Sunflower thanks!


We had an amazing Sunflower Sale on Saturday, raising about $500 for the QEH Pediactrics Unit. Thanks to all my wonderful friends who came out to help as they do every year -and the yoga girls, who not only helped, but also kept us entertained singing from the Mamma Mia soundtrack.



It is always bittersweet for me to see so many of Callum’s friends and their families on Sunflower Day, but also lovely to hear people talk about him. I even had a visit from one of his Grade 8 teachers and her very cute kids. I wore one of his sweatshirts, to mark the occasion.


A special thanks to Della Wood who generously hosts us every year and who suggested planting Sunflowers for Callum in the first place.

There will be more blooms once this rain passes. If you’d like some, you can pick your own between 9 and 12, 1 and 5 at Wood’s Farms, 177 Georgetown Road. Or if you don’t mind walking in, you can drop by any time. Just bring your own clippers and leave the money in the mailbox at Della’s shop.

Thanks for celebrating the kid who brought so much sunshine to our lives.

Love ya Callum, and so do a lot of other people.

xo Mom


Spending the day with Callum

sand 1Out on the water is where I feel closest to Callum.

This afternoon I spent paddling along the Ottawa River where my tears could drop into the river water and drift away.

Then I made this on the sand.

sand 1b

This is how I am expressing my grief this year. No less deep, no less love for my Callum.

I found this beautifully written expression of a parent’s loss today. If you want to know where my heart and soul are, this is it.

I hope everyone will take a minute today on his 19th birthday to think about Callum and remember him.

keppoch 2011

Love you Call-Call!

xo Momsand 2



No one ever gets good at grief

keppoch 2011

As darkness falls on April 8th, and we head towards that time, in the early morning hours of April 9th when Callum left us, I wasn’t sure I wanted to write anything on this 3rd anniversary.   I have no insight to share – as if I ever did – other than, crap, it still hurts so much.  Why didn’t anyone warn me?  Probably because humans would be extinct if we ever stopped to analyze how much it could hurt if we had a child and he died.

garden 7

Since the last anniversary, Callum’s friends have graduated from high school and moved on to whatever the next stage of their life will be.  I thought it would be easier as they moved on and away.  But, no, nothing really helps.  Every time I see one of them, I see how they have become adults, accomplishing things in their lives.  And Callum is still back in Grade 10 where he left us.



Before this gets too depressing, I will highlight our trip to Kenya.  What an incredible gift that trip was to Tristan and me!  Not everyone in my family was thrilled that we were going there, at a time when the country was somewhat unstable.  And it wasn’t an easy experience emotionally.  The day that we dedicated the classrooms at Kamuketha in Callum’s honour was one of the hardest days yet in our grieving process.  But, someday, I hope we will realize how important that was – to us and to everyone who helped make those classrooms happen.  It was part of the grief journey for all of us.

garden 3

In June, as Callum’s friends were all graduating, they came and helped me plant a garden in his honour, here on Glencove Drive.  Sad, again, but so kind of them to be part of it, along with some of my amazing friends.   I also went to the party before the prom and posed for photos with all of his friends.  And then I went to his grave and cried my eyes out.

prom 1

And there it is.  Time goes by. Lives go on.  People watching me probably think – oh, she’s doing so well.  No, I’ve just become the best actor on the planet, along with every other parent who has lost a child. You shut down those thoughts that hurt you so you can survive.  You do your best to appear “normal”.  There are special days – Christmas, New Year’s Eve, their birthday – that are absolute torture.  Those are the tough ones, where you just want to crawl into bed and never get out.  The rest of the time you just do the best you can.

callum trist new years

I’m still hoping to get to that place where I can honestly say – I am lucky to have had him in my life for 15 years.  I say it over and over again, more than you can imagine.   But I still go through all of those emotions: anger, sadness, denial – the usual – but also resentment, envy, failure, desolation, depression, numbness, emptiness.  There are a few to add to the Kubler-Ross stages of grieving.

callum hammock smile

Where does that leave me, three years later, without my beloved Callum?  His last days still play over and over in my head and I scream at myself for everything I did wrong.  Then sometimes I have other glimpses – of our life together before cancer and remember a funny story about him.



Last year at this time, I reprinted the lyrics for “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”.  A wonderful woman, Cara DeCoste, the co-leader of our trip to Kenya, sang this at Kamuketha.  I’m sure she had to imagine steel in her veins to get through it, but she did.

This is the last song that Callum played on the trumpet.

callum band
The band at his high school played it at the Celebration of his life.

And now it has been sung in his honour in Kenya.

This song also sums up Callum.

“You’ve Got A Friend In Me”

You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy you’ve got a friend in me
Yeah you’ve got a friend in me

You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
You got troubles and I got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together, we can see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me

Some other folks might be a little bit smarter than I am
Bigger and stronger too
But none of them
Will ever love you the way I do
It’s me and you boy

And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You’re gonna see it’s our destiny
You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me
We hope that we have given you a picture of this boy from Prince Edward Island named Callum.
We miss him very much.
Asante. Thank you.

We are blessed to have had so many friends in our lives. And a special thank you to the people who took care of me today.  And to everyone who reached out to show that they remember and care.

Love, above all, to you Callum Russell MacLean


To conclude…

The title of this post really says it all: you never get good at grief.

Love you forever Callum.





Callum’s Garden

girl with sunflower

We created a new garden for Callum on Glencove Drive earlier this year.

Just before their Grade 12 graduation, his friends came out and helped us to fill the garden.


We also planted a lot of sunflower seeds.  The garden was overflowing with sunflowers all summer.

But what made it all more special was this photo that a friend sent today. And the offer to help plant the garden next year.  It has become, I hope, a special spot in our neighborhood.

And, for this little girl, Callum’s sunflowers were magical.

For me, too.

Love you Call-Call.

girl with sunflower

Four Years Later….

keppoch 2011keppoch 2015

The Thanksgiving weekend will, forever, be a challenging one for me.

The first photo remains my profile photo on Facebook.  It is sometimes painful to look at. But to change it?  How could I? It’s like the message on our answering machine. I’m not going to remove Callum’s name.  I can’t explain it. That’s just the way it is.

The second photo is the sunset this past Thanksgiving. Same place.  Four years later. Without Callum.

How many more times can I say it?  I miss him every minute of every day.  I looked at that sunset and I cried.  How was it possible that – a mere four years later – I am standing here without him?

There was a news story this week – a farm family where 3 girls died when they fell into a truck full of canola seed and were smothered. Tristan and I listened – horrified. We didn’t say anything but I knew what he was thinking.  We couldn’t even imagine their sadness.  Because just losing one person we loved was horrible enough.

On Thanksgiving Monday, I wrote that we are – and will always be – thankful for Callum.  Our time with him was not enough.  But someday, really, I just want to feel gratitude for having had him in our lives.

Until then, I have a 5 foot ten 180 pound hole in my heart.

I love you Callum. More than ever.

xo Mom