GRIEF + GRATITUDE

23 June 2017

My own artwork which proves that I draw like my preschooler does.

I lost 2 children, one at 9 weeks pregnant and the other at 23 weeks old. My grief is about my babies, most especially the one I met and held in my arms. The one who we waited for long and came but stayed only so briefly. The one who's forever changed me. THOMAS.

Grief is painful, that's textbook. It's not often talked about because it could be a generation thing or a belief thing or just plain coping mechanism. But you see, neither can you escape it nor hurry it.

Grief comes in waves. Sometimes you can stand through them and other times it hits you so hard and it eats you up, and you tumble and roll in it and before you know it, you're dragged in the deep end. It normally takes you somewhere calmer if it hasn't dumped you broken and you float with your head above water as your legs work hard to keep you that way. You're normally alone too in your own grief because the way you deal with it is different than the others.

Grief is ugly. It brings out the worst in you. You question everything, your faith, your God, your universe, your tribe, your village, yourself. Why my baby? But then you don't really wish it on any other baby but you still ask why anyway. You question everyone's intentions. Are they really sincere or is it just pity? Are they really concerned about you or are they tired of hearing your stories about your dead child? Are they really a friend or someone who thinks you deserve everything you've been given. Are they really there for you or is it just something they say to make themselves feel better?

Grief makes you play the victim. It makes you turn everything about yourself without you realising it. Was it my fault? Is this my penance? What could have I possibly done to deserve this? What did I do? What did I not do? Me! Me! Me! It makes you sick in your stomach that you even thought that it's all about you when it's really not. It's not about me. I am hurting, yes, but I am not a victim of life.

Grief makes you over sensitive, almost angry at anything. You become easily offended by the things you read, hear and see. When you hear someone complaining about having woken up at 4am by their child, you want to shake them and tell them to stop complaining and to bloody well enjoy it. When you read something online about "grieving the loss of the baby years because the child is now in school", you almost want to tell your bestfriend to hold your earrings because you're gonna go in the boxing ring (of life if you may) to fight. Fight what? Fight the right to claim the word "grieving" should only belong to the bereaved. Fight to say, pick another word to use please because your child is alive and well. When you see someone juggles life with multiple kids and find more bad than good about the life they're building, it makes you want to just scream for them shut up and stop talking. You don't know what you're talking about!

Grief makes you guilty. You feel guilty when you don't cry and yet you feel huge guilt for crying too much. You feel guilty for thinking of something else and yet feel guilty for only thinking about your angel. You feel guilty for having fun or even for smiling but yet you feel guilty if you don't do it.

Grief makes you compassionate about others who are not grieving the same loss as you. It's not easy when you're consumed by the sadness that it comes with, but when that break in the clouds happen and you see sunlight through even for just a minute, you feel gratitude. It makes you so thankful that whatever they are complaining about, no matter how trivial, is still the hardest thing that's happened to them at that given moment and you want it to stay that way. You're thankful that the love they have for their child is so strong that even if they are alive and well they still feel some form of a loss of the baby years. You feel thankful for big families who juggle life the way they know how and still stay very honest about the ups and downs of raising a family. It's not easy. It's not always aha moments. Parenting is hard work. It's not hard, it's hard work, that's the difference.

Gratitude is everywhere today when I woke up. Oprah said it in a video that I am sure I was meant to see. I feel grateful and lifted because I hear my windchimes chiming away as I type this post. I feel inspired to paint and I did. It may look like an art made by my 4 year old but hey, I did something new today. I am still withdrawn to the outside world and pretty much stay at home to let myself feel.

I am grateful that my Thomas touched so many lives in his short lifetime. I am grateful that my William was part of that legacy. It was them on that photo that showed the world what love means. I am grateful for my family for always being there, through our differences we are united in love. I am grateful for the my true friends for giving us space and at the same be at our doorstep when we need them. I am grateful for my husband because this is our for better or for worse. I can only wish that our future will have better things to come and I do pray that one day we can smile wholeheartedly again. I am grateful for my windchimes, a very thoughtful gift by a family in US. Each time it creates the beautiful sound I smile.

Gratitude and Grief go hand in hand, and it means more to me when I can find things to be grateful for despite of everything. I am trying hard everyday to find these little things and when I do I grab them and soak in it even for just a minute. Gratitude bursts.

One day at a time.

WHY MY BABY?

14 June 2017

"The sun is peeking through the stained window in my walk-in closet. It warms up this very tiny room where I normally lay on the carpet where the sunlight hits and I turn into a recluse. Today is no different. I put Frank Sinatra on and turn the volume up until all I can hear is his beautiful voice. It's laundry day and my washing basket is full of clothes I need to fold and put away. Some clothes I don't really need and the others are pre-owned by a special woman. I go through the pile and pick out a special top. A mint green lacey top that she loved wearing whenever she visits me. I fold it gently and my tears start to fall. I have her shirt but I don't have her here with me."


This is a vivid memory of my first taste of grief. A daughter losing her mother and the pain was indescribable. I thought I've had the worst days of my life. I thought wrong.

Today is the first time I cried to the point of losing my mind. The deep need to hold my baby overcome my whole body and I was inconsolable, even to my husband. 

I sit on the floor of our bedroom and stared out the window asked, "Why my baby?"

I cried until I couldn't anymore and then I decided to take photos. I don't mean to upset anyone but my friends, this is grief. 











My dear Thomas

I am sorry Mummy's been crying a lot. I miss holding and kissing you. I miss singing to you. I missing playing with you. I miss you more than words can say.

I love you always and forever,
Mummy xx

A MOTHER'S GRIEF

08 June 2017


Day 31 without my Thomas.

Every morning, when I wake up, that initial few seconds of gaining consciousness from a deep sleep are blissful, but that euphoria only lasts a second or maybe less. It leaves me quicker than my face can form a smile. I begin to remember everything and that euphoria is replaced by desolation.

It's not a dream. It is never a dream. Dreams, you wake up from.

Living a life without my Thomas is unimaginable, indescribable. You don't ever imagine a life without your children, do you? But it is my reality and my family's.

I am not alone, there are countless families living the same painful reality as us. Some of us found each other and find comfort in that. It's unfortunate to meet in such circumstances but grief is bearable even for a minute in a day because we talk and we share our memories of our angels.

A child loss is not only from a disease. Some parents lose their child (or children) in the war or from horrible accidents or from someone's murder rampage or from extreme poverty or from a miscarriage, or stillbirth, and so on.

Sometimes I want to explain in words how broken I am. I want to tell stories about my Thomas and his life and death but a child's death as a discussion is confronting for many if not all. It's almost taboo and you can't talk about it without dismissive replies because not everyone can handle the pain, even if you're close with them. Dismissive in a sense that empathy is replaced with apathy in the hope that your feelings of loss will quickly turn in acceptance. It doesn't work with grief. You just can't hurry it.

Thomas' death came and I was neither prepared when it happened nor felt less pain when it did. He was in my belly longer than he was in my arms.

My heart remains broken and my soul crying.

Death is part of the circle of life. Each of us has our timeline, some are long and some are short. It's the order of nature that gets us if a child goes before the parents. No one should bury their children, it's not right but babies can get cancer too. It should stop happening. It should be a national priority.


I miss my Thomas with every fibre of my being. It's almost the air I breath, the longing and that's why it hurts so much.

Love and light to all, Sheryl xx


My plea to others:

And you the one reading this, can find deep gratitude if you are not living the same reality. You can post on your social media how lucky and blessed you are for having all your children next to you. You can tell everyone to hug their children tighter every night, and I want you to, because gratitude is a wonderful feeling. It brings love, joy and positivity. It brings the beauty of the hardships of being a parent. It's easy to complain, it's human nature, but if you can learn how to give light to the wonderful things of parenting then you're in a for a beautiful life transformation. Like I said, gratitude is a beautiful feeling.
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* We lost our #littlewarriorthomas on the 8th of May 2017, 730pm. He fought the good fight and he gave us everything. He was home with his whole family when he passed away. Jon and I were right next to him holding his hand. Our #superkuyawilliam kissed our Thomas goodnight. My husband held our baby so tightly after he passed away. And I held him for hours before his body was taken away.

** If you've been following our story since the beginning, thank you. Your beautiful words helped us and still helping us as we navigate our new life. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

*** I am currently writing Thomas' life and I am hoping I can create a beautiful manuscript worthy of a book. If not, our William will have something to read when he's older.







MY THOMAS: A MOTHER'S EULOGY FOR HER DARLING BOY

17 May 2017



Parents shouldn't be burying their child. It's against the natural order. You are supposed to watch them grow and be the person they are meant to be.

But here we are.

When my water broke that early November morning, I said thank you to Pebble. I thanked him for giving me a surprise delivery date. He knew I wanted a surprise despite having a booked C-section. He heard me cry over it for days so he decided to come early.

It was a calm delivery, just like he was. He was a very patient baby from the get go. He rarely complained, even when he's hungry. He would just politely cry for milk.

He almost never complained, even when he was in so much pain. And even through it all, he found means to smile.

He never cried for a wet nappy. He was happy to wait until we changed him.

He smiled a lot even when everything hurts.

He made baby noises that made anyone melt.

He loved watching his hands, they were mesmerising.

He was so content. He accepted everything given to him.

He loved doing peekaboo and did it until the end.

He loved his music. He particularly favoured Ed Sheeran.

He loved watching his Kuya William and looked forward to seeing him again on a school day.

He loved his dad and his silly tricks, he copied them all.

He was such a mummy's boy. He made sure I'm close by and holding his hand before falling asleep.
He made sure I am within hearing range before he trusted anyone. He made sure he can see me before he let anyone played with him.

He fulfilled a lot of my dreams and he gave what our family needed.

Thomas has taught me to be always grateful. The kind of gratitude you find in a difficult situation.

He reinforced what I occasionally forget, to live in the moment and to worry less.

He even reinforced the fact that I am not one with nature, when we went for the shortest walk in the park because of a crossing bobtail lizard.

He gave us the perfect last breath.

He looked at me one last time and then he exhaled.

I gave birth to an angel, too wise for his age. He was put in this world on a mission and that was to spread love and gratitude in every possible way.

His story touched so many hearts around the world and changed so many lives.

He's done beautifully and managed to make a difference in peoples' lives. His presence made an impact, even for his young age, to people near and far more than anyone present today will ever do in their lifetime.

He's deeply loved and I'll miss him so much until we meet again.

He's my darling pebble, forever and always.

We didn't have a happy ending but we have a beautiful story.

Pebble, thank you for choosing mummy and daddy. I love you. Love, mummy.




Sunrise, Sunset (by Jon Blanksby)

sunrise, sunset 
we watch you take your very first breath

sunrise comes bringing hope and joy 
a beautiful 10lb baby boy
big brown eyes and full of hair
a loving look, you glance and stare
hearing our voices for the very first time
we whisper sweet nothings
“we love you, you're mine”
a beautiful smile and chubby cheeks,
we could look into your eyes for weeks.
but whats that on your arm that we find,
it sends a shiver down our spine
it's nothing they say, a birthmark, it's fine
but we best get it checked, all in due time.

weeks pass and the stronger our bond does grow
but then along comes fate to deliver the blow
a sickness that nobody can cure,
a heartache begins for us all to endure.
nothing can change the future so we best make every day last
with laughs and adventures time is going so fast
but at the same time so it passes so slow
and i love for you continue to grow
but the time is close now, you're growing quite weak
even in pain you can barely speak
mummy and daddy say it's ok to sleep
we miss you already and start to weep
hold onto my finger as we say goodbye
but your story isn’t over so lets just say goodnight

we will see you again soon in the stars every night
guiding us through life our own shining light
so much love so much joy,
in such little time with our baby boy
goodnight little warrior with this we promise
we love you with all our hearts our darling little Thomas

sunrise sunset now we lay you down to rest

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We had a beautiful service. Thomas was outdoors, next to a lake and under the dancing trees.

He gave us so many signs.

Warmth of the sun against my face shining through between the trees.

Rainbow while Jon and I were saying our Eulogies.

Butterfly that greeted us at home when we came back from the service.

My darling boy spent the night at home before his funeral. I spent all night with him, kissing and holding his hand. His Kuya gave all the kisses he wanted to give and so as his dad.

It was the perfect send off for a perfect baby boy.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you reading this, whether we know each other or we don't. The last few months were hard but you gave us comfort from all your beautiful words and kindness.

We are forever grateful.

Much love, The Blanksbys

RACE AGAINST TIME

19 April 2017

I am starting to feel like I am racing against time. My brain is thinking a million things at once. I look at my Thomas and my thoughts are of panic! That cute face, that beautiful chin, that big brown eyes, that beautiful voice, that baby smell. I need more time!




There's a shift in my Thomas. Something different, sullen, sad. I could be over thinking / analysing and overly exhausted.

Hospital visits are now more serious. Those type of discussions I tried to avoid and not think about are now on the table.

Time of emergency.
Last breath.
Final Day.
Funeral.

My heart is heavy. My chest is tight. My tears abound.

He deserves everything beautiful in life. Are we giving it? Is it enough? 

I am hopeful but I also see the painful truth. What do they say about Mother's Instinct?

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This post probably doesn't make sense. I am in constant state of panic inside despite the calmness and smiles, especially after today's hospital visit.

Reminder to self: One day at a time.




To the world who love my Thomas, thank you! 
Please continue on praying for him. 

Much love to you all.