Operation Beautiful~One Note At A Time

Operation Beautiful~One Note At A Time

Tomorrow I’m leading Children’s Church – something I seldom volunteer for since Leah died. This morning I was scouring the house for our  Veggietales  DVD collection to use one of them in Children’s Church, when it occurred to me that some of them might be in Leah’s bedroom. As I was searching through Leah’s possessions, I found myself lingering, reminiscing, and grieving.

Sometimes people ask me whether it gets easier as time goes on? I’m not sure if the pain of child loss ever gets any less. What has changed as time goes on is my ability to deal with the pain. I’m gradually learning some coping strategies that enable me to live with the pain of child loss, so that I can, by God’s grace, live a relatively normal life most of the time.


There are some of Leah’s belongings that I haven’t looked through at all since she died. Today, while going through a few of those, I came across a booklet that she had received at  Girl’s Brigade called ‘Spiritual Sparkles‘.

Spiritual Sparkles.jpg

I know that being a part of Girl’s Brigade was really important to Leah and that she would probably have read this booklet from cover to cover. I found myself glancing through it as I thought about my daughter. My attention was suddenly gripped by this page:

Secret Post-iter.jpg

The ‘secret post-iter‘! That’s where she got the idea from! Leah was well known for writing encouraging notes on post-its and leaving them for others to read. In March 2013 Leah introduced this concept at the LOST outreach weekend for young people in Limavady.

Before we left Sam’s House in Bristol in October 2013, I was dispatched to the shops to buy her a packet of post-it notes. Afterwards one of our friends posted this on Facebook:

Sams House Post It (1)

After Leah died our eldest daughter Rachel showed me this post-it that Leah had stuck on her bedroom mirror:

Rachel's Post It

Leah also had lots of post-its stuck up around her own bedroom to encourage her as she recovered from her bone marrow transplant and battled GvHD (graft vs host disease). She struggled with the very unpleasant side-effects of high dose steroid therapy and chemotherapy hair loss and she needed all the encouragement she could find:

I Peter 3 v 3

I miss Leah’s little notes; every time I do a clear out I find some little card or note of encouragement that I received from her over the years. I cry for what I have lost, I thank God for what I have had and I carefully place each note or card in a Memory Box.

I think the idea behind Operation Beautiful  is really worthwhile. Their website explains their purpose:

The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough… just the way you are!

I know that Leah was very concerned about the many negative messages that young people are getting and the effect that this is having on their self image and their self esteem. I can see why this simple concept would have really appealed to her. I think that it’s a lovely idea.

Somewhere Only We Know

Somewhere Only We Know

Leah got a Nintendo WiiU for Christmas ’13.

She really enjoyed playing it for the two days that she had it before she was admitted to hospital.

When she died, we just packed it all away.

Yesterday we set it up again for the first time since then.

When it was switched on, Leah’s avatar was still there – her Mii.

She had created it bald just like she was.


This image triggered two trains of thought in me.

Firstly, that Leah was comfortable with her appearance, because she had learned that beauty is what’s on the inside.

One of her favourite Bible verses was 1 Peter 3:3

I Peter 3v3

Secondly it reminded me of Leah’s sense of humour.

Throughout her illness Leah and I shared lots of funny moments.

I think that’s partly why the song Somewhere Only We Know appeals so much to me now.

That “somewhere only we know” represents the many giggles and laughs and “private jokes” that Leah and I shared during her illness journey.

There was the day that the member of the hospital chaplaincy team mistook the hand soap for alcohol gel and tried very vigorously to rub it into her hands, while Leah and I tried very hard not to notice. Then we had such a giggle about it afterwards.

There was the Mediterranean doctor we secretly named Pingu because she flapped her hands so much while talking. When stuck for the right word in English, she used ‘hand signals‘ to fill in the gaps. We used to try and imagine what would happen if she was ever sent to work in “air traffic control“!

Or the time the night nurse came into our room very flustered to say that she had mislaid the thermometer she was using and remembered having it in our room. We found it hours later in our bin, where the nurse had obviously put in it an absent minded moment!

Leah and I shared a similar sense of humour.

Most days we found something to make us smile or laugh.

Reminiscing over humorous incidents together helped us while away the hours during our inpatient and outpatient hospital visits.

Some days I feel so sad for what we’ve lost, then other days I feel very thankful for having had Leah in our lives for 16 years – my feelings fluctuate.

Hiya Honey

Hiya Honey

Leah appears much the same today as yesterday and the numbers on the various monitors appear unchanged.
Dr Uncommunicative is on duty so I’m not holding my breath waiting for an update.
The ICU generally has about 8 patients between ICU and HDU (High Dependency Unit) so it’s a relatively small nursing team.
The ICU patients are nursed one to one.
We are here two weeks now so we’ve got to know many of the nurses well and they are just lovely.
Two of the younger nurses have had cancer treatment themselves in recent years & one of them showed Leah photos of herself with her chemo hair loss which Leah really appreciated.
She’s a very cheery friendly girl & Leah always seems to respond to her no matter how sedated she is.
Yesterday when this girl came in the room & greeted Leah with “Hiya Honey” in her strong Belfast accent, Leah lifted her arms & joined her fingers to make a heart shape in reply.
This was no mean feat as Leah was very sedated and her limbs are heavy with retained fluid from prolonged immobility and the reduction in her kidney function.
It is lovely that despite everything relationships develop & communication continues.