My one and only

Mine-was-the-only-one

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

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

Always wear the sparkly shoes; a life lesson

Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz

Here’s how my daughter Zoe and childhood cancer taught me not to wait til tomorrow to wear the sparkly shoes.

At the beginning of 2012, Zoe was excited to be going to Camp Quality, a camp for kids living with cancer. One of the activities planned was a dress up party based on movies. Zoe and her camp companion were going as Dorothy and the good witch Glinda from The Wizard of Oz.

We looked all over town for red sparkly shoes to serve as Ruby Slippers for Zoe’s Dorothy, but there were none to be found. We had to decide what was most important – red or sparkly. “Sparkly” was Zoe’s unequivocal answer. Continue reading

Three years ago today

It’s that time of the year where every day I think about what we were doing three years ago today, in the days leading up to Zoe’s relapse and the last few weeks we had with her before she died. I think about it in vague terms because I didn’t keep a diary, just posted a couple of random blog entries and I have never gone back and looked at my facebook posts from that time.

But earlier this year I unthinkingly activated facebook memories. Now I am getting daily reminders of what I was thinking and doing on this day last year, the year before, and the year before that. Continue reading

Random thoughts on cancer, meaning and happiness Part II

“Hope is not optimism, nor is it conviction that something will go well. Rather it is the certainty that something has meaning…regardless of its outcome.” Vaclav Havel

From where I stand now, I feel I can truly say that life (for me anyway) is not about happiness, at least not in the ways it’s most commonly perceived to exist. Rather it is about finding peace and meaning. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel any joy or happiness, but that I find those things through the meaning I attach to my life and experiences. Continue reading

Dx (diagnosis)

I’ve been feeling stressed, restless, not sleeping, my metabolism running on overdrive. I was thinking it’s my job, which is exciting but stressful at the moment. Or maybe it’s the glimmer of something new on the horizon that would require a leap of faith and trust from me. Maybe it’s partly those things, but for some reason it’s taken me a while (as it always does, as if it doesn’t come round annually) to figure out it’s the time of the year.

The sweet nostalgia of summer heat fading into the crisper mornings of autumn, the end of long golden evenings, the last of the summer flowers and monarch butterflies, the feijoas ripening on the tree. The weeks leading up to Zoe’s birthday. The weeks when in 2009, just before her third birthday, we were waiting for a diagnosis.

Zoe-third-birthday-small

Continue reading

Why I’ll be eating ice-cream for breakfast on the 18th February

There will be people around the world eating ice-cream for breakfast on 18th February. And despite being in two minds about cancer awareness campaigns, I’m going to be one of them. Here’s why.

icecreamforbreakfast_small

Generally I prefer charity activities that raise money for their causes over “awareness” campaigns that seem to do little other than make people feel good about participating.

I am planning on supporting Eat Ice-cream for Breakfast Day though. It doesn’t raise money. It doesn’t have an ice-cream company as a corporate sponsor. Yes, it is an awareness campaign for childhood cancer, motivated by remembering a little girl called Malia but it’s asking something a little bit different from you too. Continue reading

The return of Charlie Cat (or on belonging)

Can one shaggy fickle moggy show you where you belong?

Returnofcharliecat_small

We didn’t adopt Charlie Cat, he adopted us, soon after we moved to our new house in 2008, the year before Zoe’s cancer diagnosis. We’d moved from a townhouse in the inner city to a single level house with a safe little garden Zoe could play in. No more lugging washing up two flights of stairs along with a strong willed toddler, or driving to where she could walk on the grass.  It was a house that matched my dream of how family life should be, in a neighbourhood of other families, close to the zoo, playgrounds and the beach. There was even a walking school bus to the local primary school and a feijoa tree in the garden.

The week we moved here, I walked with then 2 year old Zoe to the supermarket around the corner. She stopped at virtually every house along the way. “Look, a house, a fence. Look another house, another fence.” With the right house, I felt sure we would become that perfect family, give Zoe a quintessential Kiwi childhood and that our marriage problems would become a distant memory. The addition of a household pet seemed like the icing on the cake. It felt like a sign that he had chosen us. Continue reading