Ronan. May 9th came and went. It was a gut wrenchingly hard day. I did my best. I did all I could do. I did not die. It was a rainy day, as it should have been. I got up, showered, dressed. I went and had lunch with your daddy and brothers on this awful, awful day. We had planned a day of hiking. Just as we finished lunch, your purple balloons arrived. 5 of them. Sent by the most thoughtful board members and little intern on the planet. The one’s who put so much thought and effort into sending us off, on this trip, that we have had gifts to open every single day that we have been gone. All things inspired by you. Things that have made us laugh, be silly, and wild and free. Things that have made us cry, like the 5 purple balloons. Who thinks to have purple balloons sent to our hotel, so we can let them go for you because they know we are in a small town, and wouldn’t be able to find them anywhere? My board members. My intern. My sisters. My family. This is why they are the one’s I trusted with your candy cart for Phoenix Children’s Hospital for your birthday. This is why they sit on your foundation board. Because they know this is not just business. This is about unconditional love, thoughtfulness, and helping when help is needed most. They know this without me having to say a word. This Ronan, is the truest form of unconditional love. This Ronan, is why after all of this, I still think I am lucky and blessed. So very blessed even without you. I know these little blessings are all gifts from you, to keep me going. Thank you so much. I don’t know what I would do without them.
After lunch, I grabbed the 5 purple balloons and hugged the front desk girl and told her thank you with tears streaming down my cheeks. One of my lovely little board members, filled her in on the reason for our “vacation.” She knew the reason for us being there. She looked at me and said, “You are welcome. Please, let me know if you need anything.” I told her I would. We headed out for our hike. We drove to somewhere that was recommended to us. I let your daddy navigate and take us to our destination. I sat, numb, and totally zoned out. I tried to let myself get lost in the beauty around us, but it was impossible to take me away from the world I live in, without you. Once we arrived, we scoped out the trails. We ran through the woods down towards the water. I carried your 5 balloons. We all stood together and each of us, took a purple balloon. Your daddy and I held yours, together. We let them go and watched them float away. We clung on to each other, and I buried my head into your daddy’s shoulders. We stayed that way for a while. Your brothers didn’t really know what to do as they seem to be pretty unfazed by everything that is going on around us. As 8 year olds should be. We went on a long hike through the woods. Every stick I saw, ever rocked I threw, every mud puddle I stepped in, was a slap in the face to me. It hurt, so much. It is so wrong that you are not here, running through that forest, with your brothers like you should have been. You would have loved every second of our family hike. It was the most exhausting hike of my life. It wasn’t physically hard. It was the mental part that I struggled with. Hiking on the day that you died, because you died, because nobody knew what else to do. Talk about a mind fuck of a day.
I heard about the storm in Phoenix on your death day, Ro. A spicy storm on May 9th that could have only been caused by you. I have no doubt about that. I loved hearing all about your storm. Nobody could believe it. The people that love you the most, could. You made it pour down on me, in Maine, and you proved your point with your spicy little storm in Phoenix as well. You are such a little badass.
I don’t remember the rest of the day or night. All I know is I went to sleep, exhausted. No Ambien needed. I have not taken that, since the first night we were on our trip. I have slept alright without it.
I have been so preoccupied with your death day, that it is as if your birthday has come up from nowhere and knocked me down so hard on my ass, that today, I did not know if I could get up. I did. I mustered up the energy to go out for a while to explore our new surroundings as we switched locations last night. A new destination was a good change of pace. We explored for a few hours and then headed back to our hotel. I had a raging headache probably due to all the crying I had done. I crawled in bed while your brothers played outside and your daddy worked. I needed to just shut down for a couple of hours, so I did. I got up when I got a text message from one of our lovies here. She was close by our little town and came by to see us. The two of us went out and grabbed a quick bite to eat. She knew I was having a hard day. She knows first hand, all too well about this life. We quietly talked about all things that two mom’s should never have to talk about. Kids getting cancer. Kids dying from cancer. The how’s, the why’s, the unfairness of it all. I spent the hour at dinner, looking across the table at my friend who has the same eyes as mine. One’s filled with so much pain, that it is palpable. But there is a fire there, too. I see her son, in her eyes, every time I look into them. It gives me strength. I left her still feeling pretty sad, but feeling better about your upcoming birthday. I left there, feeling like I could get through tomorrow, without you.
I came out of the restaurant and I had 16 text messages on my phone. FUCK. I had forgotten about the little insane text message party I had with Rita, before going to dinner. The one where I was laying in bed, sobbing, and she just happened to check in on me. The one where I said I wanted to die, and how many Ambien would it take to overdose? She responded right away with one could not overdose on Ambien, but instead they will lose all control of their bodily functions and shit themselves. Well, that sounded like a shitty plan. I would not like to do that. I then asked her the best way to commit suicide, and told her I was googling it. I was. But not because I wanted to really die; mostly out of curiosity. Rita told me she was not playing this bullshit game with me and gave me the sternest text messaging spanking I’ve ever gotten in my life. I threw my phone in my purse, forgot all about our conversation, and headed out the door to dinner. Once I saw my phone, on text message overload, I remembered what had gone down. I quickly responded that I was alright, so sorry, and I would call her in a few. I got home and called the two people I needed to check in with.
Your Fernanda was first. Ronan. Do you know what she did? It is unbelievable. I left for this trip, and I pretty much left my lovely little board members in charge of Ronan’s Day of Love at PCH. I knew I couldn’t be there, so I left the ones I trust most in this world, in charge of it. I knew they would not let us down. I know how hard this was for all of them to do; but they didn’t blink twice when I asked them. They were honored, to be honoring you in a way that meant so much to me. We have planned for a couple of months now. The candy cart, the balloons, the Star Wars characters to visit the kids. Who would be there, helping. A day of love at PCH, all inspired by you, to make others smile and happy and to forget about the fact that they are in a hospital, fighting this beast that no child should ever have to fight. I had an idea about what it is I wanted for your candy cart, but I gave Fernanda free rein to do whatever it is, she wanted. What she put together, ended up being a freaking masterpiece. I don’t know how she did it, but she did. She spent all day Friday, “Pimping your Wagon,” as she said. She had some great helpers, this I know. Thank you, all. So much. Ronan’s purple candy wagon, complete with an iPod and speakers, for the playlist I made, not to mention a secret hidden zombie underneath, is something you would have gone crazy over, Ronan. It was everything you. It was all you. I could not have done a better job myself. This is the reason, your Fernanda wears your ashes that I gave her, around her neck. Because she knows you inside and out. Because you are her Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Forever and always.
I called her, I broke down and cried, I told her thank you over and over. I listened to her voice and let her put her little spell on me that she always does. The one where she calms me down and takes me away to a world where only you and I exist and she reminds me to remember this. That you are still here, with me. That you are mine and I am forever yours. Nobody else can do this for me, but her. I hung up with her feeling a little better. I had to call Rita, next. Our very long conversation can be summed up best by this.
Me: I am so fucking sorry. I should not have texted you that I want to kill myself crap. That was not o.k. I thought you knew I was kind of joking. You know me. You know I’m not going to do anything.
Her: You are a mother fucker. You are not allowed to do that to me, set the phone down, and not answer it. EVER! I did not know if you were serious or not. I thought you were really dead. I thought you were really dead, but you know what Fernanda told me? She told me this. “Listen, Rita. I believe Maya wants to die, everyday. But not by her own hands. Do you know how I know Maya will not actually do anything? Because she wears lipgloss. Because she gets manicures and pedicures. Because she puts on make-up and fixes her hair. Because this shows me that for all the pain she’s in, she has a shred of self-love left. She takes care of herself by doing these things. We can all be concerned if she stops showering and wearing lipgloss. Until then, she is alright.”
Rita and I were both in stitches. Only Fernanda could rationalize my madness by saying the key to me not taking my own life, is because I wear lipgloss. Only Fernanda, could make it make perfect sense because it absolutely does. I told Rita, I was sorry again. I truly was. I didn’t mean to make her worry. I was in a bad place and I was venting but it still was not right to do. I know I can be a jackass sometimes. I am thankful she loves me enough to forgive me. I fell asleep last night, cuddled up to your Liam. I was missing you extra much. He felt extra soft and snuggly to me. I soaked him in for the rest of the night, knowing what I had to wake up to. But it was another Ambien free night. I was a good girl, for you.
I woke up, feeling sick to my stomach. Ronan’s 5th Birthday day. I didn’t know what to do. I threw on my clothes with your daddy still sleeping and your brothers were just starting to stir. Out the door for a run I went. A little run that turned into a 2 hour run, partly due the detour I took, to sit in the middle of the forest to sob about you, and partly due to the fact that I got lost. Lost on your 5th birthday, without you. Seemed pretty fitting, actually. I ended up finding my way home, Ronan. I always do.
I made it through the day, thanks to the help of your daddy, brothers, and friends. The 4 of us had a low-key day/night. We all wore purple, from head to toe. I played Lacrosse out in the big, grassy lawn with your brothers. There spent the day laughing and giggling as they should have. I have yet to go on to Facebook but I swear it seems as people all over the world were out doing crazy, kind-hearted things for you. I am moved beyond words by just a fraction of the stories that I have heard. They fill me with a bittersweet hopefulness that I never wanted, but now it will always be mine. I will treat this as a gift. I have no choice. This life I live now, Ronan… is one filled with all things beauty and pain. They will always go hand in hand. I have to learn how to let them work together, while being respectful of one another. It’s a heavy-hearted job but it is my job to do. After today, there is the most amazing proof that I am not doing this alone. So many of my family, friends, ex friends, old friends, new friends, and strangers are in this for the long haul, too. Look at all you’ve done and it’s only been a year, sweet boy. Imagine what we will do, in this lifetime together. So many amazing things. I know this.
To everyone out there, who spent today, honoring my Ronan by being extra kind, spicy, loving, honest, brave, caring, wild and free. Thank you. So much. You are getting me through my darkest days. You are making a difference. You are making him, so very proud. I love you all. Without you, this would not be happening. It is because of your loyalty and love that this world is going to change. Thank you for believing this in your hearts and souls and for being grateful for what it is you have. No matter how much or how little because you all get what truly is important. LOVE and HEALTH. That’s it. Those are the only two things that matter in life. If you have those two things, you have everything.
One last little shout out tonight, Ronan. My lovely little board members, my intern Rissy, and sissy, Liz. I know today was so hard for all of you. Words cannot even touch how thankful I am. You took Ronan’s birthday and made the day of so many parents, kids, siblings, nurses, and staff at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. You made them smile. You gave them a good day full of warmth and love. That is priceless. You all are priceless. Thank you for all of your hard work, love and turning today into a day that was all about Ronan, without it having to be, “All about Ronan.” I am blown away at how perfect everything turned out, but not surprised. Just very, very humbled and grateful. I love you all, so much. I know he is so proud. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Alright my Ronan. I need to end this now. Happy 5th Birthday. You would have been the most beautiful 5-year-old to walk this planet. This is beyond fucked up. This is beyond unfair. I am so sorry. I made one wish for you tonight. That I of course, hope you are safe. I love you to the moon and back. I will fix this. I will make this better. I won’t break my promise to you. I promise on my life, that I choose to live. Because this living thing is a choice and I am not going to waste it. I will live for you. Until you are ready for me to be with you, once again. I love you. Sweet dreams.
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