Ronan. Every year since you left when Mr. Sparkly Eyes’ birthday rolls around, I always give him a card that I’ve made for him through my iPhoto with a picture of you on it. A few nights ago I was at my office working on my book, but I needed to take a little time out so I started to go through my pictures of you to make his card. It’s never an easy thing for me to do, but I feel like it would be important to you, so I carefully pick out a picture that reminds me of how happy you were while you were here on this earth. I usually just write really some simple words and I always sign it from the both of us. Ring, ring went my phone as I was doing this little project and I saw the word “Lover” popped up on my screen which is really Macy. Of course I picked up because I always do when she calls. She started chatting away about something and as I listened, I buried my head in my hands. I went to answer the question she had asked me, but she knew from the tone in my voice that something was wrong.
“Oh babe. What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Everything. I’m sitting here trying to make Mr. Sparkly Eyes’ birthday card and is it weird that I’m putting another picture of my dead kid on it like I do every year for him? I’m going through these pictures and I cannot believe he’s not here with me to give him this birthday card himself.” Insert more sobbing here.
I listened as Macy told me that it was not weird at all and we continued to chat for another half an hour or so until I stopped crying. She ended up making me laugh after she listened to my blabbing away and crying while she did her best to talk me through what it was that I was feeling at that moment. I didn’t finish the card that night, but ended up finishing it a few days ago instead. I have learned when something just isn’t feeling right, not to force it and I knew if I forced your card, it was going to be crap. I take my card making very seriously, especially when you are involved. I got the card in the mail the other day and of course, it is perfection and I know it will make him smile as I tell him the story behind that little picture of you and your happy face.
Things here are still really busy and there is not a lot of down time between Poppy and your brothers. I am trying my best to keep my head above water and have been making sure I get some form of exercise in almost everyday. Mostly it’s been consisting of hiking up Camelback Mountain a.k.a my church as they just opened back up the hard side (Echo Canyon) again. I have so much anger inside of me still and it seems the best place to take it out on is the mountain, otherwise I will just internalize it all and end up exploding one day. Sometimes I hike by myself, but I have also been going with Tricia again which has been really great. You know, going through what we went through with you was really hard on our friendship. I made some mistakes, had a lot of expectations, felt let down and at times, was really judgmental about some situations that I had no right to be judgmental about. I never meant to hurt her as everything I said was always just coming from a place of love, but I also know that place of love was a little harsh. She being your Godmother, had a really hard time with all of this and somehow we ended up getting off track a bit. Slowly we’ve started to fix some things and the beauty of this is we know that our friendship is always going to be here; even when it’s been a little quiet at times. We’ve had some really harsh talks, some really good talks, and we’ve both apologized as we know our friendship is worth saving. She is family and at the end of the day I know where her heart is and it has always been with you and it will always remain there. I didn’t go to her wedding which you know I am sad about, but it wasn’t for any reason other than it was in Mexico and I wasn’t willing to take Poppy with me and leaving her behind was not an option, either. I did give her something blue to tuck into her bouquet though which was a tiny piece of your blanket. It was hard for me to take the scissors and actually cut off a piece, but I needed something of you and us to be there with her. I wish it could have been the two of us there together and knowing the should have been’s of her special day will forever haunt me and make me sad; but the look of happiness on her face from the pictures I saw do take away some of that sting.
So, Poppy’s first birthday is right around the corner. April 8th to be exact. I don’t know how your baby sister is almost a year already as the time went by so fast. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for her birthday, but the fact of the matter is I’m feeling overwhelmed about it. Do we just do something quiet at home or have a full on party? I keep going back to what would Poppy want us to do? In Poppy’s perfect world, I’ll bet she would want to just have a day with just a few people and about 100 dogs. She is dog OBSESSED! I told your daddy I’m starting a campaign called, “Poppy needs a puppy,” but he’s just not having it. Anytime she sees a dog, she starts barking and gets so excited that her little body just shakes and she usually ends up waving her arms so fast that she falls over. All day long she goes around our house, walking on her hands and feet, in a dog position and sticking out her tongue and panting like a dog. We don’t even own a dog so the fact that she is doing this from the memory of the dogs that she has seen, makes it even funnier. She is such a little character and loves to entertain us all of the time with her constant babbling, dancing to her favorite song which is “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk or any type of rap music. Shorty’s got game and seems to be developing quite the spicy little personality. I’ll get her birthday figured out soon, but something tells me it’s going to end up being very low key and sweet.
I’ve got to run little man. I’ll write more soon, but I have to get back to this book business. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
Ronan. I went on a little last minute trip to Sedona because I know myself and I know I have needed a little time out. Luckily, Dr. Jo was available so she told me to go ahead and come up to stay with her. I packed up myself and your Poppy sister and headed up to do a quick little trip not only because I was needing a break from this crazy city, but because I needed to see my therapist/friend/soul mate, too. It’s been a little too long since I’ve been with Dr. Jo and my grief. We arrived in the evening and headed out for dinner pretty much as soon as I got there. We did some catching up just on life things and played with a very active baby girl for most of the night. We curled up on the couch and watched a movie while Poppy cruised all around the living room and played with Dr. Jo’s dogs who she was beyond obsessed with. After the movie ended, we headed for bed as I could hardly keep my eyes open. It’s amazing what the fresh air and a different house will do for my sleep as it basically puts me in a coma and I actually stay asleep without all the tossing and turning I do at home.
The next day, Dr. Jo asked if I wanted to go and see a woman she had met who was a massage therapist. I agreed and she said she would happily watch Poppy for me. We drove over to her house and Dr. Jo and your Poppy sister dropped me off. The woman was pretty intense and as soon as I walked into her house, I knew this was not going to be my typical ass kicking/please more pressure/make me scream out in pain because I like it massage. She took me back into her room and sat me down to tell me about the work she does. Yes, she was a massage therapist, but she mostly liked to work with people’s energy and just kind of takes it from there. She started explaining the way she liked to work more with chakras and Reiki healing. Not two minutes into our conversation and I started fucking crying uncontrollably. I then started blubbering and apologizing for crying all while she just looked over at me and said, “Don’t ever be sorry for your tears, or your pain. Those are yours to feel and don’t ever need to feel like you have to say sorry for that.” I just sat there and nodded my head. I then said something like, “I know. I lost my son and I’ve been holding a lot of things in lately. I do that a lot, I tend to hold everything in and try to deal with it myself which I know is not healthy or good for me but I have always internalized everything in my life and then it just kind of comes exploding all out after a while, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Word vomit to a stranger.
She asked a bit about you and told me how sorry she was and how she could not imagine how hard surviving the loss of a child must be. She started talking about the importance of self-love and how she could tell I was being neglectful to myself in that way. A deck of cards was sitting by her and I have no idea what they are even called, but she asked if she could draw some for me to do a little reading on me. I told her I was open to anything and she said that’s what she liked to hear. I watched as she drew three cards from the deck.
She asked if I could relate to any of those. I did a half sobbing half laughing weird noise and told her more so than she could ever imagine.
What did I see when I saw the Guilt card? That’s the one that registered with me the most and hit me the hardest right square in the gut. I kept saying over and over in my head, But I promised I’d save him and get him better. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I let him down. I let cancer murder my baby. I don’t know how to let that go. In my mind, this is all my fault because I am his mother, I should have been able to protect him. I broke my promise. I carry that guilt with me every day.
What did I see what I saw the traveling card? Sorry, it wasn’t Bora Bora like I’ll bet it would have been in my previous life, before I became a bereaved mom. I saw a tired, worn out old lady who had traveled to hell and back. Someone who has been to places nobody wants to go and for as hard and painful as that is, I still continue to walk this road and travel this fucked up journey. My feet may be bloody, bruised, swollen, and burnt to a crisp, but I’ll continue to walk this walk for as long as I fucking have to, until I can get to you again and change this fucking cancer world.
What did I see when I saw the Rebel? Oh, you know this was my FAVORITE of all cards. It was the card that made me laugh, not cry. This card is pretty self explanatory, but I so needed to see it today. I could tie the rebel card into so many things in my life as I’m a self described “Rebel with a Cause.” Seeing that card pulled made my day, despite the heaviness in my heart that has been feeling really extra heavy lately.
My crying continued and I had accumulated a pile of kleenex full of snot and tears in my lap, all before even got naked on her table to let the “massage” begin. She sat and talked with me for a long time and before she left the room she goes, “Maya, what needs of yours aren’t being met in your life. What is it that you want to ask the universe for?” I sat there for a minute, looked down at the floor, started crying- not that I had stopped, and said the only thing that came to my mind which was, “I just want my son back. Please. I just want him back- I don’t need anything else.” She just looked at me, nodded her head and left the room so I could undress and hop up onto her table of tears. In my ask of all asks because the universe was supposedly listening, this was all I could think of. The one thing I know I’ll never get, but I’ll continue to always ask for it anyway.
Once I was on the table in my most vulnerable state, she came back into the room and asked if I needed anything before she started. I told her no, that all I could do was just continue to cry. She told me to release everything I needed to and she would give me some quiet time to do so. I quietly sobbed for about an hour while she talked here and there and I heard her say something like “Something just came through to me, a question of how can I be happy? And then another question of how can I not?”
In my head I said something like, “Oh, that’s just another one of my ultimate questions that I struggle with on a daily basis.Try trying to figure that one out.”
My massage ended and Dr. Jo came to pick me up with your Poppy sister. The first thing I said to her was, “You tricked me and sent me to a witch doctor, voodoo loving, spiritual healing woman of magic instead of a masseuse!” She just laughed and said she was aware of what she was doing. I thanked her because I needed it. I think I said, “Apparently I have been holding a lot of stuff in.” She gave me one of her little smartass grins and said, “No shit?”
Best grief counselor ever and I’m not being sarcastic.
Ronan. I am done for the night as I can hardly see straight. I have no idea how I even stayed awake enough to write this post after such an emotionally exhausting day.
I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. Sweet dreams, baby doll.
Ronan. So, this happened tonight. The usual running around like mad, Poppy is into everything, I’m trying to get something on the table for your brothers to eat before they come home. I have so much nervous energy today that I haven’t slowed down once. I know as soon as your daddy and brothers walk through the door I will be handing over Poppy to them so I can go and work out because if I don’t, bad things will happen. At least that is what I tell myself in my head. I go to my little class where I find myself in a room full of people that I have no interest in talking to, half are doing weights/floor exercises and the other half are on the treadmills while we are getting instructed on what we need to be doing. I am of course on the treadmill, happily running away while staring at myself in a mirror. My reflection looks sad but determined.
We take turns running at our base pace which for me is a 6.7 speed and 3 incline. We are told to step it up for 90 second all outs so of course I push myself to the max. 5 incline, 8.0 speed. I start to run as hard as I can and my heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest, but of course I don’t stop. All of a sudden, I really can’t breathe or catch my breath for what feels like minutes. Then it happens.
Is this how Ronan felt, right before he died?
He couldn’t breathe, he ran out of air, oxygen, and probably felt just like this right before he died.
How could you have let this happen? How could you not have saved him after you promised him that you would? You are the worst human being on the planet. You let your child die and now you just get to continue on with life while he does not? How is that at alright? You should be dead, not him.
Fuck you. You don’t get to stop and sit here and think about how hard this is and how you want slow down and stop. You keep going because you are not the little boy who got cancer and died. You get to be here and do this and you don’t get to stop. Ever.
I stare up at the screen which is monitoring my heart rate and beg for it to come down because if it does not soon, I know I will pass out. I continue with the torture of beating myself up on the treadmill while flashes of you dying and taking your last breaths fill my mind. The person leading the class is now keeping a watchful eye on me as I think he has caught on to the fact that I might be over doing it just a tad. An hour later and I am finished and I somehow make it to my car only to drive home to a house that doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. I head straight for the shower and try my hardest to scrub the images of you not being here out of my head, but it doesn’t work. I then throw myself in my bed, where I cry the tears for you that I haven’t had for a few days.
Your daddy comes in, asking me what happened. I ignore him and continue to cry into our mattress. When I finally come up for air, I snap at him that nothing has to happen, for something to be wrong. That I just want to be fucking sad for the one thing that I will be sad about for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be hovered over. I don’t want anyone to wipe away my tears. I just want to be left alone.
This is all I can say for tonight. I’ll let my friend, Tyler Knott say the rest.
I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
Typewriter Series #690 by Tyler Knott Gregson
There will come a time, a day, a moment when words are not enough.
When the letters hooking to other letters and tying themselves
to each other, the trains of vowels and consonants chasing each other
out of my mouth just won’t do justice to the avalanche that you’re
If this is that day, if these are those moments I will not speak,
but I have no choice but to leave you with these attempts, as futile
as they might be, for words are all I have to offer
and the only currency I believe in:
This is not, and never will be, a goodbye. You should not, and never can
hold onto the should haves or could haves or why didn’t I’s.
The time will come, I promise you, for us all to stop wearing these bodies
atop these souls. The time of taking one long, full and deep breath
in through these lungs only to exhale it out through brand new lips.
The last light we will ever see through these perfect and beautiful eyes
will be the first light, the exact same and blindingly gorgeous first
light that filters through new irises and shocks our tiny pupils
before we blink. What a gift every single day in between has always been.
What a hauntingly painful and sublimely joyous gift to live, truly live
every single day in between these firsts and yes, these lasts.
Do not carry the weight of all you did not say, the times you did not make
the time or the excuses you made, because there is a secret you must know:
Those that leave us, never do. They see us how we never could and how we
were always so scared to. When they go, bravely stepping into the first day
of their new lives, all they pack into the bags they choose to carry,
are the memories that soothe their longing and and settle their aching bones.
It is we, always we that carries the luggage of regret and burdens of doubt
Somewhere, right this very second, they are beginning their journey back
into love. Somewhere, right this very instant, the first wobbly steps in their
search has begun again. Somewhere, the only person that truly makes sense to
them, the only person to ever exist and exist exactly for them, is waiting.
You will hurt. You will cry and you will be scared. You will miss and long
and ache and look for their fingerprints on the life you’re going to lead
without them. You will swear you heard, if only for an instant, the sound
of their laughter or the timbre of their voice. This is ok, and more than
that, this is beautiful. Hold onto the sadness you feel like a trophy.
Hoist it high above your head and shout to the photo that is not being taken
of you that you loved them, you will always love them and you are proud
of the tears that roll down your face. They live inside the memories that give
shape to those tears and you must never apologize for your sorrow, nor your
joy when it too returns to your days.
These are the words for those that remain; for all of us and all of you that
are left scrambling and shaking and weeping tears of compassion and joy and
confusion. These are words when words are not enough. I say them because I
must say them, because words are all I have to offer besides my shoulder and
my hands and my belief that this is not and never will be goodbye.
Today is and always has been such a perfect day to say goodbye,
and to once again, say Hello.
-Tyler Knott Gregson-
Ronan. Oh, how I miss this little blog so very much. It makes me so sad not to be writing on here like I used to. This will always be my first home, my first comfort after a hard day, and where I found my love for writing. It’s hard to be away from this space that I used to find so much solace in. I cannot seem to keep up with life let alone a blog these days, not to mention this book I’m working on. And holy shitballs, I totally have forgotten how much work it is to have a new baby. Things are so freaking busy around here that I feel like my head is going to fly off and just explode. Oh, and my grief. I miss being with my grief a.k.a Inferno Fuckwad Bob, so very much. It’s not good for me to not have the time to nurture and sit with my grief the way Dr. Jo has taught me to do. I promise that I will make some time for it soon.
I can try to sum up what has been going on, but I have no way of remembering everything. Macy came into town for about a week and it was of course the most beautiful happy/sad/ time. She was in for work so she got to spend two weekends with us which is always so good for my soul. We laughed a lot and cried a lot as well. On one particularly hard Sunday, I found myself curled up in her arms on your bed where I just sobbed for you as the missing you part of all of this never gets easier. It still sends me into a whirlwind of complete and utter devastation at the drop of a hat. My time with Macy wasn’t all tears. We had the BEST time playing with your Poppy Roo and making up ridiculous songs to her like, “My two moms” which was all about the fact that Poppy does indeed, have two moms because if I wasn’t married to your daddy, I would totally marry her;) She is the best wife ever and one of my other little soul mates floating around on this earth.
Poppy came down with a little fever while she was here and we wound up in the waiting room at our pediatricians office where we know we really did look like Poppy’s two mom’s as we were resting each others heads on one another’s while Macy sat and rubbed my arm. I pretty much wanted to curl up and die when I saw Dr. Campbell exam Poppy and Macy’s eyes fill with tears as she did her routine exam which included the pressing down hard on her belly to make sure there was nothing out of the ordinary there. Macy knew why she was doing that and there was no stopping her tears from falling. I just gave her a weak smile as I watched her wipe them away. We talked about it afterwards and how hard it often is for me to walk back into our pediatricians office without you. Well, it’s always really hard for me to walk back in anywhere we used to go, without you. Macy watched as I had to fill out the new patient forms updating our family info such as kids’ names, ages, etc… I looked over at Mace and said, “I’m writing Ronan down, too. He is still my child.” Macy just looked at me and said, “Of course you should,” as she gave my hand a little squeeze.
My weeks have been filled with pretty much everything Poppy and just trying to keep up with her. I truly had forgotten what it is like to have a baby and now a very active baby. How 10 months already flew by, I do not know. She is the happiest little thing and it is so beautiful to see. She is my constant reminder that no matter how hard of a time I truly think I am having, because there still are times that those voices creep into my head and tell me that everything I am doing is wrong… Poppy is proof that I am actually doing alright. I don’t think she would be such a happy girl if I really were doing as shitty as I sometimes think I am. I know the weeks that are hardest for me seem to be the weeks that I am not sleeping well. It’s when my insomnia kicks in that the screaming in my head seems to always be the loudest. This past week has been alright and I am so thankful for that because if I would have checked in with you last week, I would have told you I had my bags packed to check into an insane asylum.
Your brothers and their never ending sports have been keeping me busy as well, although I give pretty much all of the credit to your daddy who is the one who really keeps them on track with all if it with his coaching of their baseball team, helping out with baseball, and flag football. He is the most amazing basketball coach and has your brothers team ranked #2 in all of Arizona for a fourth grade team. I know you would be so proud of that and basketball truly seems to have been such a saving grace to your brothers. It has kept them focused, on track, and it’s almost like a form of therapy for them. I could not be more proud of their dedication, will and determination.
I’ve been hiking, running, and doing my little Orange Theory Workouts like crazy. Exercise is still one of the main things that quiets the screaming in my head and gives me just enough of a break to stay sane. My time at the top of Camelback is always my favorite as it really is the time I feel quietest and closest to you. The other day while I was sitting on a rock, thinking about you, I had a little hummingbird fly right up to my face. I grabbed my iPhone thinking there was no way it was going to stay right there long enough for me to get a picture, but it did and I was able to snap the most amazing photo. It was a moment that I still have not been able to find the words for. I absolutely know that it was a little sign from you telling me that you are always with me. On Saturday morning I hiked Camelback with Tricia and Marisa- my two oldest besties from my previous life when you were still here, alive and well. It has been so long since I have been with the two of them and I cannot tell you how nice it felt. We had breakfast for Marisa’s birthday and then decided to brave it up Camelback Mountain in the middle of our little Arizona rainy day. Once we were at the top and had been sitting for a while, that little hummingbird flew right up to me again. It gave me goosebumps and chills all at the same time. I think it was your way of telling me that you were so happy to see me spending time again with my old friends, as you know they are so good for me. It’s taken me a lot time to be able to get to a place again where I can truly connect with the ones who knew you, loved you, and hurt so badly from losing you. For a long time the pain of being around them was just too much, but now I feel like I am at a place where I am ready and able to come back. I am just so thankful that they have both just been standing by for my return. I have missed them so much and Saturday ended up being the most perfect day. As soon as we were finishing up our hike, it started pouring down rain. Marisa said she knew that you made it rain at that perfect time because had it been raining like that as we were climbing down Camelback, one of us would have surly fallen and broken our necks as that mountain is beyond slippery and dangerous when it’s wet.
I am trying to make myself do things that I know make me feel somewhat good because I know the shit storm of May is fast approaching. Things like buying tickets to upcoming concerts like Lorde and Lana Del Rae, both whom I am so freaking excited for. Also things like spending time with the ones who I know are best for my soul like our dear Kassie who I spent all of Saturday with watching “Girls” episodes while eating Nutella straight out of the jar. Ummm… excuse me…. but where has this thing called Nutella been all of my life?! It’s like crack in a jar and I might have a problem especially during my nights of insomnia where I always find myself with a spoonful of it in my mouth. It’s the simple things that make me the happiest and I have learned that finding people who truly feed your soul is the best medicine around. I am very blessed to have the friends that I do, I know this. Your Sparkly was inquiring about my weekend and I told him I had spent Saturday night, cuddled up with my 23-year-old best friend. He said something like, “How come you love to spend so much time with people who are so much younger than you?” I just laughed and told him I like to hang out with people based on who they are as human beings and age is not a factor. I like to spend my time with the people who make me think about things, who push me to do better and be better, and who actually somewhat get me – himself included. I often feel like people get too caught up in this whole age thing in life. You should just be with the people that make you happiest and Kassie truly makes my heart sing. I wish so badly you could be here to know her, Ronan. Sometimes when I’m watching her with your Poppy sister, I close my eyes and pretend it’s you that she is bonding with, kissing on, and loving. I know that in a way it is and sometimes that even makes me smile.
Alright little man. I promise to write more later. So much more I need to tell you/fill you in on but this is all I have time for as of now.
I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.