Not fade away

Baby girl with pink ballet shoe

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

Our house (in the middle of our street)

Bungalow with roses

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

1461 days without you

grief self portrait

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

How many days left on your calendar?

Making use of the days, quote

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

Zoe at 10, through others’ eyes

birthday-card

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

Ten and counting

Ten-years

This is an ordinary story, one that happens across the world in many different ways, but nonetheless one worth recounting.

Tonight I’ll be attending the 10th Anniversary dinner of the group of women I first met at an ante-natal class in January 2006. It’s taken us a couple of months to get it organised around school starting, kids weekend activities, commitments with work and partners. But it’s no small thing to have been regularly meeting for ten years, it’s worth celebrating. Continue reading

A tap on the shoulder from the universe

Monarch butterfly

In the couple of years following Zoe’s death, I wouldn’t have recognised inspiration or an idea if it hit me over the head, let alone tapped me on the shoulder. I did manage to resurrect my half forgotten blog and tortuously express some thoughts in writing, but it didn’t particularly feel like inspiration, or a message from the universe. It felt more like a desperate and visceral compulsion to make sense of what had happened and communicate my pain.

But right now, the the universe does seem to be telling me something. I think it’s to write more, which I haven’t been doing much of recently – one new post in three months.

Last week The Daily Post included an excerpt from one of my posts in their one of theirs, Creating (the physical and mental) space to write, which clearly I haven’t done recently. The response from a reader reminded me of one reason I write, or at least one of the reasons I publish what I write. Continue reading

Signs

I believe in signs. You might call them co-incidences or wishful thinking.

It’s my first day in Budapest in 24 years. I’m learning how to live without Zoe. It’s a stiflingly hot central European summers day and I find the cafe in what was once a glamourous department store, with frescoed ceilings and gilded embellishments. It’s a cool dark respite from the blazing sunlit day and I’m drinking a home made lemonade. There’s a grand piano and the pianist starts playing Isn’t She Lovely. It’s the song I would put on and sing to Zoe while I danced around the house with her when she she was a refluxy baby who couldn’t sleep. It’s the song I told her was my song for her because she’s lovely. She replied it was her song for me because I’m lovely. It’s the song we played at the beginning of her funeral. I’m in the right place.

ceiling fresco Budapest Continue reading

A map of Paris

Map of Paris

Paris had always been the romantic city I dreamed of returning to. I had spent just four days there one December when I was 22, travelling on a backpackers budget. Bundled up inadequately against the bone chilling cold, we trudged the streets of the City of Light, admiring the Christmas lights, standing on the banks of the Seine watching the Eiffel Tour light up, drinking cheap red wine, eating from prix fixe tourist menus and seeing as many art museums as we could fit in. The day we left, we woke to snow.

So I was delighted when Zoe started to read and was captivated by the book Thea Stilton and the Mystery in Paris. It follows the adventures of five um… amateur detective mice as they solve the mystery of some stolen haute couture designs while tracking the thief around all of the Paris landmarks. As you do. Continue reading