Oh, Hello! Don’t worry, Poppy doesn’t have cancer. It’s just my PTSD taking over my life.


Ronan. 2014 is over and that means another year without you is gone. In this life I live now I don’t have the luxury of saying things like, “I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store! I just know it is going to be the best year yet!” How do you have the best year yet after the death of your child? I don’t think that you do. I guess I cannot speak for the other bereaved parents who walk beside me, but in my mind the best year yet just does not exist anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I am capable of having really, really, really good days. I have those days a lot, especially with all the happiness that Poppy and your brothers fill me with, but you will never not be missing from my blissful days of always almost perfect. What are my hopes for 2015? That we all stay healthy and don’t die. That I have more smiles than tears. That I get more little signs from you. That your brothers and sister continue to flourish, grow, and be happy. That I get to continue to help save the lives of kids with cancer by funding amazing clinical trials. That I continue to follow my heart in everything that I do because I know that my heart is still just following you. I don’t think you will ever lead me down the wrong path and if you do you know I will figure out what path I need to take to get back to you. I trust in where you are taking me.

Too much has gone on to catch you up. My dad dying has really thrown me for a loop. I still cannot seem to wrap my head around it. I wake up everyday and know it happened and losing my dad hasn’t paralyzed me like it did with you for so long. I am capable of going on with my days, but all of a sudden it will hit me and I just feel extreme sadness wash over me which is usually followed by hot, fast tears. I am trying not to have too many regrets or beat myself up over the things I didn’t get to say, but you know I am a glutton for punishment. I don’t know how to be any other way.

We have been at Nana and Papa’s for most of Christmas break and I have tried my best to keep up my appearance of “Hey kids, everything is o.k. because I am not about to ruin your Christmas!” I did a lot of running while I was here in that dark, gloomy weather where nobody can tell if I am crying because the tears I cry while running the lake just look like rain. I love the rain so much for so many reasons and this is one of them. I did lose my shit one night and put the entire house on such edge that I am surprised I wasn’t taken to an insane asylum.

Fun story goes like this:

I’m upstairs. Boys, your daddy, and Papa are outside. Nana is in the kitchen. Poppy is in the dining room. I hear crying so I come downstairs to find Poppy down on her knees, crying. Nana didn’t see what happened, but she thinks Poppy fell while running. I go to pick her up and look for signs of any bumps, bruises, red marks, etc… I see nothing. Poppy is now wincing in pain and will not let me put her down. I set her down for a second, but she falls because her right leg is hurting her and she won’t put any pressure on it at all. She can’t walk. I hold her for a bit, hoping that she will be up and running soon. 20 minutes pass and she is still crying in pain when I put her down. I feel all the blood in my body, drain to the floor and I am just sure if I look down I will see it all pooling at my feet. I carry her outside to your Daddy and inform him of the situation. Pretty soon, the entire house knows that Poppy can’t walk and we are all in the living room where I am holding her while staring daggers at your daddy. Your brother keeps yelling, “Put her down, see if she can walk now!” I do. She can’t. I pass her off to Nana while I go upstairs, pretending to be busy with laundry. Your daddy follows me.

“You need to calm down and stop thinking what you are thinking. If you react this way whenever something like this happens, you are going to kill yourself with worry.”

My eyes are too blurry with tears to see him clearly but I of course manage to freak out on him anyway.

“Why are you not more concerned about this?! We need to take her to the Portland hospital right now and have them do every scan on her to make sure she does not have cancer! This is what happened to Ronan in the end! He couldn’t walk because he was in so much pain! What if her little body is filled with cancer too and this is the beginning of the warning signs?”

“Maya. We are not taking her to the hospital to be put under anesthesia for scans. This is a totally normal thing. Kids get pain in their legs and she probably just hit it or fell really hard. You have the entire house in a panic.”
Granted, it was a quiet panic but the air was filled with so much tension that it was palpable.

I went downstairs to tend to Poppy and distract myself so I gave her a bath. Your Nana came in to find me crying as I bathed her. She quietly told me that Poppy was alright. I looked at her and said, “What if she has cancer?” She told me she understood my thought process, that she hated that I had to think that way at all, but this was probably not cancer.

By this time, Poppy was starting to put a little more pressure on her leg. By the time she got out of the bath, she was attempting to walk and as the night proceeded, she was walking again, but with a slight limp.

This was probably just my lovely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder kicking in and not Poppy has cancer.

When this all happened I was instantly taken back to the last few weeks with you where your little leg was hurting so badly, that you could hardly walk.

For weeks you said, “Mama, rub my leg. My legs hurting, mama. Rub it. Please just rub it, it hurtsssssss, MAMA!”

So for weeks that is all I did while feeding you Morphine non-stop.

I’ll never forget your little leg and I’ll never get over how heartbroken I am that I couldn’t fix it or you. I will forever be so sorry.

I have to go now, Ro. I have a headache from all of my tears tonight because I just fucking miss you so much. So much, little man. Always.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. Happy 2015. You keep me safe, I’ll keep you wild.


16 responses to “Oh, Hello! Don’t worry, Poppy doesn’t have cancer. It’s just my PTSD taking over my life.”

  1. So sorry RoMama. I’m reading this post and my heart is beating out of my chest. Always rolove !!!

  2. It is so heartbreaking that your normal is so terrifying….heartbreaking. 💔

  3. Lidia Giubilaro Avatar
    Lidia Giubilaro

    Maya, thanks for writing. I am no longer the same person I was before I started reading your posts 2 years ago. Being a mother of 2 young boys I always worry..and want them to be healthy and safe forever. When one has kids how are we supposed to live without being paranoid or worried? Sometimes I just cry alone at the thought of anything happening to them or to me because they need me.. I cry everytime you write about Ronan..just makes me so sad all the time.. I’m glad Poppy is ok..

  4. I love you, Maya. Happy new year. Happy new year, sweet Ronan!

  5. Maya,
    I don’t comment much but this post really hits close to home. I have health anxiety, especially about my children, and mainly about my three year old boy. It’s partly because when I read your may 9th, 2011 a few years ago, it affected me forever. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I don’t think of you and what you had to do…..that alone (plus the 15 other blogs I have read since then about little boys dying of cancer) is enough to take Brady to the hospital for every bruise, sickness, pain, etc. I have had him tested for everything cancer related but it still nags me every day.

    I think constantly about how Brady is 3 years and 3 months old, and Ronan was the same when he was diagnosed. Is that a time it happens to a lot of kids? Is what goes through my mind. You shouldn’t feel crazy at all compared to me! You actually had this happen to you and I didn’t. I have a daughter too, she’s the same age as poppy. Her name is Morgan and although I worry about her a little, it’s my boy.

    The fact that you are still here, alive and writing is a huge accomplishment! Be proud That you are even functioning in the world (many people can’t) and that although Ronan isn’t here with you, he is still being thought of every day by people like us who loved his little face and sweet voice. You aren’t crazy!! Trust me.

  6. Christina VanHise Avatar
    Christina VanHise

    I love you, Maya. RoLove Always!!!

  7. Love you mama.
    I’ll forever be so sorry. 💜

  8. As always, no words can say how I feel, how I would give anything to take your pain away, to bring back Ronan, to fill you with happiness again. I pray your family finds more peace in 2015. Hugs to you and Woody and the kids!

  9. I love ya Maya! Please give your self a break! I feel for you! I think Ronan would love for you to give your self a break! He loves you and he does not want you to hurt any more. He is in a lot better place right now.

  10. I can’t imagine what you go through with Poppy, Liam & Quinn after what happened to Ronan. Just knowing your story and the way it opened up the floodgates to WAY too many other stories like yours, I find myself questioning every little bump, headache, and common illness in my three kiddos. I’m not neurotic, but if I were in your shoes, I would be for sure. YOU have every right to react they way you did with Poppy and nobody will ever blame you otherwise…and if they do, then fuck them. And, how about that mom of yours?!?! From your words, I she seems nothing more than amazing. She was the one meant to be by your side to help you bathe Poppy and try to put your screaming mind and soul at ease. What a gift that that Nana is. Thank you, again, for sharing your family with us. For what it’s worth, you’re doing one hell of a job parenting 4 precious children.

  11. Dear Maya! I don’t think I have ever written to you, but I have followed you after I stumbled over the heartbreaking story of Ronan. I admire so much the courage you show to express your sorrow, pain and anger. It also helps me thinking about my daughter. She is a fantastic, intelligent woman with all possibilities in the world, and she has decided to become a nun. For now she has moved to Nepal to live in a retreat for 4 years – the only way to reach her is by letters. As she is my only child, I feel a horrible pain to know that I have lost her. But somehow you give me a lot of comfort in the way you have moved on with life after Ronan’s death. So go on Maya, you are an outstanding person, and I really believe you make a difference to the horrible story of child cancer.

  12. How is it fair when a child dies at 4 years old? I mean WTF? I cannot even wrap my brain around this. I have a very strong faith and on a normal day I question it very little but 4 years old?
    All I can come up with here is that you and Ronan must be meant for something bigger than the rest of us, it’s the only explanation I can fathom.
    I also lost a little boy, he died at birth and losing him was the most awful experience of my life. I don’t think I could have survived it had I seen him grow and laugh and play and then die.
    Looking at Ronan’s little face brings this knot within my throat, what a beautiful little man. And you, Wow, there are no words to describe how much respect and and admiration I feel towards you for just waking up each day. The fact that you are Mother and Wife and Ronan’s MVP makes me smile, you are brave and beautiful, it’s no wonder Ronan loves you so much.

    (And that Poppy baby is the cutest thing ever. Just Sayin)

  13. I only recently became aware of you and Ronan and the horrific journey you took together. Taylor Swift showed you to me. Watching your beautiful boy and you suffer left behind a different me. I hope that becoming one more person who Ronan touched and changed will somehow, strengthen your world. My witness of your horror added another person to donate money to organizations that help children burdened by their cancers. Trying and eventually finding solutions to the horror of childhood cancers. And those solutions found by increasing reasearch, by increasing resources, by buidling new treatment centers and family support facilities, by making the torture of children’s cancers a thing of the past. Since I discovered you, much of the daily news is a farce. Next to the reality of you and Ronan, in the glare of the harsh

  14. (Posted too soon..sorry) but to finish, in the glare of the harsh ugliness you two endured, so many other “important” things are so dark and small that they are as if not there. My condolences and sympathies are so far from being enough to even touch the loss you have sustained. I offer them to you anyway, in hopes they can mend some small place in the raw wound made when Ronan’s died. with all affection possible from a total stranger…..Cassie

  15. I still constantly thing of Ronan, and you Maya. And tears come just as easily to me reading your post today as they did when I first found you. I can not even begin to imagine what it feels like in your heart. I just want you to know I am always thinking of you. And I am just so sorry. Sending love and peace. Even though that in no way can heal your heart or bring you baby back to you.

  16. Hi Maya,

    I wanted to tell you that I was in Arizona running the RNR 1/2 marathon.. I was at mile 9 and Taylor’s Ronan song came on my playlist.. It was surreal to feel your sweet boy’s spirit as I heard Taylor singing your truth. Even though we have never met.. Knowing your love for your son by the words you have elegantly written.. Almost gives me the reader a since of “almost knowing Ro and your family.”

    Thanking you for sharing your heart with the world … I gave a shout out to Ronan..coming off the hill… Thinking he should have had a chance to run forever .. Wild and free

    Xo Deb

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