That time I went Inferno hiking and almost didn’t make it down the mountain, because sometimes I’m an idiot who does stupid things.

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Ronan. I did something a couple Saturdays ago that ended up being not all that smart. I was in a mood. It was a Saturday and the weekends around our house are still really hard on me. So much family time that I know you know I am thankful for, but weekends always seem to hurt so much more. We spent the morning at your brothers’ basketball games, a place where I am normally my happiest. On this particular day, not having you there to watch and cheer for your brothers was just too much missing you for me to handle. I did my usual put on my happy face while I did my loudest screaming my head off for your brothers as I watched them dominate on the court. After another victory (insert proud bragging rights here) we all went home and your brothers ended up getting invited to go swimming with some friends. I volunteered to take them as Poppy was getting ready to take her nap. I threw on my hiking gear as your daddy looked at me and said, “You’re going hiking? It’s the hottest part of the day and about 110 degrees outside. You shouldn’t go.” Your daddy knows me well enough though to know that his words were falling on deaf ears. I was on a mission and destroying Camelback Mountain during the hottest part of the day was what I was set on doing. There was no telling me otherwise. I packed my backpack full of a ton of cold waters, made sure my phone was totally charged as bounced out the door to drop your brothers so I could take my anger out on something… anything to get me through the day.

Hiking Camelback on a normal temperature day is not an easy feat.  Throw in the scorching heat, not to mention my anger/sadness/grief and the inferno that day went to a whole different level of hell.  I climbed as fast as I could, feeling the pain as my hands burned every time I would go to grab a boulder to pull myself up on.  I could only let my hands touch them for a few seconds before I would end up pulling them away so they didn’t get burned too badly.  Not many people were on the mountain that day, but yes, there were a few who were just as crazy as me.  I found myself wondering if they too had dead kids or parents or lovers or friends. Was it possible that somebody up here hurt just as much as me? What in the world had they endured in this lifetime to make them climb up a mountain during such an intensely hot day?? I let all these thoughts fill my mind as I continued to climb.  I had to stop quite a few times which I normally don’t do.  After about 45 minutes, I knew I had enough and I made myself turn around even though I was still about 5 minutes from the top.  I’ve never not made it to the top, so this was a first and I was not happy about it.  But I also know my limits and just how to come really close to the edge of things in life without not totally falling the side of the cliff.  I had just turned around when I noticed a guy in black shorts coming up as I had to move out-of-the-way so he could pass me.  You always give the right away to the people coming up, at least on my mountain where I follow and respect all the rules that my veteran hikers have put into place.  I didn’t think much of this person passing me, but I gave him a quick hello, made eye contact, and really wanted to say, “What is causing you so much pain to hike on a day like today?” I made my way down the mountain, slowly.  I started to get really disoriented and dizzy from the heat.  I have hiked that mountain no less than 300 times, so I was not worried about getting lost, but I was worried about passing out.  I got to the part where you have to hold onto some rails to climb back down.  I know I was delirious at this point because my head starting saying things that maybe used to fill my mind a lot, but do not very much anymore.  I heard myself talking about death, dying, and was I dead?? Maybe I was really dead and this was really hell.  Did I want to die?  I was so out of it at that point that I couldn’t really answer my own question.  I let my mind drift and wander to those morbid places for a couple different reasons.  One being that I really wasn’t in control of the thoughts that were taking over my brain and two because sometimes I just have to go there… to the darkest of the dark places.  I live in that place, but I don’t visit it very often anymore so when it’s time to take a little vacation to all things dark, I just allow myself to go and don’t really question it much.  I cannot live in the constant sunshine every day of my life as it gets so exhausting to do so.

I ended up calling your daddy at some point and I don’t remember what I said, but I think I told him I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the bottom.  He offered to come and get me and of course I said no.  Don’t forget I have that whole ‘I’m not a princess and I don’t need saving’ thing still going on.  I made it to the car where I blasted the A/C and sat for a bit as I recovered before I attempted to drive just a few minutes home. I came crawling through the door as your daddy handed me a big Gatorade and watched me sink down to the ground where I passed out for a few minutes on our cool tile floor.  I opened my eyes just in time to see him hovering above me and heard him say, “Have you had enough self-torture for the day?” For the day, yes.  For life, never. I rolled my eyes and went to our bedroom where I showered and passed out for a good hour or so only to wake up to a raging headache that was brought on by my stupidity.  Do you think I learned my lesson and will never do that again? You know me better than that, Ronan.  You know I’ll be back up that mountain in no time to do it all over again.  I’ve been hiking it still, but going really late in the afternoon where the temps are in the low 100’s. Those temperatures are easy to hike in for me compared to the 110 in the middle of the day.

A couple of days after my Saturday inferno, I heard on the news that a hiker was missing on Camelback Mountain.  I didn’t think much of it until they mentioned he had gone missing on Saturday, around the same time that I was on the trail.  I googled the story and found it almost immediately.  He was 23, from Washington State and his dad was pleading for his son’s life.  I tried my best to remember if I had seen him on Saturday and my mind went back to the guy in the black shorts.  Could that have been him?  In my mind, I thought he looked much older than the person I was looking at on my computer screen before me, but still I couldn’t shake the thought of somebody missing on that mountain.  My mountain of all places where I have hiked over 300 times and it’s one of the few places that I can count on in life to accept my grief, nurture my grief, love my grief and never judge my grief.  My place of solitude and peace and now you’re telling me there is somebody missing up there? I couldn’t stop thinking about it and didn’t know how he hadn’t been found.  It’s a big mountain, but not that big and the helicopters/search and rescue had already been looking for days.  On Tuesday, I was restless and left the house after your daddy got home to go hike Camelback to see if I could maybe help look for this kid.  It had been 3 days and I knew if he was up there and found, that it was not going to be good.  Still, I asked whoever is in fucking control of this life, for a miracle.  Just as I pulled in, I saw that the mountain was closed and a sign was posted saying a rescue was in progress.  My stomach sank as I drove off to hike my little back up mountain as I watched the helicopters hover about.  Please let him be alive.  Please, please, please.  I came home and checked the internet for the news.  A few hours later the updated story was posted.  A hiker was found dead about 200 feet from the top of the mountain, but they would not confirm that it was indeed the hiker that went missing on Saturday.  The next day it was confirmed that it was the missing hiker from Washington State. My thoughts immediately went to his family as I could actually imagine what it was that they were feeling due to knowing what it is like to know your child is dead. The shock.  The numbness.  The pain that hurts so badly that it is almost indescribable to put into words. I know what all of that is like and I’m just sorry that those parents now do, too.  It’s been over a week and I can’t stop thinking of this kid and what happened.  I will never be able to hike that mountain again without thinking of him and his family. It’s just beyond sad.

I talked to some of the regular hikers after it happened.  Eric’s body was found about 500 feet below the summit.  They showed me where he was found as I wiped the tears away from my face.  The cause of death has not been released, but I imagine it had to do with the heat and the fact that he was not familiar with the mountain which caused him to end of getting lost and disoriented.  The whole thing just makes me incredibly sad and not that I need it but it is a reminder of how precious and short life really can be.  And yes, it is also a reminder that I know I need to be careful up there because I do not really want to die.  Sometimes I just want a break from all of this pain though.  I maybe need to find a better way to help with that instead of hiking up a mountain during the hottest part of the day.

Your brothers turned 11 yesterday, Ronan.  I cannot believe I have 11 year olds and more so I cannot believe I am lucky enough to have the amazing 11 year olds that I do.  I could not be more proud of the little men they are becoming and I know without a doubt they are a big reason of why I have been able to survive the loss of you.  They have saved me and someday, I will tell them this when they are a little older to understand exactly what that means.  You were missed yesterday so very much.

I’m going to run now.  It’s 4 in the morning here and I’m back to keeping the hours of a vampire.  Up most of the night and functioning on just a few hours of sleep.  It’s the only time I’m able to work on this book writing as Poppy takes up any other time that I have left.  Dr. Sholler is actually going to be at our house in about an hour.  She is here for the next few days and I’m taking her up Camelback for an early morning hike, before it gets too hot.  No way I would ever take that precious cargo to the inferno.  She has too many kiddos to save.

I miss you.  I love you. I hope you are safe.

Bye, little man.

xoxo

I kind of think I might do this one day.

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“Desert Runners” is supporting The Ronan Thompson Foundation during the month of June! The film follows ordinary people pushing themselves to extraordinary limits by competing in 4 ultra-marathons in the most treacherous deserts in the world.

Much like how RTF will never quit on funding for new treatments and defeating childhood cancer, these runners will never quit on their goals.

The film is available for download at http://buy.desertrunnersmovie.com/ Any amount of money you choose to spend over $9.99 will be donated to the Ronan Thompson Foundation for us to pursue our goals and fund cutting-edge childhood cancer research. Enter the code: RONAN at checkout and receive a 10% discount on the film!

If you spend over $11 you will unlock the SUPERFAN PACKAGE and get access to over 30 minutes of bonus content including interviews with the director, cinematographer, executive producer and the desert runner himself Ricky Paugh.

We are so very excited to be a part of this amazing adventure.  Clink on the link below to watch and support RTF! Thank you, Desert Runners for choosing RTF as the charity to support!!

http://buy.desertrunnersmovie.com

I have something new to share…

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This has been in the works now for some time now, but we’ve just been being a little quiet about it.  As a board, we decided RTF needed a new logo.  It was hard for me to part with the baby seal, as it had sentimental value.  Nobody really understood why we had a seal as our logo.  It was because “Ronan” means “Little Seal” in Gaelic, but most people don’t know that therefore the seal was confusing.  We were getting a lot of, “Are you trying to save the seals or what?” No dudes, we’re trying to save kids with cancer… how do you not get that from looking at a seal? (kidding. I know it is confusing if you don’t know the back story)

We met with some very talented and kind people at Fervor Creative for hours upon hours.  I even had them revamp your seal logo before my board members told me they were just not feeling it anymore.  So I took Tanya and Fernanda to have yet another meeting with them.  We sat and talked about you and the things that came to mind when we thought of you.  I had a picture in my mind of something really simple.  A boy wearing a Fedora. With his head held high, like you alway had yours. We also talked about stars and the significance of those to us.  I knew having Fernanda with me was vital to getting this done finally the right way.  She has a way of expressing her thoughts about what you represent in such a beautiful way and sometimes I am too sad to do so.

We got some samples back and as soon as I saw them, I started to cry.  What they came up with is beyond perfect and I am beyond in love with it.  I sent it to your daddy and he had the same reaction.  He said it reminded him of the book, “The Little Prince” which he loved to read to you.  I knew from both of our reactions, that this was perfection.

So, here you go Ro and supporters of The Ronan Thompson Foundation.  Makeover complete.  Thank you to Fervor Creative for taking a bunch of rambling words full of such love and pain, and turning it into something as beautiful as this.  You have hearts of gold for taking this on and not charging us a dime.  We are forever thankful for what you have created for us and promise to continue to do good things in this world with the gift you have given us.

 

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Taylor, you will forever have my heart. Thank you for continuing to be such a voice for these kids. I love you.

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I wish I didn’t know what it was like to only be able to kiss your face through the pictures on my iPhone. I miss you. I hate this.

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Ronan. Every year since you left when Mr. Sparkly Eyes’ birthday rolls around, I always give him a card that I’ve made for him through my iPhoto with a picture of you on it. A few nights ago I was at my office working on my book, but I needed to take a little time out so I started to go through my pictures of you to make his card. It’s never an easy thing for me to do, but I feel like it would be important to you, so I carefully pick out a picture that reminds me of how happy you were while you were here on this earth. I usually just write really some simple words and I always sign it from the both of us. Ring, ring went my phone as I was doing this little project and I saw the word “Lover” popped up on my screen which is really Macy. Of course I picked up because I always do when she calls. She started chatting away about something and as I listened, I buried my head in my hands. I went to answer the question she had asked me, but she knew from the tone in my voice that something was wrong.

“Oh babe. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. Everything. I’m sitting here trying to make Mr. Sparkly Eyes’ birthday card and is it weird that I’m putting another picture of my dead kid on it like I do every year for him? I’m going through these pictures and I cannot believe he’s not here with me to give him this birthday card himself.” Insert more sobbing here.

I listened as Macy told me that it was not weird at all and we continued to chat for another half an hour or so until I stopped crying. She ended up making me laugh after she listened to my blabbing away and crying while she did her best to talk me through what it was that I was feeling at that moment. I didn’t finish the card that night, but ended up finishing it a few days ago instead. I have learned when something just isn’t feeling right, not to force it and I knew if I forced your card, it was going to be crap. I take my card making very seriously, especially when you are involved. I got the card in the mail the other day and of course, it is perfection and I know it will make him smile as I tell him the story behind that little picture of you and your happy face.

Things here are still really busy and there is not a lot of down time between Poppy and your brothers. I am trying my best to keep my head above water and have been making sure I get some form of exercise in almost everyday. Mostly it’s been consisting of hiking up Camelback Mountain a.k.a my church as they just opened back up the hard side (Echo Canyon) again. I have so much anger inside of me still and it seems the best place to take it out on is the mountain, otherwise I will just internalize it all and end up exploding one day. Sometimes I hike by myself, but I have also been going with Tricia again which has been really great. You know, going through what we went through with you was really hard on our friendship. I made some mistakes, had a lot of expectations, felt let down and at times, was really judgmental about some situations that I had no right to be judgmental about. I never meant to hurt her as everything I said was always just coming from a place of love, but I also know that place of love was a little harsh. She being your Godmother, had a really hard time with all of this and somehow we ended up getting off track a bit. Slowly we’ve started to fix some things and the beauty of this is we know that our friendship is always going to be here; even when it’s been a little quiet at times. We’ve had some really harsh talks, some really good talks, and we’ve both apologized as we know our friendship is worth saving. She is family and at the end of the day I know where her heart is and it has always been with you and it will always remain there. I didn’t go to her wedding which you know I am sad about, but it wasn’t for any reason other than it was in Mexico and I wasn’t willing to take Poppy with me and leaving her behind was not an option, either. I did give her something blue to tuck into her bouquet though which was a tiny piece of your blanket. It was hard for me to take the scissors and actually cut off a piece, but I needed something of you and us to be there with her. I wish it could have been the two of us there together and knowing the should have been’s of her special day will forever haunt me and make me sad; but the look of happiness on her face from the pictures I saw do take away some of that sting.

So, Poppy’s first birthday is right around the corner. April 8th to be exact. I don’t know how your baby sister is almost a year already as the time went by so fast. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for her birthday, but the fact of the matter is I’m feeling overwhelmed about it. Do we just do something quiet at home or have a full on party? I keep going back to what would Poppy want us to do? In Poppy’s perfect world, I’ll bet she would want to just have a day with just a few people and about 100 dogs. She is dog OBSESSED! I told your daddy I’m starting a campaign called, “Poppy needs a puppy,” but he’s just not having it. Anytime she sees a dog, she starts barking and gets so excited that her little body just shakes and she usually ends up waving her arms so fast that she falls over. All day long she goes around our house, walking on her hands and feet, in a dog position and sticking out her tongue and panting like a dog. We don’t even own a dog so the fact that she is doing this from the memory of the dogs that she has seen, makes it even funnier. She is such a little character and loves to entertain us all of the time with her constant babbling, dancing to her favorite song which is “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk or any type of rap music. Shorty’s got game and seems to be developing quite the spicy little personality. I’ll get her birthday figured out soon, but something tells me it’s going to end up being very low key and sweet.

I’ve got to run little man. I’ll write more soon, but I have to get back to this book business. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

The treadmill made me do it.

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Ronan. So, this happened tonight. The usual running around like mad, Poppy is into everything, I’m trying to get something on the table for your brothers to eat before they come home. I have so much nervous energy today that I haven’t slowed down once.  I know as soon as your daddy and brothers walk through the door I will be handing over Poppy to them so I can go and work out because if I don’t, bad things will happen.  At least that is what I tell myself in my head.  I go to my little class where I find myself in a room full of people that I have no interest in talking to, half are doing weights/floor exercises and the other half are on the treadmills while we are getting instructed on what we need to be doing.  I am of course on the treadmill, happily running away while staring at myself in a mirror. My reflection looks sad but determined.

We take turns running at our base pace which for me is a 6.7 speed and 3 incline.  We are told to step it up for 90 second all outs so of course I push myself to the max.  5 incline, 8.0 speed.  I start to run as hard as I can and my heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest, but of course I don’t stop.  All of a sudden, I really can’t breathe or catch my breath for what feels like minutes.  Then it happens.

Is this how Ronan felt, right before he died? 

He couldn’t breathe, he ran out of air, oxygen, and probably felt just like this right before he died. 

How could you have let this happen? How could you not have saved him after you promised him that you would? You are the worst human being on the planet. You let your child die and now you just get to continue on with life while he does not? How is that at alright? You should be dead, not him. 

Fuck you. You don’t get to stop and sit here and think about how hard this is and how you want slow down and stop. You keep going because you are not the little boy who got cancer and died.  You get to be here and do this and you don’t get to stop. Ever. 

I stare up at the screen which is monitoring my heart rate and beg for it to come down because if it does not soon, I know I will pass out.  I continue with the torture of beating myself up on the treadmill while flashes of you dying and taking your last breaths fill my mind.  The person leading the class is now keeping a watchful eye on me as I think he has caught on to the fact that I might be over doing it just a tad.  An hour later and I am finished and I somehow make it to my car only to drive home to a house that doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. I head straight for the shower and try my hardest to scrub the images of you not being here out of my head, but it doesn’t work.  I then throw myself in my bed, where I cry the tears for you that I haven’t had for a few days.

Your daddy comes in, asking me what happened.  I ignore him and continue to cry into our mattress. When I finally come up for air, I snap at him that nothing has to happen, for something to be wrong. That I just want to be fucking sad for the one thing that I will be sad about for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to be hovered over.  I don’t want anyone to wipe away my tears. I just want to be left alone.

This is all I can say for tonight. I’ll let my friend, Tyler Knott say the rest.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

Typewriter Series #690 by Tyler Knott Gregson

There will come a time, a day, a moment when words are not enough.
When the letters hooking to other letters and tying themselves
to each other, the trains of vowels and consonants chasing each other
out of my mouth just won’t do justice to the avalanche that you’re
struggling through.
If this is that day, if these are those moments I will not speak,
but I have no choice but to leave you with these attempts, as futile
as they might be, for words are all I have to offer
and the only currency I believe in:

This is not, and never will be, a goodbye. You should not, and never can
hold onto the should haves or could haves or why didn’t I’s.
The time will come, I promise you, for us all to stop wearing these bodies
atop these souls.  The time of taking one long, full and deep breath
in through these lungs only to exhale it out through brand new lips.
The last light we will ever see through these perfect and beautiful eyes
will be the first light, the exact same and blindingly gorgeous first
light that filters through new irises and shocks our tiny pupils
before we blink. What a gift every single day in between has always been.
What a hauntingly painful and sublimely joyous gift to live, truly live
every single day in between these firsts and yes, these lasts.
Do not carry the weight of all you did not say, the times you did not make
the time or the excuses you made, because there is a secret you must know:
Those that leave us, never do. They see us how we never could and how we
were always so scared to. When they go, bravely stepping into the first day
of their new lives, all they pack into the bags they choose to carry,
are the memories that soothe their longing and and settle their aching bones.
It is we, always we that carries the luggage of regret and burdens of doubt
Somewhere, right this very second, they are beginning their journey back
into love. Somewhere, right this very instant, the first wobbly steps in their
search has begun again.  Somewhere, the only person that truly makes sense to
them, the only person to ever exist and exist exactly for them, is waiting. 

You will hurt.  You will cry and you will be scared. You will miss and long
and ache and look for their fingerprints on the life you’re going to lead
without them.  You will swear you heard, if only for an instant, the sound
of their laughter or the timbre of their voice.  This is ok, and more than
that, this is beautiful.  Hold onto the sadness you feel like a trophy.
Hoist it high above your head and shout to the photo that is not being taken
of you that you loved them, you will always love them and you are proud
of the tears that roll down your face. They live inside the memories that give
shape to those tears and you must never apologize for your sorrow, nor your
joy when it too returns to your days. 

These are the words for those that remain; for all of us and all of you that
are left scrambling and shaking and weeping tears of compassion and joy and
confusion.  These are words when words are not enough.  I say them because I
must say them, because words are all I have to offer besides my shoulder and
my hands and my belief that this is not and never will be goodbye.
Today is and always has been such a perfect day to say goodbye,
and to once again, say Hello.

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

 

 

 

A quick little check in because I miss you oh so very much.

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Ronan. Oh, how I miss this little blog so very much.  It makes me so sad not to be writing on here like I used to.  This will always be my first home, my first comfort after a hard day, and where I found my love for writing.  It’s hard to be away from this space that I used to find so much solace in. I cannot seem to keep up with life let alone a blog these days, not to mention this book I’m working on.  And holy shitballs, I totally have forgotten how much work it is to have a new baby.  Things are so freaking busy around here that I feel like my head is going to fly off and just explode.  Oh, and my grief.  I miss being with my grief a.k.a Inferno Fuckwad Bob, so very much. It’s not good for me to not have the time to nurture and sit with my grief the way Dr. Jo has taught me to do.  I promise that I will make some time for it soon.

I can try to sum up what has been going on, but I have no way of remembering everything.  Macy came into town for about a week and it was of course the most beautiful happy/sad/ time.  She was in for work so she got to spend two weekends with us which is always so good for my soul.  We laughed a lot and cried a lot as well.  On one particularly hard Sunday, I found myself curled up in her arms on your bed where I just sobbed for you as the missing you part of all of this never gets easier.  It still sends me into a whirlwind of complete and utter devastation at the drop of a hat.  My time with Macy wasn’t all tears.  We had the BEST time playing with your Poppy Roo and making up ridiculous songs to her like, “My two moms” which was all about the fact that Poppy does indeed, have two moms because if I wasn’t married to your daddy, I would totally marry her;) She is the best wife ever and one of my other little soul mates floating around on this earth.

Poppy came down with a little fever while she was here and we wound up in the waiting room at our pediatricians office where we know we really did look like Poppy’s two mom’s as we were resting each others heads on one another’s while Macy sat and rubbed my arm.  I pretty much wanted to curl up and die when I saw Dr. Campbell exam Poppy and Macy’s eyes fill with tears as she did her routine exam which included the pressing down hard on her belly to make sure there was nothing out of the ordinary there.  Macy knew why she was doing that and there was no stopping her tears from falling.  I just gave her a weak smile as I watched her wipe them away.  We talked about it afterwards and how hard it often is for me to walk back into our pediatricians office without you. Well, it’s always really hard for me to walk back in anywhere we used to go, without you.  Macy watched as I had to fill out the new patient forms updating our family info such as kids’ names, ages, etc… I looked over at Mace and said, “I’m writing Ronan down, too. He is still my child.” Macy just looked at me and said, “Of course you should,” as she gave my hand a little squeeze.

My weeks have been filled with pretty much everything Poppy and just trying to keep up with her.  I truly had forgotten what it is like to have a baby and now a very active baby.  How 10 months already flew by, I do not know.  She is the happiest little thing and it is so beautiful to see.  She is my constant reminder that no matter how hard of a time I truly think I am having, because there still are times that those voices creep into my head and tell me that everything I am doing is wrong… Poppy is proof that I am actually doing alright.  I don’t think she would be such a happy girl if I really were doing as shitty as I sometimes think I am.  I know the weeks that are hardest for me seem to be the weeks that I am not sleeping well.  It’s when my insomnia kicks in that the screaming in my head seems to always be the loudest.  This past week has been alright and I am so thankful for that because if I would have checked in with you last week, I would have told you I had my bags packed to check into an insane asylum.

Your brothers and their never ending sports have been keeping me busy as well, although I give pretty much all of the credit to your daddy who is the one who really keeps them on track with all if it with his coaching of their baseball team, helping out with baseball, and flag football. He is the most amazing basketball coach and has your brothers team ranked #2 in all of Arizona for a fourth grade team.  I know you would be so proud of that and basketball truly seems to have been such a saving grace to your brothers.  It has kept them focused, on track, and it’s almost like a form of therapy for them.  I could not be more proud of their dedication, will and determination.

I’ve been hiking, running, and doing my little Orange Theory Workouts like crazy.  Exercise is still one of the main things that quiets the screaming in my head and gives me just enough of a break to stay sane.  My time at the top of Camelback is always my favorite as it really is the time I feel quietest and closest to you.  The other day while I was sitting on a rock, thinking about you, I had a little hummingbird fly right up to my face.  I grabbed my iPhone thinking there was no way it was going to stay right there long enough for me to get a picture, but it did and I was able to snap the most amazing photo.  It was a moment that I still have not been able to find the words for.  I absolutely know that it was a little sign from you telling me that you are always with me.  On Saturday morning I hiked Camelback with Tricia and Marisa- my two oldest besties from my previous life when you were still here, alive and well.  It has been so long since I have been with the two of them and I cannot tell you how nice it felt.  We had breakfast for Marisa’s birthday and then decided to brave it up Camelback Mountain in the middle of our little Arizona rainy day.  Once we were at the top and had been sitting for a while,   that little hummingbird flew right up to me again.  It gave me goosebumps and chills all at the same time.  I think it was your way of telling me that you were so happy to see me spending time again with my old friends, as you know they are so good for me.  It’s taken me a lot time to be able to get to a place again where I can truly connect with the ones who knew you, loved you, and hurt so badly from losing you.  For a long time the pain of being around them was just too much, but now I feel like I am at a place where I am ready and able to come back.  I am just so thankful that they have both just been standing by for my return.  I have missed them so much and Saturday ended up being the most perfect day.  As soon as we were finishing up our hike, it started pouring down rain.  Marisa said she knew that you made it rain at that perfect time because had it been raining like that as we were climbing down Camelback, one of us would have surly fallen and broken our necks as that mountain is beyond slippery and dangerous when it’s wet.

I am trying to make myself do things that I know make me feel somewhat good because I know the shit storm of May is fast approaching.  Things like buying tickets to upcoming concerts like Lorde and Lana Del Rae, both whom I am so freaking excited for.  Also things like spending time with the ones who I know are best for my soul like our dear Kassie who I spent all of Saturday with watching “Girls” episodes while eating Nutella straight out of the jar. Ummm… excuse me…. but where has this thing called Nutella been all of my life?! It’s like crack in a jar and I might have a problem especially during my nights of insomnia where I always find myself with a spoonful of it in my mouth. It’s the simple things that make me the happiest and I have learned that finding people who truly feed your soul is the best medicine around.  I am very blessed to have the friends that I do, I know this. Your Sparkly was inquiring about my weekend and I told him I had spent Saturday night, cuddled up with my 23-year-old best friend.  He said something like, “How come you love to spend so much time with people who are so much younger than you?” I just laughed and told him I like to hang out with people based on who they are as human beings and age is not a factor.  I like to spend my time with the people who make me think about things, who push me to do better and be better, and who actually somewhat get me – himself included.  I often feel like people get too caught up in this whole age thing in life.  You should just be with the people that make you happiest and Kassie truly makes my heart sing.  I wish so badly you could be here to know her, Ronan.  Sometimes when I’m watching her with your Poppy sister, I close my eyes and pretend it’s you that she is bonding with, kissing on, and loving.  I know that in a way it is and sometimes that even makes me smile.

Alright little man.  I promise to write more later.  So much more I need to tell you/fill you in on but this is all I have time for as of now.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

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Read. Listen. And never say these words to someone who has lost a child. I’ve heard them all way too many times.

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http://stillstandingmag.com/2014/01/6-things-never-say-bereaved-parent/

Back in AZ with a Birthday to celebrate. Or not.

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Ronan.  We are back home and I am almost done with the whole holiday/celebrations of all things that still feel weird without you. My birthday is Saturday and I promise you I am trying to have a super good attitude about it, but I don’t really feel much like celebrating.  This does not fly with your daddy as all he wants to do is make sure my day is overly the top special.  What is the nicest way to tell him that over the top special to me would be hiding in bed all day, under the covers?  I can’t do that though.  It would break your brothers hearts so I will suck it up and do what is best for them.  I will smile when I blow out my candles and make the same wish I do, every year. The one where I just hope so much that you are alright, safe, and hope that someday, I will see you again.  I will smile for the picture that I know will be taken and I will forever wonder how in the world I can look so happy, in a picture when I feel like I am still so broken, sad and shattered.  It truly is amazing the things we as adults can do to survive such horrific pain.

Washington was all things perfect. Well, almost;) I basically go there and hibernate for the winter.  I feel like I did a lot of sleeping, which I never do well here.  Every night was the same as I would crawl into bed with Poppy and pass out until she woke me up.  Quinn and Liam have their own bedroom there, but they prefer to sleep in my room with me every night in another bed that is in the room.  It’s like a big slumber party and is one of the things in life I love so much.  Every morning when Poppy would wake up and I didn’t want to, Liam would grab her and say, “Mom, do you want me to take her downstairs and play with her so you can sleep a little longer?” Best brother ever and I happily thanked him and told him what a great big brother he was as I snuggled up to Quinn to sleep for another hour or so.  I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, cold weather, or just the comfort of being at home that knocks me out, but it always seems to do so.  I also spent a lot of time running which felt so nice.  I finally feel like I have my running mojo back and it always seems to come back when I am there.  I have a marathon to run in a couple of weeks so I made myself be pretty disciplined with my fake marathon training.  I was pretty consistent with running my standard 3.5 miles just about every night.  I somehow talked Brianna into running this thing with me.  Must be the older sister influence;) She ran with me at home and we even did 7 miles one night which was surprisingly pretty easy.  Her little 19-year-old body will be just fine.

Back in Arizona is hard for me, I’m not going to lie.  The first night we got home I felt like I was sucker punched as I walked through the door to our house without you bouncing behind me.  I handed Poppy to your daddy as he hadn’t seen her in a few days, told him I was exhausted and asked him to please take care of her so I could go to sleep.  I knew the sleep wouldn’t come as all the voices in my head were screaming so loudly.  I haven’t touched anything to sleep in over a year, but that night I needed to just pass out into oblivion for a solid 6 hours so I did.  Oh, how I sometimes miss the days of complete darkness with my old friend, Ambien when the world just quietly slip away.  I had to give up my love for that shit a long time ago due to loving it a little too much, but I think once a year is an o.k. compromise.  Sometimes I just need a night of blackness.  I had warned your daddy, so he was on Poppy duty and was happy to do so as he had missed her so much.

Speaking of Poppy, Ronan. Uhhhh…. remember when I asked you to make her “extra spicy?”  It is too late to give just a bit of that spice back???  What in the world happened to my sweet, cuddly baby girl who just cooed and started sweetly into my eyes all day long?! Now my days are filled with this very wild, strong-willed girl who reminds me of a little boy I once knew so very much.  She has turned into such a little spit fire who is on the go all the time and is constantly babbling, screaming (in a good way) and is into everything.  To say she keeps me on my toes is an understatement as I am chasing her around all day and she is only crawling. Imagine what she is going to be like once she starts to walk!  You know I am loving every second of it and so are your daddy and brothers.  She is full on obsessed with your daddy, too.  In a way that I really don’t remember any of you boys being.  If we are in a room together with her, she wants your daddy over me.  I secretly love it as it is amazing to see the bond between a father and a daughter.  It’s all so new to us all but so beyond sweet.  Your daddy is in total heaven about it.

Alright little man, this is all the update I can do for tonight.  Back to writing this book I go.  I miss you.  I love you.  I hope you are safe.

xx

A Very Merry Christmas???

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Ronan.  It’s nights like last night when I really wonder if you can see us.  You know how much I struggle with the whole heaven, white fluffy clouds thing and where exactly you are.  Late at night when I’m writing, I often have your urn sitting in front of me and sometimes I take a picture of it and through my writing tears, send some random message to your Mr. Sparkly Eyes about how wrong this is, how much I miss you, etc… This always leads to the next time I see him, him bringing up the picture as looks at me so intensely and says, “I promise you, those ashes are just ashes, he is always with you, always surrounding you.  I know he never leaves your side.” He says it in such a way that I without a doubt, believe him and truly do think that I am never without you; spiritually that is.  Still, it doesn’t make my pain any less.  So, on nights like last night, if you truly are around me I think to myself, This must be so hard for you to see. We were just having a normal, family night in our kitchen and your daddy and Quinn had just returned from playing basketball at The Village. Poppy was sound asleep and we were chatting away.  Liam came walking into the kitchen, visibly upset.  I asked him what was wrong.  He just stood there, fighting back his tears, trying to be so brave and strong but he couldn’t continue to hold anymore of his emotions in.  Your daddy grabbed him as he choked out the words, “I miss Ronan.”  This led me to stop what I was doing, which was busily cleaning up the kitchen as I watched your daddy hold Liam as he buried his head into his chest.  I surveyed the room and we all looked so… helpless.  Quinn was sitting at the kitchen table, and he kept looking down as if he didn’t know what to do.  Your daddy was holding in all the screams and cries that I knew he wanted so badly to let out.  Liam was sobbing.  I grabbed something and threw it as hard as I fucking could at the wall.  I then went over and grabbed Quinn and held him. I told Liam that he needed to get his feelings out, how that it is all too much to keep in.  I asked him to elaborate on the “I miss Ronan.” He told us how he misses playing with you and just wants to see you again. I could say nothing except for I was so sorry and I would give anything to bring you back. We talked about the importance of sharing our pain and our feelings.  Your daddy told Liam how sometimes he parks his car before going into a court appearance and just screams at the top of his lungs.  I told your brothers how I pretty much cry everyday still and that it’s o.k. to still be so sad that you got sick and cancer stole you away.  Your daddy reassured your brothers that we as a family are safe and will always be together. I took Liam and we went and snuggled on top of his bunk bed where he cried some more.  It was a rough night for everyone and Liam asked to see Dr. Rachel again so I made him an appointment.  I am so proud of him for knowing when to ask to see her and not being ashamed or afraid of it.  I started this post a while back, Ro.  We are doing alright and some really wonderful things have been happening, all because of you of course.

I really don’t even know what to say about all the beautiful things that keep happening except for I continue to be blown away by people’s beautiful hearts and the way they just want to do good things in the world, while expecting nothing in return.  Last week was one of those really, really amazing days.  The kind of amazing day that after it is all over, I can do nothing but bury myself in my bed and sob like a grieving mother who just lost her child, all over again.  It all started with a normal, “let’s collect toys for Ronan’s Candy Cart to take to the kids at PCH on the oncology floor.”  And you all were amazing to donate so many awesome things.  My friends, Katie and E, started collecting toys as well at their stores.  I was all set to go to PCH on Wednesday, but then my friend sent me a little text message. Her text said that her friend, Adrian Wilson, who is an NFL player, wanted to help with the candy/toy cart and was wondering if he could go to PCH with us on Thursday to deliver some things. I was of course over the moon about this so I sent an email over to PCH to ask if the day could be changed to accommodate Adrian’s schedule.  They were more than happy to do so for us.

I met E at Toys-R-Us this morning and a shopping we went.  I let E tackle the girl things as she has 3 of them and I took on the boy things as I don’t know a lot about the girl world of toys, just quite yet. Poppy is slowly teaching me but as of now, she is most interested in my car keys and anything else she an chew on like the teething little babe that she is. We loaded up cart after cart after cart… about 20 of them, packed full of the most amazing toys possible.  I made sure to grab a ton of Star Wars stuff and just about fell over when I found the Clone Trooper that stood about 3 feet tall.  Hot tears splashed down my cheeks as I grabbed him and told Poppy to move over for her new friend.  Ronan would have loved him was all I could think in my head.  As it came time to checkout, I helped to bag up the toys while E stood over the cash register with the biggest smile on her face.  I swear I saw freaking rainbows, fairies, and mother fucking unicorns flying over her head as it was that magical of a moment.  Adrian had offered to pay for EVERYTHING.  I was doing such a great job at keeping my shit together but then some random lady stopped me and said, “Are you the one doing this amazing thing for the hospital?” I told her I wasn’t, that it was NFL player Adrian Wilson and I was just lucky enough to be a part of his generosity. Well, I almost got all of those words out before the tears started splashing all over the Toys-R-Us floor.  There was no keeping my composure over this act of kindness at all- it was just too bittersweet and beautiful.  On my way to PCH, I called your Nana, sobbing.  I told her what I was doing, who it was that was this amazing thing and how sad I was that you were not here to see any of it or be a part of it.  We talked for a few minutes before I hung up and officially had to pull it together before stepping foot on the hospital floor.  We loaded all the toys into wagons, went and met Adrian at the front of the hospital and off we went to the 7th floor of PCH.  We were there for about 2 hours and everyone was so excited to see us and even more excited that Adrian had taken the time to come and do such a kind thing.  We got to go into most of the rooms and Adrian was so sweet and kind, offering pictures and autographs to all the kids and even their parents.  There were a lot of older kids on the floor who were sweet about all the dolls and toys that we brought, but were not really that in toys as many of them were older teens.  Adrian took care of that problem by getting their shoe sizes and told them the next day, we would deliver Jordan’s and Van’s to them from his sneaker store, High Point.  How crazy generous was that?  He stayed true to his word and the next day I met E at his store and we pimped those kids out with not only new shoes, but hoodies, stocking hats, socks, and watches, etc… Poppy and I dropped everything off and got the nicest phone call a few hours later about how excited the kids all were.  It felt so nice to be able to know that we were a part of making those kids smile for at least a few hours.  Adrian Wilson will forever go down as a hero in my book and I will forever be grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

I had a really hard time on Christmas Eve.  I picked your daddy up at the airport and was a total mess.  We ended up going into town to finish  up some last minute things and all I could really do was sob in the car while he tried to have some what of a conversation with me.  “Who is coming up to your parent’s tonight?” he asked me at one point.  I named out, “X, Y, and Z… and not Ronan!!!” I was sobbing, panicking, and not really breathing very well.  At some point while he was in a store that I could not go into because of my grieving mother of madness appearance, I got on my phone and started distracting myself with my Instagram feed.  The first thing that popped up was Taylor’s account as I guess she had just posted a new picture.  Through my red, swollen eyes I looked at the picture of her and her brother, in their matching Christmas pajama’s. Talk about adorable. Upon closer inspection I saw she was wearing something on her head.  It wasn’t just something, it was your Spicy Monkey Spirit Hood that I sent her.  I smiled though my tears and as your daddy got in the car I showed him the picture.  “Look, Taylor is wearing Ro’s hood.” He squeezed my hand and said something about how that had to make me feel a little bit better.  I told him it did and the timing of seeing that picture could not have been better.  It came just when I needed it most. To me such a simple thing served as a little reminder that there is so much good in this world, even during the hardest of times.  It also gave me that little extra push I needed to get through the rest of the day and night because Liam, Quinn and Poppy deserved to have a beautiful Christmas, Ronan, despite the always empty chair at the dinner table that will never be filled.  Thank you, sweet Taylor.  You make the most beautiful little spicy monkey and you have no idea how much seeing that smile on your face meant to me.  I hope you and your family had the most beautiful Christmas. I love you so much.

Christmas is over and we all survived.  I went out in the early morning before everyone got up to have some time to myself.  I talked to your Sparkly before I had to face the reality of you were not coming downstairs to unwrap the gifts we had bought for you.  He was working on Christmas of course and I gave him my best, “Are you busy saving the world today,” before I decided to sit on the phone and let him talk me through my tears.  I pulled over and listened as he did his best little pep talk which mostly consisted of “I’m so sorry and you know there is no good reason for this… Ro should be here with you.” I told him I knew, I loved him and thanked him for calling me as I knew his words would help carry me through the rest of the day like they always seem to do. They did and I let myself get as lost as I could in your brothers and that Poppy girl.  Watching them and seeing the smiles on their faces made Christmas some what bearable this year.  Poppy’s energy seems to be infectious to us all in such a good, positive way.  Thank you so much for her, Ronan.

It is good that we are away in Washington State for Christmas.  I was really needing a break from the never-ending sunshiny state that sometimes drains my soul.  I don’t think I can ever spend a Christmas in Arizona again.  I mean, of course I would if Liam and Quinn wanted it that way, but they are always so excited to come here.  Here it is dark, damp, dreary, and I can run for miles while getting lost the thickness of the fog that forever feels like home.  Here, I can breathe and I don’t have to constantly be wearing sunglasses to hide my tear soaked eyes.  Here, it just looks like my face is covered in the raindrops that are spilling down from the sky but we both know the truth, right Ro? And here that truth feels o.k. I’ve missed this place so much.

Sorry for the massively long update of everything and nothing. So much more to say, so sad I haven’t been writing, but I promise to get back to this once my book is finished.  I love you.  I miss you.  I hope you are safe.  Sweet dreams, little man.

xoxo

P.S. A HUGE thank you to Adrian Wilson again for the beautiful thing you did.  You are the definition of a beautiful soul.  Now, if only we could get that NFL to go GOLD for all the kids during the month of September…

P.P.S- Tyler Knott, you are the bees knees. Now please marry Ally. Thanks so much.

 

 

  • Instagram is my BFF

    Tiny hiker. #poppy #ronan #fucancer #youaremyhappy #infernolove #babydoll #minibadass Inferno love. #poppy #ronan #fucancer #infernolove #icarriedthebaby #cuzimabadass #hiking My little campers had another boy/girl dance last night at camp. I'm guessing there was a lot of standing around and ignoring the girls. I'll keep them that way for as long as possible! #ronan #fucancer #littlestuds #justsaynotogirls #nokissingallowed #thisisthefreakingcutestthingever #boysrule #missthemsomuch
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