The Hardest Goodbye I had To Say Was To My Five-Year Old

If I was any different than I am now, I honestly don’t remembfer. In my opinion if you met me within that last three years, it’s the better version, and we can go from there.

February 22 would have been my daughter’s 11th birthday. I only just now thought of it in terms of years passing. I also realized that this month was ok. I am doing quite well in a way that feels authentic. I am not putting on an affectation to present myself as something; I actively count my blessings. I’ve probably been here before. (Actually, I’m sure I have.)
It’s kind of like anticipating getting off the train, but there are a few more stops to go–but you want to be there already.

Going out, being with friends, moving about the world, and taking risks has been the best medicine. I had moments of being irritable that I immediately attributed to the fact that my daughter’s birthday was passing. But I count my blessings because I have not only felt my memory returning, but I’ve also felt grounded and even emotionally generous. All of this growth signifies that my changes are sticking.

Have you ever wondered about the heaven in the sky?

Have you ever wondered where do we go when we die? I never truly pondered this question because I’d always taken what was told to me at church at face value. I simply believed that all souls go to heaven after purgatory and ultimately we all worship at the footstool of the big throne in the sky. It wasn’t until I’d spent time at hospices and dealt with the reality of my own child’s passing that I began to inquire and encounter something that felt like it moved beyond fiction. It would during times of deep comtemplation, many of which I wrote about two years ago, that


Losing my daughter to a brain tumor was difficult. It was a sobering goodbye. More importantly, it made a person like me, who has been a lifelong Believer, leading by example, understand that I am human. Even though it is hard to understand, I really know what it’s like to be chosen because through suffering and complete surrender is where you will get the gift. Oftentimes, that’s when you are still enough and alone and broken enough to receive the keys to your real freedom: True Love. Love is power. There is no force more powerful.

A few hours before she took her last breath, I turned up her oxygen and imagined that she would have to keep breathing if the air was flowing through her lungs, but that was just one last effort to hold her. But my heart was ok with it all. I cherished every moment and took advantage of every resource to make memories, which also gave me peace. Although she was the one doing the heavy lifting with her diagnosis, she turned me into a warrior

It was just her and me, and it was also peaceful. If that means anything to anyone who may read this–your loved one begins to go before you see it. If you are lucky, you will be able to feel the “spirit,” or what I believe is a holy, benevolent, and peaceful spirit, fill the room. When this happens, you can see what it means when people say, “you come in to the world alone, and you go out alone.” Not only is it powerful to witness, but, it will give you a different perspective on life–you become fearless.


In reality I didn’t run, at least not physically, but I absolutely was not fully present. My memory, like my emotions, would go in waves. It took lots of painting to understand that I was grieving although I felt good. That I was more truamatized over watching the suffering and dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of cancer. The pain of feeling helpless and the pressure to be strong for others but even stronger for myself.

Not only did I learn that I am calm under pressure but I had the ability to carry others on my back during tragedy. I learned that when you surrender to your human limitations you access an unseen power. Like Maya Angelou describes our eyes open with a new clarity. For me, the eyes of my understanding first opened to compassion for me and others which is why I largely felt immense gratitude and hypersensitivity for years. It was through making papercrafts, collages, paintings and ceramics that I have learned what the root cause of so many things are for me.

The Otherside of This

Shortly after my daughter Calais passed, I had an intense desire to see where she went. I wanted heaven to be proven to me. I wanted to be shown the place where she went if it was real.

But I feel that through meditation and sheer spiritual pleading, I was shown the cosmos, and I could feel the energy. Although I could only go so far up, I felt this connection to stardust and the galaxy, and then this feeling of love washed over me, although I never saw my daughter out there physically. Yet when we talk about it from the “dust we come and the dust we return,” I feel they are referencing the cosmos.
And each day that I am painting and sewing, I tap into that energy. This practice also helps me write.

Ascending Into The Forever

When my daughter began to wind down and transition, she talked a lot about the moon. Then she saw her grandparents in her room. Finally, she said that Santa was coming and the last time she saw him he was with Mrs. Claus, and she said they had a present for me. All of this explaining to me and watching her gently ascend allowed me to feel so much peace. It was goodbye, yes, and it’s still beyond my comprehension. Yet, it never felt final because I saw her in my dreams. It felt like more of ellipses because she sent me her twin (my daughter Monarch).

So when you try to explain the inexplicable, it’s ok to know that sometimes you can’t. Knowing that you don’t have all the answers and that life can be senseless –signals the beginnings of true understanding.

Although it can be difficult, I learned from volunteering at a hospice and watching my grandparents transition that it is way more beautiful where they are going. They will tell you that if they see it. Although they are not with you in their flesh, they are probably right there with you, and you can feel them. So, even though my goodbye has been ongoing, in many ways, it still feels like she never left.


3 responses to “The Hardest Goodbye I had To Say Was To My Five-Year Old”

  1. So sorry Chiara, but what a wonderful post to help yourself organize thoughts on what you’ve experienced AND hopefully help others in their times of grief and pain. God continue to bless and keep you in His loving care. 🙂

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