Dear Ronan,

What would I do with a sixteen-year-old you? 

A tall, copper-colored skin sixteen-year-old you. With eyes tinted such a spectacular shade of blue that they stopped strangers dead in their tracks. You would have grown into your youthful beauty as I watched you bloom into the most spectacular teenager, following in the footsteps of your incredible brothers. I think about you every single day, but today on your birthday, I let my thoughts wander to what I imagine you would have looked like and the way you would have loved me. As if I was always your favorite thing, your forever best friend. I ache when I search for your voice; it would have deepened by now. I imagine all the ways you would have existed in this world, full of such vibrant life. I know you would still be my little rebel, and oh, how I would have embraced that. 

Today, on your sixteenth birthday, you would have been celebrated and showered with love. We would have FaceTimed your brothers. They would have told you to have the best day and how much they loved you. I would have showered you with silly things like balloons and watched as you drove off for the first time to school. I would have taken hundreds of pictures because now I am realizing I don’t have enough of you. Your daddy would have helped me make plans for your birthday dinner. And Poppy. Your little sister Poppy was always going to be part of the equation, and she would have crawled up you like a giant tree as you swung her around. The day would have been filled with simplistic joy. I would still look at you in a way that filled my heart with the belief that soulmates are real because you and I had absolutely done this dance before. The life I long for with you doesn’t exist, but it lives on in my heart, and nobody can ever take that away from me.

I knew I wanted to do something extra special for your sweet sixteenth birthday. I went over some ideas with Mr. Sparkly Eyes and your daddy, but the little voice in my head kept circling back to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. That hospital will always hold a special place in my heart, and we’ve spent the last decade supporting the research of one particular doctor. I vividly remember bringing you to Dr. Mosse after we were informed that there were no further treatment options available. At that moment, Dr. Mosse was the first doctor to meet my gaze with tears in her eyes as she expressed her heartfelt apologies. She acknowledged the failure of the medical community. Her compassion and bravery moved me deeply. Inspired by her, I made a personal vow to support her research, and since 2012, we have been diligently funding her endeavors. My unwavering belief in Dr. Mosse and the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia is rooted in the depths of my heart. On your birthday, we set up the Ronan Thompson Nurse Navigator Fund at the CHOP Cancer Center. It is a wonderful way to honor your life and create a lasting legacy that will benefit other children fighting cancer. Doing this feels so right, and I know it is something you would be so proud of.

Today, I am tucked away in a hotel room with your sister. She is making friendship bracelets to take to Taylor’s concert while I am writing to you. I woke up to her tiny body intertwined with mine. We sleep this way together all the time as if we are sometimes one. She tells me in her little voice how much she loves me as she shows me all the purple Ronan bracelets she has made. I sent messages to your brothers filled with sentiments of I love you, Ronan loved you and thanked them for the beautiful young men they have turned into. I know you have impacted them immensely and will continue to do so. I thanked your daddy for being the best dad; for giving me the greatest gifts in the four of you. 

Tonight I will celebrate you at the Era’s tour. You loved music, so spending the evening at Taylor’s concert is the most beautiful way to wrap myself in your love. My heart will be filled with a bittersweet blend of sadness and love. I imagine there will be a lot of dancing and singing through my tears, and I am honored to be in attendance on such a difficult day. Poppy will be with me, and holding her tiny little hand in mine is never lost on me. Witnessing her boundless love for Taylor and experiencing the event through her innocent eyes always brings me a profound sense of comfort. It’s truly remarkable how her enthusiasm and free-spirited nature have the power to uplift and heal me in ways that words cannot fully convey.

Happy sixteenth Birthday, little man. I love you and miss you with everything that I am. I hope you are safe. xoxo

If you would like to donate to Ronan’s day of Love and CHOP, the link is below. Thank you.

One response to “Dear Ronan,”

  1. Sherry Bucalo Avatar
    Sherry Bucalo

    I can not “like” this post because what fellow mother could. Ronan would be so proud of you and the way you have managed to make his death have so much meaning. I am so sorry for what you lost, but I also see the people Ronan brought into your life. Hang in there and hang on to your people, and we others will do the same in honor of Ronan and you as his very special mother. Take care of yourself and the ones you love. Ronan, you have such a profound effect on so many people, your mom has helped us see her spicy little monkey, so for you and her, we do untold spicy things each and every year. I only hope we can all be an Army guy when we need to and not forget to live. Take care sweet boy, know that the others you brought to your mom’s life will help take care of her, until you two can continue your dance. Love from a mother and her two boys.

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