Wednesday, 26 May 2010


My tribute to my brother at the funeral service today:

I know we all sit here, in sorrow and great sadness, trying to remember our own times with Matt. For me, his coming into this world served as a bridge from the place I had just left to this new home I could never have prepared for. I know I can speak for my sister Tara when I say that his birth sparked a joy for us that we needed in order to feel like this new place was home. Here was someone that would look at us as true sisters, not adopted, but his own. My sister will tell you to this day that although she is thrilled to have given birth to four beautiful girls, her hope of having a little boy ignited because of her love of Matthew. He was an adorable baby and a great source of happiness for all of us.
Of course as he got a little older he had his moments – as the youngest and most spoiled of us. He had no problem reminding you of the rules mom and dad had set out and being a tattle tale if he felt you were committing an infraction. But this part of him is not what I remember the most today.
Matthew and I had our best times as adults. I was so grateful that throughout his twenties and into his thirties we grew closer. He often confided in me. Especially when as a nineteen year-old he began the difficult journey of living his own truth in a society that still treats beautiful creatures of God like him as second class citizens. To this day, I am in awe of the courage and strength it must have taken to step out of the shadows and be who he was while most of us at that age were lucky enough to only have to deal with typical teenage stuff.
When Shaune and I moved to London at the end of the 90’s with my brother Mark, we loved having Matt in our lives on a regular basis. Because he still lived there too, we often had barbecues and get-togethers a few times a week. I saw him less regularly when he moved to Toronto but there were some memorable times when I would be mixing a drink order behind whatever bar I was working at and turn around to see his smiling face sitting on a stool demanding to be served.
In the last few years, I have had my most fulfilling times with my baby brother. When my son Deaglan was born, I wanted nothing more than to have Matthew be a big part of his life. Matt as most of you know, loves kids and is hands down the most fun uncle. Kelly and Asia can attest to that. I loved watching him hold my little boy. Something so gentle and peaceful always came over his handsome face as he interacted with our babies. He always showed up in true good uncle fashion with gifts for the kids. And how he knew exactly what they wanted, I will never know.
And I know that he was a good friend too. I’ve been lucky to speak to some of his closest friends in the last few days, friends like Libby, Fardos, Garry, Sean, Dave and so many others who have emailed me this week. And it is not surprising that they are deeply grieving losing this true friend of theirs. My heart goes out to all of you because I know that if he was a fraction of the friend to you as the brother he has been to me than you are all changed for it.
I was fortunate that Matt read a beautiful passage from the Bible at our wedding. He called me a few days before and asked me if he could change it around a bit – you know add a joke here and there. I think his sense of humour was one of the best parts of him. Always self-deprecating but quick and so so funny.
Matt, I love you and I miss you! I know you are somewhere safe, somewhere peaceful. I’m certain you are lifting the spirits of those around you all the time. Because as so many of your friends told me this week, you truly had the gift of making people feel loved, warm and just better. You will never leave my heart or the memories of my children. Shaune loved you like his own brother and we feel eternally grateful that you were here.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

January 26 1979 - May 21 2010

We lost our sweet funny and wonderful baby brother a few days ago. It is senseless and baffling and I cannot put into words yet my grief. I love you Matt and hope you are in peace.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Mama's little helper - or not?

Deaglan's favourite show right now is Dora.

It's become almost worrisome to Shaune and me. There's an on-demand children's channel included in our cable package that offers tons of episodes of some of the more popular kids' shows for free. We try to use it with caution.

However, once he watches one episode of Dora, he wants more. We try to always set the boundaries before turning on the TV - like we'll say: Okay, you can watch two Doras but then the TV is going off. Do you understand? And he'll nod in agreement to this verbal contract but we can tell what he's really saying is: yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, move out of the way and turn it up.

But then when the two episodes are done and we click the "off " button, we are treated to a full blown temper tantrum - rolling on the floor, crying, kicking, telling the unlucky parent in attendance that he doesn't like them.

I find it difficult to navigate this tricky and controversial topic. I mean I know that lots of parents will tell you that letting your child watch television is just plain bad, it teaches your kids to stop thinking for themselves, can cause this or that etc. And I've read a lot of literature that gives guidance on this.

But the bottom line truth for me is - it's nice to get a break!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Living her life

Yesterday I thought a lot about my birth mother. I wondered if she was still alive and if so whether the pain of my absence still tore through her sometimes. I hoped not. I hoped that she could feel my silent thank you and know that she had enabled a miracle for me.

There's really only one comfortable place in our house for me these days - the recliner. As I sat there throughout Mother's Day, getting up now and then to fix Deaglan a snack or spend five minutes on the floor building a robot with his blocks, I felt acutely how unlike this life hers most certainly must have been while she was pregnant with me.

How as a very young and poor Muslim wife she likely spent her free moments pleading with her God to make this one a boy. That after the beatings, abuse and shame she endured when her husband saw that their first born was a girl, she would have given anything to just make this one male.

But it was not to be. Because after me, two more baby girls followed. And with them came a life more miserable than the one she had already known. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to live on the streets - the cruel streets of a poverty stricken land - with a newborn and a toddler, having no money, no food, no shelter, a damaged reputation, and the heartache of having been forced to leave your older two with the very man who resented you enough to almost kill you for giving birth to only girls.

And yet here I sat in my $600 recliner, in a place where gender only makes a difference if you are trying to plan out your nursery, expecting another boy. Here only but for the grace of God and her courage.

I wondered if life could get any more unfair.