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.