Memento Mori

Remember death, the Romans said, to remind themselves of their motality. The Victorians made a cult of it, with mourning brooches and rings made with the hair of deceased loved ones. Now we have Facebook memories. And this time of year they are filled with Zoe’s final days.

I re-share random photos and posts of this time because I can’t not. To do so is memento mori. Even when I don’t, I am quietly marking the days.

The days before we knew, and the days after.

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Thirteen

Zoe on her last birthday, her sixth

Today you would be thirteen. That means that some day around now, I haven’t calculated which exactly, you will have been gone from us for longer than you were alive.

It’s a thought almost too hard to bear. We have moved further and further from the reality of you and our lives together, left with only memories and photographs. So oftentimes I don’t bear it, I distract myself so as not to think of it, I skirt around the edges, so I can still keep going, still keep living, as I’m sure you would have wanted.

On your last birthday in this world, your sixth, I wrote “My baby girl turned 6 today. What a delight she is to have around.”

What would thirteen year old you have been like? At thirteen I was a mess of hormones and anxiety, on the verge of coming to form my own world view.

I will never know what thirteen year old you would have been like, but I can imagine.

I imagine you would be more fiercely yourself. More fiercely thoughtful, more fiercely loving, more fiercely optimistic, more fiercely wanting the world to be right and fair. You were all these things at six and a half, I image you would have been only more so at thirteen.

I imagine you would have been at the climate change change protest some of your peers were at because you always wanted to put things right.

But I fear that you would have been disheartened by and cynical about the state of the world you were inheriting. That’s what I also fear for your peers.

I’m glad you don’t have to come to terms with mosque shootings and genocide and increasing inequality and the instagram bullying that kids your age seem to accept as normal.

Listening to my friends I’m pretty sure you would be in the grip of your own pubescent hormones, with all the accompanying tumult and sass, but frustrating as I’m sure that is, I’m jealous they have it.

Heartbroken is not a big enough word to describe how we are missing you discover yourself as a young woman, as someone with her own sense of identity and purpose. That you will never experience all of the firsts of young adulthood that are so frightening and wonderful and exhilarating.

Heartbroken is not a big enough word to encompass all the love we still hold for you in our broken broken hearts. Miss you my baby girl, six and half forever.

Click here to see what we did for Zoe’s thirteenth birthday.

Sparkly shoes & Kindness day 2017 – you’re invited

Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz

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

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

This week’s mantra

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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

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

The Kindness Chronicles #2

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…

Zoe-in-a-tutu

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I see dead people (in my news feed)

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.

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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