Moments Of Sadness

I mentioned in a previous post that my friend, Andie, had passed away from breast cancer, leaving behind two children. Her ten-year old daughter was ill on the weekend with a sore throat and Andie’s husband rang me in a panic to find out if I knew how to make Andie’s lemon soother drink. Lizzie wouldn’t settle without it and was kicking up a fuss. He was distraught, so I immediately drove over with lemons, honey, ginger and on the off chance that Lizzie liked the same type of drink as my son – lemonade.

Thankfully, I was right. Lizzie was pleased with hot lemonade with a teaspoon of honey and a tiny twist of fresh lemon. She sipped it in her Sailor Moon mug with tears in her eyes. ‘Daddy doesn’t know how to do anything,’ she said. ‘He can’t even iron my school skirts properly. I want Mummy back but I know she can’t come back. She used to read me stories when I was sick. Now Daddy does but he doesn’t do the voices. I liked Mummy doing the voices. She used to call me Chick. She used to say ‘What’s happening, Chick?’ Now no one calls me Chick. Do you remember when she used to call me Chick?’

I remembered. Andie called all the women she knew Chick, all the girls too. It was her thing the way some people use Honey or Sweetie. A term of endearment. I can’t tell you how sad I felt thinking that dear little Lizzie would not hear her mother calling her Chick again. Ever.

Andie’s husband was sitting at the kitchen table when Lizzie finally dropped off to sleep. Slumped, defeated.’ This is the hard part,’ he said. ‘ The every day stuff that I don’t know like how Lizzie is supposed to take her trumpet to school on Tuesdays and that she starts at 8.30 instead of 9AM on that day, and that she likes little notes in her lunchbox and a dollar on Fridays to buy popcorn from the school canteen. Andie did so much with the kids and she never wrote it down. There is so much I don’t know. I feel so guilty like I’ve been an absent father for years but all I was guilty of was working and providing a good life for my family. Lizzie was in tears the other day because I wouldn’t let her feed a pigeon that came into the garden. Apparently Andie had let her feed it. They had called it Kenny. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.’

It’s the everyday reminders of what the person we have lost was which colour our grief. What they knew. What they did. What they were. How they interacted with others in a way only they could. It’s the little things that are hardest to get over – the way sandwiches were made, or coffee was prepared, or that song that was always turned up when it came on the radio and danced to in the kitchen. It’s the little things that were real. And just as they make it difficult for us to forget, they can also help us to remember. And as sorrow eases with time, to remember can be a comfort. I hope that one day Lizzie finds comfort in remembering the woman who used to call her Chick.

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25 thoughts on “Moments Of Sadness

  1. selma,, this was so heart rendering.. and ever so true… sometimes the things most remembered are the smallest seemingly inconsequential… and yet all told they are all that matters……

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  2. PAISLEY – it is so true. It’s the little things. My Grandma left me a teapot – a huge, ugly brown thing that she got during World War Two, but every time I take it out of the cupboard I think of her. It still smells of the tea she used to drink. She also loved that old Jolson song ‘Toot toot tootsie goodbye. Toot toot tootsie, don’t cry.’ Every time I hear it in an old movie, I think of her. Sometimes those things make me sad but usually they make me smile. I think they really are what matters.

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  3. Oh Selma, I’m sitting here for the second time today reading a blog with a gigantic lump in my throat. For Lizzie for not ever being able to see her mum again and I think even more so for Andie’s husband who is trying so hard to fill that gap while obviously grieving for her as his wife. It just broke my heart reading this story.

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  4. “I hope that one day Lizzie finds comfort in remembering the woman who used to call her Chick.”

    She will. There will even come a day when she will laugh at a memory of something funny that her mother said or did.

    DavidM

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  5. This was so sad to read. I have lost so many people already and their absence has left such a gap in my life. Sending big hugs your way. You are a dear person to come through for friends in need. G

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  6. Poor Lizzie and her family. It’s hard enough to just get on with life after someone is gone, but to have to do it for your children makes it so much harder. I think the heartache just multiplies exponentially in that case.

    I guess that’s why I blog. It’s a way for people to remember me and some of the things I did. Of course, my family doesn’t read it, some of them won’t bother with it because it’s “too silly.” Sticks. In. The. Mud.

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  7. GYPSY – Andie’s husband is floundering. All of a sudden he has to be two parents as well as dealing with his own grief. It’s so hard. But he does have a lot of family around so he is supported. I feel for him though. I can’t imagine what it would be like.

    DAVID – it will happen. I agree with you. Lizzie is such a dear little thing. My heart breaks for her.

    GERALDINE – the absences are so difficult to cope with. I know you’ve gone through this lately and I’m sorry if it was sad for you to read. Hugs to you, my friend.

    INGRID – it’s awful. It’s one of those situations where you can’t help but be lost for words. Nothing comes out right. So sad.

    NAT – I dread thinking about it too. I have been touching wood all day, giving thanks that for the moment everyone in my family is healthy.

    CHRIS – it’s tough. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

    KAREN – you’re right, blogging is a great legacy in many ways. Look at the body of work we have all built up and in most cases with no monetary rewards. We really must love it. Some members of my family don’t even know I blog. My Dad would probably call it pointless and shameful and other Victorian-style epithets. So my attitude is – what he doesn’t know……

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  8. This is so tragic. And I can really understand. I lost my mother to cancer when I was 12. And one thing I remember is that it is the everyday things that keep you going. It focuses you on life going on, and that is so important.

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  9. Selma, one thing that came to me after a decent night’s sleep… Andie’s husband will never be able to do everything she did. Never. He has things he needs to do to keep body and soul and home and life and mind and… together, attempting to add the things she did to his already huge list will not work. His children will lose both parents if he tries.

    If he can address this to his children in such a way that will acknowledge that things are different, that they all miss Andie, and how things will never be the same, but he loves them and their mother, and he always will. Then make up a new activity that is just for them, but will include Andie as well. Blowing bubbles filled with “I love you” or something very simple but is best when shared. Maybe they already do these things, or maybe it’s too much, too early.

    I must say they are very fortunate to have you in their lives. It would be much harder for them alone.

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  10. ANTHONY – I am so sorry you lost your mother at such a young age. I hope this post didn’t make you feel too sad. The everyday things do seem to help, for sure. I have to send you a virtual (((hug))) upon hearing that. I had no idea. Take care.

    KAREN – you are absolutely right. That is such an important point. By trying to be everything Andie was he is just adding to his grief and denying his children the parts of himself they truly need. I like the idea of the new activity. That is brilliant. What a thoughtful person you are. Thank you.

    MELEAH – when I see that little girl… I can’t begin to tell you. My heart breaks. I will do as much as I can for her. She is a sweetie.

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  11. You are so right. All the little things that sneak up on you when you are least prepared and embed themselves deep in your being become the texture of one’s consciousness and consequently, sometimes the catalysts of our grief. The receiver to your ear before you remember no one is on the end of the line anymore, the bird in the garden, that familiar breath missing as you drift off to sleep. My heart goes out to everyone in this difficult situation, and blessings to you for being there for your friends.

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  12. Oh Selma, what a sad story… I wish cancer just didn’t exist… it has taken too many people who still had so much living to do just like your friend, Andie.

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  13. ANTHONY – that really makes sense. I’m glad you have fond memories of your Mum. So glad.

    TBALL – you’re right. If only we could find a cure. XX

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  14. Is there a way to record the loving things that Andie did for her kids? If someone would spend time with the kids and find out the things that meant much to them, then they could be written up … just so the children will have these memories stay with them.

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  15. It’s a sad story Selma, but I love the way you write. I can’t help but feel sad for that little girl. Will you give her a big hug from me?

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  16. KATE – I have been remiss. Sorry for the late response. That is such a good idea. Mel and I are going to do it. We have already spoken to the kids about it and they are very keen. Will keep you posted.

    ROSHAN – it is sad and of course I’ll give her a hug from you. You are so sweet.

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