A Memory Tree

Memory tree

Memory tree

Before I start to write I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sent their love to me and my family this week. I’ve been inundated with messages, comments, cards, emails – the lot, and it just goes to show what a kind and wonderful man my husband was and how many lives he touched.

There is so much I could write about what’s happened this week, but I don’t really know where to start apart from to explain a little bit about how Sam and Florence have reacted to the news. It was one of my main fears, having to tell the children, along with how I would manage to cope while holding them up too. It turns out they’re the ones holding me up through this, as without their hugs, smiles and laughter I don’t think I would have even bothered to leave the house.

I came home on Friday night after Roger passed away, and went to bed knowing I’d have break it to Sam the next day. Florence, at two, is too young to understand and although I have gently told her that daddy isn’t getting better or coming home, she still asks where he is. In fact, the first thing she said to me when I went into her room on Saturday morning was ‘Where daddy gone?’ When I said daddy isn’t here, she just smiled and said ‘daddy hospice’, which I guess was true, and that seemed to be enough for both of us in that moment.

Sam, on the other hand, came into my bedroom on Saturday morning full of smiles, happy that his granny was here when he woke up. ‘I’ve got something to tell you’, I said. ‘About dad’. Deep breaths. ‘What?’ he asked me. ‘Has he died?’ I gave him a hug and said ‘Yes love. He died at the hospice last night, I’m so sorry.’ He looked shocked, hugged me again, and said, ‘Can we get the paddling pool out today?’, before climbing into bed with me and having a bit of a cry. ‘I want daddy,’ he said, making me well up too. I can’t really remember what happened after that, apart from that a few seconds later, he was up and acting like his normal self again. His outward grief, like mine, would come and go this week and tears would fall at the most unlikely of times.

I’ve been so proud of how he’s handled his first week, and I know his dad would have been too. He has taken such good care of me, making things to cheer me up, declaring we would eat certain foods to ‘celebrate dad’, and looking after his little sister just like he always does. Maybe it’s because he’s had more of my focus and attention this week, but there have been fewer fallouts, more cuddles and I’ve been shocked at how openly he’s spoken about his sadness at losing his dad.

One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen was a memory tree he decided he was going to make on Sunday, to remember his dad. We were pottering in the garden with my parents, doing jobs I hadn’t thought about for months like cutting down some tall bushes, when a few big branches fell to the grass and gave him an idea. Picking one up, he said, ‘I’m going to get all these branches together, make a memory tree and hang messages from it.’.

Memory tree

‘Oh, ok,’ I said, pleased but taken aback, as memory trees aren’t something I knew he was aware of and I wondered whether he had come up with the idea himself or someone had mentioned it to him. It turned out it was an idea planted in his head by his counsellor from the Butterflies project, who he has just started to see as someone to talk to (and make lots of really cool stuff with) over the past few weeks.

Sam being Sam and very single-mindedly creative, he set to work on his tree, cutting the branches to just the right size and arranging them in a vase. He then took my stash of gift tags and paper luggage tags and set about writing his words, thoughts and feelings about his dad. They’re heartbreaking and so cute, ranging from ‘I am sorry’ to ‘good times’, ‘happy’, ‘fun’, ‘I love you’ to ‘he is great’, ‘dude’ (or dode), and ‘I will miss you’. One of my favourites has a picture of his dad with open arms and a heart, and another – in a nod to Adventure Time, the cartoon they both laughed at, just says Fin and Jake.

He later asked us all to write a tag, so Florence scribbled a little drawing on hers and he wrote her name on it, and I made one that said ‘We will always love you x x x’ on one side, and our names and a heart on the other.

Sam was so proud of his tree, and I was so proud of him for doing it. The joy he had in doing something for his dad was clear, and he has shown everyone who has come to the house his masterpiece.

He even put it on the living room floor, grabbed Flo by the hand and they danced round it, chanting ‘dance around the memory tree!’ in a very sweet and funny, yet slightly Wicker Man pagan, kind of way.

However I thought our children would react, I could never have predicted this. The only worry I had about it was what happened when the tree died? The branches were already wilting on Monday, and now it’s Friday and they are looking pretty sorry for themselves.

I went down to the florist’s earlier and managed to buy some dried cherry blossom branches which were being used as a tree in the window, but which the lovely florist assured me were on the verge of being changed over anyway. I’ve wedged them in a metal pot, with brown paper around the base of the branches, in an attempt to keep them in place. I’m waiting for Sam to get home to see whether he wants to change the tags over to the everlasting tree or not. It’s such a magical idea, I’m really hoping he will. I know if Rog were looking at us now, he’d love the effort Sam put into this little project – and his smile would be bigger and prouder than ever.

x Julia

Making the memory tree

Memory tree

Memory Tree cards

Tree tags

The memory tree, mark two

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  • Reply
    Mark Roe
    July 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Amazing idea. Thinking of you all. Xxx

  • Reply
    Potty Mouthed Mummy
    July 24, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    What a lovely idea and what a wonderful boy you have there. You guys all take my breath away a little and you’re in my thoughts a great deal xxx
    Potty Mouthed Mummy recently posted…My Health Journey #2My Profile

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    What a beautiful idea, well done Sam!
    Kids can be so thoughtful and amazing!
    I’m so sorry for your loss!
    Big hugs xxxx
    Hannah recently posted…How I stay organised.My Profile

  • Reply
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome
    July 24, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    This is just the most beautiful and heart-wrenching thing Julia. Your children are incredible and even when times are bad I love that they’ll pull you through with little projects like this, it couldn’t have been anymore perfect. It’s nice to think that a little bit of Rog lives on through them and that they will offer you comfort and love when you need it most xxxx
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome recently posted…Alfresco Garden Dining #ASDAOutdoorsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Beth Twinderelmo
    July 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Sounds like you & Roger have made such a thoughtful wonderful loving mature little man – a testament to you both. I wish he didn’t have to but it sounds like he’s going to be such a perfect man of the house and it’s such a lovely thing for him to do xxx
    Beth Twinderelmo recently posted…Wicked Wednesday – Pens. AGAIN. My Profile

  • Reply
    Five Adventurers
    July 24, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Julia, this is the most beautiful post I have read. So beautifully written and I can’t imagine what you are going through. Your such an amazing lady and so inspirational. I love, love how resilient your children are. Fab idea from Sam and love how he decorated it.
    Five Adventurers recently posted…Child friendly holidays in CornwallMy Profile

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Just beautiful. You are amazing. X

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    That is such a lovely idea, well done Sam. X

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    What an adorable little boy you have xx The memory tree is a lovely idea, I remember there being one in the foyer of the hospice where my mum stayed and I always said I’d make one at home but never did. I think of you all lots, keep hugging each other, and cry when you need to but most importantly hold your memories in your hearts because they will be there forever xx

  • Reply
    Megan - truly madly kids
    July 24, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    What a wonderful idea. Superb writing as ever. I am thinking of you all xxxxx
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  • Reply
    Lizzie Woodman
    July 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    What a wonderful idea. Beautiful writing x
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  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I am sure that your wonderful husband is looking down on you and feeling so proud of the way in which you and your children are drawing strength from each other during such an immensely difficult time, by sharing precious memories and keeping him very much alive in your everyday lives. I was deeply saddened to read of your loss and wanted to comment before on so many occasions, however the words I had to give always seemed inadequate. You are so brave and strong and I wish you and your family all the very best for the future. God bless you all.xx

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    What a wonderful idea and a great way for Sam to remember his dad. Thoughts remain with you all – thank you for sharing such a beautiful and difficult piece.
    Tim recently posted…Nostalgia Jukebox: Getting into a Madonna grooveMy Profile

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    What an amazing little boy – you should be (and obviously are) so proud of him.

    Everybody at work is thinking about you and sending love, hugs and positivity x

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Beautiful. I loved the innocence of Sam’s shall we get the paddling pool out later. Sure Roger was smiling when he heard that. Thank goodness they have that innocence.

  • Reply
    Sarah ryan
    July 25, 2015 at 12:52 am

    What a lovely thoughtful idea for a little boy. Obviously loves his dad and cherished the time they had. So sorry for your loss.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 6:35 am

    I can’t even imagine how hard it was to tell your little boy his Daddy has gone. What an amazingly brave little man he is. I hope you all continue to find your own ways to cope with such a very difficult time x
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  • Reply
    Mummy Tries
    July 25, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Sam sounds like a truly remarkable little man. You are all coping so well, glad the kids have held you up. Much love xxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…A Few Things You May or May Not Know about MeMy Profile

  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    What wonderful children you have. I’m sure you will all help each other remember a wonderful man and move forward a day at a time. I don’t know how you managed to blog about this but want you to know I admire your strength. You’ll inspire others trying to cope as well I’m sure. Thank you
    Amanda recently posted…Can we auto-correct humanity?My Profile

  • Reply
    Sarah Doyle - let them be small
    July 25, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Such a lovely post Julia. You haven’t been far from my thoughts this week x
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  • Reply
    Little Treasures
    July 25, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Such a touching post, what a beautiful idea. You are such a strong family xx
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  • Reply
    Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely
    July 25, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Julia, that is so, so precious. Huge hugs xxx
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  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    July 26, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Oh Sam is such a sweetheart, what a wonderful way to deal with what must be such a hard and confusing time for him and all of you. You are such a wonderful mummy. Sending love across the seas xx
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Break out of your comfort zone! #Friday ReflectionsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Heledd - Running in Lavender
    July 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Oh Julia, this is beautiful. What an amazing way for Sam to pay tribute to his dad and for him to feel like he’s doing something positive. I think you three every day xxx
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  • Reply
    Leigh - Headspace Perspective
    July 26, 2015 at 10:37 am

    This is beautiful, Julia. We all find our own ways to remember those we have lost, and the way Sam has chosen is so very special. Lots of love to you all xxxx
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  • Reply
    July 26, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Oh love, I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for you. I love the memory tree, that is such a fantastic idea. I hope he liked the everlasting one too? Thinking about you all always xxx
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  • Reply
    Adventures of a Novice Mum
    July 27, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Heartbreaking read; but so inspiring. What an amazing young boy, your Sam is. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must all been. My little one cries for his daddy when he’s not at home, even sometimes when he is home but not where my little boy is. My word, life can be so cruel. I am so sorry that you are going through this and I pray for incredible comfort for you and your family during this time. May it get easier with time. A memory tree is a brilliant idea; was Sam happy to transfer the tags? #SloutchingwithThatcham
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  • Reply
    Polly @ Our Seaside Baby
    July 27, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I can’t imagine how difficult if was telling your children, life really isn’t fair at all sometimes. Your children are a ray of sunshine right now. The tree is beautiful, what a wonderful idea Sam had. Thinking of you and sending hugs xxx
    Polly @ Our Seaside Baby recently posted…Silent SundayMy Profile

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 7:32 am

    This made me cry. I remember when my mum died when I was 19 and I had to break the news to my little brother who was 6. It was the hardest day of my life. But I remember the weeks that followed and the memories he would recall at the most random of times. Kids have a resilience that we could learn a lot from I think. My heart aches for you right now as you move through this time of grief xx
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  • Reply
    A Cornish Mum
    July 28, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    What a beautiful idea, and a great way to get Sam to express how he’s feeling as well. The counsellor is obviously good, which I am so glad about for you as it seems to be helping. I can only imagine how you all feel right now, your little man is amazing as are you for how you’re coping and carrying on despite most most likely feeling broken at the moment.
    Much love respect and high fives to your gorgeous children,

    Stevie xx
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  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I can’t imagine what you must have been going through this past week. Sam’s idea is just beautiful, he sounds like such a lovely little boy, so caring.
    Becky xx
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  • Reply
    Katie @mummydaddyme
    July 28, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    What a wonderful little man Julia. Truly wonderful. I can’t imagine what you are going through but you sound like a wonderfully close knit family with two children you should be very proud of. You have been in my thoughts lots this week. x
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  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    What a wonderful, strong, sensitive and creative son you have. It must make you so proud of him to see how he is coping.
    Fionnuala recently posted…This Is Motherhood #10My Profile

  • Reply
    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)
    July 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Sam is so amazing. And I can see how proud he is for this project. An amazing way to remember someone so ever special. Sending you hugs. #twinklytuesday
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  • Reply
    Who am I now {A Year On...} - Running in Lavender
    July 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    […] When was the last time you cried? This week, reading my friend Julia’s post on her son’s memory tree for his dad. Please read this post it’s so […]

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    This is beautiful. I don’t know how you’re managing to blog but thank you for sharing this. I know it’s a cliche but reading about what’s happened to your family is making me appreciate every day and the everyday.

  • Reply
    Sarah christie
    July 29, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Ah I bet you are so proud of Sam Julia bless his little heart he has been so brave through all of this and his tree is just beautiful x
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  • Reply
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama
    July 29, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Aaah love. Am crying again!! This is SO beautiful — he’s such an amazing little boy to have done all this. I love the thought process behind it too — his messages to Rog are just fabulous. His daddy would be so touched and proud.

    So very proud of you too, my lovely friend. You’re doing a grand job xxxx Thanks so much for linking this beautiful post to #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro |
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  • Reply
    jill hunter
    July 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

    First of all sending love hugs and kind thoughts to you and so sorry to hear about Roger. I don’t know you but feel I know you through your blog. you are an inspiration to everyone who experiences a bereavement like yours. You and Roger should be really proud of yourselves for how you have prepared and supported your children your son particularly. He will grow up healthy and happy I’m sure as will your daughter. They couldn’t have better parents.
    Losing someone dear is terrible and the pain is a physical thing but you are facing it not burying it and you will emerge one day from the tunnel of grief . Your kids will help you along the way. Keep writing if it helps. we are all with you. x

  • Reply
    Gina M
    July 31, 2015 at 9:46 am


  • Reply
    Silly Mummy
    August 2, 2015 at 11:59 am

    What a beautiful post, and a beautiful idea from Sam. Love the dried cherry blossom branches idea too. I’m in awe reading how you are all coping, and your children are clearly wonderful – a great testament to Roger, & you. x
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Eight Films That Failed To Be Peppa PigMy Profile

  • Reply
    Random Musings
    August 2, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    What a touching post. Your little boy is a credit to you and Roger. What an amazing thing for him to do!
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  • Reply
    Emma's Mamma
    August 2, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    What a beautiful idea! It’s amazing how children cope and understand. I feel so privileged to be following your journey through your blog. Sending lots of love xx
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…BubblesMy Profile

  • Reply
    International Elf Service
    August 2, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    This is such a beautiful idea and I’m so impressed with how you are all coping. I think about you often and hope that seeing some sunshine makes it a tiny bit easier in some impossible way. Much love xxx
    International Elf Service recently posted…Say What You Mean!My Profile

  • Reply
    Twinkly Tuesday - August 4, 2015 | How Do You Do It?
    August 4, 2015 at 6:01 am

    […] Twinkler is from the incredibly strong Rainbeaubelle. Julia’s son Sam created an exquisite memory tree to honour his later father, Roger. Julia is a study in how to navigate the first days after the […]

  • Reply
    Katie / Pouting In Heels
    August 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Oh Julia, what an absolutely beautiful post. It had me in tears, I am so moved by your continued courage and resilience, both from you and your beautiful children. What an utterly wonderful thing for Sam to do. Such a testament to your love for each other. Thinking of you all. xxx

  • Reply
    Ann Winters
    August 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    What a lovely idea, a rememberance tree for his daddy. I cannot imagine what you are going through, sending in strength and love, but i believe that you have a strong little person by your side.
    Ann Winters recently posted…My Monday MakingMy Profile

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