Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Chrismukkah (English)/Frohe Weinukkah (Deutsch)



This year Andreas, Bear, angel baby Shiloh and I created a new tradition. We celebrated a combination of Christmas, the German way, and Hanukkah, the NY Jew way (appropriately deemed Chrismukkah, or in German, Weinukkah; from "Weinachten"). Neither of us were/are feeling particularly merry this holiday season, but decided that we should "celebrate" the fact that we have each other for support through these incredibly rough times. So, we unwrapped presents on the eve of the 24th (as per German tradition), in front of our first Weinukkah tree as a family. It was and continues to be very festive. Our two menorahs sat ablaze on the coffee table (even though Hanukkah ended on the 18th!), across from my adorable dreidel lights (thanks ma!). Our chockers puff paint stockings (courtesy of moi- Rachie) dangle from the wall, along with the lebkuchen heart Andreas gave to me on our very first Christmas together in 2001 (yes, I didn't eat it, I kept it- I'm sentimental!). That was my first encounter with a German Christmas dinner- a big fat DUCK from Oma’s sister’s farm!!! Lecker (yummy)! Our little noble fir is decked out with shiny balls, beads, candy canes, heaps of angels, and of course, photos of our loved ones- Shiloh baby, my daddy, and Bear, our lil' stinker! Santa Bears even paid us a visit!!! We are hoping and praying that 2010 is a year of only happiness, health, wealth, success and multiple siblings for Shiloh. 2010 has to be a better year... it just has to.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Duality of my Heart

Here's another poem I wrote (Dec 1997) for my english class. I'm actually shocked at how emotionally deep I was back then!

 One woman, one heart.
A heart with two chambers.
Two chambers that contradict each other with a simple word.
The left always yearning for completion and
the right always begging for spontaneity.

Both chambers like two novices
contained in one heart.
Competing for recognition and
for popularity.

One strongly pensive in reason and
constant in decision
believing only in practicality.
While the other, filled with impulsive unrestraint and initiative.

Both deriving from the same heart,
but overwhelmed by different passions.
One chamber exclaims,
look deep inside,
to another’s aching heart.
The other shouts,
all that matters is displayed on the outside.

They beat as one,
yet in spirit,
are two different entities.

Together, striving to live in harmony;
to survive.
Knowing that they are unable to function without the other,
They settle.

They make this woman whole.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Appleness

This is a poem I wrote in 1998 for my AP English Class and I just came across it the other day as I was cleaning out some old stuff from my mom's garage. It's called a Concrete Poem (it originally took on the shape of an apple) and the stylistic devices used were: imagery, connotation, metaphor and symbolism. It immediately reminded me of Shiloh, so I wanted to share it with everyone.


My darling dearest. 
You are the apple of my eye. The fruit within the fruit. 
Apple seeds. This cherry red combined with a multitude 
of seeds makes this apple whole. You complete me. As we sit
 in this brilliant bowl, our cores combine to share a single one. This core is everything 
but physical. This is no dull love; no ordinary love. We cannot admit absence; 
we are linked, for this love is one of great and complex definition. 
In spirit we are inseparable, core-mates, this love we share cannot be weakened or 
broken. There are no exceptions, no excuses. The everlasting reality 
sometimes creates the ability to frighten.
Forget all of the meaningless details.
JUST BE.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ode to Bear


(Photo courtesy of Emily Hoke)
This is an ode to my puppy, Bear, who has been with us since shortly after Shiloh passed away (we got him in mid Nov 2008). I never once have mentioned him publicly, because I didn’t want people to think that I was trying to replace my daughter with a dog (by the way, Shiloh will never be replaced, not by any animal or another child). But I have decided it’s time to dedicate a post to Bear, who’s really been my and Andreas’s savior over the past year.

Bear, you claim to be a dog
But are you really?
There’s so much ‘person’ in your personality
At times you act so queerly
   
You’re a cheeky little bugger
Always doing something naughty
Chewing socks, chucking rocks
Looking at me haughtily
   
But all these things I can forgive
For you have been my savior
I yell at you and cry on you
Even when you’re on your best behavior 
   
I know you don’t understand any of this
But mommy and daddy are very sad
We’ve lost our only daughter
As well as Lou, your grandpa and my dad
   
But you have been my constant outlet
I don’t know what I’d do without you
For loneliness, sadness, hurt and love
And my mothering instincts too
    
So thank you for being you, Bear
Always the perfect fur baby
I owe you for my life thus far
About this there is no maybe

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Light up a Life 2009


This Sunday, December 6th, Hospice of Santa Barbara had their annual Light up a Life at the Labero Theater to remember those that we’ve lost. As last year, I hung a star for baby Shiloh and a star for my dad, Lou, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in March. The dominant feelings were those of immense sadness and surrealism: I can't believe I'm putting a star on a tree to represent the lives of my daughter and my father. It's just so tragic and so very heartbreaking. This year was even harder because Andreas wasn't here to support me. Or I should say, we weren't together to support each other. I just have this nagging question running through my head day after day.... Why is life so damn cruel?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cerveza

Right now, Andreas, my husband, is teaching an MBA course at a university in Barcelona. This is the first time since Shiloh was born that we've spent more than just a few days apart. It's been very hard being separated, but also good for our personal healing and growth. Here's a poem that Andreas wrote yesterday (during dinner!). He says "This is a poem going forward, not just holding onto the pain. A poem to the next baby, by acknowledging Shiloh as part of it. This is what I want for us. This is what we need to heal now. A different attitude. Accepting where the pain comes from now and working on it." 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I am sitting here with a Spanish beer and I try to dream a common theme, how would it be if you were here.
The dream is easy at the start, I would love you with all my heart. And I would do it all over again, paint the room and buy the playpen.
Yet, there is a point that is hard to cross. Your birthing process, such a loss. All the sudden it is only pain, will it be a loss again?
I had to learn there is no guarantee. You never know when you get stung by a bee. But the bee also brings pollen to flowers, and maybe you will soon be ours.
I feel I have the strength again, to love you here and Shiloh in heaven. Mommy, daddy, Shiloh and Bear are ready for you. Dream of ours, I know you will come true. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Thanks in Thanksgiving


(Photos by Emily Hoke)
During this time last year, I was completely lost. I was alone. I was angry and betrayed. I was ripped in two. I felt like I wanted to die. I was so full of raw sorrow that I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone be with friends, if only to eat good food. What was there to celebrate? Well, I still feel this way, but to a lesser extent. The only things I feel I can be thankful for nowadays are family and good friends that attempt to understand what Andreas and I are going through on a daily basis. Oh, and delectable food, of course. Can't forget the food! I guess this is a huge step. I wonder if the holidays are ever going to be joyous again though. Perhaps as our family continues to grow, so will my joy. I can only hope. And be thankful for the small things... 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Complex





This grief is complex
It’s multifaceted 
Because I not only mourn the death of my child
But the death of my old relationships
The death of my old self
Of my innocence
My lightheartedness 
My happiness

I would love to see into my future 
I desperately want another baby
-Yesterday-
And I’m terrified that it won’t happen
That I can’t get pregnant again
Why is it taking so long?
What am I doing wrong?

I want, I need, assurance
To know that I don’t have to mourn more
The death of my future
On top of mourning the death of my daughter’s
A bright future 
Pilfered before possessed

It’s so unjust
But I know
I know I can’t lose hope
If I do
There’s nothing left
Nothing left for me
Nothing left for me to live for

Note: I've fixed the Rss feed on Shiloh's memorial website. Hopefully everyone can easily subscribe to the website blog now to get blog updates. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moving through

In an attempt to enjoy life again (somewhat), I'm going to start writing other posts (about our lives), in addition to my Shiloh posts. The origins of this blog lie within happier times. We started the blog in 2007, during our 5th year of living in Australia. It was originally called "Simons Go Global" and was created to keep friends and family all over the world up-to-date on our on-goings down under. We've definitely lost touch with these happier times, but I would like to start writing again about our 'new' life (with integrated grief). I think I need this to help me move through the sorrow.


I will still post some Shiloh-dedicated blogs here, but I would like to transfer most of my Shiloh blogs to the "Whispers to my Angel" blog on her memorial website. There is an RSS feed on the website blog so people are still able to subscribe. I hope that you will all follow me over to her website blog, as I love to know that people are remembering my Shiloh, I love to meet new people, to help others through their grief, and mostly, I love to read all of the thoughts and comments. It's such a wonderful tribute to the life of my baby angel Shiloh. So stay tuned. The next blog is likely to be about spending Thanksgiving with some very special people who've been there for us since day one of our healing journey. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dweller



I can’t get over things fast
I like to dwell
To brood over my emotions
My thoughts
I’m a dweller by nature

Mostly, I dwell on my sorrow
My pain
My anger
My occasional hatred
The injustice of it all

Sometimes I also dwell on good things
The way you smelled
Your puffy cheeks
Your piano fingers
The non-existent toenail on your little baby toe
Just like mine

I need to feel the pain
To feel the little joys
To dwell
It makes me feel
Well… human
In a sense, it makes me feel 
Mortal

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shiloh's First Birthday Celebration- Photos




Shiloh's birthday cake (Photo courtesy of Kristen Papac)
I've posted the first batch of photos from Shiloh's first birthday celebration, on her memorial website:
  
http://thenewsimons.com/Site/First_Birthday_Celebration.html


Thanks to all of you amazing people for being there for me and Andreas on Shiloh's special day. Love to you all! Xoxo 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shiloh's First Birthday Celebration


Here’s a short video of Shiloh’s celebration, made by my lovely friend Sara Koch.








On Saturday, November 7th, a select group of local people who’ve played an integral part in my and Andreas’s healing since Shiloh was born, came together on Butterfly Beach to celebrate her first birthday (Oct 28th). It was an incredibly meaningful and emotional day for us. It was absolutely perfect in every way and the balloon launch went off without a hitch. We met at the beach at 3.30 pm, talked, cried, drank coffee, ate white chocolate raspberry birthday cake, wrote little notes to Shiloh and all the other angel babies on CA seed paper (so when the balloons burst the seed paper falls back to the earth to bloom into all the beautiful plants and flowers that often remind us of Shiloh), and sent 30 balloons towards the heavens with our whispers to angel Shiloh inside as we watched the sunset. It was magical. The most amazing part was watching the balloons form and hold an “S” for a whole 5 minutes as they floated higher and higher. I’m almost positive someone has a photo of this (to be posted!). I’ll have to make this number 8 on my list of “Strange Happenings”. It was breathtaking and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the brief life of my stunning angel. 


Shiloh, you are sorely missed, but you will remain in our hearts and minds for all eternity. I love you so.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Secret Garden- October






This meeting we would like to talk about where you are. Where are you in your grief? Has it been years or just weeks since you lost your baby? How are you feeling? How do you hope you will feel in the future? Have you found any peace at all?


It's been 1 year and two weeks since we lost baby angel Shiloh (Oct 28th). I can't believe it's been a year (I say something like this every month...). In fact, we just celebrated Shiloh's first birthday on Saturday. We had a balloon launch. I thought I'd be a lot more emotional than I was, although it was right underneath the surface the entire time. I cried the entire two weeks before her birthday, so I felt like I didn't have the ability to physically cry tears on the day. I don't really know where I am in my grief. I'm still on that roller coaster of emotions, but it's not as unpredictable anymore. I went back today to read all of the posts from the first 6 months after Shiloh was born and a part of me feels so separated now from the raw pain of it all. I think it's a coping mechanism. I don't ever want to go back there. It was like I was endlessly clawing my way out of a deep, dark pit. I had no hope, no direction, and no joy. I was just empty. The whole world was going on around me, but all I wanted to do was curl up and die. The pain and grief is not that raw anymore (thank goodness!). I have definitely learned to live with my daily grief. It's now a part of my being. You don't forget about it, it doesn't become less, you just learn how to cope with it better; you almost become more adept at pushing it away. At least, that is the way I feel. From the very beginning, I've let myself feel every emotion as it was happening. I would try to label my feelings, compartmentalize them, to understand why I was feeling the way I felt. I feel like I've been grieving "well". I still feel lost a lot of the time, and disenchanted with trivial things in life. I miss Shiloh every second of everyday and I still ache for her, but I've matured in my sorrow and I feel a tiny bit more at peace than I did even just last month. I'll have more hope and some happiness again once I bring a screaming baby home in my arms- Shiloh's sibling. Until then, I'll still be uncertain, terrified of the future, and full of sadness knowing what I could have had with Shiloh.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Year Without Shiloh (Oct 28th)- From Kellie



Photo courtesy of Kristen Papac
Another one of my incredible friends, Kellie- mama to Remi- wrote this poem for Shiloh's first birthday. What a strong, compassionate woman. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You are missed dearly
Every moment of each day
You have touched so many lives
In a very positive way


I feel as if I know you
Although we haven’t even met
Your parents describe you beautifully
So no one will forget


You picked the perfect Mom and Dad
To share your pure life with
They cherish you with all they have
You are their ultimate gift


They etched you on their bodies
A permanent reminder
To show how proud of you they are
Their precious heavenly daughter


It’s been a year without your presence
Each day knowing what is missing
I know that you’ll soon come back
Until then…we’ll all keep wishing


You may be a girl or a boy
We don’t know what you will choose
To finally complete your journey
With Rachel and Andreas who love you


Little Angel Shiloh
Will you please take Remi’s hand
To help guide each other home…
Back to us again

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Your First Birthday


Photo courtesy of Kristen Papac
Today is your first birthday
And I’m feeling really numb
I can’t believe it’s been a year
Since the day that you have come

At 1.18 pm, you were brought into this world
A bundle of joy much anticipated
Your future planned way ahead of time
Because a whole 10 months we had waited

We were meant to have loads of good times
Together- talking, laughing, playing
Recording your monthly milestones
Your weight, height and things you were saying

I ache for these things every day
For my arms to be heavy with your weight
To change your diapers, to breastfeed you
And sleep in with you ‘til late

My intense joy and love for you
To everyone- I always declare
All things that encompass you
I feel compelled to share

Not a day goes by without you, Shiloh
Always on the forefront of my mind
I think, talk, write, and cry for you
Our lives are forever intertwined

My heavenly baby angel
For eternity you will be
As I see you in all earthly creatures
Insects, flowers, and even our lemon tree

So happy first birthday to you- love of my life
And just so you don’t get a stomachache
You and all the other angel babies  
Need to take it easy on your birthday cake!

-Love your mommy

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I can't believe...



A luminary for Shiloh on Oct 15th (from Sherri)
I wrote this journal entry on the Daily Strength Forum last month. I decided to post it here now because I still feel this way. Sometimes I am in awe of the human capability to survive intense trauma.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow. I can't believe I've come this far. I can't believe it's been over 10 months since I lost my Shiloh. I couldn't stop crying or even really get out of bed from Oct-Dec. I was SO utterly depressed, confused, empty, hopeless. I had no sense of purpose or direction. I couldn't brush my hair, or go outside, or see people, or make small talk, or listen to music or anything. I cried, I kept to myself, I hated the world, and I wrote about it all. Sometimes I miss those days where I could let myself FEEL EVERYTHING. It's so hard nowadays to allow myself to really revisit that pain. I think about Shiloh every minute of everyday, but it's so hard to open her memory box, so hard to let myself think about that night where I found out that her heart had stopped, the afternoon when I gave birth to her, the look of despair on my husband's and my sibling's faces when I pushed her out and she didn't move or cry, the first time holding her lifeless body. I still think about these things all the time, but I removed myself from it a bit. It physically hurts to cry so much now. I guess it's just a coping mechanism, but it makes me feel so damn guilty.

I was sitting in my Hospice parent bereavement group last Thursday and there was a new couple there. I'm glad they found this support group, but I HATE when new couples join us. Nobody should have to endure the tragedy that people like us have endured. When I saw them, just the expression on their faces, it brought me back to the first time we went to this support group- exactly one week after I gave birth to Shiloh. My husband dragged me to group. I am not the kind of person that likes to talk about my emotions to strangers (face to face at least), I do not like therapy and I don't need people seeing me blustering, crying, distraught- essentially- a mess. But Andreas said that we needed this, that we don't even know what grief really is, or how to heal, that we can't be isolated, that we have to find people that know our pain. In the end, he was totally right. I certainly wouldn't be where I am today had he not dragged me to support group. He gave me yet another, much needed outlet for my anger, disbelief, bitterness, sadness, and loss. It feels so good to be with people who understand, who don't ask you what's wrong when you randomly start to cry, or turn away when you see a baby or pregnant woman. They get it. This, right now, is all I can ask for in a friend. It's sad that I can't be comforted in any other way, but I've come to accept that this is my reality, that I'm living in a shell of myself, sustained by a broken heart.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Strange Happenings



The book I found at the swap shop
As usual, I was inspired by someone else’s experiences (Allison, this time!) to write about some of the weird, coincidental things that have been occurring since I had Shiloh last year.  I’ll start with the most distant experience.


1)    During a pertinent part of the ceremony at my father’s funeral in March (where the Rabbi was talking about how much my father loved his family), I was hit in the head by TWO leaves simultaneously (and it wasn’t even windy!). Dad and Shiloh were together and this was his way of telling me.


2)   A month or so after Shiloh passed, my friend Kristen said she kept seeing a tricycle with Shiloh’s name on it around our housing complex. She hasn’t seen it in a while, but if she does, this time she’ll snap a photo of it.


3)   I’ve been repeatedly followed and accosted by many different types of insects since December. Bees, fruit flies, spiders, butterflies- you name it… They are even around when there is no other insect in sight. It’s crazy!


4) The girl I asked to do my memorial Forget-me-not tattoo with Shiloh's birthday incorporated into the drawing, has the same birthday as Shiloh- 10/28. I was having doubts about letting her do it, but when I found this out, I realized that it was meant to be. 


5) I took Bear, our puppy, to the farmer’s market with me last month. He saw a dog that he really wanted to play with, so he was pulling against his leash and whining like I’ve never seen before. I couldn’t figure out what was so special about the other doggie. Finally, I walked him over so he could play with her.  Well, I got my answer as to why she was so special- the dog’s name was Shiloh.


6)   Allison (Christian’s mommy) has been seeing a white butterfly nearly everyday when she takes her dogs for a walk. A few days ago, Shiloh somehow popped into her head when she woke up that morning. She thought about her and Christian playing together. As she walked outside with her dogs that morning, the white butterfly (Christian) was dancing around her head and then met up with another white butterfly (Shiloh). They danced around each other playfully. This was our babies playing together.


7)  I was taking Bear for a walk yesterday morning past the swap shop in our housing complex (the swap shop is an empty apartment where people can leave things they don’t want and take things that they do) and as I was walking by staring at a huge pile of junk and books, a small, thin book on the tippy top of the heap caught my eye. It was a birthday book. The birthday was October 28th- Shiloh’s birthday. It totally gave me the chills. 


I love getting these signs from Shiloh. They are so special. I think it’s her way of telling me that she is ok, that things with us are going to be ok.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A letter to Shiloh from Emily

 The candle Emily and Andrew lit for Shiloh on Oct 15th.


I absolutely love this letter that Em wrote to Shiloh for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day... it's so pure and so sweet.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Little Miss Shiloh J. Simon,

I am so sorry we never got to officially meet. Still, somehow, I feel we've been acquainted.  I saw you make your mama round and happy--you were the beauty in your mother's smile, her light bouncy step. I saw you in the pride and sparkle in your father's eyes. You were created with love and in their love you shine eternally.

The ocean is a place of peace and healing--but also a powerful, awe-inspiring force that evokes emotion. Your parents are ocean people. Your dad catches waves in the sea while your mom walks along the shore and carves your name in the sand. I don't doubt you'd be a beach baby.

Tonight the many people who remember you are lighting candles in your honor. In my makeshift memorial I looked for things that made me think of you. Two shells plucked from the Santa Barbara shoreline. A plumeria blossom, like the flowers your mom picks up off of the sidewalk, posts on your website, or pins her hair.  The sweet perfection of nature.

I saw you in a painting from a friend that hangs on my wall.  The pink of your stunning nursery is reflected in the coral sunlit sky.  I can't help suspect you'd be a fun balance of tomboy and girly-girl a lot like your mama is.  A girl on the edge of the sea, looking out into the waves, strong and beautiful.  Shiloh, you aren't forgotten.

Much love,

Emily
(*Auntie Em*)