Happy 17th Livvy xxx

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Today my daughter celebrates her 17th birthday, a birthday of pending adulthood the beginning of life on the road. Yet there will be no licence applied for or birthday hugs for me. Because my daughter is celebrating in heaven.

My heart is heavy today, the weight of missing drags upon it. 

I’m reminded of what is missed and what never got to be.

I’m trying so hard to focus on what we did and the memories we made, but 9 years will simply never be enough. 

I wonder what celebrations are like in heaven, do they have birthdays or is time and years past an earthly constraint? 

I wonder if someone has made her a cake, chocolate of course and are they singing her happy birthday again and again just to see the smile that lights up her face. Lights up your heart.

I wonder a lot, what does she look like, would her hair still curl around my finger? Does her blue eyes still sparkle with mischief? 

Sometimes I cannot breathe for missing my beautiful girl. My arms ache just to hold her again.

I often get lost in the anger, just so angry that I was robbed of my amazing girl. Bitter at the emptiness. 

But then I remember her, I remember my Livvy and her desire to live life to the max. Sometimes I wonder if she knew that she didn’t have forever because she packed so much in her days.

She loved people wholeheartedly, from her teachers to her sisters to us her parents. She has this way of making you feel like you were the only one in the room, as if you were so special to her. She made sure you knew she loved you. She didn’t need words her eyes were the windows to her soul, she looked deep inside of you, filling you with love. 

I am so grateful I got to be Livvy’s mom, I wouldn’t trade a moment, a minute. Even today in the minute of this extreme pain i know I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

Yet today I’m allowing myself to be sad, allowing the waves of grief to wash over me. Allowing the missing to be.

But tomorrow I will move on, I will do what she wants me to do. Continuing her legacy of love. I will love on her sisters and the brothers she has sent to us to love. I will plan the Livvy’s smile events, our forthcoming tea party and those yet to be planned. I will continue on, being brave just as she was. Hoping and praying I’m making her proud.

Happy birthday my beautiful girl, how I wish you were here to celebrate with me. How I wish we could eat chocolate cake until we were both sick. How I wish, how I wish….

  
Happy 17th Livvy, may heaven be singing for you today. I love you my precious girl xxxxx

  

Perfect sense

I was restless last night as I sat and tried to catch up with my weekly television programmes. I just couldn’t relax and I didn’t know why. 

I checked the oven, the doors and my diary but I just couldn’t work out what I was missing.

Then it hit me. 

I was listening out for Livvy, somehow I had stepped back in time to seven years ago. The Friday night ritual of Alan going out for the evening and me staying in caring for Livvy.

My mind was listening out for her noises. Her gentle snores or crazy giggles.

I was even waiting to eat with my sister and have one our much missed Friday night chats.

For those few moments I was in my before time. 

Before my heart broke.

Still I wasn’t allowed to stay for long.

Only seconds later the pain overwhelmed me. 

Like shadows slowly consuming the light.

My heart was beating so swiftly, my brain pounding against my skull.

Raw open wounds.

I don’t know why our brains do this to us? 

Flashbacks to moments we cannot hold on to.

Memories so real you can almost touch them.

I cried last night, gut wrenching sobs of missing.

Time really doesn’t ease your pain. 

I was so angry, the frustration of being able to do nothing dominated my mind.

Why,

Why,

Why?

Finally I could cry no more, my soul was empty, my tears exhausted.

I know I cannot go back, 

so many ways and so much time. 

But for that brief moment then I wasn’t broken.

For those few minutes life made sense.

Perfect sense 

First Aid Waves

The last two days have knocked the crap out of me. What I thought was just going to be a normal run of the mill First Aid course has actually be a major trigger for my grief.

Sitting there in the conference room when asked if anyone has ever used CPR my heart started to pound within my chest. 

My mind left the conference room right then, I was there back in the moment, the moment I have tried so often to forget. 

I breathe deep, drink a little water and try to bring myself back to the here and now.

Seizures “anyone saw a child seizure”, what ?? 

Yes too many.

Choking, Yes

Severe vomiting, Yes

Sometimes I don’t realise how much in life I have seen. Raising a disabled child opens you up to a world of medical practices, symptoms, treatments that many others will never face. 

Losing a child tragically, well let’s not go there. 

Too much 

and it just blooming hurts.

I’ve had to bury my head the last couple of days. 

Allowing the waves of grief to flow over me. 

Trying to change the horrid memories for good ones.

Burying them I guess.

Yet they won’t ever leave me.   

But life has to go on, 

I have to get my first aid certificate and will need to get it again in three years.

This is a requirement of the job I love.

So I ride the waves, 

Holding on tight to the good memories and learning to swim harder through the bad.

  

A body wobble 

This weekend I modelled at an amazing plus size fashion event Style XL. Whilst I had an amazing time I have come to realise that I’m not as far down the body confidence road that I wished I was.

For those that don’t know my journey I will briefly recap. 

I cannot say I’ve ever been a confident woman even back in the days when I was a size 8 dancer I would hide under layers of shapeless clothes. So when my illness left me carrying extra weight the clothes just got bigger and I just hid away more.

I would hide from the camera constantly. Always wanting to be the photographer never the photographed. 

Then Olivia died, and I found myself searching through all my photo albums for photos of myself and my beautiful girl. In the whole of her short nine years I had only taken three photos of us together, 3.

This realisation alone should have shocked me into taking more photos with my girls but it didn’t. In fact I couldn’t, you see I didn’t recognise myself anymore. The loss of Olivia left me struggling with who I was.

 I was lost in the grief.

Then about 4 years ago I came across the plus size community. Beautiful woman celebrating who they are. Loving their bodies as they were, not how society deems they should be. It was this amazing community and these inspiring woman who slowly started to allow me to piece my confidence together. 

I started taking family photos, making sure I was part of the memories.

Started taking little steps forward, dropping the layers after layers of shapeless clothes.

Skinny jeans, camisoles and even the occasional dress.

This journey wasn’t easy, I can promise you I deleted more photos than I shared. Yet slowly I began to like the woman I saw in the mirror. 

I began to recognise that she wasn’t all bad.

This time last year I walked on my first catwalk at Style XL and yes whilst I did shake on every step and barely spoke more than a few words it was a major personal achievement.

This year I was asked back again and this weekend I walked for 5 brands, how amazing is this. 

Yet like any journey in life sometimes we do lose our way a little and for me today I got lost. 

Somewhere I took a road back into the darkness. 

In fact I have completed fallen apart. 

Looking at the photos of the weekend event I couldn’t see how far I have come, just the woman I have self loathed for a long time.

Now I’m exhausted and I know that tiredness is one evil enemy , I mean how can one love themselves when they can barely lift their head off a pillow.

I’m in pain too and this always opens the door for the past self hate to walk right in.

So yes I’m struggling.

But as I shared this within the Plus size community I have been lifted.

Woman reminding me of all I have achieved this weekend.

Brands thanking me for wearing their clothes.

So in my darkness the light has began to shine a little again.

I’m starting to realise beyond the modelling I achieved a great deal this weekend. I may have not reached the place of body confidence I so desire but I have found myself a lot more.

I spent a wonderful weekend with woman I actually spoke to. I introduced myself more and gave out the hugs I’ve wanted to to give out for such a long time. For me this is massive and it’s something I need to see for the achievement it is.

Whilst it may take me longer to feel happy with my body I am finally happy with who I am inside.

This weekend I have laughed until I’ve cried.

I’ve chatted, met new people and caught up with the old.

But mostly I’ve been inspired.

Inspired to continue back down the road of body confidence. To accept that sometimes even the greatest journeys have setbacks but moving forward is the only thing I can do. I cannot go back to the lost woman I was, in fact I’m quite sure the amazing woman I get to call my friends wouldn’t allow me.

So now I’m just going to spent the next few days resting and hopefully as the tiredness and the pain eases I will finally be able to see all that I achieved this weekend. 

But before I do head back under the duvet I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you to the amazing brands that allowed me to wear their clothes this weekend and thank you to the beautiful woman of the plus size community, I don’t think you realise how much you all mean to me.

Grief is toxic 

I have travelled many roads in life but none has been or ever will be as long as grief.

Grief is a journey of twists and turns with gradients that rise and fall in a blink of an eye.

Sometimes the road is straight and the driving is smooth, then others are bumpy and hard to travel.

I honestly have no directions on this journey, I am beyond lost.

There are no guidelines or signs to help me through.

I’m just stumbling in the wilderness.

My heart is broken by loss, its torn apart by separation.

It crumbles a little more each time I see my children cry.

When they miss their sister.

When they ache to hold her. 

Grief is toxic.

It has no constraints, like a force beyond nature it invades the souls of many.

It cares not about age, about understanding.

From the young to the old it destroys.

I often wonder how to survive grief?

How to fight against an enemy so strong?

What weapons do I have?

Yet my heart is the victim and also the aggressor.

As it is torn apart by grief it still grows in love.

Love is an arrow that shoots into the very heart of grief.

The only defence.

The only attack. 

For once loved, one can love again.

For once loved one can hold on.

Though memories that curl around our hearts armour against destruction.

Grief may win many battles.

But it will not win the war.

Our Love will always conquer.

Because I was and always will be Livvy’s mom.

I knew her love.

I have her love.

In honour of Livvy

Saturday was an amazing day, we held a Livvy’s Smile Donkey Tea Party.

The sun shone for us, the donkeys behaved and memories were made.

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I had a truly wonderful time.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some new.

I got to listen to laughter as it filled the air.

I got to watch children cover themselves with chocolate and cream as they ate their cakes.

Donkey rides, cart rides and so much more.

Seriously it was awesome.

Yet as I sat at home editing the photos from the day my tears began to fall.

My heart just ached for the missing piece of my puzzle.

Whilst I was blessed with some amazing hugs from some truly incredible children my heart yearned for my little Tinkerbell.

Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary holds a special place in my heart.

Each corner is filled with the echo of my Olivia.

Those first steps she took defying the Drs.

The giggles as she rode her favourite donkey.

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The dirty looks she gave Amber when told to sit up straight.

So many moments, so many memories.

 

I was asked why we started Livvy’s Smile and why I hold events that bring me pain?

It is simple really we started Livvy’s Smile because we are so grateful.

So thankful for the wonderful memories we have stored from Livvy.

Memories that truly get us through the darkness and we just want to give that light to other families.

On Saturday we created those special memories full of chocolate eclairs and cool moms.

Memories that will give us hope through the hard times.

Why do I it when it causes me pain? 

Because I can and because I have to.

I was blessed to be Livvy’s mom, to get to call this amazing girlie my daughter.

Livvy changed my life. 

The realisation that we didn’t have forever taught me to live in the here and now.

To live a life full of laughter and love.

 

So yes hosting these events will always be bittersweet.

I’m sure I will always return home and cry for the missing piece of my heart.

But I will never stop working hard to create memories because each moment, each memory is in honour of my beautiful daughter.

Every smile I see brings her closer.

 

Yes, I know my heart will always ache,

Grief is relentless.

Like a snake it slowly twists around your heart until you cannot breathe.

Your body craves for one more breathe, one more moment.

So as the tears fall I know they do so in honour.

Each teardrop is formed in everlasting love.

Livvy is part of who I am and who I always will be.

Livvy’s Smile is testimony to eternal love. 

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Trigger points

I remember reading an article about the effects of grief on the mind. How many grieving parents, loved ones could suffer from a form of PTSD.

Post traumatic stress disorder is often though to be only related to soldiers, those many brave men and women who come home battle scarred. Who have seen more than most could imagine. I for one am not disputing how terrible and awful this is. Still it is true that post traumatic stress disorder can occur for different reasons. It could happen to a victim of a crime, a witness of a traumatic event a harrowing close call , etc.

So yes I can see grief causing PTSD in fact let’s be honest I think I could venture out and say that grief could actually be at the heart of it. Grief is the extreme sadness at the loss of something and in all cases I have mentioned there is an element of loss.

Soldiers have lost part of themselves through all they have witness.

Victims of crime have lost part of themselves to the perpetrator.

Whatever has happened, who ever caused it the event has taken away who you were before it. So yes you have lost a part of you.

I know I lost a part of me when Livvy died. I changed right there and then. I could never go back to the person I was before. I had lost my daughter. How could it not have changed me? What greater loss is there than the loss of a child?

This article was trying to get people to really understand how badly one could be effected by grief. How what some would state as a mental condition is actually also a physical condition.

How we need to accept and understand our trigger points.

Personally this all made sense, I know there are places, smells even people that cause my heartbeat to race. That when I am at a certain place or I smell a certain aroma ,I see or hear certain things I am transported back into the time when I was there with Livvy.

This is often beyond just memories, take for example the local emergency unit I cannot enter it without feeling nauseous. It was there I left my beautiful girl. Even now still the siren of an ambulance makes me tremble.

Triggers aren’t always expected either they can hit you when you least expected. Like only the other day when I was at the children’s hospital.  I was sitting there minding my own when a girl passed me with blond crazy curls. My body shook and  I could have just sobbed right there and then.

Being truthful I had expected to be little upset. I had spend so long in this hospital with Livvy. I could see her in the corridors, the cafe everywhere. So maybe my body was primed, but blond curls, seriously.

I actually had to pinch myself to stop me from falling apart. Here I was trying to be brave for my foster son, losing it wasn’t an option. Well, it wasn’t until a few hours after when in the privacy of my bedroom I could let the tears fall.

I guess why I’m sharing this is because sometimes we need to understand our minds and our body’s and how one can seriously effect the other. Also I think we need to be kind to ourselves a little more.

Grief in any form is a powerful thing. Maybe you are grieving the loss of a friendship, job, marriage. Maybe like me you heart is forever broken by the loss of a child. I don’t know. Yet understanding that this loss changed you is the only way you can more forward. It’s not easy and their will always be triggers but to put it simply life goes on. Even when at times you don’t want it to.

Listen to both your mind and your body and understand that sometimes being brave isn’t an option.

be kind to yourself