Auld Lang Syne

Today, we bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new and as is the case this time of year, we reflect and resolve.

2014 was a year filled with pain, grief and sorrow but amidst it all, there were also moments of beauty and joy. I am not the same person I was last year; I have since watched my little boy fight for his life and take his last breath. I also welcomed my second son a week and a half after burying my first. And, I have learned the following:

Life is to be lived. We knew we didn’t have long with Theo but I am forever grateful that the memories we have with him are not exclusively of a hospital. Our remaining time with Theo was spent travelling to the top of the CN Tower, visiting the zoo with his cousins, taking in the beauty of High Park, even going for a swim. We tried not to let his palliative condition deter us from living life. Theo defied death multiple times and in his short life, he lived and inspired. His strength and perseverance encouraged others to see the beauty and miracles present in each of our lives every single day.

Family. Everything else is insignificant. Over the course of Theo’s illness, we lived in several hospital rooms and later slept in a bed next to his crib in a family member’s dining room filled with his medical supplies. We sold our family home, left the community we laid our roots in, and had no choice but to leave the jobs we loved. We worried about how we would pay our bills with Theo requiring such complex care. And yet we have no regrets. Every decision we made was because of Theo and so that we could be together as a family. And there is nothing more important in this world.

True love is unconditional. True love is raw, vulnerable and unfaltering; it is not something that is seen or even heard, it can only be felt. During Theo’s illness, he taught me what it means to love unconditionally. I am a kinder, more patient person because of Theo and this has made me a better mother, a stronger wife, and a gentler individual.

We are not alone. People are inherently genuine and compassionate. They are selflessly generous and ready to help. My community, small in numbers but not in heart, has embraced my family and carried us through our most difficult time. Countless strangers have expressed empathy to our family and bereaved parents have wrapped their arms around us. There will always be those individuals who are too scared by your grief and pain to offer support but fortunately they are outnumbered.

There is life after death. Every morning, when I look into Freddy’s eyes, I am reminded of this. Life must endure but it will never be the same. The death of a child leaves an emptiness that cannot be filled: an emptiness that is consumed with tears and loneliness and longing to hold them in your arms again. I now live partly in this world and partly in the next because a part of me is already in Heaven. And, I no longer fear death in the way I formerly did because it means a joyful reunion with my sweet Theo.

Theodore lives. Theodore is still with us. We carry him in our hearts and in the many memories we have of him. He left a legacy for Freddy who will grow up hearing stories of his brave big brother. And he finds signs to show us that he’s still with us, still making miracles. I will forever be Theo’s mother, his departure from this earth doesn’t change that.

In 2015, I resolve to love and cherish my boys in every way possible and ensure that Theo’s memory endures. You will never be forgotten, my son.

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13 comments

  1. Beautifully said. Theo will live on in the hearts of many, including those who never got to meet him. I wish you all the best in the new year and for all the years to come.

  2. Happy New year to you and your beautiful family! May your year be filled with love, laughter and health… I don’t know you but your writing is beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Happy New Year to you and your family!! Thank you for sharing, I often think of Theo and his short journey, he is always in my thoughts!

  4. Many blessings to you and your entire family. I was in search of a little positive insight as I began 2015 and decided to see if you had posted anything. To my delight you had and your words did not disappoint. Forever in my prayers, God bless and keep you.

  5. Sending you all peace love and happiness in 2015. I truly hope it is a gentler year for you all. 2014 was very hard for me also, but it was also one of the best years for me. Your theo is so brave, like my sebby and I have learnt the same lessons as you.

  6. Your inspiration continues and so does the legacy Theo left. Your story has been painful but at the same time very sweet as you shared your innermost feelings and fears and hopes. Freddy will grow up in a very special home. Space for memory and space for living in the now and space to plan the future. God has blessed each of us through following your family story of courage and love and hope. Happy 2015 to all of you and may it be full of wonder and growth with Freddy as you learn about your second son and the different joys he will bring you. Theo will always be remembered .
    Sharon

  7. Thank you for sharing and continuing to inspire us Ashley ❤ We have all been blessed with Theo because of you and your Family. My soul is forever changed because of that selfless act Ashley ❤ Thank You and Happy New Year to you All ❤

  8. So sorry for the loss of your son Theo. I too know what it’s like to lose a child. My baby girl, Faith died on January 28, 2013. She was only 12 days old when she died from a birth defect. 5 months later I found out I was expecting with my rainbow baby boy. He was born 13 months and 1 day after what would have been Faith’s first birthday.

    1. Hi, Stephanie. I’m so sorry to hear about your baby girl, Faith. I will keep her in my thoughts as you celebrate her second birthday on Friday. I’m sure she’s watching over her baby brother from Heaven right now, and he’ll grow up hearing stories about his brave big sister. Wishing you a peaceful new year.

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