Christmas present.

I cannot believe it’s Christmas in a few days. I have struggled with Christmas for as long as I can remember without going into details I have finally started to understand how childhood trauma can create a fear that may not seem reality to most but to those who have PTSD can be often overwhelming.

This is me.

I’ve tried for so many years to create the perfect Christmas to break the patterns of fear in my mind and to make sure those patterns were never created for my children. I wanted their memories of Christmas to be filled with wonder and excitement. I believe for them I have done this for myself it’s still a game of pretend.

Whilst I love the illusion of Santa I have never played the you better be good card on my children. The gifts they receive on Christmas Day are those bought by those that love them. We honour the tradition of Santa but also we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yet there is no guarantees on what will be under the tree, yes we have listened to your wishes but also it is what can be afforded etc etc. But for me it’s about teaching the children about the love of the season, not making promises I cannot keep.

I listen to my children and live to see their faces when they receive something that had mentioned a while ago, it’s not about the gift it’s about the being heard.

This Christmas I’m struggling, it’s seems fear is the only thing I’ve managed to wrap and place under my tree. My anxiety has been on steroids I’m so tired of being fearful. So fed up of the nightmares of Christmas past I really wish Jacob Marley would just past to the light and leave me alone.

Christmas spirt just seems to be further away then ever. Yet for some reason this year my acting skills have left me I cannot pretend anymore I’m broken. Please don’t ask me what I want for Christmas I cannot cope with expectations. I was working on them but that Covid bitch stole my progress along with everything else.

I just don’t want to engage with the excess of Christmas I just want to hold Daniel in my arms and read him stories, watch some Christmas films and just be. I don’t want the noise, I want the calm and the peace. I mean Christmas is the celebration of the birthday of the prince of peace so why shouldn’t it be tranquil and gentle.

What do we have to go big and loud?

Why does it have to be too much?

Why does it have to be so full of fear?

Covid of course has done a dirty again on the season along with Christmas carols came the rising numbers. New variants, new restrictions and a new dose of blooming fear. I mean can Santa even visit if he has to quarantine after every sleigh flight? Seriously though how can people build joy without knowing what will happen.

It’s sucks it all sucks.

Yet I’m going to try and fight back, fight through the memories and try and change my own thought patterns. Try to learn to love the season again. Maybe understanding and acknowledging the past will allow me to fully embrace the future. Obviously working hard on your mental health in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t been easy but what else do I do with all this down time it’s not like I’ve been able to go anywhere (yes there is bitterness there). Covid is like a dodgy ex you think he is going away but no comes back with all the extra drama, showing up when unwelcome, bringing chaos and pain with it.

Yet allowing myself to feel has been worth it, sometimes the memories and emotions have felt more than I can face, but face them I have and although I may have boxed a few for another or never time, I have learned more about myself than ever. I know who I am deeper than ever before. Which is a mixture of bad and good, I mean we all have things we wish to change about ourselves.

So I am going to enjoy Christmas not in the excess way of the tv adverts or holiday promotions say it should be but our way. I am going to curl up under a blanket with Daniel and so many stories to share. I am going to veg out on the sofa and watch Christmas films that are cheesy and full of hope. I’m going to enjoy good food without the expectations of fancy tables and decorated plates. I’m going to cook extra and bless my elderly neighbours with a Christmas dinner I hope they enjoy and I’m going to breathe deep.

I’m allowing the past to wash over me and build myself memories that are different. The past doesn’t have to haunt you, you are allowed to leave it when it belongs in the days gone before you.

So bog off Christmas past and hello Christmas present, please leave the chains behind you.

To just miss you.

Sometimes I wish for the innocence of a child. If I ignore it then it will go away, fingers in my ears means I cannot hear it. If I don’t believe then it’s not real.

But it is and I’m not.

My innocence has gone

I tried so hard to hold on but into the ground it went with you.

I mean how do you bury your child then believe the world is a good place?

How does your heart break and you still have hope?

I live a seasaw existence trying to believe through a curtain of pain and missing.

How do I have Hope, when Hope was lost?

It’s been 13 years since I lost you, 13 years to the day the whole world should of ended. How dare this world continue without you a part of it.

Grief is unfair and cruel, spiced with an extra splash of agony.

Time is a healer is the biggest lie, fraudulent words whispering off so many tongues.

I will never accept losing you, your death was not a experience for growth or a period of learning. It’s a evil, awful thing that tortures daily.

Don’t ask me to rise upon it today, today on your anniversary I get to speak my truth. My words not shielded in polite conversation. I’m angry, I’m hurt and I’m furious at God.

Why why why?

Don’t ask me to look at Daniel and be thankful that I have him now. Yes my love for him infinite but one child doesn’t not replace another. Daniel is a unique blessing on his own accord not a replacement for Livvy. That would be unfair to us all. You don’t just pop to the store to replace a child, here you go have a new one,all is better.

Don’t ask me to pretend today, pretend that this world is still a place full of joy and love and light when my brightest light is missing. Don’t tell me she shines in heaven, yes maybe she does but I’m not there and I cannot see it and I’m selfish like that.

Don’t ask me to understand if you have forgotten her or what day this is. Because how bloody dare you, if you were lucky enough to be loved by her how dare you forget that gift.

Screw time moves on or life changes she was a gift that you should forever cherish. I’m not understanding today, not being forgiving I’m raw I’m angry and I don’t understand.

My beautiful beautiful Livvy how can it be 13 years since your light left this world? How can my heart still continue to beat without you. I still feel betrayed by my own body.

I don’t understand why the world continues to turn without you. Why your time was so short? Why why why?

Maybe tomorrow I will find my peace again but today on your anniversary I’m angry, I’m sad and I’m lost without you. 9 and a half years will never be enough.

I know you wouldn’t want pain for me and I do try my sweet child, I do. But the hole in my heart will always be there aching for it’s missing piece.

I know you want me to have joy and maybe tomorrow I will again but today, today I allow myself to be real, to be in truth. To tear down the veil of pretence and grieve you wholeheartedly . To let the missing pour out of my heart, to cry, to shout, to scream, to just miss you my beautiful girl.

To just miss you.

Desperate

I woke last night screaming, somehow my sleep had become a time machine and I was there again in the hospital begging my child to wake. Desperate to see her chest rise again, begging the Lord to save her.

How can 12 years just disappear in a moment?

Yet I know in grief, time is only my enemy.

I miss my girlie so much, how I wish I could just hold her in my arms once more, to just breathe in the sweet smell of her hair.

Grief is a complex devil, playing games with your heart moment by moment, memory by memory.

Does it ever end?

Only with eternity I guess.

Oh I never knew the heart could survive such pain. The crushing weight becoming bearable against my wishes.

I don’t want to sleep again, I had to leave her once I’m not sure I could do it again.

Why does your memory invade your dreams?

Is there nowhere free from grief?

I couldn’t pretend for a while, I could not create the facade of being ok in those darkness hours. So I let the tears fall and as my whole soul hiccuped through my body I allowed myself to miss her.

I let the memories swarm my mind like a tapestry of bees as they create their honey, I created my moments again. I held her in my arms, I heard her sweet giggle of mischief on the symphony of the night and I breathed her in deep and I sobbed.

I still don’t understand why I had to lose her, why Rett Syndrome had to win the battle for her life. Yet I know it wasn’t for the lack of love. My Livvy, their Livvy, your Livvy was loved with the depths of so many hearts.

If love could have saved her life she would be here.

No the question still stands unanswered, our hearts still forever broken.

I couldn’t breathe anymore the tears had tore my soul and I did fall into an exhausted sleep.

I wake still desperate to hold my daughter once again.

The new day begins,

I trust, I breathe and I hope.

Until we meet again my beautiful girl, until.

Joining in again with five minute Friday, set your timer for five minutes and write.

Holy cow it’s March

Well hello March, what happened to January and February? Oh that’s right Sara you got lost. Lost in sadness, lost in anxiety and lost in defeat.

2021 started wrong, I’m sorry but I survived 2020 by patiently waiting for it to end. Pretending that it’s ok, hiding in a false facade of a comradery of equal suffering. “We are all in this together” “if everyone looks out for another” “we can do this”.

What bull that was, whilst some were hosting garden parties or indoor raves I was still locked behind my door scared to breathe deep.

So 2021 you need to behave, I have no more inspiration for homeschooling. I don’t want to talk to my husband any more and as much as I love Daniel I need sleep and I really really want to hug my daughters.

I cannot pretend anymore and that’s ok but unfortunately in my brain it wasn’t. So January and February I did my familiar act I locked down. I couldn’t disguise my sadness any more so I hid. I found my anger at the injustice of the forgotten vulnerable had started to warp my life view, jealous of others park walks none the less. Shopping trips envied to the point of stupidness I mean who cares that Asda has a new bedding range.

I did it 2020 I survived you but 2021 you need to play fair.

I’m broken…

I’m not asking for a lot, I have no desire or money to travel (lockdown for foster carers didn’t fit the furlong scheme). Just to walk along a beach to feel the freezing cold of the British sea on my feet. To take Daniel to the local farm where he can indulge in his cow stalking behaviour to his hearts content. To eat in a restaurant where someone serves me and washes up.

I want to hold my daughters tight, to be there physically if they need me. To watch Daniel be held by those that love him as we repair his attachment bonds and remove his fear of rejection. To start his therapies again and to do all I can so he gets to live the fullest of lives.

I want so much to be there for my friends, to drink coffee, babysit whatever they need. To be able to hug them when they cry, to be able to listen without being out of reach behind a screen.

I want to people watch with joy again. To be able to see those around me without fear of infection.

I want to not feel so angry, so lost.

2020 I survived you, 2021 behave.

She should have been 19.

I’m not sure how to explain today, how to find the words.

It seems wrong to say that my daughter is 19 today, when in reality she will be forever 9.

I want to celebrate what should be her special day.

I want to eat cake and sing happy birthday, but my heart is just so broken.

How can you celebrate when you cannot hug the birthday girl tight?

How can you smile when forever seems so far away?

Gosh I miss my beautiful girl, that feels like such an understatement. Every breathe I take aches for her, my arms crave to hold her again, my heart beats with a missing piece.

I torture myself wondering what she would be like now, I wonder would she still love her football players, her gothic clothes and Tinkerbell. Yet how can I really know, she has been gone nearly ten years, her sisters have changed so much, so would she?

I have no idea; do you know how hard that is to comprehend? No idea at all. I should know my daughter, I should have been given the chance to.

My heart feels on a roller coaster right now, my faith doesn’t feel like the liberation it should be. Yes, I believe I will see my daughter again but forever is still out of my reach.

Is it wrong of me to wish her back here, back into a body that struggled so much, a body that betrayed her in so many ways?

Is it selfish of me to just want one more day?

Nineteen, it would have been the last of her teenage years, yet the truth is she never got to the beginning.

Nine and a half years, a minute moment in time, not enough, never enough.

I know Livvy would be cross at me today, I know she would be giving me her evil eye and her stern look.

“Mom you know better. You know not to waste a moment, celebrate me and do it with joy. Remind my sisters how much I love them, tease my new brother who you should know I got to meet first. He may have got lost on his way, but I got him to you eventually.

Get out there Mom and enjoy the sunshine, sing at the top of your lungs and hug my Dad tight.

No sadness, no sorrow, no more”

I can actually see her in my mind conveying all this, her eyes alight with mischief.

I can actually feel her soft hand, her long fingers entwined in mine.

I can feel her, but my goodness I miss her.

I can try my darling girl,

I promise I will try,

My heart wants to fall into a million pieces,

My soul just cries out in missing.

I don’t know what or how I will be today, maybe there will be moments of joy wrapped in the ribbon of sorrow.

I can try but I’m sorry Livvy I cannot promise, I just miss you too much.

Happy heavenly 19th Olivia,

Happy birthday Livvy xxxxx

Eight years 

I wasn’t sure I was going to write this year, I was thinking, wondering if I should let the day go past without remembrance. Yet I knew it would be a lie, a falsehood because pretending that this anniversary doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. In fact the pretence builds its power giving it more control.

Eight years, eight long years of missing my beautiful daughter. 

Eight years since I held her last in my arms.

Eight years since I heard her sweet giggle.


Grief, it’s a horrific road, it often plays unfair. Sometimes it even allows you to feel like you are winning, only to sweep your feet from underneath you, cold and swift. 

Yet the truth is that grief and love, they walk hand in hand. Without one you would not get the other.

So I’ve decided today that I’m not going to hide away.

I’m going to immerse myself in all that was Olivia, 

That is Olivia.


I’m going to give myself permission to walk through the valley of pain in hope to find a place of peace.

I’m going to remember her sweet little ways, her cheeky character, her strength of spirit.

And I’m going to give thanks 

Thanks that even now in the midst of grief, I am so thankful that I got love.

I am one incredibly blessed woman that I was lucky enough to have this child call me mom. 


That I would walk a lifetime in pain for the privilege of being Olivia mom. 

That whilst nine years will never be enough they were such a gift. 

My beautiful girl I wonder if you really knew how you changed my life. How you opened my eyes into a world of innocence and honesty. How living one day with you would often seem like a lifetime. You taught me so much, you challenged me, to embrace each moment, to celebrate each breathe. 

Many can travel this life without really knowing their destination, their purpose. You young lady gave me mine, you made it crystal clear what was expected from me, I’m still hearing your instructions from heaven. 

Be kind for kindness sake
Be thankful for all things 
Stand up for what matters 
Be the voice of the voiceless 
And never ever be afraid to say yes to love. 

We are not all promised forever but knowing you are loved is a lifetime gift. 
Thank you for being one of my greatest gifts.

My beautiful daughter
My inspiring Livvy.

Until I get to hold you again, love you girlie xxx

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

Thank you doesn’t seem enough.

I’m not sure how I am feeling right now, yesterday was a whirlwind of emotions. I laughed, I cried and I laughed some more.

There isn’t really a guideline on how to feel I guess, no instruction book on how to celebrate birthdays of those that never reached them.

I know some think i’m strange, that to celebrate the birthday of a child that has passed is wrong or odd. That’s ok, everyone is completely entitled to their own opinion and the fact is grief is so unique. Nobody feels the same, everyone has their own journey through it or as I believe ‘with it’.

I’m struggling to find words to describe yesterday it was one of the hardest days of my life but also one of the most blessed.

From the moment the clock struck the new day the messages started to flood in.

Birthday wishes for my beautiful girl.

Messages, pictures and names drawn in the sand my girl was remembered.

Friends all over the world wishing my girl a Happy 16th.

Yesterday was a blur of family, friendship and cake, it was a truly special  day.

It is only now as I sit back and reflect that I really realise how completely amazing it was.

I could not thank people enough for what they gave me yesterday. After many nights of wondering and worrying that my Livvy would be forgotten my heart was swollen by the love I felt and the amount of people who remembered her day.

The fund-raising event for the charity formed in her memory Livvy’s Smile was a great success I don’t yet have a final total raised but I know its in the hundreds which is so wonderful.

Besides the donations I also want to say thank you to those who ate cake with their friends and family in honour of this day. I know I harp on a lot about this but memories are the greatest gift we can give ourselves and I am so blessed that you all made new special ones yesterday in honour of my girl.

So yes I’m not sure how I am really feeling today but what I do know is that my heart is full. My girl was honoured in such a beautiful way and for that I will always be grateful.

Thank you doesn’t seem enough but THANK YOU.

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