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Our heavy reality

It's been a while since my last post. Not because I haven't had anything to write — but because sometimes grief weighs so heavily that my heart can't find the words...


After Nora passed, the rawness of our grief pressed so heavily on my heart that some days it was too hard to breathe. I told myself in those early days that it wouldn't always feel this way, that the first year would be the hardest. I'd hoped that grief, love and joy would eventually weave into our lives in such a way that the feeling of heaviness would somehow begin to dissipate. Yet, here we are, in this second year without her and still the heaviness of grief seems to steal the air from my lungs.

This second year of grief, in many ways, is actually proving all the harder.

In the first year, the grief was fresh. The memories of loss were so vivid that it created undeniable ripples in the lives of all those around us. Nora's life impacted so many people that for weeks and months following her death, family and friends continued to reach out, to check in, to share with us their own love and sadness over her life and our loss. But as time has passed, those check ins have understandably become fewer and Nora's name is rarely mentioned by others — this is the reality of life I suppose. There seems to be an unspoken expectation that we are 'moving on' - there is joy and relief from family and friends to see us celebrate milestones, create new happy memories, make plans for our future. But what some don't see, perhaps don't realise, is that behind every happy milestone, every family holiday, every celebration, every smile — is the aching for the little girl who isn't able to share each of those moments with us.

But what many don't see, perhaps don't realise, is that behind every happy milestone, every family holiday, every celebration, every smile — is the aching for the little girl who isn't able to share each of those moments with us.

This new year has seen the start of the first year of school for Tiarnán, and the start of 3 year old kinder for Maeve. Both of these milestones we made sure to celebrate for we know all too well that these moments in life are not guaranteed. We enjoyed the build up; we counted the sleeps until their first days, we picked out lunch boxes, labelled clothes, packed school bags and navigated the mix of excitement, anticipation and anxiety that first days bring.

As I am sure most parents are at these times, I found myself quite nostalgic in the days leading up to Tiarnán starting school. So watching him walk a little taller and smile a little bigger as he eagerly walked in to school on the very first day had me beaming with pride — and yet my eyes welled up at the reality that my first baby had seemingly grown up over night. That little man who loved all things Thomas the Tank , who clung behind my leg when he was shy and unsure, who had a dummy hidden in every corner of the house, had somehow over the past 5 years transformed into this independent, inquisitive, enthusiastic little boy who was walking away from his days at home with mummy towards all the adventures of school and learning. And while I allowed myself to indulge a little in these thoughts during those first days, they stood in stark contrast to our other reality — the reality where one of our children would never get a first day at school.

Never is a painful and heavy reality to face. Nora will never go to kinder, never start school, never have her name on a birthday party invitation, never have a best friend...She will never be a part of the family chaos, never be madly shuffled out the door in the school drop off/ pick up rush, never wait eagerly for the bell to ring to see her big brother come out of his classroom.

The other day the three kids were chasing each other up and down the hallway. Clodagh, while still by far the smallest, squealed the loudest; so exhilarated by this game with her brother and sister. The thundering of their footsteps, their laughter and squeals echoed through the house so much so that my husband and I couldn't help but smile at their fun. Then our Mr. 5 suddenly stopped, 'I really wish Nora was here so she could play with us too.'

Oh yes sweet boy, so do we. It's a longing so deep. A grief so heavy.


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Sticky fingers & butterfly kisses is  a place to share my journey of motherhood after loss - my hope is that it will be a gentle place for others who are raising children after loss or supporting a loved one who is grieving the loss of a child - a safe place to share our stories and experiences.

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