When tragedy strikes, we are often faced with failure. Not failure of our own self – because it is expected that we break down during tragedy – but failure of belief systems to provide comfort or failure of the support from people we were sure we could have counted on.
Having your child die feels like the worst violation. It tears away everything you believe in. Gods become empty, people become paper cut-outs and the sun is merely some transparent disk hanging in a dead sky.
Words take on a hollowness and sound strange and the feeling that somehow life isn’t real begins to chew and gnaw at the edges of sanity.
In that space of thought, as the void of absence spirals and pulsates like a sick, broken and foreign entity – things fall away. Not just useless things, but useful things. Everything separates and tumbles down scattered at your feet and you step over, and away from them as you wander blindly, in pain. There is a need to pull back from the ache and ill feeling of desolation and so there are new little things that start to fill in the gaps. Netflix binges, sleeping, anything that stops the hurt for a bit.
Eventually there does come a time when – in our searching – that we find ourselves back at the scattered remains of our beliefs, hopes and dreams. You stick a toe in it, push it around a bit and one day find the courage to sit with those things and poke through. Lifting, looking and examining (even briefly) what those things are and how they feel to you now.
There are people who I thought would have been there for me who failed me horribly. And really I had no clue that they would have deserted me so fully. There are others who I didn’t expect to play such a role in this new branch of my life but who have been amazing.
There are also beliefs I had that upon running my fingers through them, I realize they are dead and useless to me. They offer nothing. At least right now in my life they have become a compost. Laying there in decay. But other things have been poking through that send out tiny rays of warmth and encouragement.
One thing that spoke to me from the pile of rubble were the myths of the Gnostics. The sometimes very complicated tales of Why and How we are. I realized in those words the need to make sense of the senseless . A need to express in words what the heart could not rationalize.
Another small voice that whispered from the ruins of my once dear personal identifiers was that of a woman named Mary. A woman who – as story tells it – through no intentions of her own birthed a man who changed the life of many, many people. A woman who was otherwise unremarkable but who nurtured and raised a man who’s insight and dedication to walking a different path served as a new direction for many who felt lost within their own journey. A woman who lost her son, who lost the light of her life.
Spiritually I have been on a mainly Pagan, Gnostic path for the last 20 years. Pagan being the majority of those years, with a variety of Wicca, Hermeticism, Canaanite Polytheism and Druidry intertwining into my practice. Gnosticism played a role as well in the contemporary form, and much earlier, in my late teens-early twenties there was Catholicism.
Not long ago, just a few weeks ago in fact I came across a book written by a brother in an order I’ve been in off and on for some time- The Little Office of the Blessed Sophia. I have always loved Sophia and how she found her way into the Thomas Merton writings , I love the idea of Wisdom as personified virtue (just as Logos is a personified power “Though God is hidden, his reality is made manifest by the Logos” but those are ramblings for another day) I felt compelled to get this book and use it as part of a daily practice. I wouldn’t fool myself into thinking I would get every hour of the office done.
The book came and I started working with it. Words of praise for the Feminine aspect of what we call God. I was reminded of that other incarnation of the great Mother. The earthly, accessible Mary. This woman who suffered greatly in her heart. So greatly that she is often called Our Lady of Sorrows. And whereas the Pagan goddesses felt violent or shallow in their stories of loss – Demeter wrecking havoc on the lands and setting babies in fire to remove their flesh and make them immortal etc- I felt that the simple story of Mary was something I could curl up in. I could lay my head in the lap of this grieving sorrowful mother. This mother who had felt rather normal and plain but who had birthed greatness.
That is how it feels. People tell me how amazing I am to have brought Caitlin into the world. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel that she was a blessing given to me to bear and raise. Through no right action on my own behalf. I was given this beautiful daughter who’s spark left the body one day. The ensuing darkness being as though the sun had forever sank and a fake sun rose the next day.
Whether a person is religious or not, we know that what we pay attention to grows. If you have a white Nissan, you become more aware of white Nissans. If you love owls you will be more aware of every owl you see on every knick-knack on every store shelf. When you focus on an idea and pay homage to it, it takes on a life of its own. Some people found this sort of thing true with that famed (though I hated it) book The Secret. Some studies regarding this have been done with Quantum Physics.
So finding something that provides comfort, paying homage to it – nurtures those qualities that exist within yourself. For myself, the quality is the serenity and peace that is associated with the Mary archetype. And so that is where some extra focus has been going. Reading the Little Office of the Blessed Sophia also works to lift and sanctify my femininity, which although I am female, I’ve always been awkward with my own womanhood. Working with this book also re-affirms my commitment to inner truth and Wisdom . Wisdom to understand.
Maybe one day, or some days I will find gleans of comfort in some of the other ideas I had clung to. But right now, these are the things that have sprouted through the remains of my yester-thoughts. On their own accord. And so I am taking heed and paying attention. And finding comfort.
I’ve seen so many posts/meme’s from people who are aching to kick 2016 out the door and bring in 2017. Mostly due to celebrity deaths. Deaths of people that were known by the vast majority only for their outward presentation and not for who they really were. But anyhow — this was what I wrote:
2016 wasn’t a bad year to me. Most of it was great. I had all my children here with me. My oldest was back from Japan for the first few months of it. He came home in May of 2015 and was here til April 2016.
My youngest of the three older ones made lots of positive changes in his life and started moving forward on the right path. A path he walked even though none of his friends did.
And my beautiful daughter was alive.
No – for me, 2016 wasn’t the worst year. Yes, Caitlin ‘s body failed (for reasons we aren’t sure of yet) and her essence left it. Yes this crushed me and has changed me forever – in some ways I don’t like – but I had her still for almost all of 2016. We played Animal Crossing together, went on walks together. 2015 was even better — her brother came back from Japan and we all went to Walmart together his first day back. Walked the familiar route, spouting our familiar banter.
2016 was her last year with me and there was much joy right up until October 7th.
I wish I had enjoyed those times more.
2017 will not be a better year. No year will EVER be a better year. No year will ever have all my children alive again.
So instead I will just move into 2017 carefully and cautiously, trying to remember what matters. Trying to remember that no matter how much things hurt, they could hurt even more. I could go on to lose a good friend, a close family member… or I could become fatally ill.
Point is, each moment is a blessing and if we keep looking forward – like I see in so many meme’s about ‘let’s just be done with 2016’ — we miss the good things we still have. Yes celebrities died. But my heart doesn’t go out to the fans of the dead. It goes out to the people who knew them and loved them. My heart goes out to every parent who has lost a child and yet still moves forward, and to every best friend of a person lost, and every lover of a person lost.
Each person you make eye contact with, communicate with, interact with. Care about. Appreciate the time you have with them. They, or You might not have another chance together.
Not meaning to be morbid but really, truly live in the Now. Because we can’t change yesterday, and tomorrow might never come. Each second now is all that we really know we have. Make it matter. You don’t need to push yourself to limitless boundaries or save the world or anything else crazily amazing – just love with all you can. The sky, the sun, the wind, the spirit… taste it, touch it. Let yourself fall into it. Into this moment because it is all we have and regardless of how much you might think life sucks at this moment, it has the ability to become worse. So.. love what you can, when you can. <3 Blessed Turn of the Year to you all.
Tomorrow will be December 7th. Three months since she died. Not only do Fridays in general sit in my memory as ‘The Friday the police officer told me my daughter had passed away that afternoon’, but now there is also the 7th of each month that stands out for me. And of course there is now her Death Date along with her Birth Date.
Those two days that changed me forever. Do I say that too much? Am I repeating myself now?
I read yesterday about an adorable little 3 year old boy beaten so badly by his mother’s boyfriend that he died. It hurts so much to read those things. It always has. Thinking about their fear, their pain. Poor sweet little innocent child – full of terror. And then I think of Caitlin dying so (apparently) peacefully and I think… ‘Well, at least it probably didn’t hurt her a lot to die, at least she was (probably) sleeping at the time’. It is so amazing to think that my pain at losing her is probably so much smaller than that of a parent who’s child has died traumatically. And then I say a prayer for that child. Those parents. And then All the children. All the parents with aching hearts.
All these wounded people with missing parts that went missing the day their child died.
I wonder if some people think it’s odd for me to refer to her as my child, considering she was 23. Do people think that I should grieve less because she was older? Is it harder to lose a child who had only a few years with a parent? With a lifetime of lost, never-to-happen experiences? Is it harder to lose a child who only lived into a new adult and that you got to know and love for over 20 years and who still had so many experiences ahead of them? I dont think it matters. We love and when we lose, we die a bit.
My friend’s dad died a few years ago. Her uncle – her dad’s brother- was in the same hospital. The uncle had been quite unwell and so my friend’s grandparents were in the other room visiting the uncle, while my friend’s dad who seemed to be doing quite well with his cancer but who had JUST come into the hospital because he wasn’t feeling so well – died. Then, minutes later her uncle died also. True story. Her grandparents lost both their sons within minutes from non related cancers. And then her grandmother lost her husband a year later. I heard the story when it first happened. Marveled at how cruel and amazing it was that both brothers passed in that manner. But I couldnt understand her grandmother’s pain. I had lost my grandmother, a few friends in school and my dog of 13 years… but there is nothing at all like losing your child regardless of age and now I feel like I’m part of some club. I passed an initiation. And I hate it.
To finish off my ramblings today – I started a fundraising thingy here on my blog. My webhost has kindly set up SSL on the site for security and I’m using the Give WP plugin to take donations. I have an amount owing for Caitlin’s funeral service that I wasn’t fully made aware of until yesterday. I wasn’t going to do this sort of thing but my little guys – I want them to have a really wonderful Christmas. It is going to be so hard for all of us this year but I feel like I need to make it as awesome as possible to help brighten up our burned out spirits. If I can get any help with the funeral costs it means that I don’t have to worry about it so much and can concentrate on making the holidays better.
So.. yeah. Asking for some help.
Okay, best get dinner done and on the table. Thanks to those of you who stop in and read my rambles. <3
It’s up, not decorated – though the lights are on it (but not turned on)
And two little thingies for my daughter.
This – spot on. 🙁
Always has been my favourite time of year.
On dry days, the few leaves left on almost bare branches make an empty almost rattling noise as the rustle against grey skies.
Last weekend was FanExpo. It was nice but tiring. My highlights were getting John Barrowman’s autograph on a memorial picture of my daughter, and having a chance to chat with the beautiful, amazing and genuine Alex Kingston. Alex Kingston is also known as River Song to the Doctor Who fans out there and she was such an absolute joy to meet.
I just wanted to thank her for existing mainly. Felt a need to tell her – this perfect stranger – about my daughter passing. I wanted to tell her what a wonderful inspiration her River Song character was : intelligent, cheeky, sexy, compassionate and selfless. I’m not sure what the usual protocol is as far as being allowed to just walk up to an actor at these things and blab your personal grief at them, but her crew let me go right to her, where she took my hand as I spoke. She told me about her daughter and how they enjoyed watching Merlin together (oh dear or was it Sherlock? I am PRETTY sure it was Merlin! – looking back I was so overcome with the moment that it is a bit jumbled)
John Barrowman was great to sign the memorial card the way he did (autographs are purchased, so it’s not like anyone is denied, but I was happy that he was okay with signing her memorial card) , I was happy that he was so accessible. I got a sense that he is better as a showman however, rather than a one on one with strangers kinda guy. He said I could give him a hug but being short, as I sort of put my arm around his shoulder to hug him (or tried because im only 5 feet tall) he kind of pulled back a bit. I felt a bit embarassed – thinking maybe I got too close and personal, but he said to the large group waiting for pictures afterward that people could ask for a kiss, hug him, grab his butt, whatever and its all fine but to not touch his face because he has a bit of a phobia about having his face touched by people (implying fans, im sure hes okay with people he knows being that close to him) – so then it made sense as to why he stiffened as I tried to hug him. Still felt awkward about it but glad it is simply a phobia and not because he hated me or something >.<
His Q & A afterward was hilarious. He is really a funny guy, he can hold the attention of an audience and keep them laughing with no trouble whatsoever. He seems SO at ease in front of the camera, laughter coming so easily and being horribly contagious.
Alex Kingston seemed less ‘showman’ like. Her Q & A was much more toned down, her sitting on a stool with a fellow who was running the media interaction. Answering the questions thoughtfully with just enough cheek and sass to see that River Song might be at least PARTIALLY based on her own charm and not just a character role she had to fill.
Yep, Alex Kingston was my highlight. I’m glad I spontaneously decided to approach her when I initially had no intentions to. For some reason I thought she might be standoffish and not approachable. I was so wrong.
Even within the hours of the weekend spent in Vancouver, even while lounging in a lovely hotel room at the Pan Pacific my mind and heart were heavy and combined with heavy drinking done each evening it was not mentally a nice space to be all of the time. But I tried to be joyful. And I DID find lots of ‘things’ of material nature to enjoy. Doctor Who merchandise and some frameable art of Hannibal & Will from the TV series of Hannibal, as well as a Supernatural picture and a few other things.
(can see the full post on wordpress to see images )
So, that was the big adventure.
Now just back to getting through the days in the comfort of my own space. Needing to reconnect spiritually to something because nothing that made sense before makes sense now.
I try to remember the experiences I had that put me on a spiritual path (or made me recognize that there WAS one I was walking on) – the feeling of immenseness that seemed to tell me one day, as the world stood still for a moment, full of overwhelming energy , that “You are all of this, and you are more than this” .
Trying to figure out how to continue on my journey homeward with this extra large carrying bag of experience I have recently obtained.
Just passed the one month anniversary of her passing.
I brought in death certificate in to Services Canada to get it photocopied. That way they can authorize it as being a true copy and will submit my application for death benefits without me having to mail it off via snail mail. Not sure if anything will be granted, but whatever is granted will go back to those who have paid for these funeral costs.
Then I came home and called her cellphone provider to cancel her account. I have her phone here. I already had the contents deleted on it. Reason being – these days a cell phone is like our personal journal. Most of her fav pics were all on FB anyhow and private texts etc.. email access… that’s not mine or anyone else’s business. So I had a place wipe it out, and all that was left were some pics on the removable card. I checked with her boyfriend and he said that was fine and agreed with that choice also.
However I started scrolling through my phone as I waited on hold. looked at all the messages her and I had sent back and forth over the past year. Some I seem kind of short with her , she was rarely short with me. But some of my responses seemed as though I were busy and not really paying attention. So of course I felt like the biggest failure ever after reading them.
Then again some messages are cute and funny and show how well we get along. But boy i did not say I love you much… or even at all in the messages from the past year. I know ive said it in person… but I was never mushy mom. I was more ‘sarcastic mom’ – I KNOW she knows I loved her. God I hope she knows that. I hope she felt it while she was alive.
Today is a dark day full of pain. Some days, like yesterday – it was better. I was looking at puppies and squeeing over how dear and cute they were. Yesterday I could say ‘love you Caitlin!’ randomly, just like saying it to a friend who is on their way out the door, casual and without horrific pain – like at the cemetery last night when we went to secure our own plots near her. But today it hurts so much.
There is this line. One one side is acceptance, a knowledge that my pain is about me missing her but that death happens to each of us and it’s never really a GOOD time unless one is suffering with horrible illness. That side also has the ‘at least she passed in her sleep’ and ‘at least she passed while enjoying life as she saw fit, happy and with so many who loved her’
On the other side is this dark space. Where I call out and say ‘for FUCKS SAKES ! This is NOT okay and I want you here now! She can’t be gone. Why is she gone? What the fuck is wrong with the doctors that couldn’t pay better attention to possible heart issues. why was it up to HER to distinguish between panic attack palpitations and heart valve issues?! (not that we are even sure right now if that is the cause but it is likely) How dare her smiling face , and bright eyes and sniffly little nose NOT be here?!
So today that’s the side of the line I’m on today.
So – just touching base here to keep things straight. Days just sort of meld into one another.
Funeral was on the 22nd. Monday my son returned to Japan – ouch. That was a real huge load of sad feels watching him get into my dad’s car for the ride to the airport. Then it was Tuesday. I had a 12-case of beer and drank them throughout the day. It took the edge off. Wednesday I did the same. Then I had a phone call conversation with a friend who talked about being open to her presence. I realized that if I just drink all day, EVEN if not drunk but still buzzed and mildly sedated all day, that I won’t be able to feel her, or sense her. Won’t be sure if what I feel is real or just beer induced weirdness.
My friend also mentioned something that kind of sat with me. He and I became friends online through a game we both played, and I have other online friends as well. He said “We’ve never met, hugged etc., yet there is a close friendship. Caring. What we are does not know the limits of our bodies, it surpasses them. Likewise, your daughter is more than the body she was in. She surpasses that” – not word for word but general idea. And that makes sense to me. He also talked about the holographic universe and other concepts and I realized that there are other ways of allowing my brain to understand the concept of her passing.
That evening, my daughter’s boyfriend came over, along with a friend of hers from out of town who was still in town from the service the previous weekend, and her friend of many years who lived upstairs from her. (My daughter rented the basement suite below)
The out of town friend Chris brought a gift. – a cool cat cup 😀 I guess technically it is called a mug. But it’s not really muggish. It’s tall and slender. And it has a lid.
Yesterday was Halloween. It was tough. Well I mean, every day is tough. But any day that I think of ‘what we used to do’ makes it super tough. Here are the two of us from two years ago.
I just miss her SO freaking much. So much. I know everyone misses their loved ones when they die. And I know there are worse ways to go, etc etc. Doesn’t stop me from straining to hear her voice in my mind, replaying images of her smile. And wondering what the FUCK is wrong with the universe. Why are deaths so joyous and amazing and births so shitty and fucking horrible. Why don’t we get some sort of clue as to what happens after so that we don’t have to sit around like mental cases, analyzing everything to make sense of it. If death is so natural and whatever then why don’t we get to know? We know how a body is formed, we know how a body decomposes… but the awareness. The identity. What happens?
I’m also getting to this point where I want to know what exactly happened. Why did her heart stop, how come, at her last appointment no one had any red flags waving. Heart palpitations and that sort of thing, the things she wrote off as panic attacks and that seemed to have no basis in anything. Or the lamitrogine she was on for her seizures and whatever, and her tiredness… looking back now there were warning signs. If you look up about Tetralogy of Fallot it says that most people by about 30 go on to have a valve replacement. Was her valve suddenly leaking and no one knew? Could she have been saved? Like… shit. Almost every death, unless from an illness, has so many ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ s . I could let my brain sit in that thought all day and then I would want to go yell at her doctor for not sending her for an immediate echo or other tests.
There was a bit of a derailment. Derailing doesn’t help.
So, back to ‘stuff’. Trick or treating happened. I’m trying to pick up some of the spiritual stuff again because I know I need it. So much of it just feels like fake bullshit right now though.
I did do this, because it felt right. I remember when getting her to give out candy she would tell me that she’d just eat it all. And she’d laugh. I put some chocolate bars out for her and lit some candles to honour all the directions and elements, and lit a diffuser with scented oil. I let the candles burn until I went to bed just past midnight.
Another thing I did last night after we got home, was played Animal Crossing with her littlest bro on 3DS. I have the 3DSxl and he has the 2DS. We went to each other’s town and played tricks with the villagers and got candy that I was giving to Jack for masks and furniture.
It’s the first time I’ve played Animal Crossing in a long while. It feels so strange because she was the one that got me into it, talked me into getting this game a year ago. She had given me her 3DS because she had got herself a new XL. And so her, and her older bro a and I sat around playing on the 3ds’s . The town keeps on going, even when you don’t log in. Seasons change, and the villagers will ask you where the heck you’ve been. It makes me sad to think that her villagers would miss her .. and YES I know they are just npc’s but still 🙁 Her boyfriend goes into her town and tidies things up and stuff. But it still makes me so very, stinking sad :/
Here’s her littlest bro and I playing last night.
I dressed up as a cross between the Cailleach and an owl. Seemed appropriate.
I miss you my sweet girly. <3 Forever and ever, past the sun, moon and stars.
On a happy note, my Doctor Who shirts and some new Doctor Who socks showed up today that I’d ordered only a few days ago. So, I will sign off with that as a bit of cheer.
When a life ends, it’s like the entirety of what they were returns to it’s source. The emptiness and void I feel is the Lack of Her. As she withdrew from here, she disentangled, disengaged from me. Her loss as physically painful as a part of my body being removed. Soon, I hope I will be able to learn to more clearly feel her presence in it’s new form. I know that she manifests in the love of those who care for her, and is part of the same source that activates each of us. But right now, the severing of her from me is so overwhelming that I can’t really feel anything but loss. It isn’t day to day, it’s minute to minute.
Minute to minute.