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.

I hope nobody minds but I insisted on buying the men something to drink, a bottle each (that’s all they could be persuaded for now). They’re not drunks and it helps take the edge off the pain. (Aff coded and composed his “In Memory” page while tipsy, so that should give some folk an idea.)

I tried to drink in order to just fuzzy up the pain and well, that didn’t work out. It goes through my system too fast. I’m sober and hung over two hours later, and that kind of defeats the whole idea of ‘fuzzying up the pain’, so my brain decided to dial down my emotion settings to ‘borderline Vulcan calm’ so I can function.

Gods know I need it. My kids need me, my husband needs me, my dear friend Aff needs me.

Papa Pat wrote this wonderful blogpost about processing our grief.

I think it’s wonderful advice, and it makes sense. We’re quite overwhelmed right now – by grief, by gratitude, and life simply going on because that’s just how life is. So you just gotta take it one shovelful at a time. Rhys calls it not dropping your bundle.

It’s been busy. Since Damien’s stillbirth we all had been living with the sense of something knotted up and tense inside of us. Seeing Brandon thrive, gain weight, grow so quickly and well, with the praises of the healthcare nurse who had been visiting, we had started to relax. We thought “It’ll be okay. He’ll live. He’ll grow.” We started to hope, and dream and-

Suddenly, like it always does with me, life says ‘no’ to that hope and dream. Sometimes it happens in the form of a natural disaster, sometimes out of someone’s spite and malice or greed, and sometimes, just something nobody has any control over. It’s common and bad enough that I regularly describe myself as a living breathing doom magnet, and that every serious relationship I get into I ask “Are you sure? Life with me isn’t easy. It just isn’t.” Rhys is still here at my side, we’re coming up on 12 years now. I wish with everything I am I didn’t have to see him cry for the loss of his sons ever, never mind one after the other.

When Aff offered to fly up and move in with us to keep us safe, I worried more about how my Murphyonic Field of Disaster would wreck his life than how I would cope. He didn’t really believe me when I told him that life in proximity to me tends to be full of problems and that it seems like we’re always scraping by on the skin of our teeth. He believes me now, and doesn’t wonder why I constantly worry, or why I am always afraid of ‘what will be taken from me next.’ I never feel very secure. I’ve known him for probably five years now, and he’s lived with us for almost three. That third anniversary is coming up soon.

I think the three years he’s lived with us as family have been the most tumultuous of his life.

My mom and brother back in the Philippines sent things – clothes, an Oscar the Grouch toy (which we all agreed suited the Opinionated One) and some things for the elder siblings. My brother Tony 2.0 got Brandon a baby-sized barong tagalog (Filipino formal wear). We haven’t decided yet what will go in with his coffin and what will go into the memorial box from that so we’ll wait.

Would have been adorable baptism clothes...

Would have been adorable baptism clothes…


We miss our little man, Little Mr. Personality.

The expressions he wore! Brandon enduring a photo session with the older siblings.

The expressions he wore! Brandon enduring a photo session with the older siblings.


It’s the thing we keep remembering, how this baby boy managed to be so incredibly expressive. Yes, he was a grumpy little guy, whose smiles seemed to come most when he was asleep. That expressiveness and communicative ability let us better discern what he wanted… and often it was as simple as wanting to be carried and cuddled and held. He’d try to hug back, grabbing onto the clothes of whoever held him.

Mr Grumbles informing his Dad he's had enough Daddy Cuddles and wants Mummy Milk.

Mr Grumbles informing his Dad he’s had enough Daddy Cuddles and wants Mummy Milk.

It’s the silence, honestly, that’s getting us the most. This house had been filled with happy children noises and Bundle of Rage crying, and this sense of almost, almost, being able to wake up and we’ll go back five days in time and I’ll wake up, and he’s next to me, crying because of a full nappy. Wishful thinking I know.

I’m trying to figure out how to help my children cope. This time around we seem to have gone with ‘my feelings can be set aside, someone else needs me.’ My daughter has been obsessively doing her chores so she can sink into the offline games we’ve set up for the kids, and Vincent is unable to sleep at night, saying that he feels like there is a stranger in the house and that stranger will take someone away. It’s what he thought when he heard me screaming that morning.

Aff, for his part, keeps waking up at night, or is outright unable to sleep, because he needs to keep checking on the kids, making sure they’re still breathing, still alive, and then checking the house is locked up and safe over and over again.

I sleep because sleeping pill, or the antidepressant, or painkiller.

Rhys has to sleep because work. We’ve picked the option of him going to work until appointments and family needs conflict with work schedule. He needs to keep busy to deal with his grief, needs to be able to do something for his family. And I understand this and love him so I let him.

Rhys just got home, and he showed me a message from the policeman who accompanied Brandon to Brisbane for the autopsy. He says he hopes to have ‘everything finalized by Wednesday.’ So we may have the funeral next week?

And a house inspection. Life goes on. So we just have to scrape ourselves together again and keep going, with memories to sustain us, and supported by the well wishing of so many. One step at a time. Move away that mountain of grief and pain one shovel at a time.
 (If you’d like to let me know about a post related to this, drop me an email or comment. shadowdancer dot duskstar at affsdiary dot com)

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