10 years ago…

Ten years, a decade, a century has ten decades, different generations between each one.

My daughter and I were sitting in the Costco check out line. She looks at my member card that she is holding waiting for it to be scanned. She asks me how old I am in the photo on the back. I look at it, it says the date taken, so I know it was ten years ago…

So many thoughts rushed through my memory, so many emotions brought to the surface with one innocent little question.

She asks again, but how old are you, I say it was ten years ago, so ten years younger than I am now. Wow. I am thirty nine. The huge difference between twenty nine and thirty nine are endless but its not that that sticks to me as a shock to the heart. As I ponder her question. She looks at me curiously, and repeats herself, but how old are you here? I say I was twenty nine, she says then how old are you now, I feel a tiny bit annoyed that she wont do the math herself. I am ten years older I repeat, not wanting to say out loud how old I am for some reason. But she persists and I answer I am thirty nine now. This appeases her curiosity.

My mind wanders, where did the last ten years go, I look at the picture, I remember taking it, I remember thinking after that I should have taken my hair out of my ponytail or at least the ugly headband off. Ten years ago was in the before time…

Before my daughter who just asked this question that stirred uncomfortable thoughts was born. Before my daughter before her, whose short life and traumatic events changed me forever. It was when my dad’s dementia was only beginning and his memory of us still good. When both my maternal grandparents were still alive and I saw them every Wednesday for lunch. That created the eternal memory for my then two and four year old boys who call the soup that we always ate there, a simple can of chicken noodle soup, nonnos soup. The mint they’d have after a nonnos mint. To this day we still refer to those two specific items as such. Before I knew grief was embedded in everything. Before I had met dozens of other parents who lost children of various ages to various diseases or tragedy. Before I lost a few years of my boys life to a quiet depression that kept me a moving, walking, doing, zombie. Before I was old. Before when I thought I would still finish my arts degree. When I thought I’d still go out dancing one day. Before when I thought I would go back to work. When I still had hopes and dreams because I was only twenty nine. Ten years later I have a fourteen and a twelve year old, an 8 year old who lives in my mind and a seven year old who amazes me daily. Which always causes the question in my head, had Lily survived would she be here, they would be so different, I can’t dissect those thought too much without immense guilt and eventual tears. Ten years ago I was in the thick of toddler hood, just me and my boys out happlity at the park searching for slugs and worms on a daily basis. Before the racing around to multiple after school activities started. Before life became too busy. When it was slow and I was ignorantly happy. Before my life became consumed by grief and aware of the possibility of tragedy in everyday life. Before my eyes were opened.

Ten years is a long time that passes in an instant. In reflection it was not a wasted ten years just gone so fast and the moments in between so large and life changing. We will see what the next ten will hold. If only we could stop time, just for a moment.

 

Thanks for reading

Sheri

Letter to my daughter

Dear Lily,

I am so sorry for what happened to you.

Every day since I have lived with guilt and  regret. Regret for not advocating that I knew something wasn’t right. I feel guilt over not holding you enough. Guilt that maybe it was something I did or didn’t do to make you so incomplete.

Had we done the surgeries would you have survived?

I was so scared to have a severely handicapped child but I knew I was strong enough to do it and I was willing to learn, but I was also sad knowing none of our lives would ever be the same. After the seizures started and more tests were done we learned that there was so much more wrong with your tiny perfectly imperfect body. That you would never breathe on your own, taste food, drink through your mouth. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand there was the doctor saying you won’t survive the multiple surgeries you needed but on the other hand saying he’ll do them if we ask. I held you, I cried. What I hated the most was the feeling of just wanting it to end.

Your brothers so little didn’t understand why mom and dad were always gone, why you couldn’t come home, why you were born with so many broken pieces. I go back to that day in my mind and it tears my heart out over and over. I remember praying for you to breathe, I remember begging god to let you live, that I would deal with whatever came next that you needed. But you didn’t and I was too afraid of seeing your face after you stopped breathing, I was scared of having nightmares if I looked so I didn’t, I gave you to the nurse and ran out of the hospital. And that is my biggest regret. I should have stayed and I am so sorry. I love you and you will always be my first daughter, my third child.

I honor you as much as I possibly can.

We hang your stocking at Christmas we have balloons on your birthday and plant flowers at the cemetery every February 18. I light candles by your picture whenever I feel you, I stare at the maple tree in the front yard that I planted when I was pregnant with you, knowing it is the age you should be. I will always wonder who you’d be today. I can’t wait to see you again, somewhere over the rainbow.

Love mom

 

 

poor baby

 

 

 

*** My daughter was born frank breach at 41 weeks and lived for 52 days. She had congenital heart disease, a damaged brain stem from birth and needed a tracheotomy to breathe as well as a tube in her stomach to eat. She needed multiple surgeries but also needed to be healthy to survive them.  We took her off life support hoping she would breathe on her own but didn’t.

Rest in peace my angel

Lily Emma Olive Hall

Dec.30.2012- Feb.18.2012

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Thanks for reading

Sheri Hall

Letter to my dad

Dear Dad,

I miss you.  There are so many things I wish I could say but mostly I wish I could give you a hug and see you smile. To hear one of your silly voices telling an even sillier joke. You taught me to care about the little people in life because that’s where you came from. Nine brothers and sisters raised in a poor family that lived in an impoverished neighborhood. No handouts just dealt with what little you had.

You were always so proud to be the only one who graduated and went on to be the foreman at the docks and not stay a longshoreman your whole life like your dad. But the bad memories were too much for you to handle and after your dad died you started drinking a lot and then mom left and you went into a spiral. I was too much of a selfish teenager at the time to care enough to try and stop you. But you still showed up when I needed you, back then anyway.

  I get sad when I think of your childhood but then grateful for how you tried to make ours the opposite. In the end you deserved way more but you never let that show. Always proud; often smiling. I wish you could see how big my kids have gotten; I wish they had you as their quirky grandpa to lean on. But your too far away and don’t remember any of us.  You wouldn’t be able to read this letter or respond or understand the words for that matter but I write them in hopes that the universe hears it.

I love you Daddy.

I miss you so much.

Sheri

dad

 

Thanks for reading

 

 

 

** My dad lives in a care home, he is 68 and has severe dementia and alzheimer’s caused by alcoholism, he is not “dead” but has been gone from his mind for about 5 years and I miss the man he was, as he is a shadow of it today who doesn’t remember any of his family.

 

I see you

Lilly Emma Olive Hall

My sweet Lily Bean January 20 2012

A poem for Lily

I look around and your all I see
Your face in the clouds
Your fingers and hands
Like branches,leaves in the trees
The sunset, so beautiful reminds me of you
The pink of a sunrise
Your lovely soft cheeks
Waves crash to shore
As a smiles alights your face
My thoughts of you surround me
The beauty of nature belongs to you my sweet lily flower.

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Written May 22 2012

By Sheri Hall,  for her daughter Lilly Hall who died 2.5 months earlier.

 

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Quarantine 2020

I miss getting up, getting pretty and going to work.

I miss rushing my kids out the door to school in the morning.

I miss wandering costco with a hot dog in my hand.

I miss going to the gym and pretending to work out for 2 hours but really just rotating cardio equipment and staring at my phone.

I miss watching my kids compete in track and field competitions.

I miss seeing how sweaty my boys get after a ball hockey game.

I miss watching my girl do what she loves best, dance at a studio.

I miss my dad**

and… my mom***.

I miss my grandparents.*

I miss going to their house on Sunday’s for dinner, running through their garden.

I miss picking my kids up from school and learning what they did that day.

I miss hugging my friends.

I miss the old life we all roamed through without much thought.

I’ve gained appreciation.

I’ve gained patience.

I’ve gained extra time with my kids at home.

I’ve gained 6 pounds.

I’ve gained love for the things that used to stress me out.

I’ve gained thoughts and reflection.

I hope the world stays a little quieter.

I hope we’ve learned we don’t need as much as we were told.

I hope our expectations have lowered.

I hope for spaces to remain untouched.

I hope for distance traveled to be less common.

I hope connections become more relevant.

I hope we all learned a lesson.

I hope we don’t go back to the destructive ways we got so conveniently accustomed to.

I hope we grow, learn, become a better society.

But this new normal does cause grief for what was, what’s gone and what may never return.

And that’s ok, too feel sad about too.

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

 

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*All 4 of my grandparents have passed, but this isolation has brought moments to reflect and memories long missed.

**My dad has dementia and lives in a home that doesn’t allow visitors, though his memory was a problem before this, so I’ve missed him for years now.

*** My mom moved to the states 18 years ago, gave up her Canadian citizenship and married a republican. We only saw each other 2x a year anyways but with USA and our borders closed for indefinitely who knows when my kids will see their Grandma again.

‘Living in the Bottom of a Well’

**I wrote this 8 years ago (2012) 2 months after losing my 2 month old daughter.

2 months later I was at my Nonna’s funeral, the same funeral officiant was there, my uncle was ” impressed” by our service and asked for her name. I was not pleased with how she missed things we wanted included and focused on things we didn’t but regardless of that, what still bothers me today is that when she saw me at my Grandma’s funeral just 2 months after my daughters she gave no condolences but simply asked how long has it been since Lily died?  I replied 4 months, her response, to which she was clearly proud of or thought revealing to me? Was solemnly, ‘ahh (nodding her head) double as long as she lived’…I just stared blankly and she excused herself.

I knew even though I didn’t want to, what she meant, and I found it immediately after a quick google search upon getting home that day. Many say grief lasts as long as a relationship… However it more references broken relationships not death. And in that, I don’t think I will or can possibly grieve some as long as I have known them. Thats absurd and in that moment, I realized she was a fraud. Who learned to comfort with words but ultimately was paid to speak.

You look up, you see a small circle of light and know that it is the way out.

It is closer than you think. But it is very small; its hard to tilt your head, you don’t want to look up.

You look around at the stone walls that surround you, the cold comfort of a solid unbreakable wall.  Some would feel claustrophobic but not you.
Here is where you can be you. Here is where you feel sad, look sad, be sad without those around you being uncomfortable. Without worry of hiding.

The ones that see you down there might stop and yell. Are you ok?Or how are you? But they dont want to hear the answer- so you tell them what they want to hear- I’m ok or I’m fine and they go on their way.
Some  may bring you flowers and place them nicely in a circle around your well, this cheers them up, this makes them feel like they are being sympathetic. Why flowers? Is it my birthday? Are we celebrating something? They look nice so now when you walk by my well, with me hiding in the bottom curled in a ball, not daring to look up.
You do not feel so sad because you see all the beautiful flowers and think -wow look how many people care! That makes them feel better- those flowers do not cheer me up, I am not celebrating my childs death, when the flowers die I must throw them away, it is a task I cannot do nor want to do.
I look around at my hole I have been thrown down, I dont want to climb out.

Here I am comforted by my pain. Here I am not pretending. Here I am me.
No one wants to go down a well; you may not be able to get out! But when you lose a child, when you hold them in your arms as they die, you fall down that well, at some point you wake up.
You realize what has happened, it may be weeks, months or days, but it hits you like a brick, you are stuck at the bottom of this deep dark well. It echoes your cries, as well as your tears that fall to the cement floor like bombs. You re-live the most painful of memories down there.
You want every one to stay out! This is not a problem since no one wants to join you down there; no one wants to see that pain.
People tend to look at grief and tragedy as though-What if that happened to me? They are not thinking of your pain. They want to cheer you up- they want to cook for you- which is very nice, but hard when you do not taste anything let alone want to eat. You shove the food in your freezer, you say thank you, they feel better and go on their way. People say things like -I didnt want to upset you, as though not mentioning it means you are not thinking about it.
I have come to realize this society doesnt cope well with death, everyone wants to acknowledge it once then for it to go away, some do not say anything at all to pretend like nothing happened, those are the selfish people. I have seen how I have become invisible to some or perhaps they dont want to see me? Because they do not want to think about what happened to me. Some people think negativity breeds negativity- that could not be farther from the truth. Yes negative people are not fun to be around, but negative or more accurately -a tragedy is not caused by anything. 

It is life. Life is full of suffering, we all suffer at different times in life and how we deal with other people suffering really shows our true character.
They want you not to feel uncomfortable when they are being sad- because it is ok to be sad. Unfortunately we live in a world that prefers fake realities and big smiles over having to deal with or accept our feelings & hurts. So we simply do not talk about it. We cheer you up and bring you flowers. If we were able to grieve without being concerned of making others uncomfortable with our sadness then maybe we would not feel like we were stuck in the bottom of a well, one day I will climb out and face the world. Maybe one day when I walk past someone else stuck in a well I will join them,  help them, listen and cry because it is ok to be sad.

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

International Bereaved Mothers Day 2020

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beautiful mother bereaved moms day

Wishing you a peaceful day as you honor you child 🙏

Sheri

Facebook memories…

A few times a year, every year since it started anyway. Facebook reminds you of something you wrote or a picture you posted, an article you shared. Its neat in a way to be reminded. And its shown me also how much I’ve grown. There has been times when I’ve re read something from 6/7/8 years ago and immediately deleted it thinking, wow, why would I say/share that? Theres the causes some of us promote that make you say oh ya, I attended that protest…

And like I’m sure in a few years when we will all be reminded of the pandemic of 2020, the toilet paper hoarders and quarantined spring break.

 

My daughter’s 7th bday cancelled, on top of our trip to Disneyland. Shes having a hard week to say the least.

 

My sons upcoming track season cancelled. Other sons ball hockey season, which was most likely his last, cancelled.

 

My mom lives in another country and my dad in a home on the island, so if this is our new normal, the borders closed and care homes shut down from visiting. Maybe I will never see see them again?

 

This is a scary time with the world coming to stop. Great for the earth. Bad for the economy. Great to reconnect inside your home. Bad for pretty much all else.

 

Back to Facebook memories though, my timeline is flooded in December, my angel daughter’s bday and traumatic start to life.  January, where she came home for a short time, February when she died. Theres lots and at first it hurt to see them hut now I am grateful. Below is one I got this morning, I wrote it 13 months after she died…

 

Thanks for reading.

 

“My pain is real and I ache for you, I try to be strong, but wanting you back replaces all the logic in my mind, the nights are hard because of the silence, the days are long because of your absence.”

 

-Sheri Hall

 

Comments and sharing always welcome and encouraged.🙏

Just Breathe

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/13/how-to-stay-calm-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-anxiety-relief-tips.html

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/10-tricks-successful-people-use-stay-calm-stressful-situations.htm

How to Stay Calm in Times of Stress — An Enneagram Expert Weighs In

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/13/how-to-stay-calm-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-anxiety-relief-tips.html

 

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My nonna and nonno would be proud of their home country, not because of how it showed their weakness but how it proved its strength in hard times.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/12/everything-will-be-alright-italians-share-slogan-of-hope-in-face-of-coronavirus-crisis

https://www.vox.com/culture/2020/3/13/21179293/coronavirus-italy-covid19-music-balconies-sing

 

Thank you for reading,

Please wash your hands and stay safe.

Sheri

Pushed to my limits

Today I was at the gym, I just finished an intense tabata class that ended with yoga and I was just so overcome with emotion, I just started crying, not loud, not uncontrollably- until I was safely hidden in the bathroom that is, just tears began to flow down my cheeks, I thought of you. I felt raw; with my body pushed to its limits my brain wasn’t able to ignore the feelings that swept over me, the feeling of achievement but defeat. The feeling of strength but weakness, I can’t explain it although, after I cried I realized this used to happen to me almost daily, after you died.

I realized I missed this feeling, because even though it tortures my heart, it hurts for you, because of you, I miss you and I miss being so broken that at times I cant stop the tears, because after I always feel closer to you. Time moves on but I wish I could go back but I cant and I cant change anything and I don’t want to move farther away from the touch of you. I just want time to stop just for a moment.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri