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In Memory of Sadie Reynolds Gomez

19 May 1980 – 29 August 2011

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There is a garden in her face,

Where pink petunias and a Lily grow.

A heavenly paradise is that place,

Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow.

So loved, so treasured, so missed.

Love Mom and Dad

In Memory of Sadie

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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From Grief to Grief

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It’s been almost two years since my 31 year-old daughter died. Two years. In the past, when talking to a grieving parent, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that some kind of healing has taken place at the two year mark. I was wrong.
For me, now, the grief has begun in earnest.
A few months ago I became aware that I was coming out of the fog and the flip side of that are the feelings that follow. Instead of trauma, I miss her. The shape of her mouth, the mole on the left side of her nose, her delicate hand; I yearn for her.
These past two weeks, watching the outpouring of public grief for Cory Monteith, a 31 year-old that was born in Calgary and who died in Vancouver (as opposed to my 31 year-old who was born in Vancouver and died in Calgary) has been agonizing. It opened me up beyond the blur of internal trauma and put me in touch with the true lifelong loss of my May baby.
I know his mother’s pain.
Learning to live like this is the ultimate challenge. As a mother who nurtured this life inside of me, I am missing a literal part of myself. I seek her. How, then, to make the remaining years useful? What will move me once again? Will I find relief from the ever-present thrum of grey?
Making meaning in my life has different corners to it now. The shape of the world has changed and it’s not something I recognize. I’m not sure where I fit in this new place.
And so I wait.
I wait for a sign. I wait for the tumblers to fall into place and show me the direction I should take. Mostly, though, I wait for her.

© Kim Reynolds 2013

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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Valentine’s Day

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I took a hard line against Valentine’s Day when I was raising my two kids. It’s for young lovers, I insisted, but still I capitulated and purchased the punch-out sheets of cards for the classroom. At least it had progressed to an inclusive observation, unlike when I was a child and only the same four or five popular kids would haul in 30 or 40 cards apiece while the rest of us settled for the one from our best friend – if we were lucky. A child’s life in those days was more Dickensian than the egalitarian approach of today.

It was a surprise to me, then, when my late daughter experienced a full-blown love affair at the tender age of eight with the character of Frederic in Gilbert and Sullivan’s light opera The Pirates of Penzance. We were a theatre-going family. Showboat, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors – we saw them all but it started in Penzance with Frederic at the helm. Her eyes followed his every move and she hung on to each note like a prize. She left the theatre that night a singer and music became the one lasting expression of faith that never let her down, all thanks to Frederic and young love.

This Valentine’s Day, after attending my granddaughter’s dance recital, festooned and flanked by red hearts, I am reminded of that other little girl – my little girl. She lives in my heart today, as ever.

I still crabbed about the cards even as I made them (I’ve progressed to that!) I made sure to tell her the day was for young lovers and couples that need to remember to tell their partners they’re appreciated. This time ’round, though, I’m aware of a gentler, more subtle knowledge. Sometimes a fake Hallmark holiday can evolve to mean more than the retail sales surge for which it was originally created. Occasionally, like this year for me, it brings with it the memory of music and one girl’s first brush with sweet love.

Her love didn’t stop there. It grew to include Harry Anderson from Night Court fame (although we never could figure that one out), later including Jason Priestley and real boys, then men. But it started with Frederic and, now that she’s gone, it spirals back to the start where lightness and love first meet, so much like grief unfolding on the spectrum’s opposite end. I meet her there today, cinnamon heart-in-hand. Happy Valentine’s Day, love. I miss you.

© Kim Reynolds 2013

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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She Died on a Monday

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In the seven years leading up to my daughter’s death, she suffered through hundreds of hospitalizations. I use the word “suffered” and I mean it. When I’d get the call from her husband in her distant city telling me she was once-again hospitalized, I’d do a quick survey of where we were in the week. Tuesday to Thursday = probably okay. Friday to Monday = disaster.

And now we have a new television show, entertainment, if you will, from the TNT network entitled “Monday Mornings” and penned by CNN’s top medical guy, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which explores something all-too-many of us are all-too-familiar with: Medical mistakes.

My concern over the “entertainment value” of such a television show bumps up against relief. Real people with real lives and real families that love them die in real life versus now people will know some of the truth. The problem is that real people get lost in the drama of storytelling. My daughter is real. Our family is real. The loss is untenable always and in all ways.

As you watch this new program, I ask you to keep in mind that they will focus on one error at a time that results in a patient’s death but the truth is quite different. The errors come fast and furious, one atop the other, each moving the individual’s body further and further from its norm until, seven years later, no one can remember what the original problem was; nor can they find it. Instead, the medical collective has created so many new problems, it is virtually impossible to know or understand what they are dealing with today.

Amidst it all is a young, beautiful woman that trusted them to do their best for her. How tragic, then, for her to have to face the multitude of truths she must come to terms with on top of the outcome she must accept. Their “best” made her die. She backed the wrong horse. Their only interest now is to protect themselves.

If this new show turns out to be the type of entertainment you will consume, please remember that it presents nothing close to the truth. It has been sprinkled with just enough truth to make for a good and palatable story but not enough to frighten you and you should be frightened. Like most of you, there was a time I believed in the medical systems and structures put in place to protect me and mine. Having witnessed first-hand the depth of dysfunction in our health care system, I can tell you unequivocally, there is nothing healthy or caring within it. You will meet some fine people there, however, they are powerless and must comply completely in order to survive its political environment.

Should you choose to watch “Monday Mornings”, I can only hope that you will keep in mind that as you sit watching, real medical mistakes are happening. It is not fiction and the people experiencing it are not characters on a television show. They are loved ones. They are beautiful daughters. And they died on a Monday.

© Kim Reynolds 2013

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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I Have Two Kids

One of the more difficult moments to surface when meeting new people after the death of a child is the inevitable conversational curveball. How many kids do you have, Kim? The first time it happened, my heart shattered just a little bit more.

Beat. T-t-two, I finally spew. Of course I have two. You cannot, after all, erase an individual’s entire life and why would you want to? But it’s hard and it’s inopportune and some days you just can’t do the story justice but still you tell it because it’s important to acknowledge that even though life is not even-handed, it is still worth living. Those of us who die out of order must be equally celebrated for having had the courage to stand in there and duke it out for the little time they were offered in comparison to the rest of us.

My experience with loss has changed my approach to introductions. What keeps you busy? has replaced questions about hearth and home. Do you hike? has become my preferred opening line. I take little for granted now. I know that everyone has a story and that sometimes the telling of it shouldn’t take place in the midst of small talk.

Within the context of her job as a brain injury therapist, my daughter used to talk about the importance of being able to put yourself into the shoes of others. I do that more often now, and with greater intention. It’s a tough way to learn a lesson but it reminds me that even though she’s gone she still has plenty to teach me.

© Kim Reynolds 2013

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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The Backyard Rink

It should have come as no surprise to me that my late daughter would pursue prairie life as an adult. All the signs were there early on but never so clear as the year she became determined to build a backyard rink. In Vancouver. At sea level. Good luck with that.

A girl with a lifelong passion for hockey, we’d given her a book called “How to Build a Backyard Rink” the previous Christmas. We didn’t know she’d spent the year from one December to the next analyzing the appropriate barometric pressure combinations of temperature and humidity to determine the exact conditions needed for said rink. We would find out soon enough.

It was a colder than usual winter that December in 1996. She wore that look she’d get when she knew the tumblers were falling into place – a Cheshire cat meets the Holy Grail kind of look. We knew we were in trouble when she started dragging lumber out of the garage.

She announced it at dinner. We’re building a rink – all of us – and she stared her brother down with a don’t-get-me-started look and we readily agreed. We knew, he and I, that his Dad and sister would build it together while I made the cocoa and he stoked the fire. It’s just the way our world worked back then.

Build it they did. The temperature dropped daily and the two built the frame and she checked the weather hourly. These are the days before there was a weather channel on television. She had the weather centre number programmed on speed-dial.

Down the temperature went as the humidity rose and each night we received our weather tutorial from her. It’ll snow tonight, she said. It did – for days. She’d come home from school, her Dad from work, and out they’d go – tamping, flooding, smoothing – until, against all the west coast odds, a beautiful backyard rink emerged.
Sadierink
This photo here is my favourite. She’s bursting through the door, ecstatic with the outcome. I hear her voice as if she’s in the room. Come on, you guys. It’s done! It’s a beauty. And so it was. More beautiful than the rink, however, was this girl of mine and her belief that if you will it so, it will be.

She became so adept at this, she willed her body to last at least two years beyond its natural life. I’ll know when it’s time to go, when he’s ready, she said of her husband. As always, her timing was impeccable.

On this December night, the clouds gather, the temperature drops. We no longer live at sea level. Up here, high on this mountain, a fresh snowfall looms. We bought this house for her – a perfect place for a perfect rink, but she’s not here to share it. One day we’ll build it for her, though, and when we do I’m pretty sure we’ll hear her loud and clear. It’s done! It’s a beauty, all right. Just like her.

© Kim Reynolds 2012

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Where's My Kid?

 

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Acts of Kindness

When my daughter died in August of 2011, I couldn’t remember how to breathe. It would be some time before I could do much of what once came naturally to me. Now, 16 months later, there are still some things, some events and some people I just can’t do.

The events of the last week, watching freshly grieving parents, renewed elements of grief I thought had passed. I suspect it will always be so. I’ve watched closely the reactions, responses and words of others as they spoke about the families. I couldn’t pay attention when I was in it. I doubt they can, either.

There is one part of it all that has been pleasant to recall. I heard about the people moved to start expressing their condolences by paying forward acts of kindness and it made me remember the impact something my daughter said to me had on the people who came together to remember her. She so wanted to have children but could not. She talked about adoption but her health was too fragile. She turned then to Africa, to the children there that had so little. She asked her Dad and I to adopt a foster child with her. It was in the works but not yet completed when she left us.

We included in her obituary a plea from her to any that might be so inclined to foster a child in Africa as a way for her life to continue to have meaning after her death. At last count there were upwards of 45 children and families receiving assistance as a result of her simple request. And I was reminded of this. Sometimes it takes asking so little to accomplish so much. And sometimes it takes 16 months of grief to remember it. Today, finally, I remember it.

© Kim Reynolds 2012

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Where's My Kid?

 

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