I love you on a Sunday. And all of the other days that follow.

Ronan,

They say time heals all wounds, but we know that’s not true. It’s been ten years of not having you here, and my wounds are still just as deep, and the heaviness I carry with me never goes away. I have learned to live on this earth without you, but as time goes on, life without you feels harder. You are forever with me in everything I do and everywhere I go. Take today, for example.

Poppy has been taking piano lessons for a couple of years. Her piano teacher recently retired, so she connected us with somebody new. It is a Sunday, and I am rushing your sister out the door to lessons with a new teacher. I have an idea of where we are going as I put the directions on my phone, but the location doesn’t register with me until we pull into the parking lot. Until this point, I am lost in a conversation with Poppy. She is talking non-stop in the back of the car about her theories on religion. She wants me to explain Scientology to her. I tell her I don’t know enough about it, and I need to research it a bit more before telling her the premise. She heard it’s about aliens, and she wants to know who came up with that. Mind you, she is eight, but she is eight going on 18, and I am constantly in awe of how her little mind works. As we pull into the parking lot, I feel my stomach sink. I know this place, and I used to know it well. It is the parking lot of your preschool; I feel my stomach drop. I spent a year there with you in a mom and tots class. We never got the chance to return the following school year because you got sick.

I hold Poppy’s hand as we search for the classroom where she is taking her lessons. Out of all the classrooms here, she is right across from the room where I was with you. The memories come flooding back, and I see a sixty-second movie reel of our time here together. I see your plaid shorts, your polo shirts, your mischievous smile, and the way you looked at me like I was your everything. I see you sitting in circle time. I see us reading books and playing with trucks and legos on the carpet. I see the little playground where I help you dump the sand from your tiny little shoes. I feel the tears wanting to fall from my face, but I cannot break down now. I have to meet this new teacher, so I somehow find it in me to hold on to my composure. I talk with Poppy’s teacher for a few minutes and leave Poppy with her while I make my way back to the car.

The tears are now falling, and I know there is no stopping them, so I let them continue down my face. As I am walking to my car, my mom calls. For a long time after you died, I would have ignored her phone call for one of two reasons. 1) I was ashamed of my pain. My grief. My tears. Of not being strong because, as I was told by many, strong people heal, and strong people move on. I was not doing either, and I spent many years thinking I was so fucked in the head for constantly aching for you. 2) I wanted to protect my mom from my pain, and I thought the easiest way to do so was by putting up walls and shutting her out. After a lot of therapy from Dr. Jo and a lot of self-reflection, I realized everything I had been told about grief was not only wrong but damaging to my healing.

I picked up the phone when I saw who was calling, and as soon as I said hello, my mom said, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?” She can tell from my “hello” that I am not ok. It takes me a few minutes before I can answer her because I am crying so hard. I feel horrible, knowing I am making her worry, but she sits and tries to calm me down. I am finally able to tell her where I am and what I am feeling. She talks me through things with a soothing tone and acknowledges my pain. I know she hurts so much, too, and that will forever gut me. We speak on the phone for a few more minutes, and I tell her I love her as we say goodbye. I know I have to head back to Poppy’s lesson soon, so I pull down the mirror in my car to check my appearance. I look wrecked. My face is puffy, my eyes are red, and I wonder how to explain my face to her piano teacher. It is more than evident that I have been crying. I put my face mask on and head to her classroom, telling myself I don’t need to say anything. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my pain. Plus, awkward. I’m not ready to share Ronan’s story with a woman I just met. I thank Poppy’s teacher for the lesson and grab her tiny hand as we make our way back to the car.

“What’s wrong, mama?” asks P. Nothing gets past her, especially when it comes to me and my emotions. I consider lying to her and hiding what is going on, but then I remember, that’s not how I do life with her. I don’t keep secrets; I let her see me in my rawest, human form. I tell her what’s going on. I start to cry again. She steps up into the car, turns towards me, and wraps her arms around me.

“I love you, mommy. I remembered that Ronan went here; I knew that would make you sad. It’s ok to be sad; I’m sad, too.” I kiss her little face and tell her how much I love her. We drive home, and she proceeds to tell me about a new project she is working on at school. She knows I need a distraction from the thoughts in my head.

At home, Poppy is busy playing with her legos, and I am busy changing the boys’ bedroom sheets. My sadness is still apparent as he walks into the room. He takes one look at me and says, “Uh-oh, my darling. What’s going on?” I look at him and then down at my feet. “Nothing. I’m just having a hard day; I’m ok.” He grabs my hand. “You’re not ok. And that’s ok. Talk me through what happened because that is what we do with one another, remember? That is why we are who we are with each other.” I start to cry again, but I know my tears and pain are safe with him. He spends the next few minutes validating my words and tends to me with a cup of tea and tears of his own.

My pain is acknowledged.

My pain is valid.

My pain is safe.

My pain is nurtured.

My heart is his.

Thankful for the opportunity to continue talking about Ronan, Taylor, childhood cancer, and the horrifically hard world of bereaved parents.

https://kjzz.org/content/1737378/you-were-my-best-4-years-scottsdale-mom-reflects-taylor-swifts-rerelease-ronan?fbclid=IwAR0enkIGpunEZ1qheo1ngCebWs7VHK59S0wR3YE7pVWlQJaviWYlMFquNSk

Keep writing through the pain; your pain is your power.

https://staygoldforronan.company.site/

“Keep writing through the pain; your pain is your power,” is what I heard in my head all day today. So I did just that. I wrote. And sobbed. Rewriting Ronan’s diagnoses is the cruelest form of self-torture, but there’s no way around it. On a happier note, my lovely friend Samya finished up Ronan’s site, and it’s now live for you to purchase all the Ronan things. Love you all for continuing on this book-writing journey with me. I know it’s been so long coming, but I promise there is a reason for that. #ronan #fucancer #rockstarronan #taylorswift #redtaylorsversion #ronantv #ronanbook #ɢᴇᴛᴠᴀᴄᴄɪɴᴀᴛᴇᴅ

Get vaccinated. That’s it. That’s the post.

I am so tired of this narrative. I’m so tired of having pointless conversations that go nowhere about this virus. I’m concerned for the safety of my daughter/kids everywhere due to the unvaccinated idiots(I’m not even calling them people anymore) galavanting around as if they have something to be proud of. As if their maybe high school /college degree has blessed them with some superior knowledge that the actual doctors, scientists, and epidemiologists of the world know nothing about. Hospitals all over the country are once again packed, but this time with unvaccinated people. In some states, there’s not a single ICU bed left. The amount of selfishness that I have watched from afar and up close regarding this disease makes me sick to my stomach. There are family members that I am no longer speaking to because true colors have been shown, and the fact that they would even want to take a chance on infecting others is enough of a reason for me to be done. 4.7 billion doses have been given with minimal side effects, yet they justify their “freedumb” with their outlandish conspiracy theories. Have you ever seen your child on a ventilator? Because I have, and it is an image that will forever be burned into my brain. Who would willingly take a chance on that happening to a child? An ignorant, self-centered fuck, that is who. Oh, I’m sorry, did I offend you? Well, you have more than offended me with all of the blood on your hands. I could have made this post a lot nicer, but I’m all out of patience, and you who know me know that I stopped sugar-coating things a long time ago. I’m going to end this rant with a nice story from today for all of you considerate people who care about others, and because of that, you are vaccinated.

Today, Poppy woke up with a sore throat, so we decided to stay home from school. I texted her teacher, and soon after, the Director of the school called me. I explained to her what was going on, how Quinn had a sore throat earlier in the week, had been Covid tested, and his test came back negative. I told her Poppy had probably gotten what he had, and I wasn’t overly concerned. She agreed with me but to be extra cautious, and she asked if we would come down to the school to an outside area for a rapid Covid test. I agreed and took Poppy down a few hours later. Poppy’s test came back negative, thankfully, but we will keep her home until she no longer has a sore throat. I am so impressed with her school and the system the have put into place to keep everyone as safe as possible during these unprecedented times. The kids will continue to wear masks which is one hundred percent the right decision despite what our dumbass Governor, Doug Douchey, says.

I doubt very much if this post is going to make an anti-vaxer/anti-masker change their mind but maybe google “kid on a ventilator” or “kid who has cancer and no immune system.” If those two things don’t do it for you, you must be a monster.

Hello darkness, my old friend.

Ronan,

It’s storming in Arizona tonight. The wind is howling, the rain is being finicky, but the lightning and thunder are playing a game of tag. Storms were our favorite. You used to love for me to take you outside so we could dance in the rain together. Tonight, Poppy was sleeping during the storm. I woke her up and carried her to the window while I nuzzled into the side of her neck. She smelled of wet hair and dewy flowers. I breathed her in before I set her down. “Take me outside, Mom.” She doesn’t call me “Mama” very often anymore, usually only Mom. I miss the days of mama so much. I grabbed her little hand and took her outside while we watched the storm for a few minutes. She thanked me for waking her up and then asked to go back to sleep so she could get back to the “best dream ever,” she was having. I tucked her into bed and she fell back asleep, where she is hopefully dreaming of puppies and alpacas; two of her favorite things.

Tomorrow is Nana’s birthday, and I am so sad that we aren’t with her. She is the best Nana. She is the best mom. I think a lot about that first month after you died and summer was approaching. We always split our summers between Coronado, California and Washington to be with my family. That summer after you died, we didn’t go back to Washington, instead we stayed in Coronado. I remember why and it made perfect sense at the time but it really didn’t because nothing during that time made any sense. I didn’t want to go back to Washington because I couldn’t bear the thought of looking my mom in the eyes. I didn’t want her to see me, her daughter, so beyond broken. I didn’t want to see my own mother, beyond broken due to the death of you AND the death of me because I was a shell of a human being. I now know that being back home was the only place I should have been. It would have saved me a lot of trauma and a lot of pain inflicted on me by other people. There is a lot to unpack here. A lot of things that I’ve never spoken about but now I’m finally ready to.

Somebody once asked me if I was ever going to stop blogging, and my response was, “I’ll stop blogging when I can no longer speak my truth.” I took a long break from writing on here for a lot of different reasons. I think I’ll come back now. I can write books AND blogs. This feels really, really good. And you know what else feels good? Healing. Honesty. Perspective. Growth. And love. Love has saved my life.

I’ve been writing all day little man, so this is all for tonight. Sweet dreams. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

Loving Ro was Red

Ronan,

You are unequivocally everywhere, yet you are nowhere. My eyes still wander for you while making my morning coffee as a hummingbird appears outside my window. I still spend my days chasing glimpses of you in the grocery store as a little boy who looks to be about four years old crosses my path. I search for you in the impish eyes of Quinn, the stoicism of Liam, and the mischievous giggles from Poppy. I desperately beg for you to make an appearance in my dreams, but you never do. Instead, I find myself having the most vivid dreams about things like freeing the Orcas at SeaWorld, your old Oncologists, and situations in my life that feel very unresolved or out of control. My dreams are never about you, and I still don’t understand why when you are constantly on my mind. Last night I went to bed thinking about a phone call I received earlier in the day and the email that followed. Because the email was on my mind as I drifted off to sleep, I spent most of the night dreaming about our friend, Taylor Swift. I woke up the following day in disbelief at the reality of what had occurred the day before.

“A number I don’t recognize called my phone and left me a voicemail. From somebody named Tree. I don’t have any idea who that is.” I looked up at Mr. Sparkly Eyes, and yes, his eyes still sparkle. “My darling, call the number back.” This came from the man who answers every phone call from every unknown number that rings him up. “Ok. Maybe. I’ll call back in a bit; I’m going to look through my emails first to see if I was supposed to talk to someone that I have forgotten about.” He kissed the top of my head as I got up to get to the appointment I was running late for. I did a quick search in my emails, but nothing came up from anyone named Tree. Maybe it was a newly bereaved mom I was supposed to speak to? I’ve been doing a bit of that here and there for Dr. Jo, and a couple of them I hadn’t heard back from. I decided to call back the number from my car, and a woman’s voice answered the phone.

“Hi Tree, it’s Maya Thompson returning your call.”

“Maya! I’m so happy to hear from you; I wasn’t sure if this was still your number.”

My internal dialogue was running wild. Shit! This person knows me, yet I can’t place her. I decided to give it another few seconds to see if I could figure it out.

“It’s still my number; how are things?”

“Great! Taylor has an email she wants to send you, but before she sends it, I need to make sure your email address is still the same.”

Taylor. OMG. It’s Tree. As in Taylor’s everything, Tree. That Tree! I tried to keep my composure as if Taylor contacting me was a daily occurrence. We spoke for a few more minutes as she confirmed my email address, and we said goodbye.

I pulled my car over and called my everything, my New York City, Little Rachel. She picked up, which I was so thankful for because it was the middle of the day, and I knew she was more than likely having sessions with her patients.

“Taylor’s sending me an email,” I blurted out as soon as she picked up. “What?” She squealed with excitement. “What is happening over there?” I told her the back story, and we went over the endless possibilities of what the email could potentially say. I continued refreshing my emails, but nothing new had come through. We chatted giddily for a few more minutes, and I promised to call her as soon as I heard anything. I somehow made it to my destination safely, and as I pulled in, I checked my email.

Taylor’s email was there, but I won’t be sharing her entire email publicly. She is and will always be one of the things I hold dearest to my heart, and her beautiful words will remain private. I skimmed the email. Tears sprang to my eyes. I went back and reread her words, slowly this time as I tried to comprehend what I was reading.

Let’s back up for a bit. In 2019 it became public knowledge that Taylor was being screwed over in the worst way possible by Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records and the disgusting Scooter Braun, who must be from the pits of hell. I watched from afar as her life’s work, her blood, sweat, and tears, were stolen from her by vile men because, at the end of the day, when you have an unscrupulous soul, greed is the ultimate decision-maker. You can read Taylor’s public letter below as the cliff notes to the unraveling of the painful betrayal.

“For years, I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead, I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.
Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.
Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.
This is my worst-case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term’ loyalty is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says, ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.
When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually, he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words’ Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.
Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.
I will always be proud of my past work. But for a healthier option, Lover will be out August 23.”

Sad and grossed out,
💔
Taylor

I remember reading Taylor’s words and how nauseous I felt after. I had so many sleepless nights during the next few months. I worried about Taylor’s heart. I wondered what would happen to you. You are my life’s work. You are my blood, sweat, and tears, and now somebody other than Taylor “owned” you. I vented on my social media accounts about the unfairness of it all, not knowing if anyone was listening to what I was saying. There started to be chatter on the internet of Taylor re-recording all her old albums so she could own her OWN music again, which was such a bloody smart move. Taylor soon confirmed she was going to do so. I felt so proud of her upon hearing this news, and I let the happiness of that carry me through my grief of letting our song belong to people who didn’t deserve it. ‘Ronan’ was always going to be a charity single, never attached to an album of hers. In my mind, there was no way she was going to re-record it, and I understood why. Knowing that Taylor had taken the most horrific situation and had found a way to get her art back made my wounds hurt less. I was just thankful she had done the most incredible thing for us in the first place. That was more than enough. It was always going to be more than enough, and I had let go of wishing it could be any other way.

Now back to a part of her email that I received.

“I’ve recently completed the re-recording of my 4th album, Red. It’s really exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and one of those ways is that I thought it would be appropriate to add ‘Ronan’ to this album. Red was an album of heartbreak and healing, of rage and rawness, of tragedy and trauma, and of the loss of an imagined future alongside someone. I wrote Ronan while I was making Red and discovered your story as you so honestly and devastatingly told it. My genuine hope is that you’ll agree with me that this song should be included on this album. As my co-writer and the rightful owner of this story in its entirety, your opinion and approval of this idea really matters to me, and I’ll honor your wishes here.”

It took me an hour to absorb the words in front of me. I shared the news with your brothers, Poppy, your daddy, Mr. Sparkly eyes, and a couple of my dearest friends. I cried while sharing the news. I called Tree back and spoke to her for a few minutes about what had just occurred. I told her of course, Taylor had my permission to put ‘Ronan’ on Red. I tried my best to articulate how much this meant to me through my tears, but there are not enough words in the English language that will ever be able to appropriately convey my feelings about this. Taylor has anchored you to this world so you will never be lost, and now she has ensured you will forever be safe in a new, permanent home. She is once again giving a voice to the often voiceless, bereaved parents of the world as well as childhood cancer which deserves so much more funding than it gets.

“Red (Taylor’s version)” will be out November 19th and on that album, there will be you. It is the most perfect album for you to be on as it represents so much heartbreak, love, and pain.

I have so much more I want to talk about and so much more I want to write about, but I’m under a book writing deadline that I need to get back to.

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

My dearest Taylor,

I love you.

My words of thank you will never be enough. Thank you for keeping Ronan safe. Thank you for never forgetting him. Thank you for breaking rules and breaking free. Thank you for that heart of yours that is made of pure gold. You are a constant source of inspiration to me in so many areas of my life, and there is nobody in the world I would rather have Ronan with than you. I’m going to write to you separately about this but for now, thank you.

Happy 18th Birthday to my Gemini twins, Liam and Quinn.

L I A M A L E X A N D E R

Happy 18th birthday to my firstborn twin! My baby A. My LiLi. My gentle giant. I don’t know how this happened, how 18 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and my little baby boy is so grown up. You were the easiest, sweetest baby who has turned into the kindest young man. I am forever in awe of the intelligence inside your head and the tenderness of your heart. I once told you that underdogs are the BEST people in life when you didn’t make the JV basketball team Freshman year. You were so devastated, so I took you outside, and we had a long talk. You took that life lesson of not making the JV team, and you let it light a fire within you to work harder. You became not only the hardest working player on that court but the smartest player out there. You know that game like the back of your hand, and I love seeing how passionate you are about it. It has been an honor to watch you claw and fight your way to the top, as you could have easily given up. Your determination is a testament to who you are. Underdogs are the ones who go on to change the world in the most impactful ways, and I have no doubt you are going to go on and do incredible things in your life.

Eighteen years with you feels like I’ve won the lottery of life, and I am so thankful to be your mom. Happy Birthday, baby boy. You are the love of my love, and I love you forever and always.

Q U I N N W O O D R O W

Happy 18th birthday to my second twin. You arrived ten minutes after Liam and surprised us all with how different you looked from him. For being twins, you two could not be any more different, and that has made this life so much fun. You have kept me on my toes from the beginning with the way you push boundaries and challenge everything with your endless questions and inquisitive mind. Your quick wit and ability to always have us all laughing is such a light in our lives which we so very much needed after the heaviness of not having our Ronan here. On my worst days, I would find you by my side, cuddled up next to me, entangled in our sloppy tears together. On my best days, you are still by my side, smiling your beautiful smile and still wanting to hold my hand. You are kind, intelligent, and brave. You are constantly searching for adventure and seeking out the ways of the world to help you evolve and grow. I am in awe every day of who you are and who you are becoming, and I also won the lottery in life by having you as my son. I can’t wait to watch where your free-spirited soul takes you, and I will forever be by your side, encouraging you to live your life by following your heart and your dreams.

Happy Birthday, Quinny. You are the love of my life, and I am so lucky to have you as my son.