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 →
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 →
It still haunts me to know that being bullied was a feature of the last few months of my daughter’s life, that in the beginning it wasn’t handled very well and that I failed her in this.
Early in her second year at school, around the time she turned 6, Zoe told me that some older girls were seeking her out every day at lunchtime to tease her, particularly about the way she spoke. Zoe had some speech issues relating to nerve damage either from her cancer or the radiation treatment. She had undergone surgery to her palette before the school year started and along with speech therapy, this was greatly improving the situation, but it was enough to single her out as a victim in the eyes of these girls (I want to say bullies, but that label seems to make them less human than they really are).
I took her in to school early one morning to catch her teacher before others started arriving and explained to the teacher what had been happening. Her teacher’s first response was “Well, I hate to tell you Zoe, but some people just aren’t very nice.” She went on to say that the next time it happened, Zoe should find the teacher on duty and point out who the girls were. While I was a little shocked at the comment, I felt there was a plan of action. And as a busy working solo mum, I didn’t want to rock the boat and be “one of those” parents. I assumed the school had it’s way of dealing with these things.
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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.
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