9 years ago today on April 7th we lay on either side of Emersyn and felt her spirit leave this world on a snowy day much like today. In fact the snow only came moments after she passed and someone said that God turned off the weather in that moment as earth just lost a great soul. The strange thing is when we left the hospital carrying Emersyn in our arms to take her to the funeral home I did not feel one ounce of the cold.
I have replayed her passing so many times in my head and everyday we work around the hole. The hole of missing her smile, her soft dark hair and warm brown eyes. Every single day we carry our grief no matter what is happening at work, at home, with the kids or in the world we will never take off the shoes of being bereaved parents. And we have learned to do this over the years but not without a toll of course so we have to pace ourselves. Today, although we have worn these shoes for 9 long years it feels like we lost her yesterday and we feel the load is too heavy to carry. A restless and deep sorrow bubbles right to the surface and we know it well. A mixed bag of aching love and raw grief and what a combination those two great emotions are to make sense of.
The past few weeks have been exhausting building up to this day. The season, the month, Easter and the talk of Spring all started to slowly trigger the iceberg of grief. We know what our triggers are now but the only trouble is we don't know when they will happen or how we will react. Sometimes I am tapped out and can't shed another tear and other times a simple song comes on in the car and I am right back to the day we lost her.
Jay and I dropped Isla and Callum at my parents house today so we could have some time to process, reflect and grieve. Thank-you for your support as always Mom and Dad. Grief is such a personal experience so while Jason sits downstairs I am upstairs looking at her pictures and writing. It doesn't get easier with time but we have found some self care strategies that help.
When we drove back from the cemetery I said to Jason that the best way for people to honour Emersyn today would be to do some self care. I say this as lately I have felt tired, worn down and in need of some self care. I remember when Emersyn was alive a simple shower, cup of coffee or chat with family or friends really helped me to cope. I look back on those simple things and realize how important they were and how grateful I felt for those little things. I learned gratitude for the smallest things while I felt my greatest love and my greatest pain. I know Emersyn would want us all to stop functioning on overdrive, press the pause button and do something even a small thing that makes us feel cared for.
A great gift that Emersyn gave us was slowing down time when she was alive. I can truly say that everyday she was with us felt so important and those simple moments felt so rich. We knew that we had very limited time with our daughter and although she never traveled the world with us our everyday moments were steeped in joy and love. I did not care about taking care of myself when Emersyn was diagnosed with SMA. However I quickly learned that to take care of Emersyn and be there for her the small things like a cup of coffee or a chat with a friend would help me to be a better Mom.
In honour of Emersyn's beautiful life and the touchstone she has become for so many people we are asking this today....
Please press pause on the overdrive button and be kind to yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read a book, write, eat a treat, take a nap, forgive yourself....or just sit and cuddle with the ones you love even if you only have 5 minutes. It is in these moments that you are letting your heart breathe, fill up and feel gratitude. Emersyn taught us that humans are resilient and can endure a great deal but life can take a toll on our bodies, minds and spirits. Self care is spiritual as it starts with looking within to figure out what might help and results in more energy to care for and connect with others.
In honour of Emersyn we are asking that all of our family, friends and anyone reading her blog please take a moment and be kind to your body, mind and heart today. My self care today is allowing time for my grief to just be without limitations. It is amazing what the heart can do when we fill it up.
Thank-you to our beautiful Emersyn for filling our hearts up daily and to everyone who has carried us over the past 9 years we are so grateful. Our hope is that you care for yourself today so you can care for and connect with others always.
We miss you Emersyn everyday and we will continue on this messy journey trying to look for hearts to fill with your love,
Mommy, Daddy, Isla, Callum and all of your family and friends xoxoxoxoxoxoxo
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Today is Emersyn’s 9th birthday and my sweet girl would be in Grade 4 and no doubt just as funny and adventurous and unique as Isla and Callum. 9 years ago today after a long labour I felt like I could do anything because I had her. I remember having so much confidence that I actually slept in the hospital that night and sent Jason home while Emersyn and I slept soundly until morning. No one else was in our room and the maternity ward was slow that night and my daughter and I slept peacefully. I have never slept as soundly as I did that night and I wonder now if that was meant to happen as I would need my rest for what was to come. I may engage in life more now and carry my grief more privately but it is always there in all of it’s intensity a living breathing life line to Emersyn. Today I exhale and take my armour off and let myself fall as today I cannot carry the backpack of grief and juggle all the things that life involves not today. Today I am all about you Emerysn.
I woke up this morning had a shower got dressed went downstairs and let it hit me in all it’s impact. Isla and Callum got up and Jay made our usual Saturday morning pancakes while Isla wrapped her existing toys and put them in gift bags to take to the cemetery. Callum said he wanted to give you 8 cars how cute is he? We then went to the store and Isla came in with me to ask for balloons to be blown up and when the cashier asked who they were for Isla replied “my sister she’s 9 and she is in heaven and we are visiting her today so tie them tight”. Just as I was about to give my rehearsed response which I am more prepared for now 8 years in Isla chimes in and is sharing her sister’s legacy and I stood in Longo’s and I cried. I could barely speak as Isla smiled at the helium balloons being blown up and was in awe as she watched them float up to the moon as she says. The cashier stopped and looked at me and Isla differently and said “I think our next ribbon should be a gold one just for your sister she sounds pretty special”. I could tell our cashier wasn’t having a good day but as soon as Isla shared that these balloons were for her sister’s birthday in heaven it was like a light went on and Emersyn’s gifts were opened right in front of us. Isla was sharing her sister's gifts on her birthday.
It is what I like to believe is perspective, my little 9 year old Angel gives me this daily when I think things are stressful or too difficult I remember what she went through and how short her life was and I remind myself of perspective. I remember what we as a family have gone through and I think although my reserves are nearly tapped out I am able to carry on because nothing could be as bad as losing my daughter. I saw this woman who I just met stop and look at us and literally change as her eyes welled up and a smile came across her face as she chose the gold ribbon for the last balloon. She suddenly stood taller and more present and said “let me cut your flowers down to the right size for the cemetery I will be right back”. I could feel her sense of desire to help us as she cut them down to just the right size for the vase. She then found a bag for us to carry the balloons so they wouldn't fly away in the car and helped us carry everything and wrapped the flowers even though she knew where we were taking them. I felt her watching us as we went back to the car to meet Callum and Jason and I thanked Emersyn for reminding all of us that it is the little things we can do for each other that can make all the difference. I was also given perspective and felt gratitude to the kind stranger who carefully prepared her balloons and flowers for us today.
In a world that is crazy, hectic, media overloaded and constantly changing Emersyn is my mindfulness. She is my gentle compass guiding me back to what is right, what is kind and what really matters. She is the root of my empathy and the multiple lenses I look through when I consider different perspectives. She is also the root of my advocacy in my career that I love as a Special Education Teacher and as an advocate for my own children. Emersyn you are my lighthouse in the storm and my gold ribbon that ties me together when I feel weak.
Sometimes I can’t quite process that the greatest loss has happened to us because it is just too big to wrap my head and heart around. I think consciously and subconsciously I am always trying to integrate losing Emersyn into everything I do to continue surviving her death. I take her story and my love for her and I weave it into as many people, stories, songs, butterflies and special moments as I can. I make meaning not of her death because that is unexplainable but of her life and her gifts. Emersyn’s gifts are something I talked about in the eulogy I wrote for her funeral yet as I wrote those words I was not sure how her gifts would find me in such devastating pain.
Emersyn you are 9 today and it should be us showering you with presents and cake and fun crazy birthday celebrations with your friends but instead you keep giving to us. I hope I get it right as I reflect on your gifts so far as I feel you want us all to be reminded today of hope, bravery, compassion, gratitude, empathy, resilience, authenticity, humility, perspective and most of all love. I feared that my pain would dominate everything but I have learned that my pain does not need stifled or removed as it can live and breathe right next to my love for you. As long as my love is there my pain can exist and be channeled into helping others and myself to grow.
And Isla and Callum also wanted me to add that they noticed as we were driving out of the cemetery today the song Party in the USA came on and the line “the butterflies fly away” played on the radio just as a Monarch Butterfly flew over our car! Leave it to my 3 to throw in some pop wisdom for us today ;) I hope as you fly away Emersyn you know that we see your gifts and we hope we received them right my little/big girl.
I hope our gift to you today is continuing to challenge ourselves to do better and be better because we are all a work in progress.
Happy birthday my sweet, funny, charismatic beautiful Emersyn you are my heart and I hope I am your hands here on earth.
Mommy, Daddy, Isla and Callum xoxoxoxoxo