Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

A Beach Afternoon for Pippa

The permanent bronze plaque will be put in place on Pippa’s memorial seat in time for her birthday.

We would like to invite everyone to have a beach day on the afternoon of Saturday 13th February to enjoy Pippa’s 12th birthday.  Swim, surf, play cricket, fly kites, build sand castles – bring whatever you want to enjoy the beach and come and visit Pippa’s seat.

We hope to see as many people as possible.  Pippa would like that.

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A New School Year

I guess milestones, particularly those in the first 12 months, are going mean that I will inevitably get asked the same question over and over again.  That’s OK.  I know that it means people care.  I’ve come to understand that and instead of twisting and churning inside I simply answer the best I can at the time.  It’s still hard and I understand that it’s just as hard for other people to speak to me because I know they don’t know what to say and are scared of saying the wrong thing.  That’s OK too.  I don’t mind.  The best thing to say is to actually say something about Pippa.  Knowing that others do not forget her and also have fond memories is the best comfort I can receive.

How did I manage the Christmas and New Year period?  Well, yes, it was difficult.  We ran away to WA to my sister, brother-in-law and adult nieces.   That was the right place to be.  In fact, Christmas Day was manageable.  Of course there were tears and a lot of them.  In fact, at one point I looked around and the whole lot of us were crying.  I had prepared and strategised in the lead up and I think that helped get through what was a very difficult day.  Pippa loved Christmas.  She always methodically wrote Christmas cards.  She was chief present wrapper and decorator.  Just like any little girl.  She especially loved it when Christmas was at our house.  Boy did she have James and Patrick organised!

What I wasn’t prepared for though was halfway between Christmas and New Year.  That’s when it really hit me.  I’d managed Christmas Day but then what?  A new year was on it’s way and I would be starting it without Pippa.  With one less person in our family.  What did I have to look forward to?  What did I have to celebrate?  Neither an old year passed nor a new year coming.  You see, I didn’t want 2015 to end because it was the last year I was ever going to have a living memory of Pippa.  2016 or any year to come was never going to give me that.  I felt like that from now on each new year will just leave her further and further behind.  Over the holidays there were so many tragic deaths of children.  My heart went out to every one of those parents.  People often say to me they cannot imagine what I am going through.  I honestly don’t think there could ever be anything more painful than losing your child.

Now I find myself at a new school year.  A year that Pippa should be in year 6, excited about being a leader at school and looking forward to secondary school next year.  I try not to think about that but last week I had to go into school to collect Pippa’s tub.  Yes, you would think I had done that ages ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it last year.  I thought I would be OK because I had been to every day of school with her so there wouldn’t be any surprises.  I was wrong.  In the box along with her books and pencil case was her school report which had been put together with beautiful messages and pictures from her classmates.  A report that not only reflected Pippa’s ability academically, but showed me again how much she meant to everyone else and the incredible person she was.

Now everyone is back to school.  Parents shed tears as their children start prep, others swell with pride as theirs start secondary school, some are nervous that they will miss theirs terribly as they send them off to boarding school and Pippa’s classmates become the big grade six leaders of their school.  James and Patrick head into year 10 and year 8 but Pippa goes nowhere.  Patrick is not my youngest.  I will never get to send my youngest child off anywhere.  She’s already gone and she will never come home.  Not at the end of the day like most school children nor the end of the term like the boarders.

Pippa is never ever going to or coming home from school again.

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A Beach Girl Forever

Pippa loved the beach. I have so many photos and videos of her in the water, on the sand, in the dunes…jumping, running, playing, cartwheeling, catching waves…even performing dances.

I remember taking her on a special trip to Torquay to buy her first pair of bikinis.  Proper grown up bathers.

When planning Pippa’s memorial service I knew that I would never want to go and visit a plaque or a headstone in a cemetery.  In Pippa’s words that would be seriously boring!  I knew I wanted something to reflect her love of the beach and I knew that in time it would come to me.

In a perfect tribute to Pippa a series of events fell into place.  Pippa had spent many summers on the picturesque East Beach at Port Fairy doing nippers.  It was only fitting that this would be the place we chose to place a memorial seat.

Now on East Beach foreshore, in time for the summer holidays and backdropped by the blue waves and pretty lighthouse on the horizon, sits Pippa’s magnificent bluestone surfboard seat.

There in her memory but for everyone to enjoy.  Precisely how she would want it.

By chance when we went to the beach today some friends were there. Exactly as intended Pippa’s seat created much interest.

We hope that over the summer and forever to come people can enjoy, play on and photograph Pippa’s seat. #pipparea

 

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Innocently Beautifully Sad

It’s now been more than five months since we lost our beautiful Pippa.

As the day approached (the 28th of every month seems to loom as a dark shadow slowly creeping up to engulf me) I thought I was prepared and in control, expecting how my feelings would unfold and what events would mark the day. I was wrong.

I thought that the “five months since losing Pippa” was going to be marked by the beautiful, selfless and humbling gesture shown by Hayley. It wasn’t.

On the morning of Friday 28th August (5 months) I could not ignore the fact that it was “book week” and everywhere I looked were primary aged students (Pippa’s school friends) dressed up as characters from books. I found myself wondering what Pippa would have gone dressed up as?  I have photos of her dressed up as Miss Marple from Agatha Christie, Gabriella from High School Musical (yes, I had made her produce a book!) and my favourite, up a tree as Koala Lou.

Would Pippa have gone as a character from the Faraway Tree?  No, because if she weren’t dying she wouldn’t have been searching for comfort and solace in the magical stories of the Faraway Tree and its warming characters with its mystical lands listening to chapter after chapter every night for the last four months of her life. Would she have gone dressed up as Ruby Red Shoes visiting Paris? No, because she probably wouldn’t have received the book as a gift on her 11th birthday as we wouldn’t have taken a trip to Paris if she weren’t dying.   What character would Pippa have dressed up as for book week in grade 5?  I don’t know.  One of many “I don’t knows” I’m going to face as I gingerly bypass small and not so small milestones after losing a daughter at the precious age of 11 years to an incurable brainstem tumour.

I thought that the “five months since losing Pippa” was going to be marked by costumes and smiling happy faces of other children dressed up for book week. It wasn’t.

Instead, Pippa’s four-year-old friend, Amyius, innocently marked the “five months since losing Pippa”.

I had bumped into Amyuis in one of Pippa’s favourite shops only the Friday before.  Pippa had bought me many little gifts from this homewares’ shop and had decided it, along with her favourite clothing shop, would be good places for her to have her first part time jobs when she turned 14 years and 9 months old (to be precise).

It had been a while since I had seen Amyius and he had not been to our house since Pippa was lying in her bed the days after she passed.  When he came then he was quiet, tip-toeing around careful not to wake her.  Amyius looked at me that day in the shop with a sad little face and told me he always asks his mum, “When is Pippa going to come home so she can eat chips and play trains with me?”   He told me his mum says she’s not coming home.  It was almost like he was hoping that I would prove his mum wrong and correct the answer he had been given.  He gave me a cuddle and let me carry him and his sad little face to the car.

(Pippa took great joy in showing anyone this “isn’t he just so cute?” video of Amyius sending Pippa a message very early on in her diagnosis hoping she gets better soon so she can eat chips and play trains with him again.)

Coinidently, last Friday night (five months) Amyius came around to our house.  This tiny little boy who I have only ever seen cuddle his family and Pippa, gave me another cuddle, pointed to a photo of Pippa and said, “I miss her”.

Later, as football was being watched and chatter was around the table and in the lounge room Amyius and I went quietly to look at all the photos of Pippa.  We ended up in Pippa’s bedroom. Every night I draw the curtains and turn a lamp on.  There’s a few different lamps in Pippa’s room and I turn on whichever of them I feel like at the time.  This night though, for some reason, I had taken a lamp down from on her bookcase, placed it beside her bed and turned that one on.  I had not done this before.  It was a light a friend from school had given Pippa in probably only her last weeks. It has stars of blue and red that glow on the walls and the roof.  Pippa couldn’t use it to go to sleep with as her friend had wanted her to because her eyes didn’t close properly and therefore the projecting lights were too bright.  We did, however, often to turn it on and look at all the beautiful stars it would make around the room. She liked getting me to move it to different positions and heights as each change would alter the “constellation”.

Amyius walked into Pippa’s room and was immediately captivated by the stars.  He was dazzled! He marvelled at the stars, how they changed and at how much he loved Pippa and her room.  He wandered around asking me questions, looking under her bed, touching things and always coming back to the beautiful stars.  He found some jewel stickers that had fallen under her day bed (covered in teddies) and asked if he could stick the love heart ones on Pippa’s bed for her?  He did.  He picked up her little cow pillow pet that sits on her bed beside her pillow.  He cuddled it.  It smells just like Pippa.   When he realised this he went along every other teddy that sits against her pillow on her bed.  He picked them all up, cuddled them and smelt them.  Each of them smelt like Pippa – Sprinkles, Geoffrey, Henry, Monty and Nibbles Puppet.

Pippa's teddies on her bed

He hopped over to the other side of the bed and using Nibbles Puppet ducked down and performed a puppet show for me in which he was Nibbles, Pippa and Amyius.  He told me that the stars were his and Pippa’s stars – hers were the red ones and his were the blue ones.  They were together in the stars.  He said, “When I go home and go to bed and pray to Pippa tonight I will tell her how beautiful the stars in her room are and how they are sparkling for me and her”.  I told him she could see him in her room and she already knew he liked them.

Eventually Amyius asked me if Pippa was ever going to come back to her room and her bed. With my eyes filled with tears, grateful for a dark room and stars sparkling on the walls I told him, “No, our darling Pippa wasn’t going to come back.”  He knelt down beside her bed and lay his head on her doona.  “Well then,” he said, “maybe I could come and have a sleepover in Pippa’s bed so I can smell her teddies.”

He cuddled me again and then we had to go and get his mum to show her Pippa’s room and have her smell Pippa’s teddies.

 

That’s how five months after losing Pippa was marked………eloquently and innocently and oh so sadly beautiful by little her four-year-old friend.

 

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School Liturgy

Today Pippa’s school held a “Liturgy of Life” so they could remember and farewell Pippa as a school community; particularly also, because her passing and funeral were in the school holidays meant that some children were unable to attend our service in the gardens.

Teachers and children put together a beautiful display of therapeutic artwork. Each class had been doing free drawing whilst listening to relaxation music.  It was up to them whether they used it as a time to think of Pippa but I’m sure most of them did and the result was a wonderful reflection of colour – butterflies, frangipanis, portraits, rainbows, words, flowers.  All of which were displayed in the school hall for Pippa’s liturgy.  Everyone was asked to wear a touch of yellow and yellow was adorned in everything from school footy socks, to hair ribbons.  Special items were brought to the front by Pippa’s classmates and a moving candle lighting ceremony was followed by prayers, readings and music.  I commend every child who had the strength to get up and speak during such a ceremony.

I spoke to the children about Pippa’s Friendship:

Pippa was a friend to all of you. I know this because she would often come home and tell me about things that had happened at school. She would tell me that she would always make sure everyone was included and no one felt left out. She would help her friends in class or in sport. Pippa was lots of fun to be around.  She told me how she would listen to a friend if they were sad and help them if they needed it. 

The other reason I know Pippa was a good friend was because many of you have told me. And your parents have told me too. I have received so many letters and messages about how Pippa has helped so many of you here at school. That makes me a very proud mum. And it makes me very happy to know how much Pippa meant to you all.

Pippa is a good, kind, caring, thoughtful, trustworthy and helpful friend.

 To all of you Pippa still is your friend. To some of you she is your best friend. As you grow older, you will move schools, play different sports, go to university, get jobs, leave home, travel the world. You’ll grow up. As your lives change so too can your friends. Sometimes your friends will remain the same and sometimes you will make new friends.

The one friend that you will always have though is Pippa. Pippa will be your friend forever and that will never ever change. Each of you can remember Pippa in your own special way and I hope that by having Pippa as your friend forever you become better friends and look after, help and care for one another.

Throughout your life Pippa’s friendship will remain with you forever. Nothing and no one can ever take that away. Pippa will always be your friend.

I concluded by letting them know they can always come and visit me whenever they want to, say hello, give me a cuddle and feed Nibbles a carrot!

The Liturgy aptly finished with a cute little video clip to Bruno Mars, Count on Me

After which, the entire school moved out to the oval to release some yellow balloons to one of Pippa’s favourite songs, Taylor Swift, Safe and Sound.  The children were all excited when one balloon left the bunch early and flew off on its own toward a tiny patch of blue sky.  That one was Pippa’s!  She was not missing out.

James & Patrick gave out balloons

Some people just can’t help

making a difference in our lives.

By simply being who they are,

they make the world

a little brighter,

a little warmer,

a little gentler,

and when they’re gone

we realise how lucky we are

to have known them.

The world has lost

a very special person

Pippa Rea, St Joseph’s Primary School Student 2010-2015

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Farewell to our Beautiful Pippa

Pippa's Sunset

I knew exactly how I wanted to farewell Pippa……something perfectly Pippa and very much reflecting life.

We started in Warrnambool’s tranquil botanical gardens in the afternoon sunshine surrounded by birds, flowers, trees and ducks.  We walked across the little stone bridge that Pippa had run over, fed ducks from and poked her head through many times.  A huge crowd graced the sloping grassy hill.  There were so many people, yet by the many messages I had received, I also knew there were so many who were unable to attend.

Children collected a bookmark as a keepsake to remember Pippa by.

Pippa herself was brought to life on the large screen in videos and photos – singing, dancing, drumming, running, cartwheeling, smiling………..always smiling.

I wanted people, particularly children,  to be able to look at Pippa’s casket and rather than thinking about what was on the inside, wonder at what was on the outside……

a collection of her drawings…….

.

Once again, my boys took my breath away and I had to draw on all my strength not to cry as they each stood at the microphone to read the Eulogies they had written for Pippa:

James’ Eulogy……….

Pippa is my best friend.

There are many things I love doing with Pippa.  Things like piggy backs, plenty of adventures and very recently, swimming in the pool and walking to and from school in the chair with Pippa.  Pippa has given all of us lots of wisdom and advice.  As a family we have done so much.  There are thousands of things to say about Pippa.

I would really like to thank all of the people and friends. that supported me and my family.  There are just too many people to mention but I would particularly like to say thanks to Darcy, Harvey, Ryan, Jack, Harry and Lucas for always being there to support me.

Even though Pippa is not here anymore, she will always be with us.

Patrick’s Eulogy……..

I’ll never forget how much Pippa has helped me throughout my life.  She is the most kind, helpful, caring, and generous person I’ll ever meet.  We shared so many great memories together from going to Paris to snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef.  I would also like to thank all of my family and friends for their support and help throughout this journey.  

I’ll miss you Pippa.

Pippa’s Heaven…….(my Eulogy)

Pippas Heaven

One day Pippa had the opportunity to draw her picture of heaven and then when she was finished she wanted to explain it to me………

Pippa’s heaven is beautiful. It is full of life. It has stars, music, birds, flowers, water, puppy dogs and bunny rabbits. It has a big yellow castle where she will live. It sits on top of the clouds.I asked Pippa if that was the staircase to heaven. She said, “no mummy, that is a ladder so you can climb up and visit me.”  She wrote a list of other names who could also climb the ladder to visit her but she ran out of room on the piece of paper so she wrote……and lots more people.

 I asked Pippa about the rain.

“It’s not rain mummy, it’s drops of water.”

“When you feel drops of water on your face you will know I want you to come and visit me for a while.”

In these last few months Pippa has asked me to read her the Enchanted Wood and the Far Away Tree.

It has helped calm her and has resonated and extended these thoughts of Heaven.

To her, heaven is like the Far Away Tree.

Full of magic and wonder……

 

We have been lucky to have the time we did to share so many special memories with Pippa before saying goodbye……..

Time when she was perfectly well and able to enjoy everything……

Holidays, dreams, friends, family..…… Memories……

Over the years we have marveled at her skills in sport,

and now more recently, her maths and games of both strategy and luck.

Her mind, memory and cheeky spirit remained with her until the very end.

 

Pippa’s determination and “can do attitude” never faulted. On Sunday she typed on her ipad……….

“Remember what we said last time? When we go to the beach again we could try a nippers board. Well, today I am feeling good.”

 We went to the beach to use the beach wheel chair.  I knew a nippers board wouldn’t be possible.

I told her, “Pippa darling, Marli, Rebel, Mark and Jason are all not at the Surf Club today so really I can’t think of anyone else to help you try a nippers board.”

 We got to the beach and John Cook came up to us.  I said, “Pippa, this is John. I know John. We can trust him to lift you safely into the beach chair.”

 Pippa’s eyes lit up and she said, “Great! He can help me on the nippers board too!”

Boy she was tough! 

We suggested she see how the water feels – maybe it might be too cold on her tummy.

John pushed her into the water so her toes could get wet……..

Like that was going to cut it!

 She signaled to go out further and further……..staying in and waiting to get used to the freezing water.  Covered in goose bumps we got dumped by a wave and eventually went back in. It was a bit too cold to try a nippers board.

 But it wasn’t too cold for ice cream.  We went to the kiosk and with that same determination Pippa insisted the wheel chair be removed and she not only stood, but walked along the freezer to choose an ice cream…….by herself.

 

Pippa was very frank and always said exactly what she thought but with just the right amount of sweetness and a special touch of spark ……..

 One day a year or so ago we were sitting in my Auntie’s kitchen. Pippa looked at Camille and said,

“You’re pretty old.  How old are you?”

Camille laughed and replied, 83

Pippa said, “Yes, I thought so.  You must be just about ready to die!  I know that because most people die in their 80s so you’ll probably die soon.”

Pippa was always helping others or making them feel better about themselves………

Whether it was sorting out disagreements in the playground at school, helping shy children settle into school, encouraging someone to try something new and not be frightened, or helping out a stranger……She always had an understanding of what others needed and how they were feeling.

 Pippa looked after her friends. If you were ever invited over for cooking it was probably because she thought you needed a little extra love.  On Tuesday she told me she wasn’t feeling well enough to go and watch Patrick running in the district athletics. Instead she cooked cupcakes and arranged them beautifully on her cup cake stand for him so he knew she had been thinking of him.

I want to share a card that I received this week. When I opened it I jumped for joy and immediately thought how much Pippa would love to know that Sara her old neighbour was thinking of her………….

Dear Virginia, James & Patrick………

Sincere condolences over the loss of Pippa who was such a bright spark.

She filled so many people with such joy, and I feel lucky to have shared a little piece of her life. I will always remember her happiness, sense of adventure and, mostly, her frank and unreserved honesty.  She shared many pearlers that left me in stitches, but I think my favourite was when she said to me,  “Sometimes my mum sends me over to ask for parsley or tomatoes from your garden. But your aren’t here very much, so I just take them anyway”  Remembering that still makes me laugh!

I will miss my little garden helper, and the ladder her brothers lovingly made for her to visit her neighbours.

Thinking of you all at this time,

Sara, Amy and Hayley, your former neighbours from over the fence.

 

Pippa was charming, intelligent, a spark, full of happiness, energy and spirit.

She had an aura that captured everyone. She used to say to me, “Mum, no matter where we are when I walk down a street people look at me and smile……….”

Her beautiful blue eyes that drew everyone in remained full of life until the very end.

 

Pippa knows how much she is loved and by how many people.

Pippa has especially felt the love of her brothers James and Patrick – The best brothers in the world.

They have loved, cared for and protected her not just this past 21 months, but for 11 years.

Pippa made every day count and James and Patrick have been part of every single day.

 

Pippa knows everyone will be sad. And she knows everyone will be sad for a long time.

It’s OK to be sad, she said.  It’s OK to have Sad Feelings and Happy Memories.

 

We all have so much and so many different ways to remember Pippa.

 We will all remember her long hair,

We will all remember her sparkling blue eyes,

We will all remember her cheeky smile…….

 

Pippa, so full of life…….

A Perfect, Angelic Doll inside and outside

 

Sad Feelings and Happy Memories

 

Pippa, my poppet, my darling, my soul mate, my sunshine, my sparkle, my light, my sweetheart………

 You will always and forever be with me.

You will live on inside me forever.

You will always be “Legs Eleven”

 

Pippa, no one will ever……………….love you as much as I do

We finished with blessings and everyone then closed their eyes and listened to the sound of the meditative singing bowl which Pippa loved to relax to at the end of her yoga meditations with Patricia.

It was a sad but beautiful day.  The sun came out as we entered across the bridge, birds chattered and squawked above in the tree tops, ducks swam on the pond behind the stage, a helicopter flew overhead as I read my Eulogy and a gust of wind swept through as Pippa’s casket was lifted to depart the gardens.

We farewelled Pippa at the bridge whilst listening to a passage from the Far Away Tree.  I watched her butterfly painting on the end of her casket go perfectly over the magical little stone bridge and disappear canopied by the weeping willow trees

Our final farewell for Pippa was placing frangipanis in the beach off the jetty………

The moon came out from behind the cloud at exactly the same time James, Patrick and I stood at the end and threw ours in together…….

A perfectly beautiful finale for a perfectly beautiful girl…………

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”

-Flavia Weedn

Thank You to every single person who came (and also to those who couldn’t) to support James, Patrick and me yesterday in our perfectly beautiful tribute to Pippa, the wondrous life life that she had and the truly amazing person that she is.

Post Script:  For those that have enquired, to donate to Pippa’s Charities online                                                    BSB 633-000 Acc 149982381                                                                                                                                              RT Kelly & AL Frawley ITF for Prov for Pippa Fund
With Thanks, Rachel Kelly & Anita Frawley, Trustees for Pippa Rea Fund
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