We used to nickname her pumpkin when she was younger

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One final post, our tribute and my dream

When I began this blog, I felt that I would write about my first year and then end it.  I wasn't sure a month or so ago if I was ready to end this blog but I do feel that it is time to do so.  I plan on starting another blog about the subject of living simply and I am sure there will be mention of Alysia and my ongoing ways of coping with my grief.  Just because one year has passed does not mean that I am done grieving but I am ready to turn my writing to something more creative, more beautiful, all the while honoring Alysia's memory.

Having said that, here is my final post on my one year journey.  On July 25th, 2012 (the one year mark) a bunch of us got together at Alysia's grave site.  We brought a bunch of helium balloons and we each wrote a message to Alysia on them.

We chose bright and cheery balloons to honor her first "Heaven Day".  I found this term "Heaven Day" when googling for a better way to say "date of death" shortly after Alysia died. I liked much as one can like such a term under the circumstances.

The odd thing was the wind picked up rather intensely while we were signing the balloons and getting ready to release them.  We all held onto the strings because it was sooo windy. On my balloon I drew my infamous cats one of Cido and one of Dobby.  Alysia and Tomi used to say my drawn cats always looked "stoned, scared and sad" all at the same time.  What do you think?

 Holding on tight to the balloons in the wind. You can see my Dobby cat on my yellow balloon below.

About ready to release.

Just as we released them a sadness came over all of us.  That moment was so powerful emotionally.  It was for me at least, a mix of a sense of such loss, and oddly, such freedom.  I wasn't sure what I was feeling from one second to the next.

I was amazed at how far they were going.  The wind carried them up so high and so far.
After a while they were so small we couldn't see them.  Alysia's balloons went on a journey heavenward, out of our sight, just like she did. Then the wind died down.

So there it was, that one year mark here and gone.  They say sometimes the second year is harder than the first in a different way.  They say because the emotions aren't as intense and don't take over as much anymore that you now have time to really reflect on your loss.  Apparently depression is quite common in the second year. Since I do not claim to know what will happen in the second year, or the third or the next 20, I will just wait and see.  What I can say is that right now, I do feel better.  I have healed, not completely, but enough to want to continue to heal, to live, to enjoy life.

I have learned a lot about myself, my family, my friends in this past year.  I have learned how blessed I am, despite my loss. I have learned more patience, I have relearned my true self, I have rediscovered my passions, I have embarked on a new journey.  However, I was still feeling doubts, fear and a sense of abandonment.  I hadn't had many "signs" from Alysia lately and I hadn't dreamed of her in several months.  It was truly bothering me.  I felt like she had left me completely.  Not only did she die on this physical plane but she also left me on the spiritual plane and that scared me.

Yet, the other night I had a lucid dream.  A dream that I know was real in a different plane...the spiritual plane.  I won't go into details too much because they would be nonsensical to most but I will let you know the gist.  Alysia came to me in dreamtime.  She was so beautiful, she was smiling from ear to ear and very playful with me.  Teasing me with her otherwordly knowledge, and smirking at my confusion at times during this "dream".  Basically she told me that everything is ok, that everything will be ok.  but she couldn't tell me everything. She told me I had to stop wasting my energy worrying about what will happen when I die or if I will ever see her again. She told me and her Dad, in my dream the same things.  "don't worry...I'm ok. everything will be ok, trust in me, trust in God." She also told me she knew everything about science, she also played a trick on me in my dream which told me there was no time/space constraints where she was.  All of these things were so profound, so reassuring, and brought me a sense of peace.  She told me to believe in God...and like her true self she was also telling me to do something mundane by requesting that I return certain items to Josh and her.  It seemed so silly to me that she would ask me to do something like this when she was conveying so much spiritual and profound information to me but I will do as she asks :)

This reminds me of her in my dream.  Playful and happy, yet elusive and going somewhere unknown to me but known to her.  This was taken of her skipping through the streets of London, England.

I have been told a few times by people who have lost loved ones that they had received messages from their loved ones reassuring them they were ok around the one year mark.  I kept that in mind at the beginning but began to lose hope because I wasn't dreaming of Alysia for a long time.  This dream was totally unexpected and real.

It saddens me to think there are people out there who don't believe in the spiritual plane or God.  I mean those who are religious in their denial of God.(Not those who say "I just don't know".  I don't understand why people can't see how science and spirituality complement each other...oh well, each to their own.  God will be there to receive us all, believers and non-believers.  I have had my doubts, believe me, but this dream did something in my brain and my heart.  It came from Alysia who knows.  She is there; She knows.

With that, I leave this blog on the internet to help whoever needs help in their grieving of a loved one, in particular, a child. For those who stumble across this, feel free to leave a message as I will continue to receive comments. I thank everyone who has read my blog over the past year.  You all mean so much to me.



Friday, July 20, 2012

Approaching July 25th: Alysia's first "Heaven Day"

I begin writing this one year mark blog entry almost a week before the actual date.  Yesterday while at the gravesite watering Alysia's and her nanny's flowers I expressed to Katie that I have been feeling rather numb whenever I think of Alysia this week.  That numbness was scaring me on so many levels.  Was it denial kicking in? Was it my brain protecting my heart? Was I forgetting Alysia? Was this what healing feels like?  I didn't like it one bit and was causing me some anxiety all week.  I don't want numbness to mean I am healing.  I am a passionate person who feels so much.  I don't want to end up being someone completely different than who I was before Alysia passed away.  I know that I will "never be the same" but I don't want to be numb.I still want that passionate side of me to remain.

As soon as I shared that with Katie at the gravesite, I cried and cried and spoke to Alysia aloud, still wishing I could hold her close to me.  When I say these things during these moments of crying/mourning I find myself surprised that after "so much" time I still desire to be able to hold her.  It surprises me that my brain still can't wrap itself around the idea that I will never be able to hold her again, on this plane at least. I constantly analyze all of my feelings and how they relate to Alysia's death.

In moments of happiness I ask: What is making me happy despite my grief? How long has this happiness been lasting? Is this moment of happiness happening more often? Is it lasting longer? Have I made a mental note of what is causing me to be happy so I can go back to that in times of sadness? And yes I still feel a tinge of guilt when I realize I've been having a happy moment.

In moments of sadness, I tend to question it less because it's more obvious but I do ask: How long since I've had a crying spell like this? Are they becoming less frequent?  Is this moment feeling less intense?

In numbness I ask the questions I mentioned above.

In anger, I ask: Am I really angry at what is happening right now (unrelated to Alysia's death) or am I just angry with my grief, my losses?

In anxiety I ask: Why am I afraid? How does this anxiety relate to my "grief anxiety" (as I call it). Is it the same or is it different?

My brain never rests but I feel this is what is helping me heal.  How can a person heal if they don't know what is causing the dis-ease?  How can a person treat the dis-ease if they don't know what makes it better.  Conscious awareness of all thoughts and emotions is vital despite it being exhausting and annoying at times.

The other day, I put my hand on a co-worker's belly.  She is pregnant and has a beautiful baby bump.  I asked if I could touch her belly.  At that very moment a flood of emotions hit me but I did not show it.  First I felt very sad, then I felt very guilty for feeling sad.  This wasn't about me, it was about her joy and excitement.  Then I felt very afraid.  The fear stuck with me for a long time.  I felt I may have "cursed" her baby somehow.  That because I lost my child, that by touching her belly, I may have passed on my shitty luck onto her.  I struggled with this for a long time.  I know it is absurd but I don't know if I will touch her baby bump again, just to be sure.

These are the emotions that run through a grieving mother's mind.  These are the rational and irrational thoughts. They linger a long time.  It's been almost a year and my brain still struggles with it all.

Since my last blog post, good things have happened.  We bought a place and have moved into it a few weeks ago.  It's not fancy, it's not big but it's home.  It is surrounded by good neighbors, surrounded by trees and birds and squirrels and chipmunks.  I'm living with my love in a home we love.  Katie's parents came for a few day visit from Ontario and I finally got to meet them! We adopted a cat who we've named Dobby. She is a bit feral but is slowly coming around. She is our baby.  Physically she reminds us so much of Terra but she is not like Terra at all. She is her own cute self and we are blessed to have her in our lives. We love our jobs and are grateful for not just the job itself but for the people we work with and the little perks we get through our jobs.
Our baby, Dobby (our house elf) who's personality is much like Dobby from Harry Potter :)

Today I received a nice homemade card from two coworkers/friends showing they were thinking of me at this one year mark coming up.  They gave me a gift certificate to one of our favorite restaurants.  I said to Katie when I told her about the card and gift that I feel as though, despite my unimaginable loss and other losses throughout my life, I feel so blessed for the life I have because of the friends and family in our lives and the jobs we have.  It is as if my heart still has a hole in it but grows(my heart) with feelings of love and gratitude. Is this the new me?  This I am willing to accept. I know the hole, that is Alysia's absence, will never disappear but if my heart can continue to grow with love and gratitude, this will bring me peace... with a hole in it.

Although our new home has no memories of Alysia attached with it, I have created a sacred space outside in the yard that invokes her presence some how.  I love this little space with the garden gnome from my soul sister Suzy, a crystal that Alysia owned and a fern that I have had for a long time ( I dug it out of our garden in Fairview when we moved and have dragged it with us, every move, ever since. I plan to put it in the ground at this home) and feathers I keep finding. This space feels like Alysia even though there is no picture of her and nothing of hers other than the crystal.  I have managed to bring her energy into our new space and this makes me very happy.  I don't know what I will do in the winter when it's all covered in snow but I'll come up with something I'm sure.

After seeing how long this blog entry is, I will blog again next week about the one year mark.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I don't watch the news, I haven't really since Alysia was born.  When she was a baby, I would get upset at the state of the world and would worry what kind of world she was going to have to grow up in. I decided that the news was keeping me up at night with worry.  It was informing me but making me feel powerless to the evils of this world.  So I just decided one day to not watch it or read about it and just be worried about what affected me, my family and my friends directly.  I've functioned 20 years this way.  The important news gets to me eventually.

Yesterday, at the end of a TV show we were watching, the news came on and sure enough it was about that evil, vile person in Montreal mailing body parts to political parties.  I could have walked away but this story was so evil and was a Canadian story, so I got sucked in by the voice of the newscaster. The news began to show this guy's video he posted in "the dark corners of the internet" as they described, of him torturing and killing kittens.  How is it that these "dark corners of the internet" exist??  How is it that he can post a video of such nature and now also posted a video of the murder and dismemberment of a human being?  Why is it that no one contacted the authorities about these videos? I guess the people who lurk in these dark corners are just as sick as the person who posts these types of things.

After I watched this news story, then came the story about the random shootings out in B.C. and then the random shootings in the States and then the massacre in Syria.  I went to bed crying for the state of this world, just like I used to do when Alysia was a new born.  I said to Alysia in my heart, "no wonder you left this world, it's an ugly place."

Katie and I bought a home and we are starting to pack to move.  While I am excited to get to our new place I am torn with leaving this mouse infested, leaky, freezing cold, noisy apartment.  it was the last place Alysia was with me in.  The new home will not have memories of Alysia's physical presence at all, this saddens me so much.  This move is exciting and happy also an emotional effort and sad. While packing the other day I went through several boxes of Alysia's memorabilia since she was a newborn. I saved a few special baby outfits, there were some pictures she drew, cards she made, hand print molds, school work, report cards, graduation pictures.  My grief flooded over me again.  It was as if I was at the beginning of my grieving all over again.

The apartment is looking disheveled and that makes me feel fearful, sad, and insecure. So with these emotions I watched the news last night and it was too much for me.  I have wanted to disconnect from the world for most of my life because I could see it going the wrong direction since I was young.  I always wanted to live off the grid on a small farm and just have my family and friends but here I am in downtown Halifax, in the Ghetto of Halifax really, with a car, two lap tops, an ipad, two iphones, tv, cable, internet, facebook, emails, a blog.  My life is an open book.  I opened that book I realize, but now maybe it's time to close it up. It has been an ongoing process lately to eliminate the negative out of my life and I feel I am reaching another level of negative that must go.

Alysia just before she passed away, removed most of her facebook friends from her account.  She was feeling overwhelmed by the drama and drivel. I was concerned when she did that because to me it was a sign of depression and maybe it was but I can certainly understand why she was so depressed.  This world is so hard to live in.  The rising cost of everything you need just to survive, the bombardment of information, the feeling of powerlessness, the greed and corruption that is prevalent now, the destruction of God's wonder she left.  No wonder she tried to shut out the noise.  I think I might just do the same.

  What has kept me on facebook the past 10 months is my blog but I figure people can sign up for my blog  and keep reading about my journey. I don't know how much more I am going to write on it. It could just be a bad week but don't be surprised if I drop off your friends list for a while or forever, or maybe I won't. I just want, and so desperately need, to see the beauty of this world again and the electronic world isn't doing that for me.  The only place I see beauty in this world now is when I am with Katie, my friends, what's left of my family and nature.  TV doesn't do it. The internet doesn't do it, Facebook rarely does it.

I want to go into our new home and live a simpler life.  A life closer to nature, closer to Katie, closer to the friends and family in my life. I'm not asking for much... just some breathing space so I can breathe in through the grief and breathe out the sorrow and pain.A space where my heart can expand, my eyes clear up from the crap they've been seeing for 40 some years and my ears to unplug to hear beautiful music and poetry and conversation, and my brain to stop the pattern of constant self criticizing. These to me are progress. Real evolutionary progress.  When a person finds peace, when the world finds peace, that is real progress.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day and the return of the gold thread

Flowers that Josh sent me for Mother's Day

"Although children leave us, we are always mothers"

Yesterday was Mother's Day and I woke up around 6:30 am and the first thing I did was check my Facebook page to see...what?  I don't know what I expected to see but the fact that I did not see a post from Alysia hurt like hell.  I checked my phone for see what? I don't know but I sure didn't get a text from Alysia for mother's day.  No phone calls...nothing. I cried. I cried some more and I cried all day off and on. The day before Katie and I had gone to Alysia's grave and laid flowers that my mother had sent me for Mother's day.  I wanted to put them on her grave as it was from one generation of mother to the next to the end of the line in the form of my daughter's grave. Motherhood ended with me on our side of the family.

When I checked Facebook throughout the day yesterday I saw many posts about how great of a mother's day everyone was having and I became more and more sad.  I realize that people should enjoy their day with their children but those posts were like stabs in the heart. I felt forgotten and I thought of Katie's friend in Ontario who just recently lost his mom and how he was on the other end of that huge void. I pictured him sitting there looking at the posts on facebook and wondering if he felt as sad and bitter as me.

 I didn't think I would react as emotionally as I did to Mother's day considering when Alysia was young she would wish me a Happy Mother's Day and would apologize because she didn't buy me a gift. I would reply "it's ok, it's just another day created by Hallmark and it's enough for you to just wish me a Happy Mother's Day." Now that she's gone, it's not just a Hallmark- made occasion for me, it's the day I should have heard from just one person and I didn't. The day that confirms my identity as a mother still and I got very few acknowledgements of that. At one point yesterday, I had a proud mother moment when I thought about the fact that I was a mother to an angel now. An angel!  wow, that is pretty amazing.  That was short lived though and the void of her absence took over me.

Throughout the day yesterday in my sadness I would look at the flowers Josh sent me and a surge of love came over me for him, it made my day a little bit better.  The card on my mother's flowers, quoted above, began to melt away a cold spot in my heart. Yet my heart ached so much yesterday.  This morning I woke up crying again.  I wasn't able to go to work.  I felt so alone and I sat in bed after Katie left for work and cried so hard. Suddenly the journal I write in to Alysia fell over on the bedside table and I picked it up and began to write in it.  I have 1 1/2 pages left in it after what I wrote today.  I don't know if I should continue writing after I'm done this one or what will that last page and a half contain?  How will I end it?  If I do get another journal I feel like it has to be similar to the one I've been writing in.  It came from the cathedral in Washington, a very special place in my heart.  I found it odd that the journal fell over and snapped me out of my crying.  For a a few minutes I read the entries in my journal. A journal entry  that was a week or so after Alysia's funeral, I wrote "I am glad I was able to cry because I am afraid that after crying so much I would have no more tears to shed".  It's almost 10 months later and let me say that there has been no shortage of tears.

I decided to write a blog post today while I was off work so that I could get it all out. I set up my laptop on the kitchen table in front of Josh's flowers and out of the corner of my eye I caught a sparkling light in his flowers.  I take a closer look and saw a bit of gold on a flower bud. So I got up and took a real close look and lo and behold there is a very fine thread of gold filament thread that is laying amongst the foliage of his flowers!  I took a picture of it and I apologize for my crappy Iphone 3G camera (the original Iphone) but here it is.
It's blurry but you can see the gold filament thread running randomly through the flowers.
I knew, it was Alysia's way to say Happy Mother's Day through Josh's flowers and now they brighten my day even more. To get an understanding of the significance of the gold thread see my post

Yesterday I couldn't do this because I was too hurt, but today I'd like to wish every mother out there a Happy Belated Mother's Day because you deserve the recognition.  I would like to wish those who aren't mothers to people, but to furry creatures, a Happy Mother to a furry creature Day too.  I would like to wish those of us who lost a child a Happy Mother to an Angel Day and finally to those children who lost a mother I'd like to wish them a Happy Angel Mother Day.



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nobody panic...I'm just having a panic attack.

It is 8 1/2 months since Alysia passed away and dusk time still unsettles me. Since I have been getting really tired of this dusk anxiety I mentioned it to Katie again and we were trying to figure out why this was happening.  Why wouldn't it be 6am when we heard the doorbell ring on July 25th, to open the door to two policemen, about to tell me Alysia died?  Why not 6am?  What does dusk have to do with any of this story?  Why such anxiety?  The only thing I could come up with was, the day before I was going about my life just fine, I was happy, at dusk I was settling down for another evening of relaxation and had no real worries, except that I had to get to bed by a certain time because I had to work the next day.  Life was good, life was simple. Yet the next morning my life was completely shaken, life was not fact life was bad.  So I wonder if my dusk anxiety comes from me not trusting that naivety anymore.  It's like "yeah today was a good day or a decent day or whatever but what will tomorrow bring?"  Dusk is the time I wind down for the day, I have time to think.  At 6am I am sleeping and shortly thereafter I am too busy getting ready for work.

I felt that if my worst anxiety is my "dusk anxiety" then I'm doing pretty good.  I can get through this and I'm banking on the fact that knowing the reason will help me conquer it sooner rather than later. However...Suddenly, out of the blue, I am getting severe panic attacks.  It started when we found out Terra was dying due to cancer.  The emotions of grieving were brought back to the surface. When we brought her to the vet to be put to sleep I was extremely traumatized .  We were in the room with her and we watched her die.  The overwhelming grief and guilt took over me immediately.

Somehow the grief, shock and trauma of Terra lessened the grieving of Alysia and that too shocked me and made me feel guilty.  I realized that my whole life does not revolve around my grief for Alysia, there are other things in my life that need attention, bad...and good things.  As time went by...a few days, the grief lessened. I came to terms that we did the right thing for Terra and she wasn't suffering anymore.  The realization that my grief for Alysia was overshadowed by some traumatic events made me feel like I understood a very important moves on.  Bad things happen but so can good things and it is ok for me to move on with life.

So I'm feeling pretty good about this insight but flashes of Terra being put to sleep would creep into my mind and visions of Alysia in the coffin wouldn't be far behind but I acknowledged them and moved on...or so I thought.  I was having lunch at work and suddenly I felt light headed and couldn't breathe, I remembered this feeling, I've had anxiety attacks before, mostly in my 20's but throughout the years as well and so I remembered how to talk myself out of it. "Just's an anxiety're ok..." and that normally stops them, but not that time.  My technique wasn't working.  It kept escalating in my mind until it got to the point I had to run out of the lunch room to get fresh air and calm myself down.  We weren't talking about anything that triggered it, it just came on.

Then yesterday Katie and I went for a walk, a few minutes into it I began to lose my vision and I knew I was getting a migraine.  We had to cut the walk short and go back to the car.  In the car, half my vision gone, I began to also get a panic attack.  I couldn't breathe, I couldn't tell reality from dream, my heart was pounding out of my chest, I couldn't see and I was nauseous.  Katie pulled into a Needs store to get me something to drink and as soon as she left the car the panic escalated to the point where I was convinced it was my last few moments on this earth.  I was sure she would come back to the car and find me dead or unconscious at best. I kept saying to myself "you're ok, you're ok, just breathe, just breathe" but the more I tried to breathe the dizzier I became and the closer to passing out...or dying (in my mind) I was getting.

It took all I had to keep it together in there.  My vision normally returns after 20 minutes or so with a migraine but it wasn't coming back.  We drove home and by the time we pulled up in front of the apartment my hands were numb, I felt like my body was slowly shutting down.  Katie guides me to inside and once inside I felt as though I was in a dream.  I could hear her talking to me, trying to talk me through it but she seemed so far away which made me panic more.  I eventually burst into tears from the fear and said "I MISS ALYSIA SO MUCH! I MISS TERRA SO MUCH!"  All the losses caught up to me these past couple of weeks in a physical way.

 It's just been too much hurt lately and my body is crapping out on me.  I am physically exhausted and have been for quite a while. My exhaustion is to the point that I have dreams that I lay down on the ground or in the middle of the street and just sleep from exhaustion.  I dream about sleeping in my sleep, as if by doing that I am doubling the healing power of sleep.

Somehow though I found some fuel to run on but now the engine is running out of fuel and things are sputtering in the form of migraines, stomach issues and panic attacks.  I have to have good things happen to refuel.  I have to CREATE good things to refuel myself.  I can't keep going this way, pushing myself through the sadness and hurt without refueling. I have to remember my realization that life goes on good or bad despite my grief, I have to choose the good. I deserve the good. I need the good. It might just be migraines, stomach problems and panic attacks now but if I don't get my life back to a steady happy joyful place it can manifest in much worse physical illnesses.

There is a fine line between suppressing emotions of grief and allowing them to run your life.  I want to learn to find joy without putting so much pressure on myself to do so. The biggest lessen for me is truly believing I deserve good things, good feelings, happiness and love. Yet I know I am getting there, I now see myself say no to situations or people that cause me stress or grief.  I see myself sifting through what brings me joy and what doesn't. I see myself being much more careful what thoughts I allow in my head or what words escape my mouth or hands when I type.  I see myself close off to the negativity outside of me and in me.

  It is sometimes a slow process, an imperfect process or even a painful process but it's a process bringing me closer to what I know my life should be.  A life where I truly understand that nothing of this world is permanent.  I could get depressed and not get too attached to anything or anyone and decide not to love (which believe me the thought has crossed my mind a few times) OR I could just love with such abandon because I know that our experience here is temporary but the love is permanent. Either way, we leave without the physical so in choosing to love, I can at least bring that with me to the other side.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

In memory of Terra, our beautiful furry friend.

September 1997-March 29, 2012
A little something I wrote...

Little Kitty
Turn around little kitty so you see me waving at you.
I know they are back there crying over your little body.
You feel their longing for your presence and see their tears of deep grief.
Don’t be sad little kitty you can always see them
They won’t always be crying.

Please little kitty, turn to me and you will see you know me too.
Don’t linger in their sadness for they will never recover,
 if they sense you have not moved on.
I know you want to comfort them little kitty, I do too. 
I know you love them so much little kitty, as I do.

Turn to me little kitty for I love you too and together we will love them from here.
Please little kitty just turn your gaze towards me and all will be well, I promise you.
That’s right, turn, turn your gaze my direction. Yes little kitty, do you see me now?
Yes! Little kitty, it’s me!

I see your recognition, I don’t look the same but neither do you my sweet little kitty.
That’s it! Run! Run to me.  My sweet little angel, I love you so.
We will wait and love them, we will play in the heavens, we will smell new types of flowers and hear new types of music.
We will marvel at God’s creations we never saw before.
We will do this together.

And when the time comes, we will be there to greet them when they come home to God.
We will always be together. We always are together, they just don’t remember, but they will.

Look little kitty, they are smiling when they think of us, the tears are beginning to dry up.
Let’s go walk through the fields of heaven while they enjoy a moment of peace.
You see? We can watch them in these heavenly clouds, we can send them love through beams of God’s light.
 Sometimes they will know we are there and sometimes they won’t but don’t be disheartened little kitty, just like us, they will know for sure one day.
Oh little angel! You will soon realize you are not a kitty anymore and will stop batting at these heavenly bejeweled butterflies glinting in the love of God.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Written in Stone

A beautiful tribute to my beautiful daughter with an amazingly fitting Radiohead quote.
It has been 8 months, yesterday, since Alysia passed away.  Pretty much on the 8th month mark her headstone finally arrived.  Happy early birthday present to me...  Tom Sr had seen it first and he emailed me pictures so I was somewhat prepared when Katie and I went on Saturday after work.  No matter how prepared I thought I was, it was still so sad and so hard to see.

I remember when I received the sketches for her stone from Oakridge Memory Gardens, seeing her date of birth on a headstone seemed harder than her date of death.  I never really quite understood why I reacted so hard to that.  Maybe it had to do with the fact that giving birth to her was such a happy time in my life, it was an identity I was proud to be...mother.  I was a mother.  Now that identity has been taken away.  People tell me I am still a mother but it's hard for me to completely identify with this anymore. I know I was a mother, but am I still now?

I was at a union workshop for 2 days and at the table during a lunch break a lot of the women were talking about their teenaged children and I sat there dreading the possibility they ask me if I had children. What do I say? Yes but she passed away 7 months ago? Or do I say "No" and just end the conversation?  I had an anxiety attack at lunch because of this silly scenario. I still do not know how to reconcile these confusing thoughts.

If you look on the stone, you will see a quote from Radiohead.  Alysia was a die-hard Radiohead fan and Lotus Flower was one of her favorite songs.  Although I knew she loved Radiohead I didn't know this was her favorite line from the song.  I was just guided to this when trying to choose what to put on her headstone . I believe she had a hand in this. Katie and I brainstormed a tattoo for me to do based around this quote so I could permanently honor Alysia's memory and have her close to me physically at all times.

There was something comforting about touching her stone. As if by touching her stone, I was touching her spirit. By talking to her name on the stone she could hear me in heaven more clearly. When I left, I kissed the top of the headstone and it felt like I was kissing the top of her head.  I understand now why headstones, grave markers of some sort, are so important to those left behind.

Resting peacefully by her nanny.

Headstones not only help the people left behind but will tell a story to the future generations.  As a person walks through this 50 years from now, they will be able to piece together the history of this little family...As Tomi will be buried next to Alysia and I will be buried across.  On my headstone I want written "Loving mother of Alysia D Abriel" so that I die with the identity of being a mother still.

I miss you Alysia xoxo

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Golden Thread and the Power of Creativity

The golden thread is a symbol of the inspiration, intuition, and guiding light that graces us throughout our lives. It is that which we follow, knowing that it will, in some mysterious way, guide us on our true paths in life. It is most colorfully portrayed in Greek mythology as the magical thread that Ariadne gave to Theseus, assisting him in his heroic journey into and out of the Minotaur's labyrinth. As we travel through literal and figurative labyrinths in our lives, the golden thread may easily go unnoticed, yet when it is recognized and followed, we may find that this archetypal strand of gold connects us to our true selves, to our beloveds, and to that which we discover to be home.
The cats on the sweater while I was assembling it.
The day before I started my new job at Saint Mary's University in November 2010, I took my bike from home to the university to see how long it would take me so I would be prepared time-wise.  I remember calling Alysia from the parking lot of the campus just asking how things were going. I remember telling her how happy I was to be starting my new job and how happy I was in general.  I remember her being happy for me over the phone.  That was about 16 months ago. The next month, December 2010, I started a knitting project of epic proportions (in my mind)...a sweater for my partner. I never knitted a sweater before but I was ready for this challenge.  I was happy, I was working in a great place, I finished school, I had the time.

In the beginning, while knitting this sweater during my lunch hours, I would knit in happy thoughts, I would knit interesting lunch hour conversations, I was knitting for the sake of knitting, pure and simple. Sometimes my mind would go blank and I would enter that zone they call "zen".  It was a slow process, I wasn't in any hurry. I suspected I would have it done for next Christmas.

When Alysia passed away 8 months later and I was home for two weeks, I didn't pick up the sweater. I couldn't.  I couldn't focus on it. I couldn't fathom doing anything but crying. However the first day I returned to work, two weeks later, something told me to bring the sweater to work on.  On a side note here, I want to say that although it seems I returned to work quickly, I needed to get out of the apartment.  I needed to get a break from that scene of extreme grief.  It was one of the harder things I had to do after Alysia passed away.  Not everyone should return to work so soon, not everyone should be off work for a long time.  Each person is different.  I wasn't more brave or less brave, I just did what I needed to do to get through.  Luckily my work environment is one that helped my healing.  Some work environments aren't blessed with such gifts...every situation is different. 

I remember my first lunch hour back and I pulled out the sweater to work on it and I immediately picked up where I left off.  It was a good diversion for that awkward lunch hour during which no one knew what to say to me.  The sweater served as an avoidance tool at first. Over the weeks, talking to my friends in the lunch room I would talk about Alysia while knitting and there would be tears. When I knit the sweater in silence my mind would go over everything that had happened.  I would think of Alysia being gone, her funeral, my future, and so many other thoughts.  All the while excited to get the sweater done for my partner. In February when I finally finished knitting the sweater, I had to assemble it.  I remember looking at the pieces one by one, "oh the pocket was the first thing I did, I remember being so excited about starting this project". The pocket had to be assembled to the front "the front was where I first started knitting in my grieving, my tears, my fears." I had to attach the good to the bad.  The hood (good) to the body (bad), etc...  When I was all done I felt both happy and confused.  On another side note, a grief counselor told me some tips on how to cope with grief and one was to do something creative...I told her I was already on that one.

I held up that finished sweater (in March...not in time for Christmas) and thought how symbolic of my life it was.  It was a mixture of happiness with my new life prior to Alysia's death and extreme devastation from the loss of Alysia. My assembly work was shaky and not the best, the seams look a little like scars...just like the scars in my heart and in my life in general.  Yet I was so proud of this sweater, good and bad, that I couldn't wait to give it to Katie!  She was/still is there through both the good and the bad, through thick and thin and this sweater symbolized so much more than just what happened to me but what happened to us.  Of course she should have this sweater, she earned it. I love her and she should have it. Our relationship was worth all the effort I put into this sweater.  While she was there consoling me and taking care of me, I was plodding through the making of this sweater. I can't explain how this works but in finishing this sweater, I closed a tiny piece of my grief with it.

Katie with Terra and the sweater
Now, I am addicted to creating. I suppose that's better than being addicted to unhealthy things.  I started a new project. A coffee press cozy! I never made anything for me before.  Even this little project that I'm doing is also so symbolic of my life.  I find that I am doing things for me now.  I will not allow anything/anyone anymore to hinder my progress in my healing. I have been forced to reinvent myself once again and it is a struggle to do so. I have to remember my past and honor my beautiful Alysia all the while move forward in healing and happiness and joy and love.  I have to piece my past to my present, to create something beautiful in the future... just like the sweater.

 The very act of living is creative but it's pretty cool to use that creativity to create objects of use or works of art.  I strongly recommend creativity for grief therapy.  God is a creator and we are co-creators with him/her. We were created to create. Alysia was artistic and created wonderful drawings and computer graphics. In creating, I am honoring her memory. I miss her so much, I love her so much and a little piece of her will live on in all of my creations in the form of a gold thread that I weave into all my creations from now on.  I have a gold thread in Katie's sweater and one in my coffee press cozy <3

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No apologies from this blogger.

Accept everything about yourself - I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end - no apologies, no regrets.
Henry A. Kissinger
A wonderful quote but very hard to live by. 

I was told today, not asked, to stop writing in my public blog, as if I was a 12 year old child to be scolded. First of all I will not apologize for my blog.  What I have written have been the truth from my perspective.  I have been very careful as to how I word things and could have been much more brutally honest but I saw no point in it.  I opened myself up and exposed my feelings and my doubts and my flaws for all to see.  I did this for two reasons, one for my own personal healing and two to help others who maybe experiencing grieving due to a loss of a child or close loved one.  Although I have had this one command, I have had many private messages from my friends saying how my blog is helping them in their own grieving, or their own spiritual growth, or in understanding my grieving.  I have had emails from Alysia's friends thanking me for passing on the message about anxiety and drinking and so on. I have had emails from Alysia's friends reassuring me that Alysia loved me and was proud of me and happy about my current relationship.

I admit that this blog is fizzling but my intention is to keep it up for the first year of grieving so that people can know grieving lasts a long time and there are many stages.  There is progress and there are set backs.  The first year is a year of first everything without the person you lost.  Next month is my birthday, it will be my first birthday without Alysia.  How will that affect me? I never know until around that time. I may be doing ok now but in three weeks who knows? Just know that prior to last week, I was in a really dark place emotionally.  I did not write about it because it has already been said. To those who are reading this because they too have lost someone, know that even 7 months later it is normal to have set backs in your grieving.  Set back is not a good term but that is how it feels at the time. In reality though it is not a set back, it is another stage of grief that has to play itself out.

It is for those people that I write this blog.  It is for nights like tonight when I've been unable to sleep due to my grief. This blog is an outlet for my feelings. I will write in the middle of the night and then be able to sleep afterward.  People don't have to read it if they don't want to.  That's perfectly ok. Almost 1100 hits later from all over the world, I'm thinking this isn't just for me though and that is just a bonus to me.

In my next blog entry I will write about the power of creativity in the process of healing.

Good night everyone xo

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The cost of death

This will be a short post but it's something I wanted to share with people. Parents generally expect to outlive their children, I know I did.  When I started my job at St. Mary's University I was asked if I wanted to sign up for life insurance on Alysia.

When the funeral and burial was all said and done, it cost $15, 000 and I went to collect from my insurance and was told I didn't opt for dependent life insurance. I could picture myself in the HR office filling out forms, first day there, nervous and excited,  and I probably felt that getting life insurance on my daughter was somehow wrong, almost feeling like I would be putting some strange hex on her if I did. It wasn't much insurance I could have received, $2500, but it sure would have helped.

But the one thing we also didn't think of is what will happen to the plots around her?  We have to be buried next to her or close to her! So yet another expense incurs in purchasing in advance, our plots.  Between Tomi and I, the total bill for the plots were around $5000.  So in all reality the funeral cost $20, 000.

Luckily through the generosity of Tom Sr. and some money left over in Alysia's estate we were able to cover these expenses.  The money side of death is very disturbing to the soul.  I received bills and cheques and it tore at my heart to think my daughter's life  was summed up in account numbers, and cheques and funeral bills.  The stress it put on me was unreal. It took us a long time to be able to chose the headstone design because we hadn't paid the burial bill until five months later.  We were not allowed to get the headstone until the bill was paid.  Seems harsh but it is a business. A business dealing in death.

Those commercials you see on TV about life insurance and not burdening your loved ones left behind, maybe hokey, but they are true. Children don't get their own life insurance so it is up to the parents to think of the worst possible thing that could happen and buy an insurance policy on their children.  Please believe me, it doesn't put a hex on them. Alysia passed away despite my not purchasing life insurance.  Hopefully you will never need to use it but trust me when I say, it would have made my life a little easier in such a hard time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It takes a village to kill a child.

  The medical examiner talked to me the day I found out Alysia passed away to tell me they were going to do further tests. One being toxocology and the other taking her brain for a neuropathologist to look at as she was experiencing black outs weeks before she passed away.  The rest of the autopsy didn't show up much.  She had endometriosis and fluid on the lungs. Day 2: The medical examiner asked me what I wanted to do with her brain after they were finished with it.  Already I had to deal with the nitty gritty of her death. They also told me it could take up to 8-10 months to get the results back. They called me February 3rd at work,  just over 6 months later.

I fought long and hard with my conscience and ego whether or not I should write about this.  I wrote this post a few months ago but it sat in my drafts, it was too soon and it was based on speculation.  There is no more speculation. In order to truly understand the process of my journey, I must go where I don't really want to go, I must kick my ego to the curb. Not knowing the cause of her death brings on many many issues and questions that are so hard to answer, but not knowing allowed me to set those issues aside. There was no point of going to different scenarios if they didn't really apply anyway.  Although I suspected the cause, even knew (as a mother does) the cause, I could still put it off for a while.

I write what follows with great trepidation because I don't want to embarrass anyone, I don't want to blame anyone and I don't want to hurt anyone.  I write what follows to make a point of how we are all responsible for a person's suffering.  I write this for the young people of today who have so much stress and anxiety and who are being treated by doctors who push pills instead of talking to their patients,  who have been raised by parents who loved them so much...maybe too much.  I write this for the young people with body image issues, and issues of insecurity.  I hope that this post scares you young people who think drinking and doing prescription meds is is not! Take it from me an extremely distraught grieving mother of a deceased 20 year old daughter.  You think it won't happen to you?...maybe it won't but Alysia's death is testament that it can.

Alysia recently was suffering from anxiety, she was pretty much a stable kid up until she started university. She put a lot of pressure on herself for good grades and her first year of science in university was very good.  I would tell her that first year always sucks as far as marks goes but no, she had to prove the world that she could do it.  I noticed a change in her anxiety levels, but to compound this pressure, her nanny was dying of cancer, her dad and I after 20 years of rocky marriage finally decided to split up, she moved out to be with her boyfriend, and I tell her that I have fallen in love with a woman. All this within a year.

Her reaction to Tom and I breaking up was not one of surprise.  She just wanted us to be happy, she said to us.  She told me she didn't blame me for being with a woman after being with a man for 20 years (she said this with a sense of humor but meant it...I think.) Yet I blamed myself over and over again for increasing her anxiety. Tom and I both felt that maybe if we didn't break up she wouldn't have been so anxious.  I blamed myself for confusing her by now being with a woman.  I worried that she felt replaced. I spent many nights crying with guilt over rocking Alysia's world too much too fast.

Alysia would come over with Josh and I would notice things that made me worry.  I asked her many times how she was doing. After I had heard about an acquaintance's 18 year old daughter committing suicide I immediately called Alysia and asked her if she was ok.  A little voice inside of me felt Alysia was on a precarious road and I asked her over and over again if she was ok, offering her whatever I could to help her out should she need me and she would tell me she was getting better.  She was taking medications, she was beginning to feel better.  I wasn't told until after her death about the black outs.  She had kept that from me. 

She was also self medicating apparently with alcohol.  She was experiencing a lot of pain and the alcohol, so I'm told, was helping with the pain. Today it was confirmed.  She accidentally overdosed on alcohol.  Her blood/alcohol was at "lethal levels", the ME told me today. It wasn't a conscious suicide but it was a slow numbing of pain...physical and me they are very similar.

I feel anger...anger at the world, anger at myself and all of us who knew her.  This world has too many pressures and we've become complacent.  Afraid to rock the boat, afraid to get in other's business, afraid to get sued, afraid to get involved in case it requires us to put in more effort than we'd like, afraid to stand up for what is right.

I feel anger at Alysia for not reaching out to us. No matter how much the outside world has a role to play in her death, it was her actions that brought on this outcome and that is the hardest thing to accept.  As a parent I can not help but wonder where I went wrong in my parenting that she did not make the right choices or did not feel she could tell us.

Apparently anti-depressants can cause cravings for alcohol, evidently mixing anti-anxiety pills with alcohol can be lethal.  Doctors should be telling this to young people! I am angry at the medical world.  Young people on these meds should be closely monitered. If she would have been living at home, I would have researched every drug she was on and I would have parented her accordingly...but I let her fly away from the nest, and she decided she could handle this on her own...and she failed. 

I know that she would not have wanted to cause us such pain and sadness purposely and that is probably part of the reason why she wouldn't talk to me or her dad. I know Alysia thought she could do this and get away with it.  I know eventually she would have woken up from these stupid behaviors and changed.  She had done this before with other life challenges, she would have done it again.  She gambled with alcohol and she lost.

Please know women and especially young women, we can not tolerate alcohol and drugs and cigarettes like men.  It kills us quicker, it makes us sicker if it doesn't kill us eventually.  Please I beg the friends of Alysia and anyone else who reads this to seriously consider what you're doing when you're partying it up.  Consider the pain and grief that your parents and friends and partners would go through should you have pushed the envelope too far.  Remember my blog and how over 6 months later I still cry every night because of my pain and sadness.  Remember how much Josh is suffering from the loss of his partner.  Remember how much her dad is struggling to keep it together. Remember how much her grandparents have suffered from tragedy after tragedy in their longer life times.

That is all I have to say about her cause of death.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Phoenix rising

Some of you have seen this on my facebook as my profile pic once in a while.  I found this on the net to convey in an image how I felt at times.  It was like I was in either a womb waiting to be reborn and evolve or a prison waiting to die.  I was in nowhere land. A state of in between. If dusk could be a place that's where I was.

I was incubating in this place of darkness, waiting for one outcome or the other...waiting for the emotions to pass, to burst out of this womb or to die within the walls.  Yet the walls were thin enough to see light trying to penetrate through. All the while knowing I could bust out  if only I would make that choice. When I had the strength I would peak out a seam in the walls and see what was out there and at times I would pinch the seam together and stay within.

On New Year's Eve I went for a walk in the woods and came upon the sad pregnant lady tree. I talked to her.  I told her how I desperately wished I could make her happy so that she wouldn't have to be eternally sad.  I told her she should be happy as she is pregnant.  Like a crazy woman in point pleasant park, I am standing there touching her head and her belly crying for her...crying for me. (Luckily it was a cold rainy day and only one person saw me) I realized I was talking to myself.  Not in the mundane sense of thinking aloud but literally talking to a representation of myself.  Yet I didn't understand the pregnant part.  I told her I was once pregnant and had a beautiful daughter and now she is gone.  I cried with the tree lady.  A voice in my heart said "you are also pregnant, you are spiritually pregnant you can hold onto this pregnancy in your eternal sadness or you can give birth to what you have growing inside of you."

I realized, all the while I was incubating in the cocoon, I was also incubating something within me. I decided at that moment I would bust out of the walls of the cocoon and not have the fate of the sad tree lady.  I will welcome what ever it is that I am going to give birth to.  So today I received another strong message to let go of the old ways of thinking, the old patterns of behavior and to embrace this new creative energy brewing inside of me. I know this message was from Alysia today, the circumstances too magickal to  ignore.  She wants me to rise out of the ashes and embrace this new power within me. And like a phoenix, I stretch my wings, my heart and spirituality engulfed in creative flames. I feel the regenerating energy of the fire. I look this way and that way and I see Alysia there with me, ready to guide me. I feel a whole new me reborn with memories of the old me so that I do not forget what brought me to those ashes, what brought me to a place of rebirth.  Soon when I have the complete strength, I will flap those wings aflame with creativity, power, and spirituality and fly. The wind from my flight scattering the ashes below to feed the earth for another type of growth.  Those ashes are a part of me and those ashes will provide food for other living beings to grow.