Just say no to death do us part…….. time to update wedding vows people. What if your child died? Did you ever think about that while saying them???


Ronan. Hi my love. I hope you had a good day. That sounds so weird to say, because how could any day possibly be good when we are apart?? I miss your giggles so much. The world is so empty without them. I know I say this all the time, but I would give anything to have you back. I tell you all the time to please take me with you. I know you can’t, as you wouldn’t do that to your daddy or brothers but I miss you so much.

Today was a long day. The kind of days that I seem to have pretty often now that you are gone. I managed to keep Quinn busy though. We hung out at our place and then I took him and Olivia for lunch. We came back to the condo after and hung out. Olivia helped me clean everything as we needed to get ready for Liam and Papa Jim’s arrival. She is such a big help to me. Quinn looks up to her like a sister and she is a really good playmate for him. He gets lonely when she is gone as he loves having her around. I do too.

After we cleaned, we got ready and met up with Liz. The 4 of us walked and had sushi. It was a nice dinner but it always feels weird to be doing things without you. Between, Quinn, Olivia, and Liz, I was able to keep it together as they all provided much laughter. We walked around the island a bit and started making our way back to The Shores. As we were crossing the street, I looked up at locked eyes with a mama who was pushing her little boy in a stroller. I was dying inside because of her little boys amazing, curly, red hair. I smiled at her and she looked at me and goes, “Maya!” She approached me and introduced herself and gave me a warm hug. She follows this blog as does her sister whom I had the pleasure of meeting as well. We have mutual friends and the friends we are all friends with are GEMS….. so I know these two women must be as well:) We chatted for a few minutes and I managed to only get choked up once. It was so sweet, so rewarding, and it just felt good to hear them say that they think about you everyday. How I will never be without you because you live in each and every one of them. How you’ve inspired them to do something more with their lives. Nothing will ever be worth losing you for, Ro. But in losing you, people are finding what it truly means to live a life you are grateful for. Do I hate that it has to be you and me teaching this lesson? Absolutely. But we cannot control our fate, our destiny, what is being set out in front of us. It is not up to us so we have to just give in and trust that this is what our purpose in life is supposed to be. To help others see their way, to help them be more grateful and kind, to let them help us by raising awareness for you and Neuroblastoma or childhood cancer in general.

As I was talking to those two beautiful ladies today, I honestly felt you there by my side. It was weird. At one point, I looked down at my feet to see if you were there. That is how much I felt your presence. I then looked over at Liz and gave her a teary smile. Liz is my home, my heart, part of my soul. She gets it. She knew you were there today too….. I could tell just by looking at her. I was honored to meet both of you today and just wanted to tell you thank you again for loving and supporting strangers whom you didn’t even know, until today. I can’t wait to see you again.

After our “meeting random strangers,” whom I don’t know but they pretty much know everything about me…. which is weird but I’m oddly comfortable with it….. we went back to our condo. It as time to get ready to pick up Liam and Papa Jim at the airport. It’s been nice having some one on one time with Quinn. He’s really opened up to me and we had some pretty intense conversations. He is like a little sponge and never forgets anything I do or say. I got to watch him open back up to me again and he told me how hard it was on him to not have me around to take care of him when Ronan was sick. I told him I knew, and that it was hard on everybody. But we didn’t have a choice. We had to take care of Ronan the best we could and I’m sorry that I had to be away from him for so long. I hope he will forgive me. I would have done the same thing for him and I tell him this all the time. I just hope he really believes it. An 8 year olds mind is such a fragile thing when dealing with a tragedy. I don’t have all the answers and this is when the therapy will come into play when we get back. I recognize that we all will be needing it pretty intensely.

I was thinking about this the other night on one of my runs. For some reason I started thinking about wedding vows. The whole, “Until death do us part.” I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I thought to myself, I’ll bet when people say those vows, they don’t take into consideration if the child would be the one to die….. would death do them part?? I think people say that vow just thinking of one another, as man and wife; never a child because that is just too horrific and does not happen. WRONG. BIG FAT LIE. It happens. And I am so freaking glad Woody and I did not say those vows to each other. Not that they are awful…. but we are just different. We had E.J. Kotalik marry us because it was important to us to make them a part of our family. I never knew how much we would truly need them. We now need them more than ever. We didn’t read the traditional vows. We read a poem by E.E. Cummings, instead. One of my favorites:::::

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

It was perfect for us and still is. And whomever is telling my mom the statistics for people who divorce after the death of a child….. Seriously needs to stop. This is not something a grandmother who has just lost her grandson and who is worried sick about her daughter, needs to hear. I know the statistics, Woody knows them. We know who we are. We know that throughout all of this, we’ve stayed on the same page with pretty much everything. We know we are each others best friends. He has my heart and I have his. Forever. End of story. We don’t do drama, we don’t do hurt, we don’t do fighting (unless you count the time I threw a slurpie at his head) We do love. We love our twins. We love each other. We are not going to let cancer ruin anything else for us. MOTHERFUCKERCANCER. You’re not taking anything else away from me. You took the most precious thing that has ever been mine and I will fight you until you die and exist no more. YOU FUCKWAD.

Oye! Ronan! I’d better be signing off now. Before I get too bloody out of control! I love you my not spicy favorite monkey. I hope you are safe. I hope someone is taking good care of you. I just want you back here with me. Please. This life is too hard without you. I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK RO.


19 responses to “Just say no to death do us part…….. time to update wedding vows people. What if your child died? Did you ever think about that while saying them???”

  1. Wow! You are Amazing! I know you are probably sick of hearing that and probably don’t agree, but it’s just the truth! Your words are so inspiring, even in your darkest hours. I’m so glad you got to meet part of your “army” tonight. I hope it made you see how much Ro and your whole family have changed so many lives. No one who has heard this story or been to this blog will ever forget how remarkable Ronan and his Mama are, nor will they forget the love you share.

  2. Wow! Great blog and so truthful. You and woody are each others rocks and souls. You two have each others backs, and you two are the only ones that truly know what all you have been through, the only one that truly know and have felt every painful minute. The statistics are for the ones that fought each other through the process. Most people open their mouths and speak thinking the are helping with out thinking, sorry your mother had to hear the stats that will only make her worry more. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. I’m so glad those beautiful Kotalik girls are with you.

  3. Each day I think I will comment and I sit and ponder what I could possibly say that so many others do not…today I just wanted to let you hear I KNOW with all of my heart you are right about “forever”. I believe as you do that families are eternal, that we will be with our families again, that is the reason we are here on this earth, to create these beautiful unions and that they do not end here with death. So much that has happened to your family does not make a lot of sense…but it makes perfect sense to me that you wil see your sweet Ronan again and that your family will be united. On a side note, I love your songs to Ronan as well, today while running I was listening to Sing by My Chemical Romance…I thought of you. Thought how your words are so often like a song…they touch others and no matter what– you should “sing” (write). You should continue to teach us all…teach us how every day matters. Thank you for that.

  4. I’ve always hated that line in the vows and have always planned on taking it out when I get married. Not only is it depressing and horrible – it’s not even true! When you truly love someone, death is nowhere near enough to part you. All the times you’ve known that Ronan was with you is proof of that.

    Once again, I am astonished at how stupid people can be – why would anyone say something like that to your mom?? What a terrible thing to say. It amazes me the things that come out of people’s mouths when they think they are being “helpful”. I’m glad that you’re not taking it to heart.

    It gave me a little chill this morning when I saw the poem that you posted. I love that poem, and I’ve thought of it often when I think of you and Ronan. Beautiful.

  5. Maya

    Good for you for realizing you’re not a statistic. Not a single part of your life is a statistic and you’ve fought, obviously, from the start of your family to be bigger than a set of numbers. Don’t ever allow some actuary EVER define the flesh, blood, tears and love that exists among the five of you.

    I love your quotes … one more …. “you never know how strong you are until being strong is the ONLY choice you have”.

    Rock it, Maya!


  6. Hi-
    Thinking about you everyday. I couldn’t help but laugh at the slurpie comment- ha ha- sooo real!!! I don’t know you, but i love you! I am so glad you have some bright moments in this dark period.

  7. Maya…I’m so sorry it is Ronan who has to teach all of us a lesson to not take life for granted……I’m so amazed by your beautiful words and thoughts. I know I have said it before….you have changed my life. I am no longer the stressed out working mommy trying to have a perfect house…and juggle what turns out to unimportant stuff!.I am way more calm and stop and listen to what my family really needs. My kids have a better mommy because of your beautiful Ronan.
    I am so on board when you are ready to take Neuroblastoma by the balls!

    Enjoy your day….I’m glad your

    Liam is back!

  8. Maya,

    You are amazing! I hope some day to run into you in San Diego or AZ (as I split between the two) I’m sure it would be weird, and I wouldn’t want you to think who’s this crazy person 😉

    I HATE statistics! If you had a strong foundation…a strong union…team players on the same TEAM (family)…each others back…and LOVE… before all of this Cancer came into your life– it can rock your life back and forth a little, but it can’t ruin the “foundation”. You are each others ying and yang… each others zig and zag! Like your mother needs to worry about “statistics”. Come on people! Get a life! I agree with you Maya… Cancer can’t take anything else from you!!! Fight on!

    Hope you are enjoying SD sun…beach…pool and most of all your beautiful boys.

    Peace & strength!!!

  9. It is 102 degrees in Atlanta today. This has made me, and my girls very, very cranky. And right when I thought I just couldnt get anymore frustrated with them than I was… A hummingbird flew near…

    And then..
    It shit. On me.

    We laughed and laughed and I was angry no more. I think of Ronan, and you, every day.. And apparently today, he had a reminder for me.

  10. This song reminds me of you…
    Silver Coin by Angus & Julia Stone

  11. I’m so happy you were able to feel Ronan’s presence with you so strongly, that’s awesome! I pray you will continue to experience those kinds of things. Your wedding vows were beautiful and I’m so glad you and Woody have such a strong, loving marriage and bond. How important that is! Continuing to hold you all up in prayer and thinking of you often. Wishing you the best…

  12. My 4 year old daughter Allison spied a Paul Frank swim suit at Target last Saturday. Hot pink and white striped top, 2 piece with a hot pink and white polka dot bottom. BIG monket on the ruffly top. Super cute. As we walked on the beach early Sunday morning I told her that the monkey on her suit was named Ronan and that I though he was the cutest monkey ever. She agreed. I smiled and walked along. You are a stranger that is thought out so much. I pray for peace and strength always.
    Take care,

    1. Cute. Just “not spicy” lol.

  13. Maya-
    My name is Kelly, you don’t know me but I am Cindy Martin’s “adopted” child.(not literally) I spent time volunteering in her classroom before I moved to San Francisco. I got to meet Liam and Quinn and thought they were amazing little boys. I just wanted to let you know that I read your blog religiously, I have it saved on my home screen on my Iphone along with a picture of Ronan. I look at it whenever I think I am having a bad day or I am upset about something trivial. I even wear a purple Rockstar Ronan bracelet, and I’ve made my boyfriend wear one as well. I wish that I had a mother like you that cared, so much. I have now have Cindy, who will be my adopted mommy forever. I will continue to read your blog no matter what!

  14. Hi Maya,
    I heard about this family on the radio yesterday here in Seattle. Their son’s story is so strikingly similar to Ronan’s. Thought you might want to take a look at their story, and she had a blog as well. They have raised half a million dollars for Neuroblastoma research, and it sounds like you both have an amazing goal of curing childhood cancer.

  15. Maya saw this poem and thought of you and Ro. . . hope you find some peace in the poem. . .

    “I’ll lend to you for a little time,
    A child of mine,” He said,
    “For you to love the while he lives
    And mourn for when he’s dead.

    “It may be six or seven years
    Or twenty-two or three,
    But will you till I call him back,
    Take care of him for me?

    “He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
    And should his stay be brief,
    You’ll have these precious memories
    As solace for your grief.

    “I cannot promise he will stay
    Since all from earth return.
    But there are lessons taught down there
    I want this child to learn.

    “I’ve looked this world over,
    In my search for teachers true.
    In the crowds that throng life’s land,
    I have selected you.

    “Now will you give him all your love
    Not think the labor vain,
    Nor hate me when I come to call
    To take him back again?”

    It seems to me I heard them say,
    “Dear Lord, thy will be done.
    For all the joys a child shall bring,
    The risk of grief we’ll run.

    We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
    We’ll love him while we may,
    And for the happiness we’ve known
    Forever grateful stay.

    “And should the angels call for him
    Much sooner than we’ve planned,
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
    And try to understand.”

    All my love Mama Maya. . . ❤ ❤ ❤

  16. An old man once said,”There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, say a prayer for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.
    Luv and hugs

  17. Good Morning Maya –

    A quote for you..

    “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
    -Leo F. Buscaglia

  18. Ha! A slurpie! Maya, you are funny! I love you and your fiestyness. I think that is where Ronan picked it up. You are awesome. Seriously awesome….and just like me. This morning I “stabbed” my husband in the tummy with the end of my makeup bronzing brush this morning just because he was annoying me. We got a good laugh. In the midst of all the pain and the darkness you deal with daily, you still find a way to bring a giggle to us. What good medicine, Dr. Maya Thompson. =)

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