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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on from grief; my journey to accepting acceptance

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Moving on from grief; my journey to accepting acceptance

As I walked into my house late, arriving home just before midnight after a long ten hour travel day, carrying my youngest to her bed, whose birthday happens to be the following day, a quiet stress in the back of my mind as I have nothing planned. She wakes in and out of sleep as I place her down asking to watch the Trolls movie before bed , as I shush her that its very late and to go back to sleep. I walk past Lily’s photo that sits outside what was Lily’s room but is now Hopes. I pause for a moment, as a tiny quiver of shock goes through me, why did I enjoy this trip so much? For so long, five years to be exact I cannot remember really enjoying anything, not fully, not appreciating what or where it was we were, we have gone to Hawaii twice and Mexico once since she died, I “enjoyed” those family trips, but if I am honest, I was never happy during them, not as I felt during this trip. Was it not having thought about her as much? No, that’s ridiculous, of course I thought of her, but perhaps the veil has lifted, maybe the dark clouds that I felt attached to my heart lessened their grip. She is always in my heart but during this trip it was not like it is when I am at home surrounded by her memory, her presence, our loss.

Having just returned from an incredibly satisfying family trip, one that was to be underestimated but had over returned; that was fully dreaded, line ups, fast food, adults in costume, ugh, Disneyland. But we planned to see lots of other parts of California as well. Who knew the republic that is the state of California is so beautiful; San Clemente pier, Huntington Beach, Pasadena Ranch, even LA and Anaheim were cool to drive through, which started my pondering……

Guilt approaches my thoughts, but I quickly realize, no, that is not right; I deserve a reprieve from my self-imposed guilt. I am proud for the hard treacherous journey my grief has taken me through, what I have learned, how I have changed and grown. I am happy I was able to enjoy such a memorable family trip with my still living children, to be present for the first time in….well, how long makes me sad for them, my beautiful children that are alive, the ones that have received less of their mother because she has been stuck in a whirlwind of her grief. The one that has yelled too quickly because of their interrupting, poorly timed ways, their normalness, brought noise into my grief, where I wanted so much to simply be alone in silence. I have loved them, fed them, clothes and cleaned them, yes. But the mom that used to wrestle and laugh so freely has been trapped in a broken heart. That realization alone makes me sad for them, for me. I needed my time, I cannot believe five years past in a fog, although, it was thickest the first few years, it is lifted seemingly, I think. I am sure it will roll in from time to time and I welcome it, but I am also happy to feel happy again. I am happy to have a random dance party with loud noise at no notice with my kids. If asked, I wonder what they’d say of the last five years. Probably not much, as we all know, we are all way more self centered then we see. They may not have even noticed my withdrawal, not as I felt it, or see in hindsight. I was harder on them and they loved me more.

My heart now an ache for the time that has past, five years in a child’s life is huge, and the physical, emotional and mental growth that happens. I cannot go back; I can cherish specific moments of course, but am happy to feel other enlightening emotions again. Happy to be the present mother they deserve. I still miss and love my child that died five years ago, but my acceptance of her death has come with the revelation that I cannot change the past, nor need to dwell in its circumstances. But do need to focus on what we had and still have. This by no means that she will be forgotten just remembered differently, without the pain of guilt and remorse; but with love for the luck of having had her for a moment, along with the life lessons she has taught.

It brought me to a conclusion, if only for myself. We are all aware, some mildly, some very familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s five stages of grief. At some point in raw grief after a loss, we want answers we want to understand what is happening; at times we are so lost we want to know if and when it will end. So Ross’s theory of five stages is where we inevitably find ourselves reading about. At first I agreed with them whole heartedly, it makes sense for grief to have a timeframe of stages, all of which also make sense in completing in order to “move on”, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance but what comes with these stages is not a time frame put on them by Kubler-Ross herself but by society, Somewhere, over time, since her now famous book called ‘On Death and Dying’ was published in 1969, society has given the grieving about a year to get through their stages of grief, a few months to mull in each one. This is where I completely disagree with societies standards on grieving, seeing as it has taken me a five full years to get to acceptance, one could say each stage deserves a full year to fully live in and become aware of the stage your are at. For example the first year I was trapped in denial not even aware I was, because it was the shock that took quite a while to wear off, then a denial that I could not really comprehend that this had happened to me, to her, to us. I honestly did not believe it for a very, very long time, combined with the night terrors caused by the PTSD I suffered, it felt like a dream at times, with me not being able to wake up. Then the anger came, but it came at a time when a lot of people thought I should have been done grieving, after a year. And yes, I was angry, at everyone and anyone that dare mention her name, or their grief! The bargaining came in different forms around year three, begging for bad things to not happen, hadn’t I gone through enough? I would do more to help others if only my living children would be left alone. As depression sets in due to the length of time that has passed, you feel confused, others wonder what’s’ wrong because it has been so long, although in reality, is four years that long? So you begin, again, searching for answers, or help, or ways to move forward because you have spent time in the other stages you are ready to deal with this depression, and not that long ago, as I said earlier, the trip I just took with my family was the first I really enjoyed, felt at peace and allowed myself to be happy. Had I reached acceptance? And if I had why did I feel bad about it? Did I assume I would grieve forever? Yes. Was I prepared to grieve forever? Yes. Often when the tears came less frequently just that fact made me sad, like the further away her life moved, the less I felt her in my heart, but that is not true. I can take as many moments I want to remember her and should be thankful the whirlwind does not just snatch me up as it used to, but it is a process of constant awareness, as well as, allowing myself to still grieve if I felt the need, but also to feel happy with what we have and where we are at, without guilt. Everyone’s journey is different but I think if we can all collectively agree that each stage deserves a year and not to expect someone to feel normal until year five the burden of grief will be lessened on the grievers. But also to so mention it is not limited to this time frame, I have met parents that did not feel “normal” until year seven and ten, what I am trying to say is that the notion that grief lasts a year is ridiculous, the notion that it never ends is also silly though, I once believed it would never end, and I still have moments of intense sadness, clearly not as frequent or uncontrollable but today five years later and I am able to laugh freely without shame, enjoy moments without guilt. I am not saying yours will only last five years, everyone’s journey is different and some grief may only last a couple years. All I know is that back in those first six months when I attended bereavement meetings a blubbering mess barely able to string coherent words together, the common sentiment to me from those that had multiple years, some decades behind them and their grief, they said, ‘it does get better’ and I was so comforted by that phrase. And the fact that they saw my pain and came up to me to tell me it gets better in hopes of lessening my pain. I appreciated those words, as I hope you appreciate mine now. It does get better, in your own time at your own pace.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

Ps, I would love some feedback, I started out intending to write a completely different post about my vacation without my fourth child but in following my heart and letting my fingers type, I am surprised at the conclusion and turn it took. If you have a similar experience with grief or writing or any other feedback on my conclusion please comment below. Thanks – much love.

Capture your Grief Poetry final 5

Express

Your broken heart in a picture; words on a card

Thoughts on a page; heart on your sleeve

Tears on you pillow;  wind in your hair

Expression is always there

Wisdom

From experience it grows inside

For us to find when we lie

Down to reflect of past wins or losses

Wisdom comes from within

Welcome what it has taught us

Some find it hard to see but we need to feel inside

for it to reach us; not to hide

Reflect

The stranger in the window; you have forgotten who it is

Think back to a time when it looked familiar

Who is that face staring back at you

Time changes the reflection of ourselves

The passing of time cause us to reflect

As we reflect on the reflection in the window

Intention

What is the intention; we often ask

Is it pure, honest, real

Do we trust or question ones intention

Research, calculate its truth

To whom does the best intention help

You or me

Or no one

Our intentions can be misinterpreted, misread or misunderstood

Is it why we keep our deepest intentions private?

Sunset

Peace, color, thought

Night, leaving, end

Dark, moon, rise

Red, orange, yellow turn to black

Happy to sad; here to gone

Quiet

Goodbye sun

Thank you for Reading,

Namaste. Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45

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

Capture your Grief Poetry Days 8-10

 

Resource

1 800 grief; if only it were so simple

Wanting for a space for it to be free

Holed up in your soul crying; banging on your heart to be let out

Book after book, searching for answers

If only there was a number to call

The other end knowing  all

By Sheri Hall

Memory

Those eyes pierced in mine

A memory that fades over time

Her smile etched on my heart

Harder to see the longer we’ve been apart

Memory is a funny thing

The ones we wish to stay linger at the edges

The ones we wish to forget

Haunt us; dredges

Our souls cry for the memory of a last touch

Our mind remembers the last breath

To jump into a memory for a moment would be bliss

A painful fall; willing to risk

By Sheri Hall

Support

Awkward glances, wayward looks

Silent pity

The imaginary hallway that forms as you move pass

A parameter appears where there seems to be a shield

Forcing the uncomfortable ones aside

It is ok, their support will come

A time appears when you look others in the eye; again

You see their shy smile

 You understand over time; they want to support but did not know how

They gave you space; that was their support

Others came in unabashedly

Some even annoyingly

The support you appreciate most after all is the silent ones

The quiet notes left behind

The understanding nods

The support we do not always see

But after time we feel it

We learn it was there all along

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Up next 11,12 & 13

Poems on the Heart, Before & Now

Heart

I felt my heart break

 As the words I did not want to hear filled the silence

Your child will die

Even as I write about her

I feel my heart beat so violently

As my hands begin to shake on the keyboard

Remembering that moment my heart broke

Feels it is cracking a little more

At the memory

Her heart was broken when she was born

That is why she is not here

Now we share a broken heart

Though I must live with mine

By Sheri Hall

Before

Ignorance was bliss

Death a distant thought

Problems petty

Always enough time

Free to complain

Love to whine

Future filled with dreams

Undetermined life to complete

All the space to be free

Before is now a category

No longer a dream

A reality

That never came to be

By Sheri Hall

Now

I look for signs

A flower unsuspectedly growing where one was not planted

A cloud shaped like a heart floating by

Hummingbirds buzzing at the front door; never seen there before

A sudden star beaming from the sky

The song at just the right time on the way home

Unprovoked thoughts

 Sudden tears

Overheard words

Irrational fears

Guilt claims a space

Regret moves in next door

Reality sets in

The new normal

Must begin

Now

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading

(up next #5,6 & 7)

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Namaste,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Challenge- Dreams, A job, Childhood

Dreams

Walking on a rainbow; she smiles

Floating on a cloud; she laughs

Whistling of the wind; are you ok? She asks

When my nose is cold; I think of you

Her eyes as dark as the moon is bright

Look into my heart; soothing the chills

Her stare holds me in an embrace

My eyes puddle; at a chance to see her face

As the sun comes up

I reach out my hand

She is gone again

By Sheri Hall

Childhood

Some remember it fondly

Some wish to forget

Innocent adventures imagination brought

Hungry hours stretched into darkness only food as thoughts

Silly friends with arts and crafts teachers taught

Forced labor with a harsh hand hardened hearts wrought

Lucky few born in a better place or a different colored face

Others rose to simply survive

Childhood can be many things

But very different memories for us all to bring

By Sheri Hall

 

 

A job

The twinkle in the eye as you start your first day of your first job

What will you do, who will you meet, how you will learn?

The world becomes different, different rules outside of family or school

New skills get formed, new friendships made; authority becomes your boss

That summer you tried something different

Babysitting, carwashes, fruit picking so many fond memories the first one

A shame though that as we grow our job becomes less than

Less fulfilling than when it is only for fun or pocket money

But now for life for rent for food it

Becomes a must not a want

A job is many things

The water a waiter brings

The pool that gets cleaned everyday

The weeds that get pulled as the houses are painted

The food that is grown and delivered to the store by the drivers

The stock people that unload the food into the store or ring up the register

The person that cleans the messes

While the people upstairs fill out the invoices and paychecks

The mom that cooks, cleans, wipes dirty faces

So many jobs but the one we always remember

That first one with the happiness it brought

By Sheri Hall