The Gift

#judedays, Child loss, Grief, Healing, Parenting

I stood there, staring at all of the items on the shelf directly at eye level, wondering what I would get you on your first birthday.  None of the colourful packages “spoke” to me or felt worthy of a gift you give your son on his very first birthday.  None of them were special enough, fun enough, playful enough – just not enough.  Except of course, I didn’t have to worry about that – I would never have to make that decision.  I would never have to buy you anything for your first birthday.  The thought provided relief and sadness.  Relief from the pressure of finding the perfect gift every mother wants to find for their child on their first birthday, first Christmas – first everything.  Sadness from my reality of being relieved from that same pressure.

But after standing there staring blankly and numb at the first birthday gift candidates, I finally made a decision and picked up one that I thought would live up to my expectations. But not for you.

I’ve had to live out that scene twice already since loosing you.  On two separate occasions; weeks apart, I’ve had to shop for presents for two special little boys in celebration of their first birthdays.   I’ve attended two separate first birthday parties for each – a reminder, that both boys, would not only have been actively present in your life, but also consistent markers of your absence in my life.  They will forever be reminders of what life could have been with you.

So what kind of gift does a mom like me get her son on his first birthday?

I always knew this day would come.  The day that marks your first birthday.  The day that marks the inception of the hole within my heart that my soul tends to every single day.  And consciously or subconsciously, I knew that for you, on your first birthday, a gift would have to be different.  It wouldn’t come packaged in a nice colourful box with a smiling poster baby on the outside.  It wouldn’t come with neatly printed step by step instructions on how to put it together. It wouldn’t get wrapped up in bright birthday theme wrap with a twirly ribbon bow.  It couldn’t.

Like my love for you, it had to be delivered in a different way.  A way that would make you proud to be celebrating such a great milestone with us – worlds apart.

So for you my sweet Jude, I offer you on your first birthday the gift of a simple promise.

A promise that your existence will never be forgotten and lives beyond the borders of my heart.  A promise that your name will be woven into everyday conversation.   A promise that you will always hold your place in our family.  A promise that my feet will walk for you.  A promise that your life will never be measured in just 21 short weeks.

A promise that together, we will build a foundation of a legacy that will unravel and transform into something big – something that I couldn’t have imagined if it hadn’t been for you.   Today, the base of the foundation exists in the simple form of a postcard.  It started as a simple ask of keeping your memory alive, by showing you the world; but it has transformed into something beyond that.  It has inspired, humbled, taught, comforted and reminded a community of people all around us to love deeply and live fully.

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

So today, on your very first birthday, I offer you this simple gift of a promise.  A promise of my infinite love which is the spark for the fire, that together, we make burn brightly.

Happy 1st Birthday Jude.

xo mommy






Mother of a Lost Boy

#judedays, Child loss, Grief, Healing, Parenting, Self Growth

In the days that followed the loss of Jude, people; friends and family alike, in their desperate attempt to grant me comfort, often whispered to me “he’s your angel now – he’s in heaven  – a better place”.  At first, those words did bring some level of comfort, but the more they were repeated to me, the more I wondered; “Is he really?  Is he in a better place?”

To me it seemed strange, that people would assume that heaven would be a better place for my son, than my arms.  Than the arms of one of the two people he had only known his entire life.   I do vividly remember the time my husband and I spent with Jude in the hours that followed his tragic arrival.  I remember thinking that my baby boy had just gone down a different path – one that would lead him to this so called “better place” where he would not know anyone.  Where he would travel the path alone.  Now the catholic girl within me would remind me that he would not be alone, but in that moment, to me, he was alone.  So, unknowingly already practicing my maternal instincts, I whispered to Jude, all of the names of the people that he should search for when he arrived in heaven.  I told him to look for his grandfather, his cousins, his great grandfather and of course, my beloved grandmother who would surely be there, anxiously waiting to scoop him up into her arms.  In that moment, that was what brought me comfort.

In the months that followed, I would again be periodically reminded by the phrase; “he’s in heaven, in a better place”.  The illusion that accompanied that statement was that Jude was delighted to be there.  That he was happy.  That he preferred there instead of here on earth, with the love of his parents.  But what if he didn’t prefer it?  What if he wasn’t happy?  In fact, what if he was just as miserable, sad and feeling as alone as we were? What if even being surrounded by all of those people that I encouraged him to meet, he still felt abandoned.  Felt like a lost boy.

The thought of my little boy, feeling sad, lonely and lost in the place where everyone expected him to be happy, devastated me.  It made me feel even more like a failure somehow.  Until my ears heard the beautifully talented voice of young Ruth B and the soothing innocently pure lyrics of her debut single, “Lost Boy”.

The lyrics of “Lost Boy” brings to the forefront the journey of a boy who is introduced to the classic character, Peter Pan.  With this introduction, a sense of belonging and acceptance is explored as he travels to Neverland and is self proclaimed as a “Lost Boy”.

“Soon enough we reached Neverland, Peacefully my feet hit the sand”

As I listened carefully to the talented scribed lyrics of this young artist, the above lyric, got hold of my heart and embraced me in comfort.    My little boy was not alone.  He was not abandoned.  He was not scared.  He was a Lost Boy – a Lost Boy of Neverland.

Neverland.  Where Lost Boys run free.  Seek adventure.  Play.  Explore. Laugh. Find love. Find a home.

It may not be the home that I planned for or wanted  for him.  But it’s a home.  And by definition, a home is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” So if I had to choose an alternative “home” for Jude, I can’t think of a better place then Neverland.   Neither of his parents live there, but I know that there, he has found a home and a family, even if it’s just Peter Pan.

“Neverland, I love you so, You are now my home sweet home Forever a lost boy at last”

Like most recently released debut artist singles, the radio waves will pick up the single and repeatedly play it.  I catch myself adorning the song and its talented artist.  An instant reminder of my sweet Jude – connecting my heart to his.  Sometimes it brings me tears of joy, sometimes tears of sorrow.  Sometimes, it brings a touch of a happiness, but always, always a touch of comfort.

“Neverland is home to lost boys like me And lost boys like me are free”

Comfort in knowing that my baby boy, Jude, can find his very own place as a lost boy in Neverland.


Mothering Boyhood

#judedays, Child loss, Parenting

Boyhood @ KillBear Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada 

I peaked from under the brim of my hat – nervously watching their wet feet carefully slide across the edge of the rocks.  The skin around their toes shrivelled up from being in the water too long.  Their skin all different shades – some darker than others; some by DNA others by the warmth of the sun.   All different sizes.  Small feet, medium feet, large feet — all wet and vulnerable  to easily loosing grasp on the sharp edges of the cliff rocks they insisted on climbing.   I looked up from under the brim of my hat to look at their smiling faces full of pride, courage and a little fear.  Their skin shivering, covered with goosebumps.   Hair wet dripping down their shirtless torso’s into their soaked swim trunks.  The wind blew an uncomfortable cold breeze emphasizing their goosebumps and mine under my layers of clothing. 

Hand on tree branch. Foot gripped on tree trunk. Nervous smile on face; he assessed the area of the lake down below the cliff, calling out to his friends on the other side to watch him complete the jump.  It didn’t matter that I sitting on the sidelines would be witness to this adventurous accomplishment – his friends needed to be witness.  Only then would a passage to boyhood be granted. 

I took a deep breath, shut my eyes, and listened; secretly praying that I would soon hear the sound of the water down below break.  I exhaled with the sound of the splash down below.  He made it.  His buddy at the top of the cliff smiled, laughed and made his way to the edge of the cliff, prepping himself for his very own right of passage.  Hand on tree branch. Foot gripped on tree trunk. Nervous smile on face.  My heart skipped a beat; his likely accelerated from the adrenaline rush.   Splash. 

With each successful splash into the lake, the smiles at the cliff up top grew wider and wider.  The pride exploded into fearlessness and the encouragement for higher, more ignorantly dangerous cliff jumps grew taller than their lanky selves.   

With every jump, every vulnerable climb of wet feet on top of the cliff rocks; my breath was shortened, my heart skipped a beat and my mind ran through all of the dangerous scenarios that one slip up could materialize.

As I nervously sat there and watched this display of courageously foolish boyhood display, I wondered how I could ever endure this if Jude’s feet were the wet ones running across the cliff edge.  I know that the simple answer appeasing my heart and nerves would be simply to not allow it.  Not allow him to go anywhere near the edge of that cliff.  Not allow him to jump off even the smaller rock landings only 1/2 a storey high – never mind 3 storey highs being played out in front of my very own eyes.   Nope.  He just simply would not be allowed to participate in such dangerous activities .  In fact, I wondered ,where were the mother’s of these boys.  How could they allow them to participate in this.  Didn’t they see the danger?  Didn’t they know the value of their little boys’ lives? 

But, with each little boy splash into the lake, out came the wet face of a little man – displaying the newly gained self-confidence that only a jump from a 3 storey high cliff into a lake can give you.  It was the presence of that newly gained self-confidence that enabled me to watch jump after jump, making me realize that if Jude was physically present with me, that I wouldn’t be able to deprive him of that feeling.  That sense of pride.  Sense of accomplishment. Right of passage to Boyhood.  That innocent display of free childhood made me realize that my motherhood is tough.  It’s hard and at most times overshadowed by immense sadness from the loss of my sweet Jude.  But it also made me realize that the motherhood of any of the moms of those boys on the cliff that evening at sunset wasn’t exactly any easier just because their little boys were alive and physically present.  Their motherhood was overshadowed by the constant balance of love and fear.  Fear that in a blink of an eye, one wet foot slip off the edge of a cliff rock could end badly.  But against the orange light of the setting sun, love won;  as they too held their breath, peaking from under the brim of their hats watching their little boys jump into the lake and come out a little man conquering their passage into boyhood.

Sweetest Haunting Dream

#judedays, Child loss, Grief

In the numb, grief fogged days following the loss of our sweet baby boy Jude, my husband, desperate to memorialize our son, went out and purchased “the angel of comfort” from the willow tree collection.  In fact, he went out and purchased 8 of them – one for us and one for each of Jude’s cousins; young and old, who were eagerly awaiting his arrival.  Attached to a message of comfort, hope and love, we shared the angel of comfort with each of Jude’s cousins instead of sharing the joyful news of his safe arrival.

willow-tree-angel-of-comfort-figurine-root-26062_1470_19 months after loosing Jude, the angel of comfort sits prominently on our mantle in our family room – a physical reminder of our baby boy.  I often stand in front of it – looking at its perfect depiction of our sweet Jude.  The angel of comfort is a boy – a rare depiction in the willow tree collection of angels.  The angel of comfort is sweetly holding a grey puppy, a striking resemblance to our long loyal four-legged friend, Logan, the Weimaraner.   The angel of comfort has no face – a trademark of the willow tree collection, but also a symbolic representation of what I have come to know as my sweetest haunting dream.

Faces of babies, toddlers, teenagers, Men, flip through in my dream like flash cards being presented to me – testing me to guess the right one.  The faces flash before me for a second and the level of frustration increases within me with each unrecognizable face that flashes by.  In the dream, I know that none of the faces are his until I come to the realization that I actually wouldn’t know which face would belong to Jude.  In that moment, the sadness sinks in while the faces continue to flash by.

Until one face catches my heart and it stops in front of me for one additional nano second. In that nano second, I realize that’s the face – that’s the face of my son.  And as my heart glees with joy and pride that it has managed to recognize Jude, the face dissolves just as quickly as it appeared and I am left with nothing.  A blank space – a blank face – just like the one on the angel of comfort.   It is then that I wake up – partially sad, but equally as happy that for one nano second, I saw the face of my sweet Jude.  The face that is not recognized by my eyes, but by my heart – the only proof that I need.

This dream haunts me almost every night.  It’s the sweetest haunting dream I have come to love.  It’s the only window from my heart that my eyes look through to see Jude.


Mother’s Day with Jude 

#judedays, Child loss, Grief, Healing, Parenting, Self Growth

I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to travel for my work.  Work travel has taken me to so many travel destinations that I likely would have not been able to see on my own.  Last year work took me to Vancouver, BC. I instantly fell in love with this humble and beautiful city.  Too me it’s the heart of nature – where those that inhibit have the out most respect for its beauty and those that visit it, quickly get told if they disrespect it.   It was here a year ago that it all began. It was here that  my sweet Jude’s heart began to beat.

A year later, I ironically find myself back in Vancouver on Mothers Day Weekend to embrace this day and honour the infinite love between Jude and I.

As the plane descended and entered the magisterial embrace of the Rocky Mountains, my heart melted. The overwhelming feeling of love and presence of my baby boy Jude poured out and welcomed me back to this beautiful place.  I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was truly coincidental  that I was here on this weekend or whether this was Jude’s Mother’s Day gift to me.  My heart believes the latter.

I prepared my heart for this weekend.  I prepared it with unique ways that will help my husband and I honour our little boy. Celebrating our love and unique bond with him. Living his spirit brightly and keeping his memory alive always.

Packed in my carry on suitcase was a love rock I painted with his name and date of birth/death.  It will not return home with me. Instead it will sit at the base of the Seven Sisters trees in Stanley Park where our breaths were taken away  a year prior as we admired their remaining strong beautiful presence.   Much like our sweet Jude’s strong presence in our lives.  Folded  neatly in my husband’s carry on suitcase were the origami paper boats that we carefully made and decorated in preparation for Jude’s voyage in the Pacific Ocean.  Letting go of our baby boy and sending him off on the sail adventure of life is something all parents must do at one point in their child(ren) ‘s lives.  Setting sail in his aragami boats with messages of love and support from his mommy and daddy was our way of setting our baby and our hearts free.  Pressed between a travel journal purchased especially for Jude, were two postcards that were created and distributed to family and friends in memory of Jude.  The postcards were born out of the desperate need to keep the memory of our baby alive, asking all friends and family to fulfill our wish of showing Jude the world by taking him with them on their vacations.  The overwhelming response we received so far has been humbling.  It was now our time to show our baby boy a part of our world that we had come to cherish partially because of him.

We started in Squamish, BC, where we rode the gondola to the very top of the mountains to take in the breath-taking views.  The mountain tops were sprinkled with snow and the green hue varied from top to bottom of the mountain.  At the very top of the mountain we pulled out Jude’s postcard and took a selfie – all three of us together for the first time.

It was also at the top of the mountain that I drew a stake in the ground and declared  my motherhood through the healing project of #motherheartsalute.  It was liberating to allow myself to join this pack and call myself a mother for the first time. motherheartsalute

As the weekend went on, the love and presence of our little boy Jude intensified. It was present on the beach where my husband and I watched the waves crash into the rocks of the seashore, every time breaking them down a little much like Jude’s love did with our grief.  We sat watching the people enjoy a beautiful afternoon of sun with their families, friends and pets, oblivious  to our ceremonial presence.  After our picnic lunch on the beach we carefully set out to pick the perfect place to gently launch the paper origami boats we had made for Jude.  We hesitantly laid them down on the Pacific Ocean and watched as the waves rocked them back and forth eventually toppling  them over and swallowing them into its fierce waves.  Jude's PacificOceanHolding each other, we watched as our little boy and our hearts, fought the waves of the Pacific Ocean until he and our hearts stopped fighting and allowed ourselves to relax and ride the waves instead.

Our last ceremonial stop was the seven sisters in Stanley Park.  Nestled  between lovers trail and brittle trail, there the remains of the  Seven Sisters surrounded by new tree growth just as tall, strong and present as the Seven Sisters were, is where we laid the love rocks that we made for Jude.  Chances are someone will remove them eventually, but in my heart placing them there in that spot, reflected my belief that Jude deserved to be amongst them. His presence acknowledged, our love for him deeply rooted in the ground. His love and spirit free and high – to be admired by young and old. SevenSisters

Each ceremonial stop opened our hearts a little bit more and allowed hints of light back in.  With each light streak came a flood of tears – joyful and sad tears that washed away the bitter pieces of our heart only leaving behind the pieces containing Jude’s love.

The revving of the airplane engines drowned out the noise around me, giving me the opportunity to acknowledge the beauty of the Rocky Mountains one more time and softly thank my sweet Jude for a unforgetable Mother’s Day Weekend.  There’s only one thing that would make it better – having him with me.

Building the Love Bridge

#judedays, Child loss, Grief, Self Growth

As part of my grief journey, I was advised to “build a bridge from suffering to love” so that I disassociate the trauma of the loss of my son Jude from the love I hold for Jude.  The materials and methodology I used to build the bridge was irrelevant. I just needed to build it.  I understood the concept and understood the need to build this bridge because I desperately sought out the inner peace that most bereaved mothers seek.  The inner peace that allows you to love your child and enjoy their presence when they are the furthest thing from being physically present.  LoveRocks@park

I mulled over the concept, knowing that I would not be able to complete this task unless I felt the methodology was reflective of who I was as a person and in the same way, honoured Jude as a person.  Since loosing Jude, I have often found myself facing challenges or obstacles that require solutions that are beyond my creative capacity.  But yet, every time the creative solution to overcome these challenges is often whispered in my ear and travels to the brain setting off the creative light bulb.  I have come to accept and love that process – I call it the Jude intervention.  My rational (or irrational) explanation for it is that somehow, Jude is guiding me – helping me cheat the process in a way, by giving me the answers.

That’s how the idea of making love rocks and leaving them in the neighbourhood playground came to light.  These painted love rocks with simple messages of love, are the first “stepping-stones” of my love bridge to Jude.  Each love rock is designed with the intention of offering a message of love, kindness and inspiration.   Every week, I casually drop them off at the neighbourhood park as I take my dog for a walk hoping it catches the attention of someone who is looking for a friend to play with.    The first rock that was dropped off was a novelty – it was picked up by someone and played with.  At the end of the day, that someone placed it back where it was left.  This pattern continued for the rest of the week until I dropped off a new love rock.  I later discovered that both love rocks had been played with and again returned to its initial spot.  This brought me joy.  It made me smile – it made me think that perhaps someone was taking the time to play with Jude.  And isn’t that what every mom wants – a friend for their child to play with?