Our beautiful daughter Emersyn Paige passed away from SMA Type 1 on April 7th,2009 at the age of 7 months old. This blog is dedicated to her life, legacy and spirit and our journey as a family through grief.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Happy 12th Birthday Emersyn

Happy 12th birthday to you beautiful Emersyn. Time stands still as I remember your birth vividly 12 years ago today. I remember the sheer excitement I felt calling family and friends feeling both exhausted and elated to announce your birth and introduce you to everyone. The soaring confidence I felt after giving birth to my first child was life changing and the empowerment I felt becoming a Mother was incredible. Today is bittersweet remembering your joyful birth while missing you so. Amazing how our relationship has deepened over the years even while being physically apart. I feel that you are older now, not a little girl anymore. I sense your maturity in our connection and I feel your guidance especially now during the pandemic. In your maturity I feel I need to talk to you today about everything that has been happening in the world and how we are trying to develop healthy ways to cope and move forward. 

I have been feeling familiar emotions of acute grief leading up to your birthday and also because of the rapidly changing and uncertain times we are all living in right now. I fall back on the coping skills we developed when you were diagnosed and after you passed away. It is amazing how what really matters takes center stage in times of true hardship. You taught us that caring for ourselves emotionally, spiritually and physically is important always and even more so when we are grieving. We have been trying to live day to day and simplify things. Where is our emotional energy going right now and how are we recharging? Have been some of the questions I have been asking myself lately, especially with Callum and Isla returning to school and Dad and I returning to work. You taught us that stepping back for as long as we need whenever we need to is ok and encourages self reflection, a quietness and growth. When things are hard scaling life back and focusing on what is most important has been a vital coping strategy for us. Interesting how a meal becomes more savoured, a laugh with friends and family feels like a comforting sigh of relief and a hug from Isla and Callum feels like a warm gift from you. Scaling it back and taking in the little things is really us working on being more mindful and present. We need that. 

When you were diagnosed with SMA we instantly began thinking about the ways we could modify life and adapt so you could enjoy everything to the fullest. You loved the car yet had to lay flat to breathe properly so Grandpa helped us to modify your car seat so you could enjoy your nightly car rides. You loved the bath so we modified your bath seat so you could enjoy that special time in the water. Our amazing OT was always modifying toys to make them accessible for you. We found new ways of doing things and we had to let go of things that no longer worked for our new way of living. I am drawing inspiration from you as always as we enter our new back to school and work routines. I know it is ok to mourn and grieve for the life, plans and hopes we all had while at the same time living fully by modifying the way we once did things and discovering completely new experiences and ways of doing things. We do not have to wait for “things to be better” to live fully. Life includes all of the feelings even the really hard and uncomfortable ones. Life is not simply good or bad days it is a blend of authentic human experiences. One essential ingredient to coping has always been hope even a small flicker along with patience and compassion towards ourselves and others goes a long way to healing. There has been a lot of discussion lately about the importance of being adaptable. I fully agree that being adaptable is essential however in order to adapt we must allow ourselves to step back, feel it all and evolve in a natural way. We must take time to truly know ourselves and what we stand for. Humans do this naturally but it is not linear and each one of us will evolve and adapt in our own way at our own pace. 

Just like the caterpillar who becomes the butterfly I know we will get there and the journey in evolving can’t be conjured or rushed. We are adapting throughout the entire process. We will continue to take it one day at a time being mindful, gentle and loving to ourselves and others. Emersyn you continue to be our source of mindfulness and connection to what life is really all about. We know your story and gifts are helping so many people right now and we hope that on your 12th birthday you can feel our love and thanks. We miss you deep in our hearts and we celebrate you and the magical person you are. Even beyond earth you continue to evolve and grow my dear girl and we will continue to do the same. Happy 12th birthday beautiful Emersyn we love you and miss you always!

Mom, Dad, Isla, Callum and all of your family and friends xoxoxo

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Angel Date ~ Little Big Things

This will be our 11th Angel Date Emersyn and with what is happening in the world right now with Covid-19 it is certainly a flash back for us. When we found out at just 4 months old that you had SMA we isolated away from the world in our home in the middle of winter. A simple cold could have been fatal for you as SMA weakened all of your muscles including the muscles needed to swallow, breathe and cough. We had signs up in our home that read “please wash and sanitize your hands” along with masks, gloves, a pulse ox and other medical supplies and equipment needed for your care. This way of life quickly became our new normal yet felt anything but normal. The rest of the world carried on and we came to a screeching halt into isolation and fear of any germs coming our way as we did everything we could to protect you. We feared grocery stores,coughing people,germs in the pediatricians office and in the emergency room when we rode by ambulance after Daddy brought you back with CPR. We lived on high alert but we also created memories that would last a lifetime. The joy and the pain co-existed at maximum capacity in the small moments that meant everything.

I remember my whole body aching when I would wake up. I was overwhelmed with worry, fear, anxiety you name it and I remember wondering why I was so tired when I was home all day. I know now that grief and trauma can be as exhausting as a marathon if not more so. I also remember the moments of anxiety would be quieted with one look at you and we would start the day with a cuddle, a song and always somewhere in there some good laughs! We sat in our family room reading books, cuddling, singing, dancing or just sitting together playing in your baby gym with the lightest weight toys fashioned by Auntie Erin or our wonderful OT…. and those were the moments I could feel my heart fill up with joy. Even after your official diagnosis in the Neurologists office at McMaster Auntie Catherine,Daddy and I were singing and dancing with you when we left. No matter how scary of a night we had we learned the next morning we would reset, rally and embrace the moments together.

I remember the week you were diagnosed saying to Granny that I felt like I needed to be in the hospital. Of course that quickly changed as home became our oasis but I remember thinking that we should be taken care of so we could just spend time together. I remember saying that I was in so much pain at the thought of losing you that I should be wearing a hospital gown eating jello as being home trying to carry on as normal felt impossible at first. The next day I remember Granny leaving a huge bowl of jello on my porch and Auntie Catherine and Auntie Erin leaving me a box of heart shaped ginger cookies as that is all I could eat some days. Just knowing that people were there for us was enough to give me strength to keep going. I still have a little bag of those ginger snap cookies by my bed to remind me that it is the small things that carry us through.

A shower helped me. I learned that waking up and showering first thing, getting dressed and putting on some makeup (as crazy as that sounds) made me feel better. Although I would often feel too exhausted to dry my hair I always felt better after a shower. A routine in the day felt good, even a simple one. I quickly realized that these self caring rituals that at first seemed selfish made me a better Mom and able to continue to rise each day. A hot drink, a call from a friend, a laugh, a cry,a short drive and any expression of emotion was a huge help in my coping and bringing me back to my greatest joy which was creating memories with you. You taught us the little moments from our bed looking out the window at the sunny white snow or singing Bob Marley songs from the hospital bed with my sisters was where the meaning was. Before social media was big a small note, card, gift or email from someone meant so much and still does. Amidst all of the pain we learned to surrender into love and savour the little things. The kindness rocks we have found in the neighbourhood on our walks this week, the notes and cards from friends when we need them most all of these little things have kept us going and feeling connected to you. As I see people coming out of their homes to cheer for our medical heros at shift change or giving a huge thank-you to our delivery drivers and grocery store workers it is all of these things that help us make it through. So today as I think of ways to honour you I think helping others with your story would be what you would want us to do. In sharing this little big thing our hope is that even for a moment someone smiles or feels some peace today. So here is me sharing your message with the world and hoping it helps even a little…..

Hello Beautiful Amazing World,

It’s me Emersyn sending everyone in the world right now a special message that I hope will help you feel even a little bit better. You all helped me so much so I will continue to try my hardest to help all of you when you need me most. I know you are having a really hard time right now and I am so sorry you are all going through this. I want everyone to know that it’s ok to have hard days, you are human and need to honour these normal and powerful feelings. Being strong doesn't mean ignoring hard emotions it means feeling them, expressing them and doing our best to care for ourselves and others. Sometimes our best is PJ’s all day and spending time on the couch together and that is just fine. Some of my best memories were days like that.

I was worried that the weight of my diagnosis would be so heavy my family and friends wouldn't be able to have moments of fun and joy with me. What I learned was even though they were heart broken, sad and scared they would always find time each day to just be together with me and do little things that felt so big. They were brave and I was so proud of them. While the world was happening right outside our snowy window it was like we were living in a bubble where none of the things they thought mattered before mattered anymore. People used to drop food on my porch since my parents were too scared to go to the grocery store in case they caught a virus and brought those germs home to me. My parents did not want to go out in public places where there were lots of people so when visitors came we had signs up to remind them about hand washing and sanitizing which everyone was really good about. Everyone was really brave. I thought all of my family, friends and even people I never met were my heros.

I want everyone to know that although these days are hard and scary you were made for this. When all else fails love and hope remain and I promise you they will carry you through your darkest days. I remember in my final days in the ICU at McMaster Children’s Hospital when my Aunties and Mom sang Three Little Birds to me, I remember when my Dad would place me on my sheepie and hold me up and we would pretend to be cowboys dancing up and down the hallway,I remember my Mom wanted to just take me to the park so we went and she placed me on her chest and we slid down the slide together, I remember when my cousins would read me stories with such animation I would laugh with my belly, I remember when my Granny and Grandpa would do a puppet show for me and make me smile. None of these things cost a thing because nothing money could buy could create the memories we made.

When I passed away with my Mom and Dad beside me they felt my soul leave this world on this exact day in April 11 years ago. What they did not know then was that all of the little things were actually the biggest things that created memories for a lifetime. It is the little things that slow us down long enough to really understand why we are here and how important caring for each other really is. So my hope on my Angel Date today is that you find a little thing and allow yourself to feel like it is a really big and amazing thing. I promise you that your little things moments will become the best part of your day and will become some of your best memories. If you feel like sharing your little moments with my parents today I know it would certainly cheer them up. I know they love to hear when I have touched your hearts.

You are all staying home for really big reasons and it is not easy. I see my brother and sister missing their friends and family while trying to learn at home while my parents are trying to do the same. I want you all to know that you are amazing magnificent humans and I have your back. You can do this guys because you already are and if you need someone to talk to I am here to listen.

Keep making the little things big,
Love Angel Emersyn xoxoxo