BlueBird

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Sam, Hugo and Poppa enjoy Popcorn on the deck

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Stella at the cottage, August 2009

 

There are good and bad things about staying in the same city, with the same group of friends, in the same physical environment when your child has died.  The good things are you know who your true friends are— the ones who stuck by you, who came out of the woodwork, who called and emailed even when you didn’t respond.  You don’t have to explain to these people why you disappear when everyone sings “Happy Birthday” to one of the kids at a party, why you tear up when you see backpacks in store windows, why your heart aches when you see pictures of your child’s peers on facebook with the tagline “BFFs”.  They get it and they love you even though you’re totally messed up.  The street and the house you live in echo with memories of when your child ran here.  The playgrounds and libraries house recollections of a time long gone where you lived in blissful ignorance.  The local play centre has a little corner dedicated to her memory.  These things are comforting at times, painful at others, but there is something soothing and reassuring about familiarity.  About knowing where you are and how you got there. 

 

Lately though I’ve been finding that, once in awhile, I just want to disappear.  Go somewhere that I’m anonymous, where I shed the stigma of being the parent of a dead child.  Whenever I run into someone on the street and they’re with someone I don’t know, I am aware that once I keep walking there will be a whispered conversation about “She’s the one whose daughter died…”  I don’t really mind, after all, I’d do exactly the same thing, but it makes me self-conscious.  Sometimes it’s nice to get away from all that.  To go to a place where you’re not constantly looking over your shoulder to see who you know, prepping yourself for a stilted conversation, or worse, running into someone from your baby group who gushes about kindergarten starting in the Fall.

 

Enter BlueBird.  BlueBird is the name of a cottage that we have been staying at this summer.  It’s a two hour drive from Toronto, so easy to go back and forth.  It’s located in a small town that has a grocery store, library, post office, ice cream booth and playground.  It’s on the water, surrounded by pine trees and when I’m there, I feel free.

 

I think sometimes we underestimate the affect that the city can have on our bodies, and minds.  It is a constant hammering of sensory information.  Noise and signs and lights and voices.  Go two hours North of Toronto and you can actually see the stars, hear the birds and taste the freshness of the local strawberries.  I can physically feel my shoulders releasing as we turn down the dirt road to where BlueBird waits, I feel my forehead smoothing and my lungs expanding.  Half the time I don’t even realize my head was hurting until I see the little brown cottage come into view, and all of a sudden the tightness and pain around my heart and temples eases up a bit.

 

I’ve been spending more and more time there this summer.  BlueBird is part of a group of 10 cottages on a private property.  It’s secluded and though it can be quiet, it is also teeming with life.  All the cottagers have children, so splashing water and laughter and shouts of joy are a welcome part of the environment.  BlueBird is just a small, clapboard type building with tiny rooms and mismatched furniture.  But it is cozy and beautiful and I love it.

 

When I’m up there with Hugo and Sam, I feel like I’m a better parent.  Without the distractions of television, cell phones, computers and scheduled classes, I am able to just focus on them.  We go swimming on the beach, visit the local library for Toddler Storytime, walk into the dollar store for bubbles and cheap toys, try to spot turtles and bunnies, feed the ducks and roast marshmallows on the fire.  I laugh at their antics, watch in fascination as they figure out how to dig holes with shovels and fill them with water. “Mud Puddle!” Sam exclaims excitedly to me.  When I’m at BlueBird, or in town, I’m just another parent with two young children.  Other mothers at the library make conversation with me, completely oblivious to Stella’s existence.  Though I do want to talk about her, once in awhile it’s nice to be able to let my guard down and join an inane conversation about potty training, without letting on that I’ve done it once before.  There are a few cottagers who know about Stella, but because none of them knew Stella personally, interactions about her are not as intense or emotional as they can get in the city.

 

It’s a balance.  There are times I want nothing more than to shout Stella’s name and talk about her incessantly, seek out those who loved her and talk about her.  There are other times I want to retreat and hide and pretend that I’m not a grieving mother.  Time when I don’t want to go to the same playgrounds that Stella skipped through, or attend the same parties with her friends who continue to get bigger and older while my daughter will stay forever 3.  And so I have spent the summer going back and forth—straddling my old life and a new beginning.  BlueBird is a place where I don’t have strong memories of Stella.  Funnily enough, I did bring her there once when she was 4 months old, but she was so little and we were in a different cottage, so I don’t have deep feelings about it, or any memories of her using any of the facilities other than the beach.  I realized recently that BlueBird is the first place where Aimee and Sam and Hugo and I have started to make new family traditions, doing things I never did with Stella.  I see it as an important step forward for our future.  We are building new memories, finding our way in a place where we don’t start every sentence with, “Remember when Stella threw her doll from the top of this slide”?

 

I find it easier to mourn Stella in a healthy way up at BlueBird.  In a physical location where I’m not pinned in by people and expectations.  Where I can sit and look at the water as I sip a hot tea, allowing myself to think about her in a natural and organic way.  It is good for my soul to be up there, and I always feel refreshed when I step out of the car.  Something about the wind and the water and the quiet is a balm for my bruised soul.

 

I recently found out that traditionally, the Navajo believe the BlueBird is a spirit in animal form that has to do with the rising sun.  They sing a song to remind tribe members to wake at dawn and rise to greet the sun:

 

Bluebird said to me,

“Get up, my grandchild.

It is dawn,”.

 

I believe we were meant to find peace at BlueBird.  It is so fitting that the BlueBird is a reminder to get up and greet the new day, because that is what Aimee and I and our friends and family do every morning.  We greet each day with the knowledge that it is another day without Stella, but with faith that we will find our peace and be buoyed by the love we carry for her in our hearts.

 

“The bluebird carries the sky on its back”

– Henry Thoreau

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Toddler boys hungover on the cottage deck. Too many marshmallows. Groan.

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Breakfast at BlueBird- popcorn by the fire

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Neighbour Ken and Sam enjoy the early morning view from BlueBird

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Sam roasting marshmallows

 

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Freckles (By: Aimee)

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Freckles (By: Aimee)

One of the things I love most about Mishi is her freckles.  Every summer, the sun lures them out and they form frames around her eyes.  I LOVE them.  When we found out that Mishi was pregnant I knew, that whether we had a boy or a girl, either way – he or she would have freckles.  When Stella burst her way into the world, curls and all, one of the first things I checked for as my eyes darted from head to toe was any trace of freckles.  I didn’t realize that freckles actually don’t show up on kids until they’re toddlers.  It took me months after Stella was diagnosed to realize the sick reality of many things, one of which was that we would likely never get to see freckles on Stella’s face because she would die before they had a chance to appear.

 

Over the past two weeks, we’ve ventured out into the land of the living as a family, making a few trips up to a cottage that my mom rented on the beach where my sister and I spent all of our summers growing up.   For me, visiting Thunder Beach is like going home.  It’s a sacred place where a group of old friends and I spent every waking hour together for a precious window of time each summer, year after year.  This was Stella’s fourth summer up at the cottage.  The first two summers were both as tiring and amazing as one could imagine it would be when introducing a baby/toddler to sand and water for the first time.  Last summer, our trip to the cottage was comforting and gut wrenching at the same time.  Back then, we were still in the throws of the shock that Stella was going to die, and the adrenaline that keeps you afloat just long enough to survive such a reality was starting to fade in our systems.  This year, when my mom said she was going to rent the cottage again, I though she was crazy.  There was no way we were going to make it up there with Mishi – a few weeks from giving birth and Stella sinking slowly but surely into the end of her life.  She did it for Gracie.  Going to the cottage is Gracie’s favourite thing to do and right now, all of us would do anything to make her happy.  My thoughts about the cottage rental quickly changed however, one day when Mishi asked Stella if she wanted to go to Tutu’s cottage.  Immediately she pushed out her own muffled version of “yeaaahhhh” followed by sticking out her tongue (which means “yes”) to seal the deal.  Within hours, we had our travel bags down from the attic and Mishi was already making a packing list.

 

A few days later it was go time.  We packed the van, strategically tucked Stella into her car seat so that she was comfortable and that her head didn’t flop all the way down onto her chest, and away we went.  Stella and Sam both slept almost all the way on the 1hr 45 minute trip.  My stomach was fluttering with worry on the drive up over whether or not Stella would have fun at the cottage.  She used to love it so much but sometimes it’s hard these days to predict what she’ll want or have enough energy to do.  When we arrived, Stella’s eyes got really wide very fast.  The door on the van swung open, Stella smiled and my heart was full.  As we went through the gate and she saw the cottage her entire face lit up and out came that “yeaaahhhhh” again.  Stella was glad to be at the cottage.  Within minutes, Gracie, Tutu, Auntie Andgie, Auntie Juju and Buddy the dog, emerged from the beach and the cottage was brimming with screeches, hugs and smiles.  When we ventured down to the beach, Stella’s face lit up again as she listened to Gracie explain the order in which we would play and do activities for the afternoon.  Stella’s energy that day was amazing.  Her eyes were open and her face was bright.  She was alert.  She was up for anything we asked her to do.  In less than a three hour span, she built sand castles on the beach with Tutu, went swimming in the lake with her Auntie Juju and Auntie Andgie, splashed Sam and covered him with sand, went in the kayak with Gracie, napped in her mama’s arms and fed Buddy treats in the shade.  For the first time in a long time, I felt happy.  I was happy that Stella was happy.  Waves of sadness followed like they always do.  Sadness for what could have been as I watched other parents chase their kids around the beach but thankfully, these feelings didn’t last long.  There was no time for that.  Stella had too much to do at the beach.

 

After sitting on the couch, watching an episode of Stella and Sam while holding hands with Gracie, Stella made her long awaited trip to the store for ice cream.  As we set out for the short walk to the store, Gracie pulled the large, red wagon that Stella was laying in.  When the store was in sight, Gracie all of a sudden took off, pulling the wagon at what seemed to us like an uncontrollable speed.  We all gasped and chased after her to make sure that Stella was safe.  When I got far enough in front of them so that I could look back and brace myself to grab the wagon and pull it to the side of the road, there was Stella – her head bouncing back and forth off of the various pillows we stuffed around her, legs crossed in what looked to be the most uncomfortable position possible, and a HUGE smile on her face.  In fact, she was letting out a belly laugh that I haven’t heard in months.  We all looked at each other with a shared feeling of weightlessness.  Stella was elated to be at Toula’s store.  Toula, the lovely woman who (along with her family) owns and runs the corner store, is loved by all who know her – including Stella.  Last year Stella spent half her time at the cottage having stand – off’s with us as she would yell “I want to go see Toula NOW!”  As we wheeled her into the store, her face lit up and there was Toula waiting to give her ice cream.  Stella had so much fun that day that we decided to stay the night.

 

Mishi and I continue to be amazed at the love, kindness, generosity and support of others throughout this journey.  It’s the foundation that holds us up and we would not be able to start each day without it.  When we arrived at Thunder Beach, an old friend had already dropped off a tray full of sandwiches for us.  In the morning, another friend appeared on the beach with Timbits for Stella – a morning ritual that she shares with her Poppa.  Thanks to a few childhood friends and an army of incredible people that make up the Thunder Beach community, Stella now has a beautiful playhouse that was built in honour of her.  Our friends decided that they wanted to honour Stella in the best way they knew how – building her own playhouse.  Stella’s absolute favourite part of the cottage is a small, plastic playhouse that sits in the local park.  Last year, she spent all her time there, operating a Tim Horton’s drive through out of the window.  She would sell us Double Doubles for $400 and bagels for $5.  She called it “my playhouse”.  The playhouse has just been completed and has a sign over the door that reads “Stella’s Place.”  Thunder Beach has always had a piece of my heart and now it holds part of my soul sitting just inside the white fence at the Club House.

 

After that trip, we went back up to Thunder Beach again and then one more time after that.  This time, we took Auntie Heather and Xavier and once again, Stella had a blast (especially when Auntie Heather squished herself into Stella’s plastic playhouse).  We ended our jam-packed week of cottaging, camping and sunshine almost happy, rejuvenated and exhausted all at the same time.  Shortly after our adventurous week started to wind down, Mishi made a discovery that filled my soul from the inside out – just under Stella’s right eye is the first dusting of freckles.

 

Somehow, amidst the cruel reality of the tragedy and profound loss already caused by Stella’s tumour – both Mishi and I find true comfort in her freckles.

 

Pictures from Thunder Beach, Summer 2012:







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Living with a brain tumour

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 Living with a Brain Tumour 

I was reminded by a very good friend last night that Stella is not “dying of a brain tumour” at the moment, she is LIVING with a brain tumour.  That really struck me.  Stella has no idea what the future holds for her, so right now she is simply living each day to the fullest and having the best summer a 2-year old could imagine.  Sometimes I picture her thinking to herself, “I knew my mommies were holding out on me all those times they sent me to daycare!”.  Now her days are filled to the brim with trips to the park, Riverdale Farm (her absolute favourite!), playmates with friends, lots of cottage trips and all the ice cream you can eat.  I’ve never seen her so happy, and it really contrasts with my own face in the mirror which looks so old and haggard nowadays.  Stella is living…so ironic since often I feel like I’m the one who is slowly dying…she is so damn ALIVE and Aimee and I want soooo badly to keep up with her.

I think the trick for us is trying to learn to love each day with the same abandon that Stella does.  As her parents, we know too much of what the future holds…that soon our daughter will begin to lose her ability to walk and talk and eat and breathe…we find it difficult to find freedom in the absolute bliss of childhood that Stella is experiencing right now because we are dreading the future so much.  Living one day at a time sounds easy to do, but in reality even living one minute at a time sometime proves to be too much of an effort.  I think about how busy our lives were just 6 weeks ago…both parents working full time, both of us going to school part time, rushing here and there and everywhere.  Now we are suspended in time…not moving forward, yet not moving backwards either.   Most times I have no idea what day it is, if it’s a weekend or weekday, morning or afternoon.

 

I think in the years to come when I look back at our time with Stella, I’ll always think about her laughing.  She has such a free laugh, the kind of laugh that us adults wish we could have all the time…those honest-to-goodness laughs that shake your belly and open your mouth wide as though you can taste the laughter in the sweet air.  Her laughs are genuine and free and frequent.  Having spent so much time with Stella in the last month, I feel like I’ve really gotten to get to know her.  I didn’t realize until recently what an absolute ham she is.  I didn’t know that her favourite flavour of ice cream is vanilla.  I didn’t know she liked the colour pink or that she adores birds.  It’s an odd feeling to THINK you know your child and everything about them, but then to realize that isn’t true.  This time we’ve been given with Stella is a precious gift, but I’m almost afraid to open it anymore because it already cuts my heart into a million pieces to imagine life without her.  She’s still here, she’s still “her” and yet I miss her terribly already in all the thoughts about my future.  I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to look at the other kids in the playground without feeling bitter and jealous…I wonder if I will ever celebrate a birthday again (Stella and I share the same one).  I wonder if my heart will ever stop hurting.

 

There was a story about Stella on Global News Tuesday night (check out “for Stella” link if you didn’t get a chance to see it).  We watched it and were both awed and horrified.  Awed at the amazing people who came out to a fundraiser for our daughter, and horrified that this was our life that was on the 11 o’clock news.  That is was really our daughter that the newscaster narrated was a “normal two year old” with a “brain tumour who has three months to live”.  Sometimes Aimee and I just look at each other in disbelief that “those people” are really us.

 

We are so lucky to have such incredible families and networks of support.  I have no idea how we would do it if strangers and friends didn’t continue to let us know on a daily basis that they care about us and they want to help us make sure Stella’s life, short as it will be, is going to totally kick ass.  I feel helpless a lot of the time, but I never feel hopeless and, on most days, that makes all the difference when it comes to getting out of bed and greeting our daughter with a smile.

 

Off to another cottage this weekend, off to make more memories, off to eat more ice cream and experience life through the eyes of a two year old with no fears and no worries.  Laughing little imp. Wide mouth, little white teeth, mop top of curly hair, LIVING with complete abandonment and reminding us with each smile that for one more day at least, we get to hear the music of her laugh echoing off our hearts.

 Stella on the dock:

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naptime musings

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I’m writing this entry while Stella naps contentedly beside me.  Her head is a sweaty mass of curls and her little bum is in the air as she breathes evenly, her arms tucked underneath her chubby stomach.  Sometimes a giggle escapes her lips, once in awhile she murmurs something.  Stella has always laughed and talked in her sleep, it’s one of my favourite things about her.  I always try to guess what she’s dreaming about…maybe Abby the cat that licked her hand, or Poppa’s antics in the waves of Kincardine???

 

Today (Sunday) at our friends Ray and Brad’s cottage, even though it’s only 1pm we’ve already had a full day.  Stella has watched a series of Olivia episodes on DVD, played with/tortured Ray’s family dog Brody, read books, danced, played on the dock, gone for a boat ride, ridden on some swings, eaten an ice cream cone and tired out completely the four adults that have been taking turns watching her since she bounded out of bed at 5:30am this morning.  And once she wakes from her nap we’ve still got a good 5 hours to fill.  Since the day she was born, Stella has exuded a love of life and experiences and never ceased to both amaze and exhaust us.

 

Aimee and I have come to this cottage every year on this same weekend since before Stella was even born.  As she lies here next to me, I still find it hard to believe that she won’t come here again.  It’s a truly bizarre feeling to look at your child as a ticking time bomb.  When they originally gave us her diagnosis, they guessed she had about 3 months to live.  That was over a month ago and her condition is still pretty baseline.  It frustrates me not to know when she’ll start deteriorating more.  Obviously I prefer to have her like this—happy, functioning, still very much the Stella I know and love—but part of me also wants to fast forward to the part when the hurting is over and we can start rebuilding our lives again.  I don’t want Stella to get sicker, but I feel like I need to have some sort of proof that there will be an end to this limbo at some point.  Right now it just feels as though it’s a cruel joke because Stella is still Stella— bright, curious, cheerful, energetic, incredibly demanding and stubborn Stella.  I can’t explain adequately how much a blessing this time with her is—but it comes at such a price.  To spend so much time with her—more time than we’ve ever spent in our lives as a family, is to love her more and more each day.  And with that immense love comes the knowledge that we’re going to lose her.  It’s so incredibly unfair and makes my stomach curl with hot rage whenever I think too hard about it.

 

Today, I feel tired and defeated.  I don’t always feel that way, but today I do.  When the diagnosis of a DIPG tumour first happened, we were swarmed at the hospital with multitudes of friends and family.  It felt as though with the diagnosis, Stella had already died as we all hugged each other and cried.  I never guessed that the initial news would be the easy part.  The hard part is living with a dying child.  5 weeks after our lives were turned upside down, almost everyone else has returned to their daily lives.  People are working, other peoples children are going on weekend trips to Centre Island and making their parents laugh with their antics, work friends are embroiled in PowerPoint presentation stresses, peoples Facebook status updates have returned to mundane comments on politics and potty training.  It’s not that we’re forgotten—far from it, I know that everyone we love thinks about us everyday.  It’s just that I get frustrated that other people get to have a break from being sad and scared and Aimee and I don’t.  We live and breathe it every second of the day.  I never forget, I can’t forget, even for one millisecond that my child is going to die sometime soon.  Maybe not as soon as the three months they originally guessed, but soon.  It’s completely exhausting to get up everyday and parent and live and eat and shower with this huge weight on our hearts making it hard to even breathe sometimes. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining because that’s not the intention at all.  I just wish I could escape sometimes and remember what it’s like to not hurt all the time.  I miss the ability to feel truly happy.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever experience pure happiness ever again.  Every laugh I utter sounds so hollow to me, every smile is twisted with sadness and every moment that Stella hugs me is both comforting and heartbreaking at the same time.

 

Every single day, at least once or twice, I curl myself into the fetal position and cry and cry and feel my heart hammering in my chest as I question over and over again how this has become my life.  But I never get an answer. Eventually I peel myself up of the bed and go find Stella, who is inevitably waiting expectantly for me with a book in her hand or a request to go to visit Riverdale Farm with Flora, Arin and Gracie.  She and our baby-to-be are the only reason I can get myself up right now. Aimee and I feel like we live our lives in a daze.  We are consumed with giving Stella the best life we possibly can—perhaps to the detriment of our own lives.  We barely have time to stay in touch with our family and work friends because every moment of every day is spent thinking about Stella, being with Stella, making her happy.  We have taken 1000 photos in the last month trying desperately to capture every smile, every moment, every pore of her hands and glimpse of mushy banana on her rosy cheeks.

 

For now we are trying to live in the moment, and at this exact moment for me that means lying next to my sleeping child and feeling her breath on my face as she sleeps innocently and contentedly with the sounds of the water, birds and laughing children on the lake as our lullaby.

 

I used to wonder how parents with sick or dying children did it.  Now I know that the answer is they do it because they have no other choice.  In those first moments after you bring a child into the world and you look down at them and you promise you will do anything for them, that really means anything.  And for our family, it means forever living life with a piece of our hearts missing— gone forever, but held securely by a pair of chubby hands with chipped green nail polish somewhere out there in the universe.

 

Stella enjoying one of her many un-birthday, birthday celebrations:

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cottages and cancer

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In a few days, Stella, Aimee and I will head to our third cottage in three weeks.  Thank-you SO much to everyone who has made these trips possible with your offers, donations, time and ice cream money!

It’s a strange feeling; to have an entire summer off together and be surrounded each day by family and laughter, water, sky, sand and fun but still bear the weight of the reason this is all happening—because this will be Stella’s last summer.  Our daughter is going to die.  It still feels strange to say that…to write it and think it.  But it’s true and nothing we can do or say will change that reality.

Luckily, physically, Stella is still doing extremely well.  Her ability to walk has deteriorated markedly in the month since she was diagnosed…exactly a month and two days since we got the news.  Still so hard to believe…already a month…only a month…how many months left???  But although her walking has deteriorated and her hands are much shakier, she is completely unaffected by all of it.  She just asks to be carried a lot more and is careful to hang onto things when she walks.  But she still walks…runs…dances this funny little flat footed stomp that knocks her over each time, and each time she tumbles she just laughs and pushes herself back up to resume dancing.  Stella is still so easy to make laugh.  Her giggles fill our days. She’s energetic, funny, and a little imp.  When you say “no” to her she laughs her head off and does whatever she was doing even more.  Despite everything that is going on inside her little body, she is just a 2-year old at heart.  She still has trouble sharing and needs time outs, still refuses to take her medicine unless her new puppet “Carrot” gives it to her, still makes us laugh and cry each day.

Stella has been adoring her cottage trips.  She isn’t exactly one for water or beaches, but she LOVES parks and playgrounds and sitting on our laps watching other kids run in the water and sand.  And she has been having a blast trying to keep up with her three year old cousin, Gracie.  Gracie loves the water and the sand whereas Stella doesn’t like to go near it. But once in awhile she can be persuaded by her aunties to dip her feet in— but ONLY when she has socks on, which makes it all the funnier to watch.

At our current cottage rental, inThunderBeach, there is a park with a tiny house.  Stella has turned it into her personal coffee house and it’s hilarious to hear her repeat the things she must hear us say at restaurants/drive ins.  She always asks us if we want a double-double (Aimee) or a large tea with milk (Mish).  Sometimes she offers us hamburgers or doughnuts from her little window as well and warns us “it’s hot!” as she blows on her imaginary creations. Her prices are outrageous (two hundred dollars, Mama), but the service and her little giggles when we hand over our leaf money is totally worth it.

Sometimes while she’s chatting to her imaginary customers in the little house I wander over to the swings.  I like to swing higher…higher…higher and close my eyes and remember what it was like to be a kid “flying” through the air without a care in the world.  Usually a giggle from nearby wakes me from my daydream and I look down to see my curly-haired daughter laughing in glee at my swinging.  It stops my heart every time and makes me want to just leap from the swings and let the wind take me far, far away from this reality.  It’s so crazy.  How can Stella be standing next to me, so full of love and life, and yet have a brain tumour steadily working away beneath those red curls, taking away her faculties and slowly shutting down her beautiful smile…how can I imagine that next summer I will sit in this same playground with her baby brother, only she won’t be playing in the little house, chasing Gracie or calling, “Mama come see me do it by myself!”.  After we leave this cottage she’ll never see this beach or this park again.  Soon her smiles, the warmth of her breath against my cheek as she naps, her chubby hands held tightly in mine will only be a memory.  It doesn’t seem possible, my head has accepted the reality but my heart can’t process it yet.

On Saturday afternoon I laid down for a nap and had a bad dream.  I dreamt that I was sleeping in bed and a huge, fat cat plopped itself on my feet and sunk its needle-like teeth into my ankle.  I could hear all these people nearby talking and laughing, but I couldn’t open my eyes and I tried to scream for help, but couldn’t catch my breath.  I kept opening my mouth to scream but no sound would come out.  When I finally woke up, I was in a full blown panic attack and couldn’t catch my breath for real.  I realized afterwards that the dream is really how I feel about this whole situation— there is always a scream just below the surface that is struggling to escape, but I can’t catch my breath enough to let it out, so I just feel pain all the time, and there’s nothing to be done about it.  I want so badly to scream at the injustice of it all…at the pain…at the loss…at the world.  But I can’t.  Aimee and I have to keep waking up each morning and greeting our daughter with open arms and open hearts and even though it hurts so badly to love her so much, we have to do it for her and for the promises we made to her and each other as parents.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Donations, cards, kind words and offers continue to pour into our family.  We cry each and every time we get a card, hear that someone has thought of us or done something nice for us.  It’s an incredible feeling to be physically, financially and emotionally held up by such a huge community of special people.  The lessons Aimee and I are learning through this experience go far beyond our life with Stella.  We are learning everyday lessons in kindness, humility, gratitude, graciousness, generosity and love.  It’s ironic to feel so lucky at this time in our lives, but we do.

Headed to another cottage this weekend and looking forward to creating more more timeless memories with our beautiful angel-to-be.  Thank-you again to everyone…those we know and those we don’t.  You are all each a precious part of this miracle of community we are experiencing.

Love,

Aim, Mish& Stella

Stella cottaging with Poppa, Mama and Auntie Heather in Kincardine:

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