Real time. This summer has been one of the hardest of my life. My grandpa passed away in July after a hard end with cancer, and exactly one month later my boyfriend’s mom, Cindy, passed away from a vicious cancer that took her in months while I was in Alberta. I tried to fly back to Toronto in time to see her before she passed and I missed her by 12 hours.

This combined heartache of these months, with trying to do thesis fieldwork at a time when so many more important and difficult family things were happening, while trying to function, while trying to post photos and act like nothing was wrong, while trying to not cry all the time, while trying to sleep, was exceptionally difficult. Barely possible. Of course things were wrong. Everything was wrong. Everything is still wrong. Life is not the same. Life is difficult. It is difficult for me to go to school and care. It is difficult for me to think about the future, about dreams. It is difficult to realize that we can plan our entire lives for a retirement, a life of travel, a break after it all… and you might not get it. So do it now.

So life is tough right now. It will continue to be tough for quite awhile, I think. As we get older we are bound to get human-shaped holes in our lives, people we love who leave us too quickly or too painfully. Still, it’s never easy.

After Cindy’s funeral, we felt the need for nature and respite. It is really true when people say nature helps with grief. It helps with sadness. It doesn’t heal, but it helps. I also find more and more that photography helps me. It gives me focus, it gives me a reason to be out there, it gives me constant perspective, and I feel, for a little bit, like life is normal when I’m taking photos.

So here are some photos from Niagara Falls (a little full of people) and Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It was a nice break from the stress and exhaustion of the last few months. I hope to keep going back to nature over the next year or two. Well, hopefully for the rest of my life. But right now, to try and heal.