Friday, November 30, 2012


I am constantly surprised by who reads my blog.

Today I took Samuel and Vincent to a skating party.

There was a mom there who I used to know quite well and see on a semi-regular basis. We were never really close, nor were we distant. Today we chatted casually and she told (surprise) that she read this blog.  She has never commented so I had no idea she was reading along here and there. By reading my blog she probably knows me better than most IRL people know me.

She told me it has been scary to talk to me for fear of saying the wrong thing and that saying nothing felt safer. I can understand that now. But in the early days of losing Eva I used to get so mad at people for staying in that 'safe zone'.  Why should they get to stay safe when I had to deal with all the tears, snot, heartache, pain, grief, horror of losing my child?

Apparently, now that I'm pregnant, and have something to be joyful about it's easier to talk to me. Hmmm...not sure how I feel about that but the me that has come a long long long way from the me who couldn't say Eva's name without tearing up, can understand it. And it makes me glad that I wasn't pregnant a month after Eva died, like I wanted to be.  Because the hope of a new baby doesn't eliminate my grief. The hope of a new baby is happy but it certainly does not eclipse the loss of Eva.  And I'm glad nobody had the 'out' of being happy for a new baby in the early days after Eva's death. And that they weren't able to sweep Eva under the rug with joy for a new baby.

A fellow bereaved mom lost her son in October 2011, less than two months after Eva's death. The day after she buried him she found out she was pregnant. This was joyful news indeed, and, honestly, I was a little jealous at the time. But it gave other people an 'out' to be happy about a new baby and not validate and grieve her precious son. And then her sweet baby died in the womb a few months later. This mom has been served a double-whammy of grief and pain. I often feel so so sad for her. And yet, she seems okay on the outside. But so do I. And I know that okay on the outside can still mean a sobbing mess at home in the shower. And my heart aches for this mom.

The mom at the skating party told me she found my blog 'educational'. Now I've thought of my blog as many things. A place to get my feelings out. A place to truly remember Eva. A place to connect with other bereaved parents. A guiding light for newly bereaved parents to follow as they navigate the darkest road. But educational? Interesting. I wasn't sure how I liked the taste of that word in my mouth. Educational.  It sounded so cold and formal.  But educational can be okay too. Can even be good.  And while the best education in bereavement is to travel the darkest road, I wouldn't want anyone else to walk it.

I am often amazed at the gifts that have come in this package that nobody wants...there is more on this topic later as I wrap my mind around the sermon that was preached in my church last Sunday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Amaryllis

I bought an amaryllis bulb last week from our postmistress, to support Huntington's Disease.

It was going to be beautiful, much like my daughter. And I thought it would be neat for the children to watch it grow.

We took the bulb out of the package and as I was reading the instructions I dropped it on the floor. The living part of the bulb broke. The boys tried to fix it by sticking it in the dirt. I explained to them that it was broken and I couldn't fix it. It was broken like Eva's heart, and mommy couldn't fix it.

I got so sad when I broke that bulb. There was no reason for my grief. It's just a bulb, really. Just the potential of a flower. But that potential broke on my kitchen floor and I got really, really sad.

Unlike Eva's heart, I could probably buy another one. But somehow that feels wrong. I want another one. Would like to see the flower bloom in the middle of winter with the children watching.  But going out and buying another one feels like betraying the bulb I broke. And this is just a flower...why am I feeling this way?

And maybe there is a correlation here. Letting little J into my heart feels like a betrayal to the girl whose heart broke.

Maybe I needed this bulb to break to see what is in my heart. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Christmas Tea

I've known for weeks now that tonight was coming. The Christmas Tea. One of my favourite Christmas events every year. I have been blessed by The Christmas Tea for a decade now.

The last time I went to The Christmas Tea was 2 years ago. I had tiny little 2 month old Eva with me snoozing in her carseat. Our first mother/daughter event. I was so excited to bring her with me to The Christmas Tea because it's a grown-up ladies event (nursing babies allowed). I remember thinking that this would be the only Tea that she could come to till she was 14.

Two years ago I was so happy to have my first daughter. Two years ago my friend Paula was joyfully pregnant. I remember her happy, radiant face. In January 2011 her wee son, Eric, died and was born. The joy left Paula's face. I haven't ever really seen it again. In August 2011, Eva died.  It seemed like I would never see light again. My constant companions were only tears and complete heartache.

Tonight was pretty good, considering. I sat with Isabelle, my mom, and Holly. We had a great time. Enjoying snacks and the play and dessert. Mmmm.  Eva accompanied me again this year. On a pendant around my neck, and in my heart.  It's a good thing I didn't go last year. I could not have stomached all the cheeriness.

At The Christmas Tea I had two memorable encounters. One happened when I was re-filling (yes re-filling) my delicious hot chocolate, there was another woman also re-filling hers. She was chatting to some other ladies and didn't say hello to me. Not really a big deal there but if you consider that the last time I went to The Christmas Tea I counted her as one of my best friends, she was at Eva's birth, and her son is one of the only boys my son wanted at his birthday party, then it would be surprising.  She walked away without acknowledging my presence and as she left I said "Helloo A".  I sickened myself by saying hello when there are so many other things I would rather have said.  But I also didn't want to be part of the total ignoring of me that she has done since February 15th 2012, so 'hello' it was. Since Eva's death there are some friends that have gotten much closer to me, there have been some that have slowly drifted away through their choice, and sometimes mine. But there is only one that I can say I know the exact day I had a conversation with this person. The exact day our friendship ended. And that is something I might blog about another day, it's been on my mind alot.  Today is not the day. Today is about The Christmas Tea...and this inadvertent meeting was part of the Tea, unfortunately.

The other memorable encounter was I met a woman who had taken a parenting class with me when Eva was a baby. She came up to me all happy and excited and said "Do you remember me from Love and Logic? You have a Vincent. I have a Vincent..." Yes I remembered her, and her Vincent. I was a little cool because she obviously had no idea that Eva had died and I didn't know how to gently break it to her in this room full of merry women. But tell her I did and she asked me what had happened. She was emotional and kind. And then she said she had to go now and cry. I let her go but later went down to the bathroom and sought her out. We had a nice chat in the ladies room, where most meaningful conversations happen.  She told me that she had a sister who had had a stillborn baby due to heart complications (you know your bubble is burst when people you barely know tell you about other people's dead children, but there is a comfort to me in hearing about those children. I am not alone).  She thanked me for being real and I thanked her for asking about Eva. I can't help but compare that very real conversation with an almost-stranger to the complete ignorance of someone who used to be a close friend.

Part of the play was about friendship and how we need to be forgiving of others because there is so much to miss out on if we're not. I thought about A. Do I need to be forgiving of her? I have forgiven her. For dropping me at the darkest time of my life.  I have forgiven the woman in my church. I can't hold on to my hurt and anger but I hate the churning in my stomach when I see either one of those women. I wish A hadn't been at The Christmas Tea tonight. I wish I hadn't seen her there and been snubbed once again. I wish I didn't care.

If you had told me last year that I would go (and enjoy) The Christmas Tea I would have never believed you .  Never thought that joy could cross my doorstep again. And that I could even tell someone about Eva's death without breaking down into a sobbing, weeping mess.  But it's true, what they say, the pain lessens and though Eva is with me every moment of every day, on the peripheral of everything I do. She is with me and the pain is not so intense. How is this possible? Only God knows.

Nettie (the almost-stranger) told me that her sister would say that at least one of her sons had a perfect upbringing.  It's true, in many ways.  At least one of my children is having a perfect upbringing. Can you imagine childhood in heaven? I wish I was there.

And so, with this night behind me, another milestone without Eva has passed. A Christmas Tea without my daughter and without the anticipation of having her come to The Christmas Tea with me when she is 14. Good bye dreams of my daughter. Good bye hopes of seeing you grow into a young woman.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Sometimes the words well up inside me and beg to com out.

Sometimes there is silence.

I have been doing well lately, considering.

Considering. To me that word is invisibly tacked onto every sentence.

Considering that my daughter is still missing from every moment in my life.

I am getting a stocking made for Eva. A smaller version of the ones the others in our family have. She has a full-size one but a smaller one seemed more fitting, somehow.  I am mailing a  pair of her pants to the stocking lady. She will cut them up and use them as decorative trim on the stocking.  I held her pants one last time before I put them in the envolope. Remembered the cute little bum that filled them not too long ago. Caressed them and sealed the envelope.

And yet, I am doing well, considering.

I was in Superstore yesterday. I joked with the cashier.  I smiled at someone in the line-up. And I could not believe this was me.

I remembered last year in the months leading up to Christmas. We were only 3 months from losing our princess. I could not look at anyone. I could not smile. I could not joke. I could barely get it together to feed my family.  I cried, for hours.

So I guess I really am healing...really am doing well this year, considering.

And there really is only one sourse I can credit for the healing. Jesus. I have been meeting with Jesus at prayer meeting every Wednesday since September. I can honestly say that it is not just praying. Not just talking, talking, talking. It is meeting Him. Giving him take my pain, my fear, my dissapointment. Taking it and filling the void with His light, His joy, His love. His love for the least of these.  And I cry almost every time I go to prayer meeting. But I am being changed. Being transformed.

And, joy of joys, last time I saw Eva dancing next to Jesus. Saw her twirling in a pink dress. Not clearly, but it was my Eva. The Eva I want so, so, so badly to hold.

I often wish the veil would lift, even just for a moment. And I could race to heaven and hold her, kiss her, hug her. Breathe deep and smell her. Smell the sweet fragrance of my daughter.

And that is one of the gifts that Eva has given me. This yearning for heaven. Everything here is temporal. Everything there is eternal. And that is what I`m living for. Eternity. And I can`t wait to go there. Can`t wait to behold her. Just. Can`t. Wait.

But, wait I must. And do my time here on earth. Raise my sons to be godly men. Raise little J as a precious daughter. Praise God for our little hope baby and pray for more lives being transformed for eternity.

And I know today is Thanksgiving for my American friends. And I know how hard the holidays are. And I know I will have a hard time with Christmas but I am thankful to have shared my life, however briefly, with my little princess.  And I anticipate sharing eternity with her. Holding her so tight that all the questions will be washed away.

And while the tears flow I know that I am still doing well, considering.

Considering Eva is dead but also considering she is alive. Briefly with me and forever in heaven. Considering I will join her one day. Considering that Jesus has paid the price and given me the incomprehensible gift of eternity with my daughter.  Thank you.

And always considering that I miss her here on earth with every single breath I take.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finding Joy

November 15th 2012. 25 months old. 15 months without you. Unbelievable.

Yesterday I had such a good day. It is worth writing about because they are so rare. I brought the kids and Isi into town and left them at McDonald's eating breakfst while I had an appointment. When I came back an hour later everyone was happy and relaxed and getting along. Nice.

I exchanged a pair of boots I bought 2 weeks ago for a different size and now they were on sale! $40 savings! Yeah!

I went and saw our little hope baby on the ultrasound and the tech was so nice (very rare around here) to let Oma and all the kids come in and see baby wiggling around on the screen (Mike couldn't come as he was in meetings in another city).

I went to Costco, Sears, and Superstore with 4 tired kids and fed them lunch on the go. They were well-behaved. Are these really my children? Isi was even bored in Superstore as I was reading labels for too long. Bored never happens when you're in a grocery store with 4 children 6 and under, 2 of whom are skipping naps. Crazy? Maybe. Bored? Never.

And when I came home I threw a frozen pizza in the oven for supper and made a yummy salad to go with it. I checked the messages and Mike got an earlier flight. He would be home for supper! Yay, now I could go to my prayer meeting. And he walked in the door to a hot pizza on the table. His favourite supper.

I got the kids into pajamas and left for prayer meeting.

This meeting is no ordinary prayer meeting. We meet with Jesus every week and we talk with him. We laugh, we cry, we sob, we deal, we heal, we listen, we pray. It's intense. This meeting was so joyful.  We laughed out loud till our cheeks hurt. We cried but laughed through the tears. I saw an aspect of Jesus' character that I never knew before. His Joy! And the joy of the Lord is my strength!

I've always gone to him for healing, for comfort, for guidance. But never for laughter. But God created laughter. Why would he not want for my to find Joy in Him?

And through that night I remembered something about Eva. She was Joy. She was the only baby to smile in PICU. Kids never smile there. They scream. They cry. They are in pain. And Eva did all those things, but she also smiled. My little Eva was Joy. And she sparkled Joy.

And it's okay for me to feel Joy too. Through my tears I can find Joy. And it's okay.

Today I made pancakes for breakfast with yogurt and blueberry sauce on top. Delicious. I rode Soula down to Eva's trees and was happy to see her little pinwheel that we put up for her birthday was a burst of colour poking up through the snow.

I rode back and allowed my mind to be with my little princess. My little joyful princess.

I'm crying and smiling here as I write this.

I wish for each and every one of you a measure of Joy today. A gift from my joyful little girl.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Empty arms.

Yesterday I accompanied my mom to the vet to put down the cat she has loved for 20 years (that's longer than I lived at home). 

When Billy died my mom sobbed over her body. I was not close to the cat but I really love my mom and seeing her crying and in pain, pained me.. I understood, a little, how she has felt all these months as she helplessly watched her daughter grieve over her daughter. I could rub her back but I could not comfort her.

My mom knows that Billy is a cat and not a daughter or a granddaughter but the fact remains that there is still grief. Still pain in losing a creature that shared in a part of your life for so long.

Being there with my mom brought me back to the ER and seeing Eva's life slip away. The vet said something interesting... She said that the animals that are not ready to go, fight death but those that are ready just slip away...Billy slipped away. Loved by my mom until her very last breath.

Eva died. With doctors fighting for her life every second leading up it. Eva slipped away. Loved by her mom until her very last breath. 

And when it was done. When Billy breathed her last breath my mom's tears splashed down on Billy' s fur and she whispered that she was sorry to the cat.

And when it was done...when no one was trying to bring Eva back. I wailed, and my tears splashed down onto Eva's face as I scooped her up and held her close. I told her I was sorry I had failed her. So so so sorry. For all the mistakes I had unknowingly made...for not being able to save her...for failing her...

And the vet brought a blanket to carry Billy to the cold room in the back.

And a nurse brought a handmade blanket to our room to wrap our still-warm but fast growing cold daughter in.  A blanket that stayed with her to the morgue.

And, just like that, we left the clinic. Left Billy's body there and walked away with empty arms.

And, just like that, we left the hospital. Left our precious daughter's body there and walked away with empty arms.  Left her behind to go on ahead of us.

We walked away with empty arms. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Good bye, Bright Spot.

For our family, the one bright spot of Eva's illness, was Ronald McDonald House. The boys were welcomed there. The House is bright and cheery and kid-friendly. The staff is generous with their time and love. The House is for families with seriously ill children. Children like Eva.

When we went to get our fetal echo done last week we stayed there. We stayed there because we were in town for baby's heart and because of our history. We got good news at the echo. Baby's heart looks good. When I relayed that to the the house manager, she was so happy for us and she brightly said "good, now you can't stay here anymore'. And I know it's good news that we can't stay at RMH anymore. But it's another loss too.  The loss of our bright spot.

I feel closer to Eva at RMH than I do anywhere else. RMH, for us, was all about Eva. There was no gardening, or piles of laundry, or schooling to do. It was RMH and the hospital. The hospital and RMH. The staff at RMH knew our daughter better than most of our friends did. And also, I had the expectation of visiting RMH on a regular basis, with Eva, for heart checks every few weeks, for a long, long time.

And, not least,  we were staying at RMH when Eva's heart stopped. She collapsed in the bathtub at RMH. Resuscitation was attempted on the floor of the front hall of RMH. The ambulance that took her to the hospital where she died in ER picked her up from RMH. RMH is full of Eva's Life and her Death. So, saying good bye to RMH is hard. Harder than I thought it would be. It's another loss. Small compared to the magnitude of losing Eva. Of course, we are welcome to visit-and we will.  But it hurts to say good bye to the only place that was truly just for Eva.

I can't really explain it but I know that many of you will understand the loss of the people, places, groups that belonged to our children. The little losses amongst the biggest Loss.

Friday, November 2, 2012

fetal echocardiogram day

We had a fetal echocardiogram today for our little hope baby.  It went well.

No obvious structural or functional fetal heart disease. Symmetric four chambers and symmetric and normally related great arteries and arches. Normal cardiac size. Normal ventricular inflow. Normal fetal heart rate and rhythm. No ectopy. Good biventricular systolic function. Recommend repeat assesment in 10 weeks. 

The doctor who performed the assesment knew us and knew Eva and her medical condition. She was kind and it was nice to see a doctor that knew Eva. She said she'd relay the news to Eva's cardiologists. That they would be pleased.

But no little hope baby is going to replace our little princess. My one and only little girl, who died.  I can't help but think that this little one is a baby that would not have existed without Eva's death. This little person who is wholly and completely his or her own person is the child we told God we didn't want.  How strange to put a 'face' to our sweet little one. A face we never would have known... I still can't wrap my mind and heart around this strange emotion...I don't even know if there is a word for this.