After that break-up you need to take a full year off to heal.

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Auntie Says…You Can Do Anything for a Year.

A few weeks ago my nephew came over for a visit. He’s 27, handsome beyond words, and very gregarious. He’s just one of those guys you want to be near because his energy is welcoming and positive and his smile always genuine. We chatted and got caught up but I knew he was circling around something that he wasn’t quite sure how to say. 

After a while, he couldn’t hold it in anymore. “We broke up,” he said referring to himself and his girlfriend of five years. He let the truth lay there on the floor in front of him—by now he was slouching and the energy that normally radiated from him had waned.

I could see the heartbreak behind the bravado and knew I needed to tread lightly. With the painful truth out there, we decided to go for a walk. The dogs (pets are such a good distraction, aren’t they?) were running and we chuckled and asked a lot of remember when? We have so many memories between us. His dad (my younger brother) died when he was six. After that, he  and his brother spent an extended vacation with me every summer.

“I’m not sure it’s over,” he said out of nowhere. “I think I still love her.” His voice was a whisper and he was staring at his shoes. 

Oh man, I could see how much he was hurting and I wanted to tell him that it would be okay but the physical pain is palpable. It’s been said that you can’t die from a broken heart but anyone who’s ever experienced it, sure feels like they’ll be the first to prove medical science wrong. The gut-wrenching agony is real whether you’re thirteen, thirty, or seventy and it takes time to heal.

Five years together is a long investment of time, emotion, and self and isn’t something to simply brush off without thought and careful consideration. I could see that he was struggling to make sense of it as he tried to lighten the mood by talking about his new job. The sadness in his eyes remained though.

“I think you need to stay single and celibate for one full year,” I told him. “Take the year for yourself to explore what direction you want to pursue.”

“One full year? I can’t date, or be with anyone, for one year? Seriously?” He was incredulous that I’d suggest such a thing. 

“Yes, take a full year off and concentrate on yourself. By jumping back into another relationship (or even the previous one) before waiting a year, you’re not 100% committed to the new person because you’re still wounded.”

He didn’t answer me. He didn’t have to. His eyebrows were raised in question, a smirk plastered on his face, and the continual nod—it was official—he thought I was nuts. I had to laugh because he obviously didn’t get the point. We continued our chat about his future plans and dreams.

To him, taking one year away from the dating/relationship world sounded daunting and impossible but it’s a period of time easily measured and one that can be committed to. It’s long enough to be significant and life changing, while short enough to be manageable. You can do anything for a year.

The pain and emotional toll of a break up should never be trivialized by rushing into another relationship or even back to the same one. The one year commitment to yourself can slow your impulsivity and shows maturity in dealing with your own issues before getting involved again.

“But what if I meet the love of my life before the year is up?”

“If she’s the one, she isn’t going anywhere,” I said. “Be friends and get to know each other. If she respects you and your decision to wait a full year, your future relationship will be stronger.”

He gave me a big hug and the smirk was replaced by contemplation. I think he heard most of what I said—time will tell.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com or www.fayeearcand.com  

“Cancer” and “Child” don’t belong in the same sentence.

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Auntie Says…With caring comes vulnerability.

It’s a Tuesday morning and I just left the Penticton casino. No, I’m not a gambler. I went to the pancake breakfast fundraiser being held for Wills Hodgkinson, a local boy who’s fighting cancer at the Vancouver Children’s Hospital. I don’t usually go to these kinds of things—in fact that was my first. I guess I’ve always felt such events would be attended by family, friends, co-workers—that sort of thing, and me showing up, being a complete stranger, seemed a bit weird, maybe even intrusive. I’ve always been one who preferred to show my support from the sidelines. 

Today was different though. In fact the entire week has been a weepy one for me. I don’t know if it’s the Humboldt Broncos tragedy or the picture of seven year old Wills sitting beside an RCMP officer looking up with those big, round, trusting eyes. When I think of either situation I’m reminded of the vulnerability of life and the pain that comes from caring. 

I knew I couldn’t be in Saskatchewan but I could attend a pancake breakfast fundraiser. When I saw Wills picture—his eyebrows raised, not quite in question, but in awe and wonder—I felt drawn, compelled even, to somehow connect. I think what I saw in Wills was every child I’ve ever known and loved. I look at the picture of a little boy, dwarfed by the man-sized police cap he’s wearing, and don’t see the suffering, or the fight he’s facing, just the innocence of a child loving life.

So, I went alone to the pancake breakfast. I had no idea what to expect going to such a fundraiser. Upon entering a young girl asked me if I wanted to sign a card for Wills. Again, my answer normally would have be no—he doesn’t even know me, why would it matter? But I picked up the pen and wrote to him. I told him that I’m in this fight with him. As I was printing as neatly as I could, I held back tears and turned my back so no one would see. I stuffed my donation in the box and then grabbed a plate of pancakes and a cup of coffee. I was relieved that a small booth, tucked in the far corner, was empty. It allowed me to sit away from others so I didn’t feel like I had to talk to anyone. Even though it was a public community fundraiser, I didn’t want to appear nosy or meddlesome—I simply wanted to offer my silent support and then slip out.

I nearly accomplished my mission when a lady approached my table. She smiled and held out her hand to shake mine and said, “thank you so much for coming, I’m Wills Grandmother.” Well, that was it for me. The lump in my throat that I’d forced down returned and I couldn’t speak. Suddenly, holding the hand of that little boy’s grandmother, I became a quivering mess. My biggest fear had come true—I looked like the idiot stranger blubbering in the corner over a kid she doesn’t even know. I felt so stupid—and completely vulnerable. The grandmother patted my hand and smiled. She comforted me and then told me that Wills was having a good day and the family was taking everything one day at a time. She exuded a quiet confidence and strength that made me think that Wills was very fortunate to have this lovely lady in his life.

She pointed out all Wills fellow students who were there to help with the breakfast. “He’s really a lucky boy. He has so many friends,” she said. She then told me how his classmates gave Wills an iPad to communicate with the class and that they were planning a field-trip down to see him. She thanked me again and moved on to other guests in the room. I sank back into my booth wiping away my tears and thought of all the kids who’ve passed through my life. My son, many nieces and nephews, and the children of friends…too numerous to count.

While there’s no way to reconcile such a huge disease being foisted onto such a little person, I hope that the fundraiser helped. Supporting means something different for everyone. It may mean donating, volunteering, or perhaps saying a prayer. It’s personal and private, though we all recognize that the one suffering is actually a representative of the possibilities for any of us. 

Stay strong Wills. Your parents have named you well—with a solid will comes determination and strength. You’re in my thoughts little man. xo

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. You can reach her at faye.arcand@icloud.com or www.fayeearcand.com