We used to nickname her pumpkin when she was younger

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