Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Ashley's Season

We're entering Ashley's season, and it occurred to me that it would be fun to return to the blog.  I haven't written in five years, so I'm guessing that this is just between my girls and myself.

Ashley it is a very interesting thing, to find myself crying today, and then I realize your birthday is coming up...it's your season.  I call it your season because Feb. 17th is your birthday and it is followed by Mar. 18th, which is your heaven day.  We buy a floating balloon, because Mira loves that, and make a little remembrance spot with your pictures and candles as we talk to you and ask you to pray for us and others.

We move into Hope's season in the summer with her birthday, which is followed by her heaven day a month later.  And then we move into busy season with Mira's birthday in the fall, and pumpkins, and school, then Christmas.  Until we roll around to Ashley's season again.  It has a nice rhythm to it.

The tears are good.  I won't give them too much attention, since they come and go. I love remembering my girls.  Mira is a great help in remembering them, because I get to share stories and pictures with her.  It feels good to sit here...writing...with not too much to say.  I tried to write a few years ago, and had an intense anxiety attack, that left me recovering for a few hours on the couch.  Apparently, I wasn't ready.  My counselor has given me excellent strategies to use for the anxiety and panic that developed after the girls died.  It's been a rather amusing process, since I handled so much for so long....and then found that I couldn't do very much.  It has been humbling and I'm grateful.

There is a lot I could say about this journey, but I'm not sure how far to go here.  Perhaps I'll be back to share more...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Put it in a box

I hurt! 

I know there isn't much activity on my blog, and that there is likely very few who will see this, and that's just fine.  Someone might see this and find something helpful, and that would be great.  Either way, I feel like writing and that's what I'll do.

I just finished watching a video that makes a LOT of sense.  The link is here...


The topic is grieving and since I'm still trying to figure out this grieving thing, I found it very insightful.  The speaker talks about grief and the natural inclination to deal with it, and put it away (or we try anyway).  Sometimes we're even encouraged to seek 'closure' and move on... "put it in a box" ...so to speak.  But we don't move on from those we loved and lost.

Ashley and Hope are part of every moment of my day.  I feel joy and sadness at the same time.  I laugh with delight as Mira tries on the next box of Ashley & Hope's clothes, and at the same time, I feel the tears as I remember...

Sometimes I ache so deeply, and I wonder how it is that I walk around with smile and continue to what needs to be done.  I'm allowed to hurt.  This doesn't mean there is something wrong with me, or that I haven't grieved properly, or that something is left undone.  It just means I love my girls in heaven.  I don't need to move on from them.  I will love them, miss them and ache for the rest of my life.  This makes some people uncomfortable, and I don't want anyone to be uncomfortable.  So, instead of trying to fix the hurting person, I'll give you a hint...just love them.  Look at them tenderly, wait quietly, or ask, "what memories come to mind today?".  It is such a great gift when I am asked to share about my girls.  I don't prefer to put them 'in a box'. 

I still struggle with a difficult moment after the funerals.  It was kindly, but wrongly suggested that I should end the blog and wrap it up nicely...kind of like the end of a story.  I've never really understood why I reacted so strongly and felt so hurt by that suggestion.  It was certainly not meant to hurt, and I don't hold it against the individual.  But I realize now, that I was instinctivly reacting against the idea that I should 'end' the story on my girls, that somehow their lives on earth were over therefore I should be done talking about them.  I should somehow just keep everything to myself, deal with it on my own, find closure and put it all in a box so that everyone else can be comfortable around me.

What do you think, as I talk about Ashley & Hope here on the blog?  Do you think I'm in need of healing, that I don't have 'closure', and that I should get over it already?  I may have thought that way at one time.  Watch the link above, because it's the wrong way to think.

I hurt, and that's okay.  I still laugh, smile, and have fun with my kids.  I still go to work, and meet the daily expectations that come my way.  I can be sad and be joyful at the same time.  It's not an 'either/or'.  If you're uncomfortable because someone is hurting, it may be because you want to fix it, and you don't know what to do.  Watch the link above, you may find something helpful.  Most importantly, don't try to fix people who are hurting, just hug them.

Kids give the best hugs...

                                                             Ashley at ten months old

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sharing my girls!

This March brought us to the four year mark since Ashley passed away, and in August it will be four years since we last held Hope as well.  As you may have noticed, I have not posted much, and it's for the best.  I don't have a lot of interest in sharing my grief journey, but when it comes to Ashley and Hope, I get really excited to share.  I am so grateful to anyone who asks me about them, or gives me an opportunity to talk about their lives.  An amazing opportunity to share my girls came up when I was asked to interview about our experience with Palliative Care in Manitoba.  CBC News did a wonderful job, and if you want to watch the interview, you can click on 'CBC Interview' under Common Interests, on the right hand side of the page.  You may have to wait a few seconds for the video to load.

It doesn't feel like much time has passed since I last held the girls, until I look at Mira and realize that she is starting school in the fall!   Wow, where has the time gone.  I know we all use that phrase, but really...where has it gone???

Time has not lessened the impact that Ashley and Hope had on our lives.   In fact, I would say we are more sensitive and aware of the extraordinary blessing that we were given.  When the girls were alive, I spent a lot of time trying to show people that our girls were valuable, just as they were.  They couldn't walk, talk, play, or smile on demand, but they were always ready to be held and cared for.  They were completely dependent on us.  In our 'throw away' society, it is easy for others to dismiss children like Ashley & Hope as a burden, and miss out on the tremendous opportunity to give of ourselves and learn to practice truly self-donating love. 

I am so convicted that every person is valuable at every moment of their life, and that we benefit greatly by participating the lives of others, especially those who can't meet our hopes and expectations.  Palliative care is that opportunity.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dear Ashley...

Dear Ashley, it has been three years, and it doesn't feel like it.  Your heaven day didn't sneak up on us... we knew it was coming... and despite a few tears I cherished the preparing.

Special pink flowers sent from a friend...a cake with pink icing...and slideshows that marked your life from beginning to end.

The sadness of preparing gave way to a joyful celebration of your life, Ashley.  And as we celebrated your life, we also celebrated all the life around us. Mira exclaimed with loud squeals of wonder and arms outstretched, that the leaves were so green when we wandered around the conservatory at Assiniboine park.  How much more, are you celebrating in heaven?  Are you dancing, and running and eating treats?  Are you singing the Alleluia like Mira does?  How full and perfect is your life, now in heaven?  What a blessing to celebrate life as we remember you, Ashley.  You blessed our lives in a profound way.  We love you Ashley.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blessings all around

The reminders of Ashley and Hope, alive in heaven, are everywhere.  In the butterflies, that remind us of the moments after Hope's burial when many butterflies took flight, and Brodie corrected us to say they were moths, promptly spouting some knowledge from school.  It was a lighter moment, thanks to Brodie.  In the pink and purple flowers we see in various places, especially at church.  In the tree that was planted at St. Timothy's in memory of the girls.  And especially in the rainbows that we see from time to time.  Mira is especially enchanted by rainbows.  She'll talk about a rainbow for a whole day and usually the next day too after she's witnessed one, and I love that she's had a little glimpse of beauty and promise. 

After Hope's funeral (it might have been the next evening), we were all sitting outside on the back deck, enjoying a rare quiet moment.  We watched as a rainbow appeared, and then a second, slightly fainter rainbow appeared below it.  It was an incredible moment of family togetherness as we knew are girls in heaven are still part of our family.  I still think of that moment, and of Ashley and Hope whenever I see a rainbow.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Life continues around here, even though it still feels so recent that the girls were here with us.  Mira and Brodie are growing and learning so much, and this brings home the reality that time has passed.

We went to the gravesite in May to plant flowers and this is how we found it...

We were pleasantly surprised to find pink and purple flowers blessing our eyes.  We had waited for the ground to dry and it was time to plant.  Mira was excited to clean...

Brodie was excited to place the sunflowers...

And as we contemplated our little attempt to pretty up the gravesite...

We found laughter and joy, right along with our memories...

This is the first year we've planted flowers, and I don't mind that we waited for the stone to be in place.  I love seeing the photo's of our girls.  I love rememering their smiles and cuddles.  I love sharing them with the wonderful staff at St. Vital Cemetary.  We've been blessed by incredibly kind, and interested staff at the Cemetary.  It's nice to say 'hi', when we pass them in our work, and sometimes have a chat.  It's meaningful that they remember the funeral days and ask how we are doing.  My favorite moment was the morning when Mira and I went to water the flowers, and we sat at the foot of the gravesites, and enjoyed the sun, clouds and birds, while Mira sang her songs.  Blessings are everywhere.
Summer is here.  School is out.  And now we're getting ready for summer fun.  We'll celebrate Hopey's birthday this coming week, with six purple balloons.  Maybe I'll find it possible to finish Hope's babybook this year.  Maybe I should call it a 'Life Book' instead.  Yep, that's what I'm working on as I remember Hopey.  A beautiful book of Hopey's life.  That might bring on some tears...or maybe some more posts, as I've been avoiding the remembering a bit.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pink Balloons

Today marks the 2 years since Ashley died.  Yesterday we remembered Ashley with her caregivers, Ashley J, Miranda and Lauren, who have become like family to us.  It felt so good to honor Ashley's memory.  We watched her video's and laughed at Brodie's two year old goofy ways, and finished it off by releasing eight pink balloons with our thoughts for Ashley.
Brodie asked to watch Ashley again, so I turned on the video camera, and this is what he and Mira are watching this morning...

This is Brodie at 2.5 years and Ashley around 5 months.  It's so interesting to think of me standing there taking pictures of my two kids cuddling on the couch together about eight years ago.
And today I'm standing here looking at my two kids cuddling on the couch again...

You can see Mira holding on to a pink balloon.  The one that she was supposed to release yesterday when we all let ours go.  But Mira let out a little yell of protest every time a balloon floated away.  We kept hearing, "oh no, oh no", but I didn't figure out what the problem was until I saw Mira clutching her ballon for dear life, and shaking her head, while she murmered, "no balloon, my balloon, no go". 
So here we are this morning, with our little Miracle holding on to Ashley's pink balloon as we watch
Ashley video's.  How beautiful is that. 
We have been so blessed.  I have been wanting to express this for a while now, but always fail to find the words.  I do have my sad days, but more often I am so awed at the blessing.  To have Ashley and Hope in our lives, to love them, to learn from them and to experience the highs and the lows...it is all a blessing.  Life is a gift, no matter what the circumstances.