Six months after Zoe died, I wanted to do something to mark her birthday, on April 4th, and The Angel Zoe Kindness Project was born. That year I invited people to carry out an act of kindness in Zoe’s name, people told me what they had done and we attached each story to a helium balloon and released them at the beach.
I was inspired to keep the spirit of the project going, which I have done with more energy and focus at some times than others! Continue reading
This year I’ve neglected Zoe’s garden, going on holiday, forgetting to water it, not weeding very often, and yet it’s still putting on an exuberant display in shades of purple and white annuals, pink and red roses for my last summer here.
When I do remember to water it, in the long evening shadows, Charlie Cat often comes to me, dodging the spray to wind himself around my legs and ask for cuddles. Zoe would often “help” me water the garden. I wasn’t allowed to spray her with the hose, but apparently she was allowed to spray me. It’s a peaceful feeling, seeing the garden doing so well, a small creature for company, as I get ready to leave it behind.
But last night, a dream. Before this, I’ve only had two dreams of Zoe since she died. They were comforting dreams, but this one is not. Following on from another, jumbled, half remembered dream, the scene comes into clear focus. Continue reading
I found this in among the tarotscopes and yoga class listings in a local Byron Bay magazine while on holiday. The column is called heavily meditated – and I do love a good pun. This was something I needed to read today and a lesson I needed to learn. Again.
The line that jumped out at me was this: “An inability to forgive others is reflective of an inability to forgive yourself.” Continue reading
If you’re of a certain age and had a teenage predilection for eighties ska (who didn’t), you’re probably humming that song right now.
By the time Zoe was born in 2006, it was being used to advertise a house building company. Whenever their ad played on TV (remember life before Netflix) baby Zoe would turn her attention to it, enthralled. I would imagine the kind of family house I wanted for us. Not the cookie cutter kind being sold by the TV ad. Continue reading
At the friendship bench dedicated to Zoe at her school
In other years I have these posts written in my head long before the anniversary of the day you left us, but this year there just don’t seem to be any words, so this may be a little disjointed.
I’m borrowing some words from another bereaved parent, songwriter, author and musician Nick Cave, from the depths of his grief after losing his son: “I think I’m losing my voice… just file it under lost things. My voice, my iPhone, my judgment, my memory… isn’t it the invisible things that have so much mass?” Continue reading
If you’ve read my previous post, you might understand I’ve been having a little trouble seeing the kindness in the world lately, perhaps we all have. There seems to be an awful lot of intolerance and hate around lately, invading media and our social newsfeeds. I don’t now about you, but I’m ready for a dose of kindness to reset my perspective. So here are a few things that have caught my attention recently:
For the mistake makers, the messy hearts and dreamers
This is a beautiful post by Darla Halyk on her blog New World Mom. A simple encounter in the middle of a busy life that encompasses thoughts on judgement, compassion and tutus. Read it here, but first here’s a photo of Zoe in a tutu, just because…
Scrolling through my facebook feed the other day, I came across a photo of a dead child. A child who had died of an incurable brain tumour. Her parents had shared photos of her last few hours and her dead body on a public facebook fan page, which is “liked” by someone I’m connected to on facebook.
This has happened to me before. A friend had liked a similar photo of a boy who had died of cancer because she wanted to show her support for the family. She unliked it when I let her know it was being amplified through her friends’ news feeds, including those of many bereaved parents.
My newsfeed is generally full of news and photos from the childhood cancer community, but rarely something so brutal.
The photo caught my eye, because the little girl reminded me of Zoe. So I masochistically clicked on the album. She looked just as Zoe had when she died. Hollowed out by cancer, frail and bloodless. Skin and bones in a pretty dress, with her fingernails painted, long flowing hair, her precious things surrounding her.
I think most people who have lost a child would tell you, that in those first days, one of the most painful things is that unrelenting march forward of the days. Each dawn after each sleepless or drugged oblivious night taking you one day further from the last day you heard your child laugh, looked into their eyes, watched their breath rise and fall while they slept (until it didn’t), held their warm body.
Perhaps it’s different for those with other children, but after a while I took comfort in the idea that each day was also one day closer to being with my daughter again, that each day could be endured on the basis that at the end of it, there was one less to slog through before I could look into her eyes again, hear that little chuckle. Each new wrinkle and each gray hair a sign that we would be together all the sooner. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Continue reading
I don’t believe in those five stages of grief. There are plenty of other theories around. This isn’t one of them.
A decade today since I first held my baby girl in my arms and named her; Zoe Michelle.
The last birthday Zoe celebrated was her sixth, but I’ve continued to celebrate them for her and to mark the anniversary of the day she passed. I began The Angel Zoe Kindness Project for her 7th birthday, the first after her passing. I’ve always included others who knew her, but have wondered if they feel it’s getting inappropriate, just a social duty now, especially for the children who were young when she died.
A few days ago, we held an early celebration since Zoe’s Dad was in town. One of the children who usually comes couldn’t make it, but she sent the beautiful card at the top of this post. She was five when Zoe died. It made me realise that Zoe does still mean something to a lot of people, so I asked friends their thoughts about her on her 10th birthday. It turned out some were about Zoe, some were about me.
I wasn’t going to post the ones about me, but they are so intertwined, and I realised it’s because Zoe’s soul has blazed through the centre of me, has changed me so profoundly, that we are deeply intertwined, in other people’s hearts as well.
I’m so honoured they allowed me to share their thoughts here. Continue reading