Balancing The Lies Amoung The Truth

Blog postOriginally written for Still Standing Magazine – February 20, 2018

Some days I was a truth teller and some days I was a liar. What I wasn’t expecting was how easily the lies would roll off my tongue. Chatting about how busy I was going to be, talking about how three little boys under three will be noisy and crazy, how blessed I was to have them. These are the expected conversations while out and about with a one and two-year-old boys while visibly pregnant. People would comment how glowing I was. I clearly mastered the art of lying with my whole being. It must have been the smile, and belly rub as I agreed my life would be hectic.

The truth be told there would never be three little boys, my house wouldn’t be filled with the noise and the hectic life they envision, and I talked about. My hands would be full but with a mountain of grief, not three little boys. I knew my baby was going to die, he just didn’t stand a chance with multiple heart defects.

Telling the truth was possible but I had to feel safe. I was so protective of him and my choice to carry him for as long as possible. That choice isn’t right for everyone and I was sometimes judged. The lies were easier to tell than the truth. The truth was hard, it was hard for others to hear and incredibly hard for me to tell. At times I carried on with these lies with people I knew eventually would learn the truth. People like my esthetician who does my eyebrows, I even contemplated never going back after he was born because she would then find out I was lying to her every visit

He was dying, I knew it, but it was so hard to be honest about it. It was that look I would get when the truth was told, it cut so deep to see the instant pain within someone else’s heart my truth just inflicted. Everyone who knew us felt his loss, I didn’t own it alone, he wasn’t only mine. He was a neighbour, a friend, an acquaintance, a relative, my son and his name is Theodore.

To walk around looking so normal and people always wanting to politely chat about it was a double edge sword. The lies made me feel normal, but they also told my soul all that it will be missing. I had to shelf the grief of the life I thought I would live to stay present with my baby. To give him all he deserved I had no choice but to make my daily mantra “Today I am pregnant, today Teddy is alive” and live today as it could be his last, flooding him with love. Being his Mother, my only job was to love and support him through his journey, I was powerless to do anything else.

Two years ago, Teddy was born and died 22 minutes later, we said hello and goodbye. It was then the truth teller was born. The truth is heavy but speaking his truth lightens my heart. He was real, he mattered, and his truth holds profound beauty.

To all the truth tellers and liars that walked before me and all those who walk behind me I see you, I feel you and I admire your strength.

Happy 2nd Birthday 🎂

Dear Teddy

Today is just another day for the billions that fill this earth. To your parents it is the day our world stopped turning just two years ago. This day will forever be the most significant day of our lives, as will the ten day pilgrimage we walk leading up to it. In the past two years we have learned to allow our world to rotate once again but it will never spin quite like it once did. Our hearts will always beat with a hollow sound since you took such a big piece of it with when you left us. To so many today is meaningless or holds other significance to us it is everything. I honestly think only those who have suffered a life altering experience could possibly fully understand.

As your Mom two years sounds like a huge amount of time. It is 731 days to be exact. I feel like it was yesterday and forever ago all wrapped up in one. So many of those days I wondered if I was going to be able to keep walking further away from that moment in time where we parted ways. I wondered who I will become, would I ever feel whole again, and would I ever find the old me.

Whole? Nope, it is impossible. You are gone only to reunited when my days are done here. Who have I become? I became a woman who has learned all about grace and giving it to so many. Some who truly deserve it and some who aren’t as deserving but you my love have taught me to choose love. It has been a learning process and I haven’t mastered it but you have changed me with that one simple lesson. What I have also learned is choosing love sometimes isn’t easy, sometimes it creates waves, and sometimes it cuts ties. Will I ever find the old me? Nope nor do I want to.

The first year without you I was so consumed with putting one foot in front of the next, working tirelessly to try and find peace with all that life gave me when you left. This last year has been about seeing the aftermath of your loss, all that has been affected in other areas in my life. The relationships that grew and became so strong, the relationships that didn’t weather the storm so well, the ones worth fixing and the ones that are healthier to release.

I had no clue leading up to your death that I wasn’t just loosing you. The loss is widespread, some days it all cuts me to the core and other days I find my way to forgiveness, understanding and peace. Losing you to me is easy to make peace with, it is the rest that has truly tested me. Those losses feel so unfair. It seems so cruel to take you, my precious baby, my heart, my soul but then to have such a widespread ripple effect. No one seems to tell you about the true aftermath. It seems like as you sort one thing out and come to terms with that new reality, another layer is peeled back and the next ripple is revealed.

I have no idea what the theme will be about for this next year. Third year’s a charm? Isn’t that a saying? I hope so. . . but maybe doesn’t apply here.

Today for me is not just another day. Today we celebrate you, we mourn you, we feel you, we acknowledge your importance, and love you. As time rolls on you might not be top of mind for many, you aren’t here, people never met you, but to us you are everything and you are as important today as the day you made my womb your home, the day you were born, the day you died, the day we had a funeral for you. You matter. You are loved, you are missed. Your absences felt always, today and forever.

Birthdays aren’t always cupcakes, balloons and laughter, sometimes they are like today, heavy hearted. It’s just real life.

Loving you today, and every other day to follow. Thank you for being my teacher.

Happy 2nd Birthday my love,

Your fearless Mommy

Full Circle

Tomorrow marks the first day of our final 10 days with Teddy two years ago. There are two types of deaths, the sudden and those that play out over time. Teddy’s death played out over ten days. Prior to that as much as we knew he would die we remained hopeful. Hope is a life line. Without it, it all felt impossible. Two years ago we drove to SickKids in Toronto for a routine fetal echo. Two years ago we sat in a room, a doctor walked in with a look written all over his face. I knew by his eyes Teddy journey was ending way sooner than I was ready for. It was the moment my stomach hit the floor and my heart caught up to it shortly there after. It was confirmed the end was near, he was an incredibly sick little boy and the doctor thought he might survive a few hours to maybe a day. He gave us ten. Ten days that were incredibly hard, so hard there isn’t a word in the English language to articulate it properly. Ten days that were the greatest gift Teddy and God could have ever given me. Because he didn’t die instantly, because we had these days together I don’t have one day that feels hard to relive but ten. It is the ten day pilgrimage to the birth of our third son, the only day in my life that will ever hold the full range of beauty. The birth, the death, the baptism, the love, the only and final good bye.

Two years ago I was preparing for his birth, his death, his funeral. Last year I was busy creating cards to celebrate him while spreading his message of love. This year I hold our newborn. Every year is so different from the last. I believe as each rolls on I will reflect on each year and see the growth, the pain, and the gifts. The common threads through it all I believe will be how my love is unwavering, my gratitude is abundant, my heart longing for him, and his importance in our family.

Sunday we baptized our precious Zooey Helen. A day filled with love, but leading up to it felt heavy, and a day I actually wasn’t ready for. I spent time in the couple weeks leading up to it trying to figure out my emotions and sort out what was really going on. I couldn’t bring myself to order a cake, I couldn’t arrange the party afterwards. I was paralyzed and it wasn’t something I haven’t ever experienced before. I want Zooey to have a Mother that can be fully present in her moments. I wanted this for her birth and for her baptism and the reality is it is impossible. Those were experiences that I shared with Teddy, and doing them again was hard. The truth is her brother died. He died before she was born and because of that, it comes with sharing at least those two moments with him. He didn’t have any more moments in his time with us so they are the only two they have to share and I believe Zooey would generously give us all of that. She might even be honoured to do so.

I have realized throughout the past few years I have these moments that I am forced to go full circle. Zooey’s birth and baptism were one of those times. As I was figuring what I was really feeling with the baptism I was lead to look at what I feel when I am at Church. This building houses so much life for Ryan and I. Even before we were married Ryan and I attended Church. We always sat upstairs in the balcony. As we were planning our wedding I would sit there envisioning this magical day that was in the horizon. We said our vows, promising on that stage to love and support each other with God as our helper. I had no clue at that moment how much we would actually need his help in the next few years. Once we were married my dreams of our wedding day switched to envisioning the day we are parents and could proudly baptize our children. But years went by as we watch so many other families doing what we desperately wanted for ourselves. We sat in that balcony praying fiercely to be blessed with a child, and held back tears as we watched the other families go before us . Finally our day comes, not once but four times, only one of these baptisms wasn’t on that stage, it was in the hospital only hours before we said goodbye forever. Our Teddy made his way to that stage but it was for his funeral. So where we said our vows and baptized two children I stood reading Theodore’s eulogy. We never did sit upstairs regularly since that day. Instead we sit up front one seat back from where we sat that day we honoured Teddy and those seats almost always remain empty. So as the weeks went by and Zooey’s baptism approached I would often look back up and think of that girl. The girl who once thought optimistically of the life she thought we were intended to live with no clue the significance the walls around us would hold. I thought about those tears I would hold back in church and would fall once we left after witnessing a baptism. I wondered if any of those families felt as I did on this past Sunday. Not knowing their story, they too could have felt very conflicted. Could there have been someone else looking upon us not knowing our story and feeling what I once felt? This Sunday during the service after Zooey’s baptism Pastor David talked about judgment and as he spoke I thought about not the judgements I have made but more about all the assumptions.

The circle is complete, our last child is baptized, the day was perfect and exactly as intended. I am grateful for having those hard days that forced me to look deeply and sort out what it was about. I see it all clearly now, I see the importance and the role faith has played out in our life together. Zooey’s baptism allowed me to connect the dots in a way I am not sure I ever would have without it.

I am not sure what these next ten days will feel like as I make my way through them. What I am sure of is it will be a mixed bag, it will be different from the last two years and different from all the rest to follow so I intend to remain very present, to find gratitude for this unique journey, to feel it all, and to grow as much as possible through it.

Being blessed isn’t about living an easy life, but living one rich with lessons, with growth, and having the ability to find gratitude even in the hard moments. Because we are blessed our life is rich.

xoxo Momma Bear

12 Months of Lessons. Hello 2017

As we are turning over the calendar page to begin a new year I am feeling open and optimistic that 2017 will bring love, peace and joy.

Starting a new year for our family is a time we reflect upon the year we just lived, we review our goals we had set, we create a photo album containing moments captured during our family adventures and everyday life, and Ryan puts together a video containing clips with moments we have captured throughout the year. Every other year doing this ritual feels good, we feel proud of all we have accomplished, all the adventures we experienced and grateful for all the memories we have made with friends and family. This year is different. This past year was hard. Harder than any year we have lived to date. I hope it is the hardest year we will have to live. I see all the pictures of all the moments we experienced as a family and as beautiful as they are, and as much gratitude I have for those moments I see Teddy missing. I see my eyes in the pictures and in many I see how the light was dimmed. I see pain, I see through my eyes as if they are a window to my soul and see all I have felt this last year. It is hard for me to see. I also see the light being let back in as the pictures progress. The final family picture of 2016 was our Christmas picture we put on our cards we sent out and my eyes are finally full of light again. When that picture was taken I had a great sense of peace and my heart was filled with gratitude and joy.

The first year living with grief teaches you a lot. I am grateful for the lessons and as hard as this year has been I wouldn’t change it. I have learned we are stronger than we ever imagined. Being strong looks different every day and means something different to different people. Being strong for me has been the following.

  • Accepting when my heart was far too heavy to continue with my everyday life, and allowing myself to feel and honour all that my heart was feeling.
  • Waking up everyday and parenting two beautiful boys when my heart was so broken, and couldn’t help but see Teddy missing every time I looked at them.
  • Talking openly and honestly about our experience to help others who have experienced a similar journey feel less alone.
  • Keeping my heart open to allow joy, love and peace in when it would have been easier to shut my heart down and protect it from future heartache.
  • Choosing to seek help from many avenues and being committed to finding peace. I attended a grief retreat, went to counselling with Ryan, had Reiki, saw a Shaman, spoke to our minister, talked honestly to those I trust to hold my heart gently and without judgment, attended peer grief meetings, and wrote about it all, especially when it was hard and messy.
  • Allowing myself to feel joy and love for those in my life when they were blessed with beautiful life moments. It was hard at times for all involved to separate our heartache and the joy of their blessings.
  • Having the realization that our level of grief and sadness doesn’t equal our level of love for the one who died. You can love that person deeply and have a heart filled with joy for the life you are living even if it is without them physically present.
  • Openly admitting when my heart was heavy, life felt messy, and then also openly sharing when joy and peace have been welcomed and was allowed to stay.
  • Accepting help, asking for help, and learning to lean on others.
  • Giving grace to friends, family and even strangers who have been unknowingly hurtful, and to all who have judged not knowing what it feels like to be us. I have also had to give myself grace in times I have spoken words driven from hurt, or moments it would have been easier to be angry, place blame and/or have unloving feelings towards myself.
  • Finding peace, and welcoming it to stay took a lot of strength. I can say a lot of the time peace now stays for weeks. I have moments that feel heavy but they are mostly fleeting. This isn’t to say I don’t have times when sadness hangs around a bit longer or that in my life times won’t feel hard but by allowing peace to stay has given me more strength to allow emotions to be flowing in and out freely. I no longer hang on to them. I am more present and more open.

Being strong never looks exactly the same twice. It isn’t the same for different people and one’s strength can’t truly be judge by others, not even by those who have experienced a similar loss. We have all been blessed with unique circumstances in life, we have been gifted hearts that feel deeply and journey that is unique to its own. Knowing that it would seem like commons sense how we navigate a journey of deep loss would also be unique but so often people compare and judge. We judge ourselves amongst other’s journey with grief and the people on the sidelines tend to judge what they see looking in. Both equally unfair to everyone involved.

I have learned when we experience a loss the ripple effect is larger than we initially imagine. As time rolls on the realization that the loss continues in many forms. You are excluded from events or activities because either your heart can’t handle attending, or because you no longer belong. Relationship change some become stronger and new ones are formed, and other times the cracks in a relationship become very apparent and you are unable to unsee them. The death of someone you love is multi layered and is always unique to the individual.

Practicing mindful gratitude has taught me that in my darkest days there is always a glimmer of light to hold onto. Being grateful for blessings and teachings because of a loss doesn’t mean you are grateful the person died

Grief isn’t a party of one. It effects all those who love, share space and interact with the person experiencing the grief. It takes a village to get through it. We are all called to be apart of each other’s life experiences allowing us to grow, to become more compassionate and more aware of all that others experience in life. We can’t live it all ourselves but we can learn though those around us. It truly is a gift.

I have realized once you experience a life altering moment the old you is gone, a distant memory, and a person you and others might miss. The new you may be a better version of the old you, but it takes time to find your way there. It is one of the ripple effects to grief, and an added layer of loss but also could be a blessing.

I have learned that we all have our own medicine. What I need to navigate this journey isn’t necessarily what will work for others. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Everyone has to be true to themselves and support each other in the manner that works for them. There is no room for judgement but plenty of room to hold space, and offer love.

I have learned the old me was an incredibly judgmental person. The new me works really hard not to be. I understand as much as anyone how hard it is to not judge, to trust that a person is doing what is best for them, to trust people are genuinely good and the words they use and the acts they commit are based on love.

In 2017 I wish for a community that holds space for those in pain, shows an abundance of love, even when it is hard to do, and that we all consciously choose to not judge others, rather trust them instead.

Life is full of mountains to climb and valleys to pass, struggles in life are real. We all face them, they never look the same from one person to the next but what we all have in common is that fact we struggle. If we all spent more time loving ourselves and each other, our time here on earth will be that much easier. The load for each of us would be lighter. Worry is the thief of joy. If for the next 365 days we can choose love and encourage those in our communities to do the same I can only imagine what 2018 will feel like.

Reliving the Pilgrimage 

Finding Joy. The five of us.
Teddy’s Love Cards
Teddy’s BDay! Look for all his green orbs

One week ago we celebrated our dear Teddy’s first birthday and since then I have had time to reflect on what the days leading up and after actual day felt like. I wasn’t sure what to expect, we knew this was important milestone in our lives and we needed to celebrate him and not mourn him. We miss him, there is a layer that wishes things could be different but we have accepted they can’t be, they never will be and because of that we have been on a journey of finding peace. Because of this it was important our focus was on his lessons, his purpose and not being consumed by our own heart’s desires for things to have ended differently. He deserved a celebration, he deserved to be with us in spirit and see us choosing joy, choosing love and choosing to keep living.

Not knowing how this was all going to feel I felt compelled to keep focused on his lessons about love and mostly the one about always choosing love. So I made 9000 LOVE cards and asked for people to help me spread his message to as many people as possible reaching those I could never have alone. This project worked, I was focused and reminded daily our choice to celebrate. When I originally had the idea, I thought I was being bold to think with friends and family we could pass out maybe a couple hundred. I am forever grateful for those who even handed one card out as well as those who received a card and felt loved, and/or possibly chose love when maybe they wouldn’t have without the reminder.

Beyond keeping focused on his purpose I had the privilege to relive our journey together but from another prospective. I made the ten day pilgrimage starting with the day we were told he was in heart failure ending on Teddy’s day of birth. I looked at every belly picture that popped up in timehop wondering if this was the last. I remember what I did every day, either before or after being checked for a heartbeat, I saw pictures of my other two boys, looking at them and seeing what babies they were too, and how they truly had no clue what was our family’s reality. I saw the Mom who mothered two children right up until she had to go to the hospital, the Mom who desperately didn’t want her life to change so hosted the annual Christmas party with friends days prior, and the Mom who went to prenatal yoga with a room of other Moms who had no clue her baby was dying but went because Teddy deserved it. I saw the Mom who wasn’t wasting a second with her dying son, who wanted to give him everything he deserved and believed he deserved it all, even a lifetime of love. I saw the Mom who went and lived life publicly, going to the grocery store with a brave face and talking about the pregnancy as if it had a different ending to spare the stranger or acquaintance the uncomfortable moment. I also saw the few moments I openly shared my baby was dying with a select few and realizing I chose that person unknowingly for a reason, and one in particular openly shared about her loss as well, right there in the grocery store. She shared her journey and sent love to me to carry me through mine. I was so grateful for her and Lanthe.

The day we were admitted to the hospital and the day Teddy was born was crystal clear to me. I saw the strength it would take to do what Ryan and I did. I saw the Mom who realized the end was near, she was sick. I saw the Mom who drove herself the hospital to get the tests and then making the choice with Ryan that the doctors were right and we needed to go home and prepare for a birth of a baby we would never bring home. I saw myself in my bedroom packing my bag and collecting the few things that were bought for Teddy. I saw the Mother that was scared, heartbroken, but didn’t want to waste the last few moments filled with fear or heartache knowing there was a lifetime left for that. I saw the Mom who took a few moments to write to her baby thinking it would be her last love note. I saw that brave woman, I saw the strength it took to simple move through the motions knowing what the ending was going to look like.

I woke up at 3am on Dec 9, probably around the time I needed to get an epidural the year prior and remembering every hour leading up to his birth at 11:22am on December 9th. I could see the beautiful sunrise, I could see Michelle and Ryan sleeping in the window as they have in previous births (Ryan with his heated blanket and Michelle with her hypnosis playing in her earbuds) I could see the birthing room which had low light, a layer of sadness and yet lots of love. I watched Ryan, Michelle and all the medical staff move through the final leg of that journey. We were all amazingly strong and blessed to have been chosen to be apart of his short life. I watched Teddy be baptized and blessed, I watched Michelle so lovingly give Teddy Reiki for his journey home, I watched him being held by his father, his Grandmother, and myself, I saw the love and the beauty in something before living it I would have had a hard time seeing how a day like that is truly the best, most significant and love filled day one could ever live.

As I walked that pilgrimage to our final moments together and then afterwards my heart broke for that woman, the old me. The heartache she has endured is unbelievable and my heart broke for me now knowing I am, who I am today for living through it. It is heavy having to feel what it felt like the first time around, then having to experience how it felt from the other perspective. I assume each year will be different from the next. I am sure each year this pilgrimage and the woman who originally walked it will need to be honoured by the new me. I suspect the emotions will feel different each time. The one constant will be our love and gratitude for Teddy. He is a blessing not a terrible event. I can say with all certainty knowing what I know now that if I was told on day one this was the outcome I wouldn’t change a darn thing. It was worth it. All of it. He was meant to be a part of our family tapestry. He is the most beautiful woven thread of us all, he shines bright and is our constant beacon of hope. He has proven to us what we are made of, how solid our foundation of love is and how important each and every day God gives is to live our purpose. Time doesn’t make our value but the legacy we leave behind does.

Thank you so much for all the messages on Facebook, all the posts, all the loving words. I did not respond to them all, I saw them and felt immense love and gratitude but emotionally wasn’t able to respond to each one. Thank you for all the ways that Teddy was celebrated, visited and shown love to us as a family.

This past year has been about love, gratitude and growth. It has been messy, it hasn’t always been easy for those who love us. We are forever grateful for those who chose to continue to show us love and to show up in our lives especially when it was messy. Thank you for reading about our journey. Thank you for using his name (any one of them Jeddy, Theodore, Theo and Teddy). Thank you for continually choosing love. Thank you for allowing me to share, without your support I am sure I wouldn’t have. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for sharing when an emotion or an experience I shared is something you felt or experienced as well. Thank you for sharing with me how sharing this has helped you. Thank you for sharing my blog with others you think it would help. I am not sure how but we have had over 22,000 views from 68 different countries. I know many blogs have way more but I feel humbled and amazed how Teddy has been travelling spreading love and hopefully giving people some comfort and a sense they aren’t alone in their journey all around the world. Thank you. If you found us , it was for a reason and I feel blessed to have you on the journey with us.

With Gratitude and Love

Ally

Happy Birthday Teddy

Happiest Birthday my sweet baby boy.

It is hard to believe one year has passed since you entered the world and left so quickly without even as much as a whisper. With no words spoken, no eye contact made, you received all that you needed and gave us some of the greatest gifts.

I could never in my wildest imagination have pictured my life being this way, walking this path and yet feeling such gratitude. Love and gratitude have carried us through. Lord knows we have been messy, we have felt the deepest level of despair one can feel, I have been on my knees calling out to you and praying to God to give me you back. Those moments were real and as I lived them I often wonder how I could possibly continue living feeling so utterly broken. Without love and without finding gratitude each and everyday I am positive that today would feel very different.

As this day approached, this significant day in our lives I have spent a lot of time reflecting on where we have come from and the path we have walked in the past year and where we are today. I remember so clearly those incredibly hard moments. I also remember the love, the love we felt, we shared and the love which was given to us from so many.

To say you are my greatest gift God could have given me is an understatement. Through you I have learned to love harder, louder, deeper, and with intention. I have learned to be a more connected Mother, and I have become a better wife. Our family has benefited from you joining us and then leaving us physically. I know with absolute certainty that your soul’s purpose was never to live here on earth with us, but to receive copious amount of unconditional love, to be held every second of your life, and to leave a legacy of loving fearlessly. I have reached a point in our journey where having this understanding gives me comfort and provides me with a sense of peace. As your Mother I have the honour of loving you and anything beyond that it isn’t up to me. We all have a soul’s journey to complete and there is no Mother powerful enough to be able to intervene with that. So I sit with you, I can feel you near always and I can love you but the rest is left up to God.

Finding peace within our journey hasn’t been easy. It was something I have been 110% committed to doing and I haven’t done it alone. This isn’t something that can be done alone. It takes a village and there is no timeline. I have been blessed with an amazing support network that combines, friends, family, acquaintances, strangers and professionals. Each one is as important as the next.

I think back to those moments of coming home after you were born, and how I was terrified to be away from your Dad. I have never in my life needed someone like I needed him. I am not sure exactly what I was afraid of but it was terrifying thinking he was going to have to go back to work, or even leave to go to the store or to run a simple errand. As the days, weeks and months move on my need for him changed, but there has been no doubt that I have needed him daily. I needed to feel him close, to feel like my heart was secure with him because it was so vulnerable and fragile and I needed him to love me loudly when things were messy and to love me softly when I was riding a wave of peace. He has been my constant, he has been my life line, and without him I am not sure this path could have been walked. Our love has been the foundation we walked on as we navigated our way through these past 12 months.

So here I am, listening to a song that often was played during our prenatal yoga classes and I feel as close to you today as I did then. 12 months later feeling you close gives me peace and comfort where it used to make me terrified the moment would end. I was terrified to allow space between us , I was terrified to stop grieving and to allow joy to stay longer, and I was scared that by finding peace, joy, and allowing space I would loose you and others would forget about you. I now know this to be not be true, I feel closer to you than ever and my moments of deep sadness are fleeting. Because my heart isn’t so heavy I can now hold you in there differently, gently, and so lovingly without desperation. You are now free from my tight grasp and you always choose to stay close and for that I am so grateful.

Today we are spreading your message on Love. We have created cards with this message on them and they will be passed out to thousands of strangers. I know with certainty your were born on this date for a reason. You could have picked any day, of any month but you chose just before Christmas at a time when we will always be surrounded by friends and family and when the world could use a reminder to Always Choose Love. My heart couldn’t be more filled with gratitude than it is, we have had so many people come forward and request these cards to help spread your message on love and to celebrate you. That is what we are doing, we are celebrating you, we are not mourning that you are gone but celebrating you because you live, because you matter, because you have changed lives, because your purpose was significant and because we love you.

So my sweet sweet boy of mine, Happy first Birthday in Heaven!!! I know you will be partying with all your friends and our family members so give everyone the biggest hug and kiss for us. I can only imagine what a party in Heaven looks like!

Loving you loudly today!
With gratitude your Biggest Fan – Mommy

My Loss Made Room For Growth 

Grief opened the door to my soul. It ripped me wide open and held a mirror in front making me take a hard look at who I really am and giving me the opportunity to take inventory of all the beautiful aspects of me and all the ugly. I had the option to take this mirror, study all that it reveals and work really hard at bridging the gap between who I am and who I ideally would like to be.

In 19 days we will arrive at Teddy’s first birthday. This day is approaching and at times I can’t believe we have survived, at times I am so full of love and joy while thinking of how far we have come and how much change within us has occurred, and then I have the moments that make heart hurt deeply as I think about all that has happened without our sweet boy beside us. I have been spending my time thinking about our journey from the perspective of change and I am blown away with the level of positive change that has occurred within myself and within our immediate family.

I am far from a perfect individual, as I write this post today I have a list of things I want to improve upon but I am not the Ally Williams I was before this journey presented itself, I wasn’t a bad person but like anyone I was limited to my experiences and to the lessons I had learned in life so basically I was just a much younger version of myself before this all began. This experience for me wasn’t about survival but about growth and wanting to coming out of this stronger, wiser, less judgmental, more compassionate, more empathetic, deeper, and with a mind that was broader. I knew this journey for me was presented for growth, this wasn’t just a terrible loss but one that came with great purpose and I refused to allow this to be all in vein. I embarked on a journey of being 100% open and honest with my support system, I told them exactly what I saw in that mirror, I was honest about the gaps, I was honest about my moments that were ugly and messy, when I said terrible things out of anger or thought unkind thoughts. I owned my shit. Because I was open, honest and presented all of me on a platter to our counsellor, Shaman, and Reiki Master they knew what we were dealing with and that is when magic happened. Not only did we work on putting my heart back together but we took the deconstructed version of me and worked on putting it back together in a way that was much closer to the version of me that I wanted to see while looking in that mirror.

As this journey wasn’t all about loss but also growth some of the changes have given me a whole new level of peace I wasn’t aware I was lacking. People in my life who used to ignite strong feelings now have no impact, the power is gone and I am light. I now can see the light in them because I know it is in me too, sometimes that is all we have in common and that is okay. I see our world and those in it so differently now and I am forever grateful.

December 9, 2016 will be a celebration of so many things. We will be remember the anniversary of the best day of our life, the day Teddy was born was the most significant day we will ever live. The birth of your child is always significant but when you only have that day, when that day it is all you will ever get together in the physical world, that day becomes more valuable than all the gold in the world. I would do anything to relive those moments with him. We will take time to reflect on all the work we have done as a family to better ourselves, to keep moving forward with love and honesty and becoming such a solid unit that we are unbreakable. Time will be spent reflecting on all those who have loved and supported us in big and small ways throughout this past year. Without every single act of love and remembrance this journey would have been very different, our gratitude is endless. What we are most excited about it is celebrating all the lessons of love Teddy taught us. He had purpose and this purpose was all about love so we have plans to celebrate and spread this love with as many people as possible on this day.

Life is beautiful, no one said it was easy but the beauty is bountifully. For our family we have had a few road blocks that we have needed to navigate our way around and each time we have looked back saw what a beautiful detour it really was. Like most detours, they are inconvenient, not planned and can pose great challenges but can come with opportunities should you be open to see them. When our journey with Teddy began we chose to be present from the beginning, we weren’t going to be seeing blessings from the review mirror but in the moment they were presented and maybe this is why for us it has been the most life changing of them all. As we live our days and years going forward we will not be asking for a map but simply riding the journey that is presented and feeling all that there is to feel, the good, the beautiful, the hard, the ugly, we are here for it all.