Monthly Archives: April 2015

Silence but for the tears and memories

Suffering from insomnia. It’s past two am. I hurt all over, because there should be a peacefully snoozing baby near me and every cell of my being is refusing to let me rest because of how wrong this lack of Brandon is. I have this driving need to find and retrieve my son, and there is this Brandon-shaped hole in our lives that tells us he is gone, we won’t see his bright, piercing gray-eyed gaze or hear his voice as he cries or coos, or cuddle his small body against ours or feel his tiny, chubby arms trying to hug us back.

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Funeral Preparations

We got in touch with the chappie, who I think had just come back from out field, and he said that if I wished, then he would perform the funeral rites for Brandon. Rhys has actually met the man before, and told me a bit about the fellow. He migrated from Eastern Europe and used to be part of the Special Forces equivalent of his nation of origin’s military. I hadn’t known that and somehow, it gives me a measure of comfort that he’s the one we got in touch with.

I’ve been spending the time since preparing for Brandon’s final journey, and comforting the children. It’s finally sinking in.

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Little happy things

Taking a few moments to stop stabbing my fingers with a needle.

A couple of nights ago, I noticed this on Monster Hunter Nation:


Larry liked it this much!


The resulting excited happy squee woke Rhys.  I am seriously happy that Larry liked it so much! That’s my first solo endeavour, and this, in my opinion, is even better than winning the contest I originally wrote it for. Thanks, Larry! Thanks everyone, who bought Sparrowind!

The past couple of days have been very busy though and I didn’t really have a chance to look at the site stats on the day. I wonder what it was? Oh well, this is what it looked like today when I got the brain to check.



Ranked 24 in the Kindle Short Reads for Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and 51 in Kindle Short Reads Literature and Fiction.


That made me smile, and lifted my mood to actual happiness*. Thank you, everyone who bought the novelette, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Edited at 16:35, Wed 22 April 2015:

It went up some more!

Number 45 in literature, and 16k+!!!!

Number 45 in literature, and 16k+!!!!

I also sold 179 copies on Kindle; and that’s just the Kindle sales. Yay!


On more writer-chatter:

I need to finish Aff’s Diary: Blessed Hope so we can get to the editing stages of that book. I’m looking at 342 pages (because of Lulu’s formatting) so far, and I’m probably 85% done. I managed to write quite a bit when the grandparents took the kids out walking last weekend to hike up Castle Hill. That sounded far more strenuous than I can tolerate so I decided to sit at Longbow Bar and Grill at the Strand and worked through lunch, a lovely treat by my very understanding hubby.

Good food, a sea breeze, the sun, a drizzly rain and a laptop to write by...

Good food, a sea breeze, the sun, a drizzly rain and a laptop to write by…

I’ve already started writing on the expanded, full novel Sparrowind though, which, due to previous feedback I had gotten last year, is the first in what might be a series. On this my plans are still ongoing, and un-derailed. Being my own actions, this is something entirely within my control, and something I can focus on.

I’ve also been working with Aff / David on a draft of a new United Fleet novel.

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Cracks in the facade

Rhys called me up today to let me know that the hospital or funeral parlor called him up and let him know that Brandon’s body is back in Townsville. The funeral director told us before that they’ll handle …

I don’t know how to keep writing polite euphemisms for corpse.

Because that was my son.

Brandon. The latest addition to the clan. Feisty, bright-eyed, opinionated little Brandon. We all want him back. Instead, we have to somehow live with the reality that he, and all that he could have been, will be gone.

Anyone who sees us right now would think we’re completely unaffected, focused as we are on just getting things done, every single day. The opposite is the actual reality. All of us have this urge to start smashing things, punch holes in the walls, break tables, furniture. All of us have this little numb inner voice that says things like: Yeah, but I can’t afford to replace that monitor/Cintiq/keyboard/figurine; can’t smash holes in the wall, we have a house inspection on Monday and we kinda need the windows intact; it’d suck not to have that desk and have to replace it. We briefly considered buying cheap dishes and smashing them, but all us grownups had vaguely similar reactions: but that’s money and then we’d have to clean up afterward so the kids don’t get hurt.

A few people have mentioned that I seem to be ‘holding it together’ pretty well. Rhys says he’s gotten similar comments; that it’s almost like he’s gone completely cold, has ice water for blood because he’s still ‘functioning’ and able to carry out tasks at work as calmly as possible.

Can’t do anything but focus on what we can do something about, really. There’s the funeral preparations to focus on, there’s day to day stuff that needs to happen, life goes on even if you feel like your world has ended. Other people – the children especially – are counting on you.

In truth, that facade hides the hurt, the urge to scream, the thousand-yard stare that shows up when we’re alone, the awareness of time slipping by all too quickly. Saying I miss Brandon and want him back are such small words that sound hollow when spoken out loud, unless when the person speaking is one of the kids, in which case it feels like a knife twisted in one’s gut would hurt less. And even they are hiding how much it hurts, focusing on Mummy. I’m scared of how much it’d smash us, when the grief finally becomes too much.

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Good Friends

Hi everyone

This is kind of a situation report, I guess. Sort of.

Aff has been keeping me up to date on stuff. He’s been passing on condolences from other sectors of the Wired, like from tech and dev folks who know him, and letting me know about the donations that have flooded in. When I’m able to sit up and focus on the screen (more on that later), I’ve read the comments and posts of support. Speaking of support, here’s a memorial page to my two sons Aff made. It’s beautiful.

I’m grateful and thankful for every little bit of care and goodwill sent my way – it doesn’t have to be financial. For those that did send, thank you so much, for putting toward Brandon’s funeral, his memorial box, and for photo printouts for the kids to give them each a photo album to look through and remember their little brother. We’ll probably make up an album for ourselves, and one each for the grandparents for the second grandson they’ll never get to meet.  The rest we will use toward helping the kids deal, and for things they need. Anything else left over will be put into an account for emergencies and / or school needs. Prayers, keeping my family -Aff included – in your thoughts, sharing ideas for how to help children cope with loss… All of it is a comfort in this terrible time.

Aff made up a thank you announcement.

“Apparently, to some people, that was an invitation to donate twice.”
Big, big thanks to Larry Correia, Kate Paulk, Sarah Hoyt, Mary Catelli, T.L. Knighton, Matt Bowman and the others for spreading the word, and organizing with Aff. Yes, Sarah is right that we had to be …lovingly persuaded into letting them help, and letting the Huns and the Minions rally for the sake of Brandon. We’re shy like that, and kind of used to handling things on our own, but at the same time, we did need the help. Ask Foxfier and Mary Catelli. They knew about Damien. On the tech and dev side of things, I gather that Aff’s been meeting the same kind of gruff, gentle bullying, though given the people involved I imagine there are more swearwords.
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Pain and practicality

Technical Update:

The problem with the site has been identified. Some users will have to visit this site via in order to have the ability to comment. It would be best if you logged in with a WordPress account after entering via either -> Shadowdancer Studios or

The subdomain is not set up correctly, and I am not in a mind state where fixing that is possible right now.

We now return you to the blogpost proper.  – Aff


Beware. Rambly post ahead.


Grief, from where I stand, never plays out the way they portray in the movies.

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Today, another angel gained his wings

20150408_005731_resizedThese will be the last photos of Brandon Tetsuya Alrhain, our darling fourth child and third son. It was taken last night as he slept in my lap around 3 am. He passed away suddenly while sleeping this morning between 7 am and 11:30. The coroners’ results are not in but it was probably SIDS. He was only 11 weeks and 3 days old. Just over 2.5 months old.

Brandon joins his brother, Damien Antonio Henry, whom we lost to full term stillbirth on the 5th of September, 2013.

My last memories of him are  of his bright-eyed gaze up at me as he nursed this morning, then him drifting off to sleep in my arms. I kissed him before placing him in his little ‘Brandon Box’, which he loved to sleep in. I watched him squirm himself comfortable and settle again. then lay down to sleep a little myself.

20150408_005823_resizedI woke up. My darling boy, my joy, our gray-eyed son, precious, feisty Brandon, never will again.

We are devastated by his death and are praying desperately that he is in heaven safe and sound. He hadn’t yet been baptised.


20150408_005803_resizedWe miss him horribly. Everything seems so surreal right now.

I can’t think of anything else to say.


Rory Modena

Shadowdancer / Cutelildrow

ps: thank you for reassuring me, and thank you for your kind thoughts. On a somewhat technical note; if you registered for the site, please leave a comment somewhere because I’ve been having ridiculous amounts of spam.

Thoughts at 4 am in the morning

(I…need to ramble. So I don’t collapse. So I can stay sane for my two older children.)

I’m awake again. It’s 4 am again. I’m sitting in the chair where I’d taken those photos up there, that last sleepless night. I hadn’t gotten up and gone to bed, after my darling Rhys had kissed me goodnight, kissed our boy goodnight, and gone ahead to bed because he has early mornings.

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