What 37 years on earth has taught me!

Featured

37th bday  The morning of my 37th birthday. October 2 2017

I’ve always struggled with sleep, as a child I remember making up games in my mind to make myself fall asleep, I would sneak into my parents room and sleep on the floor, as a teen I would read until I passed out. So no surprise on this day – October 2nd – my 37th b-day I was awake at dawn. I tossed and turned desperate to fall back asleep and finally got up to enjoy the quiet of the morning before the chaos began. I poured my coffee and sat down to watch the news.

Well you know by now what I saw. My heart broke, I was in shock, not again. My husband and I have been to LV a least a dozen times in the last decade, we always are on the strip or at a concert or show. Had we been there for my b-day, which was considered, we would have been at the country music festival (we love country music) were this heinous act of  gun violence occurred. We decided not to go because we are going to be running in the Rock and Roll Marathon in LV in November, which is celebrated at the end by a concert. I am not sure we will attend. But we should not let fear win right? Except that in the USA  this year there have been 273 mass shootings (a mass shooting is defined as 4 or more people being killed) last year there was 483! read more in the link below.

http://www.abc15.com/news/data/mass-shootings-in-the-u-s-over-270-mass-shootings-have-occurred-in-2017

So is it safe to travel to the US? We recently- last spring- went to Disney land for the first time, my kids leading up to it did not want to go and I could not understand. The answer came after much interrogation, they did not want to be killed, I said why would you think that? they said everyone has guns in America. Hmmm, yes they have a point. I explained as best I could that there are police everywhere and most places have measures to prevent people bring guns in, although yes there were metal detectors at Disney land most places unfortunately allow guns in the United States, something not legal in Canada. I understood their fear. It is undeniable that America has a gun problem and the debate was proven to be over when 20 babies were killed by an automatic riffle at Sandy Hook 5 years ago and nothing was changed or fixed about their lax or non existent gun laws. It is unfortunate that a country as big and powerful as the USA is more obsessed with their sick gun culture and ‘right to bear arms’ than the right to healthcare or to walk safely in their country without the threat of gun violence.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/if-sandy-hook-didn-t-change-america-s-gun-laws-nothing-will-1.2454880

My kids woke up, I turned off the news and wiped my tears away. They came down the stairs singing happy b-day. Bitter sweet. I hugged them and we started our morning.

Houston Trail

Something I have learned after 37 years…

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed by grief, tragedy and heart ache I need to go outside. Walk amongst the trees in the forest and breathe.

I’ve learned that life gets so much more complex as we age, as people die around us the undeniable reality of our obvious and eventual demise can feel overwhelming

Death also gets ignored by many. Some rush through life trying to be successful, creating a fortune, for what? To be buried in a gold casket? I truly admire the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates that spend their fortune helping others, eradicating polio in Africa- a pretty noble thing to spend your time and money on in your retirement years. Or Oprah Winfrey opening a school for girls in Africa, or Facebook founder Mark Zukerburg donating 100 million to education in the US.

I’ve learned that flashy things are just that things. Things that end up in the landfill.

I’ve learned that I’d rather have enough than a feast.

I’ve learned that real people, honest people, even though honesty can be a hurtful or a hard thing to swallow at times, is much better than the fake people.

I’ve learned that no matter how many push ups or chest presses you do, your armpits and under arms will still get flabby ( and so will your knees- no amount of running will stop that ).

I’ve learned that after 35 you finally stop being so harsh on your body.

I’ve learned to appreciate when it’s quiet.

I’ve learned not to take things for granted. Even when your tired and frustrated, a tug at your sleeve for a hug, or an I love you with a smile can be amazing.

I’ve learned education can change perspective and direction.

I’ve learned that you’re never to old to make mistakes and to keep learning.

I’ve learned that kids are pretty darn smart and much more resilient and accepting than adults.

I’ve learned it is ok to let people judge you, as I have learned it really does not matter what they think. Most do not know you well enough anyway.

I’ve learned no matter how hard you give to others they wont assume they need to give back until you ask.

I’ve learned it is ok to say no.

I’ve learned it is ok to yell and get angry, and it is also ok to say sorry and accept responsibility.

I’ve learned that exercise can do more than just keep your body healthy, but your mind too.

I’ve learned too that there are more ignorant people in the world than I’d hoped as a younger person.

I’ve learned we only get one life and don’t know what comes next, so try your best to cherish it and that does not mean be happy all the time.

I’ve learned that music and dance can heal and rejuvenate the soul, but also trick the mind into feeling young again.

So, I went with my BFF to see the amazing singer, dancer, performer, the person I saw at age 10 at the first concert I had ever attended. We went to see Janet Jackson and danced and sang the night away, and I hadn’t  felt that good,  in a long time.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

Advertisements

When a book stays with you…

Featured

I have always been an avid reader, with a few neighborhood friends but not many school friends once I learned to read and discovered this magical place called the public library that let you borrow books for free I was hooked. I will never forget my excitement every summer as we packed up to go to the cabin we would go to the library, there was always so many I wanted to take out but I was always only aloud two, I think my mom was afraid of them getting lost…  I spent many days of my childhood tucked away in my room reading, then as I became a teen reading into the early mornings. as a young adult I continued my affair with books though not as much as I would have liked, having to work, sleep, deal with life as an adult but also have some sort of a life. Then this magical thing called pregnancy happened and I was allowed to read, all the time again, I added the necessary parenting and child birth books to my repertoire along with my novels. who would have known that that would be the last time I loved to read…

Not right away though, after the birth of my first son, I read to him aloud while he nursed, it is very good for infants to hear their mothers voice as well as a large spread of vocabulary, or so I learnt in one of my previously read baby books. But then they start moving and you don’t get to sit still again…

Soon after the birth of  my second son two years later I realized I hadn’t read a book in a very long time, I was too tired. I was haggard and angry with two little ones that needed all my time. My husband worked long days but also traveled a lot, he saw this change in me I suppose it was the beginning of me losing myself into my children. We went to Mexico after our second turned two, I had not read a full book in almost three years. I was feeling very unhappy. A neighbor at the time who is now a very close friend lent me EAT PRAY LOVE by Liz Gilbert, ‘you have to read this!’ she said. So I reluctantly brought it along knowing I would never get a moment to myself to do so.  I will never forgot the one afternoon, my husband said as the kids napped in the room, I have to answer emails, why don’t you go for a swim or something… I was pleasantly surprised, I grabbed my book and ran out the door, not returning for a few hours, finishing from cover to cover this book that I just had to read. I was changed by the words I read, I connected to Liz’s struggle with her life. I too wanted to be a better me. That book stayed with me for a long time, I re read it over and over for the next few years not wanting to stop the feeling of hope it gave me.

eat pray love          secret         no death no fear

Fast forward  a few years, we fell back in love, our kids became easy little humans no more menacing , time consuming, toddlers. life was good. Life was great! We even finally took a solo trip together to Hawaii – were we conceived…

When we got pregnant again all I could think of was why? not now. everything in our life was so good, why did we go and do something so stupid. I cried and I cried, knowing the hard road another baby would bring. Well not to worry, it was even harder than we could have ever anticipated. The pregnancy was “normal”  but my new baby was not, she was born upside down and backwards, not breathing. She spent her first four weeks of life having surgery and brain scans. She came home for two short weeks and almost died on our living room floor when she stopped breathing, I gave her CPR and she was rushed back to the hospital, where we learned she had an abnormal trachea and would never breathe on her own. She died a week later. Life teaches us so many different things through hardship, if we are willing to see them. But at that moment my life went dark.

After she died I only read books on grief, fiction and non fiction. I needed answers to my thoughts, I wanted understanding to my feelings of hopelessness; my grief, a feeling that was so overwhelming. Article after article, book after book. All on death, grief, bereavement, loss, suicide and coping. The one that I read over and over trying to accept my loss was No death no Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh.

My son said a few years later in a very painful way, you used to laugh when I tickled you.

I also used to read for pleasure too…

Today, five and a half years after my daughters death, I have half read a hundred books, nothing could catch me, nothing mattered, they were all dumb stories.

I did finish a few, for I went back to College wanting a change, a distraction, needing to learn. I read Frankenstein, The Watchmen, Tale of two cities, The Road, The Island of Doctor Moreau to recall a few. All great books by equally great authors. But not until just recently have I noticed I can read with enjoyment again, I think my taste is much more ‘real’ than it was but who knows that would not have happened over time with age.

So I share The Secret  Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton, the first large novel I have read in less than two weeks that I did not want to put down, that I have thought about its contents long after I closed its pages. That I think will stay will me for a long time just like Eat Pray Love did/has.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is about a young family that suffers a tragedy and how they come out on the other side by moving for the summer to a small town where their family is originally from and learning about life, death and the earth. This book touched me in a way that has not happened in a long time. It had yes, my need to examine grief checked off, but it had side stories about different forms of grief, a grief for what was, for what man and greed is doing to the earth, how small southern towns still have a long list of bigotries and prejudices, how society in general still needs to find acceptance. With adventure and truth the family slowly heals, though will be forever changed.

If you are looking for a new read I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instant memories

A flash of  light, lightning in the sky taking you back to a time you forgot, the whiff of a scent instantly transferring you to a moment lost, a picture, a cloud, a breezing wind, a fallen tree random memories show you in an instant. Be they happy or sad they come with no invitation just a reminder tugging at a memory in our subconscious.

Like when I saw a 92′ Mustang yesterday and it reminded me of a childhood friend that was beaten to death in 2002. Or every time I pass an ambulance I think of the time my daughter was taken away for the last time in one. Or when my 4 year old lays on my chest, I am reminded of a favorite memory of mine, when my first born was 2 years old and I was pregnant with my second and he would lay on me as we both napped, I remember thinking it would be the last time it would be just he and I. When I see a lily flower or a rainbow, my daughter pops back in an instant, with a pang in my heart and a glaze in my eye. A lake brings me back to my childhood summers, carefree and swimming.

Every time I eat spaghetti or need to sew something I am reminded of my Nonna that passed away the same year my daughter died, who taught me to sew and fed me the most delicious of Italian cooking. The thought of fishing reminds me of my Nonno who joined her this year. Every time I hear the hideous word cancer, I think of the dozen or so family and friends that have died from various types of that disgusting disease in the last ten years. Or hear of another celebrity that takes their life, via suicide or overdose, I am reminded of the few lost souls of my past that have suffered the same fate. There was three of them, all boys 2 overdosed, 1 suicide, all within a few years of each other.

Thoughts can be so random, but the ones that creep up on you in an instant because of something you see or hear truly amaze me, in that our brains keep everything we have seen, heard or felt, unless shock or trauma have hidden them, but there are still those unfavorable memories we wish we could release from the time capsules in our head. Others we wish we could relive and savor forever.

The smell of a flower, or soup; the look of a stranger or rhyme in a song all triggering instant memories.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

Lost and Found

October 18 2011

 

Where is it all coming from, can it really be simply hormones, is it uncertainty of not knowing

Is it the fear that sits at the back of my mind, guilt of sadness though happiness is all around

Where is the sunshine, the laughter and love for life, we are so lucky yet feel stuck in strife

Trapped down a whole, the dirt pouring in the dust making it harder to breathe

The thoughts of loss, where do they come from, why do I feel this way?



 

November 10 2011

 

How do I share my fear; when my biggest is looking weak

How do I say I’m sinking; when you rely on me to float

Its hard to breathe; yet I am holding my breathe

Waiting to see



 

January 5 2012

 

My life is on hold, my heart is a hole, you are not alone my sweet

My fear is for you but my tears are for me; your smile rarely seen is what I hold on to.

Your strength and will to fight is my way to flow thru life

This is not easy, love is harder but pain and illness, loss and death seem inevitable

We attempt to succeed, we succumb without need

Somehow we survive



 

June 30 2012

 

You are gone and I weep, most nights I cannot sleep

I think of you as I cry into my sleeve, my heart is broken, dreams are lost

My fears realized, faith is shattered

I don’t know how to feel anymore

Your life so short, felt like a lifetime, I wish I could hold you one last time

If only in my dreams



 

February 18 2017

 

Years fly by in a flash, five gone just like that, though they dragged in the moments

They seem vanished in the blink of an eye, my heartbeat painfully slow

Memory falters, though the thoughts never go

Your loss has taught me so much more than you know



 

June 1 2017

 

Hard or week, soft and strong, we wonder where do we belong

You look in the mirror that one odd day, the reflection however does not look the same

Where have you gone, who is this face

The lines show losses, loves, triumphs and defeat

The bags proof of hard sleep

Where has time gone that the reflection has become a stranger


poems.png

Lost thoughts suddenly found

 

Cleaning out a drawer, I found this piece of paper tucked into a book, I looked it over, not remembering haven written it, I read the short notes and their dates, it slowly, foggily comes back to me. I cannot believe I wrote these, I do not remember much of those hard months five years ago and am grateful to have scribbled thoughts at random, that I have now found and added two more recent reflections. Hence my title ‘Lost and Found’. The first and second back in 2011 was when I was pregnant with Lily, the third in 2012 was after her traumatic birth and hospitalization the fourth in 2012 after her death and fifth on the five year anniversary of her death on Feb. 18 of this year. I added the last one just as a current thought on feelings and life.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts and comments always welcome and appreciated.

Sheri

Bean Salad; a memory

As I make dinner for the millionth time, chilli tonight, I add the six bean medley, stir and pause. Beans remind me of my family, baked beans of my father’s family, the stories of how being one of nine kids to parents that were let’s say busy, he had to open his own can of beans for dinner as a child often to eat straight out of the can. Needless to say as child I never ate a baked bean in my life, only when I asked my mom why because I had them as an adult and loved the flavor, she told me my dad forbade them from being in the house, he was a very gentle man, never said no and surely never forbade anything; too painful a memory perhaps.

But this can of mixed beans reminded me of my Nonnas bean salad we ate as kids, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, green beans, covered in vinegar, oil and salt. Delicious! My Nonna died with many recipes still in her brain unfortunately, her husband (my Nonno who was 91) just (she died five years ago) joined her finally. It is hard to think they are gone, they who taught me to sew and fish, who I stayed with on weekends, fighting with my brothers on who got to sleep in whose room, getting to drink Italian sodas and eating French bread dipped in coffee for breakfast.

All these memories brought on by a flow of beans emptying into a pot.

Earlier in the day my cousin posted a photo of my dad’s dad, my Grandpa Matilda(pictured above) when he was twenty-something; so young. Maybe that is what started this train of thoughts, maybe seeing that photo first things in the morning set off this day of reflection, but oh to be able jump into a photo and ask questions.

The past is so enlightening, I have always loved history, taking History twelve as an elective in grade eleven, yes the nerd I am. But it amazes me to know the lives of others, to understand hardships, to wrap your brain around the thought of no permanence, that there were millions of people before that lived and suffered and millions to follow. It is interesting how a photo or a food, a song or a scent can take you to another place.

I leave you with my Nonna’s Bean Salad recipe below.

Thank you for reading.

Namaste,

Sheri

Nonnas Bean Salad 

(Nonno grew his beans, well all the ingredient’s in his garden of course)

2 cups -Italian Roman beans

-substitute with Pinto or Kidney (or use all 3!)

½ – full head chopped Garlic

Bunch of chopped fresh parsley

3tblsp Olive oil

1tblsp vinegar

1tblsp salt & pepper

Tossed together, let sit in fridge for a few hours, overnight is best.

Enjoy its simple fresh goodness.

nona nono

Bruna & Rino Salvalaggio

Grandpa Robert Matilda

Robert Matilda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capture your Grief Poetry 11-15

Altar

Christening

Marriage

Funeral

Service

To rejoice

To love

To cherish

To remember

To dread

Or

Is an altar a business based on your feelings

Or

 A need society has imposed

By Sheri Hall

Music

Fills your heart with a memory

Clears your head from thought

or

Floods your head with memory

Hurts your heart with thought

By Sheri Hall

 

Season

Sparkles in their eyes while a different kind shines in yours

Memories to be made while ones haunt you from before

Laughter becomes forgetfulness if only for a moment

A season can bring many things to light

A summer breeze drawing a calming breathe

A winter chill forcing us to hug tighter

A fragrant bloom making us smile

A falling leaf reminding us we all die

By Sheri Hall

Dark; Light

The dark part of you mind that you run from to find the light

The brightness that makes you cringe and want to hide in the dark

A light chat about the weather can turn into a dark chat about life

A dark sorrow shared can turn into a light weight lifted

Without one there can not be the other

By Sheri Hall

 

Community

Surrounds you; crushes you

Feels you; sympathises you

Feeds you; helps you

Loves to leave you patting themselves on the back

Helps the struggling; counsels the lost

Paid minimally; unappreciated  by their boss

Government; society; a mixed up bunch of ethics

Want versus need gets ignored through greed

Community can mean so many different things

All becomes irrelevant; traveling into the wind

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Up next 16,17 & 18

 

 

 

 

 

Feb. 14 2012

I was naïvely hopeful, ignorantly wistful, my baby had a setback, that was all. We would be discharged very soon and back home to deal with our new reality. I was so focused on what had to be done to live with and take care of a child with multiple disabilities that I had no room for any other reason or facts. I needed to deal with the very arduous task of the hard future, ordering machines, thinking about lifts or special classes or needs necessities. I was blindsided.

She was admitted on Feb, 12 2012 after turning blue in her fathers arms, he screamed for me, I yelled to call 911, I gave her CPR, the attendant told me to lift her neck, a rush of quietly gasping air rushed out, oh ya. I forgot that part; guilt saved for later. She was breathing; gasping. the ambulance came within minutes. Amazing.

The next day a blur, the day after that Valentines day. I walked to the store, down the hall from the PICU in BCCH and bought these three, with so much hope. I bought Lily the little grey elephant thinking it represented her so well, her brothers got what also represented them and they still sleep with them on their bed until this day. I knew or thought, naïvely, at that time, that I would buy her a big one just like her brothers got the next year. I wanted her to pick the one she wanted. Except that did not happen, the next Valentines with her never happened. Forever a heart holiday, just now a broken reminder of one. Not the hopeful ending that everyone is comfortable with but the truth.

lilys-elephant

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

The underside of my heart… or bunk bed.

bunk-bed

 

This is the underside of my kids bunk bed, this is what I have looked at, often fallen asleep staring at while holding my little babies as they too fell asleep. A memory that will forever be in my heart. Let me explain, all three of my kids have slept in this bottom bunk, the upside down Spider-Man on the right was placed there by my oldest when he was two and a half, he loved spider man. He went through three different Spider-Man costumes from the ages of two to five because he wore them as a daily uniform. The Scooby doo sticker placed there by my second born who to this day still loves Scooby, often wearing Scooby doo t-shirts and watching it on TV or reading Scooby books at night. The Barbie sticker placed by the recent occupant of the bottom bunk my fourth child, my princess, my hope. Who is the girlish of girls that loves all that is pink or sparkly. She loves it when I wear heels or jewellery, which is rare.

But why is the underside of this bunk the underside of my heart?

I have spent eight years laying here holding, comforting, reading to and staring at my beautiful children. I have spent nights beside them when they have been sick or scared from a bad dream. I have escaped to this bed after an argument with my spouse to hold their tiny bodies as a comfort myself. I have cried many times staring up at these stickers, wishing time would stop, wanting them not grow up anymore. But also it is my heart because I spent over a year holding my second born, while my oldest was on the top bunk reading aloud to them both, then singing aloud to them both all the while thru tears, pausing to breathe between the shaking of my breath, I was lucky I suppose they were too little to notice I was crying. Certain books got me, like Robert Munsch’s ‘Love You Forever’ or my kindergarteners favorite ‘The Kissing Hand’ which taught him to kiss my hand every time I left him at school and he needed one on his palm in return to hold until the end of the day or a certain lullaby, most have references to babies in them but mostly it was right after I lost my third child at two months old that I cried every night I put them to bed. I cried because I was wasn’t putting her to bed, I cried because I was terrified of losing them too. I cried because I always end my string of lullabies with a song that has her name in it. I was and am still comforted that I had those moments, as hard as they were, they consoled my grief, being able to be with them and not be alone with my thoughts. The physical pain in those early days was excruciating to bare, but I would go back to feel it in a heartbeat.

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

A Poem that Hurts

A poem that hurts

 

Devastation shock loss

Confusion at it all

Tired thoughts only want rest

No one knows what is best

Stay silent send flowers

Condolences put to rest

Hard thoughts and unwillingness to feel blessed

Shame guilt anger grief

Bitterness bleeds

Hidden tears fake smiles

Uncomforting bothersome others

Faucets of the heart turned on high

While life continues to fly by

Sadness settles in a calm cold chill

Forever wanting to be still

No more thoughts

No more sleepless nights

No time to prove who is right

Struggling to continue while wanting to stop

Annoying hum of a ticking clock

Worlds turning never stops

Must continue whispers the voices

But at what cost

Sanity fairness vanity even

What is left of life’s dreary lessons?

 

By Sheri Hall

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five

I cannot believe you will soon be five.

You should be turning five that is.

It hurts to re-live that night five years ago, when you were born and all there is, was silence.

No beautiful wail escaped your body.

I shook in my own tears as I was expecting this moment, as if I knew it was to happen.

Throughout my pregnancy I was terrified something was wrong. It just didn’t feel right. Then it happened, first with excitement at your arrival then with shock as you were backwards folded in half turning blue on exit. The doctor and nurses worked so hard to get you to breathe as your dad held your hand begging you to try.

I was in my own shock; all was silent. I heard nothing, I only assumed you were dead. when the doctor told me they inserted a tube finally helping you to breathe but you needed to go immediately to the NICU, that I couldn’t see you. My mind could not wrap around what was happening or why. That was the hard beginning to your short beautiful life that has changed me forever. As a mother, as a human being who vows to live empathetically and compassionately helping others. I thank you for your time in my life my beautiful child.

I wish you a happy fifth birthday this Dec 30th  wherever you are my sweet angel.

Love always and forever.

mom.