Inside a tiny Vic West apartment, a single Christmas card stands next to a stack of bills on the coffee table.
Cathy Veres sits on the couch and pauses thoughtfully before declaring she’s ready to “give up on Christmas altogether.”
It’s a tough time of year. The hydro bill gets bigger each time it arrives in the mail and the cable was disconnected at the first of the month. But still, that’s not why Veres wants to pack it in this year. For her, the holidays are becoming just too painful.
Eleven years ago, her brother died from liver cancer on Christmas Day. He was 47. Looking at the greeting card on the table, Veres says she can’t survive something like that again.
She and her husband need some good news this month. Getting food vouchers from the Times Colonist Christmas Fund allows them to put a dent in some of those utility bills, but debt is just part of the problem.
The 60-year-old licenced practical nurse no longer works because of a host of disabilities. She suffers from osteoarthritis and osteoporosis; she and her retired husband are both diabetics, plus, she battles severe depression.
She eats a fistful of pills with every meal and still lives in constant pain. All she wants is for life to go back to the way it used to be. She wants to go back to when her brother was alive, to a time when she was strong enough to work and when the bills weren’t piling up.
But this Christmas, life is just going to pile it on. The card on the table is from her mother, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. She gave the card early this year — just in case.
Looking at it from her seat on the couch, Veres realizes what this holiday season may have in store. She hopes the doctors give her better news this week, when her mother undergoes more tests. Maybe the cancer is treatable and not too far advanced.
Just in case, though, Veres already dated the bottom corner of the card — 2012. As if she would forget.
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