Holden

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On the Loss of a Child

I have been asked to write an article for Hospice Yukon to be included their Spring Newsletter.   The theme is ‘Child Loss’…ugh.

I never thought I would ever be in the position to write something on this topic from personal experience.   I am certainly no expert and I sure don’t want to become a poster girl for parents who have lost their kids.   Still, its interesting how the  assignment has put me on the flip side of grief for the first time in a long while.  Since last summer I have been absorbing all the love, care and attention from others and now I have been asked to provide some.  It feels like swimming upstream.  Yes, more water analogies.  I have no idea where they come from.

I have had to carefully weigh the words I would like to share with someone who has been forced to endure one of life’s most excruciating possibilities.   These are fragile people.  Not an easy job.   It has helped me to realize how challenging it has been for all of our loved ones to support us through our loss.  This is hell for everyone.    Here is what I came up with…

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The Hole Family

Yesterday marked six months since Holden’s gorgeous soul left his young body.  It was a hard day.  We were tidying up (in the Japanese and allegedly magically joyful way), putting away the decorations, tossing the wilted poinsettias and gathering the crackling dry boughs and pine cones from the mantle.  For some reason this was even more painful than setting them out had been.  The open, clear space created in their absence would normally have meant a fresh feeling of opportunity and potential for the new year but instead it created a powerful vacuum that squeezed my chest with a longing that has become so familiar.   I had thought perhaps the vortex was losing some of it’s pull.  I was wrong.  The inside of my ribcage felt like a chandelier in an earthquake.   Clattering and swaying.   I wasn’t sure how things would shake out.

stocking

oh how I wish these were opened

Wrapping these sentimental items in tissue and bubble wrap then packing them away in their dark blue utilitarian plastic tubs jolted me with it’s significance.   It’s heaviness.   How could we tuck him away so easily?  Put him on a shelf until next year.   The cute little teddy bear stocking with his name on it in purple glitter glue that we’ve had since he was born (which, by the way he insisted on keeping even though we offered to get him a more grown up one) and of course the unopened gifts.  Stab.  The tree ornaments that he made all through school, so achingly sweet.   I can picture his little hands working  earnestly to create them. The proud Christmas tree made of jigsaw puzzle pieces, it’s layers of glue painted dark green and zig zagged with gold twine, dotted with coloured beads.  ‘Holden – grade 1, 1999’ printed in pencil on the back in his careful hand.  The triangle  shaped reindeer head built with tongue depressors,  pipe cleaner antlers and the red pom-pom nose and my favourite, the silver clothes-peg angel.  Stab, stab, stab.  All I can say is yesterday felt like trying to walk with your shoes on the wrong feet.  It’s still possible, but doesn’t feel right at all. Something was missing or dragging behind or just simply wrong.  I hate the 3rd.  Of every month.  I seriously loath it.  But the 6 month benchmark combined with the newness of the year weighted the day more heavily than I was prepared for.    It landed on me with an unexpected thud.  I had actually begun to feel like in some ways I was emerging from the inky blackness of the tunnel.  Nope.  Get back in here lady. We’re not done with you yet. Continue Reading →

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Hold Encourage – heart reconstruction with yoga

I can’t om.  That  ethereal sound  which often begins or ends (or both) a yoga class.  I simply can not do it.  My mouth refuses.  My chest cavity solidifies into hardened clay.  It is as though in place of my heart there exists a small seed wrapped in one of those annoying rolled up paper kazoo things you blow into on New Years Eve.   Those horrible squeaky party favours  that inflate and unravel like a long crackly frog’s tongue.  When asked to om, to rise and shine, the little fern unspools from inside my ribcage up into my throat where it grabs on to my vocal chords and clenches tight.  Slams shut.  There will be NO oming.  Just a quiet, unsteady exhale from the sad lady on the light blue mat.

omSome of the many definitions of om  include: the sacred sound,  the song of the universe, the infinite, the all encompassing, the whole world, the truth, the ultimate reality, the finest essence, the cause of the Universe, the essence of life, the vehicle of deepest knowledge, and Self-knowledge.  There are many many more.  Perhaps the reason for this weird om paralysis lies somewhere within its vastness.  It is just too impossibly big.  Om is enormous.  If I om  I open  myself up way too wide.  That is an incredibly vulnerable place to be.   The idea of being open enough to welcome the knowledge of everything is scary, overwhelming and way too powerful.  I don’t want to know everything and I’ve had enough surprises, thank you.  Oming is for the brave.  Or the blissfully ignorant.  Or maybe oming is too much like singing.  Sure, there are plenty of artists who turn their personal sadness into block buster music like our girl Adele, but for me singing is about joy, the expression of an unburdened soul.  Mine is still buried under a pile of rocks. Continue Reading →

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An Unexpected Light

My friend Andrew can no longer speak.  So how is it that he is able to tell me so many things? Twice a week or so we go out for a walk together and not a word passes from his lips.  Still, he has taught me an enormous amount about acceptance and grace.  Andrew is the perfect companion at the moment.  Silent and steadfast.  We stroll and often, as happens most days lately, a wave of anguish rises and I cry.   Some days we just walk quietly and some days I tell him my sorrows.  Once in a while I ask him the questions that gerbil around obsessively in my head.  Mostly the ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’ questions.   You know the ones.  He listens intently and never comments.  He can’t, but that is not the point.  This is exactly what I need.  There is no awkwardness, no advice or sympathy.  There is no answer.  Just that firm, solid grip of his big hand around mine and the steady cadence of one foot being laboriously placed in front of the other.  We carry on.  We have no choice the two of us. Continue Reading →