May 12th is Ronan’s fourteen birthday. It is also Ronan’s Day of Love. Wear purple. Be brave. Do a random act of kindness. Laugh louder. Hug harder. Kiss longer. Explore nature. Have an adventure for him. Sprinkle his magic wherever you can. Tag me, and I’ll repost all the love.
Liam and Quinn will be eighteen in June. Poppy just turned eight.
Ten years ago today, you left this earth; you left me, you left us.
Prayers didn’t save you.
Medicine didn’t save you.
My primal screams didn’t save you.
Love didn’t save you.
I would have done anything to save you. I would have traded my life for yours in an instant, but unfortunately, that’s not the way life works.
You left me behind, and on most days, I am ok. I have learned to carry this grief and carry it well. And on the days where I cannot, like yesterday, I give in to this pain. I let myself weep for your touch, your voice, your mischievous laugh, and your smothering kisses. I let myself go to the darkest places where I end up saying things like, “I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad mom. I didn’t hold him after he died. I just let them take him away from me.” I watched them wheel you down the hallway on a gurney—your tiny, lifeless body. I should have gone with you. To wherever they were taking you. But I didn’t, and that guilt haunts me still. It is essential to my healing that I allow myself to go to the darkest places. I learned long ago not to fear the darkness of this. For as much as this pain hurts, I know I must allow myself to feel it as rawly as I can. My grief is a testament to my love for you; my grief is my superpower. It has taught me that my love has no limits and that empathy is what makes the world go round.
In my darkest hours, I eventually find my way back because of words like, “You were the best mom to him. You are the most incredible mom still. I love you, and I’m not leaving you.” In those moments, I find my way back to your brothers: my gentle giant, Liam, who has the most brilliant mind and the heart of the fiercest lion. Your brother Quinn lights up a room with his infectious laugh and quick-witted banter. Your little sister, Poppy. The one you begged me for, and I will forever think you had a hand in giving to me. She is your twin flame, your wild ways with the most thoughtful soul. She fills me with so much peace and is the best thing to have happened to me since losing you. Often I find myself sobbing in my car over the love I have for you and the three of them. I wouldn’t have been able to go on if not for them, this I know.
Love didn’t save you, but it has saved me. My week has been filled with messages from people checking on me. Family and loved ones checking in. Friends sending messages things like, “How can I support you?” There have been so many messages about you. How much you are loved. How you will never be forgotten. How our love has changed lives. There is a constant acknowledgment of my pain. There is genuine concern for our family. There is no judgment, only unconditional love. My tears finally have the safest place to land. My days are filled with whispers of “do you know how much I love you?” And “you made me a better person.” I found my freedom and a love that has saved my life. My life is full of the kindest people. The most compassionate people. For as unlucky as I have been, I am also the luckiest.
Happy Mother’s Day? Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you to all of you who have checked in on us. Thank you for acknowledging the loss of Ronan, and thank you for forever carrying him in your hearts. Your words and your endless support means everything to me. It’s one of the reasons that I will not only get through today, but I will continue to get through this life.
I love you, Ro.
I miss you.
I love you.
I hope you are safe.
I love you, JV.
Take care of our Ronan for us.
Fuck fucking cancer.
Ronan. I am walking the city streets of New York on the most perfect New York day except I seem to be the only who thinks it is perfect. Even though it’s the end of summer, it is gloomy and has been pouring down rain all morning long. All of the other human beings around me look annoyed by the torrential downpour that has currently taken over their city. I watch as a mother who has a small child but not an umbrella makes a beeline for the McDonalds around the corner to seek shelter. Umbrellas are everywhere and thankfully my little Rachel has provided me with one for the day. I have a meeting to go to, one that is very important and because of this I decide that you are the one who has made it rain just to show me that you are around and you believe in what I am doing. I set out to get lost in the city for a few hours before my meeting so I can clear my head and talk to you. I smile at every person and some random man yells as I walk past him, “You have the most beautiful smile!” I yell back, “Thank you!” as I remember back to a time not long ago when I hardly smiled at all and when I did, it was often forced. My “bullshit” smile as Mr. Sparkly Eyes calls it. He hates that smile, but nobody hates it more than I do.
I close up my umbrella and continue to walk the rainy streets. I want to feel your kisses on my face. They splatter on me and I am suddenly aware that I didn’t wear waterproof mascara today. I quickly push that narcissistic thought out of my head and decide that I don’t care if I end up looking like a raccoon because anything goes in this city. I once saw a man walking these streets wearing only a backpack, shoes, and a sock to cover up his penis. I figure if he could get away with that, I can certainly get away with looking like I’m embracing my inner goth puck rock I love everything from the 80’s and 90’s vibe that the rain was going to provide me with today. My thoughts turn back to that time a few years ago when I was sure I would forever be stuck in a place of not loving myself. One of the many side effects of your death was this thing called “goodbye, self-worth.” Everything about me had been destroyed in the aftermath of losing you. For many years, I blamed myself for your death. I should have done more. I should have taken you to a different hospital for treatment in the beginning. If we only could have found “this” doctor sooner you would still be alive and here today. It has taken me a lot of therapy and a lot of talking to other doctors to come to a place of understanding that I am not to blame for your death. Cancer is and there was nothing we could have to done differently to have changed your outcome. I do know that now, but there are still times when my fucked-up mind tries to convince me otherwise.
With that said I have had to do so much work to find my self-worth again. It is actually never ending work that I know I will be doing for the rest of my life. It is hard, but it is necessary as I don’t want to ever get to a place again of knowing what not loving myself feels like. But Ro, do you know what’s even more important to me than me? Your baby sister who is not so much of a baby anymore. She is 4 and I don’t even know how that happened but it did and she is the most incredible little thing. She is strong, feisty, independent, and full of so much love that at times she makes my whole heart want to explode. I have to love myself for her so that the only world she knows is one where she is capable of doing anything in life. Glass ceilings don’t even exist for her because she has a mother who has already shattered them all. And I will continue to shatter them all for the rest of my life for her. She is my everything.
More on all of this later, little man. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
I am a mother, a bereaved mother, a wife, a lover, a friend, a survivor, a warrior, a pissed off feminist, a rebel with a cause, an activist for many and loyal as fuck. My blood may bleed gold and childhood cancer will always be my number one cause in life, but I fight for many.
I will stand up and speak up when I think something is wrong. I will fight to my death for what I believe in. I believe in equal rights for all. I believe in human rights for everyone. I believe love is love and nobody should have the right to decide what that looks like. I stand by Planned Parenthood, always. I am an animal lover who thinks Sea World is one of the worst places on earth. I am work in progress vegan who just can’t seem to give up raw fish in sushi or cheese. I am a free spirit, tree hugging, half fancy, half hippie, total yogi wannabe who thinks Taylor Swift hung the moon. I believe in the underdogs and that a small group of determined people really can change the world.
If you believe differently than me, I will absolutely respect that. But if you are a racist, sexist, homophobic, bigot, misogynist, nazi, white supremacist asshole, I’m going to need to to unfollow all of my social media pages.
Please do not come on here and threaten me or my family because you see me holding up a sign at a protest for a President that I do not support. Disagree with me, great. Agree to disagree, absolutely. Let’s have a conversation. But to threaten me… oh hell no. I will not stand for that. I will not be bullied. Or called names behind a computer screen. Or have my life threatened. Your words will not make me back down. Or even hurt my feelings because for fucks sake YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW ME.
I know me. I love me. And it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I love myself again after losing my son. So please, kindly go the fuck away. Your words have no place here. Go find something else to do besides harass a bereaved mother. Take all of that negative energy and channel it into doing some good in the world because I can promise you living a life typing out hateful words behind a computer screen isn’t going to change who I am.
This is me.
Who are you?
Ronan. I miss you so much. I find myself thinking about your 10 year old self so much lately. What would you have been like at 10? What would your voice sound like? What sports would you be playing? Would you still be my little trouble maker? Would you still tell me that I was your very best friend? I would give anything to know these things… I still look for you everywhere. Six years later and I know I won’t ever stop looking for you. I know how ridiculous that sounds… but somewhere in the back of my delusional mind I still think one day you are going to come back home because this was some sick experiment gone wrong. Until that day comes, I’ll never stop looking for you everywhere and in everything that I do.
Things here are busy. Too busy. This book is still keeping me busy. I am trying my best to finish it up, but I won’t put it out into the world until I know it is my best work yet. It’s getting there and I am on a really good place as far as writing goes. I took a little break the past few days to get out of my head a bit. I have Rach and her boyfriend here and we took a little trip to the Grand Canyon to hike it. It was physically one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but as always I got through it because in the back of my mind I hear your little voice pushing me to go on. And I always remember how you will never get to do “hard things” anymore so it’s my job to do them for you. I take you everywhere with me. You are my constant motivation and guide in this fucking fucked up world.
Remember how I always say you left me surrounded by the best people possible? You truly did and one of them is our little Rachel who is here now. Last year when we were in Iceland together she had just started talking to this guy named Jordan. Well, they fell madly in love and in between their love affair full of dance parties and desserts they somehow found the time to build our foundation an entirely new website and it is incredible. We are launching it today and I am in awe of how it turned out. Everything is so easy to navigate and now donating to the foundation is so easy and even comes with an emailed receipt! Talk about LIFE CHANGING for us as an organization. The best part is they did all of this for FREE so we can continue to use our funds to actually help kids rather than spend it on overhead expenses. I am so excited to put this out into the world today. I know it is something you would be so proud of.
I’m not sure if I have any blog readers anymore, but if I do and you want to check it out here is the link to do so…
Ro baby, I have to run and pick up your brothers from basketball camp and then drive them to another basketball camp. I so wish I could be driving you, too. I’m forever sorry. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
Ronan. I’m on a plane leaving Arizona because it is almost the day that you died. And three days after that if you were still here, you would be turning 10. So, we packed up like we do every year for these still very painful dates and we are heading to New Orleans to see your New York Miss Macy. Except now I guess it’s New Orleans Miss Macy because she moved there a few months ago. And yes, Ro. She is still my best friend. She is still my saving grace. She is still my sister from another mister. She is still the person we all want to be with during these times. You truly did leave me in the best hands, surrounded by the most amazing souls.
Your Sparkly is still here, being my best friend and letting me know that you are always with me. And the oh so magical Fernanda is out in the world making incredible things happen, all while still loving you and always loving me. Kass is getting ready to have a baby and I get to be the Godmama. She is going to make the BEST mom. And our Little Rach from NYC. Well, I can absolutely say she is not only one of my very best friends/the little sister I never had, but she is doing incredible things with your foundation and if it weren’t for her, I don’t think anything would be getting done. We have another little powerhouse, too. Rainesford. Rach and Raines have been guiding me thought this book writing process. They are the only two in my life who have seen everything I have written. I write, send it to them to look at, clean up, and wait for them to tell me if what I am writing totally sucks or if it is beautiful. If sucks, I redo things. If it is beautiful, I go on. They have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout this entire process and without them this book would not be coming together the way that it finally is. I am getting really close to being done. It has been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Mentally. Emotionally. It’s as if every day I am reliving your death and all that we went through over and over and over. I am so ready to be done and put this book out into the world. It’s time. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. I finally feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is fucking change the world good.
I am so lucky. Even with you gone, even after all we have been through and will always be going through, I still consider myself lucky. For the friends that I have. For the best Nana in the world. For your daddy. For our little family. Your brothers and sister amaze me every day. They make me smile. They hug me when I cry. They all have little parts of them that remind me of you. They truly are such good kids. Your brothers are almost 14 and are giants. They passed me up in height long ago and I’m no shrimp. They still have the sweetest souls, are still playing basketball like crazy and are incredible at it. Your daddy is the best coach and works so hard with their entire team. I know things could have turned out very differently with your brothers after going through such a tragedy. Your daddy and I worked very hard to help them by providing them with a constant supply of love and support. I can honestly say at almost 14 years old, they still love us more than anything and they are happy, well-adjusted kids. Poppy just turned 4. She is obsessed with animals and we threw her the cutest 4th birthday complete with a petting zoo. I had a total meltdown about a week prior to her birthday. The fact that I never got to throw you a 4th birthday party but now I was getting ready to throw your baby sister one and you couldn’t be there for it, just about destroyed me. I did what I needed to do which consisted of my breakdown. I got a couple of pep-talks from our lovies, and I picked myself back up and threw your sister a party you would have loved because she deserves to have parties and a mom who doesn’t become a complete train wreck at every milestone she has. It is such a weird thing though, to know that she is now older than you ever will be. I’ve caught myself a few times referring to you has her baby brother to complete strangers who we have met for the first time either at school functions or sporting events. She talks about you non-stop. She loves to look at your pictures and watch your videos. She tells me all the time things like, “Mom, I feel sad today because I miss Ronan.” I know she misses you. She asks questions all the time about you. Lately about your cancer.
“Mom, how did Ronan get cancer?”
“Mama, how old was Ronan when he died?”
“Mommy, why didn’t the medicine make Ronan better?”
“Mom, why do some people get better from the medicine but some people like Ronan, don’t?”
“Mom, where did Ronan’s hair go?”
Mama, will he ever come back to life, because I want to play with him.”
It’s a never ending revolving door of questions about you. I do my best to explain them in a way that she understands but the crazy thing is, she understands everything. I constantly feel like I’m having conversations with a mini adult. She is so bloody smart. And carefree. And wild. And artistic. And funny. And soulful. And kind. And magical. And strong. And brave. She brought back the little pitter patter of feet running down your hallway. She brought back my heart. Oh, don’t get me wrong… it’s still broken, but it is not shattered into a million pieces like it once was. She helped me realize that it was ok to love fiercely again. To laugh again. To smile more than I cry. She has taught me what happiness feels like and how it is ok to feel happy. She has your laugh, Ro. And she laughs so much. Her teachers at school (P.S. BEST SCHOOL EVER) told me she has the best laugh in class. You have no idea how that makes me smile. It’s like its Poppy’s little way of taking you everywhere with her. I am so lucky to have her. I say this to myself at least 10 times a day. She truly saves my life every day.
Ronan. I hate tomorrow. I am so sorry that you had to leave this earth. Six years later and I can still say that there will never be a reason good enough for this. None of this makes any sense, but it is the way that it is. I have had to learn how to live with the fact that you are gone. I am still not at peace with any of this. I know I never will be. I am o.k. with that. It keeps the fire inside of me alive to keep working to change things. I’ll never stop fighting for you and the unjust world of childhood cancer. I know I’ve been quiet on here, but I promise you I am working harder than ever. I miss writing on here. I miss you.
I need to end this now, Ro so I can try to get your sister to sleep. I cannot believe it’s been six years since I last kissed your little lips. I’m forever sorry. I love you so much. I’ll try to write soon. Once this book is done, I promise to be better at this.
I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. G’nite, little man.
Coolest thing about being one of Ronan’s rockstars? Making the world a little better and brighter for all the brave little rockstars fighting cancer, which is totally what we’re doing with our favorite event of the year, Runway Heroes!
Here’s where we need you: To make Runway Heroes possible—and raise as much money for kids fighting cancer as we can—we need donations. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, this is the perfect chance to get your gold on, donate to a cause, AND support an event that the kids have a blast participating in. Every $10 adds up, and we promise that every donation goes to supporting kids fighting cancer, and making this day as successful and fun as possible for them. To donate visit runwayheroes.com.
No kid can fight cancer alone. Which is why we’re thankful for every share, comment, and donation. Let’s make this Runway Heroes the best ever.
Featuring childhood cancer fighters and survivors, Runway Heroes raises funding and awareness for pediatric cancer research—while giving the kids an awesome chance to bask in the spotlight. We know Ronan would have loved this, so we’re looking for your help to make it as spicy and successful as possible!
We’re back at Bloomingdales on Saturday, September 10th, for the 3rd annual Runway Heroes, so mark your calendars. Fittings will be held on August 30th and 31st, and each kid will get to pick an outfit of their choice to model (and keep!).
If you know of a kid who should be strutting their stuff on the runway in your community, please register at runwayheroes.com/register. We’re actively looking for models and can’t wait to share a day of glitz, glamour, and gold with them. This year is extra-special, because it features School of Rock star Luca Padovan.
Ronan. Five years without you in my world and I don’t think there will ever come a time that I am not in disbelief. For the most part the shock has worn off, but it still lingers about when I am least expecting it. We left town for the anniversary of the day you died and for your birthday. Once again, I survived but I still wonder how. Macy came and joined us for a few days. She is still one of my greatest gifts from you as she is the one person that can get me to laugh on my hardest days or just sit quietly with me while I cry. I felt numb on the day you died and the day seemed to drag on forever. The night ended with us watching a Star Wars movie on television because your little Poppy sister is madly obsessed. Can you believe that? All she wants to do is talk about Star Wars. All she wants to do is watch Star Wars. All she wants to do is read your old Star Wars Encyclopedia. She has all of the characters memorized. She knows their names, if they are good or bad, whom you loved most. She just turned 3 and I am just left here in awe. I wonder if you are telling her things when she sleeps. She has such a wisdom about here that leaves me speechless sometimes.
The night that you died we were all in the living room. Poppy pulled a stool into the room and placed it right in the front where we could all see her. She climbed up on it and belts out, “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” Yes, I have been listening to Prince non-stop since he died (I am heartbroken about that) Yes, she was quoting “1999.” Macy’s jaw dropped to the floor. Mine did, too. The timing of her little production was impeccable. It’s like she knows so much more than we all do. She already knows that everyday I am just trying to get through this thing called life, but especially on the day that you died. I know you talk to her. I know she knows you because of the things she says about you day after day after day are not things that I tell her. They are things that can only come from you and I am so thankful for that. She loves you so much and I know that you are keeping her safe for me. I know you hear the worry in my head, day after day after day. Her stomach hurts. She has cancer. I tell your Sparkly that I need him to schedule her an ultrasound to rule out the mass that my fucked up head tells me is inside of her stomach. She threw a tantrum last night which is really out of character for her and was crying so hard that she told me that her head hurt. In my mind it wasn’t a headache from the tantrum, she obviously has brain cancer. I didn’t sleep as I was convinced she was going to stop breathing. This is the kind of shit that goes on in my head 24 hours a day. I honestly don’t know how I am not in a mental ward. I spend my days talking myself out of taking her to the ER for everything. I spend my days talking to you and begging you to calm me down. For the most part it works, but it leaves me completely exhausted to the point of I can’t even sleep when I crawl into bed at night. Five years without you can go and get fucked. So can that wonderful saying of, “Time heals all wounds.” Complete and total bullshit and should not ever be associated with someone who has lost a child.
I didn’t really cry on the anniversary of your death. I told you, I just felt numb most of the day. It was like I was having an out of body experience and watching myself from above as I survived. Your birthday was another story. We had planned to spend the day at the Santa Barbara Zoo. I was getting your sister all ready for the day and she was running around saying, “It’s Ronan’s birthday and I’m going to the zoo!” “Happy Birthday to Roooonnnaaaannn!” I showered her, combed her hair and was chasing her down the hallway to get her dressed. She suddenly turned to me, her eyes wild and full of excitement. “When is Ronan going to be here?” I felt the blood drain from my face. I almost collapsed. I didn’t know how to answer her. She repeated herself as I covered my face with my hands to try to hide my tears. That didn’t work at all because the next thing she said to me was, “Why are you crying?” Quinn came into the room next. “Quinny. Mama is sad. Why is she crying?” I looked up at Quinn. Yup, I said looked up at him because your brother is all of a sudden a giant and my midget 5’7 ass is now being towered over by a 12 year old. Quinn didn’t say a word but just wrapped his arms around me instead. Poppy ran off yelling about your birthday and what animals she was going to see at the zoo. I told your brother I loved him and pulled my shit together so that we could head off to the zoo, without you.
We had a really nice family day, all things considered. The zoo was tiny, but beautiful and Poppy was in heaven. Your brothers were great and didn’t complain once like they tend to do when I force them to go to the zoo in Phoenix. After the zoo, we went and grabbed a bite to eat. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but did my best to act like I really enjoyed my food. An older couple who looked to be in their late 70’s sat down next to us. The man starting chatting with me, wanted to know how many kids I had, etc… I told him 4. He told me he had 4 as well. His wife didn’t say much and her hands were shaking terribly the entire time. When our dinner was finished, I stayed behind to pay the bill. Our waitress came over and I quietly told her that I wanted to pay for the couples dinner that was seated next to us. She smiled and winked at me. The old man continued to ask me questions and just as I thought I was going to make the through dinner without crying, I ended up telling him a tiny bit about you and how it was your birthday. He looked down at the ground and said something like he couldn’t imagine. I got up, gave him my best tear filled smile and told him to have a wonderful rest of the night. I left a few of your little Ronan cards in with our bill. It felt nice to be able to do something for someone else but the shitty thing is I would have done something like that anyway, even without you dying. I have not learned any lessons on how to be a nicer person since you died. I’ve always been a nice person and you getting cancer and dying still makes zero sense to me. I will never be at peace with this. There will never be a day that I don’t yearn for you. There will never be a good enough reason for any of this. Five years later and I still stand by those words.
I have so much more to tell you, but you know all the reasons I cannot. At least not tonight. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. I’m forever sorry and heartbroken that you were not here to turn nine with us. We all miss you so very much.