Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

Pippa’s Christmas Moon

Tonight I waited long after it was dark wrapped up in towels and a rug after the heat of the day had gone and the only warmth left was from the bluestone against my back still warm from the day’s sun.

As I watched the moon rise over the ocean I thought of my darling girl, how much she loved Christmas and how the ache in my heart is no less than it was last Christmas or the one before that or the one before that.  I thought of the people I now know (and those I don’t) who are also spending Christmas Day without their child.  I also thought of those people spending Christmas Day this year knowing that it will be the last time they will see Christmas joy in the face of their child; knowing that Christmas 2020 will need to be navigated with that same empty chasm in their heart that I have in mine.

So if you wake on Christmas morning and happen to see Pippa’s moon on your phone or computer, please, before the chaos and stress and frenzy of Christmas starts, pause and think of all the families spending Christmas without their child and those putting on a brave face for their child.

Christmas is not joyful for everyone.  For many it is simply cruel.  Pippa’s Moon rising over her seat at Port Fairy Beach is indeed beautiful and worth the long dark wait, but its beauty does not make up for the ache in my heart and the sadness that never ever leaves.

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My neice sent me a message in reply to this pic tonight that said – Pippa, we love you to the moon and back.  It reminded me of what Pippa used to say.  She loved that book, Guess How Much I Love You.  Whenever Pippa had been away from me she would come home sad from having missed me and cuddle up on my lap and I would have to read her that book.  To cheer her up James and Patrick (at a much younger age than they are now) would act out the story creating a lot of laughter from Pippa with their antics – especially when Big Nutbrown Hair would swing Little Nutbrown Hair high above his head!  At the end, Pippa would always say to me, “Mummy, I don’t love you to the moon and back.  I love you to the moon, around all the planets and all the stars, around the universe, back down to earth and around the world…and back!”

 

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A Birthday with no Birthday Girl

That’s precisely what it was.  Saturday 13th February.  The day when Pippa should have been jumping on my bed waking me up excited to open her 12th birthday presents.

Instead we woke silently and with no excitement.   We had what Pippa would have ordered for her birthday breakfast – pancakes complete with nutella and strawberries of course.  Thanks to a thoughtful friend of Pippa’s we even had a present to open.

The boys and I had a list to work through to get ourselves ready for the day.  I most importantly had to make Pippa’s favourite chocolate mousse for her birthday dinner dessert.  We needed to pack the car with things to take to the beach.  A picnic had to be made and a cool bag organised to keep the drinks and food cold seeing as we were going to be there all afternoon.  A birthday sign to make it a party of course was required.  Flowers for the birthday girl.  Chocolate Brownie.  The motions were rolling.

My phone was busy with texts and calls like on any other birthday. The rule in our house on your birthday is that the birthday person has to answer every phone call.  There was no birthday girl to do that.

The day was beautiful, the sun warm and the sky and the water at Port Fairy’s East beach were both crystal clear and breathtakingly spectacular.  The only thing missing was the birthday girl turning cartwheels on the sand and calling out to me from the water, “Come on mum, why don’t you come in for a swim the water’s beautiful!” when I know too well it’s a touch on the refreshingly icy side of chilly.   But that’s what she would have said with a cheeky grin on her face.

So many people came and went across the afternoon and I am incredibly grateful to everyone.  It really was a strategy to help James, Patrick and me cope with what was always going to be a difficult day.  Pippa described her 11th birthday as her best ever despite not being able to talk, eat or walk.   I think Saturday was the best we could manage for her 12th birthday.  It was in fact perfect, but…there was no birthday girl.  I felt numb and empty.

People were sprawled all over the sand, on the grass bank, in and out of the water.  Flowers were placed at the base of her memorial seat.  Pippa’s friends swam, surfed, played cricket, built sand castles, used her kayak.  At first everyone tentatively looked and marvelled at the seat but eventually the ice somehow broke and photos started to be taken of her friends sitting, standing and playing on it.

At one point I overheard some of the young boys standing around Pippa’s seat having a chat.  They were talking about death and what it feels like to die.  The result of this gorgeous conversation was that it doesn’t hurt to die and that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to die because when someone starts to die you go to the place where your dreams and memories are and that’s where you stay.  You feel only good things and you don’t know time.  And then they ran off back to the beach.  It was utterly beautiful and I don’t know if these boys came up with this on their own or whether one of them had previously discussed it with some wonderful parents.    Regardless, what I do know is that they certainly wouldn’t have been standing around a headstone in a cemetery or a plaque at crematorium having this conversation.  This simple, casual chat makes the memorial seat even more special invoking such raw and innocent discussions in children that will help them all deal with such a difficult topic.

Toward the end of the day darling little 4 year old Lottie came up to me and said, “Ginya, I’ve been looking all day but I can’t see Pippa!  I’m cross with her that she’s not here!”  I said, “Oh Lottie, when I went in for a swim before I’m sure I saw her.”  Together we looked up to the sky.  It was no longer clear as some whispy clouds were floating around.  We strained to see and eventually there she was – the faint crescent of the moon appeared in between the clouds.  Lottie was absolutely thrilled to see that Pippa hadn’t missed her birthday.  To Lottie, Pippa lives in the moon and she loves seeing her during the day time.  They are always special days for Lottie.

We came home after a long day in the sun a little tired and with presents and cards to open and read.  The day was not unlike any beach birthday party.  It was simply missing three very integral parts:

  • there was no happy birthday song
  • there was no birthday cake
  • there was no birthday girl

Saturday 13th February was Pippa’s 12th birthday but she will never be twelve.  Instead, she will always and forever be “Legs Eleven”.

Our thanks to everyone who made our day bearable.  I love this very special photo

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In memory of our beautiful Pippa Rea

13/02/2004 – 28/03/2015

A Nipper at Port fairy SLSC, Pippa loved this beach

Please enjoy the beautiful views 

sitting or playing on her surfboard seat.  

“Happy Memories”

Designed and kindly donated by Bamstone

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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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