Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grief the Puppeteer X

 It’s been so long since I’ve written anything…and I feel a bit ashamed about that. I was reminded today by Lu, who sent me a message saying two little words..."Thank you... for giving me hope...after the death of my teenage son Adem who died from Leukemia"  Lu wrote me beautiful words which helped put my fingers on the keys tonight in hope of helping someone who might’ve just had a day like I did today!  For you Lu, with thanks for inspiring me.... x
A lot has happened since I last wrote.  I  H A V E  A  J O B!!!  One I love and one I think found me.  I’m working with families who’ve had a child placed in their care, usually due to abandonment.  It’s called kinship care, and it’s similar to what my mum and dad did with support for my brother in law Tone.
Anyway, I love it!  I feel like all my experiences in life and being ‘that’ person that was desperate for help when Savannah was sick can finally be channeled into being someone else’s hero….like so many were for me.  Its fuel to get a phone call from a client, just to say “Thank you!” 
Never underestimate the power of those two little words!!!   But my clients don’t know my story, cos it’s not about me, and they don’t secretly know that in helping them, my daughter, sister and mum’s deaths have meaning….its what drives me to get out of bed every day.
Which brings me to today.  Today we had a training day.  And I must admit, I was looking forward to a cruisey day at “Art Therapy” as the email stated that I hit ‘reply…accept’ to.
What I didn’t know is what would be stirred up.  
My work collegues and I filed into a room, and sat in a circle while the ‘Art Therapist’ discussed the process we would go through making a puppet that would assist us with our child clients…a puppet!!!!  I was quietly amused to think making a cardboard puppet could in any way be therapeutic.
We closed our eyes and meditated on who in our life had inspired us, has had a huge impact on us…and she said “you’ll stumble on the right person they’ll come into your mind and find you!”  I instantly thought of my beautiful Mum.
We lined up and grabbed cardboard templates and started cutting.  The therapist telling us not to be surprised as to the emotions making this puppet would stir in us….or in the future in our clients.  My colleague and I fought over the paint, light heartedly giggling at our child like cutting techniques….until we were told like school children, “No Talking!”  
Silently, everyone went about making their cardboard puppets.  I instantly knew I wanted my puppet’s head to be like a sun, like the shining light in my life my mum was…and still is. 

I painted my puppet a sunny yellow, with her arms wide open like Mum's always were...and I painted her fingernails and toes, like mum always reminded me would make me feel better…even if it’s only nail polish…it reminds me of her and always does the trick if I feel like a gratis gift.

Music filled the room and like a conduit….started my emotional connection not just with my art, but with the little things that would turn this puppet into a symbol of my mother.  And all of a sudden my psyche turned from fun into a poignant snowball that I couldn’t stop from escalating into a giant ball of sensations…and it scared me that I had no control….in a room full of new work mates!

The silence was broken with “Five minutes to go!”

Phew, I was glad the session was almost over, I’d dodged a melt down! 

I sat and looked proudly at my puppet, at the faint smear of red paint I’d placed on her chest to represent mum’s soul…her amazing spirit that I miss so much and that reminds me to “Be happy Darling!”
And then we were told we had to break into groups and discuss our puppets.  And it’s silly but I was dreading “if” I could keep it together!

 My work collegues certainly don’t know my journey….and you know, most people don’t know your demons…what you think about at night when the house is still and you can’t escape.  But the truth is no one knows… whats in your heart, that blunt force of grief that hits sometimes and you can’t wish it out of your head.
I listened to Jane and John discuss their puppets, and who the puppet represented would say about them.  And like a snow ball set in motion, that mind numbing feeling of dread and burning tears began to sear in my eyes and throat.  I tried to concentrate on Janes patterned scarf, and the brown mole on Johns face.  But it wasn’t working…it was my turn. 
I couldn’t do it.  It was like the snow ball had grown into a fully fledged avalanche.
As I grabbed my throat, I started bawling, sobbing…in front of two people that I hardly knew, and who didn’t know what to do with me!!!  I wanted the ground to open up and I wanted to disappear.  My composure was lost…gone, there was no getting it back.

Jane rubbed my back and tried to comfort me, but I could see the horror and helplessness in her eyes….and I wanted to escape….so I did.  To the toilet, where I sat in a stall and sobbed like one of my little clients.
How I under estimated the power of this therapy session and how it’s taught me we’re never ‘over it’ that no amount of time takes away the hurt and sometimes we have to succumb to the pain and just let it sit with us.  
Today reminded me maybe I should still visit the idea of therapy, that maybe I need more sessions like today to quiet those demons.
Dempsey certainly reminded me at dinner that I definitely need more art classes to polish up my puppet making skills….with “Its not that good Mummy…who is it meant to be?” 
But my only thought as I looked at Dempsey’s innocent smiling face was…."I hope one day Demps may make a puppet…and she’ll choose to do her mother…with an armor that’s shining as brightly as the yellow I chose for my Mother today."  x



  1. Why, hello there! Good to hear from you! Congrats on the new job. Sounds perfect for you.

    I love your puppet. I think you captured your mum perfectly...just radiant!!

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  2. Your description even made me cry, thinking about how much you miss your mother (and your sister and your daughter). But I laughed at Dempsey's comment about your puppet.
    I don't think you need to quiet your "demons". You have good reasons to cry. My dad died 37 years ago and I still cry sometimes because I miss him. Of course, I'm still crying many times a day over my son and often cry over my mother who died 4 years ago. (I guess I'm a mess....)

  3. :) Lovely Candice!!

    I didn't realize how much I've missed the blogging world til I saw your sweet pic!

    Thanks for the congrats and for your thoughts about capturing mum...it really was a confronting exercise...but healing to have a good cry now and again.

    I hope all is going great for your little family. I'll look forward to checking out what you've been up to when I get some down time.

    Sending a big aussie hug....glad to know you're still about Candice!! :)
    Diana xx

  4. Dear Jennifer,

    I don't think you're a mess...that comment made me smile!! Just all part of the journey isnt it!

    37 years, wow thats a long time...thank you for sharing that with me and I guess it reaffirms that there are no rules with grief...you just have to be open for anything and work through it when it hits...like you are most likely doing now with your loss of Graham.

    Sending a hug...thanks for stopping by after my long absence.
    Diana x