2,191 days without you

Zoe is six_small optimised

Today is six years, 2,191 days, since you left us.

In four days I will be 50 years old, 18,250 days old.

Only 2,370 of those days were lived with you, yet by some trick of mathematics, or unknown law of nature, the sum of those days is more than that of all the ones before or since.

I miss your slightly raspy voice, your old soul wisdom, your thoughts as you encountered the world and came to your own unique view of it, your gummy smile, which I suspect was quite like mine.

I miss all the small things any mother can name, fleeting moments in the everyday. some noticed and seized on as they pass, some remembered only later, a touch, a phrase in passing, a moment just the two of us shared, the Zoeisms.

I miss all the moments and milestones you didn’t get. I see the ghosts of them in your friends as they grow up.

Lately I realise I miss me. The me that only ever existed through your eyes. The me you believed in unwaveringly. Who you loved fierce and true and believed was good and capable. That me left with you, maybe you needed her where you were going.

Maybe she would be gone by now anyway, you would be on the cusp of teenagerhood, your job would be growing up and away from me. “Mum’s a good mum,” you told your Nan “even if she does say bad words sometimes” (guilty).

I’m a different me now, without you. And I wonder, how many more days without you?

Postscript: I am a different me, but I’m still here and I’m still wearing the sparkly shoes. Today we will be doing a few things to remember Zoe. First up is her Nan and I are going out for her favourite breakfast.

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

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

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

Improbable gratitude #1000speak

Zoe and one of the anaesthetic technicians

Zoe with one of the anaesthetic technicians, She improbably looked forward to seeing the team every day of her six weeks of radiation.

How can you learn gratitude from something that wreaks havoc, turns lives upside down, tortures children and families with unbearable treatments and choices (that are somehow borne anyway) and takes lives?

On the day of Zoe’s diagnosis, I could never have imagined that I would owe childhood cancer any gratitude. But in a strange and improbable way, I do. 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