Friday, April 30, 2010

Some signs from heaven to help you 'BELIEVE'

Anyone who has lost a loved one is always searching for a 'SIGN' from heaven....something, anything that will help them 'believe' that their lost ones are around....that they somehow know we miss them. 

After losing three of my family members I now BELIEVE and take comfort in the signs I find hard to accept are just a coincidence. 

For a long time after my sister died I waited for 'a sign', something from her to tell me she was ok, that her spirit was around.  I waited for pictures to fall off walls, or to see her ghost in the hallway....I now know these aren't the signs we should be looking for.  It's the little things we need to notice, and I've had many. 

These are just a few..........................

After my sister Tarnia died I kept seeing something move out the corner of my eye, like a flash, like someone was in the room with me, it happend for maybe two months, then, as suddenly as it started it stopped.  I even considered going to an eye doctor it was so annoying.  Just after it stopped my friend Sally called me.  She knew my sister,  and told me I was going to think that she was crazy....then she went on to explain that in the weeks after Tarnia's death she too had this flickering experience.  I instantly got goosebumps as I hadn't shared my experience with her.  I like to believe it was Tarnia!

Since then, I've had so many 'signs', that I smile now when they happen.

The morning after Savannah died I opened our back sliding door to a tiny feather, white with splashes of gold in it, like her hair.....drifting down to greet me.  I looked up and all around to see if there were birds, or a nest, there was nothing, just this tiny, dainty, fluffy feather, floating to my feet.   They say feathers are a sign from heaven and it since then, alot of times on a hard day, I see a feather lying in my path......a coincidence maybe?

Then there's butterflies, and hummingbirds, they say these are messengers from the other side, sent to deliver a message.  I once had a hummingbird fly within a few inches of my face, and just hover, staring at me, humming and I know you are smiling now, thinking I'm crazy to believe such things....BUT, that same day, my brother was visiting us in America from Australia.  A few hours after this happened to me, he rushed into the kitchen saying " won't believe what just happened....this weird looking bird just flew straight at me and hovered near my face, then flew off!"  We don't have hummingbirds in Australia so you can imagine his surprise.  Mark doesn't believe in signs but when I told him he, like me, wondered if it was our Mom delivering her love, happy, that her two children were together.

I've had songs that mean something only to me, come on the radio when I'm blue, butterflies land on me and found dimes(which they say are pennies from heaven, a sign from a loved one!), feathers, and dreams.

Savannah's favorite song came on the loud speaker at the supermarket a few days after she died, while I was pushing my cart around the deserted aisles, lost in my had to be her!!!!!  I take comfort in these tiny messages that others think are just coincidences!

And that tiny feather, the gift I got from Savannah the day after she died.....I carry everywhere with me, its in a secret pocket in my wallet, tucked away behind my favorite photo of her.  It's a constant reminder to 'BELIEVE!"

So look for the little things, and take comfort in them.....I'd love to hear what yours are?

Now, when my bladder wakes me at night and I stumble to the bathroom in total darkness, I still look outside, hoping and dreaming that one day I'll see a little shadow with curls running around our garden.....

PS:  Just as I'm sitting here typing this, a pretty white butterfly is flitting around our yard! :)  I hope this post will bring you some comfort, or a smile, or some sunshine in your blue cup today! x

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When is it time to move forward?

I had a chat with a girlfriend last week who lost her niece at the age of 25 a few months ago.  Of course, the family is in the depths of grief and trying to move forward.  My friend was quite vocal about 'making sure' the Mom didn't 'get stuck' in her grief....she was going to help her go through the daughter's closet and personal things, making sure any upsetting reminders of the daughter were removed so the Mom her words..."Move on"....(I hate that saying) how do we move forward and when?  How much time is it 'meant to take' before we can face some of our old memories without crying and feeling overwhelmed by grief?  I had empathy for this friend, as she has two healthy children and thankfully hasn't lost a child.  So, today, a funny thing happened which led me to question when I will be ready............

Our home association is having a garage sale this weekend and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go through Dempsey's toys and get rid of the ones she no longer plays I can at least get to her closet without the risk of breaking my leg!

So Demps and I sat down in her room, surrounded by her latest obsessions 'Littlest Pet Shop' toys, that are shiny and new, and we discussed how important it is that we give away the old toys to other little girls and boys who aren't as lucky as she is! 

Little did I know, I was the one who would be arguing with my seven year old, crying, over keeping an old, broken toy that is no longer useful for anything, other than to see the toy 'I' couldn't part with was one of  our daughter Savannah's favorites!  It had been buried in the depths of Dempsey's toy box.  "Give that one away Mommy, I don't want that!"  Dempsey told me.  I had to smile and blink away my tears......

The toy instantly took me back to when Savannah was alive, when she was well enough to play with toys, and her hands worked and she could pick things up, and  to days when she wouldn't let this one out of her sight!  It even had to sit on top of one of her birthday cakes she adored it that much.  A simple, outdated, old plastic group of teletubbies....LaLa has the antenna broken off the top of his head, the paint is wearing off and the bottom is all scratched....but I can't part with it!  It has too many happy memories attached to it. 

I'm wondering, how long it will be before I can deal with her things without crying.  Most of them, like her drawings, waa wee(her security blanket, locked in a zip lock bag to preserve HER smell) and other sentimental things,  I have hidden in the depths of the spare closet, and under lots of boxes in our garage where I know I won't be confronted by them.  I'm wondering if other people feel the same way about their loved ones it just another part of the grief process?  I think it's okay to do the things that others think we NEED to do in our own time and on our terms....when WE are ready.

I hope one day to be strong enough to go through Savannah's things, smile, cry or do whatever I feel I'm allowed to do.  But until then, I'm stashing the teletubbie toy in my special hiding place....although its old and broken, to me its is priceless! :)

Dempsey with her "new" littlest pet shop toys in our sunshine in my blue cup today! :) x

Friday, April 23, 2010

Things that can help on your blue days!

Everyone has blue days.....the days when you feel like pulling the blankets over your head and not moving.  I call them my 'pity party' days.

If you are grieving or going through tough times, those days come on sometimes without warning, like a huge tidal wave that crash's down on you. 

Then there are the obvious ones....birthdays, anniversarys or just special ones that mean something to you.  Sometimes, I see a little girl that reminds me of Savannah, and thats enough to set me off!  Or like the day when I followed a lady around a store because she wore the same perfume as my MOM :)....crazy I know, but when hard days happen, sometimes its like you have no choice in being down. 

Anything can trigger a 'pity party' day......when mine happen I surround myself with my comfort collection.  I do whatever I need to to get through the day, sometimes taking things minute by minute if I have to....then I tell myself......"Tomorrow will be a better day!" Try and put a smile on my face and do what I need to do!

Above are my things, my survival kit on my blue days....what are yours?

My gold locket(whats inside is the special thing, which I'll talk about in another blog) on a chain, with my 'believe' charm and my dad's St Christopher medal
A phone call to a loved one
A crisp glass of wine
Loud Music that I can feel sad with
Peanut Butter....or any comfort food
Trashy magazines to escape reality :)
My pillow
And last and most importantly is one I couldn't photograph....but  that gives me the biggest comfort of all

I hope you find some sunshine today to fill your blue cup if you need to!  :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Learning to 'live' from the death of my sister Tarnia!

You never forget where you were when you get a call to tell you someone has died!  I remember every detail from the day my only sister Tarnia was killed....the day seems to be trapped like the snowflakes in a snow globe, one that's shaken up occasionally bringing everything back.

I feel I need to tell you my sister Tarnia's story, to help those of you on your journey of loss.  To give you hope that grief can be a catalyst for change if you let it.

Not a day goes by now where I don't appreciate the little joys in life like when my daughter Dempsey giggles as she gives me a sloppy kiss, making me laugh......I now embrace everyday with intention and passion to meet any challenge, good or bad and to try new things.  In that way, Tarnia continues to remind me how precious life is...that I get to enjoy things that she no longer can.   

My sister died at the age of thirty-nine.  She left four beautiful children, Alexander, Fraser and twin girls, Emerald and Charlotte.  All are like my own and radiate sunshine in my sister will always live on through them and for that I am forever grateful!

Where were you in September 2000?  We were living in Sydney Australia back then.  In my dream house, with my curly haired girl Savannah who was fifteen months old.  The Olympics were in full swing, Tarnia had given birth six months earlier to identical twin girls, it was her dream to have a daughter, so you can imagine how besotted she was when two arrived.  I was living the life I'd always dreamed of and sharing baby stories with her.

September 20, was a glorious spring day......I was curled up on my favorite sofa, Savannah sat at my feet emptying the contents of a cane basket of toys onto our wooden floor while I chatted happily to a girlfriend on the phone.  As the call waiting tone broke into our conversation I had no idea, that after I answered THAT call, our family would never be the same again!

I smiled as I heard Mom's voice, but my smile soon turned into shock, Mom sounded terrified. 

"Diana, are you sitting down, something terrible has happened........Tarnia has been killed in a car accident!"

When you are told something so shocking your brain finds it hard to process.  I remember standing up with the phone and instantly dropping to the floor, my legs giving way under me.  I kept repeating over and over to Mom, "Are you sure that's right?"

Of course it was right, as if my mother would say such a thing.......Mom couldn't believe it either. My mother told me Tarnia had been taking her kids (Alexander 8, Fraser 5, and twins Emerald and Charlotte who were just six months old) to a picnic at the beach and had rolled her car.  She was killed instantly!

I felt helpless, in shock, denial and felt I was going to throw up.  My surroundings became hazy and distorted and I felt like I was going to pass out.  I had to phone Peter who was at work and tell him to come home, that I needed him.

My sister Tarnia was in essence a mother.  Nothing gave her more pleasure than her four children who defined who she was.  Like me, she had married her childhood sweetheart Tony and was happy with life.  She was six years older than me and opposite in everyway.  She liked the fine things in life like classical music, old worldly things and vintage clothing.  Her hair was the darkest of brown like rich chocolate and I never heard her diss or say a swear word....unlike me, who loved loud rock music, all the modern things and the latest fashions.  However, we had bonded over the birth of our daughters and our relationship was one I always thought a big sister/little sister should be.  I wasn't aware then how much I would miss her in the following years.....

Tarnia lived in a small country town of fourteen thousand people, eight hours drive from us.  So we only got to see each other at Christmas or once or twice during the year.  Be it fate or something else, I had only visited her two weeks before her accident.  I am grateful for that last visit and thank whoever or whatever gave it to me.  When we hugged and said our goodbyes that day, I had no idea I would never see Tarnia or hear her voice ever again.....I've learned a valuable lesson from that last visit, and I do my best to pass it on.....ALWAYS validate friendship and love with those we care about.  Always tell them you love them as tomorrow isn't promised to anyone!  

When I arrived at Tarnia's home the day following her accident, my Dad was waiting for me at her old wooden gate.  We hugged and he patted me on the back.  His eyes were filled with tears as he said,  “I’m so glad you’re here. Everything’s going to be okay...Mom’s waiting for you.”   But we both knew everything wasn’t okay and wouldn’t be. Nothing was the same. It never would be again.

The week following Tarnia's accident, Mom and Dad decided to move into Tarnia's home and help Tony with the care of the children.  There really was no other choice.  The twins were only six months old and still needed around the clock care.  I wasn't sure how my parents, who were in their sixties would cope with their new roles.  But they would hear of nothing else.

Peter, Savannah and I went back to Sydney and tried to pick up life after Tarnia's death.  I cried everyday for months after she died and wondered when my grief would stop overwhelming me.  After losing Tarnia there were some days when I was afraid to leave the house or drive a car, for a long time the old me had disappeared and I didn't know when or if I would ever feel like normal again.  However, I've learned that you can choose to look at the positives in every loss.  My sister had left four beautiful children behind....who'd luckily, escaped the accident unharmed. 

Tarnia's husband Tony and two boys seemed to be grieving terribly for Tarnia and I wish I could've helped them more.

My parents embraced their new roles with everything they had......Mom becoming the babies surrogate mother.  I also saw a new side to my Dad, washing bottles and changing diapers, something he'd never done in the past.  I didn't know it then but my mom would be the next loved one I would lose.

Within months of Tarnia's death she was battling Ovarian Cancer, chemotherapy and all the horrid things that cancer brings.  But my mother was an amazing woman and never complained.  She set such an amazing example through the grace she showed, handling the death of her daughter and living day to day with her cancer that she would be, and continues to be my inspiration and bring me sunshine when I think of her.

I wouldn't have believed back then that within three months of losing my sister, Peter, Savannah and I would pack up our lives in Sydney, move to Tarnia's tiny town and be watching my mother fade away, losing her battle with life....but then that's another story............................

Note;  I've been given a wonderful book on 'A Guide to Children and Grief' by Miri Rossitto.  You can contact Miri at to purchase your copy for $4.99.  Miri has worked and talked with others who have lost a loved one, the topic of children and grief has come up often.

This book is intended for those that were looking for help and couldn't find it.  I wish I had a copy after my sister's death for her children.  Check out her site....there are some wonderful resources there. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Dempsey with two of her best sister's twins Emerald and Charlotte.....Dempsey's cousins who adore her :)

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. "Charlotte from Charlotte's Web"

So I'm sitting here with my laptop on my lap :)  I feel an overwhelming sense of being loved today! 

Friends, what does that word conjure up for you?  I looked it up in my online dictionary what the definition of a friend is...this is what they say:  a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

What is a friend to you?  A friend to me is someone who is there for you 24/7, sometimes they just listen, or embrace you in a hug, make you laugh, or cry, and sometimes they offer advice, whether it be good or bad......and sometimes, they provide you with all you need to get through a day!

After Savannah died, I lost alot of 'friends', I think my grief and loss was too hard for some.  Before my daugther died, I was one of those girlfriends that you wanted to have around, when times were good and I would dance on an occasional table or be funny, ....but then the times set in when I needed a bit more than just laughter and light heartedness.....when I needed someone to ask three little words!  "How are you?"  Just a few words but so powerful and meaningful to someone who has lost their way.

My Dad has always said to me that you are very lucky if you can count your true friends on one hand!  I feel very lucky!  Now, today, I'm fortunate to have such very very special friends, who have become a lifeline, even when they don't know it.  They make me laugh out loud sometimes, and sometimes they fill me with such an overwhelming sense of grattitude at how lucky I really is a physical feeling that causes a warm feeling in my soul.

Anyone going through a loss or challenge needs to surrounds themselves with true friends, energy givers I call them!  I've got rid of all my energy suckers, people that were in my life for the wrong reasons and who sucked the energy out of me....somedays when I had none.

So now I tell all those who help me survive, who put light in my life how important they are to me......maybe one day they'll need my ear to listen.  I'll feel so blessed to have been able to have helped them the way they have me!

On my blue days I know I have a handful of people that I can turn to who will make me feel better, make me feel loved and fill my blue cup with sunshine!  I hope you do to! :) x

PS; just as I hit the post button to publish this....a downy white feather floated down from the sky and landed a few feet away from me, my neighbor Renee who has just lost her cousin was with we were fighting over who the feather was for :) ....they say feathers are a sign from a loved one in heaven(which I'll write about in another blog)....I can only imagine its one of my loved ones letting me know they are thinking of me :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today has been a great day!

Dempsey just drew me this gorgeous sunshine picture which made me smile!

I also got two emails from  to say they will have my Mother's Day article on their site on May the 6th...and also, I'm so excited, because my first pitch to a magazine has been accepted for publication next month.

Following your dreams and making things happen make you feel alive!
I hope you've found some sunshine in your day today! x

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Savannah - Our angeL - Her Story

Savananh was born on a cold winter day in Sydney Australia, surrounded by love.  I don't think I've ever been happier than I was in that moment.  Here was this tiny bundle, a daughter, all I'd ever dreamed of, placed in my arms, a gift!  The night she was born I didn't want to go to sleep.  I just wanted to have her next to me and look at her!  June 30, 1999, everything was perfect in my world!

Fast forward to March 2002.

I was 14 weeks pregnant with our second child.  My husband Peter and I had moved from country Australia to the fast paced Los Angeles for Peter's work.  My days were filled with watching Savannah draw, devour books, swim and her favorite, collect pine cones in a little red wagon she would pull along behind her.  Somedays, I had to pinch myself at how lucky I was.  However, around this time my happy world was to be shattered....if I had've had a crystal ball back then I wouldn't have believed what was about to happen to my "perfect" little baby, my world..Savannah!

I had noticed Savannah's right eye appreared to have turned in towards her nose and her walking seemed to be getting a little on the wobbly side.  After visiting countless doctors, who assured us all she would need was a small operation to correct the turned eye, we met with one who was about to change everything!

The doctor at the L.A Childrens Hospital ordered an MRI immediately.  I wasn't concerned at all, it was just a precaution she told us.  I've had three phone calls in my life that have changed me, this one would change my life, my world, and everybody around me, forever.

 At four a.m. the morning after Savannah's MRI, I woke to the soothing sound of the shower running, reminding me that Peter would be leaving early, for work in Atlanta. With an hour or more for sleep, before he’d go, hard as I tried, my anxious mind wouldn’t let me back into my dreams. I couldn’t wait to call the doctor and get the MRI test results. At nine a.m., before I had the courage to call, the phone rang.

“The good news is there is no tumor in Savannah's brain,” Dr. Buffen said.

“Oh, Thank God!” I mumbled, slumping into the nearest chair.

“But,” she went on, “there are some changes in the white matter of Savannah’s brain.”

“What does that mean?” I asked, while shaking my head in adamant denial of whatever she would say.

“I’m not quite sure,” she continued, “but I don’t think there should be any changes. I’ll check with the radiologist and call you back.”

Not too alarmed yet, I really wanted my Mom at that point, so I called her in Australia, telling her the findings. Her always-positive attitude usually made me feel better straight away and sure enough, she pointed out that Savannah was an active little two year old, certainly not a sick one. Like me, she couldn’t imagine there was anything too seriously wrong and encouraged me to not worry and just wait for the doctor’s next call. At mid-afternoon, misplaced hope faded, when the call came in.....

Savannah was engrossed in the TV then, watching “Winnie the Pooh.” I was standing on a chair in the kitchen, scrubbing out the cupboards, trying to keep at least my body occupied, while I awaited the doctor’s next phone call. The telephone rang and I raced to answer it. Dr. Buffen had spoken with the radiologist. What she said next was devastating--worse than even my rampant imagination had come up with.

“This is very, very serious,” she said. “You and your husband need to come in to Los Angeles Children’s Hospital tomorrow, to discuss the findings of Savannah’s MRI.”

I could hear my heart thumping, as I asked her what they’d found. I could hardly breathe, barely got the words out.

“Savannah appears to have some form of leukodystrophy, a genetic condition which affects the white matter of her brain.”

I wrote the word down. Such a foreign and ugly word to have anything to do with our beautiful, precious child! I could hardly pronounce it, let alone spell it. I had the doctor spell it out for me, so I could look it up and not mistake it for anything else. Her next sentence was the worst blow of all.

“In most cases the condition is fatal.”

There was that awful word--“fatal”! I could not comprehend that one. Mind and body were reeling, could not cope with the implications of that word. I kept repeating over and over, that there must have been a mistake. Some mix-up of her test results. By then, I was too afraid to breathe, to think, or speak another word. Anything I said would have to only make things worse, I thought, so better to keep quiet and let the doctor apologize for their mistake. Which of course, it wasn’t.

After I’d said goodbye, my hands were shaking so hard, I almost couldn’t type the ugly “l” word into the computer’s search engine. And, as bad as I already thought things were, I was totally unprepared for what I was about to learn. When I saw what came up, my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach. What I couldn’t avoid reading was that there are at least thirty-seven forms of leukodystrophy. With each line I read, more tears poured out, threatening to drown the keyboard. Savannah was right by my side, still in her flannel jammies, and I stared at her, shaking my head in stubborn disbelief. How could this be happening to our beautiful little girl? It had to be wrong! There had to have been a mistake.

The first form I read about was called MLD--metachromatic leukodystrophy. The entry described how patients would lose all of their physical abilities, one by one, becoming bedridden, unable to speak and eat, with blindness following. Seizures and paralysis would then occur, with death the certain outcome, within three to five years after onset. It was too shocking for me to grasp, but one symptom described was an unsteady gait, which I swear made my heart stop. I didn’t want to believe I’d read that, but deep down I knew that article was describing my little girl and what she’d been doomed to, by some disgustingly unfair fate. At that moment, I knew the doctor was going to be right. I had to call Peter.

My fingers barely working, I tried to phone Peter who was in Atlanta, a half-day’s flight away. Once I heard his voice, my sobbing was unstoppable. I’m sure I was totally incoherent, trying to repeat what the doctor had told me. Peter was speechless. Like me, he was not prepared for such unbearable news.

“We’ll see Dee, maybe it’s a mistake,” he said, trying to believe that.

And so began our journey of hope........................

Dempsey and her gorgeous dimples!

My a blue cup!