proud of you for being only 8 years old and going into that meet in New Hamburg and giving it all you had.  During the swim a thon last spring you swam over 2.5 km in 2 hours.  You were just 8 years old! So amazing and you, my daughter, inspired me to run my first 5k race.  Because I reasoned, if my 8 year old can swim 2.5k, surely I can run 5k.  I really look forward to seeing how you progress this year.  You love the water so much this seems like such a good fit for you.  It’s tiring, and challenging, but I think that’s a good thing for you and that you need the challenge.

Something else you are going to continue this year is piano lessons.  You started last year during school hours with a teacher named Marcia.  Gramps bought you a keyboard last year for your eighth birthday and we were all quite impressed with how quickly you picked it up.  By Christmas we had Gramps’ piano in our house so you could practice on the real thing.  We can see the joy in your face as you play piano and I hope this too is something you stick with for many years. 

We are starting to see some changes as you grow into a young lady.  During the past year there has been a lot of focus on the boys at school.  A lot of discussion takes place about “dating”, who likes who, and who is going out with who.  You are just 9, but Dad and I make a point to take you seriously, as we remember what it’s like to be your age.  I think it’s really important that you feel comfortable and safe talking to us, about anything.  We always make the time to listen and always take you seriously because we hope, really really hope, that doing so now, will pay off as you become older and really need someone to talk to. I truly truly hope either your dad, or myself, or both of us, will always be people you can talk to.   As far as you and your friends are concerned right now, “dating” means dancing together at the monthly “Party Rockers” dances here in town geared to your age group.  I try to keep the focus on friendship and why making and maintaining good friendships with many different girls and boys is important, but, you being 9, and part of the group of friends you are, are fairly focused on the issues of the day.  I know this is just the beginning, I was somewhat unprepared for it to start this early.

I am grateful that you have a truly great group of friends, and that they all have truly great parents, most of whom I know fairly well.  I feel comfort in knowing that you are well looked after wherever you are in your busy social life, and truly well loved. You even attended a sleepover birthday party, for a boy, this past year…something that I didn’t really think twice about, because I knew you would be well looked after. 

Over the past year, in addition to swim team and piano lessons, you continued with swimming lessons, soccer and were a part of the Goderich Thunder basketball camps.  You enjoyed a week long holiday at Matt and Jodi Durnin’s while Dad and I went to the Dominican in January with the Doaks, Johnstons and Gardiners.  This past summer you traveled to legoland, Build a Bear and the circus in Toronto with Grandma Tam and Gran and to the Science Centre in Toronto with Gramps and Sylvia, who were married this past February.   We went camping for the first time as a family in Red Bay and you didn’t want to come home.  You once again attended the Day Camp at Camp Kintail and we saw Mary Poppins in theatre in Grand Bend.  After the show you asked me how you could become an actor too.   Your cousin Beckett was born last year and is now almost a year old.  You love playing with him, feeding him and watching him grow.  As a 9 year old you are becoming a real helper now, with Beckett and with Jack.  You are going to make a great babysitter in a couple of years.  You still aspire to be a teacher when you grow up, although sometimes you consider careers as a chef and a musician too.  The sky is the limit with you and I truly believe whatever it is you set your mind to, you will achieve. 

Our little girl is slipping away and  a young lady is slowly moving into her place.  For the most part I am enjoying this transition as I love having real conversations with you about current events, world issues, life, and even tough stuff.  I like to challenge you to think critically and outside the box.  To make your own path instead of following someone else’s, and to be strong, confident and a girl who is not afraid to take risks.  You love math and science and I want to encourage you to embrace that, even though I may not be much help as you get older and learn more. 

And yet, you still need your sleep or you have meltdowns.  You still pout and whine.  You still like to snuggle at bedtime and be read to. When you eat ice cream you still get it all over your face and you still hate to brush your hair (which is why it’s still short).  You like to get pedicures, but you don’t want your ears pierced because you are afraid it will hurt too much.  You can swim far distances, dive beautifully, walk for miles, but still refuse to learn to ride a bicycle. You still want us around and you are still willing to have tea parties with your brother.  Jack adores you and looks up to you so much and for the most part, you are very patient with him. 

The next birthday letter will be the “double digits” letter.  The “now you can stay home alone for short periods of time” letter.  You are just 9, 9 doesn’t sound that old, and yet I know you are starting to grow up now.  I look forward to all that’s coming your way this year, and hope it’s a really great year for you.  I hope that as you grow this year, you continue to gain a sense of who you are, what makes you special and why being different is a great thing.  I will always be there to remind you when you forget, or don’t want to remember, because I remember what it’s like to be this age, in this grade, and at this stage.  I will always be in your corner and although it may not seem like it, I will always understand.  Nobody knows you like I do and nobody’s got your back like I do. 

Wishing you another year full of discovery, growth, happiness and so much fun! 

Love you kiddo.  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tornado in Goderich: 2 years later.

Last year, it hit me on August 1.

The heavy feeling.  Dread.  Fear.  Anticipation of this day.
This year, I thought I had escaped it.  And for the most part, I did.  I even re-read parts of my own story, without much internal affect. In the last week I received a couple messages and face to face comments from people I had just met about my tornado blog, and my gut reaction was just...peaceful.  As the 2 year anniversary approached, on the runs around town I now take, I would pass the house that, yes, is STILL standing, untouched in the last 2 years, and my heart would ache for the family, as it always has.  But I have made my peace with that situation and kept running.  Kept going.  As I have for 2 years now, I just kept moving forward.  I thought the "heaviness" about this day had escaped me this year.

Until yesterday.  Yesterday, for the first time I read a new friend's blog post about the tornado.  Now living in Kitchener, she grew up in Goderich, had friends and family in town, and was connected to the same fire department I am.  As I read her post, I felt the ache she was feeling when she wrote it 2 years ago.  There is such power in writing in "real time", as it is happening. When done well,  it conveys so much to the reader, you feel like you are right there with them.  She took me right back.  My chest was tight and my eyes watered as I read.  I met this friend in person when I went to the blogging conference in Toronto last fall.  Something I did because of my writings after the tornado.

I then read a post about today's anniversary from another facebook friend, who quoted her favourite story in the book she co-authored "Not Like Any other Sunday".  Here is the excerpt, written by Katrina Bos:

"My daughter and I emerged out of our basement to find our entire neighbourhood demolished. Everything was flattened, destroyed or torn apart. All of our trees were down, hydro poles everywhere. As we walked up town, all you could smell was natural gas and marigolds. There were sirens and people yelling in to blow horns. And amidst all of this chaos, the sun was shinging and the air had that clean feeling that only happens after a big storm. As strange as it was, it was also phenomenally real. Our day-to-day world can feel very phony and surface-oriented. That post-tornado time was strangely REAL. I never want to forget that. 

I never want to forget the amazing people in our community who came out and helped clean up. When we were all still in shock and emotionally exhausted, hundreds of people just started pitching in and doing what they could. At first it was just moving things manually into piles. Then came the rakes and the wheelbarrows. Then the pick-ups, tractors and trailers appeared. Then there were people bringing food and water, coffee and sweets. And they were doing it for no other reason except they simply wanted to help. I never want to forget feeling so phenomenally thankful and connected to other wonderful human beings. 

The tornado of August 21st was a terrible, scary thing to happen. And many others had incredibly more traumatic experiences than I did. And many others lost so much more than I did. 

But for me, there are many thing that I will take away from this. I have a new understanding of what is really important and worth stressing about. I am clearer what is real in the world and what is just smoke-and-mirrors. 
And no matter how hard life seems and how alone we feel, we are always connected and loved by others. 

For these things I will always be thankful."

Later last night, a neighbour posted her own reflections on the eve of the anniversary.  Kathy wrote:  "But it was a moment in time. And we moved through it, worked together, used the energy it left behind to build a stronger community, stronger families, stronger people. We found strength in friends, family, and complete strangers that we never knew was there. That energy still is here. It created; Out of the Storm, Windstock, and Pay it Forward. We've grown as a neighbourhood, and moved on through the adverse. We are blessed with strong roots and flexible branches (too bad the trees were not). Born of Pioneer stock who knew hard work will pay off. I Often wonder where would we be without August 21 2011. Would we know of our resilience, of our strength, of our wonderful neighbors, friends and complete strangers? I'm not sure we would. Not that I'm thankful for a F3 but I'm thankful for what it has taught me. Stay safe, you are loved and cared about more then you may ever know!"

 Now, looking back and considering all that has happened since, these are my sentiments as well.  What Katrina wrote is my favourite excerpt from that book too.

In the past little while, I have tried to take a page out of my dear friend Ang's book by publically sharing the many things I am grateful for.  Big things, little things, everyday things.  There is so much in this world and in my life to be grateful for and if ever there was a day for  a"gratitude" post, this is it.  2 years has given me that much more perspective.

That tornado changed my life.  It took me a few days in August 2011 to realize the enormity of the situation. My path changed that day, and today, I am going to focus on the ways in which it changed for the better.

2 years ago I learned more than I had ever learned before about friendship.  None of our family lives here and within a couple hours Goderich was shut down to outsiders.  Thankfully, my mom was able to get in, get the kids and get out before that happened, but once it did, that's how it was.  We felt like we were separated into 2 groups: those who lived here in Goderich, and those who didn't.  We had no family to help us, but we had friends who stepped up and filled their roles.  I have said it many times, I have amazing friends.  Life long, can't live without you friends.  Friends who, when the going gets tough, role up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.  Not just physically, but more importantly, emotionally.  People who listen, are available, pay attention, are intuitive, and care.  Really really care.  I have a girlfriend who opened her home to me and in doing so, became my mother, my sister, my confidant and my therapist.  The one other female in this world who saw everything, and every reaction I had, in real time, for the first 14 days afterwards.  Thanks to that tornado our friendship is immeasurably deeper and she is my "go to" for so many things. Thanks to that tornado she is one of my best friends.   I have a friend whose husband fought alongside mine for days, and then came to help us on his days off. Whose daughters set up a guest bathroom in their home for anyone who may need to use it.  Who emptied all the meat out of her freezer and cooked it all to feed the hungry.Who, in every single instance of severe weather since, sends me texts to see how I am doing.   She is one of the most intuitive, caring, grateful people I have ever met in my life and thanks to that tornado, we have gotten to know each other and understand each other much more than we ever did before.  I have a friend whose life, like mine, was turned upside down, but while we rented a house across town as a new one was being built, she had to live in hers while it was being repaired.  A friend, who despite her own dramatic experiences quite literally held me up when my knees buckled beneath the stress and like any good mother, worked to protect me from life's injustices. One who even now, 2 years later, shares a bond with me that no one else does.   My tornado friend forever, thanks to that F3..
I have so many more friendships I could speak of, I could go on and on.  That tornado created many bonds between residents who live within these town limits. That first afternoon and overnight we were facing it alone, but we were in it together.  We had eachother, and I am so grateful for those I had.  I never want to forget what that was like, during such an emotionally charged time.

I am grateful for the man my brother has become. He truly shone that week, and in the months afterwards as we worked to build our house.  He was such a bugger growing up, but has made up for it tenfold.  I said over and over again that I truly don't think I could have made it through a lot of it without my brother's apparent cool head and logical thought processes.  He was one of my knights, one of my heroes.  I am so lucky to have a bond like that with my brother, and hope it continues for the rest of our lives.  You learn a lot about people during crises and I was overwhelmed by my brother's ability to take over and keep me on track.  Whether family or not, everyone should have someone in their life they can depend on like that.  Thanks to that tornado, I and everyone else in my family learned the kind of man my brother is, and what he is capable of.  Thanks to that tornado, my brother's strengths were showcased beautifully.  I never want to forget what that was like, his grace, confidence and courage, and the way his steady gaze and assured tone could lift me up and calm me down.

I am grateful for those who just want to help.  No matter what the cause, what the reason, because they have been helped and know how it feels and just want to help someone feel better, to lighten their load however they can.  I never want to forget what it was like to see so many vehicles from municipalities other than our many unfamiliar police and fire vehicles.  So many people literally walking up and down streets with popsicles, sandwiches, bottles of water.  Just to help. No ulterior motive.  Before there was any official call for assistance, people were there, in droves.   Newspapers full of pictures of cheque presentations.  From corporations, charity BBQs and lemonade stands.  Thanks to conversations between strangers on an airplane.  Thanks to church collection plates.  Thanks to anonymously dropped off cards and  large organized donation drives and concerts.  Nothing affirms your faith in humanity more than being a part of something like that.  Every day there are plenty of stories in the media of terrible people with ill intentions.  But please know that there are also people that are performing ordinary miracles every single day.  Paying for a stranger's coffee or movie ticket.  Donating to a food bank or helping to buy presents.  Clothing children.  Replacing lost or stolen items.  Giving people a hand up, whatever that may look like, just because they want to help.  Their hearts are in the right places.  There are so many good people in this world and in our own community who do what they do because they love what they do and want to make a difference, and thanks to that tornado I was really able to believe that.  I will never forget the good people.

Thanks to that tornado, you and I have connected.  You have listened and in some way I have helped you to feel like you are not alone, or I have helped you to understand and check your initial thoughts and/or stereotypes.  Thanks to that tornado I have opened and am opening doors I may have otherwise shied away from.  Because nothing is forever, nothing is guaranteed, and all we have is right now, so I am choosing to enjoy the ride.  I have learned to make the most of every situation, to not stress about what I cannot change, and to just smile, accept that whatever it is, "it is what it is",  and to be grateful.

I am so grateful.

There were moments in that first week that I knew were incredibly special.  Deep inside myself I felt like I didn't want to forget what was happening.  That this was monumental, life changing emotional real-ness that may not ever happen again. I wanted to take pictures with my mind and keep them there forever. In many ways that week was the worst of times but honestly,  also the best of times.  I felt guilty thinking like that, what with all that was lost, and so I suppressed it.  Then, a few months later I read what Katrina had written and I was validated.  I wasn't the only one who saw the beauty in Goderich's darkest day.

Even now, I struggle with writing that.  A life was lost.  Today marks 2 years since a family lost their patriarch.  Nothing anyone ever says will ever put a positive spin on that.  Its easy for us to forget, but we can't. Thanks to that tornado, a man lost his life, and a family continues to grieve.  No one should ever minimize or forget that.

But also, that darkest day showcased our true potential, as individuals and as communities.  The labels, stereotypes, class distinctions and masks were all ripped off and we all just....were. We coexisted as equals. We learned that there is so much good within so many and we built each other up.   What a journey this has been and is.  You never know where life will take you.  You never know when your path will veer off in a new direction, when a new door will present itself to you.

August 21 2011...a day I will never forget either.

The first female voice in this video is mine.