Life Without Her

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Life Without Her

Grief. It’s unending, lonely, unpredictable, exhausting and incredibly hard to navigate. The emotions come in waves. Tears and heartache as you long for them, smiles of fondness as you look at a photo or remember something they said or did, anger at why they had to be taken, and deep despair as you wonder how you are going to live the rest of your life without them.

It has been almost four months since we entered the world of grieving for our Evie. Four months since we held her in our arms, kissed her perfect face and said goodbye to her with tears streaming down our face. We are desperately trying to learn to live without her here, but it is by far the hardest thing I have had to do. When Evie was first diagnosed with the tumour, one of the first things that I thought and said was, ‘I can’t lose her.’ And to now be facing that very thing, it is almost too much to handle. However, if I have learnt anything in the past five years, it is you can handle way more than you think you can. You wish you didn’t have to, but you can.

And one of the reasons I have to handle it is for my other girl. I am her Mum, and I not only have to work through my own grief and emotions, but help her walk through hers as well. It has been one of the most excruciating parts of grieving, having to watch my other daughter grieve for her best friend, and grieve for the loss of the two of them together. I am so incredibly proud of Alicia, and her maturity, strength and resilience, but it’s not just something an eight year old can breeze through. My heart breaks as I see Alicia having to adjust to her new reality of being an only child. Seeing her feel lost as she misses her dancing partner, play buddy and little companion. We talk about Evie, we laugh at the funny things she did or said. Photos of her are around the house, and Alicia has a special memory box filled with things that remind her of Evie, including some of Evie’s little toys. We smile when we see a white butterfly, we cry when we miss her, but every single day we wish she were here with us. We are fumbling our way through each day, and doing our best to try and go on.

I will never understand why it all happened to Evie. I will never understand why she couldn’t have been one of the ones that made it, that got healed. I don’t think it will ever be ok with me that we lost her. But my life has forever been changed by that little girl that I was so very lucky to call mine. That I will always call mine. She taught me so much in her 6 years I had with her. She continues to teach me things, and because of what we have been through, my perspective has been changed, for the better. Here’s a few things I have learnt because of Evie.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Evie was one of the bravest people I have ever met. And it’s not because she never felt scared, or never cried about losing her hair or having to get a needle. She was brave because despite feeling scared, she faced everything with such grace and resilience. She taught me that you can face and handle so much more than you think. Your strength whines through even when you are vulnerable, and as long as you have loved ones by your side, it’s ok. Alicia has also shown incredible bravery throughout, and I know that Evie’s brave and resilient spirit shines on through Alicia. there are many times when I have felt like giving up on something, only to be reminded of Evie’s strength and bravery, and it spurs me on to keep going.

Smile through the storm.

There weren’t many days that went by where Evie’s gorgeous and infectious smile was not seen. I remember being in hospital, Evie being so sick and flat from treatment, but if she at least smiled once a day, even if it were a little smile, it gave me strength. In that last week, her bright smile started to fade and disappear. She would sometimes try to smile, but it just wasn’t there. That was one of the hardest things to watch her deteriorate, to be in pain, and for our Evie to be slipping away from us. However, I choose to remember her with that beautiful smile. The smile that lit up a room, that won hearts, the smile that gave me strength and light on the darkest of days. And some days when I am feeling such sadness and despair, I remember that beautiful smile and it makes me smile, even if it’s with tears streaming down my face. I have had people say, I don’t know how you smile, or how you do it. But I smile because of her. She taught me to smile, even when it is tough.

 

Life is too short. Live in the moment, and live without regret.

Life is a precious gift. None of us know what tomorrow holds, and what can happen. Even if we live a long life, our time on Earth is too short to hold grudges, to not talk to people, or to not make the most of the time we have. I can honestly say that I do not live with any regrets when it comes to looking back on my time with Evie. I cherished every moment with her, and we tried to do as many things as possible with her. We celebrated each victory, no matter how small. We spent time with her and cherished our time together as a family. I want to live without regret for all the people in my world. I want to look back on my time with each one knowing that I made the most of my time with them. To know I did not hold on to grievances or not make the most of the time I  had with people. Evie taught me to try and live life to the full. To love life fiercely and love people. To treasure life, because she certainly did in her short time on this earth.

People are what matter

I will always wish we could have Evie with us. I couldn’t care less if I never live in a huge, new house, and I would give every possession I own if it would get her back. But I can’t. What I can do is always remember that the people in my world are what matters. My family, my beautiful friends, the people that stand with me and cry with me. I have always known I have amazing friends and family, but going through what we have, it has just been incredibly magnified. I have also made some very beautiful friends through this experience. I feel like because Evie brought us together, it is such a strong bond and although they may be friends I have only had for a short time, they will be lifelong friends. People matter, not things, and if there is one thing I hope I will always show people is kindness. Evie was a kind-hearted little girl, even when she had an excuse not to be! She showed kindness and always loved people. Through what we have been through, our family has also been shown great kindness, and I hope I can show that to others.

We need to find a cure

We always tried to raise funds and awareness to find a cure. The day Evie was diagnosed, finding a cure became something dear to our heart. I guess we could not worry about trying to find a cure anymore, because no matter what we do, it won’t bring Evie back. However, I feel more passionate than ever to be part of finding a cure. I feel like it is at least something positive that can come out of it all. I want to continue to raise funds, in honour of our girl. She showed us resilience and persistence, and I want that to live on through what we do. We will continue to run in the Neuroblastoma Run2Cure and to hold our annual ‘High Tea for a High Cause’ fundraiser for the Kids’ Cancer Project. We will not give up.

There are so many moments in each day that I think of Evie. There are so many firsts we have to face without her this year. Easter, our birthdays, her birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, all the school events, holidays, Christmas, and of course the day when it will be a whole year since she passed. It is so difficult, and there are so many bittersweet moments where we are doing something and thinking, ‘I wish Evie were here, she would have loved this.’ I have accepted the fact that this is my new reality. That the grief will never leave. It may change, the ebb and flow will take me in different directions. There will be days that I curl up in a ball and sob with the pain of not having her here. There will be days I feel numb. There will be days where it still doesn’t seem real. All I can do is continue to take one day at a time. To do what I can to get through each day and whatever it brings. To cherish the memories I have of her, to allow myself times to feel the depth of pain it is to have lost her, and to live in such a way that her legacy lives on through us and how we live.

Thank you for allowing us to share her story with you. Thank you for the support and outpouring of love throughout the highs and lows. And thank you for allowing me to continue to share my memories of her.

I will love her forever, I will miss her forever. I will always long for the day I get to see her again. And I would choose her again a thousand times over, even knowing the outcome. In the words of A.A. Milne, ‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard……..’

How lucky we are to have had you in our world, Evie Grace. xxxxx

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Sarah
Sarah
A little vulnerable and apprehensive, this is my journey. I hope that it will encourage, help, inspire others, especially who find themselves in a similar situation, or going through a difficult circumstance, and also to share a little glimpse of our story with so many who have been praying for Evie.
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Showing 11 comments
  • kirsten hanson
    Reply

    Thank you Sarah for sharing your journey. I think of you everyday.

  • Parvinder
    Reply

    Beautiful precious Evie, I hope your energy stays around us to remind us of what’s good and important and gives your family strength until you meet again . Thank you Sarah for sharing , sadly this insidious disease has taken another angel . We lost another 6 year old girl nearly 2 years ago to Cancer. Research is key and we will support your efforts to find a cure

  • Cassandra
    Reply

    XO

  • Yvonne Da Dalto
    Reply

    Oh my Sarah. You and you’re family are such an Inspiration. Sending so much love to you all xo

  • Erandi
    Reply

    Beautiful words Sarah. You are forever in our prayers and thoughts. I am forever changed by knowing you and your family. Feel so blessed to be friends with you.

    • Sarah
      Reply

      Thank you Erandi x

  • Vicky
    Reply

    That was beautiful. You are such a strong person and I’m Evie would be proud of her mummy. Just take one day at a time xx

  • Amy
    Reply

    Sarah, thank you! Thank you for being so brave to share your and Evie’s story, thank you for letting us in and allowing us to love, support and encourage you! Thank you for being so brave and resilient.
    Your beautiful girls are blessed to have you as their Mum and role model.
    I only met Evie once and it was just before she was diagnosed but she touched my life forever.
    ❤️

    • Sarah
      Reply

      Thank you, Amy. That’s so lovely of you x

  • Kristina
    Reply

    Thank you for allowing us to walk beside you on your journey of grief x

    • Sarah
      Reply

      Thanks, Kristina x

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