Champagne 6 on the 6

Child loss, Grief, Healing, self care, Uncategorized

I suppose champagne birthdays are only really a thing only when you’re an adult – when you can actually drink champagne! By definition, today we could have potentially be celebrating your champagne birthday. You would have been turning 6 on the 6th this year. And even though you’re not here, I’ll still raise a champagne flute to celebrate. Celebrate you. Celebrate me. Celebrate us as a collective family. Celebrate the fact that we have survived 6 years of this balancing act of grief and joy. Love and pain.

6 years in, I still hold this day sacred. And I know that in some shape or form I will continue to hold it sacred until I die. It’s the day I honour you but also honour the person that you made me. Honour the strength, the perspective and the grace that I had anticipated to be born on this day, but never did. Instead, all of those things were born much earlier, in a completely different setting, in the most unexpected way, shaping the person that I have become.

Self care is one of those phrases you hear as a bereaved parent very early on in the grief journey, but holds very little merit. It’s not much, much later in one’s grief journey that you come to recognize the critical role it plays, in not only surviving, but also living through the journey.

Today, on your would have been champagne birthday, I choose self care – even if it comes in the form of a champagne glass.

The Rainbow and the Storm

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

I was first introduced to the term “rainbow baby” shortly after loosing Jude. At the time of introduction the term brought me the glimmer of hope and comfort that I needed to survive – to take my next physical step, next breath, next everything. Now, I’ve come to almost despise the term and what it represents. For starters, it implies that the child that you lost was a categorized storm- one that you endured without any control. No parent categorizes any child as a storm – no matter how fearful, destructive or painful the experience of embracing that child was. The term also implies that after every storm a rainbow appears. The intertwined assumption of those two elements is what nips away at my stitched up heart.

I’ve bared witness to beautiful rainbows – some of the most remarkable canvases filled with colour often appearing after a gentle drizzled rain fall. Torrential downpours sometimes end with the arches of a beautiful coloured rainbow; but sometimes, they simply end with lingering grey clouds.

To assume that every lost child will be followed by a “rainbow baby”, is to assume that after every storm a rainbow will appear; where that simply is not true for so many different reasons; both metaphorically, in this context and scientifically.

The healing process in a bereaved parent’s journey is so complex. It’s layered with emotions, fear, stress factors and in some cases physical inabilities that each unique bereaved parent must navigate through. A rainbow baby only adds a new complex layer of emotions to the journey forcing the requirement for a separate navigation system to support the bereaved parent.

When you’re left with only the grey clouds at the end of your storm you’re forced to find your own source of colour.
A rainbow is made up of several layers of colour, carefully and perfectly woven together – that is what makes them enchanting. For those bereaved parents who have no choice but to procure their own sources of colour to make up their own unique version of a rainbow; they encounter an incredibly daunting and difficult task. Each unique colour requires its own set of sources, tools and energy to manifest the perfect hue. Some hues are mastered quicker then others; but not a single one of them is easy. Some bereaved parents master all hues and are left with a colour wheel that simply never weaves perfectly. Many, manage to only master a few hues and are left with significant gaps in their own unique colour source. A few, manage to master and weave their colour source – but don’t be fooled – if you look closely there are snags, that if pulled, can quickly destroy years of hard work. Those that master the engineering of their own colour source, spend a lifetime tending to it. Their work is never complete.

As I lay down the blueprint for my own colour source in this journey, I’m quickly realizing just how much of a daunting task it is. It requires copious amounts of will power, discipline, self awareness and acceptance that nothing in life is guaranteed – not even if you throw everything you have at it. It’s simply not guaranteed. All you can do is tackle it like a mad hatter and once in a while step back, observe, breath and be oh so very proud of yourself for having mastered something resembling an enchanting rainbow.


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.

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.

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?