Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Season of Hope...celebrating Easter.

Anyone grieving wishes they could sleep through the holidays. Special occasions can stir up old memories and a craving for our loved ones who’ll be missing out….

A few days ago I received a message from a lovely lady who read my blog. She wrote; “Grief is so hard and every holiday seems to spit it right back in my face! I get up and I fall down more….I struggle so!”

For some of us, Easter or this time of year does mark many things. The death of Jesus and his resurrection or get togethers with family and friends, where we can feast on their love and laughter. And this fuel can help to keep you going, and top up your tank for the next hard day ahead on your journey. Well it does help me.

On Easter Sunday, I thought of the many people who would be wishing that Easter Bunny could take away their pain, instead of deliver gifts. If only you could wrap up your hurt in sparkling foil like an Easter egg….and place it in an empty basket….and leave it at the front door with a juicy carrot and a note attached.  But you can’t. On special days you have to labor through your grief, and its hard work.

However, this year, even though I miss Savannah and Mum and my sister, I decided to try and gift wrap my grief and put it away for the day….and I understand not everyone can do this…especially if your grief is fresh and raw like a new cut.  I decided to make my own rules as the day progressed and try to enjoy whatever the day brought. I hope you can take comfort and hope, that in the future, that there will come a day when maybe you can do this too.

      Half of my delicious Hot Cross Bun

Its tradition in Australia to have hot cross buns at Easter time. I’ve never seen them in the USA however, a friend of ours somehow found them in a bakery here. They were sticky and lush…..I toasted mine as my mum always did, adding a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar amongst the melted butter. They were doughy, and only had a few sultanas scattered throughout the bun, but they took me back in time to Easter in Oz with my family when I was a little girl.

Dempsey was thrilled with her goodies the bunny had left and gorged on chocolate all day…..AND I let her! :)   It’s easy to let your guard down and over compensate on our kids that are alive.   After all, it’s only a bit of sugar……

These little characters are called Squinkies and are the latest craze amongst Dempsey’s friends. There are rabbits and kittens, fairies and farm animals that live inside tiny plastic gumballs. Easter Sunday, I loved seeing the smile and wonder on Dempsey’s face as she popped open each gumball to discover what was hidden inside.

           Savannah playing with Trishie at Easter.....

Savannah loved Easter. On Sunday I lit her special pink rainbow candle and hugged her ashes and wished her a "Happy Easter Bubby!"  I have memories of her scampering amongst the grass collecting eggs in her bucket.  I did wonder what she would’ve liked in her Easter basket......I always will.

The bible believes Easter is a time of resurrection or rebirth. And so it is with grief, each day is a chance for renewal, for hope and a choice to try and rise each day to celebrate being alive….even if you are missing a special someone.  Tomorrow is always a new day............

Wishing you Sunshine if your cup is blue over these Easter Holidays. x

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What you can do with loved one's possessions you don't want to give away.

After someone you love dies its difficult to let go of their possessions.

Whether it’s a baby blanket, an old sweater, a scarf or a ragged toy ….and sometimes we never let go. The arduous task of sorting through personal ‘stuff’ is like going to the dentist….we put it off, knowing that when confronted with their things its painful…like letting go of a piece of them, or a memory. But memories can’t be stolen or lost or given away. So yesterday I had a brainstorm about what I could do with some of Savannah’s ‘stuff.’

Dempsey’s closet is brimming with boxes, overflowing with old dusty stuffed toys and board books and dress ups that she’s simply grown out of. And Peter has been nagging me to purge.

I knew that I’d come across fragments of Savannah’s life behind the bulging sliding doors. But I was prepared. And I think if you are ready, and IF you can embrace the grief it may bring, then that’s a great place to start.

And I did find some of Savannah’s favorite toys, like a Barney toy that sings “I love you and you love me” if you squeeze his fat belly, her beloved Jemima doll that went everywhere with her. And a small plastic red wagon that I remember Savannah dragging behind her as she collected pine cones from the garden. I remember the sunshine picking up the gold in her hair as she gathered one after the other of the pine cones we’d later paint with glitter.

  Savannah's loved red wagon that I found hard to give away.  I hope another little one can enjoy the way she did.

And her books, oh her books! After Savannah’s hands became contracted from her horrid disease she couldn’t hold a book, or even turn a page! However, books still brought her comfort.

She couldn’t escape her illness, but we did manage to flee to the park. We’d pile her big red wagon and her blue reclining chair into our car and sit in the sunshine and read. Her smiles were such a reward back then! We also had a kind lady, Marcia who would come to our home, sit on her hospital bed, and read to her.

Some of Savannah's favorite books...I couldn't part with these ones :)

So, as I held these treasures in my hands I contemplated NOT giving them away, each one held a special memory. I could hear her dainty voice reading them…like she was right there next to me…..that was until Dempsey burst into the room and bombarded me with “Give those away Mummy, they’re for babies!” But how could I let go of these material things that were shrouded in memories of Savannah?

And I don’t know how this thought came to me, whether I read it somewhere or whether a light bulb went off in my brain, but I thought, “I can photograph them!” And make a memory book of these things that I didn’t want to part with but knew I had to….well, most of them anyway! :)

So tomorrow I’ll start cataloguing the ones I'll give away, one by one, this handful of cherished items that will give me gentle comfort anytime I wish…and Dempsey will have a collection of mementos of some of her sister’s short time with us which she might be interested in one day…..

Some of Savannah's favorite toys...her Jemima doll and Henry the Octopus, Humpty and Diddle the cat...so many memories attached!

And you can do this too! Create a memory album of photos of cherished possessions that you CAN’T hang onto for whatever reason, but you can record forever that can aid in your healing.

Savannah when she was well...oh how she adored her books!

I did hang on to a few I couldn’t part with….that will always just be hers!

Ones that I can take out and touch and pause to remember a little girl with a pile of books, chattering away happily, swallowed up by her imagination of some place special far away in the pages of those books…like where I imagine she is now…….

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thankful for...............

Life after loss is certainly different.  Especially after the death of a child. 

For a long time the world loses its beauty and meaning.  

But then, one morning, the tears won't come straight away and it'll be like someone has waved a magic wand....you will wake up and notice the sun seems warmer and brighter than it was. You’ll hear, really hear the birds chirping as music to your ears…and you’ll wonder why you never noticed before.

I call these things the ‘gift of grief.’ A new appreciation for the little things in life. This week, these are just a few moment’s captured on film I’m thankful for……...

Last week I had the privilege of watching my baby get her first ever trophy for third spot in the School Spelling Bee! 

My heart felt like it would burst as I watched my daughter stand tall, and humbly walk to the stage and collect the trophy that was half the size of her!

 My beaming smile could’ve lit the school auditorium. 

I wish I could bottle the pride I felt as her Mamma…and there were no tears. :)  
Needless to say, the trophy has become her new bed buddy and hasn't left her side since she got it!  

Dempsey has become obsessed with playing tennis in our street. Peter or me volley the ball up and down the road to her.

And after watching our other daughter Savannah lose so many of her physical abilities, one by one, watching Dempsey swing a racket at a small green ball is gratifying. I never take it for granted.

And if she manages to connect the ball with the racket, it’s a giggle fest……and a “Stop taking photos Mummy!”

After slogging the ball up and down our street and dodging the neighboorhood cars, I caught Demps outside giving herself her first mani pedi…

Her effort made me laugh....however, I don’t think it’ll be a career choice for her! :)

And with easter bunny busy assembling his delicious chocolate treats for easter, I couldn’t resist filling our lolly jar with sweet foil covered delights!  Every once in a while we need to indulge in chocolate....one of the most therapeutic things I know if I’m having a debbie downer day! 

Dempsey was patiently waiting for me to rip open the lid…… 

And these little beauties which Dempsey arranged….

How can they not make you say awwwwwwwwwwwwwww?  Uber cute right?  They look as if any minute, they are about to start chirping…….

I took this with my iphone while shopping…..

Dempsey appeared from amongst the coat hangers of a clearance rack I was perusing inside Marshalls with a “Look Mummy, this is for you!”  Oh how lucky I am…….

Sometimes we forget to smile or its difficult.....  However we can often find reminders in the most unlikeliest places....like Marshalls.

These irrisitable lumps of happy bubble gum, packaged so prettily stopped me in my tracks and put a grin on my face. 

I'm thankful I can now appreciate these little things that make my days seem fuller...to recognize them and to be thankful for simply being able to buy something so unimportant like this box of gum.  And getting hapiness out of imagining the fun Demps and I will have as we blow bubbles, let them pop and stick to our faces and then knowing that when we do....the laughter will be unstoppable.....

Wishing you sunshine if your cup is blue..... x

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Them times!" How we can find new/old memories"

Photos are powerful possessions!

After my sister Tarnia was killed I couldn’t look at a photo of her without crying.

It took a long time for the pain associated with her smiling image to disappear. And then, all I wanted to do WAS look at photos, stacks of them…so I would never forget……..

                     My sister Tarnia and Tone her husband.

But over time, most of my photos of Tarnia, Mum and Savannah have lost that penetrating pain that I got if I took them out and touched them. They still suspend me in a time warp of memories, however, they’ve become so familiar now that the impact is almost generic. It’s like your mind becomes accustomed and familiar with the same images.

However, last week, my brother in law Tone, Tarnia’s husband must’ve trawled through his old pictures and generously decided to send me a few…of Tarnia, Mum and Savannah.

So without warning, with my morning cup of coffee steaming in front of me, sitting at my computer, I opened an email he sent simply titled ‘them times.’

As my brain registered the images, it was like snap! Tears filled my eyes and my hand went up to my open mouth. Then….that gnawing feeling of longing hit and finally a smile, a sigh and….comfort.   Like I’d just been hugged. The images awakened my memory and took me straight back to some perfect moments forever frozen in time……

Mum, Alexander and the twins under Tarnia's old tree....beautiful memories!

This photo I’d never seen before!  It stirred a new/old memory inside me.  As my eyes feasted on it, I could almost feel the soft grass under my feet and hear the cicadas chirping and smell the Summer that was in the air.   I could hear my Mum’s laughter, and Alexander telling her a story, probably about Harry Potter…..and the sweet voices of the twins saying “Look Nannie!”

There were so many days when Mum would sit in the yard, in the sunshine with the kids. In a chair under Tarnia’s shady Plane Tree and cry. But being amongst nature eased her pain…and this photo reminded me of that!

   Savannah and Charlotte - just before Savannah was diagnosed.  She looks like a little doll!

And how I adore this one of Savannah that I’ve never seen before either…..looking like the Angel she is! With pink wings on her back and her pink jelly shoes on her feet at a time when she could walk!  

And to see Charlotte’s grubby little face made me smile among my tears. The photo took me back….time stopped just for a moment to record her beautiful image forever. It made me realize how old images can provide comforting flashbacks and add to memories that I had forgotten, precious memories.

Photo’s do help you survive…so I urge you to contact family or friends that may have some of your loved ones images captured somewhere.

They can whisk you back with loved ones who've died, to catch a Summer of sunny days or yesteryears gone by.   And even though we can’t go back, we can remember vividly from the images and create old/new memories that have been trapped on film for eternity.

I hope one day Dempsey will look back on our photos and smile…and remember ‘them times'.....

(Today's post is for Tone...thank you! x)