the barn

#judedays, Child loss, Grief, Healing

It stood there; bruised and battered. Shattered and broken.  Lifeless and useless.  But it still stood there.

I looked at it, like I had looked at it a million times before and was amazed at how strong it still stood in spite of the fact that it was missing most of it’s core.  Piece by piece; board by board, the walls that once stood connecting each foundation beam, no longer visible.

“I wonder if it will survive the winter” I asked my husband.  He looked at me, glanced at the barn as we drove by it and said; “Probably.  The foundation and beams are still there. It’s crazy how much it has changed in a year” he added.

The reason why  we knew how much the barn had changed throughout the year? Jude.

The barn had become a familiar landmark. A physical and a metaphoric one for us after loosing our son Jude.  The barn, in all it’s retired glory, stood firmly planted 1/2 a kilometre from the resting place of our little boy.

Everyday on my way to work I pass the barn.  I was familiar with the barn many years before I even met my son Jude.  From the beginning, there was this inexplicable energy and connection to the barn.  It kind of spoke to me – begged me in a way to capture and preserve it’s existence.   For years, I drove by the barn reminding myself that I needed to one day stop and photograph it.  I never did.  Until Jude.

Until Jude, the barn was just a barn.  Now, the barn is the place where I imagine my little boy sits and waits.  Waits for me to drive by everyday and wave hello.  I imagine Jude sitting on the peaked rooftop; knees tucked into chest, waving.  The barn is the lighthouse that I look for on the foggy days to ensure I wave and blow a kiss to my sweet boy.  The barn is a reminder that what once was, can never once again be.

But on that day, as my husband and I drove by the barn, the barn became yet another metaphoric symbol for both of us.  The barn became representative of our grief journey.

In the early days, after loosing Jude, the barn stood strong and empowering.  Much like our grief, it’s foundation firmly planted and overpowering.  The strong wooden plank walls, tightly nailed together, preventing any light from entering.  Each window, each door, firmly closed; preventing anything or anyone from entering it.  Much like our grief, the bold colours of the barn were familiarly standard to those on the outside, but overwhelming to those on the inside.

As the morning wave to Jude turned into an evening goodnight kiss; day in and day out, we bore witness to the slow deterioration of the barn.  The tightly nailed walls made of wooden planks began to loosen, letting in slivers of light.  The window and door panes that once stood tightly shut, flew open allowing birds and other creatures of nature to curiously explore the secrets of its inside.  The bright and bold red that once represented it’s standard presence, faded – a sign that it’s once highly regarded power, no longer held it’s position.

As the barn changed, so did we in our grief journey.  We were looking around us seeing what once was an overwhelming, strong presence of grief, change.

Would our grief extend into the winter?  Probably.

Much like the barn, the foundation and beams of our grief remain firmly planted in our hearts over the loss of our sweet Jude.   The windows and doors into our hearts may have loosened and allowed in the light and love of those around us.  The walls that we initially nailed up firmly to protect our hearts from any further breakage may have fallen down piece by piece,  but the pain remains.  The foundation and beams remain.

The winter may be harsh.  The wind, rain and snow may weather it down, chipping away at it’s strong grip,  but we don’t know exactly when or if it will ever collapse.

By definition, foundation is an underlying basis or principle for something. It’s built with the intention not to be destroyed.  The foundation of our grief is our love for Jude.  Built with the intention not to ever be destroyed.



the quest

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

The months have passed, the weeks a blur and one year has made its mark.  It still hurts.  My heart is still broken; torn, ripped actually – with no way of patching the pieces back together. 

I miss you.  I miss you the same way I did the day you were born.  The emptiness; the hole in my heart still present.

I look for you in every face, every object, every being, every moment.  My soul, my heart, my eyes search for you.

Everything that lives, wanders above me, reminds me of you and brings me comfort. 

The birds are reminders of the freedom you have given me .  The freedom to love deeply without fear. 

The clouds remind me of how life should be lived in moments, not continuum strands of routines.   

The sun reminds me how every darkness ends with the rising of light. 

The stars remind me to shine bright even when I’m surrounded by darkness.

The beautiful colours of the sunsets remind me to find the beauty in the simple, everyday things.

In my quest for you in everything; I have found everything. 

I have found your love, your light, your soul.

It is what it is

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

Since loosing Jude, I have made the phrase; ” it is what it is” my mantra for most days. My astrological sign makes me a dreamer, while my DNA makes me a realist with a knack for wanting to control most (if not all) aspects of my life.  Trouble is, when I lost Jude,  I also lost the piece of me that glued all of those elements together – the dreamer who knew when to pull the control levers to get the most realistic outcome.   So now, I’m still left with all of those elements, except I can’t seem to put them all together.  This is why, I have now come to heavily rely on the phrase “It is what it is'”.  It’s the holding place, the string that I have taped to each of those elements that enable me to temporarily make some sense of it all while appeasing to my controlling, dreaming realist self.

52 weeks post Jude, the phrase continues to be the holding ground.   In between week 1 and week 52, I have searched for that glue piece that use to harmoniously intertwine the characteristics of me together, but it’s impossible to find it in the rubble of my broken heart and my old life.  Not all pieces were lost in the rubble, but many core ones simply turned to dust – forcing me to just work with those that were left or build new ones.

Between week 1 and week 52, amongst the rubble, I’ve encountered prayers, words of comfort, angel charms, teddy bears, love rocks, postcards, letters, decorative wreaths, balloon releases and birthday cakes — each one tried and tested to fit within the space that would “glue” those key elements back together.  Some fit easier then others.  Some just don’t seem to stick at all.   Leaving me back to the default of ” it is what it is”.

Because, when I strip it all back.  When I line up all of those  failed attempts to glue me back together, I’m left with just me and the hole in my heart.  And that’s ok.  Because that’s exactly what truly is left.  There’s no first birthdays, no first steps, no first words, no first successful trips to the potty, no first haircuts, no first days of school, no first knee scrapes, no first bicycle ride, no first sleepover, no first crush, no first broken heart, no first love, no first day of new job, no first anything – ever.

That glue that use to perfectly bind those pieces of me no longer exists.  It’s no longer strong enough to hold the old pieces and the new pieces of me together.  All of those tried and tested and failed attempts are simply just coping mechanisms.  Mechanisms that get you from week 1 through to eternity.

And that’s ok – because, it is what it is.

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.


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.