Ronan. I’m pretty sure I had no clue the pain of missing you could become worse. I’m pretty sure I thought I had felt the worst of it. I was wrong. My first sign? Friday morning. What do you do on days like Friday morning? You sit outside of a Smart and Final for 2 1/2 hours, crying, sobbing, screaming, writing, and texting very intense things to one of our lovies. I believe I fully freaked out and considered driving to some rehab place to check myself in. I could not get out of my car. But I HAD to because, I had to bring drinks to Liam and Quinn’s class for their Halloween Party. OPPS! I forgot, “FALL FESTIVAL!” Halloween does not exist in schools here anymore. Thank God the real problems of the world are being solved. I finally got out of the car, while on the phone with our lovie, sobbing…. not making much sense. But I got the freaking apple juice I needed and hopped into the car. I drove to the boys’ school early and waited. I worked up the nerve to put on my “Hello! I’m just a normal mommy face! Nope! The love of my life did not just die. You must have the wrong person.” I wish it would have went down this way. I was helping set up with a mom whom I don’t know. She asked how our year was going. I should have just said, “Totally Awesome!” But I didn’t. I told her it was awful. I told her my almost 4-year-old had died only 5 and a half months ago. I was sobbing. I couldn’t keep it together at all. I tried my best. But I think I totally failed. I think I got a big fat “F,” on my report card. And it for once, was not for the word FUCK, but rather FAIL, instead. Quinn didn’t seem to notice that I had been crying when he came into the room, which is all that matters. I left Quinn’s room and skipped over to Liam’s classroom. You should have seen the way his face it up when I walked into his room. You should have felt the mama guilt wash over me instead of happiness. He was very intently reading a book. He was so focused. I sat and watched him. He was concentrating so hard on his book. My serious student. Your beautiful brother.
After I left the school I and headed down to PCH. Sandra needed some help with her Mia today. Even though I was a mess, going to help Sandra is something I am always happy to do. WTF PCH. Poor Mia and this damn button on the outside of her stomach which is used to administer her medication. The area itself is raw, gooey, red, and Mia has been screaming for months because she is in so much pain. After a lot of talk about what to do…. because we, the parents have learned….. we have to advocate for our kids’ well-being and make the choices and decisions because nobody knows the right answers. They finally gave Sandra a choice. A choice after she FOUGHT to get a choice to choose from. They told her they could remove old button and basically replace it with a tube that hangs out Mia’s stomach. Well, duh. Why wasn’t this done months ago. It seemed like such a simple answer, to relieve the rubbing on Mia’s stomach that was causing all of the pain and irritation. Her poor little skin has been rubbed raw for months while everybody just walked around, not knowing what to do about it. How is that acceptable in this day and age? Sandra looked at me and said, “What do you think?” She asked me in a room full of fucking DOCTORS when they should have been the one’s making the call. I just looked at her and told her, it wasn’t even a choice….. get the thing that is hurting her so badly, out of her. The end result was she had the GI Button taken out, and something else put in, to hopefully give Mia’s skin a break. But Sandra, had to make the fucking request. It wasn’t offered to her. I mean seriously? How is it acceptable when there were other alternatives out there, but nothing was put on the table? Doesn’t anybody care? And can I please vent about the doctors assistants that were in the room with us as well? Two of them. Two girls, who are sitting back, staring like Mia is a Zoo animal on display. They didn’t say a word, but just sat back, smiling…. grinning from ear to ear. All while Mia is screaming, crying and Sandra has her head buried in her hands as she fought to find the right words and questions to ask for her daughter. I so wanted to scream, “What the FUCK are you all smiling at?! Is something cute or funny? Is there an imaginary fluffy bunny rabbit, running around the room that I do not know about?!” For FUCKS SAKE!
After we left there, Sandra texted me to thank me for giving her the courage to stand up and advocate for Mia today. I texted her back and told her that she didn’t need me for her courage today, that she was a badass. She said that she felt more badass with me around. I told her nonsense, that I totally think it’s her sassy hot blond hair that she now rocks. The hair that has grown back from shaving it BALD when Mia was first diagnosed. Nothing says badass like a mama who has a bald head, because her baby has cancer. I’m so proud of her.
I’ve decided, it’s official. I do not live on this planet anymore. Even though my body does, my physical spirit does not. It’s long gone. Nothing makes sense. I know nothing about life except what I know at this exact moment which is this: I’m laying in your bed. You’re dead. I miss you so much. I miss you so much, that I don’t know what to do or how to be. I can’t talk much about this weekend. Fuck. Tomorrow is Halloween. Fuck again. I met a new baby boy tonight. Cooper Ronan Bunger. He was sweet. Only 3 months old. I took a picture of the two of us. He smiled in it. I think you told him to. I love you for that. I’m sorry I failed you. I’m sorry you’re dead. I’m sorry I have to do Halloween without you tomorrow. It feels like betrayal. I have to drive to Sedona to see Dr. Jo. Because I’m scared. Because I’m tired. So. Very. Tired.
P.S. I forgot one other thing, that I do know. That everyone, who reads this blog, should click on this link: http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/best-of-our-valley-2012/voting/150.html and vote for our Miss Katy. Because her store is full of awesome things like Garbage Pail Kids,Sugar Daddies, Fake PURPLE and PINK Glasses, Invisible Ink, Silly Putty, and Retro phones that you plug into your iPhone, while you talk on it. It totally makes you look like the raddest kid on the block, in an old school kind of way. It it is the one and only thing that make me laugh today. Thanks Miss Katy Grace.
Goodnight my babydoll. You were the most beautiful thing that’s ever been mine. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
Ronan. Days are filled with emptiness. They are not getting easier. Nights are worse. Halloween is approaching. How am I supposed to celebrate our favorite holiday, without you? If you were here, we would be going to your school tomorrow to celebrate. I would be tucking you into bed right now, but you would have been too excited to sleep. I’m sure you would be dressing up as someone from Star Wars. It was our tradition.
Baby Ro- Chewbacca. 2-year-old Ro- Master Yoda. 3 Year old Ro- Captain Rex. Who would it have been this year? I’m not sure. Does it matter? It does to me. Halloween cards come in the mail. But nothing for you. I lose it. “What the hell?” I scream! “Did he not exist?!” “Is he that easy to forget?!” The hot tears stream down my face. ” I want a card for him, too! Not just 2. 3 little boys. I HAVE 3 BOYS! I want him back! NO! I DO NOT WANT A PUPPY OR A FUCKING BABY FOR CHRISTMAS! I WANT RONAN! I ONLY WANT RONAN!”
I don’t get to go to your school tomorrow for your Halloween party. I get to go to only Liam and Quinn’s. How am I supposed to put on my bravest face to handle tomorrow? I don’t have a choice. I have to do it for them. I had Quinn’s conference this week. His teachers words….”He is a gift to me. Such a delight. So kind to everyone. Excelling in everything. Needs a little work on his handwriting. He is off the charts in his math….” I felt like I was in an alternate universe. I looked all around the classroom at all the kids’ work. I started to cry. I apologized to his teacher. “I’m so sorry. I have no idea what’s been going on in this classroom. I’m usually the mom that knows it all. That is always helping. I haven’t been in here once this year.” She just looked at me and said that it was o.k. That I have a pretty good reason, not to be. But I don’t want a reason or an excuse. I just want my life back. I want to be the fun classroom mama again. I don’t know how the fuck I’m going to get through tomorrow. I have thrown up all day about it. I want to go to your school. I want to dress you up. But some evil mother fucker out there decided that you brought me way too much happiness in my life, so you had to go away. But I didn’t do anything wrong to have you taken away. I only loved you so much. That is the only crime I am guilty of committing.
I went to Sedona on Tuesday. Dr. Jo couldn’t make it to Phoenix this week, so I drove up to see her. We did our session at her house and then went and grabbed lunch. It was a long but peaceful day and night. I was able to smile and breathe a bit. I know you know why. You always do. I came home, relaxed and fell asleep all night long. My sleeping has been better. I have not taken my Ambien since the night before I left for my Sedona Grief Retreat weekend. I have been able to fall asleep and I have been staying asleep until about 2 a.m. I always wake up around this time and than, the pacing begins for about an hour or two. I look for you everywhere. I scream into pillows. I cry. Dr. Jo says it’s my animal instinct taking over. I’m like the mama tiger at the zoo, who has been separated from her baby. The mama tiger paces back and forth. Sometimes she even chews off her own limbs because she goes crazy not knowing what to do without her baby. I feel like that mama tiger. I’m trapped on the inside of the glass cage, looking for you, watching as everyone on the outside just goes on with their lives. Everyone is happy. How can that be? What? You have a new boyfriend? No. I don’t want to meet him. I want you all to go away. I don’t want to see life go on. I want life to end. I am incapable of feeling the happiness that you feel. That you deserve. I cannot be happy for you. So, please just let me be. I have nothing left to give anyone. I am doing my best to keep myself alive. That is all I am capable of now. Forgive me. But Ronan died. Doesn’t anybody understand? How is Halloween not canceled this year? How is your school, celebrating like it is a normal year? Don’t they miss you so much, that they shouldn’t? No. Only in my mind should they. Because to me, you were so special that the whole wide world should stop. But nobody misses you, as much as I do. Which means that nobody is even capable of feeling the pain that I feel. Which means that nobody loved you more. Which is why I physically hurt so bad 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don’t get a break from this pain. Ever. Not that I would want it. I wouldn’t give this pain to anyone else. It is mine to carry for the rest of my life because it reminds me every second of the day how much I love you. How much I will always love you. So much that I often think I am going to choke to death, on my own tears.
This week has been a blur. I took your brothers to a park to play after school. They had the time of their lives. They played football in the rain, with some other kids. I could have sworn you were right there with them. I cried on the way home because you weren’t. I told your brothers how sad it made me that you were not there, with them. How much you would have loved it. They were both covered in mud, soaked from head to toe, just like they should have been. Where are you? Who are you playing with? How is it not us? Why is it not us? Do you think I killed you? I was supposed to keep you safe. I promised you I was going to get you better. But then you just died. Just like that. How am I supposed to live with this, Ro?
I don’t know. I don’t fucking know anything anymore except everyday without you is harder and harder and who the fuck came up with the saying that the pain will get easier as time goes on? I know who. Some jackass who is not a mom. Probably some asswad fucking fuckwad scientist who had to bury their cat. Clearly it was not a mom. Or a dad. Who’s almost 4-year-old died.
I don’t know what else to say tonight. Except what I say to you, every night. I love you to the moon and back. I miss you. I hope you are safe. Sweet dreams, babydoll. I love you.
P.S. Dear loveliest of lovelies:::::: So many of you sweet peas have sent the most beautiful gifts. A lot of it, pretty jewelry for me to wear. Please know these things, always make me smile. Today, I wore one of my new favorite things. A little delicate gold necklace that has, “Fuck Cancer,” inscribed on it as well as a small purple jewel hanging from the chain. Oh, how I proudly wore this today. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. xoxoxoxo a million times over.
My Dr. JoRo wrote this. You can read, more of what she writes here:
We are men and we are women and we are gender-free…
We are Democrat, Republic, Libertarian, Independent, Green, Apolitical, and …
We are rich, and poor, and middle class, and classless.
We are Christian, and Jewish, and Muslim, and Buddhist, and Sikh, and Hindu, and Wiccan, and Atheist, and …
We are employed, and unemployed, and partially employed, and recklessly employed.
We are Irish, and Native American, and African, and French, and Haitian, and Romanian, and British, and Tibetan, and Italian, and Mexican, and Germanic, and Norwegian, and Jamaican, and …
We are high school dropouts, we are college educated, and we are streetwise…
We speak one language or many languages, and we are from all parts of our Planet Earth.
We are young, and middle aged, and old, even facing our own death.
We are from the north, the south, the east, and the west.
We are a family of one, and two, and three, and ten…
We are both traditional and non-traditional families.
We are engineers, and janitors, and doctors, and teachers, and firefighters, and lawyers, and athletes, and marketers, and taxi drivers, and pastors, and rabbis, and elected officials, and administrators, and nurses, and maids, and childcare providers, and artists, and poets, and landscapers and…
We are tall, short, and medium, and emaciated and healthy and round and obese.
We are all around you, everyday. Everywhere you go, we are there, but you may not see us.
We are bereaved parents….
We have suffered life’s worst tragedy. We have suffered a reality you dare not imagine.
Our children have died from birth to toddlerhood. From toddlerhood to young childhood. From young childhood to the teens. From the teens to young adulthood. From young adulthood into middle and late adulthood. Our loss is anachronistic, out of time, out of place. Our children died from cancer, and stillbirth, and fires, and car crashes, and SIDS, and murder, and suicide, and drug overdose, and drowning, and disease, and premature birth, and congenital anomalies and…
Despite all the differences in who we used to be…
Now, we are bereaved parents. And siblings. And grandparents. And aunts, uncles, godparents, friends. And our lives will never, ever, ever be the same. This common thread is woven through our lives, and will remain part of our painful tapestry from generation to generation.
You can help us.
Please visit the front page of the Arizona Republic to learn more about federal legislation for all bereaved parents.
Then, please, support us by signing this petition and emailing your Congress women and men and asking them to sign on to and support this important legislation.
We are bereaved parents. We are one, despite our differences. Our grief unites us.
Whoever thought of the word, “Fuck,” is a fucking genius. I like to throw it around here and there, when it is necessary. I say it in my head, more often than I do out loud. I write it a lot. I get a lot of crap for it which I tend to ignore. You don’t like my language on here, then don’t read my blog. You know what I don’t like? That my son got cancer. And died. That fucking sucks more than anything. When Ronan was diagnosed with cancer, it made sense to have bracelets made so people could show their support. I stayed true to who I was and what I was feeling, which just happened to be, “FUCK YOU CANCER!” It also made me laugh during the darkest of times, like when I was in a hospital for over 21 days straight, with my baby boy. Looking down at that bracelet, often gave me a good chuckle. I’ll admit it, I have a very dark sense of humor. I embrace this. I own this. Fuck you cancer is about as dark as you can get.
I can guarantee you, anyone who is dealing with cancer, no matter what type it is, wants to scream this. Most people don’t have the balls to put on a bracelet, especially when it is pertaining to their child; but why not? Because it is offensive to put the FUCK word out there when your child gets cancer? Says who? I say it is offensive to not stay true to yourself. I say it is offensive that children get cancer and die from it. I say it is offensive that my husband and I had to navigate our way through our son’s treatment, because nobody in the medical world knows exactly how to handle Neuroblastoma. I say it is offensive the way people say the word, Fuck, is offensive whom have obviously never lost a child. It’s a word. Get over it. Childhood Cancer. Now that is something to be offended by.
Your child dying from cancer? Your mom dying from cancer? Your sister dying from cancer? Your husband dying from cancer? Your best friend dying from cancer? Your brother dying from cancer? That is beyond fucked up. It is worthy of the fuck word being used. Stop being so afraid of the word Fuck. Embrace it. Saying the words “Fuck you cancer,” is much more satisfying than screaming, “Gosh darn you cancer! You killed my son!” Trust me on that one. There are bigger things in life to be afraid of. There are bigger things in life, to be offended by. If you are offended by the word, Fuck, it tells me that you are living your life in such a bubble, that you have to make up things to get upset about. It is absolutely ridiculous.
I made a nice version of the bracelets too. I don’t wear it, but my kids do. I only let them wear the Fuck You Cancer bracelets, on special occasions. Oh no. Are you offended because my 8 year olds know that word? I am offended that they had to watch their brother, die. I am offended by the fact that my 8 year sat with his little bro, 2 days before he died, and asked me why he was talking so sleepy and wanted to know when would he wake up, so they could play. I am offended that I had to sit there, look my child in the eyes, and tell him that he wasn’t going wake up and play again because he was going to be getting sleepier and sleepier. That really fucking offends me.
So, to all of you fucking fuck word haters out there. YOU OFFEND ME. CANCER OFFENDS ME. I know what it means to live a life and to have real things to be offended by. If you are going to let a word get you all hot and bothered; then you need to re examine what is really important in life. You need to re examine what it means to truly be upset by something. Because it is not worth it, to get so upset over a word. You don’t like the word? Word to your mother. I get it. You don’t like it, then don’t use it. But to get upset over somebody else using it, is just obscene.
I personally think the word, is awesome. Did you know that it is the only word in the English language that can grammatically complete, and stand alone in a sentence? Ex: Fuck, fucking fuckers fucked. It can be used as an adjective, adverb, adverb enhancing an adjective, a noun, as a part of a word, ex: one of my favs:::: absofuckinglutely, and as almost every world in a sentence, fuck the fucking fuckers. Bloody Brilliant!
You know what else I would like you to know?? Don’t judge a book by its cover. If you know me, in real life, you know that I am a classy broad. I don’t run around screaming this word just to hear myself say it. I am quiet, reserved, serious, and shy… until I am comfortable enough with you to show you the real me. That’s when the real fun begins. My truth is, my son got cancer and all rules flew out the window. If I want to have tee-shirts made that say “Fuck Cancer,” or bracelets made that say, “Fuck you Cancer,” that is my right, as a human being. That is my right, and who are you to say I shouldn’t be able to say what I want to scream at cancer everyday? The fucking cancer police?
Like I said, if you don’t like it, fine. I don’t really get that, but whatever. But don’t try to silence me. Don’t sit back and judge me. You haven’t walked a second in my shoes. It’s time to go and find a new hobby. One that is more offensive than the F word. Maybe you could get fired up about all the babies who sit in the hospital, with cancer, who don’t have any parents to hold them, because they have to work all day and night. Maybe you could be offended about all the babies who get cancer and die. Maybe you could be offended by parents like my husband and myself, who spent our lives doing everything right, only to have our precious son, die of cancer. Trust me. That is way more offensive than the F word could ever be.
Or maybe it’s time to let your guard down and figure out what’s the REAL reason, you are so offended by that word. Because it’s not lady like? Neither is sitting in a pool of blood because your child’s platelets are so low that you can’t get his bloody nose to stop. Neither is not being able to shower for 3 days because you cannot bear to leave your child’s side. Neither is screaming the FUCK word because you were just told that your child’s cancer is spreading and there is nothing more that anyone can do. Fuck ladylike. I’ll stop using the word, FUCK, when Childhood Cancer no longer exists. Until then, the FUCKING FUCKWAD can FUCKING FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Actually, I changed my mind. I won’t ever stop using this word because Cancer killed my son. So unless you have a magic, purple fucking wand that can bring him back, I will be screaming this word until the day I die.
To all my lovelies. I love you all. Thank you for being so open-minded and not being offended by my truth. Sweet dreams. G’nite my little Ro baby. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
I am blessed. In many ways even after all of this. It’s hard for me to remember sometimes, because I have a lot of anger, sadness, guilt, and Inferno Fuckwad Bob that seems to consume me. I try to remember all the things I do have, things that so many people don’t like an amazing husband, my beautiful twins, family, friends, a house, food, and love. And I had the privilege of being Ronan’s mama. This does not make up for losing my Ronan, to Cancer. Living this life without him is Hell. Even with all the blessings I mentioned above. I’m not sure why I’m still here. It would have been so easy to take the easy way out and just end my life. I think about it a lot. But that’s the thing; I think about it. I think about what that would do to the lives of all my blessings above. It would also mean that I didn’t do the job that I promised Ronan I would do. I cannot let him down. I won’t let him down, no matter how hard this life is now.
I spent the first few months after losing Ro, in a hole. We went to the beach to get away from things but the funny thing is, you cannot escape death, no matter how hard you try. Especially when it is your child. I was convinced I was going to die. I don’t know if you can overdose on Ambien… but there were many nights that I could have cared less if I did. I would fall asleep and pray that I never woke up. I’m sure that I will have nights like this, here and there, for the rest of my life, but I hope they become less and less.
I came back to Phoenix, worse off than when I left. I remember just being in a fog. One day, I was in bed. The boys were at school. I remember making a plan about how I was going to end my life. I didn’t care about anyone or anything. I sat with my plan. It was a good one. I had a moment of clarity wash over me and I remember thinking that nobody could help me, that nobody could save me and it clicked that I really didn’t want to die. I thought of Woody. Liam. Quinn. And Ronan. I googled something, because I knew I needed help. Serious help because things were not going well. I have never felt so helpless in my life. Surely someone must be out there, who can help me. I googled a bunch of random stuff about losing a child. In one of my searches, the MISS Foundation popped up. I thought to myself, I think I remember a couple of people talking about the MISS Foundation….. let’s see what kind of bullshit this is. I clicked on it. Dr. Jo’s face popped up. She’s pretty, I thought to myself. I didn’t read a thing about her. I found her email and sent her something that I’m sure didn’t even make much sense. I think I said something like, “My name is Maya Thompson. I’m not sure if I have an appointment with you, because everyone else is running around, trying to save me. My 3-year-old son just died of Cancer. I need help.”
Within a couple of hours, Dr. Jo responded back that I did not have an appointment with her, but she would see me. And that she was so sorry about Ronan.
We arranged a time to meet. I drove out to see her about a week later. I didn’t have much hope, that anyone could help me at this point, but I was willing to take a chance. I don’t really remember much about our time together, except that it was really, really long. I think around 3 hours long. I cried a lot. I’m sure a lot of what I said, didn’t make much sense. She wrote down a lot of notes. I got up, after our session ended and she walked me out to the lobby. I pulled out my credit card. I was expecting to pay a hefty chuck of change. Dr. Jo told me that they didn’t accept payments, that they ran solely off of donations. It took me a minute to process this. I told her I felt awful about leaving there without paying her anything. She just smiled and said that they were a Non-Profit 501 (C)3. I left there feeling so guilty about not paying this lady who just spent 3 hours with me.
I went home and talked to Woody about making a donation to her Foundation. Of course we would he said. I saw Dr. Jo that next week. By the second session with her, I started to have a little hope again. Hope that somebody might actually understand kind of what I am going through. Hope that somebody could actually help me, save myself. I settled into a consistent routine of seeing Dr. Joanne. I started to think that maybe, I wasn’t really crazy. I started to think that maybe, I was just a mom who had just lost the most precious thing on earth to her and all the acts of “insanity,” were justifiable. Dr. Jo accepted me and was one of few people in my life who trusted me from the beginning. She was able to explain things to me, that nobody else could. She had the research to back it up. But the thing that I loved the most, is that she took me, broken, shattered me… and slowly started to put me back together. She knows I will never be whole again. But she believes in me and the love that I have for Ronan. She never tells me things like, “Please don’t do anything crazy.” “It’s time to get over this.” “You have other children, you have to live for them.”
She yells with anger for me when I can’t. She tells me that this is the most fucked up thing on earth, losing a child. That there is NO reason for it. She tells me she knows I wish it would have been me that died, therefore she does too. She is real. She is honest. She is unbelievably smart. She is soulful. She is kind. She is tortured. She is deep. She is funny. She is humble. She is saving my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. If not for her, that little plan of mine may have happened. She is not Dr. Cacciatore anymore. You know the funny thing is, she never really was. I had the urge to call her Dr. Jo from the beginning. You’ll love this. The JoRo nickname that I gave her…. well she texted me the other day to tell me that her middle name is Rose. Joanne Rose. Jo Ro. Are you fucking kidding me. Talk about a sign. A sign from Ronan. I know it was him that led me to her. I know this from the deepest part of my soul. He knew she was going to be the one to help me. She is the one helping me. She is the one, saving me by helping me save myself. Here is a little more about Dr. Jo, below……
Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is the founder of the MISS Foundation and she is currently a professor at Arizona State University. Her area of expertise is traumatic death, specifically child death, and she is an acclaimed public speaker on this topic.
Dr. Cacciatore also specializes in counseling those affected by traumatic death and she is a Diplomate in the American Psychotherapy Association. Her therapeutic interventions include Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Logotherapy, and various other therapies, such as Repeated Exposure Therapy, to manage Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As an advocate of “green” mental health care after a traumatic experience, she is a member of the American Psychotherapy Association, the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the National Center for Crisis Management. She spearheaded and directs the graduate Certificate in Trauma and Bereavement program at ASU.
Her research has been published in peer reviewed journals such as The Lancet, Birth, Death Studies, Omega Journal of Death and Dying, Social Work, Social Work and Healthcare, and Families in Society.
Dr. Cacciatore received her Doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Masters degree and Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Arizona State University. Her work has been featured in major media sources such as People and Newsweek magazines, the New York Times, Boston Globe, CNN, National Public Radio, and the Los Angeles Times.
She received the prestigious Hon Kachina Award in 2007.
Her greatest accomplishment, however, is that she is a mother to five children, now mostly grown. She notes “four who walk and one who soars”.
On a personal note, she has been a vegetarian since 1976 and enjoys barefoot hiking, reading, surfing, and rock climbing.
Her life changed profoundly in 1994 when her daughter, Cheyenne, died.
Here is where you all come in. The MISS Foundation is growing rapidly. Which is sad because it means kids die. Yup. I know first hand. They do, it can happen to anyone of you(although I pray to RO that it never does), and it’s time that people start to stop hiding it like a dirty little secret. They die. Parents need help to get through this. Nobody should be expected to survive this on their own, the way Dr. Jo was. The MISS Foundation, understands this, like nobody else. Dr. Jo understands this, like nobody else. The MISS Foundation, needs help from a lot of you lovely blog readers, who so desprately want to help me. You can help me, by helping Dr. Jo. Kathy Sandler, the Director of MISS sent me a list of all the ways they need help. See below.
Before all of this, I had a really good head on my shoulders. I lived a really happy, simple life. My life consisted of a handful of really close friends. Sisters that I had chosen to be in my life after waiting a really long time for them. Time spent with them would be dinner once a month, enjoying each other while having play dates with our kids, meeting up to go running or hiking. Simple things. My life with my husband was really easy. It was full of security, love, trust, and we took time to make sure we were keeping our marriage a priority. We did weekly date nights, to dinner or a movie. Occasionally, we would have the boys sleep over at my in-laws so we could have time just the two of us. We took a trip, once a year, just the two of us. But our WORLD was our 3 little boys. Woody worked really hard to be the best attorney, husband, and father. My friends and mom were always telling me they wished they could clone him. I knew how lucky I was. I know how lucky I am. I worked really hard at being a good mom. My days were spent tending to everything my boys could need, while teaching them our values, morals, and what it meant to be a good person.
I lived in a bubble. But a good bubble. A bubble full of being a good mama, wife, friend, and person. It’s just the way it was. And then it popped. In the hugest way possible. I spent my early years, before kids, helping others. I was passionate about Psychology and intrigued with the learning process that went into it. I worked at an eating disorder clinic. I thought it was what I wanted to spend my life doing, helping others. Woody and I got married. And soon after that, we were surprised to find out I was pregnant. And it was twins. It was a very shocking, happy surprise. After Liam and Quinn were born, they were all I wanted to do. Being a mom to the twins came naturally to me, like I had been waiting my whole life for it. I was young, didn’t have any mommy friends, and felt really alone though. Liam, Quinn, and Woody really were my entire world. I joined a parenting group, to make friends. We would meet once a week to voice our concerns, listen to advice, but it was more about making friends. I didn’t make many. I remember sitting in our classes and it would soon turn into a bitching session about someone’s husband. I would listen to people talk about their Nanny’s. Not many of the girls worked and I remember never being able to wrap my head around the fact that they didn’t work, but needed a Nanny. It seemed like a foreign country to me. I would show up for playdates. I remember people being shocked that 1) I didn’t have a Nanny ( uhhh.. i didn’t work and my husband was a Public Defender, so a Nanny was never even an option. I wouldn’t have taken it if it were anyway.) 2) The way they would make a big deal of me carrying in both of my twins in their infant carriers, without help. 3) The way they always assumed taking care of my twins was the hardest job in the world and they would always ask how I did it. I would just reply back, I didn’t know any other way. I loved every second of it.
I grabbed a couple close friends out of that parenting group. One in particular, named Gina. We met when our boys were about 6 months old. We instantly hit it off. She was such a free spirit, like me. She was real and always laughing and smiling. She would often call me up last-minute to ask if the boys and I could meet up to play. I would always say yes. It was the same way with her. We didn’t listen to they typical “mommy rules,” when it came to our 2 year olds. We would let them skip preschool and take them somewhere fun to play instead. They were always the kids that were laughing the loudest, causing trouble, running around, getting dirty and Gina and I spent every second with them, in the mix of it all. She was by far, my best mommy friend. Our boys were best friends. Than Ronan was born. I swear I blinked my eye and before I knew it, he was up and running right behind Arthur, Liam and Quinn. He was the 4th member to their little wolf pack and always caused more trouble than the 3 of them combined. Ronan was totally fearless and tended to show off and do naughty things just to get laughs from the boys. Gina and I soaked up every second of our boys, watching them learn about life and how to truly live like carefree little boys. It was pure bliss and we both knew it.
Then Ronan got sick. I was so wrapped up in Ronan’s new world and didn’t see much of Gina. She dropped off dinners a couple of times but that was about it. I felt like she was trying to help, but just didn’t know what to do. I was not the best at getting back to people so unless you showed up, pounding on my door, it was very likely that I had just stopped responding. There have been a few people in my life that have gone away who knew Ronan and I’ll admit, it hurts my feelings. But I also understand this is not a one way street and it takes a lot to be my friend now. I’m not afraid to admit that this may be much of my fault. It takes a lot to stick with someone throughout something like this. Gina went away. But I can honestly say, she was the one person, that I didn’t question and it didn’t hurt my feelings. I know Gina. I know the kind of heart she has. She has one of the purest hearts I have ever seen in my life. I know she went away because she was that hurt, upset, and sad for Ronan and our family. There was nothing selfish about it. It wasn’t about her; it was about us. That’s just the way Gina is. She is always thinking of others. Even though I haven’t seen much of her, I never doubted for a second that she wasn’t thinking of us. I know she was and always is.
I ran into Gina on Saturday at the boys’ basketball game. She came up and hugged me. She sat and talked with me for a while and I watched her fight back the tears as she told me how sorry she was, that she never knows the right thing to say. I told her that was the thing…. that she didn’t need to say anything because I know, even without her words. I know her heart and soul and she didn’t need to explain a thing to me. I meant that. I miss her. I miss the way our boys used to play together. I miss the way we would try to discipline them, but we would usually end up cracking up at the crazy things our boys said and did. I miss the way we would let their play dates last way too long and how we would always let them eat too much Ice Cream. I miss our spontaneous play dates and how we would ignore the world and just do whatever made our boys happy. I miss how we were driving in my car once with the windows rolled down and Ronan chucked a half full Gatorade Bottle out the window at another car going the opposite way. All the boys were howling with laughter. I laughed too but pulled over and went back to pick it up because, duh…. littering is not cool. But the laughter from the car, was priceless.
My life is different now. It’s sad and really empty without Ronan. But it has to go on for the sake of all of us. As much as I want it to stop, it’s not going to. I told Gina I missed her and I wanted to get our boys together to play. Will it be sad without Ronan? Without a doubt. Arthur loved him like a brother. Will it be painful for me? Without a doubt. But Gina is too precious of a person to not have in my life. It’s time to start letting old things back in because when you really find a true, real, genuine person in life… you don’t ever let go. Gina is that person and I am so thankful that she was blessed with knowing the real Ronan. The extra spicy most beautiful boy. She loves him. She will always love him. We all miss him.