“Tears are words that need to be written” – Paulo Coelho

Thanks for stopping by Retro Girl & the Chemo Kid. What I write here is an elegy, a memoir, a eulogy, public therapy for a private grief.

After my daughter Zoe was diagnosed with cancer at age three, it started as a way of keeping family and friends up to date with her treatment. I didn’t write much when she finished treatment – we were too busy living. After she relapsed and died at age six, it became a way of processing my grief. If you read the posts in order you might also see a journey to healing.

While I grieve Zoe no less, I honour her memory, here and in other ways. She is a part of the me, maybe the best part of me, I carry forward into the rest of my life. A life that is different from the one I imagined, but no less full of beauty and possibility.

What I didn’t really imagine when I started writing here was that the lessons I learned from Zoe and from her loss would resonate so much with others. It seems they do and it’s just one more unexpected gift from Zoe to the world. If it resonates with you too, click the follow button, or like The Angel Zoe Kindness Project on Facebook to hear about future posts.

PS If you are looking for Zoe’s whole story, some early posts were lost when my original blog platform closed down. Some salvaged posts are still missing photos. I do intend to write this part of her story again in the future.


24 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m quite humbled by your’s and Zoe’s experience. I’m trying to understand what appears incomprehensible to most of us. If I went with gut feeling and utter it without thinking , I would say that I perceive you and Zoe as having been been set apart, as if chosen for some , as yet indeterminable, duty. I must go with my gut feeling or else consider any alternative, all of which seem empty and meaningless by comparison.
    In keeping with ‘the duty’, you have expressed a distinct ‘feeling’ through your writing and touched many, including me. This is a fundamental necessity for us as we drift unconsciously through our lives, barely asking what it is that we are or what is this ‘existence’ that we share. You and Zoe remind us that we basically know nothing. You bring us back to consciousness, albeit for a moment. Sometimes such a moment can be enough to cause a person to change direction. It is my opinion that humans are continuously obligated to believe. There appears no reasonable alternative. There is no escape from it, for when we sink back into apathy and unthinking, there comes a sign, and the terrible beauty you describe is such a sign. Zoe has gone, and we are here to endure for a little while longer. We can only hope we go to the same place that she, an innocent, has undoubtedly gone to. My thoughts and prayers and thanks for you both at this moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely words. There are still plenty of days where I suggest to find any meaning. I guess I don’t write so much about or during those times, which is why it’s been a bit quiet around this blog lately.


  2. […] Kiri blogs on grief, loss and healing, with the title Retro Girl and the Chemo Kid. The loss of a child to cancer is a terrible thing, and a rare experience, and she brings her experience to life, giving the reader an inkling of it; and she addresses universal themes. As she says, […]


  3. Since I’m a mother I relate to your pain. You are such a strong lady it must be difficult for you still you write. In a way you are keep your daughter alive. May you heal others while healing your pain.


  4. Hi Kiri,
    What an amazing blog! I smiled through tears as I’ve read through your posts. Losing a child is always such a tragedy so I admire the positive way you channel you grief. You are creating a beautiful memoir for Zoe. Love your angels and your kindness project too.


  5. Terribly sorry for the loss of your precious daughter.
    Although curious on your thoughts where your daughter is now in the after life.
    Had to ask, because when we see other people’s grief, I wonder how they deal with it.
    What exactly are your thoughts on this? Are you comforted by where Zoe is now? Do you believe in an afterlife, that she is in heaven with her comforter Jesus?


  6. Grief is a way of learning to be, of learning to live, of finding our way through dark corridors and basking in the sunshine – or rain – we may discover at the end of a long tunnel.

    I believe in ‘coincidences’ being events that are meant to happen, gifts that if we see them enrich our lives. I am grateful for the coincidences that have brought you in touch with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a child. X

    I am glad you are telling your daughter’s story and hope you are finding it therapeutic. Writing can be a great way to share your feelings out. I am also finding writing to be very healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Public therapy for private grief”

    Kiri, you are a wonder with words. You craft them so delicately and so tastefully, in a way that is so personal and uniquely you while also being able to touch and resonate with someone that is so uniquely them. There is no doubt in my mind about your unwavering love for your Zoe and your dedication as a mother and as well as a guardian angel.

    I am only a teenager so I have yet to understand the full capacity of being a mother and caring for someone so deeply and fully but I have been shown that love by my own mother who is my best friend and more often than not my strength. I work in childcare as well, and it is easy for me to imagine Zoe sitting in my class making animals out of Playdoh and asking for more glitter on her craft.

    There is not an ounce of doubt that you are grieving Zoe any less and I think many of us know that grief isn’t always black dresses and teary eyes, but rather laughter upon the remembrance of memories or wearing that skirt they said was their favorite of yours. You are doing right not only by Zoe but by the other people in this world needing to hear the words you have sitting in your mind. Your words are powerful and healing, full of love and life, full of six year old giggles and grins. Thank you for sharing this part of you with us. Thank you for sharing Zoe.

    “A child is a beam of sunlight from the Infinite and Eternal, with possibilities of virtue and vice, but as yet unstained.”
    — Lyman Abbott

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Savannah. Working in childcare I bet you know so well how we can learn as much from children as we teach them.


  9. I am so sorry you lost your daughter to cancer. I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer and started a blog as my way of healing.

    You wrote: “While I grieve Zoe no less, I honour her memory, here and in other ways. She is a part of the me, maybe the best part of me, I carry forward into the rest of my life. A life that is different from the one I imagined, but no less full of beauty and possibility.”

    How true. I wish you the best.

    Liked by 2 people

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