Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A few of my favorite things.... Happy Birthday Girls! XX

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things……” - The Sound of Music.

Today in Australia, a few of my favorite things turn 12! 

My twin nieces Emerald and Charlotte!

I can hardly believe it.

The years just seem to have melted into one another and they are almost teenagers! I miss them a lot…..

This morning, early, I read their Dad’s blog.  It was a moving read today. 
Tone says;....  “After Tarn had gone, sometimes I would stand outside my back door. With a roll-your-own-cigarette. And a home made milk stout. Missing her and that.

Pondering. She is not to be seen again, held, listened to, care for us, watch the kids grow into the people we had hoped for, share life with.

And every time now even, when I step out into the night, there is that reminder of what it is/was/is to lose that close one, Tarn. Not of where I am.” 

And I know on birthdays and special days, that longing for those that are no longer here intensify and monopolizes the mind …as it has with Tone…and me today.

However, amongst the sad thoughts that my sister isn’t here, that she died when they were only 6 months old and the fact that today she would've showered her daughters with her love...with gusto….are also thoughts of joy that her two little girls are alive and have such a happy spirit…a kindness and love about them that is organic…that’s as natural to them as bees making honey. And as sweet! :)

And as time transforms that overwhelming bottomless pit of grief into one of gratefulness, I am thankful that they’re a small slice of my sister….and there’s two of them! :)

Also, that I am able to enjoy in them what I’m missing in not having my daughter Savannah here, as they are only 9 months apart…or would be.

Savannah giving Emerald a kiss... :)

Savannah loved her cousins….even from such a young age, she showered them with her kisses and love…

Savannah not leaving Charlotte out.... :)

And later, when they were around the same age, all three of them were like three cheeky monkeys…playing hide and seek and kicking up leaves in Tarnia and Tone’s big old yard.

Savannah, Emerald and Charlotte captured in Tone's yard....

And now the roles are reversed, and Emerald and Charlotte infuse their love and time on Dempsey.

Demps, Emmy and Charlotte at Xmas in OZ playing dress ups!:)

There is nothing more magical for me than having the privilege as their Aunty to have watched Em, Charlotte and Demps play for hours in our sandpit, and then Barbies came along, and Polly Pockets which morphed into Littlest Pet Shop and then of course the latest obsession…technology!

The twins and Dempsey...oh so young and cute, all of them!

Emerald and Dempsey...love this one!

Sorting through our filing cabinet, I found these beauties from my nieces when they were a lot younger…and which today they’d probably be embarrassed about! :)

But I've kept them like my sister would’ve and like I do with Dempsey’s things now…they are precious to me!

And on days like today when my heart feels heavy that their mum, my sister, isn’t here, I have to look deeper than the hurt and the pain with a panoramic view, a breathtaking view, that life truly is a miracle…they are a miracle….they could have been killed in the car crash along with my sister!

And in grief, you have to look at the glass half full…or you go crazy....

In time I’ve managed to be able to do this instead of being scared of being alone with my thoughts, like I was and as Tone mentioned...when it’s quiet at night and the stars are out and we contemplate these things….

It’s dark here now in the USA.  Tonight, like Tone I’ll go outside, and look up at the stars and think of my sister, and all four of her kids, and Tone…and my Dad today….I can allow my mind to wander there now.

But in Australia, the sun is high in the sky, and there’s two twelve year old girls that are probably giggling at school and embracing their day like there's no tomorrow…and that brings me comfort…their fine example...of being happy...no matter what their circumstances.

They fill my blue cup with sunshine…always…even if they are only 12! :)

“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad…..”


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Life and Grief can be like a kaleidoscope......

This past week I’ve been spring cleaning.

Getting rid of ‘stuff,’ especially in Dempsey’s closet which is packed to the rafters with all sorts of things, baby blocks, stuffed animals and dress ups that’s she’s grown out of.

I always stumble upon some of Savannah’s toys…and they always pull at my heartstrings, thinking of her playing peacefully with them. Sometimes the memories hurt, and other times I smile…..

However, one of them reminded me of life, and turning points that can come in time as you travel down the long twisted path of grief.

I found her kaleidoscope. I remembered her holding it up to the light, twisting and turning the end of it…fascinated with the shapes and patterns that the glass fragments magically made.

It also reminded me of the journey of grief…how after the fragments of our lives have been shattered and our world becomes black, that over time, we start to evolve and change, and after a while, maybe a long while for some….our complex grief and hurt morphs into an appreciation of life’s gifts.  For me, how lucky I was to have had my loved one’s in my life.  That inside the heartache and turmoil lays beauty…if you look for it.

Savannah's kaleidoscope I found...

And for a long time after my loved ones died, my world became black. 

There was no color.

I couldn’t sit alone with my thoughts, I needed constant distractions. I was afraid of my grief.....

The flashbacks were vivid and painful.  However now, most days, I can let my mind wander back down memory lane.

I’ll always have my memories….but as days turn into months and years, new memories replace the difficult old ones, and one day you do have a turning point…like a kaleidoscope, your grief slowly transforms into an appreciation for what you do have.

This week, these are some moments that made me thankful...….

While cleaning out my kitchen cupboard, I found this treasure tucked away.  Dempsey had decorated it when she was only five.

It took me back instantly, to when she was little, her shaky writing and the smiley sun made me smile.

I also revisited my guilt that I wasn’t as present for Dempsey as I should’ve been during those days, but it couldn’t be helped…some memories are hazy…a byproduct of grieving I think?

However, focusing on the here and now and building new memories help fan the embers of healing. Like last Thursday…we had Mum’s and Muffins at Dempsey’s school.

After a long line up with other mum’s, waiting patiently for a stale muffin, I got to sit with my baby on the grass, in a sunny serene spot at the school and share some time with her….precious time.  She loved it!

And then of course there’s happy hour at our house! :)

Last Friday, one of our friends made the best margaritas I’ve ever indulged in…ensuring there were plenty of laughs around our back ‘T’….and a slightly fragmented head on Saturday! :)

On Monday, we purchased some Girl Scout Cookies from my gorgeous friend Sandra.

Every year the Girl Scouts bring out a ‘special edition cookie’ this year, to my delight, and Dempsey’s, are “Savannah Smiles” and they did just that for Dempsey and me….like a message imprinted on the box from Savannah, not to forget to smile!

I also appreciated that my lovely friend acknowledged how ‘special’ they are because of our Angel.

 Dempsey has been playing around with my iPhone camera and took this photo of me.

I think some photos taken after loss are like a window to the soul....

My sister Tarnia used to say with a smile, “Photos don’t lie Diana!” (always when they captured a crappy image of me…I think because she was so photogenic! :))

And when I looked at this photo, I remembered her words.

I can see a difference in my eyes, how they’ve changed.

Sometimes I see my happy innocent sparkle from ‘before’ has altered, replaced with a vulnerability and sadness that others don’t see….but Dempsey has captured here.

However, it’s like a badge of honor I wear physically.  One that show’s my soul’s ability to change and to have survived. But only I see it.  And I’m ok with that now….

Inside Savannah's kaleidoscope....

These days, I have color back in my life.

I’m mindful of the beauty all around me.....

And last night, with all that in mind, as I held Savannah’s kaleidoscope up to our kitchen light….slowly turning it, watching the pretty glass prisms take on different shapes, Dempsey appeared next to me.

“Mummy, if you shake it up, the pattern always changes. Did you know it’s never the same?”

And I had to smile at her words…a reminder to me to notice the many colors and transformations grief and life often bring.

That there are turning points, where the days become colorful again amongst the black and white…that challenges and grief evolve, like the complex patterns trapped inside Savannah’s toy, with twists and turns we are altered and transformed, now aware of the preciousness and beauty and fragility of life through our journey’s…just like the optical illusion a kaleidoscope creates......