Late last year, life got away from me. I was beyond excited to become a brand ambassador for the Ford Everest through #CarseatFullstop. I was featured on Expresso with the lovely Graeme Richards. I filmed my first video for child safety with Ford. I had an amazing photoshoot with Josie Photography, with Charly showing off some of our favourite brands and awesome gift ideas. I was a guest expert on the Expresso Morning show, the South African Mommy Facebook page, and on Phumeza Lang‘s #SistahoodHour. And in amongst that craziness, I was betrayed and shattered emotionally by somebody incredibly close to me, two of my best friends moved away, my mommy fell ill and my granny went into hospital for a blood clotting issue. 2017 was somewhat of a bitch. 2018 was going to be better, and I decided that I wasn’t going to let January ruin that for me. So ‘tsek January, you cannot sit with us. I have officially declared you part of 2017, where you can have no affect on the awesomeness that 2018 has the potential to be.
It all started in November. My mommy was ill for 2 weeks, a horrible flu virus she couldn’t shake, which was terrifying to me after a similar thing landed her in hospital a few years ago at exactly the same time. My granny’s blood clotting issue would have been very serious if she hadn’t been brought into the hospital when she was in early November; but just before the end of the year she was doing so much better, she had been moved from the hospital into a recovery home with physios to get her stronger, and we were looking for somebody to support her at home so she could be back with grampa for Christmas. The family spent most of November going backwards and forwards to the hospital and then to the recovery home. The friend who broke my heart apologised, saying she missed me, and I tentatively let her back into my life. I was planning a trip to visit my best friend in Plett in early 2018. My mind was flooded with ideas for all my businesses. 2017 was coming to a close, and although I was struggling to process everything, things were starting to look up. Janaury was going to be a clean slate.
On the 13 December, we took Charly to visit Granny Moira in the recovery home. She was looking so well and was her usual chatty cheeky self. We had a lovely visit, although I was tired and a little distracted coordinating the shot list and script outline for the Ford shoot on the 15th and sending imagery and fact lists to Expresso for the 20th. My granny was so excited to see the video and to watch me on TV again, she was so proud of the work I was doing.
Day 1403 – 13 Dec 17 : I am struggling. Drowning in the chaos of life. Seeing my grandparents like this is so hard. My granny has been in hospital for three weeks now and my grampa is pining in a way that shatters me. The love these two have for each other, the constant affection and hand holding and sneaky kisses and flirty banter is a core in my childhood. They set the bar incredibly high for all of us on what complete and utter love looks like. Their being apart is hurting all of us so much. My poor grampa just cries, sitting there, looking at her as though he can make her well just with the power of his love and missing her. She asks how he is doing and he says lost, and constantly looking for her even though she isn’t there. My grandparents and I have always been incredibly close, and I can’t breathe past their heartache. It has meant so much to me that my mom has taken Charly to spend time with them almost every Wednesday. It makes my heart both full and heavy knowing she is getting to see the same love and affection that we saw growing up. My heart and my mind rebel at the thought of having to face losing them and of having to share that loss with Charly. One of the closest souls to me is also in hospital, with her precious new baby, they are safe, but things didn’t go as hoped and they won’t be coming home for a while yet. My mom is still not well and far too stressed about her Mommy and Daddy. Charly is still not properly well; not with all the vitamins and medicines and not medicines and rest and outside play. Nothing seems to clear the snots and the cough. Brett is still working long hours. I am tired to my bones. All of this is flooding me right now. While I try to get through the work; the work I love, that I am excited for every day but I just can’t quite get to with all the life. And having to face that I have failed some people on the work front, delivering too late for it to have the power that I wanted it to, that I planned for. I’ve cried too much today. I am late putting this daily post up, even though I believe today only ends when we fall asleep. I got up another giveaway on the blog. So I completed one thing. So now I can try to rest.
I loved being on set on the 15th. I love being in front of the camera always, although so far I always hate the way I look in all photos and videos (go figure). I love that I have learned so much since 2016 to the point where the facts I share can make a real difference and keep South African babies’ safe. Ford’s production team was amazing, the people were all awesome. By the end of the day, almost all of them could easily install a car seat – there weren’t any parents there, but their one-day kiddies will all be super safe thanks to that shoot. In the afternoon, my mommy brought Charly for her segment of the video, which she nailed. I could tell something was wrong, but I knew if my mommy wasn’t telling me, I shouldn’t push because I had to finish the video. Just before she left with Charly, I had to check. I was worried about her and I knew I only had about an hour or so of the shoot left, so I figured I could handle it. My granny had had 2 massive strokes the night before. I managed to finish off the last of the filming and went straight to my mom from there.
December and all of January was like living in a horrible nightmare of sadness and fear and guilt and waiting and heartache. The 16th of December has always been our big family Christmas, where all of us cousins and families and aunts and uncles get together and celebrate. (On Christmas day we tend to split up into smaller groups and spend time with our various in-laws.) Instead, the shift visits to the hospital began. In the beginning, my granny was feisty and talking, albeit slowly and from one side. She was irritated at the paralysis and that she had had a setback. She was determined to come home.
She and my grampa were still talking about her coming home for Christmas. The rest of December and January was spent with the whole family (there are about 30 of us when we get together), taking turns to take grampa and spend time at the hospital every day. And watching granny slowly disappear. It didn’t take long for our desperate hope for her to get better and come home to shift to desperate hope for her to be free. Some of the family visits would end in messages to our Whatsapp group saying how much better she was doing, she was smiling with both sides of her mouth for a while. Every visit I had, she seemed worse. That up and down, hope followed by shattering disappointment, the internal struggle and immense guilt of wanting her to get better and come home to us, while knowing that the best thing for her was to let go.
Day 1435 – 14 Jan 18 : Granny and grampa brought her home on the way to the hospital. But not before granny made her her favourite sausage stew (which she had two bowls of) and she washed the lunch dishes ❤️ Outing with Daddy this afternoon so I could try write and process. I wrote a headline and one sentence and then lay on the bed under the fan listening to an audiobook to stop the processing for a bit longer. The papers have been signed and we have all spent a little time with granny this weekend. The doctors say they aren’t sure of time left, but they aren’t expecting it to be long. My poor devastated grampa, who didn’t cry for the first time as my mom and I broke yesterday, was again tearful today and insisting the doctors are idiots 😩 is it horrible that I am hoping this doesn’t last longer? Every small thing gives him hope, even though the doctors have been as clear and gentle as they can be in saying there isn’t any. Watching her suffer while we are all helpless is beyond heartbreaking. Listening to my mommy tell her mommy to let go, that it is ok for her to rest and we will look after grampa and each other, was the worst feeling in the world. The hurt and heaviness sits in my chest as I am helpless to ease any of the heartache of the people I love most. And yet part of me is bracing myself for the wave of devastation that will hit us all once she is free of this all. I am spending my last night as a 35 year old, contemplating the awfulness of adulting and growing older and loss and love. It doesn’t matter how old we get, inside us we are still 17 and shocked when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. This has always niggled at me and these past weeks I have understood why. Watching these people I love, that have loved me beyond measure, have their bodies fail them, and knowing from previous conversations that they also have this young heart trapped in that body, this is horrifying to me. And I still haven’t found a way to tell Charly, even though I keep shuffling the thoughts and words in my head while I watch her sing and dance and play. Sheesh guys. Seriously this adulting this is just too much some days hey? A post shared by Mandy Lee Miller (@pregnantincapetown) on
We have all been hit by a massive wave of pure exhaustion this week. January is a blur of heartache for me, punctuated with haunting sounds. Eerie screaming noises, a voice that once belonged to someone I loved begging to be let go, begging us to help when we were helpless to do more other than reassure her we were letting her go and we would be ok, my grampa’s sobs, the sound of my mommy and aunt getting the news that she was gone as we were about to leave to say our final goodbyes. Charly’s little voice saying, “Maybe heaven will send us a new granny Moira” and the wail of hurt when we had to explain that granny Moira was gone forever. Hearing her say over the last week that she misses her granny Moira and it makes her sad.
The memorial was the 30 January
I cannot believe the memorial (and Janaury) was last week. It feels like years ago. I finally cried. Properly from my guts. I hadn’t wanted to cry too much in front of Charly or my grampa or even my mommy. Because Charly got strep throat, Brett stayed home with her while I went and joined my family and what seemed like hundreds of other people. My immediate family, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends of my mom’s from childhood, friends of my grampa and granny’s from over the years and the many friends they have in the retirement village. So I could cry with my whole heart, because when better to do it?
And I found myself crying not only for losing my granny, but for the suffering she and my whole family had endured these past months, for my mommy’s devastation in losing her mommy. For the fear of how ill my mommy had been, and how ill Charly had been at points last year. Crying for the destruction of my faith and love and trust in people I believed would be a part of my life for always. The deep loss, even if only in location, of two dear friends. The loss of our visions of growing old together, shared hopes of starting new traditions, watching our girls open Christmas presents together, start big school together, get up to mischief together, turn into teenagers together. Crying for the financial stress that I thought would crush us, and still might if my car doesn’t sell soon. I cried until there were no more tears.
Day 1451 – 30 Jan 18 : Some of you saw and sent love and thoughts on my #instastory earlier that today was my granny’s memorial. With this munchkin down with strep throat, Daddy stayed home with her while I went alone. Luckily he had already taken the day off, with the intention of attending with me and then taking care of Charly after school while I spent time with my family; so we weren’t in a situation where I needed to stay home with her. The memorial was heartbreaking, but also incredibly special and full of love and warm stories. We heard how my grandparents had seen each other every single day since they met until she went into hospital late last year. That she proposed to him! That the moment she shared her dream of having a house by the sea, he bought the plot in De Kelders and built her her dream house… and then four more after that as needs and families shifted and changed. That every night before they fell asleep they argued over who loved who more, and then gran would lock it down with “my heart is bigger so I love you more”, and grampa couldn’t argue that. We heard stories of her childhood and of their special travels together. There were so many people there. She touched so many hearts ❤️ This was Charly and I exchanging kisses through daddy’s phone. We are sending them to you all now for all your love and care and thoughts. We felt them today xx
After the memorial ended, myself, my mom and aunt, my cousins, stayed and had lunch with my grampa. We shared funny stories, anecdotes, rushes of memories of roast lunches and Christmases and beach holidays and lemon hand balm. And always, always, always coming back to family. At least every other month, for every birthday, anniversary, holiday, our whole family comes together. My grandparents, gran’s sister, her daughter, Gran’s two daughters (my mom and aunt), their grandchildren (my sister and I, my 4 cousins), their great grandchildren (my niece, my Charly, my eldest cousin’s two (18, 19), her sisters 3, and the two little boys of the other two cousins). Often our partners’ families are included too. And then the “adopted” family, the friends that we have had since childhood and their children and parents.
It is Charly’s birthday on the 10th and my granny’s on the 20th. Every year, we have a big family party to celebrate their birthdays together. We are planning to do it again this year. We will also be celebrating Christmas, New Year, my 2 cousin’s birthdays and my birthday. All of which were lost in the heartache of December and January. I don’t think we will actively celebrate any one thing, but being together, as granny always wanted us to be. It is going to be hard.
In between the heartache
Charly and I have become very close again. Does that sounds strange? It does to me. I don’t remember us NOT being close, but we have reconnected in the way we had when she was very little and I am loving it, even though it can be a little exhausting. For a long while in her first year, I was told that our closeness wasn’t quite healthy for either of us, we were too codependent. I now know that my anxiety was unhealthy, NOT the closeness we shared. While I adore my little terror with every iota of my being and I am with her almost every single day, these last 2 years I have frequently lost myself in the busyness of business. I have been here, but lost in endless stress and anxiety and also in passion and excitement. With my mommy being ill, and then being with her mommy as much as possible, Brett was on insane deadlines and working late every night, and then school holidays and January…
Charly and I have been alone together a lot. It has never been more clear to me how special she is. (all children are special, you are biased, eye rolls, etc etc.) There is very very little baby or toddler left in my girl. She is legitimately smarter than many adults I know. Smarter, wiser, more loving, more empathic, more skilled and just all round nicer than many of the adults I know too. These past 3 months, we have snuggled up and watched whole movies together, Frozen, Trolls and Sing! have been the core, but so many others as well. She has had long conversations with me, where she has explained why the characters do or say or behave the way they do, with far more insight than you can imagine. We have learned all the songs, made up our own dances and made up random stories using the characters from the various shows before bedtime.
She managed to persuade me to brave a trip into the Waterfront, with her alone, in the school holidays (pretty much every one of my fear points). She fell in love with the Cape Wheel and insisted we take my mommy up on my birthday (twice in the space of a few days – thank heavens she was still under 4 so I didn’t have to pay for her at least!) She mastered the play area at the new Wimpy in the Waterfront, and I love how she makes friends wherever she goes just by being her own self.
Day 1432 – 11 Jan 18 : We needed a mommy daughter day, so I put on my big girl panties and we took ourselves off the the Waterfront. Charly decided she needed a princess dress (thanks again @the_fairy_shop_ for making it magical AND practical) and her little Rosedale (still a favourite @littleblackantdolls). And she decided she wanted to go on a “Ferris wheel” more than anything ever this morning, so we went up for the first time. She loved it and showed no fear of heights (fear isn’t a thing with her, which makes it a big thing for us). We then headed off to @wimpy_sa for lunch and for Miss C to burn off some energy in the Kids area (it is very cool and quite unique in its set up). After about two hours, we headed off to visit @hamleys_south_africa before heading home to watch a movie. We had a great time and it was a solid distraction for a day ❤️ A post shared by Mandy Lee Miller (@pregnantincapetown) on
We have read proper chapter books, and have almost finished The Faraway Tree series. We have coloured in dozens of pictures and written lists of all kinds of things. She has mastered a bunch of games on my old iPad, including an incredibly challenging puzzle game that I just watch her do in awe. And she has discovered the Nintendo Wii (my favourite console of all time) and is fast mastering MarioKart, which is getting her already competitive nature in high gear. She loves that both Brett and I get intensely involved when we race as well and there are mornings on the weekends where there are full on jumping up and down cheering parties as we all play together.
She has mastered riding her bike and climbs anything she can get to. She definitely has no fear of heights (heaven help me). Her first time playing mini-golf resulted in 4 hole-in-ones. She has been swimming as often as possible. She started proper lessons yesterday, because she is determined to not use wings anymore – she uses her body properly in water, long arms and fairy legs, no doggy paddle here.
And as so many of you have seen on Instagram and Facebook, she is obsessed with her new extra mural, ballet. She is working towards being a ballerina and a doctor when she is grown up, she is quite determined.
Day 1453 – 1 Feb 18 : Charly has been dead set on becoming a ballerina Doctor one day. Tomorrow is her first ballet lesson and in all the chaos of the past weeks, I only got to collecting her #balletkit from @the_fairy_shop_ today. For more of her excitement when trying on her first ballet outfit, pop over to our #instastory 💞 oh! And for a pic of her more crazy self, the last in this lot is very her 😂
A post shared by Mandy Lee Miller (@pregnantincapetown) on
I have to say a huge and very heartfelt thank you to those of you who follow along on my daily posts on Instagram and Facebook. Your support over the past few months, in spite of me never having the time to write here on the actual blog, has meant more to me than I can possibly explain. While I have been going through all of this, I retreated into myself somewhat. I haven’t been able to talk to those closest to me for fearing of falling apart, so my being able to safely share on my online spaces, and being repeatedly surrounded by love and warmth and reassurance, and having so many of you share your own stories, it is what got me through. Thank you thank you thank you <3
Sending all the love xxx