Sunday, May 25, 2008

Earthquake and cyclone help

Two devastating natural disasters in the past two weeks; more than 100,000 people dead in total; thousands of them children…you can sense the cry of hundreds of parents in Dujiangyan and Juyan, China, and those in Myanmar for the lost children, so many of which have yet to be found under the rubble of buildings as a result of the earthquake in China and the cyclone in Myanmar. So much grief, so much sorrow, so much pain. You can hear their cries of anguish, their fears, their prayers, and finally, their acknowledgement that life will never be the same again.

We feel for them; we wish we could help them. All of them, like us, will have to go through the same grief journey, although each person must do what is best for them at the time. Each person grieves differently, even husbands and wives. Each person has his own time period for grieving, whether it is days, months or years.

What is important to note is that although it is a long dark journey through shock, disbelief, denial, anger, panic and finally, acceptance, we do come out at the other end. We do endure. We do find strength. Most of all, we find hope, hope that resonates in all of us to move forward with our lives.

NOTE: For those who want to do something, international organizations such as CARE, UNICEF and the Red Cross are all asking for help in different ways. In Myanmar local organizations such as Orphan’s Hope and Mercy Corps are seeking donations, and in China the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, the Tsinghaua Foundation and the Hidaya Foundation all need support. You can find information about them online.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Poem dedication to Marcy


My child
You are gone from me physically
But I see your face.
You are in every sunrise
In every new bloom
In every new season.
I can hear your voice
I can hear your laughter
I remember it all so well.
It warms my heart
To think of you always
With wonderful memories.
My journey has been long and uncharted
I am amazed at where I am in this journey…
A new life, a new joy, a new love
But what I wouldn’t give to have you back with me.
I know in my heart that can never be.
But it doesn’t stop me
From wishing…
You are not forgotten
You will never be forgotten
I will see to it.
I will build memorials
So that others will learn and understand
Who you are, what you became
Through nutured loved for so many years.
Our lives are shaped
As much by those who leave us
As they are by those who stay.
Your spirit is all around me
I can feel you
I can sense you
Stay with me always
Help me to put back
The pieces of the puzzle.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thoughts after Mother's Day

Another Mother’s Day is gone. There are no words to describe what I feel every Mother’s Day. But those of you who have lost a child know exactly how I feel. The hole in my heart will never heal. There are some who have tried to do a little mending and it helps, but it is one of the saddest days of the year for me, and there is no getting around that fact.

Some thoughts on Mother’s Day…I remember about 16 years ago I was always so proud when Mother’s Day luncheon in my sorority approached, and I could invite not only my daughter, but also my mother and mother-in-law to join me. Four of us would show up, the most of any sorority member. Everyone seemed envious. Two years later I was the only one of the four of us left. I never knew whether that was the reason the event was dropped from the sorority calendar or whether it was because some of the girls didn’t have anyone to bring. For me it was the best thing. I can’t imagine how I would have felt attending with no one at my side. More than likely I would not have gone.

I also remember that first Mother’s Day after Marcy died. I wondered if anyone would remember I was a mother and will always be a mother. Yes, I did get a few cards from Marcy’s friends and my friends, and that put a smile on my face. After a couple of years most of that ended except for two special people. Life goes on and others forget and move on. Not so for bereaved mothers.

For the first few years after Marcy died I was also invited to Mother’s day brunches with family members. That eventually ended also. Through the years I have had friends invite me out on that day, but I mostly want to forget what day it is.

On a happier note, my husband, who is not Marcy’s father, is always so thoughtful and says so many kind words on that day and throughout the year. He lets me know he understands my pain. He tries to empathize as much as he can even though he only knows Marcy through pictures and video. They never met.

This Mother’s Day was spent on a Europe trip. I lost track of the days and dates and had to be reminded what day it was. I could hear and sense those traveling with me being very careful of what was said and not discussing their children at all for fear it would hurt me. Their kindness was appreciated.

On Mother’s Day we all need to do whatever makes us happy, whatever gives us some joy or whatever feels right. That could be a trip, exercising, taking a walk or just staying at home. Giving ourselves permission to grieve in our own way is very healing and very helpful during this difficult time.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Anne Frank inspires...

Throughout time parents have lost children. Most of these parents want to have their children remembered, want to talk about their children and want others to know them as they knew them.

One such father and now famous daughter is Otto Frank and his daughter Anne. The Jewish family fled to Amsterdam, Holland, at the start of WWII, lived there until one day they either had to go into hiding or be caught and sent to concentration camps. They chose hiding and lived in the annex of Otto Franks office building for two years before they were betrayed. All went to concentration camps, but only Anne's father survived. Anne died a month before liberation. After returning to Holland, Otto Frank was given Anne's diary that she had kept during that period. It was found by friends. After reading the intermost thoughts and feelings of Anne from ideas and beliefs on happiness, courage, giving, goodness, freedom and usefulness, he realized there was much he didn't know or understand about her, particularly under the circumstances they lived. Do we ever really know our children? He decided to share her gift of writing and wisdom with the world. The book, "The Diary of Anne Frank" is now the second most read book in the world next to the bible.

For the fourth time I toured the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Holland, last week. The stairs and the hidden bookcase leading to the secret rooms used by the Frank family are still in place as are some pictures on the walls. It is both an emotionally moving and educational journey to go there, but most importantly, it is simply the story of a parent who lost a child and did not want his child to be forgotten.

I, too, feel this way, as I'm sure most parents do who have lost children. I now have a book that includes my daughter's story. Although it is written from the parent's perspective, not the child's, it was as important for me to tell my story as it was for Otto Frank to let the world learn about Anne.

I have set up memorials, foundations and remembrances for my daughter, Marcy, as Otto Frank has for his daughter Anne. Parents do not differ in the feelings they have for their child, but one thing is certain: building some type of memorial for your child whether they become famous or not will help them to live on in your heart and in others' hearts forever.

To read more about Anne Frank go to: . You can learn about the various memorials and foundations started by Otto Frank and even place a leaf on Anne's tree, the one she was able to see from the attic window looking towards the sky.