Survival of Christmas, an Anniversary, and an UnBirthday= A SPARTAN DEATH RACE

Ronan. I feel dead. For real. Like I’m living here but I’m not alive. I’m numb. Again. It must be the holidays that are right around the corner. The ones that I cannot wait to be over. But then you know what’s next….. an anniversary. Our 10 year anniversary.  Impressive right? We were supposed to be in Peru, hiking Machu Picchu. We were supposed to be doing something extra special to celebrate the life that we had been so blessed with, the life we worked so hard for. To celebrate our happy life of still being each others best friends with the most perfect little family we could not have dreamed up because it was that perfect. It was simple. It revolved around pure and true love. With the most 3 beautiful boys, ruling our house which was always overflowing with love, fights, silliness, chaos, naughtiness, sweetness, laughter, dancing, sports, calmness, peacefulness, and security. What more could we ask for? Nothing. We didn’t ask for anything as we knew that we were beyond blessed. But then you got sick. And then you died. And now we are here. With a 10 year anniversary coming up to celebrate. No thanks. I would not like to sit in a fancy restaurant this year. I’ve never really liked to sit in a fancy restaurant, any year. I would really like to dig that hole in my backyard and Woody can throw me down food to eat. Kind of romantic, right? I can see how many marshmallows I can catch in my mouth. No fancy restaurants. No fancy anything. And next up….. My birthday! HOLLA!!!!! That one is sure to be bloody horrific. I remember where I was last year. We were at PCH cuddled up in your bed. We got woken up by one of our favorite lovelies with, “Good morning, young lady!” It was the best way to start my very unbirthday. But you told me happy birthday and smothered me with kisses. So many kisses. I was so happy to be there with you. My girlfriends tried to get me out but I think I denied their request. I am pretty sure I stayed with you on my Unbirthday. Playroom Kathy brought me a little cake. You fed it to me. So sweet. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had because we were together. More together than we had ever been in life before. Life and Death partners. One mommy who was healthy and one baby who was sick. Very, very sick. But we didn’t let that stop our parties in your bed. Right, Ro. We partied like it was 1999 with your chemo, and asspole as our guests. We didn’t care. They couldn’t cramp our style. You were getting better. Obviously. That’s what everybody was saying. You really weren’t. At this point, I think this is when everything started to spiral out of control, we just had no way of truly knowing it. Scans were next! After this last round 6 of your chemo. For not having much of a memory anymore, I remember much of this. I can even remember the hospital room we were in and which side of the room we were on. Not a window side, which we always hated when we had to share a room at PCH with other people. We loved our view and a window view room was always such a treat.

So, Ro. A birthday is coming up. But I think I stopped having birthdays when you were diagnosed. This will be my second annual Very Unbirthday Day to me! Does this mean I get to subtract 2 from my actual age? I think that is a fabulous idea. I will not be 34 this year. I get to be 32. I’ll just start getting younger as I think I deserve this after having to go through this life and losing you. Although, I actually feel like I am 74 after everything that has happened. So, what does one do on her second annual Very Unbirthday Day? Go skydiving, of course. I told you I was making plans, Ro. Lots of plans to try to make myself feel alive, otherwise I don’t have a chance at staying on this earth. I think skydiving is a MUST. You know what else is coming up?? After my trip to NYC…. The Spartan Death Race.  Check it out here: http://www.spartanrace.com/      It’s in February at Rawhide. All I heard were the words, 9 miles, mud, fire, tight spaces, obstacle courses, and you may die and I couldn’t sign up fast enough. There was also some huge liability waiver I had to initial as well. It said something about them not being held responsible for your death. I skimmed over it. I signed it in blood. Bring it on. You had me at, “you may die.” I’m not scared to die Ro. Your Sparkly made me look him eyes and promise him no more death hikes at night. And I promised. Had to. So, no more night death hikes means I must find something else to help this insanity. I also told him, “Ronan died of cancer. That makes me invincible.” Because if I am still here, surviving this pain, surly I can survive a 9 mile little race, right? Absolutely. And I know you know the reason behind all of this madness. These things are the only things that make me feel a different kind of pain and it takes my dead body and makes it feel alive for a short period of time. On normal days, I am a walking zombie. I wish I had a cool Bill Murray Zombie friend to hang out with. Or you. I wish you were here and would be my zombie friend. We were the best team. We were the best everything.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. I worry about you so much. All day long. All night long. The worrying never goes away. I love you my spicy monkey boy. I love you to the moon and back. Sweet dreams.

Quinny misses you so much. This pic rips my heart out, Ro. For so many reasons. But I’m trying so hard to keep them happy.

Just you and me

Ronan. Just another day without you. I wish I could tell you that I am o.k. But, I’m not. I’m just sad. I’m swimming in a sea of sadness and am barely staying afloat. This morning, I took your brothers to surf camp. I sat and watched them for the 3 hours and pushed them as they both complained about the ocean being too cold, etc….. I was the mean mommy that told them to suck it up. My tolerance for their complaining today was at an all time low. At one point, Quinn came in and didn’t want to go back into the ocean. He wanted to stop surfing for the day. I brought up you and how hard you fought for every second of your life. I talked to him about life and how important it is to not give up and to keep fighting. I told him how you would give anything to be living still and if you were having a hard time at something, that you would have never have given up. But life is not fair and now you don’t get to run around, never taking no for an answer, all while pushing every limit, every boundary that came your way. You were just born different from most people, Ronan. Your daddy and I say it all the time. You had a fire and such strength in your soul. That’s  why we were so convinced that you would beat your stupid fucking cancer. I’ve never met a boy stronger than you and I still can’t believe that everything ended so quickly.

After my “get your ass back into the water,” pep talk….. but in a much nicer way, Quinn finished up his class. I don’t know if I’m pushing too hard, but that’s just the way it goes. Your brothers need to learn a little something about fighting to become the best people they can be. To appreciate everything that they are able to do. To never take a second of life for granted. I have no tolerance for whining and complaining anymore. I know what it’s like to watch a little boy go through treatments for cancer and how you never once complained about anything. Except for missing your brothers and just wanting to be home. Complaining about things in our life now just won’t exist anymore, unless it has to do with missing you. That’s the only thing any of us should every complain about. Anything else can be fixed, problem solved, or worked through.

After the boys’ surf lesson, we hit up the hot tub and than came up for lunch. Liam crashed out for a nap, Quinn rested as well and I took my surfboard and headed out for a couple of hours. It was cold, but I welcomed the angry ocean with open arms today. It felt good to be out there and I got tossed around a bit. Coronado is a great place to learn how to surf and the quiet time out in the ocean, when I paddled past the waves to think about you, was nice. After I surfed, I came back up to the condo and hung out with your daddy and brothers. Later in the evening, we went out to our usual spot so your daddy could cook up our dinner. There were a bunch of dolphins out in the water this evening. We spotted about 5 or 6. They were so beautiful and I of  course thought of you. I was than overcome with anger and thought to myself that it was bullshit that a sign from you, had to come in the form of a dolphin. I don’t want any signs…. I just want you. Back with us, the way things should be. I tried to be happy about seeing those dolphins tonight, but it only made me sad and miss you more. You did leave me a lot of signs today, which I am thankful for. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, Ro. I love all your little signs, but it doesn’t make me miss you any less. Sometimes it hurts more.

After dinner, we came back up to the condo and although it was late…. 9:30, I headed out for my run. (sorry Mr. Sparky Eyes) I promised him I wouldn’t run late at night anymore, due to an encounter I had with some creepy man a few nights ago; but I had to go tonight. It’s the restlessness in me that never goes away. I ran 7 miles…. all the way over to the Coronado Bridge and back. It felt good, it hurt, and I of course thought about you a lot. Sometimes, when I am thinking about you, it hurts so bad that I cannot even cry. I was thinking about being at The Ryan House with you and I felt like I was going to stop breathing as I still can’t come to the realization that you are gone. I think I have Post-traumatic stress disorder. For real.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may occur soon after a major trauma, or it can be delayed for more than 6 months after the event. When it occurs soon after the trauma, it usually gets better after 3 months. However, some people have a longer-term form of PTSD, which can last for many years.

PTSD can occur at any age and can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as war, a prison stay, assault, domestic abuse, or rape. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in the United States may have caused PTSD in some people who were involved, in people who saw the disaster, and in people who lost relatives and friends. These kinds of events can produce stress in anyone, but not everyone develops PTSD.

The cause of PTSD is unknown, but psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors are involved. PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). Having been exposed to trauma in the past may increase the risk of PTSD.

Having good social support helps to protect against PTSD. In studies of Vietnam veterans, those with strong support systems were less likely to get PTSD than those without social support.

People with PTSD re-experience the event again and again in at least one of several ways. They may have frightening dreams and memories of the event, feel as though they are going through the experience again (flashbacks), or become upset during anniversaries of the event.

Symptoms

People with PTSD re-experience the event again and again in at least one of several ways. They may have frightening dreams and memories of the event, feel as though they are going through the experience again (flashbacks), or become upset during anniversaries of the event.

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories:

1. Repeated “reliving” of the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity

  • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
  • Recurrent distressing memories of the event
  • Repeated dreams of the event
  • Physical reactions to situations that remind you of the traumatic event

2. Avoidance

  • Emotional “numbing,” or feeling as though you don’t care about anything
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Less expression of moods
  • Staying away from places, people, or objects that remind you of the event
  • Sense of having no future

3. Arousal

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Exaggerated response to things that startle you
  • Excess awareness (hypervigilance)
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Sleeping difficulties

You also might feel a sense of guilt about the event (including “survivor guilt”), and the following symptoms, which are typical ofanxiety, stress, and tension:

  • Agitation, or excitability
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Feeling your heart beat in your chest (palpitations)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • PalenessYup. That pretty much sums me up. Except for the paleness, but that is only due to the sunny Cali weather:)

I thought about the lecture I was going to get from Mr. Sparkly Eyes about running so late at night and thought about how I would tell him that I was sorry; but fear is a word that doesn’t exist in my vocabulary anymore. I have already lived through the thing I was most scared of in my life. So now what? What else do I have to fear? Nothing. Of course, I worry about your brothers and Daddy, but when it comes to me… I just don’t give a fuck. I’m not going to live my life being scared of anything anymore because I know whatever else is thrown my way, will be nothing compared to losing you. So , I will run my runs when I want, say the things I feel, swim in the ocean at night, and not be scared. It’s actually very freeing and liberating. To live a life of not being scared of things is how all people should live, otherwise what’s the point? Before all of this, I don’t know if I would have ever taken up surfing, because I was scared of sharks. And forget about running the dark. I used to make up things in my head to be scared of. Well, I’m done with that. At 33 years old, after losing you, I’m done with fear. I’m going to live my life the way you would have lived yours. Head on, embracing every adventure and pushing the limits for the most beautiful outcomes. I will live my life this way for you, because I know as an adult, this is the way you would have grown up to be. Life would have been scared of you.

I came home to your daddy and brothers watching a movie and soon Quinn was ready for bed. We came into our room and as soon as we turned on the T.V. guess what was on, Ro. “Zombieland.” One of our very favorite movies that we used to watch all the time. That’s where you got the saying, “Just you and me,” from. Another one of your little signs. That was one of our favorite things to do in the hospital was watch that movie on your iPad. Quinn watched it for the first time tonight and laughed a lot. It’s a little mature for him, but he has had so much of his innocence taken away that I let him watch it anyway. We cuddled up and watched it together. I held him extra tight for you.

We say goodnight to you every night. Do you hear us?? I hope you do. I’m going to say goodnight now baby. We have an early camp tomorrow again, hoping those brothers will pick up a little more passion and zest for the opportunities that they are given. I just want them to be thankful for being on this earth everyday, with 2 parents who are so broken, but are somehow managing to make this summer as good as it can possibly be. It’s a lot of work, but as a family, we have to do this. For all of us. I know it is what you would want.

I love you little man. I love you to the moon and back. As I was running tonight, I stopped and blew a kiss up to the moon and said, “I love you, Ronan.” I hope you heard me. Life is so precious and I know it doesn’t’ seem like it now, but I am not going to let it swallow me whole. I promise I will start living it again when I am ready. But ready is not now, and I don’t know when it will ever be. I need more time to pass between your death. I still cry all the time, but mostly over being with you that final night and saying goodbye to you. I still tell myself it just can’t be true. You were true and all I wanted was you. Forever. What am I supposed to do without you my little bug?? As of now, I don’t want to do anything except survive and not totally fuck up your brothers with the crazy shit that goes though my head. All I can do is be present for them and do the little things for them that I know mean so much. I will deal with them first, and myself later. I can wait. The damage done to them cannot be undone, which is why when we get back to AZ, therapy will become a big part of our lives. I have to be proactive about this and it is something we are going to have to do as a family, together.

I also forgot to tell you a funny story from last night. I took Quinn to dinner, on a date. We had finished up and we were walking out of the restaurant and there was a family of 5 sitting on the bench and standing up, smoking. I was holding on to Quinn’s had and I looked at them, straight in the eyes, and said, “Smoking causes cancer,” and kept walking. I thought Quinn was going to fall over. It’s like I have no censor anymore and he wanted to know if we were going to get into trouble for saying that. I said for what, “For speaking the truth? Ronan got cancer because he didn’t have a choice.” The fact that people in this day and age, take it upon themselves to smoke, knowing what the risks are, pisses me off. I’m sensitive to this, especially now. I wanted to say, “You should get cancer, not my 4-year-old child who didn’t do a thing wrong in this world.” You make the choice to suck on those freaking cancer sticks, then suffer the consequences. My child had to suffer for not a god damn reason at all except for bad luck. If anyone deserved to live, it was you baby. I will never stop thinking that. This whole things turned out so unbelievably wrong. For everyone involved. Everyone misses you Ronan. Even though you are gone, you are still changing lives. I promise you, a cure for this will be found before I die. I know I made you a lot of promises, but I promise to keep this one. I owe it to you and all the other little babies out there. Give me some time. Some time to mourn you, but when I feel ready….watch out cancer world. You’ve fucked with the wrong mommy and baby team. You are going to be sorry, but it will never be sorry enough for having to lose you over Ro. I will be sorry about that everyday for the rest of my life. Your fire now burns in my soul, you live with me, in my body. I know you may go away now and again, but when you want to come home, I know this is where your soul rests. I feel you all the time.

This is all for tonight my little monkey man. I love you to the moon and back a million times over. Just you and me, baby:) Sweet dreams. Go and visit some of your favorite people. Nighty Night baby boy.

xoxo

“Take away a man’s son. You’ve truly given him nothing left to lose.” Quote from Zombieland

Sunday, bloody Sunday

Ronan. Sunday has always been my least favorite day. Sundays to me are depressing, sad, and I’ve never liked them. Why should today be any different? Let’s start with the fact that I didn’t fall asleep until 6:30 a.m. I had an awful night last night of worrying about you, about life, and I couldn’t get myself to wind down. I ended up popping an Ambien at 5:30 a.m. I was being stubborn because all I wanted last night was to fall into a blissful, non medicated sleep, and dream of you. Instead, I fought off the demons that now live in my head until I could take no more. Ambien induced sleep soon came and as I was halfway between being awake and sleep, I was holding my phone looking at pictures of you. I remember falling asleep and I was touching the screen on my phone with a picture of you smiling. I swear the picture came alive and you were moving, laughing, and smiling at me. I played with your face on the screen of my phone until I finally went into my coma. I don’t remember dreaming of you at all, but I played with you before I drifted off for the next five hours. When I finally woke up, I told your daddy that we should get out and go grab a late breakfast somewhere. We headed off to some restaurant a lady on the airplane had told him about. I don’t even know where it was, except we had to leave the Island of Coronado to get there. It was a really cute restaurant, and I sat on the patio with your daddy and brothers. We all ordered breakfast and I was just sitting there, looking at home handsome your brother, Liam is. I stared at him for a few minutes and then the crying started. I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring, your daddy just looked at me and brushed them away, and I put back on my sunglasses. There was a table of people right next to us. I nicknamed them “The pretty people,” in my head. They must have been in their 30’s and they were celebrating a birthday. Their table was full of so much happiness, laugher and love. I used to know what it felt like to sit at a table like that. Not to have a care in the world and everything was so carefree and pure. Now, the table I sit at is full of tears and sadness with a reality that I never wanted, but will always be mine. I will wear these scars for the rest of my life and they will never fade, because you are missing. Because you didn’t get to be a breakfast with us today, nor will you ever be again. I pictured you with us though. You would have loved the gooey cinnamon roll Quinn and Liam had. You would have gotten the frosting everywhere and probably wiped it all over Quinn. You would have taken the pure sugar chunks they had sitting out to sweeten the tea with and chucked them across the table at one of your brothers. I would have done my best “Ronan Sean Thompson! Use your manners!” to you as I tried to scold you but I would have ended up in a fit of giggles. Your naughty ways were always my weakness. Your carefree spirit, freed my soul.

I was writing last night to Mr. Sparkly Eyes and my exact words to him were, “Ronan completed everything in my life. Everything. After I had him, I finally for the first time in my life felt complete, whole, and perfect. He tied our whole family together in a big, pretty bow.  Now what? What do you do after that is gone? Survive I guess. Float, so you don’t sink. Swim, so you don’t drown. Go on. Move forward. Continue to fight. Fight to stay alive, to get out of bed, for that glimmer of happiness that I sometimes get to feel during the day.” Those were my words last night and you know it’s my truth. I’m fighting baby. I’m fighting every second of the day to hold on to you, to me, to your brothers, to your daddy. I won’t let go no matter how much I want to give up. I won’t let you down.

After our breakfast of tears, we explored the streets a little. Walking down the sidewalk, did you see the 4 of us? I know you did. We were all walking down the sidewalk, holding hands. All of us, linked together. I turned around to find you, expecting you to be running behind us. When I realized you weren’t there, I had to let go of your daddy’s hand. I couldn’t  hold on without you. The tears burned my eyes, but the pain in my heart was worse. Everyday seems to be getting harder and harder. I did forget to tell you about something so silly that happened last night though. Something that made me happy. After the crazy ocean swimming night I had with your brothers, we all went to the hot tub. When we returned back to the condo, Quinn realized he had forgotten his flip-flops down by the pool. I took his hand and told him we could walk back to the pool to get them. We got to the pool, but it was after hours so my card that lets us in, wouldn’t work. Quinn was devastated but I tried to tell him we would come down in the morning to get them and it was no big deal. His eyes got all teary as you know what a little worry wart he is and he was upset that they would be gone in the morning. I told him there was nothing I could do, but the look on his face  told me I had no choice to somehow get into the pool and rescue his darn flip-flops. So you know what I did?? I looked around to see if there was any way I could scale the concrete wall that surrounds the pool. I told Quinn to hold my things and I somehow managed to hoist myself up and over the wall, and I landed on the other side where his flip-flops were waiting for me. You should have seen the smile on your brothers face. I smiled at that and the thought of you and how I knew you were watching me, “break the rules,” as we used to love to do. Quinn told me that I was the best mom ever and now he understands why I like to run all the time and why it’s important to me. He said it’s so I can do things like that and he bets no other mom would have done something “so cool.” It made me giggle. He’s been talking about it non-stop to me since it happened last night. Sweet boy. The smile on his face was priceless. It made my night.

I ended tonight with my late night run and a movie night on the couch with your daddy and brothers. I’m going to say goodnight now baby. My most favorite movie in the world is on, “Lost in Translation.” I’m going to try to unwind while watching it in hopes for some sleep. It’s a movie I will never get tired of, no matter how many times I see it. It’s a good way to end just another painfully hard day. I miss you so much. I hope to see you soon. Sweet dreams, my blue eyed boy. I love you.

xoxo