Monday, June 28, 2010

"One joy scatters a hundred griefs - Chinese Proverb"

I've been watching the calender that's hanging on our fridge, June has a photo of a magnificent sunset of orange, pinks and yellow...the quote on it reads "One joy scatters a hundred griefs. - Chinese Proverb"    Underneath the picture the 30th is circled with big black sharpie and I've written,  Savannah 11!  Wednesday is quickly sneaking up on me. 

Usually in the days leading up to her birthday I'm in a sadness rut, all doom and gloom.  I'm usually in a dark pit where I wish someone could throw me a magic ladder to climb up and out of it.

One of the ways I cope when I start to get that gloomy feeling come over me is to put the thought aside, try not to think of it, denial to some, but survival to me!  Every time a sad thought creeps into my mind, sometimes, when I feel strong enough, I tell myself STOP!  I consciously choose to bury the thought, to think happy thoughts and appreciate what I do have...its working so far today :)

This morning I woke up with this sudden blast of creative energy, it's weird!  But then I know with grief there are no rules.  So I'm taking advantage of this feeling today, staying busy and motivated and doing something productive with this rush of vitality that is running through my veins.

I had a mixed weekend, where I laughed and cried for Dempsey.  I had an overwhelming feeling of love for her yesterday.  You see yesterday we took her to Tom's Farm.  It's a farm just off the concrete jungle of L.A freeways, where there's a small petting zoo, a busy farmers market, a train ride and an old fashioned carousel.  Dempsey made a special hat to wear on our outing, with red spots she drew and carefully cut out then stuck on top with sticky made me smile and made Peter cringe.  "She's not wearing that is she Dee? Peter asked me. :) 

       Peter and Demps on the train, Peter was cringing at Dempsey in her silly hat :)

Watching the enormous smile on her face yesterday as she rode the carousel filled my blue cup with sunshine!  Something so simple as a kids carnival ride made my heart swell with love and gratefulness for my little girl.  I wish I could bottle the feeling and give it away as a gift!

However, the afternoon brought tears.....Demps had one of her days where she felt lonely and begged me for a little brother or sister...told me how unfair it is that she has no-one to play with and that she wants Savannah back!  THOSE moments swamp me with sadness and my heart aches for her.  All I could do was cuddle her and wipe her tears away and tell her sometimes life isn't fair!  And as she was crying and blubbering and whining, one of her baby teeth fell out.  Her mood changed instantly into one of excitement that the Tooth Fairy would be visiting our house last night. :)

And this is where my tears appeared.  Last night I quietly crept into her bedroom to swap the tooth for a dollar bill, and I noticed she had carefully written and taped a note to the Tooth Fairy on the glass with her tiny tooth inside.  The note read;  From Dempsey  How many fairies do you live with?  Dear tooth fairy, I want to be friends.

My eyes burned with tears that she is so lonely and I can't fix the problem, that she had to write to the bloody Tooth Fairy and ask to be friends!  So last night I fell asleep with teardrops soaking my pillow....but awoke today to Dempsey running into our room waving the dollar bill, with a huge grin that could fix any melancholy mood!

And I find when I have days that are up and down like a yoyo, the following day can be filled with this energy I'm feeling today....I'm wondering if anyone else can explain this phenomenon....or maybe its just me!  I'm not going to question it though....I've already done two loads of laundry, a work out, a blog and am sitting here enjoying the sounds of my beautiful girl playing the piano in the background!

Maybe the calender is right....One joy scatters a hundred griefs!  Wishing you sunshine today if your cup is blue! :) x

       Dempsey and me after the carousel ride at Tom's Farm yesterday :)

ps;  and I can see I better clean my fridge :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The ambush!

At the moment I should be doing a 1000 word essay on inequality in society, instead I decided to fill in a survey that just popped into my inbox from the MISS Foundation (a foundation that provides support for grieving parents and families). 

It's a gorgeous summer morning here, with a slight breeze.  My neighborhood dogs are barking in the background as I'm typing.  Ten minutes ago I completed the survey with tears pouring down my face to the point where I couldn't read what I was typing.

At the beginning of the survey there was a warning that the following questions may bring back feelings of pain and sadness.  I had no idea answering a few questions would take me back in time and have such a profound effect on me.  However, I hope I've helped give this doctor an insight into what it's like to lose a child and how the pain is still present and still manages to simmer under the surface of someone grieving, yes, even after six years.

And yesterday I had another doctor call me and ask if I was interested in participating in her study for grieving parents.  I briefly told her a small version of my losses, as brief as you can be when trying to describe how my life fell apart over the last few years.......she listened with compassion which I appreciated. Unfortunately she said I wouldn't qualify for the study because they are looking for people taking anti depressants or are prepared to do a trial with placebo's and anti depressant medication.

You see I haven't had to rely on the help of med's or a counsellor...maybe I should have or maybe I'm not really coping as well as I think I am. :) The doctor was fascinated as to how I cope on a daily basis, what some of my survival techniques are. The most important one I told her was that I was fortunate to have an amazing mother who instilled inside me that I could do anything in this world I put my mind to....that I would survive my losses, especially Savannah's. I also told her I have friends who have probably saved my life by being there for me, even at times they don't know it. That hugged me and listened, truly listened without judgement or silly meaningless advice. And as I was talking I had an out of body experience, like I was talking about someone else.

She told me she found it interesting, that at a grief conference she just attended recently, most, not all, but most, people who had to take medication didn't have that same wonderful closeness with a mother or have the amazing support network of friends that I described. I found this interesting and sad that others haven't experienced what I have.

So I've been thinking about her opinion and I know some people HAVE to rely on prescribed medication and that's okay too. When you are sludging your way through the depths of despair you need any crutch you can find to help you. And I think if people aren't fortunate enough to have that support system they can seek it out in the way of counselling or support which there are many.

I did go to a counsellor once, when I couldn't decide whether to try for another IVF baby or not...what an experience that was! The woman sat opposite me swinging on her swivel chair and talking about her problems to me! I know not all counsellors are like the one I saw and I think if you find a connection with one who can help you it would be priceless.

So today I'm having a blue day, a pity party as I call it, I'm feeling exhausted and drained after crying so much!  My university assignment is sitting next to me, staring at me, needing to be attended to.  There's a sink full of dirty breakfast dishes, coco pops on our rug next to me and a washing machine full of wet clothes!  But today I think I'll seize the day!  I need a little bit of TLC, Savannah's birthday is next Wednesday and already the pain of what I know lies ahead is lurking over me like a black cloud. 

But I'm thinking, forget all the unimportant stuff, I'm going to go take a hot shower, put on some pink lipstick and something pretty and go pick up Dempsey and take her to the local open air mall where they have unique fountains that shoot water into the air.  I'm going to grab a latte, chill at the fountain and soak in the atmosphere with Dempsey and hopefully some other mom's who are naive to grief!  Superficial yes, but hopefully this will cure my case of the blues today and put some sunshine in my blue cup! :)

         Demps at the fountain's last summer!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A different Father's Day!

Today's post is in honor of those who will spend Fathers Day without their Dad and for the Mom's who don't have their husband's here on Sunday....who have to be both Mom and Dad!  x

Father's Day is this America!  In Australia, we celebrate it on the first Sunday in September.  However, because we live in the USA for ten months of the year we recognize the holidays here too.  So my husband Peter gets two Father's Day's!

A few days ago as I stood at the stove stirring a bubbling pot of bolognese sauce, I asked Peter if he would contribute his thoughts to my blog on what his Father's Day will be like this year without our daughter.  How he will feel and what its like for him.  His answer was typical of some males grieving.  "No, I don't want to Dee," he told me.  I then asked if I could pick his brain so I could write for him. :)  He tilted his head, smiled and changed the subject.

My Dad who I love so much is the same.  He never talks about the loss of his wife, daughter or grand daughter either.  He's old school and was taught at a young age that you don't talk about your emotions or death.  It seems even though my husband and father are generations apart their opinions on grief are the same.  Just bury it and deal with's like they have been conditioned from a young age that to show emotion or tears is a sign of weakness!  To me, men who can honor their loss and show vulnerability shows strength and helps with the healing process after the death of a loved one.

For a long time, months, I would get frustrated and angry at Peter that he wouldn't share his most intimate thoughts with me about the loss of Savannah. 

            Peter and Savannah taken on the beach at Surfers Paradise just after she got sick

On many special days like Savannah's birthday he wouldn't even acknowledge it, just kiss me goodbye on his way to if it was like any other day, as I stood in the kitchen with tears pouring down my face, sobbing!  He seemed to be adjusting to life without Savannah fairly easily, leaving me feeling so alone and horribly isolated.  I wanted to witness his tears, to show some tangible evidence that he was feeling the same way as me.

I was afraid the widening gap, my obsession with how he didn't show any emotion over Savannah would swallow up our marriage....not realizing I was actually creating a gap that wouldn’t have existed, if I hadn’t been expecting him to be just like me, instead of accepting him as I knew him to be.

I have read that over seventy percent of marriages end after the loss of a child, scary statistics that made me reassess analyzing how Peter dealt in silence with the shared loss of our adored daughter.  I knew he loved her as much as I did and do. 

When Savannah was alive, every night when Peter got home, his face would light up when she would toddle, like a little doll into his arms.  Remembering those moments reminded me that just because NOW he wasn't crying and showing some sort of physical proof he was suffering the way I was, didn't mean his grief was any less....just that he had learned to hide it and ignore deal with it differently.  But you can't ignore grief, if you don't acknowledge it and wrestle your way through it, it can come back in the form of anger and bitterness, and I see this happening occasionally with other men I know who have lost a loved one.

However, I've accepted Peter's way of coping, he will always be Savannah's Daddy and will always love her and miss her as much as me.  But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to find opportunities to allow him to let me into his mindset and help him get through the hardest thing as a married couple we will ever have to face. 

So today I bought a lovely Father's Day card from Dempsey AND Savannah.  Dempsey will write inside it, probably something funny that will make Peter smile, and she'll sign her sisters name because she isn't here to do it.

                         One of my favorite photos of Peter and Dempsey

I know that Peter will be missing his other daughter on Sunday, even if he won't outwardly express it.  And, even though Savannah won't be with Peter physically on Father's Day, we'll make it extra special for him....he will always be a dad to TWO daughters, even though only one is here to spoil him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My present to me today! :)

I just received the most beautiful beautiful photo from Carly for Savannah...I can't wait to buy a magnificent frame for it.

Carly's son Christian died so she has created a legacy for others who have lost someone.

Her Grief Effect projects are all amazing too.  She takes requests for names to be written in the white sands of my native Australia.  You can find her blog here;

and her Grief Effect projects can be found here;

Thank you Carly, for putting sunshine in my blue cup today! x

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Believing in psychics and coincidences!

The strangest things have happened the past two days which makes me wonder if my family members who are no longer here are trying to contact me and let me know my wish of visiting a psychic is about to come true........its so bizarre that I just posted about this!

It all started yesterday when a friend, whom I love dearly, contacted me to say they were thinking of Savannah because it will be her birthday soon, also that they had read my blog and that it reminded them not to sweat the small stuff in life. I was so grateful they had shared their thoughts with me, it reinforced to me again that even though Savannah isn't here, because of her death, she continues to inspire others. It was also an opportunity to talk about my gorgeous little girl who I miss so much.

So this is where it gets interesting......tonight, on our way to dinner, Savannah's special song that I would sing to her, which she loved, titled Landslide, came on the radio in the car.  It made me smile, and wonder if she was in on the conversation about her yesterday.

Play Me! :)

Then, while sitting at Red Robin Restaurant with Dempsey, gorging on a hamburger my sisters song came on the speakers, one that I've heard twice now in the past month, drowning out the noise of the other diners, and making me wonder. And then tonight, with Demps finally in bed, I was channel surfing and came across a show about a psychic. "What a coincidence!" I thought.

I watched this show with goosebumps, the psychic was amazing, knowing how each of her guests loved ones had passed away and seeming to know how the guest was feeling. I wished I could somehow will myself off our comfortable couch and through the TV, onto her show for a reading. :)

So just now, I did a google search on this psychic and they are LOOKING for guests on her upcoming show, get this, IN THE LAST WEEK OF JUNE, Savannah's week! Here in California!

So I've just sat here in the darkness, with my laptop, with trembling hands, typing out my story to ask if she will read makes me wonder?

God knows I have enough beloved family members on the other side, that if possible, can make this happen. We'll see if my instincts are right and I'm about to get a gift for my baby's birthday on the 30th of June............stay tuned ........... :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Would you want to know?

Last night I tucked Dempsey into bed, snuggled beside her, smoothing her forehead.  Peter usually carries her piggyback style up the stairs when its bedtime.  But Peter's away working so I had the pleasure of some 'Dempsey time' on her bed, with all her webkinz toys invading my space. :)

"Mommy today is Aunt Erice's anniversary isn't it?" she asked. 

I wondered where this question would lead as she sometimes seems obsessed with death.....but then who could blame her, right?

"Yes Precious, today is Aunt Ercie's third year anniversary,"  I told her while stroking her blonde hair.

"So when is Nannie's anniversary?" came the next question.

"Nannies anniversary is November 14," I replied.

"And Savannah's is January 14, right Mommy?" she added.

"Yes, Darlin, Nannie and Savannah are both 14th's."  Her next question made me smile.

"So I wonder Mommy when MY anniversary will be?"  she asked.

I wrapped my arms around her, throwing out a webkinz leopard toy from underneath me....."You don't have to worry about YOUR anniversary,"  I told her, adding that she would live a long happy life and probably be an old lady when HER anniversary came.

"Wouldn't it be good Mommy if you knew when your anniversary would be?  I have so much I want to do, so I'd really love to know when it'll be my date,"  she added with a yawn.

And as I pulled the blankets up to her chin, kissed her smiling face and turned off her light I wondered........... What if I could look into a crystal ball and find out when it will be my time to die?  Would I want to know?  Would I want to know how it will happen?  Would I have wanted to know all that I know now and would it have made a difference to how I had handled things?

I'm not scared of death, after watching two people I love fight to 'live' then take their last breaths, at peace with dying, I no longer fear what will happen when its my time to leave this beautiful earth.  I kinda figure there is enough of my loved ones on the other side waiting for me, hopefully, there to welcome me.

When our daughter Savannah took her last breath she opened her eyes as wide as she could, like she was seeing something, or someone, then she slowly closed them and was gone.  Take into account that for two days prior to this she had been sedated with morphine, that her enormous blue eyes had been makes me wonder if my Mom, her Nannie whom she adored, was somehow present during those last few moments of her little life.....ready to take her by the hand and lead her some place magnificent where there is no pain and an abundance of sunshine, where she could run and dance and enjoy all the beautiful things we have on this earthly place, free from her horrific disease.

I like to believe that's what Savannah saw before she died.  Her Nannie, with her arms out stretched, telling her not to be afraid, that everything would be okay!  As I had for hours before she left us.

So I'm not scared of my own mortality, more of what I'll miss out on if I'm not here.  Like seeing what Dempsey will become in life and hearing her laugh and watching her grow into an amazing human being and making a difference somehow in this world because of the grief our family has suffered.

I think if someone put a crystal ball in front of me tonight and told me I have an opportunity to mess with fate, to know if it is cancer, or a big bus, a plane crash or old age that will take me.  I think I'd have to decline.  Because through losing so many loved ones I've learned to live and love my life and what will come next for me .........even if it is more heartache.  Because that's 'life,' it's precious and fragile and so full of ups and downs, twists and turns.  And losing so many important people over the last few years has made me appreciate every second I have here so much more.

However, I'd like to visit a psychic someday, someone who knows nothing about me that could give me clarity on my beliefs that my loved ones are only a spiritual plane away, that they know how I feel and protect me and my family. 

A few years ago I did have an encounter with a psychic, by chance, where she spoke of a little golden curly haired girl dancing and twirling in a field of flowers...she filled my blue cup with sunshine and gave me hope to BELIEVE.......but then that's another story! :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Surviving the month of June!

I hate the month of June, it brings with it challenges where it seems I don't have choices.  So I gear up for what I know will be a hard month, it's like a war on my soul. 

The first few days brings sadness as it marks my beloved Aunt Ercie's anniversary this Saturday.  Three years ago she was killed in a horrific level crossing train crash in Australia that took eleven lives and injured twenty three others.

Precious Aunt Ercie and me six months before she died.

Just when I thought our family had suffered all the tragedies they could, we were hit with another one, so shocking that I thought I would be prepared for the next death that I would be confronted with, that I would have the tools to cope.  But I've learned death and grief are always the same, no matter how many times you face them, it is always painful and manages to shut down your world. 

In the days after the crash when we didn't know if Aunt Ercie survived or not, it was another intense trip of shock, disbelief and hope, where I survived on dry toast and family phone calls, updating me with any news and then finally, confirming our worst fears....that precious Aunt Ercie wasn't amongst the survivors.

And I haven't written about Aunt Ercie before as its difficult and unbelievable that our family should suffer so many losses, but I've learned there are no rules in who or when your next beloved will depart this life.  I think knowing that NOW, makes me appreciate every single day so much more.

After Mom died, Aunt Ercie filled a gaping hole in my life.  She became like another mother to me, calling me from Australia every two weeks without fail and knowing, somehow, all my important hard dates on which she would call and fill my blue cup with sunshine, listening to my sobs over the phone and offering her love as best only she could.  I was amazed that my seventy-nine year old Aunt would take the time and be so so kind.  I miss her calls so much now.

I was lucky to have spoken to Aunt Ercie two days before she died, she was excited about the train trip to see her daughter Heather and I still wonder about fate and whether God, or whoever really does have a plan for us all.  You see Aunt Ercie only ever travelled First Class, but this fateful day she chose not to.....the First Class carriage passengers all survived!  And the train didn't leave on time, it waited for a ticketed passenger that never showed up, that MAYBE, would've made a difference to the timeline and how the accident happened.  I will always wonder!

But I take comfort in knowing I always thanked Aunt Ercie for her calls and told her how much she meant to me, another lesson I've learned through loss.  And, because of her kindness I have reconnected with her daughters, my cousins, who have become like sisters to me......grief has brought us together.  So this week, its payback time for all the special calls Aunt Ercie made to me.  I'll contact her children and offer my support and we'll reminisce about their generous Mom whom I miss too.  I still have a message on our answering machine from her a few days before she died, which I'll listen to as it soothes my soul and now, makes me smile.

And then there's the last day of June, which will be Savannah's eleventh birthday.  A day she won't be able to celebrate with us ever again.  I wonder what it is that eleven year old girls like these days and I imagine what it would be like to have her friends running around our home, making a mess and  giggling.  Where brightly wrapped presents should be stacked up on our table waiting for her to rip open.....I will always wonder!

Savannah's 4th birthday, also her last.  

So I think I'll just skip this month of June, pretend it doesn't exist.........or.......confront my sadness head on and tackle it and turn it into something positive......I guess we'll see! x

Today's post is in honor of my beautiful Aunty Ercie and her four children - Kaye, Heather, Lynne and Allen...I love you all x