Held up by love

This is a picture of my day today.
Some days, I wonder if am inhumanly numb. I go to work, I go to the gym, I go to social events, I laugh, I enjoy myself. I even told someone I hadn’t seen in a long time that Zoe had died and was more sorry for how mortified she would be for asking after a dead child than I was upset at telling her.
Other days it seems tears are very close to the surface and always at inconvenient times, so I fight them, some days just for moments, some days all day.
Some days there is no escaping it and I spend hours lost in grief.

Today I went to the Child Cancer Foundation, to pick up a glass butterfly bead. Zoe’s last Bead of Courage. Even just thinking about it I had a very Angry at Cancer moment. All of the beads the kids get are different colours for different procedures. The prettier ones are for the harder things. When they told us Zoe’s cancer was back and they could not help her, one of my first thoughts was “there had better be a f%$#ing good bead for this one.” And there is. And Zoe would have loved it. But I never told her she was dying, so she didn’t get to see it.
There were a lot of butterfly beads to choose from, each representing a family who will face unspeakable grief.
The one I chose for Zoe is purple and orange and iridescently beautiful. That’s it in the middle of the photo above. It came in the little purple box and was put into the lovely wooden box. Both of these things crafted by people who use their talents to comfort grieving families.
While I was at the Child Cancer Foundation I visited with another bereaved Mum who has spent years volunteering her time and skill to help other families through their childhood cancer journeys. She had made me a little Angel decoration at the last bereaved families coffee group I couldn’t make it to. That’s it sitting on the purple box.
But the ways I was being reminded of the kindness and care of people were not over yet. When I got home, there were two things in my letterbox. 
A package containing two heart shaped decorations (one for Zoe, one for me), handmade by a friend I came to know through ante-natal classes. She lives across town, but drove over to deliver it.
Then there was the Family Calendar, the annual creation of my sister-in-law. I had actually been wondering if she would send me one. It’s usually a chronicle of our year and I was dreading going through the months and finding the pictures of Zoe stopping in September. But she had arranged the pages in themes, with pictures of all the cousins right through the year. And there on the front, a photo of Zoe’s butterfly garden, representing the tragedy that marks out the year our family welcomed its newest baby as the year her cousin died.
So today was one of those days when tears were there all day. But it was also one of those days where I had many little reminders that we are all held up by love and kindness. The reminders aren’t always things, they are just as often words, hugs, a little thought or photo posted on my facebook timeline – I had three of those today too, all from people I would never have met if our children hadn’t had to face this vile thing.
Tonight I read on An Inch of Gray blog about how a whole community rallied around a family to let them know they were not alone on the anniversary of their son’s death.
And I came across this poignant photo of how the parents of the children at Sandy Hook are being held up by the love and kindness of their community.
There might have been a time when I would have been hesitant to describe all these things as love, which seems kind of like a big capital L word. But hey, life is short. Let’s choose to see the love around us and spread it as far as we can.

2 thoughts on “Held up by love

  1. Jackie I know writing like this publicly is not for everyone, but it works for me. I recently saw a quote that I related to about it:

    We like to make a distinction between our private and public loves and say “Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else’s business.” But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public and the most solitary if the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. – Henri Nouwen.


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