Sweet & Sour Holidays



It’s been seven months since Bobby died and we are still standing. December was probably the most difficult month so far and I felt too lost for words to write. I avoided shopping centres; the sight of Christmas decorations, baby’s first Christmas outfits and Christmas music everywhere was too much. It was just too unbearable to spend Christmas in Ireland so we took Lily on her holiday of a life time. The reality is that it was not the holiday of a life time for Des and me. You don’t leave grief behind; it hops on your back and comes with you. The heaviness, the struggle each day and the broken heart is still there. Amidst all this there were sweet moments; that were so sweet they also made me cry and feel joy. There were sour moments. Moments of longing, of why us and of wishing with all your heart your son was with you. So I decided to call this blog post Sweet and Sour holidays. At times before we left, I winced when people wished me the most amazing holiday ever and asked me was I really excited. The intentions were so kind yet I got tired explaining why I wasn’t tip top excited. Many bereaved parents don’t stay around for Christmas and it was the best decision we could have made.  We survived it, we made new memories and we gave our daughter the trip she deserved.

Feeling some joy again makes you feel alive, so let me tell you about the Sweet Moments.

Sweet were the lovely three nights we spent upstate New York with good friends; good company warms the heart, is food for the soul and allows for healing.

Sweet was the unexpected snow that was so much fun for Lily and her two new friends Naoise and Darragh.

Sweet was the fearless face of Lily as she sailed down the rollercoasters in LEGOLAND Orlando; the squeals of delight, ‘the best fun ever’ whilst her parents desperately tried not to throw up lunch.

Sweet was the wonder we felt as we toured Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre; imagining what it was like to land on the moon for the first time.

Sweet was the pre-recorded phone call Lily got from Mickey Mouse before she boarded the Disney ship; to tell her how excited he was to see her soon.

Sweet was that first night of Christmas carols on the Disney cruise when all the characters made an appearance; the magic that just is Disney.

Sweet was the look of awe on Lily’s face as she met all the Disney princesses for hugs and photos. “They really are real aren’t they Mommy”.

Sweet was the magic of the Disney shows; the happy endings, the bright colours and the love and hope. It was just that little bit contagious.

Sweet was the dance off on top deck as the ship set sail where Lily danced with arms everywhere to her favourite song ‘Sunshine in my pocket’.  It brought tears of joy and sadness. That little bit of sunshine in my pocket yet that emptiness in my pocket too.

Sweet was the moment Lily couldn’t believe Santa visited her on the ship and actually got her Beauty and the Beast Lego; but how did he know Mommy and Daddy. He really is amazing she said.

Sweet were the constant drawings and cards Lily made with Bobby’s name and drawings all over them. Lily decides when Bobby is included; we are lead by her.

Sweet but intense was the 5KM we ran on the Disney owned island; I clutched his star and it kept me going despite the heat.

Sweet were the cards and gifts we received when we got home; we were so grateful to see his name on cards.

Sweet was the time we had together, the cuddles, the love and the new memories. Sweet is the gratitude we feel to have been able to take such a trip.

Sweet are Lily and Des; we have survived, together.


I’m not even sure that Sour Moments can adequately describe how difficult it was at times. Let me tell about the Sour Moments.

Sour, yet sweet was the Christmas Service we attended on the Disney ship to remember Bobby. There were so many tears; yet they needed to be shed.

Sour was the empty chair I felt every time we sat down as a family of three at a table for four. It is a breath-taking reminder of what should have been.

Sour and heart wrenching was the sight of babies having photos with Mickey Mouse; the longing for things to be so different.

Sour is how difficult it is to balance mothering a child who is with you and a child who is not.

Sour are the catastrophic nightmares I had; airplanes crashing, ships sinking and loved ones dying. Such is the aftermath of trauma.

Sour is the heartbreak that you battle every day. The heartbreak is also full of so much love for a child that is not with you.

Sour is it trying to figure out how to channel all this love for him as you face into 2017; the fear of not knowing what is ahead. 2016 was never expected; the shock still remains.

Sour is leaving behind the year Bobby was born; sour is how hard it continues to be.

Sweet and Sour is the realisation amidst the devastation that there can be sweet moments full of love and hope.  And they help you survive.



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