Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gabrielle Mae Ross, October 13th, 2010 ~ June 7th, 2013

Four nights ago, at 3:00am in the morning, with both of us taking care of Gabrielle who was coming down with a cold, Amy knew. Even though it was just a cold running through the house. She wept uncontrollably.

As she mentioned in her post, that night, we decided that we could not put her through yet another horribly invasive hospital visit to get her better at (almost) all costs. Honouring Gabrielle, her life, her well-being, her integrity, her love of family close by, and her will to live, we chose to take her to Canuck Place and give her the best care possible a children's hospice can provide.

That morning, while I was just walking the boys to school, in a remarkable set of circumstances I'll abbreviate, not a block from our house there was a coyote prancing by. We don't live in the country. I haven't seen a coyote here ever before. I haven't seen a coyote anywhere in ages. Not daring to let the significance of this incident pass, I looked up what kinds of messages earlier cultures thought coyotes brought, and read: 
The Shoshoni believed the Coyote as an indication of an ending. The sighting of the Coyote was said to bring natural shifts in balance, causing an end (which, of course, simply makes way for new beginnings, and so on). Essentially, the Coyote is like a "way-maker" of new direction as it went about its symbolic role of representing the cycle of life and death in nature.
A few hours behind Amy's motherly intuition, my heart grew heavy with understanding.

Upon arriving she seemed to be thriving. So much so that a part of us almost felt sheepish for bringing her in, but we knew we were at our limit at home. I went home that night to be with the boys and Amy spent the night with Gabrielle at Canuck Place. That next morning (Thursday) Amy awoke at 6am and quietly sat in the room and listened to our little daughter breath well and deeply, despite her lungs being slightly filled with cold. Myself and the boys arrived later that day after James' school-day ended, and with almost no intentions of us all staying at Canuck Place that night (Gabby was getting better and we'd be home soon, you see), we were all having so much fun that we spent the night. Us 5 up stairs, Gabrielle on the nursing floor just below.

I-Cell is horrible and misleading. One minute these children seem so healthy, smiling smiles that light up rooms with their life, and the next they're requiring all sorts of medical help to help them stay alive. This was Friday morning – yesterday. We awoke and Gabrielle was breathing well. Me, Amy, and James came downstairs and took this video.

About an hour later Gabrielle had declined to the point that we thought we only had minutes left. Both her Grandparents rushed to Canuck Place in time to say goodbye. They did, but she hung on for the whole day ... long enough for her aunties and uncles and cousins and all sorts of people to come into her room and be with her. Really, she loved nothing more than being around people. Always watching and listening and smiling.

The whole day Amy and I took turns holding her as tightly and gently as we could. We sang to her. We thanked her. We tickled her legs and ran our fingers through her hair.

At the end of the night, her breath grew faint. Amy and I were in the room with just her, but she wasn't letting go. We asked the nurse at Canuck Place to let her grandparents and aunties and uncles and cousins to come in, one by one, to kiss her goodnight and whisper how much they love her in her ear. They did. Nothing could have been more beautiful than for Gabrielle to receive this procession of love and well wishes at the end of the day from everyone who loved her most.

While this was happening, the staff here arranged three beds all beside one another. One for Gabby and one for both Amy and I. In the end, James and Michael joined us (Jonny already asleep upstairs) as they couldn't resist not being with us and by Gabby. She was on the one end of the giant bed so the nurses could reach her, then Amy, then James, then Michael, and then me on the other end. 

Our boys fell asleep and Amy and I knelt by the bed and gave her kisses and told her all those things you can imagine you would say to your child before they leave you on this earth forever. Her cheeks were pink and her body was tired and warm ... warm with "spirit" as I explained to James. "It's our spirits that make us warm. And when we leave our bodies behind and go to heaven, they get cool like everything else too." I went back to my end of the bed thinking how I suppose this was how it was meant to be: Mother and daughter side-by-side, the mother who brought her into this earth, with me waking up at some point in the night to find her spirit gone, and her body left.

At 11:10pm, staring into space, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something blur past the light by the room entranceway. It was real enough that I thought for sure it was our nurse. The light dimmed in my view as it passed. No one was there. "OK," I thought. I got out of bed and walked over to give Gabby one more kiss. Amy said, "You want to be here with her, don't you." And I cried a, "Yes I do."

We shimmied Gabrielle into the centre of the bed and moved the very large, waste-high, metallic oxygen canister closer to the top of the bed so that I wouldn't cut the flow by laying down it. While doing so the cord gently banged the canister and tiny little "gong" "gong" "gong"s filled the room, just like in the temples Amy and I visited several times while living in Asia. It was as if Gabrielle was being summoned. It was as if the synchronicity of the universe was tolling for our wonderful daughter. We didn't know. We thought she might be awake in the morning. 

As we lay down beside her, we adjusted ourselves. Amy held her hand. I shared my blanket with her and put my hand on her chest. She took three breaths. And passed. And what was left was the most beautiful, pale white, utterly angelic body of the most amazing daughter with the most loving spirit a mother and father could ever hope to have.
Five nights ago we took this blog down. We were becoming at peace with things and were settling into what, we believed, was going to be a few more years with Gabrielle. We wanted to keep Gabrielle and our time with her to ourselves.

Within days we realized that Gabrielle's life here had a greater purpose. She touched so many hearts and souls and helped us and everyone she met put things into perspective. Life. Love. Laughter. Now. Already this blog is our scrapbook of memories. It's only the morning after.

Amy wrote about hope. Hope in life. Hope in death. I don't think we could have imagined a better passing for our daughter. For everything she did for us. For her love. Her innocence. For everything. Gabrielle. We are so glad you left this life as you did. We are so glad you chose us. We love you. Thank you for your sharing you life with us. Gabrielle. Our gift from God.


  1. Thank you Gabrielle. For everything. Love the Kirkpatrick family

  2. Brokenhearted and grieving with you. much love, grammy to ^^Amber^^ and Charlie

  3. Thank you Amy for allowing me to meet Gabrielle the other day. The big smile she kept giving me through her struggle to breathe just amazed me and I fell head over heels for her. Her spirit and energy in that moment was such a gift, I will never forget. I pray for you, Regan and your boys in the months ahead. God love you all. What a precious gift


  4. Thank you for touching our lives with your wisdom and lessons. We will remember you always.
    Love Uncle Marc, Auntie Tara, Ainge, Sullivan and Em.

  5. Grieving with you as I read this. Gabby was a beautiful little girl. I'm sure she's having lots of giggles with my niece Amber. I am comforted that neither of these precious, sweet girls are suffering anymore. Thinking of your family and praying for you.
    Love & Prayers,
    Mikayla Amick
    ~Jeremiah 29:11 ~ Lamentations 3:21-26~

  6. Hello, I am a Christian sister of Joyce Amick, and have been praying for her and for her sweet family. I want you to know how very sorry I am for your loss. I will be praying for your family as you grieve the loss of your beautiful and precious Gabby. Another sweet, beautiful, pain-free angel in heaven... ((HUGS))

  7. Our prayers are with you.
    Father, the death of Gabrielle Mae Rossbrings an emptiness into our lives.
    We are separated from her
    and feel broken and disturbed.
    Give us confidence that she is safe
    and her life complete with you,
    and bring us together at the last
    to the wholeness and fullness of your presence in heaven,
    where your saints and angels enjoy you for ever and ever.

  8. What a precious gift Gabrielle was. Not many people, even in the wisdom of years granted, teach lessons the way that she did. Thank you for your words and for sharing your lives with those of us who never were able to meet Gabrielle in person. Your words and glimpses into your life made me feel like I knew her. For the love, the lessons, the wisdom, the reminders...she was a true gift and the ultimate teacher. Sharing in your sorrow...
    Jackie Meeds

  9. Gabrielle,
    You were such a bright, beautiful light in my life. I love you little girl.

  10. Thank you Ross Family for sharing Gabrielle with all of us. Your blog continually showed the strength and courage you all have. Rest in peace Gabrielle.


  11. Your precious Gabrielle touched my heart in a very rare way. Even though I only met her a few times, her incredible spirit did put many many things in perspective. Scott and I are simply heart broken for you all. Our prayers are with you.
    Erin and Scott Harvie

  12. What a difficult few weeks for our I-cell family...grieving with you and thanking you for sharing Gabrielles life with us. Thinking of Amber and Gabrielle being together, and wondering at a deeper level what heaven is like. Love and prayers...Amber and Charlies Penna. Grammy

  13. Tears are flowing for the pain I know you are all feeling right now. I am so grateful for the gift you gave me when you shared your beautiful girl and the gift of "knowing" your family with me. I'm so sorry, Amy and Regan, and I'm so sorry for your precious boys. I wish this sort of pain never had to rest on you, but I know also how it feels even in the midst of the pain to be so grateful that for just even a little while we got to love and be loved by a person so precious and beautiful that words can't adequately capture or describe them and the joy they brought to our lives. The depth of that love makes this pain so much greater. Oh, my heart just aches for you all. I wish I could hug you. My thoughts, love and prayers are with you. May your broken hearts find peace as you grieve. I will never forget Gabrielle. <3

  14. Regan,

    My heart is heavy with sadness for the loss of your beautiful angel. I hope you and your family can find some peace and comfort in the prayers and thoughts of old friends and new. RIP sweet Gabrielle.

    Nadine Langlois

  15. My thoughts and prayers are with you both in your time of grief. I never had the privilege to meet Gabrielle except through this blog. Gabrielle you taught me to live for today, laugh often, love and smile. Amy & Regan you have been an inspiration and I often think of you and your family.

  16. For sweet Gabrielle.

  17. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Who would expect to find utter magnificence and perfection in the thing we fear most? Thank you Gabrielle, Amy & Regan for being a constant reminder that life (and death) is so much more wonderfully mysterious than our human eyes can fathom. Your spirits are inextricably and eternally intertwined. Rest in the mystery my friends. You're in the best hands.
    Love, love, love,
    Molly, Gabriel, Liam & Luca

  18. Clare always told us what a wonderful and beautiful little girl Gabrielle was, with her lovely smile and that she was a joy to be with.
    Although we've never met you all in person (only on Skype!) we wanted to send you our love and let you know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. God bless you all and may your memories of Gabrielle bring you comfort at this sad time.
    With love from Emma Eldershaw (Blackpool, UK)

  19. Thank you for sharing Gabrielle with us. We are grieving her loss although we have not had the honour of meeting her in person. She has taught us so much and we are forever grateful. Thank you, Amy & Regan, for sharingyour little sweetie so openly with us. We are better people for having known her through you. All our love, Shane & Beth Laing

  20. Thank you Regan and Amy for allowing us the privilege of knowing Gabby through this blog. You have been such an inspiration to us all. Aiden and I are grieving with you and will continue to pray for your family for many years to come. Gabrielle was a gift to you and you so generously shared her with us. May God grant you strength and support as you need.
    With love
    Lynn and Aiden Morris