I’ve been trying to write this for weeks, but so much has happened that it’s taken me a bit to get this post out into the world. I’ve been busy with some health stuff I don’t want to get into. And horrified by another mass shooting because, in this country, we prioritize guns over innocent lives, and I will never understand how we allow this to continue happening over and over again. Each time it does, it sends me down a dark hole; this could have been my child or loved one. As if I don’t have enough PTSD, I worry daily that my kids are out in the world at places like schools where they are supposed to be safe. I’ve been working intensely on this book, and it’s bringing up many things I had buried. I have a lot of trauma over other people’s behavior after Ronan died. I had a total breakdown last week, which required a therapy session via phone with Dr. Jo, many phone calls to my mom, and many conversations with Mr. Sparkly Eyes. Then Quinn moved to New York, which we knew was happening but happened faster than expected. So far, he loves it, and that makes me incredibly happy.
But I have been meaning to write here, and I’m always writing, just not publicly yet, for reasons that I will be able to talk about soon. That said, I am trying to prepare for the month of hell coming up because May is pretty much here. We all know there is no preparing for that; I just have to get through it and, once again, survive. Back to this post and The Era’s Tour that we were so thankful to attend.
The week leading up to the Taylor concert was emotional for many reasons, primarily due to a book I started writing years ago. Then I stopped writing it and rewrote it entirely. It has been a gut-wrenching experience, but there are moments like this. With my little girl. The one who saves my life, time and time again. I do not know how I would have survived the death of Ronan without her. After Ronan’s death, Liam and Quinn tethered me to my new, forever-broken world. I would wake up day after day, not wanting to be alive. The death of Ronan was just too painful. But then I would look at the faces of my two beautiful boys, and I was reminded of how much they hurt over the loss of their little brother. There was no way I could cause them any more pain with the loss of me. So I stayed amongst the living and fought daily to do so. And then, not long after, she came. The sister Ronan always wanted. She taught me about the complexity of grief and love and how the two worlds can co-exist in the most magical ways. I didn’t know I could feel things so profoundly again until she retaught me. When she hurts, her pain seeps into my bones. When she laughs, my heart skips a beat. When she wraps her arms around me, thanks me for the best night ever, and tells me I’m her best friend, I feel Ronan.
I feel this with all of my children in different ways. I could go on and on about how proud I am of the kind of boys Woody and I have raised. Or how it felt when we had to tell them around the kitchen table two years ago that Woody’s best friend, and the only Uncle they have ever truly known, had died. Someday I will tell the story about what it is like to watch your child have his heart broken by love for the first time. What it is like to explain to your 18-year-old son the truth of betrayal while you hold him and wipe his tears over three years gone in an instant. That pain is palpable, and I didn’t know after watching my son die that I would feel pain cut so sharp, but the agony I experience when witnessing my children in pain is intense and deeply felt.
The loss of Ronan has given me a perspective I never wanted, but it has also given me the ability to live my life where I only want to be here, present in my pain and the pain of others. I don’t want to be numb; I want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to be scared; I want to be brave. I don’t want to waste my time in a landfill of toxicity, so I’ve said goodbye to the ones who continued to hurt me. The only life I am going to live is one filled with pure rawness and authenticity. As much as it hurts, it is the only life I want.
“You’re so lucky you’re going to the Era’s tour.”
“You’re so lucky Taylor knows who you are.”
“You’re so lucky you didn’t have to buy tickets to her concert.”
I heard those words multiple times from multiple well-meaning people, but I wonder if they know it is only this way because I have a dead child. I will never forget the blue-eyed reason behind all of this magic.
I think the entire world knows that Taylor Swift is on tour, and I was able to be there on opening weekend. I went on Friday night with my family, minus Liam, who couldn’t come home from college due to basketball. Quinn flew in from Santa Cruz, stepped off the plane, and drove straight to the concert from the airport with Woody. I was so excited to see my 6’7 baby; it meant so much that he could join us. We spent the entire evening together in awe of the most spectacular show. After hours of singing and dancing her little heart out, Poppy fell asleep on the drive home. She is too big for me to carry in the house anymore, so I guided her into my bedroom. I removed her ‘Lover’ themed dress, put her in her PJs, helped her wash her face, and brushed her teeth. It was 1:30 a.m. when she looked at me and said, “I’m so hungry. Can I have some of my vegan eggies?” I kissed the top of her forehead, went to the kitchen to make her food, and squeezed her some fresh orange juice. When I returned to my room, I found her fast asleep in my bed, but I woke her up and fed her because I knew how hungry she had been. She guzzled down the orange juice I made and said, “This is the best orange juice I’ve ever had. You’re the best mama; thank you for making this for me.” It was the most simple moment, one of those quiet moments where you feel everything, everywhere, all at once. In those moments, I feel myself slipping away into a place of solitude and peace. I don’t know where I would be without my kids, but I know it wouldn’t be here.
I attended night two of the Era’s tour with just Poppy. We had dinner with her friends, who were also attending. We rode out to the concert with one of Poppy’s best friends while we blasted Taylor the entire car ride. Once we arrived at the venue, we parted ways with our friends, who had different seats. In these big moments of life, like watching Taylor on tour, I have somehow found the ability to be present in the little moments. The way that Poppy’s little hand feels slipped into mine. The way that I spent the majority of the night watching the concert from her perspective, getting lost in her expressions. How it felt when we listened to “All Too Well” and screamed out, “Fuck the Patriarchy” together. Oh, yes. I let her say that word because she knows what it means and when to use it. Did I forget to mention that last year her third-grade teacher told me during our parent-teacher conference that Poppy is a non-conformist? As if that was a bad thing? It was one of my proudest moments. All I’ve heard from her teachers this year is how kind and caring she is. How she is a brilliant writer with a wicked imagination. I know what kind of child I’m raising, and she knows that it’s alright to scream “Fuck the Patriarchy” while holding her mom’s hand at a Taylor Swift concert.
The weekend at the Era’s tour was beyond incredible. It was not a concert but a spiritual experience. It was as if I was watching the most insanely talented singer, songwriter, athlete, dancer, and poetry-spinning actress all roll into one incredible Broadway production of something that hadn’t ever been done before. I will forever be in awe of Taylor and her ability to make you feel like you are on an incredible journey with her because she makes you feel like you are part of her through her songwriting and storytelling.
Thank you, Taylor, for never forgetting us. Thank you, Tree, for being so accommodating. And Ronan. Thank you for your little signs that you are forever by my side. I love and miss you so much.
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