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Lowri's Journal Page 5

The updates are listed here from most recent first.  You can click on a date to the left and jump straight to this entry.

24 Sep 2003 back to top

A perfect bud grew on our plant, in pink, the palest shade
Each petal furled between the next, the hand of God displayed.
It opened to a vibrant flower, the scent and tone divine,
And basked in sunshine here with us for such a special time.

Although your blossom faded fast our memories are strong
The joy you brought, the love you shared will last forever long.
We love you to the moon and back, our hearts are in such pain,
But praise God for your time with us and know we'll meet again

Mumma, Daddy, Roosje and Liam XXXXX

 

23 Sep 2003 back to top

23 Sep 2002 It was a beautiful, clear, warm spring day, the first day of the two weeks long school holidays.  Tim had booked the weeks off work, and the kids were excited to be home.  Lowri had refused to come down stairs on the previous day when we had a house full of visitors, but as it was going to be a quieter day I insisted on carrying her downstairs to lie on the couch.  She had been fitted with a pain pump which provided her with a continuous infusion of morphine, but it was a little electronic gadget that most of the hospice nurses had not seen before.  Two of the hospice nurses visited that day, one to refill the pump and one to learn how to use the pump.  Because Lowri did not want to see anyone I detached the pump from the line into her portacath and brought the pump through to the nurses, then reattached it after they had filled it.  We discussed Lowri's pain level and decided that she was probably constipated again and decided that Tim and I would give her an enema - again because she did not want to see the nurses.  We did this after the nurses left, and then gave her a bed bath and changed her pyjamas.  We moved her back onto the couch and Tim left for the office where he had a few things left to do before taking his leave.  Lowri was restless and obviously still in pain after her morphine had been boosted several times.  She would sit up suddenly grimacing and groaning for a few minutes and then relax down, then do it again and again.  I tried every position for her and the pillows, but could not find one where she was comfortable.  The nurses had given Roosje and Liam a couple of very large syringes which they were using for a water fight in the street.  I eventually decided to give Lowri a dose of Midazolam which we had given her before and she did not like - it is a relaxant and it made her too woozy to speak, but did seem to help the pain.  I injected this into the line going into her port and she relaxed and settled to sleep.  Liam and Roosje came in for lunch and were still in water fight mode.  Unfortunately when they went to the basin to wash their hands for lunch Liam squirted Roosje and she picked up the bathroom cleaner without thinking and sprayed it into his face.  I washed his eyes under the running water for a few minutes and then phoned a friend who came around and took him to the doctor's to have his eyes checked out.  They were fine, thankfully.  Tim came home from the office and sat with Lowri.  Grandma and Grandad Tricker took Roosje and Liam out to their motel to swim in the pool.  I decided to plant a punnet of cyclamen that Grandma Tricker had bought and which were looking rather droopy, so I went and spent some time gardening.  When I came back into the house I sat in the chair next to Lowri's couch to do some of the cross-stitch I had been working on at the hospital during Lowri's treatment, and I did that right up until there were only a few stitches left to do, and then I could not finish it - superstition I guess.  I thought that Lowri would die when I finished it, but that she would still live if I didn't.  I picked up my knitting instead and did some of that.  I wasn't really concentrating on the knitting and I made a mistake so I pulled out the needle to undo a couple of rows and Lowri's breathing changed.  She was breathing out heavily and it sounded a bit like she was saying "Muuuuum", "Muuuuum", so I spoke quietly to her and told her I was there, but carried on trying to catch my stitches back onto the needle.  Someone knocked on the door and Tim went to answer it, and suddenly Lowri took one shuddering breath and stopped.  I jumped off my chair and shook her, screaming for Tim to come.  She took another shuddering breath and Tim arrived next to me, I shook her again and she took one last breath, and she was gone.

Harri.

20 Sep 2003 back to top

Well it is coming up to a year since "that day" - the day Lowri drew her final breath and left her broken and painful body behind.  The last few weeks have been quite difficult to live through as we repeated events which were the final days of Lowri's life.  Father's day was hard for Tim - his first as a father with just 2 children here again.  He got his usual scorched almonds from Lowri, but she wasn't here to get her thank you hug.  Roosje and Liam designed a T-shirt for Tim with a photo of all three of them on and the slogan "We love our Daddio" (Roosje's current name for Tim).  That same day was also Liam's soccer prize-giving, which I walked through in a dream trying not to think about Lowri and her last outing.  Lowri went to the soccer prize-giving last year and surprised us all by insisting on having a sausage and eating it (photos).  She then went on to insist on joining the rest of the family at the Child Cancer Foundation's Family Zoo day that afternoon.  It was a "good" day for Lowri, where she got to see some people she had not seen for a long time, and she always loved the zoo.  She died 8 days after those photos were taken.

 

I don't know whether other people really understand this, but I still find it hard to believe that Lowri is really gone.  I have spoken to other bereaved parents and they feel the same way.  The first year after your child's death is like an uphill endurance race, running up and trying to survive to the top, that one year mark.  I am told that the view from the top is of the rest of your life stretching ahead of you, with many more hills to climb and valleys to fall into, still with your child missing.  I admit that I have been waiting to exhale, as though making it to one year is some great achievement with which I will receive a reward - somewhere in the recesses of my mind is the expectation that I will regain normality, but the only way back to normality for me is for Lowri to be back alive and well.  Liam wants to be normal, he doesn't want to be "the boy who's sister died".  Out in the world he likes to pretend that he didn't ever have a little sister, but here at home he likes to be reassured that he really is a "big brother" and always will be.

 

Several people have asked me how we will be spending the day on the anniversary of Lowri's death.  My instinct is to spend the day in bed with the quilt pulled up over my head, but I suspect that Roosje and Liam will expect some attention that day as all others.

 

Please spare a thought and a prayer for the other children who are still fighting Wilms' Tumour, especially our friend Savannah, and another friend Martine from Norway who's parents have just been told that her doctors do not feel that they can cure her, and for the families of the Wilms' children who are in Heaven playing with Lowri, especially the families of Paige White who died a year to the day before Lowri (it was actually 22nd September 2001, but it is 23rd September here in New Zealand when it is 22nd September in Illinois) and Peyton Wollgast who died a week after Lowri.

 

Thank you all for 21 months of prayers and caring,

Harri.

 

24 Aug 2003 back to top

Happy 10th Birthday Roosje!!  Roosje had a lilac birthday this year - just about everything she was given was lilac, which is lucky because she just decided that lilac is her favourite colour now!  We went to a ceramics shop and painted some ceramic pieces for her birthday, which is one of her favourite things to do - I'm now going to have to buy some more shelves to display all of our artwork.


Well for those of you watching this space for news of the swimming pool - nothing has happened so far (no surprises there to those of you who know us, eh?).  We have resurrected the idea this month and now are shopping for pool ideas and hoping to have one in by Christmas.....us and half of New Zealand all wanting them in by Christmas!!  So keep watching this space for pool updates.

 

I know that this coming month will be hard for Tim and I as we approach the "anniversary" of Lowri's death, and her birthday.  The memories of this time last year and how Lowri suffered so much pain and changed in front of our eyes from a happy little girl to a quiet, still, sad,  immobile little girl will haunt me forever.  Several people have said things to me recently that imply that they think I should be "moving on" and not feeling so sad all of the time.  I really cannot explain how much more it hurts to lose a child than you ever could imagine it would.  It's not that you "lose a child", but that you "lose that child".  Lowri was a very special person to me, and for the last nine months of her life she was the centre of my universe - all life revolved around Lowri.  Now she is gone and nothing I say or do will bring her back into my life here.  Most days my life is that of any other person about.  I drop my kids at school, I chat to other parents, I do my chores and go to the gym, meet with friends, walk the dog, pick the kids up from school, spend time with the kids, cook dinner, watch TV.  But there are special Lowri places in my life, and this website is one of them.  It would not feel right to me to put an entry in here about how we are doing and not mention how much it still hurts that Lowri died.

 

Harri.

 

29 Jul 2003 back to top

This is just a quick entry to let you know that I have finally managed to add some baby photos of Lowri to the site.  Now I know what I am doing I will change the photos on that page from time to time.  The other gallery pages will stay as they are.

 

Lowri's story is featured on the North Shore Hospice website and in their newsletter this month.  The nurses from this hospice did a great job of looking after Lowri and the rest of us during her last month on earth - the worst month of her life.  I will always be grateful for their help and understanding.

 

Harri

 

22 Jul 2003 back to top

Happy 8th Birthday Liam!!  We have just returned from the wave pools where we took a small group of 8-year-old boys to celebrate Liam's birthday, and my ears are still ringing from the noise they made in the car.  I have never heard such drivel discussed for so long outside of parliament, and there was a screaming competition, and a song which went on for ever, not to mention the hysterical infectious laughter.  It was a great trip out despite the journey, we had a lot of fun at the pools, I just wish I could tap into the source of their energy and use a little myself.  Liam's party was organised at the last minute - we were not going to have a party this year, just a quiet family evening, but every time we try to be a family with just the four of us it feels really wrong, so we had to find some other people to be with.

 

It is sad for Roosje and Liam that their birthdays last year hold such memories for me.  On Liam's birthday, 22nd July, Lowri was "fit and healthy".  She came to Laser Force and skipped around, was chatty and friendly, ate the party food and played the arcade games.  "Uncle Jeremee" was over for a visit from England, and she showed off for him like any kid would.  A month later at Roosje's birthday, 24th August, she was in severe pain, she went to Laser Force but we had to give her a large dose of morphine to get her dressed and out of the house.  She sat on my lap with her eyes closed and her face a picture of pain the whole time, she didn't eat any party food and she didn't interact with anyone.  A month after that, 23rd September she died.  I cannot separate those 3 dates - they stick in my mind just like that.  It didn't stop me enjoying Liam's birthday - there are too many good memories also attached to that day, but it did make me very sad in the days leading up to his birthday.

 

Today also marked a year since the passing of the son of a cyber friend,   Matthew Hallemeier .  Tim and I had followed Matthew's story for some months and were so saddened by his death.  Earlier this year Matthew's parents Debbie and Dirk, along with Dirk's parents, came to Auckland to join a cruise around New Zealand and Australia, and we met up with them for a coffee.  It was a very powerful experience for us to meet other parents who had walked a similar path - to put faces and personalities to people we had "met" through the internet, to hear Debbie talk about her awesome son Matthew and to tell them about Lowri.  I know that Debbie and Dirk are reliving the events surrounding Matthews death right now and could use your prayers.

 

Yesterday another boy whose story we have been following, Hunter, lost his 8 year battle with Wilms' tumour.  Hunter was originally diagnosed with favourable histology Wilms' just after his 5th birthday, and had been fighting it ever since with only 2 periods of remission.  Hunters family could also use some prayers, and while you are on your knees please don't forget our friend  Savannah who is still in treatment for Wilms'.

 

Thank you for visiting Lowri's site and for your prayers,

Harri

 

10 Jul 2003 back to top

Please remember our friend  Savannah  in your prayers, she is still doing battle with the Wilms' beast.  Savannah has started a new chemotherapy protocol and needs prayers that this combination will be the magic bullet for her anaplastic Wilms'.

 

On 10th July 2002 we packed bags for Roosje and Liam and delivered them to friends' houses for a few days.  We then took Lowri into Starship hospital for a liver resection operation to remove a single tumour from one section of her liver.  Tim's 14-years-old niece was also admitted to Starship that day for a tonsillectomy.  We joked with the doctors about them getting the two van der Werff girls muddled up, and they (very seriously) assured us that that could not happen.  Lowri was in good spirit, talking to everyone in the waiting areas and running around happily playing with the toys.

We took Lowri to the ultrasound room so that they could take some clear pictures of where the tumour was, were there arteries involved, did it occupy more than one lobe of the liver etc.  What they found was a second tumour.  We spoke to the surgeon from the "adult" hospital who had come to perform the operation with the paediatric surgeon, and he told us that although the operation would be more difficult with the two tumours, they were both in the same part of her liver so resection was still possible.  We were told many times how dangerous this operation would be for Lowri with one percent chance of death and 10-20 percent chance of complications.  It was decided to do a CT scan to check that there were no other tumours hiding anywhere on her liver, and then Lowri was admitted to the high dependency unit of the surgical ward ready for her pre-op prep.

We waited by her bed for a long time, past the time she should have been prepped, and we began to get scared.  Finally Lowri fell asleep, and we sat by her bed and watched her breathe peacefully, oblivious to the stress around her.

Lowri's oncologist and the paediatric surgeon came to fetch Tim and I, and took us to the surgeon's office.  They told us that the CT scan had shown that another tumour was present on Lowri's right lung, which mean that the radiation which we had all believed was able to kill Lowri's cancer had failed to control the cancer on her lungs, and so would not work on any new tumours.  They showed us the CT scans, they told us that they did not know of any treatment anywhere in the world which could offer any chance of a cure for Lowri, and that they believed that the liver resection had too many risks to continue.  There was no further curative treatment they could offer Lowri.

 

On 10th July 2002 we picked our sleeping beauty up from her hospital bed, carried her down to our car and took her home to die.

 

10th July 2002, I will NEVER forget that day.

 

Harri

 

17 Jun 2003 back to top

*****18 Jun 2003

I have just checked up on our friend Savannah, who was also diagnosed with unfavourable Wilms' tumour.  Savannah was in remission when Lowri was diagnosed, and I have always seen Savannah as a beacon of hope - she had beaten the disease.  Unfortunately Savannah relapsed when Lowri was in hospice care last September, and underwent a double stem-cell transplant earlier this year.  I have just read that she was found to have relapsed again at the weekend, and has undergone an operation to remove one tumour from her lung and one from her chest wall.  Savannah is very special to us, and her family supported us through Lowri's illness.  Please visit Savannah's site and leave a message of encouragement in her guest book, and please mention Savannah in your prayers.

 

I am not doing a very good job of keeping Lowri's site up to date at the moment, am I?  I have been spending quite a bit of my time fine tuning the www.kiwiangels.org site.  I have added one of the angel pictures that Roosje did for me onto that site as a logo, but I still have others that I am having trouble scanning properly (I have a hate-hate relationship with the scanner and Tim has to keep reminding me that it is an inanimate object and cannot understand the things I threaten it with).  The picture that I used for the logo came out in grey and white even though the original was coloured, and so Roosje and I had to colourise it on the computer, which worked wonderfully as it was a JPEG file (a little computer blurb here - makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I can assure you that it is a false impression).  Then we found that we had to convert it into a GIF file, so that we could make the background transparent, and the colours went a bit speckly during the conversion.  We will work on the GIF file some more when we have time, so hopefully the angel will look a little less spotty.

 

We went away to Papamoa for Tim's brother Paul's 50th birthday party at the weekend.  Although those who were not there were sadly missed by some of us, it was good to see most of the family together for a celebration.  Happy Birthday Paul, I hope you enjoyed your day.

 

I have been feeling quite lost in my grief lately.  A lot of what happened this time last year has been replaying in my mind - just little snippets of events flashing through and leaving me with that terrible feeling of loss all over again.  When Lowri died I lost all of my memories of her in some kind of traumatic/hysterical brain-wipe.  I believed that after the initial shock wore off my memories of her would return - I am still waiting....... The memories I do have of her are few and do not include her facial expressions or the sound of her voice - I can picture her riding her trike around the hospital, or skipping along, or standing with her hands on her hips, but she always has her back to me.  Specific things she said or did have not returned like I thought they would.  I have avoided watching videos of her because I think that might replace my true memories - when I close my eyes and try to picture her I usually see one of the photos of her rather than a 'picture' from real life.  Often it feels like she never existed at all.  I can vividly remember her birth and her death, most of the bad stuff that happened to her during her last 8 months, and how it felt to hold her, but so little else.  At her funeral we gave out paper and envelopes for people to write their memories of Lowri for us, but only a very few people ever did.  If any one can remember her I will really appreciate it if you write to me and tell me your memories of her - it doesn't have to be stories about something she did, just how you remember her being.  Maybe it will jog my memory.

Harri.

 

16 May 2003 back to top

It has been a while since I last updated, and this is the first update I am doing unaided, so if the links don't work, or the whole site crashes you know who to blame.

 

The Greenhithe Dragons soccer team are doing well, and may get their own website soon.....watch this space.  It is amazing what the team have learned in a short space of time, either they have a brilliant coach, or they have reached an age where they are able to take in the stuff he tells them, or both.

 

Of course, as soon as I printed up the "final tally" for our Relay for Life efforts somebody handed us another $50 cheque - not that I am complaining about this, it is excellent.  That puts our "final" total up to NZ$8,110.30

 

I have done a fair amount of work on the Memorial site (which is why I have not updated this site recently), and it now has it's own domain name www.kiwiangels.orgI have been busy trying to get the site advertised to the right people - especially other parents in New Zealand who have lost a child to cancer.  Roosje is going to draw me a picture to use as the background wallpaper on that site, so come back and look at again in a week or two.

 

I am still working on the baby photos idea - posting photos to this site is not as easy as I thought.


Harri.

 

20 April 2003 back to top

Easter Sunday, another rotten holiday without Lowri - am I getting monotonous???

 

Well one or two things have gone on since I last updated.  The soccer season has started again, and Tim is coaching Liam's team this year - The Greenhithe Dragons.  The team is very keen, and willing to learn lots of new skills (well they better, or the coach will not be pleased).  They are playing more like real soccer players this season, more spread out around the field, dribbling the ball, and passing to each other.

 

We had a final tally up of the money raised by Lowri's Angels for Relay for Life page.  We raised NZ$7,830.30 in sponsorship and NZ$230 in entrance fees, so a grand total of NZ$8,060.30 - didn't we do well?  I still cannot get over how everyone pulled together for us over this, and that "we" did all this with only 2 weeks notice before the event.  Way to go Lowri's Angels.

 

Tim and I (and Copper) did a 10Km walk last weekend in aid of Breast Cancer Support.  This was not a sponsored event, it was just raising money by the entry fee and donations.  Tim, Copper and I brought up the rear as we opted to have a coffee and sit and watch the walkers set off before joining the end of the mass.  Other "Angels" were also amongst the walkers; we saw Nisha and Dave C, but failed to spot Nicola, Jan and Sandra who were also out in the masses somewhere.  Tim and I survived the walk with little after effects, but Copper spent most of the following week asleep.

 

I have finally started to learn how to work Microsoft FrontPage so that I can update this site without Tim's help in the future.  I'm bound to stuff it all up a few times, so if you come here and cannot get in you know who to blame.  I am hoping to post some baby photos of Lowri in the near future.

 

I have been working on a project to produce a Memorial Web Site in honour of all New Zealand children who have died of cancer.  The site has just gone live, and can be reached through the "links" page, or the link below.  I am now trying to make contact with other parents who may want their child's story added to the site.  I also need to add the site to some search engines - so plenty to keep me busy for a while

 The New Zealand Childhood Cancer Memorial.

 

I hope you all had a good Easter, spent time with those you love, and ate plenty of chocolate.

 

Harri.

23 Mar 2003 back to top

Today was six months since our precious girl took her last breath.  It is hard not to mark these "anniversaries" in our minds, even when we try to ignore the date, it still hurts.  Time marches onward.....Lowri should be 4 1/2.  She should be at pre-school every morning playing with her friends, and home with Mum in the afternoons.  She should be coming with us on family outings and telling us big stories.  Some of her friends have started soccer this year - she wanted to play soccer.

 

I hope you have enjoyed your first half-year in Heaven Bubba, Mumma has sure been hating life here in hell for just as long.

 

Six months on

 

Each day my heart is broken

When I wake up in my bed

And my memory reminds me

That my little girl is dead

 

There are no words of comfort

Can take the pain away

So I put on my "okay" mask

And get on with my day

 

The wail of mother's grieving

A keening, howling sound

You'd know it in an instant

But don't want it around

 

So life goes on as usual

Hours come and go

My heart just keeps on breaking

But to look you'd never know

 

Harri, 23rd March 2003.

 

 

16 Mar 2003 back to top

The Auckland Cancer Society Relay for Life was held on 1-2 March 2003.  Relay for Life is a 24 hour walk/run by teams and individuals to raise funds for Cancer research, support services and health programmes.

Harri less than  a fortnight before the event decided she would 'volunteer' the family and see who else would like to join us.  On the weekend we had a team of 23 and named ourselves  "Lowri's Angels" in memory of our Low.  Everyone committed to raise at least $100 each, but this was obviously not enough challenge for some who cajoled, and squeezed extraordinary sums out of money out of friends, family and work 'mates' (this endearment probably now redundant).


The team assembled at Ericcson Athletic Stadium Saturday morning and setup L.A. HQ, which was decorated with streamers, balloons, stars and pictures drawn and brought along for the event by the children.  We made up a pin board of Lowri's story and a selection of photos, one of the team member's daughter made us a banner which we carried at the opening and closing ceremonies and used to 'advertise' our campsite.  (Thanks Krystal.) Harri made pink sashes for the team members to wear on the track -  No one was in any doubt who Lowri's Angels were or what we were about!


One of the highlights for us was the Candle lighting tribute on Saturday evening.  The inside of the 400m running track was lined with white paper bags that people had decorated and written tributes and memories on.  Small tea-light candles were set in each and they continued to glow through the night.  Lowri's Angels made about a dozen and organizers placed all Lowri's together on one part of the track.  We found the tribute especially moving and loved the opportunity to share Lowri, at least in some small way with everyone there.


Harri had her birthday on the 2nd and we celebrated at 12:01am Sunday morning  with fizzy wine and 'bombay mix'.  I gave Harri her birthday present which was a new number plate for her car.  It is "LOWRI" and says Missing my Angel-Girl above and Lowri's dates below.


This afternoon we are having a BBQ for the Lowri's Angels team - we won a spot prize of a $50 meat voucher from the 'Mad Butcher' at RfL so what better excuse than a team BBQ.

 

I have updated the Relay for Life Team page and will leave the Team Page (for next year??). Photos of the Relay for Life are posted in the photo album

 

TTFN THRLaL

17 Feb 2003 back to top

It has been so long since our last update, so this could be quite a long entry.

We survived our first Christmas without Lowri, although it was really subdued, much like last year just after Tim’s Mum, Betty had died.  We went to Tim’s Dad’s for the week of Christmas, and the family gathered for the unveiling of Betty’s headstone on the anniversary of her death on 22nd December.

On Christmas day we went to Tim’s eldest brother’s house for lunch.  Tim’s talented niece, Catherine, had used one of the photos from this web-site to paint a portrait of Lowri which she gave to us at Christmas lunch.  It completely undid me; it is a beautiful painting and captures the essence of Lowri so well that I just want to touch it all the time.

New Year’s Eve was not really much fun for us.  It brought with it memories of looking out of the hospital window the previous year, watching all the revelers and the lights on the Sky Tower, and wondering where the year would take us as Lowri awaited her first surgery.  A lot of people have said to us things like “I bet you are glad to see the end of that year!” and “Let’s hope that this next year is a better one for your family!”  What we really feel is that 2002 is the last time that our family was intact, the last year that Lowri was alive in, and all we have from now on are years in which she will never draw a breath.  Hmmm……..

At the end of January we took a holiday to Australia’s Gold Coast to “do” the theme parks – ride the rollercoasters, see the shows, eat the junk food, shop the shops.  It was a much needed break for Roosje, Liam, Tim and I.  There were lots of “Lowri moments” – things that she would have loved to do or see, little girls in pink, families of five, and those real OMG I miss her times.

I have been trying not to think “This time last year…..”, but honestly cannot help it most of the time.  This time last year Lowri was on her first protocol, we thought that she needed six months of treatment and then the cancer would be all gone.  She was happy and “healthy” and running around doing those things that 3 year-olds do.  We were in the routine of the hospital, and optimistic about the future.  This time last year Lowri was ALIVE – and this is the last year that I can say that.

We have added some new photos.

21Dec 2002 back to top

Cold Turkey

Angels hanging in the tree, presents wrapped below,
Christmas lights surround the house, candles all aglow
Cards lined on the mantle with scenes of crisp white snow
Carols playing softly on a Christmas TV show

Stockings dangle by the fire, carrots for the deer
Mince pie out for Santa's snack, a can of Dad's best beer
Everything is ready now, just like it is each year
But it feels such a sad charade because you are not here.
 

We are getting ready for our first Christmas without our darling Lowri.  Christmas at 4 years-old, it should have been so special, so magical.  A morning to wake up early and find the half-eaten carrots and the empty beer can, mince pie crumbs and the presents in the stockings and under the tree.

Betty, Lowri's Nana, died on 22nd December last year, so we had a subdued Christmas last year - little did we know that it would be Lowri's last.  We didn't take any photos and we didn't make much effort, the two years before that she was too young to know what Christmas was about, so Lowri never really got to enjoy a Christmas at all.

Have a wonderful Christmas whatever you are doing.  Enjoy it, and enjoy the people you are with.  Take photos of you enjoying yourselves, and take NOTHING for granted.  Make it a Christmas to look back on and smile, if you possible can.

We have added some more (Christmas) photos to the Album.

4 Dec 2002 back to top

I have tried so many times to write an update for Lowri's web-page, but am never quite sure of what to write.  I visit the site of a cyber friend's son and she writes "(he) is still dead", and I know exactly why she writes that.  Lowri is still dead, we are still grieving, it takes a lot of my time, and most of my energy, it makes me very sad and depressed, but how many times can I write that I miss Lowri.  I can sit here and write about all the exciting new things that are going on in our lives, after all we have two other children who are continuing to grow and "live", who do many wonderful things, but it might seem that we are getting over Lowri.

I inhabit a world where children die of cancer.  Since Lowri's death five more children I knew of have died.  Two more children I know of, who we thought were out of the woods have relapsed and have to start fighting all over again.  Many of the children whose web-sites I regularly read are still in the middle of their struggle to survive.  I talk with parents who's children have paid the price of survival with their general health, their intelligence, their personality or their independence.  Surviving childhood cancer does not mean returning to the child you were before cancer took it's toll.

Tonight we went to see the new Harry Potter movie.  We all really enjoyed it, but as soon as we came out the grief broke through.  This time last year we went to see the first Harry Potter movie, Lowri went to visit her cousin "Chelle" for the evening, a big treat for her, she didn't often get to go anywhere "on her own".  This year there was no need to rush away to collect her.  Life was so "right" back then, and is so "wrong" now.

I know I had an angel here on earth, I didn't know there was a time limit on the deal.  Hug your loved ones hard this Christmas, try to enjoy their presence and forget the minor irritations.

Harri.

14 Nov2002 back to top

Sorry it has been so long since our last update.  Life plods along, we get up in the morning, do stuff all day, and go to bed at night just like we always did.  Sometimes that takes all our energy and strength to do those few small things.  Like swimming in treacle.  Time is still making things worse instead of better.

On Halloween Roosje and Liam each invited a few friends and their families around to go trick or treating with them, and then we had a barbecue.  The weather turned out to be really lovely (which was one out of the box because we are having a horribly wet and cold spring this year), so luckily we could all be outside (it would have been a little cramped if we had all been indoors) and the kids got to do plenty of door knocking!!  All the children were running around the garden whilst us "more mature" ones got to sit and chat for a while.  It was a good evening.  There was that moment of profound sadness when all the kids went home and we were only left with two, but I'm pretty sure that Lowri was out playing in the garden with all the others that evening.

We went to the Child Cancer Foundation Memorial Service on Sunday, in the Auckland Domain.  It was a tough day.  The Domain is parklands right next to Starship Hospital.  It's where Lowri and I headed every time she had a pass, but was not allowed to go home.  It was our "escape" from the hospital, and I have so many memories of being there with her during treatment.  **My brain is still protecting me, in that I can remember situations, things we did, things she said or did, and places we went, but in these memories I cannot look at Lowri, or hear her.  I cannot remember what this little girl I love and miss so much looked or sounded like, and that is so scary and upsetting**.  At the start of the Service the Chaplain asked if anyone wanted to talk about their child, or offer up a name of a child to be remembered, and neither Tim nor I could say Lowri's name, so she remained anonymous.  Next year we'll be prepared and have a bit written down for the Chaplain to read, and a photo to show everyone.  We released balloons with messages written on them for our children - they were all pink, so I expect Lowri thought they were all for her as she can't read.  The kids all helped to plant a tree in the CCF memorial grove.

Over 3,000 children die from cancer each year in the US alone.  That is more people than died in the terrorist attack in NYC on September 11th last year, but this happens every year.  I am not sure what the New Zealand figure is, but I am starting to get a feel for the human cost as I am contacted by parents here in NZ who's children have died of cancer.

23 Oct 2002 back to top

It was a month ago today that Lowri took her final breath and left us.  The memories of her final moments have replayed time and again in my head, so it feels like only yesterday that it happened, and yet it feels aeons since I held her and kissed her.  I have a new understanding of the saying "Where there's life there's hope", as we have admitted that we never really believed in our hearts that she would die, we held out hope for a miracle right until that final breath - life without Lowri did not seem feasible, and was certainly not worth considering.  This month has consisted of numbness, in which I could not remember what Lowri looked or sounded like, followed by an increasing awareness of never having her back, and the fantastic physical pain that these "empty arms" are feeling.  Oh to be a time traveler.  Nothing helps, nothing brings her back.  As time passes, it is just longer since I was with her.

But the world continues to turn.

Liam has started tennis for the summer.  He is playing inter-club this year, which has turned out to be a big commitment - practice Mondays, club play on Friday and interclub on Saturday morning from 7.30am!!!!!!! (bring back the 9.30am soccer games!!).  Liam doesn't seem to mind all the action and the early starts.  Keeping score is beyond us at the moment - far more complex than soccer scoring, but he hits the ball in the right direction most of the time - that good old hand-eye coordination thing continues to work for him.

Roosje is busy getting ready for Halloween.  She is going to decorate the house herself,  she doesn't need help with the cobwebs - she has had a 'small' team working on that for about a year.  We have decided to do things a little differently this year, but we'll write more about that after next week. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped us out over this past year, to all of you who have sent cards or written in the guestbook, or stopped by to say how sorry you were, to those who have baked, or cleaned, or gardened, listened, babysat, released balloons, sent photos, flowers, or made donations in Lowri's name.  For all the many other things that people have done, Thank you.  One day I hope to get organised enough to thank you individually for all that you have done....but that day is not yet.

Those of you who planted Lowri's gladioli should be seeing some growth now.  It is a clear and still evening here, I'm sure that Lowri's star will be shining brightly - go and blow her a kiss, and tell her that we miss her.

Harri and the gang

16 Oct 2002 back to top

I long to catch and cuddle you
And see your angel face
To brush my lips against your hair
And with my finger trace
The edges of your sweet pink lips
And see your eyes so blue
To feel your cheek against my cheek
I ache to be with you.

I miss you when the sun comes up
And when it goes back down
I miss you when I’m here at home
Or out about the town
I miss you when I go somewhere
I’ve been before, with you
And when I’m where you haven’t been
I want to take you too.

There’re things I need to say to you
And things I need to hear
I crave more time to be with you
And yearn to have you near
I’m sorry that I let you go
You should be here with me
In body so I feel those hugs
And flesh that I can see.

Harri

10 Oct 2002 back to top

Lowri's birthday went well, she would have enjoyed all that we did.  We have all felt very flat since then though.  The "instructions" she left for her Birthday Party were the last things that we could do actually for her, from now on it's all conjecture and/or for us.  Another part of her has left.  We are missing her so much.

We have loaded the Eulogy from her funeral onto the site for those of you who missed the service, or those who want a repeat visit.  The service went well (if that is the right turn of phrase).  We feel that what was done and said was appropriate and fitting.  Lowri was carried into the church in her pink casket by four of her "girl" cousins to "If tomorrow never comes" by Ronan Keating.  (This song started playing on the radio just after Lowri was declared beyond cure in July.  It always seemed to be playing when I took her anywhere in the car after that. It made me cry then, and it made me cry at the funeral - to me it will always be Lowri's song.).  We sang "All things bright and beautiful" (see journal entry from
28 Dec 2001) and "Jesus loves me".  Tim read "The Broken Chain", and then we had an "open mike" session, which was very moving.  Lowri left the church to her favourite song "Abenya" (known to everyone else of course as "The circle of life" from The Lion King).  During the service Tim had set up his computer to project a randomised selection of photographs of Lowri on a screen at the front of the church.  I kept my eyes on those photos throughout most of the service.  I do not know who was controlling the photos, but they were always appropriate to what was being said about her at the time.  When her "normal" Grandad got up to talk about her and how clever she was a photo showed up of Lowri on his knee pulling a "dumb" face, and when Noel talked about her on her trike, a photo of her on her trike appeared.  Whenever I started to feel sad, a photo with a big beaming smile appeared and made me smile.

After the Service we released 150 pink balloons and all the balloons she had been given during her treatment.  Tim and I took her up to the crematorium and read "Guess how much I love you?" for her one last time.  The pastor who conducted the funeral then admitted to us that it was her first funeral - she did a wonderful job, we would not have wanted anybody else (I won't name names as I didn't ask permission).  We gave away over 100, mostly pink of course,  gladioli bulbs after the service - hope to see some of those blooming around New Year.

Thank you everyone who came to Lowri's service, and thank you to everyone who has written to us with their memories of Lowri.  If anybody thinks of any more stories about Lowri, it is never too late to send them to us!!!

We have had a star for Lowri added to heavenly lights children's memorial, (look for Lowri's star on page 7) she joins the children of some friends we have made over the internet.  It has been a sad year.

Harri

08 Oct 2002 back to top

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR LOWRI,

It was 4 years ago today you came into our lives, 3 weeks early, not at home as we had planned, but a beautiful, peaceful birth.  So many thoughts of you running through my head.....  How will we get through today without you here?

The day before you died you told me that you wanted a "Pink cake" and that you still wanted to go bowling for your birthday, and "No boys!!" (I knew you would cave on that last one).  You are still so much the focus of our family, and we miss and love you soooo much.   I look at the pictures of your 3rd Birthday - we were a "normal" family then, we hadn't heard of Wilms' Tumour, we didn't know where Starship Hospital was, and we thought we had you for years.  How quickly everything changed.  I will cry buckets today, but I will make you your pink cake my darling.

We love you forever Lowri,

 

Mum, Dad, Roosje and Liam.

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