The day we pretended like you were alive


Ronan. Today, I got a phone call from your brothers’ school in the middle of the day. A phone call like that is never good. I picked up and listened as the school nurse informed me that Liam got hurt at recess and I needed to come and pick him up because he needed stitches. She was a little panicky which led me to hauling ass to the school as quickly as possible. Once I was there, I checked out the damage done and it didn’t seem too bad. She cleaned out his elbow and he actually did have a pretty deep football war wound. She told me she was pretty sure he was going to need stitches. I put Liam in the car and calmed him down. He was pretty freaked out about the stitches part, but was trying to act so brave as he hid his tears. I told him stitches may not be necessary and told him if they were, the doctors have some great numbing medicine that they would put on it so he wouldn’t feel a thing. I called our doctor’s office and I was informed that they wouldn’t do stitches on the elbow, so we should head down to PCH. Down to PCH we went for our little adventure of the day.

We got a room pretty quickly and the nurse in charge came in to check out Liam’s elbow. He started asking all sorts of questions like how did this happen, are you in pain, etc… All the basic questions that are necessary. I stayed out of the question answering part of this as I am aware that your brothers are big enough to speak for themselves but being the mother hen that I am, I always want to swoop in and answer for them anyway. I let Liam do the talking. After all the formal questions were out-of-the-way, next came the fun ones. “How old are you? What grade are you in? What’s your favorite football team?” Liam answered them all without skipping a beat. The next question came. “Do you have any sisters or brothers?” Oh god, I thought to myself. How is he going to answer this? “Yes. I have 2 brothers and a baby sister on the way.” I let out a sigh of relief. The next question came. “How old are your brothers?” Liam answered, “My twin brother is 9 like me and my little brother is 4.” I looked up at Liam as I wasn’t expecting him to answer like that. So nonchalantly, as if this were absolutely true and we were just another normal family where you didn’t die from cancer. “Wow! 3 big brothers! Your little sister is one lucky girl!” said the nurse with a big grin on his face. Liam then goes, “I know, ” as he shot me a big grin from across the room. I had been watching his face this entire time and gave him a big smile and a wink. He winked right back at me. Winking was something you used to do to me all the time. I remember how you mastered it while we were in New York and you were so proud to show it off whenever you could. This winking moment with Liam totally made my day. It reminded me so much of you. You were the best little winker. I swear we have been smiling ever since. I don’t know if this is right or wrong. All I know is it felt like a really beautiful moment that I wasn’t going to let pass me by. Today, I did not feel like swooping in and explaining our real truth while my voice quivered and tears ran down my cheeks. Today, I felt like smiling right back at your sweet brother and going along with our perfect little happy family story that at one time, was really ours.

Liam ended up not needing stitches. They were able to clean it out, gauze it up, and bandaged it up really well. It looks like a really good war wound. He was most concerned that he was going to have to sit out at his first baseball game that night. I told him we would see how he was feeling, but it might be a good idea to rest his arm. That’s what ended up happening. Your brothers had their first baseball game last night. I went and sat and watched. Our dear Kassie came with me. Your brothers were so excited that she was coming to watch. It was a great game and they ended up winning. I always find myself missing you during these times so much. I know your brothers do, too.

I had a Poppy check up yesterday. Everything looks good with her or according to Dr. Schwartz, “She looks perfect!” I said I knew, that all of my kids always looked perfect. It’s the after part does my new baby have cancer I’m worried about. We talked a bit about newborn screening. We talked a bit about the date which I would prefer for Poppy to make her entrance into the world. She knows how nervous I am and has been so good with me about doing whatever it is I need done to calm me down. She asked me if I would ever do this again… the have another baby part. I told her I didn’t think so, that mentally it has been really hard for me. Let’s just get Poppy here safe and sound. I can hardly wrap my brain around any of this, let alone thinking about another baby. Yikes. That seems like a lot. Dr. Schwartz told me she is measuring a week ahead of schedule in her height, but not in her weight which is a good thing. I’m sure she is going to be so tall and have those long legs of your daddy’s. We are slowly getting things ready around here. All of this still doesn’t really feel real to me. I know it’s going to take her actually having her here, for me to fully grasp all of this.

Alright little man. I need to run. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.


34 responses to “The day we pretended like you were alive”

  1. he is such a proud big brother ๐Ÿ™‚ you really do have the best kids, maya.

  2. RobininHouston Avatar

    Man, tears are streaming down my face for your precious Liam. Liam spoke the truth. He has two brothers and a baby sister on the way. How beautiful. โค

  3. And I, too, have a big fat grin on my face. Your family is absolutely amazing Maya. Glad to hear all is well with little Miss Poppy!!!! Xoxo

  4. Maya- thank you for sharing that very personal story of Liam and the war wound. Very touching, moving…. Whatever you want to call it, I have tears streaming down my face and my heart is full of love for you and your family of 6. Thanks for your honest, raw posts. They are inspiring and have made me look at EVERYTHING in a different way.

    Love to you,

  5. Bless you heart and your 4 Angeles.. Love you guys allot and you seem to always make me cry and make me appreciate all the things around you all

  6. Your son has taught you the best lesson. Ronan will always be a part of and included in your family, even if only in spirit. I absolutely loved this. Your son is very thoughtful and wise.

  7. woo hoo for Liam!! He holds his truth and speaks it. I’m so proud of him. I cannot wait for pictures of the boys with their little sister. If you are able, please take one including Ronan’s photo so that all four children are together. Much love to all

  8. RoMama,

    So glad Liam didn’t need stitches. He’s so articulate in his answering. YUP 3 brothers to watch over Miss Poppy Princess!

    I can’t wait for you to hold PopStar in your arms and love her up. I can’t wait….

    RoLove always xo

  9. How beautiful ! Maya all of your kids are so perfect !
    Ronan is and always will be in your family, Liam is young, but he seems so mature !
    … I’m so glad for his words !
    I love you all !

  10. War wounds must be a boy thing ๐Ÿ™‚ Having two boys this sounds so familiar…from basketball to baseball to soccer to quad riding to rc car racing, it seems to never end.
    Liam only spoke the truth and what he feels in his heart, what a wonderful young man, very smart and courageous.

    As always sending love from your little home town

  11. Liam was right. She will have 3 big brothers to watch out for her. Just not in the conventional way. What a bright boy he is. He must have known you needed to hear that too. Nice little secret, together.
    Love always

  12. I can not wait for the update i come here everyday and everyday that there is no post i think poppy is here ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope your son feels better….hugs and love

  13. I should know better than to peek at your blog at work. One of these days, someone’s going to catch me in tears. Awkward, ha! What a sweet Liam boy you have. The truth of it is exactly how he said it. Poppy will have three big brothers looking out for her. Two from this world, one from another. That is one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard in a long time. *wink*

  14. Thank you for continuing to share your story; I’ve been following ever since seeing Ronan’s song performed by Miss Swift last fall. I’m 23, I fucking hate cancer, and my heart hurt for you all after hearing that beautiful song. I lost one grandparent to a brain tumor, have another living with lymphoma, and just recently lost the most inspiring and generous man I’ve ever known, my uncle. I don’t know how to grieve, let alone express what you so eloquently and honestly share on a daily basis. I don’t know you personally, but your words continue to resonate and help me more than anyone else’s. My heart breaks for your loss, but today I have the biggest grin for the special moment you shared with Liam. I want to thank you for sharing your beautiful boy’s story. Much love!

  15. Maya I enjoy all your blog entries but this was my favorite. Thank you for making my heart warm.

  16. This was just a beautiful post…enough said…xoxo

    1. agree! xxxxx

  17. I still remember when my son Javier fell at school and they called me at work and the first thing the lady from the school said was “We stopped the blood, so don’t worry” Very reassuring, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Ronan will always be there for his brothers. My brothers died many years ago, and when someone ask me how many brothers do I have, I always say 2 and avoid the moment of having to explain all the details of their passing away…is easier that way:)
    Poppy is almost here!! Can’t wait to see those beautiful eyes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. I have a huge smile on my face after reading this post. Maya, you are such an amazing mother and your children and their strength show that every day.
    Getting so excited for Poppy ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. This was a beautiful post and I love how Liam still talks about Ronan as his brother without even thinking!! He is soo amazing just like Ronan and Quinn and your whole family!!!! I can’t wait to hear about this little poppy baby!

    By the way, I was in NYC today and the whole time I was thinking about you and Ro and how much…I know that you will enjoy these moments with lil poppy too! I always have Ro in my heart and on my mind…

  20. Liam was right when he answered the question. One of my 5 year olds had a kindergarten homework assignment to list the people in her family from tallest to shortest. She included her brothers who have died. She did make them the shortest (but one of them, if he lived longer, would be 7 and taller). Whatever answers work. There are no rules. FU CANCER!!

  21. Maya,
    I’m so glad Liam is on the mend. Last night my 15 year old awesome daughter went to the Premiere of The Host and was going to be in the fan section. We talked about her night and she said “I wish I had a Rockstar Ronan bracelet to wear on the red carpet! I would take a picture and twitter it just like I’m a celebrity and raise awareness in my age group.”. She’s a brainiac 15 yr old that wants to work in peds onc someday. She loves Ronan too. Can we get a bracelet? I know you’re not busy making and preparing home for baby or anything. Ha. Or where can we get one? Hang in there girl. You too are a Rockstar! You are going to change the world for cancer babes! Wish there wasn’t a need for someone like you bc kiddos didn’t ever get cancer.

  22. Hi Maya, you don’t know me, but like many others, I follow here and thank you for the gift you give us in sharing your story, wish you didn’t have these things to give, but the love Ronan inspires is quite something, I put a little pressie in the mail for you today (to the foundation PO box), but as it’s got to travel far and over seas (from Australia), might not reach you until the little Poppy Popstar pops out, wishing you health and happiness, your beautiful Rockstar Ronan will be an awesome big brother in the heart and mind and soul of his little Popstar sister xoxoxoxo Megan

  23. Dear Maya,
    I hope you don’t think me a freak for saying this, but I can’t stop thinking on this & figured I’d share with you.
    I has a dream about you & Ronan.
    In this dream I woke up in the middle of the night to a voice saying how you’re so happy that you can have these moments, since you can’t have them while awake anymore.
    I turned around and looked and there in the darkness were the brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen in my life…and the sweetest most humble smile ever…and it took me a minute to realize who it was, and then I remembered what I had heard that made me wake up, and I looked closer and saw that he was sitting on your lap, just smiling like it was the best day of his life, and there you were, holding him, smiling at him, so happy to have him again.
    I will never forget this dream. In that moment, I saw what you & Ronan having deserve-each other.
    For that moment I got to see what true love & happiness looks like. I know it will never compare to having him here, and I know I must sound like a crazy person for dreaming of you two, but it was so beautiful that I felt it selfish to keep it to myself.

  24. This was singlehandedly the most beautiful post. And this is the most glorious proof of what a unique and wonderful mother you are to ALL of your 4 children.

  25. Liam and Quinn stories always make my heart happy…they are the best example of the amazing job you and Woody are doing raising them. Such compassionate little boys.

  26. Hi Maya,
    I’m sure you & Dr. Schwartz have been beyond thorough discussing everything re: baby Poppy, but I was just reminded of a situation that made me think of you. I’m not even sure if you could still do this as close as you are to giving birth, but if anyone could move mountains last minute it would def be you! & Dr. Schwartz would help you, I know. It’s about cord blood banking – have you thought about this?? Banking Poppy’s cord blood?? Cord blood contains stem cells that can be used the same way as a bone marrow transplant, only you don’t have to find a donor to go through a painful surgery (that does have risks) & this has way fewer match-limitations. It’s almost guaranteed that the stem cells would match someone in your family, not to mention that it’s also easy to match a stranger. You can bank cord blood privately for a retrieval fee, initial storage fee, & then a reasonable yearly storage fee. By banking privately, you would be storing the cord blood for use by members of your family only – Poppy, Liam, Quinn, Woody, & you (poss. extended family like Poppy’s grandparents, poss. even more). Cord blood has been proven to treat soooo many conditions, including cancer but def not limited to that! Plus new studies are happening every day that show cord blood can help in even more ways – & just think what they might have discovered by the time Poppy is 5? 10? The possibilities seem almost endless. Yet people – even parents-to-be, sometimes even doctors – are still often in the dark about it. It’s true that private storage is most often done when a baby is born into a family where a living sibling (maybe even a parent) has/had cancer & there’s a chance for relapse or complications (like serious anemia) that the stem cells could help and often cure! A lot of siblings have been saved this way. While I truly DO NOT think anyone else in your precious family will EVER face cancer again, I really do understand your fears after reading this blog for over 2 yrs. It’s so sad but makes sense that you live with the fear lightning might strike twice – that breaks my heart for you & I am so so sorry Maya. The only reason I wanted to bring this up is in case doing it would provide you with some sense of security & peace that the stem cells would always be there – or be there for as long as you wanted to store them. I’d love to think you’d reach a point out there where you stopped worrying every time you hear a sneeze or cough, but I can also envision you feeding Liam & Quinn chicken soup & checking their temperatures at the first sign of a cold when they’re 40! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And there would be nothing wrong with that, probably with Poppy right by your side helping her big brothers because they look after her so well! I know your sweet family will always be extra-close!

    Anyway, I’m sorry if you know all this & I’m prattling on for nothing! I was just talking to a friend last night who said her pregnant sister was planning to bank her baby’s cord blood. It’s her first child & she’s doing it because we know a family who did it a few years ago with their third child, just in case. They had no family history of cancer but out of the blue, the husband/dad to the kids developed a particularly nasty & advanced form of leukemia. Their daughter’s cord blood saved his life! So it was thinking back on that last night that made me think of you. I really don’t think there’s a chance in hell you’ll ever need it, but if you need the *security* of having it, then check the links below or google it. Most importantly, ask Dr. Schwartz for her professional opinion – she’ll guide you. But if you do want it, you really have to act super-quickly!

    On another note, if you decide against private banking – keep in mind you can do public banking!! This is almost always free because of the benefits for the general public! Just like they store blood, they can collect the stem cells from any baby’s cord blood and store it anonymously. It’s so so so much easier for anyone out there who needs it to find a match for a stem cell transplant than it is to find a match for a bone marrow transplant. Every baby’s cord blood stem cells are a precious commodity. If you choose to bank them publicly at no cost to you, it’s pretty much a guarantee that they – and therefore your little girl – would save someone’s life!! Please consider at least doing this. It’s harmless, no risk, no cost – and it will save someone’s life, probably another child!! I wish everyone who chooses not to bank privately would do it publicly – it would save SO many lives that will otherwise be lost!

    Just look at the links below or google it, & see what Dr. Schwartz has to say! Good luck for an easy delivery of your precious lil Popstar!! I know you & your 4 boys – yep, I’m calling Woody one of your boys! ๐Ÿ˜‰ – can’t wait!! (Bless sweet Liam’s heart!!) -xo

    Info on cord blood banking:
    *note-this link is about a newborn screening test for approx. 60 illnesses/diseases/disorders that offers either with cord blood banking or separately. fees are listed. just know I’ve never read about this service before & don’t know if it’s something your doctor or hospital might be able to provide w/o being involved.
    *note-has some great videos about the scope of what cord blood stem cells can do!

  27. Oh Liam. Thank you for making my day with this post, Maya. What a sweet boy you have there โค

  28. Maya – that Liam is something else. This had me in tears – happy and sad. You are a wonderful mom doing a great job handling this with these boys – this should show you that. Liam’s wink warmed my heart. xoxo

  29. He is the most amazing boy I know.He is this way because of you,Maya.You are such a wonderful,amazing,fantastic mom.This made my heart jump out of my chest because of a mix of feelings.You should be so proud of your boys.I love you so freaking much.

  30. Liam is amazing.

  31. Your kids make me smile…..all 3 of them!! I cannot wait for this Rockstar Poppy Girl to make her entrance into the world so we start hearing her stories!

  32. Sometimes pretending is what gets us through tough moments… Good answer Liam!

  33. I see why you are so proud. You did a respectful thing for Liam it’s also his story to tell about Ronan. It’s part of his life story. His private story and he should be allowed to tell it or keep it safe with himself! I am glad Poppy is jumping all over the place. It won’t be long now!

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