pie and sadness

This morning as I drove into work, Nelle sat strapped into her flowery, big-girl car seat talking to Grammy and Grandpa. 

In her heart.

They've both died in recent years; Grandpa two years ago now ... a progressive and confused slide into darkness. I fear Nelle hardly remembers him now, the hours spent cuddling his bony figure on that oversized leather armchair. But she still talks to him.

When Grandpa was dying, I did my research. I wanted Nelle to feel the pain of his death, but in a way she could understand, deal with; I wanted her to feel close to him, even when his body lay under shovelfuls of suburban soil. So death, as we explained it, is when someone leaves their body - a body that's old or sick or badly hurt, that doesn't work anymore - and goes into the hearts of everyone who's loved them. We all get a piece of soul, to carry with us. 
A final gift. 

She was just 3, almost 3, when he left us. In death, he lay on a hospital bed - freshly made, for his passing. She wanted to see him, see his body. She brought a picture she drew and we tucked it under his cool, spindly fingers and he carried it with him. I'll never forget those moments of courage and compassion and sadness. 

We had another year and a half with Grammy. We took no moments for granted; we knew when it was happening, when those terrible irreverent cells overcame her. We weren't to make the same mistake again - she knew she was leaving; we knew she was leaving; we said our goodbyes. But, her leaving was a gouge that hasn't healed yet - I don't know if I even want it to. 

The drive this morning reminded me of remembering. How do we hold on and let go? Do I just keep picking open the hole in my chest, to avoid forgetting? To help my daughter remember? Or is it inevitable ... that one day, Grammy'll just be photographs and misremembered moments? I don't want that. For her, for him, for me.

Maybe that's what this is all about. Me. Knowing that one day, I'll die, too ... and fly quietly into the hearts of the people who've loved me ... to be remembered through photos and blog posts and newspaper clippings ...

Nelle sat behind me as the freeway slid by, talking quietly to Grammy and Grandpa in her heart, wishing every moment they were there in the flesh to read her stories and cuddle with her and play made-up games and feeling sadness that's both good and bad, and inexplicable. And I thought about my life and hers and hoped I was doing this right. All of it.

I want to hold my baby girl in my arms forever.
Amanda xx


  1. your posts never fail to touch deep within...
    but this one leaves me weeping.
    as i sit here waiting for the pie i promised my babies for breakfast... to finish baking... so that i may crawl into bed and cuddle them.
    here is to another day cancer free and full of the awareness of life!

  2. Oh Amanda, I am in awe at your gift with words (as the tears stream down my face.....) Auntie Jeannie has been with my a lot this week - lots of reminders.... I can hear her voice in my head laughing and talking to me with that naughty, cheeky sense of humour that never fails to makes me smile. (I'm starting to wonder if she is trying to tell me something?) Never doubt for a moment Amanda - you are doing it 'just right'! Love and Hugs to you, Rob and Nelle Donna Xxx

  3. Amanda, this is truly beautiful. The tears are flooding down my face as I think of the beautiful way you have explained the end of a life to your gorgeous girl who is just beginning hers. I think that holding our loved ones in our heart is the only real way we can ever hold onto them, to honour their memories and lives by keeping them near us in the times we need them most. Thank you for sharing.

  4. heather, thank you for the poetry of pie for breakfast xx

    donna, it's nice to share the sadness and a cuddle. here's one to you xx

    amy, thank you. and the next step, of course, is explaining that our hearts never quite fill up ... xx


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