One Day At A Time

Download PDF

Christmas has come and gone.  It was a whirlwind of food, bright wrapping paper, music, children chasing each other in circles and laughter.  Even though she wasn’t here physically, Stella was everywhere.  There were stars all over our Christmas tree, representing our little girl.  We set a place for her at the table for each Holiday meal, a plate with her photo and a lit candle.  Her stocking hung with the other kids on the mantle and we decorated her tree at Riverdale Farm.  Like most other days, there were moments of laughter and fun and moments, when the kids were ripping into their gifts, that instead of feeling happiness I felt a raw ache in my chest as I looked vainly for red curls in the crowd.  We lived in the present, we remembered the past, and we mourned both.  There were nights when Aimee and I sat on the couch together and cried quiet tears of pure heartbreak.  There were other times when we laughed wholeheartedly at the antics of the boys, or each other.  As expected, it was a mixture of happy and sad flashes woven tightly together in one big blanket of moments.

As we muddled through the holidays, I was especially grateful for all the people who thought to text or send a card or an email saying they were thinking of Stella and us.  On the DIPG website that I belong to (www.dipg.net), some bereaved parents talked about how no one acknowledged their children at all over the holidays’, and how much it hurt.  I am so grateful to have a group of family and friends (including blog followers!) who keep us—all of us— in their thoughts and reached out to let us know they were thinking of our family and the missing red-headed girl whose laugh still rings in my ears.  It’s funny because there are so few people who read this blog anymore, yet those that continue to follow are faithful and loving and generous with their comments and support.  Most of our family and friends don’t even read it, but those who do mean a lot to us because you understand that this journey is far from over.  Stella is gone, but we are just beginning to figure out how to do this life without her.  The story of Stella, her life and death, is far from over.

It occurred to me over the last few days how many strange decisions that bereaved parents need to make around the Holidays.  For example, when we get our annual “personalized” Christmas ornament with family names on it…do we include Stella, or not?  When we sign gifts we are giving to people, do we put “Love, Aimee, Mishi, Sam and Hugo”, or “Aimee, Mishi, Stella, Sam and Hugo?”.  It feels so wrong to not put her name on things, yet she is gone forever and we need to somehow acknowledge that as well.  Do we put anything in her stocking?  What about toys and books? As the boys brought home presents from their respective grand-parents home, we realized we needed to thin out some of the things they don’t play with anymore.  Some of Stella’s toys that they have outgrown. What do we do with them?   It hurts to give them away— to give away objects that she once touched, and that we have memories of her playing with, but we can’t keep everything.  And photos.  Stella’s face is plastered on every wall and surface in our house.  But we also have photos of the boys now, more and more of them, that need a spot as well.  And though we want, and need, Sam and Hugo to know their sister through us, we are also conscious of the fact that we need to celebrate their accomplishments and personalities separately from her— not just compare them to Stella.  Because we miss her, we are constantly trying to find little pieces of her in Sam and Hugo.  A certain look, a certain way they say a word, a certain dance move.  We delight in saying, “Oh my gosh, remember when Stella did that”…”Wow, when he makes that face he looks SO much like Stella”…”Stella never would have let us put that sweater on her…” etc. etc.  But at some point, they will move out from under her shadow.  They will move past the stages she was in and he comparisons will not happen anymore.  Both because they can’t and they shouldn’t.  I wonder if we will lose a little bit more of her when that happens.  Already Sam is almost the exact same age Stella was at diagnosis.  She was 26 months, 6 days old when DIPG became part of our vocabulary.  Today, Sam is 26 months, 7 days old.  From here on in, we are like new parents, exploring and watching what it’s like to have a “normal” 26 month old, not one saddled with a fatal diagnosis.

There is both sadness and joy in having Sam reach this milestone— the age Stella was when her future was snatched from underneath her.  Often when I see Sam and Gracie playing together, I wonder how different things would be if Stella were still there.  Would it be Stella and Gracie teaming up against Sam?  Now Sam and Gracie play together and laugh and chase each other, with little Hugo always bringing up the rear and trying to catch up.  I wonder if Sam would look at Gracie with the same complete adoration, and if Gracie would have as much time and energy and love for her little cousins if Stella were still here, her partner in crime for everything.  I wonder how we could ever live without our sweet little Hugo, smiling his way through life with his easygoing personality and love of books and hugs.  I wonder what this next stretch of our life will be like— where (we hope), we will get to the stages we just missed with Stella.  Soccer and ice skating and first day of school.  I wonder what it will be like to parent through these next stages.

Even now, so many months after Stella’s diagnosis we are still not sure what we are doing.  Every day brings a new challenge, a new emotion, a new thing for us to puzzle through and figure out.  But we will.  One day at a time.

 

Yesterday….Today…..Tomorrow  

(Poem that preceeds most AA meetings in Toronto)

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said

 Yesterday is gone.

 The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversaries, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond immediate control.

Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow for it is as yet unborn.

This leaves only one day today. Any man can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities.

Yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives men mad.

It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow will bring.

Let us therefore live but one day at a time!

Stella’s Tree at Riverdale Farm, all dressed up for the Holiday’s:

IMG_2899Stella’s Spot at the Christmas Table:

IMG_2959Christmas Chaos at Nanny and Grand-Pa’s house:

IMG_0681

 

Energetic boys! (Sam, Xavier, Hugo):

IMG_0558Sam and Hugo get doll strollers for Christmas:

IMG_0647In 2010, Stella and Gracie got strollers for Christmas too:

P1020866

 

 

 

 

Download PDF

Moments of Christmas

Download PDF

Earlier this week, I attended a service at Church with my sister Heather and Aimee’s mom,”Tutu”. The service is called “Blue Christmas” and it is a sombre, melancholy service to acknowledge that Christmas is not always about “Joy to the World”, but also a Holiday in many people that magnifies their feelings of loss, grief, loneliness and sadness.

As I sat there, with a smattering of other people who all keep their eyes averted and heads down during the service, I felt truly sad. Gutted for the first time in a long time. As always, we don’t necessarily give ourselves the opportunity and space to grieve properly once we integrate ourselves back into “the real world” after a great change or trauma. At first, I tried to hold back my tears as a soloist sung straight to my broken heart, but I heard a muffled sob behind me and turned around enough to see my sister, her face red and blotchy, bawling her eyes out into a tattered tissue. Seeing her share her sadness so freely, without reservation, did me in. I turned back around in my hard wooden pew, shut my eyes and let the warm tears that had been pooling in the corner of my eyes stream down. Once I gave myself the opportunity to cry, there was no going back. Before long, the not-forgotten physical pain of pure grief began to work its way through my body. Waves of sharp pains in my chest. Numb coldness in my stomach. A loud buzzing in my brain saying over and over again, “Oh my God. I miss Stella. The pain is too great. Stella. Stella. My little girl.” I didn’t try to control the grief, or stem the pain. I just sat there in the pew with my eyes screwed tightly shut, and let myself feel sad and hurt and overwhelmed with the loss of my precious girl. My body protested at being wracked with the agony of grief once again, but I just sat there and breathed through it. I needed to feel the pain and depth of my loss. By the end of the short service, Tutu and Auntie Heather and I were all completely drained. All of us tear-stained, headachy and feeling heavy. But there was something cleansing and healthy about it all too. I was reminded, yet again, that life does not give us enough opportunity to embrace pain and sadness. To acknowledge that the words “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” are not always positive to everyone, but an acute reminder of the fact that things are not Merry/Happy/Joyful, just because you say they are.

By the next morning, I felt more like myself and was able to navigate the stores and adequately completed all social niceties required of me. It reminded me to try to focus on the moment. Be happy in the moment, if you feel it. Be sad if you feel it. But most of all, be present. Just after “Blue Christmas”, I went to New York City with my mom for a kid-free weekend of museums and culture. We were taking in the traditional Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular which, even though I’ve seen it half a dozen times, still stuns me into silent reverence. All throughout the show, while 38 genuine Rockettes strutted their stuff on stage with a precision and beauty not often seen in life, it seemed like everyone around me at one point or another was on their iPhone. Texting. Emailing. Checking the weather. It made me sad. I wondered if whatever they were doing was more important than the moment they were missing. The awe of the show. I reminded myself that when Stella was alive post-DIPG diagnosis, I never went anywhere without my phone and checked it constantly too (to make sure she was okay), so maybe these people had their own stuff going on. But if not, they were missing out on something wonderful and beautiful that was right in front of them, all for the sake of staying “connected”. I wanted to yell at them, “Put down the phone! Put up your head! Look around and see what you’re missing!”. Earlier that day, I had heard a frenzied dad in a crazy department store lineup on the phone say “Madison, daddy doesn’t have time to talk right now…Maddy, you can tell me about your day later, daddy is busy…MADISON, I told you I don’t have time for you right now”. It broke my heart. We’ve all done it before, so many times, but really…Madison probably wanted to tell him something neat that happened at school, and he couldn’t listen to her because he was trying to juggle his phone, wallet and a $125 American Doll that he was more than likely buying for HER. As parents, we truly get our priorities screwed up sometimes. Live in the moment. Pay attention to what is around you. What will you miss if you don’t put things down once in awhile and look around?

It’s not something I’m super good at, but I’ve noticed it’s something that my kids have no trouble with. After Stella was diagnosed, much of our pain was around what SHE would be going through when she started to lose her ability to do things. We were reminded time and time again about the fact that because she was only 26 months old, she didn’t have any concept of before or after, only “now”and for that reason, she would be okay. Without the consciousness of what a 2 or 3 year old “should” be able to do, or what her life would be like without DIPG, she would be happy. And she was. Now the boys are the same. They have moods, but are over them almost instantly. They don’t plan ahead, they don’t bring up something that happened 2 months ago. They just cry when they’re sad, laugh when they’re happy, sleep when they’re tired and hug me all the time. The here and now. It is really all we have. Even with the colossal loss of Stella, Aimee and I know we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Anything can happen. Things happen so quickly to friends or family. So we just have today, this moment to feel what we feel, see what we see, enjoy what we can. So today, the Christmas gifts, most of them homemade, are wrapped. The boys are loving their Christmas Tree and Christmas lights (they are at a beautiful age when there is no want or need for presents yet). Aimee and I are on Holidays together for a couple of weeks, spending time with family and friends. It is a nice time. And I hope to be able to stay present for all of this year’s Christmas moments. The good and fun times when Hugo, Sam, Xavier and Gracie are running around chasing each other and laughing. The sad times when we set an empty place at the table for Stella and light a candle to represent the light we lost when she died. The stressful times trying to get Christmas dinner on the table. The relaxing moments after the boys go to bed when Aimee and I sit on the couch and hold hands and talk about our day, with Stella’s doll staring down at us from the mantle. Good and bad, each moment has its time and place.

So, Merry Christmas if you’re Merry. Joy to the World if you’re Joyful. Happy Holidays if you’re Happy. But if not, that’s okay too. Each moment, no matter what it brings, is worth feeling and experiencing. Which reminds me…Stella’s favourite Christmas Carol was “Frosty The Snowman”. Now I laugh when I think about it. Of course it was— the story of a short, magical moment when children got to laugh and play all day, that ended far too soon when the sun melted Frosty and he had to go away.

“So he waved goodbye, saying ‘don’t you cry’, I’ll be back again someday’ “.

xoxoxxoxox

 

image

image

image

IMG_1590

 

 

Download PDF

Toast the Eggnog

Download PDF

Toast the Eggnog

 

I just finished my final exams for first semester back at school.  Whew!

 

Even though this is what I wanted to do, it was a tough slog this semester.  Going back to school with a 2 year old and a 1 year old doesn’t exactly lend itself to the self-indulgence required to focus on your studies.  Despite the fact that Aimee and our families are HUGELY supportive and wonderful, the day-to-day workings of a life with two toddlers are not exactly conducive to studying.  Since school started in September, we’ve:

 

  • Been to Sick Kids Hospital 3 times (1x Sam, 2xHugo)
  • Had 1 incidence of impetigo (Sam)
  • Had 1 confirmed ear infection (Hugo)
  • Had 6 incidences of stomach flu (Sam, Hugo, Mishi, Sam, Hugo, Hugo)
  • Had 1 bronchial infection (Mishi)
  • Had 8 colds (Mishi, Mishi, Hugo, Mishi, Hugo, Sam, Mishi, Mishi)
  • Had 1 sinus infection (Aimee)

 

In between I’ve been to hundreds of hours of classes, written 14 tests, 8 exams, 2 lab reports, 1 assignment and attended 2 Embalmings and 1 career fair.

 

Finding time to study has been difficult, to say the least.  But Aimee’s motto is, “We can do anything.  We’ve already done the hardest thing ever”.  And she’s right.  So we got through it.  WE as in me and my entire family.  I’ve never been so grateful for a break as I am now.  Three weeks off.  Whew.  And I’m doing it.  I can’t believe it.  I’ve wanted to go to school full-time since I was 20 years old.  It took 14 years, but I’m a full time student.  Amazing!

 

Now with school over until January, I’ve raised my head from the books, my butt from the desk and begun to look around again.  Suddenly…Christmas is almost here!

 

I can’t believe this is our second Christmas without Stella.  Since Stella’s diagnosis, we struggled with Christmas.  We first tried to do “Christmas Light” for Stella’s last Christmas.  Last year we also didn’t feel like celebrating whole-heartedly.  This year, though Aimee and I haven’t really talked about it or made any major decisions, it seems to have crept back in.  There is a tree in the corner.  Not the corner we put it in when Stella had DIPG (then we put it right next to the couch so she could see it), the old corner from when we were young and ignorant.  There are three stockings hung by the chimney with care (Stella, Sam, Hugo).  There are silver garlands on the mantle, a snowman candle on the table and candy canes in the cutlery drawer.

 

There is also a lineup of Santa photos on the living room hutch.  The first is Stella at 8 months in 2009, smiling happily and they continue through each year until the most recent one, taken just 2 weeks ago, where Sam sits on Santa’s knee with his face painted like Spiderman and Hugo is looking half-asleep (because he was sick and feverish that day).  It’s an interesting mix of photos.  Stella with Santa in 2009.  Stella with Santa in 2010.  Stella in 2011 (after diagnosis), and a serperate one of Sam and Santa from 2011, Sam and Hugo in 2012 and Sam and Hugo again in 2013.  Old life.  New life.  Crossover.

 

The tree is the same, a collision of old and new.  Picture of Stella in a “1st Christams” ornament, family ornaments with just Aimee and I (2008), Aimee, Mishi Stella (2009), Aimee, Mishi, Stella, Sam (2011) and in 2012, an ornament that says Aimee, Mishi, Sam, Hugo and Stella— but Stella’s name surrounded by angel wings, to show that she died.  Dora ornaments from when Stella was alive, mixed with an ice cream cone ornament my mom gave us after she died.  It’s still so crazy to try to separate “then” and “now”.

 

But, overall, like everything else in life, Christmas has snuck back into our lives.  The same, but different.  A little less magical and sparkly.  Less presents.  Less fuss.  Less agreement from Aimee and I to run around like crazy trying to see everyone.  But it’s still here.  Everything looks and feels different, but Christmas is still around us with its cookies and photo holiday cards from friends and Christmas lights.

 

Another Christmas without Stella.  A whole year since the last one.  I can’t believe how big the boys are getting.  Sam is almost 26 months old now and talking up a storm.  He is so different from Stella.  He is super cuddly and affectionate.  He is sensitive and says things like, “Mama, I cold!” before snuggling into my lap with a blanket and a bowl of crackers.  He gives Hugo a hug in the morning, totally without prompting and if you get mad at him he responds by bursting into tears (whereas Stella would often laugh in your face and run away).  He loves Toy Story and singing Jingle Bells and idolizes Gracie, just like Stella did. Hugo’s personality has started to slip out as well.  At 16 months old, he has proven himself an easy-going and cheerful child.  He plays quietly by himself a lot, and when he doesn’t get his own way has these tiny melt-downs where he stomps his feet, but they are so fleeting that even he doesn’t seem to remember that he was mad a moment ago.  He reminds most of us of my dad.  He loves balls and trucks and follows his cousin Xavier around (Zay-zay as Stella and all the boys call him), and doesn’t care if the bigger kids steal toys from him.

 

Both our sons know Stella.  Sam calls her his sister, and if you ask him about his family he says Hugo is his brother and Stella is his sister.  Whenever someone says Stella’s name, he looks at them solemnly and says, “Stella die.  Her body no work ‘nymore”.  For a few weeks he was saying, “Stella pie”, so this is actually an improvement.  Hugo and Sam each end their evenings by kissing the paintings we have of Stella (each by a blog reader) in their rooms.  She is still a presence in our lives, even though she is not here.

 

My friend Sheri sent me an article a couple of weeks ago that a woman wrote who had a stillbirth.  It was a conversation she was having with her almost-grown-up children, and it’s similar to the type of conversation we will have with our boys one day.  A conversation where they learn that our family is only the way it is because one child died.  A conversation where they try to understand how things could have been so different, but aren’t.  The article ends by saying that things can’t be any different than the way they are, because that’s just the way things worked out.  It’s the same for us, I guess.  I will never stop mourning Stella, but it won’t stop me from celebrating the life we do have and appreciating all the positive things we experience in our daily lives.  It’s not so much about moving on, it’s just about living life in honour of her.

 

I find myself trying not to be sad right now.  I avoid looking at the videos we have  because the loss is still so great and hurts so much.  Seeing her so alive on screen makes me ache from the inside out.  So I don’t do it.  I try not to look at little girls dresses and shoes when I’m out shopping.  I am growing a shell to defend myself.  I still bleed, I still feel the pain of our loss, but I am protecting myself more and making a concerted effort to focus on the positive.  Not because I want to forget how much losing Stella means,not because I don’t believe that I can still be sad and withdrawn if I want to, but because I am choosing to hear the Silver Bells, believe in Santa and sing all dozen verses of 12 Days of Christmas.

 

Because that’s what Stella would have done.

Gracie and GrandPa put the star on our tree:

IMG_0515Hugo and Sam clowning around with Auntie Heather:

IMG_0488Sam and Hugo, morning hug:

IMG_5656Little Elf:

IMG_5619Santa photo, 2013:

873xmas-022Letter Gracie sent us in the mail:

IMG_5698Stella…December 13, 2011:

IMG_3340

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download PDF

Thrive

Download PDF

There is a photo of Aimee and Stella and I that hangs on the fridge.  It was taken just before Stella turned 2 years old and the three of us are laughing into the camera.  It used to be in the centre of the fridge, one of the only things hanging there, but in the last 2 1/2 years it has become crowded out by new pictures.  Drawings from Gracie, photos of the boys, a well-used calendar, magnets.  Our fridge is a messy, crowded hodge-podge of moments all mashed together with no rhyme or reason.  It looks much like all my friends fridges.  Except for the scribbly painting made by our daughter is starting to turn a bit frayed and yellowed at the edges.  Other people have more updated art on their fridge, but ours is from 2011.  Over 2 years old already.

This morning I paused in the morning routine of getting the boys dressed and fed to run my fingers over the peripheral our photos, and straightened them out a little.  I remember so clearly the day each one was taken.  My favourite one of Stella is always in the centre, and I love it because I can hear Stella’s little cackle bursting through the glossy paper.  But it all seems so long ago and far away now.  It was before DIPG.  Before Sam.  Before Hugo.  Just photos on a fridge that don’t quite tell the heartbreaking journey we’ve been on.

I think I know now why so many DIPG families stop writing about their lives shortly after their children die.  It’s because life has a way of becoming mundane all over again.  You are forever changed by your experiences, but the world sucks you in with its normalcy and you feel as though you are too “normal” to write anything anymore.  But that’s not really true.  Once you’ve lived through something so profound and honest, nothing is the same anymore.  But most of the changes in life are small, so small that maybe nobody else would notice.  For me, the most obvious difference is that despite the fact I have gotten so much more lenient around things like forcing my children to do what I want when I want them to, I am actually operating at a much higher level of anxiety than ever before.  No matter what the situation, my mind tends to jump to “worst case scenario” now as opposed to “it’s nothing,” the way it used to before Stella’s diagnosis.  I remember quite clearly that when Stella first started exhibiting what would turn out to be her first symptom of DIPG (slight ataxia— a tiny wobble in her walk), I was quite annoyed at how “concerned” some people were about it.  Aimee and I avoided taking her to the Doctor for almost two weeks because we were fairly sure it was something completely benign that would clear itself up.  Likely the cheap sandals she insisted on wearing.  I would have bet my entire life savings that whatever was wrong with Stella, “it was nothing”.  But as you know, we were betrayed so deeply when she got some rare, random disease that took her away from us forever.

 

Now, whenever something “normal” happens, my mind always jumps to worse case scenario.  Last week Hugo was feverish- yet again- and I rushed him to Sick Kids Hospital, I was convinced he had Leukemia.  Fevers can be caused by any number of things, but he seems to get them so often.  Five minutes on Dr. Google and my mind had invented an entire future for myself that included watching another child suffer with cancer.  Even after the hospital gave him the “all clear” and assured me it was just gastroentinitis, I demanded a blood test to rule out Leukemia.  As I sat waiting for the results, I imagined having to tell Aimee what was wrong with our son.  Of course, everything came back totally fine and the Doctor assured me that Hugo is a perfectly healthy toddler just going through the regular bouts of “Daycare Sicknesses”.  When the Esthetician didn’t show up for a scheduled appointment on Friday, but I could see the lights on in her locked shop, instead of thinking that maybe she had forgotten or fallen asleep (which turned out the be what happened), I was fully convinced that someone had tried to rob her, and she was tied up somewhere in her store.  I was <this> close to calling the Police.  When I phone my dad one afternoon and he didn’t answer his phone over a period of three hours, I couldn’t concentrate on my classes at school.  I was sure he had a heart attack and was lying helplessly somewhere.  Turned out he had left his phone (on silent) in his jacket pocket. This inner turmoil that plagues me is exhausting.  It’s funny in a way, because if people asked me I would tell them that I’m doing really well.  That the stabbing pains in my heart are less acute.  That watching my boys growing up and playing together makes me smile.  That I am happy at school, and Aimee and I appreciate the small things in life more than ever giving us a sweeter and better quality of life.  But the truth is, even with all those wonderful things, I live under a huge amount of self-inflicted stress and anxiety.  It doesn’t matter if people say, “chances are it’s just…”, because I know that it doesn’t matter what chances are.  Sometimes the rare, horrific, terrible things happen.  Those “one in a million” bad things can and do happen.  I know this without a doubt, because it happened to me. Do you know that in 2011, there were 93.9 million children between the ages of 0-17 in North America?  Do you know that out of those 93.9 million children, only 300 of them were diagnosed with DIPG that year.  Thats one in 31 MILLION.  And one of them was my Stella.  So whenever someone tries to give me odds on something, they are truly meaningless to me.  It’s something I need to continue to work on.  To not expect that around every corner something horrible is waiting for me.  To try to accept all the blessings and good things that are in my life, without wondering when it will all come crashing down again.  I think the best way to do that is to continue trying to live “in the moment”.  To just be grateful for what is, not what might be even 5 minutes in the future.  Easy to say, difficult to do.  But I will keep trying.

 

Aimee and I have been seeing a psychiatrist since just after Stella was diagnosed.  Faithfully, every Tuesday we trek over to her office and sit down. Secure inside her beige walls, we let go of the public masks and say whatever is on our minds and in our hearts.  In the last two years, we have sobbed openly, raged, dug into our deepest fears, laughed, dreamed and lived all the highs and lows with our incredible Doctor.  After the latest session with her, she said to us, “You know, you’re not just surviving the death of Stella.  You’re thriving”.  It felt like a strange thing to say.  Our daughter dead only a year, and Aimee and I were thriving?  But I’ve been thinking a lot about it.  Mulling it over in my brain, flipping it from side to side and examining the words and the meaning behind them.  It’s true, I guess.  We have come out of the dark cave of despair and horror and entered the world of the living.  We ride the subway, go grocery shopping, host dinners with friends, fold copious amounts of laundry.  We aren’t hiding in our beds.  We aren’t immobilized by our grief.  And, funnily enough, if anyone asked me I could tell them honestly and without hesitation that we are happy.  Happy with our family and friends and house and work/school. There are still struggles sometimes.  I know I am struggling in my own mind with so many different things.  Struggling to accept that Stella is gone forever.  Struggling with my anxieties. Struggling with feeling selfish for going back to school and putting my family back into financial and emotional strain.  Struggling with loving to see Hugo and Sam together so much, yet knowing that they are only the way they are because Stella died.  Struggling to live each day with the purpose and meaning that I promised Stella I would.  But, despite the struggles, there is successes and love and joy surrounding us.

Just after our conversation with the psychiatrist, I happened to learn through school that the word “survive” comes from two Latin words, “vivo” meaning “to live” and “sur” meaning beyond.  So to survive is simply to live beyond something.  Curious, I then looked up the word thrive.  Turns out thrive comes from the word meaning, “to grow”.  So to thrive is to live and grow.  In this context, I guess our psychiatrist is right.  We are not just living beyond the death of Stella, we are growing and changing and learning from it.

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” ~James Thurber

Brudders:

IMG_5448

IMG_5470Sam:

IMG_5481

IMG_5598Hugo:

IMG_0401

IMG_5468Stella and I at the zoo, September 2011:

IMG_2640

 

 

 

Download PDF