Ronan. About 3 weeks ago, Dr. JoRo said to me, “Hey, do you want to hike Mt. Wilson with me, on April 26th?” I didn’t even look at my calendar. I just gave her an, “Absolutely.” I didn’t even know what Mt. Wilson was, except for it was in Sedona and I knew it would be an adventure. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams, the adventure it would turn out to be. I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. I quietly threw together my things and headed out the door for the drive up to Sedona. A drive that I have come to love so much. It started to rain on my drive up. Dr. Jo said it might rain today. “That would be the best!” I said to her. I arrived to Jo’s around 7 a.m. She was all ready to go and we called her neighbors to see if they were ready to meet us. They were, so we all piled in their truck and headed out for our little hike. I had on shorts, a tank top, my purple coat and your backpack full of water and your GiGi. This is Arizona, it’s April, and it’s been hot. We don’t really get rain in April, so my outfit seemed appropriate.
We quickly arrived at Mt. Wilson. At 7,122 feet, it is the highest of all the mountains in Sedona. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We started our hike and for the first 10 minutes, I was warm. I was a little bummed out that the sun was starting to peak through. I unzipped my jacket and went, “Here comes the mother fucking sun. Again.” I was really needing a break from the inferno today. Up we went. Dr. Jo climbed a tree to hang some of your bracelets on it. I started snapping some great pictures of her. She is such a little spicy monkey, like you. On her way down, snap went the branch due to it being all rotted and dead. She fell, but caught herself just before landing right on top of a cactus. We starting laughing and the first war wounds of the day, were earned. I noticed the clouds rolling in and the rain that started to trickle. A smile spread across my face. We continued on. Within minutes, the sky had turned and we were getting rained on like I had never seen rain before on an April Arizona day. I was snapping pictures, left and right. We both kept stopping to take in the views. Soon the thunder and lighting started up. “It’s Ronan,” I said. “He’s mad.” Pebbles started hitting us in the face. “HOLY HAIL!” I cried out. “I told you he was mad! Ouch!” It was hailing on us, hitting us both in the face, and we were laughing. The wind started howling and whipping around us. We still had a couple of hours to go up the mountain. The rain did not let up. At all. We were sopping wet from head to toe, but we still continued on, determined to make it to the top.
I felt like we were transformed to a bunch of different worlds today. I said to Jo, “I feel like we are walking to the end of the earth.” She agreed. I am quite certain, that it was you today, Ronan, whom was in charge of this weather. You know how the dreary, rainy weather is one of my favorite things in the world. You know how much I miss it. You know how much I miss you. I think this was your way of crying for me and letting me cry for you. With the millions of tears that poured down on me today. The millions of tears that will never add up to all the tears that I’ve cried since you’ve been gone. Today, the weather was your tears and my tears, combined. Together, the sky and the heavens above, wept for us.
Dr. JoRo summed up our hike like this:
Ecopsychology. Bear. Gigantic falling trees. Hail. Raining four straight hours. 40mph wind. Sloshy mud. Lightning. Tree climbing. 17 miles, and 7000+ feet. 35 degrees. Muddy falls. Drenched head to toe. Never done anything quite like this. It was good to do for a very special little boy who is loved and MISSed. Pilgrimages of remembrance don’t get much better than this. — with Maya Thompson.
It was all of those things and more. So much more than I could have ever imagined. Once we got to the top, it was so cold that we could see our breath. We were not prepared with any water proof clothes, our lips were blue, and pretty much every body part was numb. I could not feel my legs or hands. I think I may have thought to myself, “There is no way we are going to make it down this mountain. They are going to have to send a search party.” We stayed at the top but not for long. Between the rain that was coming down and the wind, it was almost unbearable. I started to lead the way down the mountain. I stayed with Dr. Jo and her neighbors for a bit but I needed to run. I felt myself getting angry and sad and needed to take out my energy on something. Soon, I started running and didn’t look back. I ran as fast as my feet would carry me. I jumped over broken down tree stumps, over boulders, through sticker bushes, slipped all over the place in the red mud that felt like quicksand on my feet. It just continued to pour down rain and did not let up at all. At one point, I had to pee so badly, but it was hailing again. “Oh fuck it,” I said. Down came the shorts and my bare ass was pelted by the hail coming down. I busted out laughing. Today may have been one of the craziest things I’ve ever done in my life, besides skydiving. Bare ass in the air, covered in mud, drenched from head to toe… so totally badass. I felt like I was on some adventure extreme sports show, roughing it in nature. I would have totally beaten all the other contestants today, Ronan…if it had been a competition. I would have beaten them all, done anything and everything, to get you back. That’s how I felt going up that mountain today. Do not stop. Keep going. You are not cold. You are not in pain. You are alive. So you don’t get to have any excuses. You don’t get to wuss out. You don’t get to give up or turn around. You can do this. Ronan would give anything to be here, living life, growing up, and doing these things. He doesn’t get to, so you have to do them, for him. I continued sprinting. I had a baggie of your ashes with me. I haven’t ever spread them out anywhere before, besides the lockets that I wear and the one I gave to Fernanda. I carry your ashes with me, a lot of places, but never leave them anywhere. I wasn’t sure if I was going to or not today. It just didn’t feel right. At one point, I was running so hard and so fast that my legs felt as if they were on fire. I turned a corner and it was out of nowhere, the most beautiful field of the brightest yellow wildflowers appeared. They were so bright, that it was almost blinding. I stopped dead in my tracks. Yellow. Bright yellow. Scatter them here, on top of these flowers. I did. I know you know why. It was the perfect spot. I kissed the top of the flowers all covered with some of your ashes. Just as I did this, the rain started pouring down so hard that I could hardly see. I started to cry. I told you how sorry I was. How much I love you. But mostly how sorry I was. How sorry I will be for the rest of my life. You should be here. I should not. I’ll never understand why this was you and not me. You did not deserve any of this, Ronan. I would have given anything, for this to be have been me. Anything and everything. Fate is cruel. Fate is not kind. Fate is a fucking asshole. Especially when it comes in the form of sweet, innocent babes getting cancer. And then dying from it. Fate can go and get fucked.
I ran as fast as I could down the mountain. I had painted mud war stripes on my face. I live in a war, everyday of my life. They were necessary to wear today. They made me giggle. I purposely jumped in every single huge mud puddle that came my way. I did this for all of you, of course. I laughed out loud. I pictured you watching me and what a sight I’ll bet it was. My purple jacket, against the red contrast of the red rocks, flying down Mt. Wilson today in the pouring rain, laughing, crying, screaming… but most of all feeling something other than the fucking pain I feel 24 hours a day. Feeling something other than feeling dead. Today, I felt alive and it felt alright. And I don’t need any kind of bullshit medication to make me feel this way, Ronan. You know what I need? Exactly what I’ve been doing. Nature. Exercise. Mindfulness. Pain. Honesty. Love. I will survive this, thanks to those things and nothing else. Nothing else that comes in the form of a pill anyway. A pill for grief is absurd. A pill for grief is madness. A pill for grief will only create a bigger problem. There is a simple solution, really. It’s called how about feeling, what you feel, when you feel it, and facing it head on. That’s what a brave person would do. That is what a strong person would do. Those are the two things, you kept saying over and over to me in my head today. I heard you about 50 different times. “Mama. You have to be brave and strong, because I was brave and strong.” I know, Ronan. I know. I hear this a lot from you. I’m listening.
So, today. Today was one of the best days of my life that I have had, since losing you. I learned that I am capable of so much, Ronan. I can do all of this and I know this due to having days like today, which don’t happen very often. I went back to Jo’s after our hike. We showered, ate, played some ridiculous card game, laughed so hard that at one point, her son, Josh, fell off of a chair. I would not be doing alright without her, Ronan. She is such a huge factor in this process for me. She has this grief thing figured out and the funny thing is, it really has nothing to do with science. It has nothing to do with medication. It has everything to do with love, compassion, empathy, pain, laughter, passion, and just letting one find their own way. Whatever that may be. Without the judgements.
It’s super late. I’m so tired from today. No Ambien for about a week now. Good girl. I hate that shit. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. Sweet dreams, baby doll.
Ro baby. Hi. Hola. I cannot believe you are not here. I cannot believe you are really gone. I hate this so much. I’ve had a lot going on. I’ve done my hiking everyday or every night just like I said I would. I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it and have not missed a day. Even on the days that I have not been feeling well or have been too sad, tired, sore, or it’s too late. I don’t care. I have made myself climb that mountain, every single day. I have no excuse not to. I broke the most important promise in the world to you, which was how I promised to save you. I’m not breaking this one. I will spend the rest of my life, fulfilling the promises I make to you. It’s one of the things I take very seriously in this oh so insane life without you.
I had a board meeting yesterday. It was productive and fast. We are getting a lot of things done. I made it through yesterday by the skin of my teeth and a very long, hot hike. I’ve slept the past 4 nights without our little frienenemy, Ambien. Yay me. My sleep has been horrific though. So many intense nightmares. I cannot even think about them without being sick. A lot of them have to do with you being tortured and I cannot get to you, in time to save you. I wake up scared and sad but I’m back to fighting off having to take Ambien. I don’t like taking any kind of prescription sleep aids. I’m back to trying to suffer through sleep, without their help. Dr. Jo is happy about that. I am too.
I spent today running around, getting things done. It seemed everywhere I went, I was surrounded by babies. It was weird. It made me really sad and miss you. I met Rita for lunch. I was waiting for her and I texted her something like, “Fucking babies everywhere.” She said we could go somewhere else. I told her no. That I would just ignore the babies. She got to the restaurant. I think she saw the look on my face as sweet innocent baby #1 was right behind me. She sat down. She looked at me and goes, “Oh my god. Whatever you do, DO NOT TURN AROUND. They just took their baby out and it is a lizard. It’s not even a human. They had a freaking lizard for a baby and it is disgusting.” I started cracking up. The baby lizard story continued for a few minutes while the laughter escaped my lips. It was a really, really, good story. I almost believed it. That Rita of yours, knows just how to make me giggle when I need it the most. #Thankful (hashtag, right Rita?)
After lunch I ran to see Dr. JoRo. We sat in her office and hashed out what has been going on. I cried. A lot. She asked what we were doing, this time last year. I told her. She asked me if I had written it down. I said I am pretty sure I had written a blog entry. She asked if I minded if she looked it up, from around this time, last year. I told her I never re read what I wrote, but sure. She found an entry. She read it out loud. She had to stop a few times, to compose herself. I just sat quietly and let the tears slide down my cheeks. I closed my eyes and pretended like I was listening to someone else’s story. Please don’t let this be about us. Please don’t let this be about you. I begged. I pleaded. I opened my eyes. There your little obituary sat on the same place it always is. Right in the middle of her desk. This is our story and it fucking sucks. I don’t care what good comes from this, Ro. All I want is you back here with me. More than anything.
I’ve been making plans though. Plans for your birthday, plans for our trip, plans for summer, plans for this marathon of madness. Lots of plans. Lots of plans that I don’t want to make but what choice do I have? I have to do these things for my sanity and for the sake of your best brothers, who deserve to have as normal as a summer as possible. I saw your Sparkly. I had your GiGi with me when I saw him.
“Why are you carrying that around? I’ve never seen you do that.”
I had it draped over my neck.
“I need it today. It smells like him. I take it a lot of places. I just don’t pull it out in front of you.”
He gave me that curious/sad look that I get a lot. We chatted about some things that have gone on/are going on. I sat quietly and let him talk. Sometimes I need to do that. Sometimes, I don’t have much to say because it’s all I can do not to choke on my tears. Sometimes, it’s just good for me to sit back and listen. He may have told me sometimes he wants to ring my neck due to certain things that tend to just come flying out of my mouth. I told him I knew. I apologized for my non existant filter that does not exist around him. I asked him what was I supposed to do? I told him to stop telling me I was going to be fine because that is what he is always telling me. I finally got him today, to admit that I am not going to be fine. He told me today, “I know you are not going to be fine. I’m not telling you this ever again. I am going to tell you what I know about you and that is you are going to survive this. You will survive.”
I buried my face into your blanket. I spattered out the words, “May. How am I going to do May?”
“You know how you are going to do May? With Ronan. Ronan will get you through May. Nobody else. You have to trust that. He is not going to let you down. He is going to get you through May. I promise you that.”
I looked up, my eyes burning with tears. I quietly said, “O.k.” and nodded my head. I trust his words. I trust you. I have to, Ronan. I just wish I didn’t have to. I just wish I had you back here with you trusting me, because that’s the way it should be. It should not be like this.
I fell asleep, baby doll. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.