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

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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.

2017 Living not Grieving 


Dear Teddy

April 23, 2016 I wrote “I know how I want the ending to look like. I want the last chapter to describe how I did let go, and how I am able to love you wholeheartedly and how the profound pain and sadness is replaced with peace. I will simply love you, our experience and accept this is all it was supposed to be, and no longer long for more and to be grateful for all I have.”

It has been 330 days since you left. Each day has been different from the next. Somedays have been peaceful and easy and many have been heavy, hard and at times down right ugly. As your birthday is quickly approaching I have been reflecting on the past 330 days and how I want our next year to look like.

I have not 100% arrived at the final chapter but I feel so very close to it. I know my journey with you will be forever changing but I feel so much peace. I haven’t quit wishing things were different, but I think of you and smile rather than having tears pour from me. I have my moments when a feeling of sadness washes over me but it comes, I honour it and it passes. I am okay with sharing space with sadness and I am okay having it leave me.

I spent time holding onto grief. There was a period of time where I truly felt my grief was tied to the weight of my love and closeness to you. When joy overstayed its welcome I would quickly shove it away as feared I was losing you. There was a period of time where the slight notion of having space between you and I would bring me to my knees. As time moved on, I have done a huge amount of work and I am now at a place where joy stays for weeks on end and is welcome to stay forever. I no longer feel desperation to hold on to you. I just know you are always there.

I have chosen as we move into the next year to focus on the love. The love you give me, the lessons of love you provided, and the love that has grown exponentially for your brothers and especially for your father. I am not spending another year grieving, I am spending it living. I want all of our 2017 to be about living in the moment, being present with those we love and being thankful for all we have. I know undoubtedly you will be right beside us each step of the way sending your love and light our way endlessly. You will always be loved and honoured but it will be done in a different way than it has this past year.

I thank you for being so close when I needed you to and for helping me work through letting go. I thank you for teaching me how to love you quietly, and how to be present in each moment. Being present allows me to honour all emotions and let them freely flow through.

I have been so blessed with such amazing support. You being my beacon of hope and love, then our counsellor who has help navigate our marriage, my favourite energetic workers and some of our friends and family have listened for hours, have sat quietly while I cried, have held space when nothing else was needed and have supported us in their authentic way. We have been loved and supported by so many near and far. Without each member of the support network I would never have found my way. Grief can’t be navigated alone, you need a team to help sail that boat.

Teddy, you are my son, today and forever. My love isn’t measured by my tears but by the love in my heart. Only you truly know the weight of my love and it is never ending and forever growing.

Love you always,

Your Mommy

Capture Your Grief – My Promise To You

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When we received the news Teddy would die our initial reaction was devastation. Walking out of the Kingston General Hospital was easy, we were on autopilot. Each foot was placed before the other and we found our car and our way out of the parking garage. I think that is what shock feels like. We didn’t make it too far down the road before we had to pull over and allow all the emotions to overcome us. It was messy, it was hard and it is a moment I never want to relive. It was the precise moment who we once were, was forever gone. It was also the precise moment a promise was made. We promised each other we would put our marriage first. We were told how most marriages don’t survive the loss of child. So the promise was made and our marriage will always be priority number one and our boys will be a very close second. If our marriage is solid our boys will benefit tenfold. It was that moment that it became so clear whatever choices we made for the rest of our lives had to be made from love. Love became our driving force for all things. Our promise to Teddy was to Always Choose Love.

With those two promises we have been amazing at protecting our marriage. For us that is an easy one. Our promise to always choose love is easy 90% of the time, but we are human and there are times other emotions take over and we have to be reminded that the choice we are making isn’t the most loving one. For me that reminder can come straight from Ryan, or our boys, Jack is the first to let us know a tone of voice isn’t loving. The reminder can come from a whisper, my subconscious mind will nag me to the point I am forced to reflect on a moment that a better choice could have been made. Finally, I no longer can go to bed without spending a quiet moment going over my day and finding ways I can improve on Choosing Love. I am far from perfect but my promise is made and I will always work towards being able to Always Choose Love, especially when it is hard. I am so aware now, I am so grateful that it has become such a focus in our home. We talk to our boys about choosing love, and giving love to everyone daily. This promise is the greatest gift Teddy gave our family. His life was about loving unconditionally. He is our greatest teacher and without a shadow of a doubt our life is better because of this lesson.

Capture Your Grief – I Am 

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I wish. . . I wish I could stop wishing everything was different. I wish by coming to complete peace with this journey the strong desire for it all to be different will be replaced with more love and a feeling of being complete and okay that our time together was so short. I wish my memory was crystal clear of every moment I had with him. Because I am blessed to have Teddy’s birth and time after captured through photographs which helps to jog my memory but without them I fear so many moments would have been lost forever. My memory of Jack and Patrick is an equal blur of 95% of their short lives so far but I don’t have that desperate feeling to hold each memory forever as I know for at least today we will make some more.

I remember. . . I remember how close and connected I felt to Teddy while I was pregnant with him. I felt connected to my two other pregnancies at the time but now knowing how deep that connection can truly be I am not sure I will ever feel that close and connected to anyone ever again. I remember the intense love our room was filled during our labour and his birth. I remember feeling complete sense of peace when he was born and placed on my chest. Heart to heart. . I remember being so tired after birth but not wanting to sleep our time together away. I remember him being tucked in with me and taking a nap together and thinking this will be our only nap we will ever take together and feeling blessed to have been so tired that moment had to happen. I remember wishing I could trade places with my son the moment the gentleman from the funeral home dressed in a suit came into our hospital room to take our son. I remember so clearly wondering if the whole town could hear my heartbreaking at that precise moment. Surely the sound of a heart shattering to the degree it can never be reassembled as it once was could be heard to the human ear. Then he was gone . . .

I could not believe. . . I could not believe how strong we were. I didn’t know how we would ever get in a vehicle to drive to a hospital to deliver a baby we wouldn’t take home, but we did. I didn’t know how I could go endure another long labour knowing my baby would be dead, but I did. I didn’t know how I would be able to hold a dead baby, but we did. I didn’t know how we would be able to hand over our baby knowing we will never see him again, but we did. I didn’t know how I would walk out of the hospital empty handed but we did. I didn’t know how I would deliver Teddy’s eulogy, but I did. I didn’t know how we would live our life knowing such a large piece of us was missing, but we do every day. I didn’t know how we could ever let joy in again, but we do. I could not believe how supportive our community is. I could not believe how many people have lived a similar experience. I could not believe how often this happens and how no one talks about it, how alone we truly felt at first.

If only. . . If only things could be different. If his heart could have been whole. If he could have stayed. Beyond that, I wish nothing to be different.

I am. . . I am many things to many people but my two most valuable titles are Wife and Mother. Loosing a child makes you take a hard look at who you are, what matters in our short life, what goals you want to achieve and the purpose for your own life. Being Ryan’s wife is the greatest honour. From the outside it may look like we have a charmed life. The truth is we are incredibly blessed but our marriage has been put to its test with real life challenges from the beginning. We all get married and think we are perfect for each other and life will be beautiful together but it isn’t until real life shows up that it becomes clear if you truly are meant for the journey of life together. Each time real life tested our love, our love grew, our foundation that our marriage stood on became that much stronger. Our most recent test was the death of our son. Not for one second did this event shake our marriage but rather from the moment we were told Teddy would die it was as if a truck full of concrete backed up and poured a thick layer on our already strong foundation making sure we were bulletproof. Our love cannot be broken and our broken hearts are always safe with each other. Without a doubt we were meant to be together on this crazy journey called life. Because of Ryan, I am a better mother, daughter, aunt, sister, cousin, friend, stranger. Because of Ryan there is light in the darkness, there is faith when I had doubt, there is love when I feel lost, there is laughter when my heart needs joy, and there is a feeling of safety and a knowing that together we will always be okay.

Capture Your Grief – Lemons and Lemonade 

I am not sure if it is always about making lemonade. . . Rather than being open to the blessings and the lessons that hard situations offer. I don’t make the blessings, I don’t create the lessons, they are right there for the taking. In order for me to see them, to be able to appreciate them and claim them for myself I have to keep my heart open, I have to sit in a vulnerable state. Creating a hard shell over my broken heart may potentially protect me from more pain but it creates an impenetrable force around me preventing me to make space to grow and accept the lessons and blessing.

I think to make lemonade is to make something sweet out of a sour event in life. I struggle with this since for me I don’t feel I have made anything. I am just riding the wave, and walking the path this journey has lead me on. I believe in all hard situations if we are open we will see the beauty and we will experience the blessings that come with it. I am just not the creator of that, they are always present regardless if I see them or not.

I also have a hard time thinking anything about Teddy is sour. People have referred to the day he passed away as the worst day of my life. That simply isn’t true. How could the day we met and only time I had with him be the worst? It was the best day. The hardest day but the best day. Teddy is light, Teddy is joy. His absence makes my heart hurt in unimaginable ways but that is only because he is loved so deeply because he matters and because he is so great that even after 100 years it wouldn’t have been enough time. He was born lemonade, he has cleared a path for all things sweet and all things love to be present, so there was no sour to turn sweet.

Capture Your Grief – Creative Heartwork 

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I am not sure if it is always about making lemonade. . . Rather than being open to the blessings and the lessons that hard situations offer. I don’t make the blessings, I don’t create the lessons, they are right there for the taking. In order for me to see them, to be able to appreciate them and claim them for myself I have to keep my heart open, I have to sit in a vulnerable state. Creating a hard shell over my broken heart may potentially protect me from more pain but it creates an impenetrable force around me preventing me to make space to grow and accept the lessons and blessing.

I think to make lemonade is to make something sweet out of a sour event in life. I struggle with this since for me I don’t feel I have made anything. I am just riding the wave, and walking the path this journey has lead me on. I believe in all hard situations if we are open we will see the beauty and we will experience the blessings that come with it. I am just not the creator of that, they are always present regardless if I see them or not.

I also have a hard time thinking anything about Teddy is sour. People have referred to the day he passed away as the worst day of my life. That simply isn’t true. How could the day we met and only time I had with him be the worst? It was the best day. The hardest day but the best day. Teddy is light, Teddy is joy. His absence makes my heart hurt in unimaginable ways but that is only because he is loved so deeply because he matters and because he is so great that even after 100 years it wouldn’t have been enough time. He was born lemonade, he has cleared a path for all things sweet and all things love to be present, so there was no sour to turn sweet.