TGIF: Life After My Sister’s Wedding and My New Normal


Our TGIF Tina is enjoying a well-deserved break today … Yes, we’re finally beginning to understand the ideas of #self-care & sustainability around here. But so we can all still get our Friday fix, we are recycling this fabulous post. TGIF! –idelette xoxo

My sister and I shared everything: Secrets, sins and socks.

On a typical Friday night you’d find us in the kitchen. Dress code: Pajamas. The faint strains of TLC’s ‘What Not to Wear’ on TV. We ate, vented and laughed about the misfortunes and highlights of the week.

My sister is a high school teacher with a wealth of anecdotes and a penchant for long play-by-play descriptions. She can take a seemingly mundane daily event and turn it into an epic trilogy. I, on the hand, usually play the part of listener: gasping, laughing and “omg-ing” on cue.

We had it down to a science.

Then she found a boy…

At first, I’d leave my reading light on and my door slightly ajar, waiting to talk to her when she got home. Usually I would be asleep, so the odd time, she’d stick her head in my room, grin sheepishly and give me the cliff-notes version of her night.  There were no more play-by-play descriptions anymore.

Like clockwork, five minutes into our conversation her phone would ring. She’d mouth a silent sorry, before slipping out the door, her eyes dancing wildly with the excitement of a school-girl crush. On Saturday mornings, I’d catch her hurrying out the door for a breakfast date or a bike ride. Our morning chats over coffee and toast (mine: buttered; hers: drizzled with honey) were a distant memory.

Who was I going to sit with at church?

I found myself alone. A lot.

I felt lonely.

So I did what any normal lonely person would do. I turned to the Internet.

It started with an innocent tweet …

A photographer I admire and “follow” tweeted about a useful resource for learning how to use an off-camera flash. Before I knew it, I found myself deeply entrenched in the world of photography. I wanted to learn everything there was to learn. I spent my weekends reading my camera manual, puttering on Photoshop and stalking the blogs of talented photogs for inspiration and technique. I reached out to a talented local wedding photographer and offered to assist her. On weekends I wasn’t assisting, I was out on shoots building my portfolio.

I was hooked.

At first it was incredible. I felt alive. I was awake, alert and in awe of the beauty that surrounded me. I was looking at the world through the rose-coloured lens of my camera. I’d found my happy place.

Then she got married …

Why doesn’t anyone tell you that, after the wedding: the hugs, the dancing and the pictures you feel a tidal wave of grief? It felt like a breakup.

She was “my lobster!(click on the link for F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reference)

I satiated my feelings with cake and spent the day in bed. I sobbed in the shower, into my pillow and while brushing my teeth. (Serious choking hazard, I don’t recommend it.)

Eventually the fog lifted and I realized I had to define my new normal.


To numb the grief of missing my sister, in addition to photography, I started reading voraciously, did writing practice, signed up for guitar classes, began writing a weekly column for SheLoves and made new friends. In short, I found a way to occupy every waking minute of my day.

By March, the cracks began to surface. I was getting sick often. I had too many bad moods. I was falling asleep on the skytrain and missed my stop one too many times. I was a zombie running on three hours’ sleep and starting to feel like a crazy person.

I’d lost my joy.

Difficult Confession

Here I was writing a column called TGIF: Tina’s “Glee”-Inducing Fridays and by Friday, I was so exhausted I could barely manage a smile. Let alone exude glee. *Cue Alanis Morisette’s Ironic*

I felt like a hypocrite.

Alanis <> Morissette – Ironic from cristian <> gatti on Vimeo.

I made a list of all my current commitments and crossed off the items that were non-negotiables like work, family, church, etc. I made another list of people I had to talk to in light of my new priorities. I went through the grueling process of contacting each person and explaining how I had bitten off more than I could chew. Talk about humbling!

And then something incredible happened: The universe didn’t implode. The satellites stayed on course. Life moved on without skipping a beat.

My New Normal

I’ve learned to be okay with the occasional sting of loneliness. I know that if I need one-on-one “sister time” I can just ask for it. Besides, some things never change. My sister would drop everything in a heartbeat if I need her. What more does a girl need?

“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.”
George Elliot (aka Mary Ann Evans)


I’d love to hear your thoughts:

– When was the last time you had to define a “new normal”?
– How did you cope?

Love you more than a slice of a crunchy baguette with a lavish slather of herb and garlic cream cheese.

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.