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
What is Sparkly Shoes & Kindness day?
Spreading kindness in the world however your choose. While wearing sparkly shoes of course (or some other sparkly accoutrements of your choice). And everyone’s invited! Continue reading
Yesterday I cycled around handing out Easter eggs for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project (and to burn off calories from consumption of Easter treats). Everyone I met was happy to take the Easter eggs and exchange a few words.
On my way down to the cycle-way, I encountered someone I see from time to time asking for money outside the local supermarket. When I see him I usually give him a couple of dollars or buy some food to give him on the way out. Sometimes he’s left before I come back with the food, even if I ask him to stay. Continue reading
A few things about kindness that recently caught my eye from around the internet. Some I have already posted on my facebook page.
Choosing kindness when everyone else walked away
These young men stayed behind to care for elderly residents with nowhere to go in a rest home that closed down unexpectedly. Click the photo to hear the story in their own words.
I cannot buy it—’tis not sold
There is no other in the World
Mine was the only one
– Emily Dickinson
One of the first things people ask when they hear your child died of cancer is “Do you have any other children?” Even some other parents whose children have died ask this. Only a few have lost their only child and many of those have gone on to have other babies. Really? I wonder to myself, would having another child make it better? Continue reading
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
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