Snow Falling in Flagstaff

Ronan. Guilt is what I feel at this time, in this moment. For living this life, without you here. For the smiles that I’ve smiled, for the laugher I’ve done, for the love I’ve given to your brothers. Guilt for going on when you know, all I want to do is be with you. I wonder if the reason you insisted on being with me, almost every second of every day of the almost 4 years that I had you, is because you knew you wouldn’t be able to stay with me forever. I wonder if you miss me as much as I miss you. I wonder if you are as sad as I am because we are apart. I think that you are and it kills me that there is nothing that I can do about it. I can’t wipe your tears, hold you close and tell you that everything is going to be alright. I can’t promise you that I’ll never let anything happen to you, because it did. The worst possible thing that could have happened, did. And I will never stop being sorry for that. It is so unfair that the four of us are left here and you are gone. I constantly feel like I have forgotten you somewhere. I am constantly looking over my shoulder for you to come running around the corner. I don’t think I’ll ever stop looking for you.

I have been struggling with my sleep so much. The devil, Ambien has been in and out of my life since you were diagnosed. I try not to take it, but I’ve had a solid 3 weeks where I have taken it almost every night. Dr. Jo told me to try Valerian Root last week. She told me she takes 2 of those and she is out cold. So, I took 4 a few nights ago and nothing. I ended up taking my Ambien instead. I haven’t taken my Ambien for 3 nights in a row now. It has been horrific. The first night I fell asleep in our bed, with your daddy. I was in and out of sleep the entire night. I felt like my body was on fire. I had the most awful nightmares. I was watching myself scream your name, knowing that you were dead, but nobody could hear me or help me. Sounds like my real life. When I take Ambien, it puts me into such a heavy sleep, that I don’t dream at all. When I don’t take it, I toss and turn all night long, only to dream the most awful things. So what’s worse? I don’t know as they both seem bad. I know that I don’t want to rely on something to sleep so I am going to try to continue to tough this out. And if I need a break every once in a while, for now, it is o.k. Dr. Jo is trying to get me to meditate before bed or to try some yoga. It’s worth a shot, right??

We spent the weekend up in Flagstaff. It was another 3 day weekend and staying home just didn’t seem like an option. We tend to go stir crazy without you around. It’s like everyone is trying to overcompensate for the fact that you are not here. We headed up on Saturday and spent a couple of days enjoying the cooler weather and lazy days. Your daddy was actually able to relax. I tried too but it was hard to be up there for the first time, without you. I had a moment where I was walking into the living room and Liam was sitting down at the table on the floor. The top of his head, looked so much like the color of your hair, that I thought it was you. It was like I had the wind knocked out of me when I realized it was not. Your brothers were so kind to each other this weekend. They are such good boys. They didn’t fight at all, which seems so rare these days. I watched them as they played together, took care of each other, and helped out with a lot of the things we asked of them. We all snuggled on the couch and watched some movies, your daddy took them on an Arctic Cat ride, I took a long nap with Quinn, which I never do anymore. I snuggled up to him and let him remind me of you and the way we loved to take our naps together. Your brothers were extra sweet to me this weekend. I think they could tell I was sad about having to be without you, doing our normal family things that we loved to do. It snowed up in Flagstaff last night. I watched the snowflakes fall with tears in my eyes. You would have gone crazy over it and made me take you out in the middle of the night to play in it. I would have without hesitation.

It’s going to take a lot to heal us all. We all have some good ideas, of some things that can help. We are all being very open about our sadness and we talk about you all the time. But we are a different family now as we are all different people. Even your brothers. I keep wanting to write your little brothers. As if I feel that you were older then they are. I guess due to everything you went through and how strong you were about it all. I guess due to the fact that I now feel like you are older than them and you are the one watching out for them and protecting them. And the wisdom that you always had as you were so much wiser than your almost 4 years old of age. I always knew this about you. You truly were a gift to us all.

I have a busy week as I am leaving for New York soon. My solo trip that is much needed. I need some time to go back to our favorite city where I can just be for a little while. Some plans are falling into place which I am loving. I planned this trip without having anything to do but some very nice things are coming about. I am excited for the little adventure we are going to have together as I know you will be with me, the entire time.

Alright little man. I love you so much. I hope you are safe. I miss you so very much.

xoxo

Ronan’s Table for 6

Ro baby. I guess my last post was pretty happy and upbeat. I wish I could say I have spent the past few days, feeling the same way after writing the things I wrote. I didn’t end up falling asleep peacefully like I had hoped. I tossed until 3 a.m. and had to take the devil aka, Ambien in order to fall asleep. I woke up, feeling like shit…. but I went on with my day anyway. I don’t remember what I did, but I’m sure it was a lot of all the things I’m supposed to be doing, like being productive. All the things I’m supposed to be doing, like living life taking care of your brothers, the house, paying the bills, etc…. Being present. On Saturday, I went down to ASU to participate on a panel that Dr. JoRo had asked me to be a part of. It is for a class she is teaching at ASU on traumatic death. I sat on a panel, in front of her class with about 10 other bereaved parents and a grandmother too for about 5 hours…. but it felt like 10. Dr. Jo basically asked us to tell our stories and she then asked us all question after question regarding our tragedy. I watched as her students listened, wiped tears from their eyes, took notes, and tried to process the things that we were saying. I watched the ways they didn’t have to say anything at all, as I could hear their thoughts in their heads. I know each and every one of them begged whomever it is that they believe in, for this to never happen to them. I so wished I had been one of the students sitting in that class today, taking notes. Not the one the other side, talking about you and this fucked up story. I tried my best to get my words out in regards to you, my grief, and everything else that I am going through, but it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, mentally and emotionally. I was the first parent on the panel to be asked the questions, so I had to be quick on my feet with my responses. I had so many things racing through my mind and trying to articulate the words that I wanted to say, is so much easier for me to do in my writing rather then speaking. But I did my best and I did it from my heart. It was the best I could do. It’s one thing to write about you… I could do this in my sleep and I often do. To talk about you, on the spot, hurts so badly that it is almost impossible. One day, I hope to find my voice for you…. where it’s not one where I feel like I am gasping for air. I think I did an o.k. job yesterday…. I caught myself pinching myself on and off through out the day to make sure the day was real. Unfortunately, I felt all the pinches I gave myself. I cried a lot. How weird to be so vulnerable in front of so many strangers. A gig I never wanted. I gig that I’ll have to have for the rest of my life. I think I said the fuck word a few times and I remember making Dr. Jo’s students laugh by flipping them all off when she asked the question what we, as bereaved parents, would we like to say to all the people who say stupid things to us. Things like, “Well, my cat died so I know how you feel.” “You can have other kids.” “Heaven needed another angel.” “You were given this because you are strong enough to handle it.” The list goes on and on. My response to Dr. Jo and her class was, “I like to keep it short and sweet.” I then stuck my arm out and flipped everyone off. I remember hearing everyone laugh. You would have been proud of that, Ro baby. Fuck those people of the world and the stupid shit they say. They will never get it…. they are too fucking ignorant, self-absorbed, and brain washed by society.

After the “death panel,” as I called it to Dr. Jo, I left ASU with her and we went to grab some dinner with 3 other parents and the grandmother of the group who had lost not only her grandson to death, but her son as well to the grief. Her son is still here, but you know what I mean. The grief took him away for some time. It sounds like she is slowly getting him back but, ouch. That hurt hearing her say that yesterday, on that panel. I know that is how your Nana feels. That she not only lost you, but me as well. I know that is how many people feel as I may as well be dead too, because that’s the way I have been acting. The only thing is, it’s not an act. It’s the way I feel and I can’t change that. Someday maybe. But not now. While we were waiting for our table in the bar, where I sucked down my Coke…. the waitress came in to ask for a name for our table of 6. I looked at Jo. She looked at the waitress and goes, “Ronan.” I smiled. A few minutes later, the waitress came back saying, “Table for Ronan!” I had to wonder what the lady would have done or thought if she knew she was calling out the name of a dead child. This is the strange world I live in now. Where you have to make the dead live among the living, in any way possible. Even if it means to hear their name being called out at a restaurant because your table is ready. We all sat and talked about the day, our kids, or lives before this and now. Dr. Jo pointed up at the ceiling and how all the light fixtures were in the shape of little stars. It was your way of being there, after such a brutally hard day. It was your way of giving me the little giggle that I so miss. I then told the table how I used to call you feisty. How I used to say, “Ronan, you are so feisty!” How you would then scream back at me, “I NOT SPICY!” I told them it was one of my favorite things that you used to say to me. I miss that so much. I also told everyone at the table how I feel like it should be mandatory for bereaved parents’ to carry around tasers. And when people say stupid shit to us, we should just be able to taser their asses, instead of trying to answer their dumbass questions. Oh, how everyone laughed at this idea. I think a law needs to be passed for this to happen. I have so many people I would like to taser just to make them feel a tiny piece of the pain I feel 24 hours a day. I actually wish I didn’t have to taser anyone, Ronan. I wish people would just start thinking before speaking. I wish people would just be a little more thoughtful, kind, thankful and compassionate. I actually wish you were just here and I didn’t have to wish any of this shit. I would like to tell you that I left dinner and came home to our “happy,” house and fell into a peaceful sleep. I did not. I hate what I’m going to have to tell you next.

I left dinner, got into my car, and started to drive home. I wish I could tell you what happened for the next 40 minutes, but I can assure you I left my body for that time. I can swear to you that I should not have driven. I can swear to you, that I felt scared which is something that I never feel anymore. I somehow ended up out at Wildpass Resort, which is nowhere near our house. It’s on the east side of the valley. I was crying so hard that I had to pull over at a gas station where I sat, cried, felt my heart racing so fast that I thought it was going to explode. I almost called an ambulance. I had to make myself breathe for I knew if I didn’t, I was just going to suffocate to death. I ended up calling Dr. JoRo….. which is something I never do…. and she’ll be the first to tell you that. I hate to bother her, even though she is so good at making sure I know I am never bothering her. I called her last night as I knew if I didn’t, I would have been in big trouble. I tried to get out my words to her as to where I was and what had happened. I told her there were fireworks going off in the sky and how the fuck can fireworks even exist anymore. I sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. She made sure I had pulled over somewhere safe. I told her I thought I had, but how lost I was. I said to her, “If I can’t find my way home, how am I supposed to find my way through life?” What a perfect metaphor, Ronan. I don’t know the answer. But I eventually ended up finding my way back home. Dr. Jo texted me so she could know I was safe and asked if I needed to talk. I told her that I was o.k. That I had made it home…. 2 hours after I had left her. I told her a hot bath and the reeses peanut butter cup that she had given me earlier in the week, had saved my life. For tonight. I fell asleep. I dreamed of you and your little bald head. I got to hold you but I knew you were going to die. I am just thankful that I got to see you.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is your 8 months since you’ve been gone. I’m so sorry for that. I miss you so much. I know you know what I’m doing for you tomorrow, but I’m not saying too much about it now. If I’m meant to see you, to kiss your little lips, and feel your soft skin, I will. It’s not up to me, it’s up to you. I’m not scared. I love you so much. Sweet dreams, my not spicy little boy. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

Sink or Swim, Baby. What’s it gonna be??

Hi Ro baby. It’s funny how much I look forward to this time with you at night. After the house is quiet. I think of this as my Ro time. The time I get to spend with you, taking care of you now. It’s so precious and dear to me. After the days which are usually pretty busy, this is my way to unwind with you and I treasure every second of it. Thanks for inspiring me so much that I always feel like I have so much to say to you. I am lucky in that regard.

I’m trying to remember the past couple of days. I still have a hard time remembering the things that we have done. Sunday flew by. I honestly cannot remember what we did. Today I dropped your brothers off at school. I left Macy here so she could get some work done. I ran some errands and got caught up on some things. I came home later in the afternoon and picked up Macy. We went to grab your brothers from school. We took them to eat. We wore fake mustaches. It was a sad day, but I tried my best to make it light and happy for the sake of your brothers. I didn’t want Macy to leave. I was sad about it all day. We took your brothers over to Katie’s to say Hi and so Macy could say goodbye to her. We came home and I did all the normal things that normal moms do. I made dinner. I put away laundry. I did dishes. I helped your brothers with their homework. I faked the mommy role very well today. Gold Star for me!

Quinny and I took Macy to the airport tonight. Everyone was sad to see her go. Even your Daddy. I’m telling you, she fits in so well with our family….. it kills me that you are not here with us to be a part of the Macy Magic anymore. She hugged Quinny goodbye as the tears poured down her cheeks. It was my turn next. I just held her, we both cried and said we loved each other. As soon as I got back in the car, Quinn asked when Macy could come back. I told him I hoped soon, but if not we would go and see her. I am not going to let so much time pass between seeing her again. Macy is healing for all of us. Macy is our sunshine through all of this. She makes the darkest days, sunny and bright. But the good thing about Macy is…. if the days need to be dark, she’s o.k. with that too. If the days are dark, she is the little ray of sunshine peeking out behind the clouds. I appreciate that so much. Love you Macy Wood in Da Hood. Thank you for everything.

So Ro, now what? Back to this life. Back to trying to figure things out. I’m trying to make sense of so many things right now. I feel confused and sad. I had a long talk with Dr. Jo yesterday about some things that are going on. She is one of the few people I trust anymore. I’ve had so much crap going on that I actually sent her a text that said something like, ” You would tell me if I were crazy, right?? Everyone around me is making me think I am losing my mind.” She called me. We talked for a good 45 minutes. She told me that I was indeed not even close to crazy. But to the outside world, the normal world may think that I am, because they don’t get it. They may think that they do, but if they haven’t lost a child, they cannot even come close to understanding. But it’s been 6 months Ro. The whispers around me are saying, “Shouldn’t she be getting better by now?” As if there is a time frame on how much time should pass after you lose a child and then it’s time to “get better,” and “get happy” and “choose the right path!” And Grief can certainly make a person feel like they are crazy. I hate that I second guessed myself. I hate that for those few minutes, I felt like I actually might be crazy. I hate that I didn’t trust myself because of all the stupid noise around me. I don’t like noise. I know Dr. Jo and I know the things she is telling me, are not because they are the things she thinks I want or need to hear. She will always be truthful and honest with me. If she thought I were crazy, she would tell me. The thing about Dr. Jo is, she would tell me from an honest place and I would listen to her. She would tell me if I were crazy and she would embrace my crazy. She wouldn’t ever judge me. She wouldn’t ever tell me what I am doing is right or wrong. She would allow me to do this the way I felt was right, without being too overbearing or too opinionated. Or too pushy. You know how well I do with judgmental and pushy people. I don’t. I don’t and I won’t tolerate it. I’ll shut down. I’ll push away. I know who I am, Ronan. Faults and all because I do have many. I know who you are. I know what you expect of me.

I don’t know much about this life now except it is really, really, hard. Hard in a way, that I never knew life could be. Because the real world does not teach you about things like losing a child so therefor, you have to navigate this the best way you can…. without any sort of floatation device or paddle. Sink or swim, baby. Most of the time I feel like I’m sinking but then I remember the reasons why I need to try to swim. Why no matter how many people try to drown me….Inferno Fuckwad Bob being at the top of that list…… the reasons that I will continue to fight my way to the top of the water so that I can reach the surface and breathe again. Because I’m a fighter the same way you are. Because I started this blog and I’m not going to change a thing about it. I’m not going to stop writing it. I’m not going to be worried if it offends people or turns certain people off to supporting your Foundation. I’m not going to stop being me. Sad, happy, stupid, immature, angry, silly, crazy, goofy, honest, raw, scared, brave, and truthful. This is me. This is you. This is our world now. This is all we’ve got together and I’m not selling out, for anyone. I know who I need behind me. The one person that matters the most. Your Daddy. He is behind me. He supports this craziness. His opinion is the only one that matters to me. I know where we stand on this. It’s together. For now. That may change one day. If that time comes, I will sit down and listen. But now, this is the way it is. I’m not conforming. I’m not sugar-coating. I’m not going to stop being true to myself and who I am. I’ve been this way, from the beginning. It’s nothing new. It’s not as if I’ve pulled a 180 here and all of a sudden, I’m screaming from the rooftops for Cancer to Fuck OFF!!! instead of “Gosh darn you Cancer! Thanks for killing my son!” I’m not going to ever stop being true to you and the way you lived your life. I started this my way and that is how I intend on keeping it. I’m not going to let a bunch of men in black suits scare me off. I’m not conforming. I’m not here to fit in. I’m here to be me. Love me or leave me. You died, Ronan. But you still live in my heart, mind, body, and soul. You are my heart which is what I’m following here because it makes me feel like I am alive, for as much as I feel like I am dead. I don’t care what the outcome of all of this madness ends up being as long as I know I remained true to myself and what I believed in. I’m not living a life any other way. I’ve learned in a very cruel way, how short life really is. I’m going to live a life that I am proud of and if that is a disappointment to others, than so be it. I think to live a life any other way, is a very sad, sad life indeed. I think to expect anything else from a person who has just lost their baby, is just mean. There should be no expectations, no disappointments, no judgements. The only thing that there should be is unconditional love. And acceptance. Nothing else. Nothing more. It’s so simple, why make it complex?

So Ro. That’s it for tonight. Your daddy is having a really hard time right now too. 6 months of being without you is so much harder than the first month of all of this. That’s one of the many dirty little secrets nobody tells you about losing a child. It gets worse, as time goes on. Your daddy is doing the same thing I am now. He is looking for you. He thinks you are still here. The shock is wearing off for him too. The emotional anesthesia is fading away and it is pure and utter torture. It at times, can very well make you feel as if you are going insane. I think I miss you more today, than I ever have. I love you baby doll. I love you to the moon and back. I miss you so much. I hope you are safe. I’m so very sorry I couldn’t save you. I hope you know how hard I tried. I hope you forgive me. G’nite Ro baby. Sweet dreams.

And P.S. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FUCK YOU CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

xoxo

The Silver Lining in the Clouds. I Wonder What it’s All About.

Ro baby. I haven’t been avoiding you. But I’ll admit it. For the first time ever, since starting this blog…..I’m scared. Scared because of the weakness that I gave into. Scared because I’m NOT as strong as everyone is always telling me I am. Scared because of the many days that I don’t think I can survive this. Scared because of the reality that I had to wake up to, after truly trying not to survive this because the pain is sometimes just too much. Scared because I came closer to the dark side than I ever have, and it was so easy to do. Just like that. No thought. Only impulse. Consumed by the pain of my reality, that you are never coming back. NEVER. I know I talk about you dying all the time, but do you want to know the truth? I still think in my heart of hearts, that you are going to come home again. That your Daddy is going to one day, walk through that door, carrying you in his arms. That is how delusional I am. This is how deeply I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that you are never coming back. I cannot accept your death. I cannot accept our pain. I cannot accept our life, without you. I just want you back. I want you back, so badly that I feel like it should so easily be able to happen. This is how my delusional mind works now. Nothing is real, so your death can’t possibly be real, right?

I told Dr. JoRo that so many nights, when I’m out running, all I think about is some van pulling up next to me, grabbing me and pulling me inside of it. Do you know what I see in that van? A bunch of men in white coats and masks. They are holding you and you are alive. They explain to me that you really are not dead. I see your face, your smile, your tears of joy because you are back in my arms, where you belong. These men tell me that this was just an experiment to see how strong a mama’s love, really is. To see how much pain a mama could handle, before she could handle no more and did something really crazy. Like the skydiving I am planning to do on Thanksgiving. I’m just trying to decide if it will be with or without a parachute. If you would have asked me last weekend, I would have said without a parachute. If you ask me tonight, I would say with one, please. Dr. JoRo and I joked about this tonight. The skydiving thing. We laughed as she said I should throw a turkey out of the plane before I jump. Then our dark sense of humor took over as we giggled about the headlines of the news that day. “Runner killed by a flying turkey, on Thanksgiving Day.” And they said turkeys couldn’t fucking fly. Oh, how wrong they were about that.

So, Ro. After the weekend of the dark side…. it was very highly recommended that I go to Sedona on Monday, to see Dr. Jo. I drove up there, happy to do so. I like that time alone in the car, driving to the place that makes me feel a little peaceful. I had a lot of people offer to drive me but I politely said no thank you. I needed to clear my head, before I bared my soul. I was greeted by Dr. Jo, like always except for her hug was a little tighter this time and I had to listen to her apologize for being out-of-town, for work, during my little crises. Nonsense I told her. It wouldn’t have mattered. I knew that we were in for a long session, to figure out what lead up to this. Besides the obvious.

We talked about my week. Shit. I had a lot of shitty shit shit, happen. Too much shit that I wasn’t even aware of, because I had let everything build up and roll off my back. Trying to be the Superwoman, that I so am NOT. I need to remember this, more often. And Halloween. I was not prepared for how hard it was going to be, but I had tried all week to prepare myself for the worst. Our favorite holiday, without you. NO. All of your “friends,” dressing up in their costumes. NO. Thinking about what we would be doing, if you were here, like you should be. What would you have worn? I spent most of the week thinking about not being able to dress you up. I spent most of the week, crying about it. I went to PCH to help Sandra. I ran into a girl there who used to work at the front desk of the clinic. “How’s your baby!?” She said. “My baby?” I replied, puzzled. Do I have a baby?? I couldn’t remember. I said, “You mean Ronan?” She said, “Yes, I haven’t seen you guys in a while.” I must have looked like a deer in headlights. “Oh. He passed away.” I said as the tears formed puddles at my feet. She felt so bad. She hugged me and told me how sorry she was, that she hadn’t heard as she had been out on maternity leave. I told her thank you. I asked how her baby was and did my best to get myself under control. I had to put on my best game face so I could go and try to help my friend. I did an o.k. job. Helping out Sandra, is one of the few things that makes me feel o.k. in life. It reminds me of why it is that I am going to keep fighting this fight when there are so many days that I do not want to anymore. Seeing the way cancer has destroyed Mia’s little body and robbed her of her childhood pisses me off so badly and it is exactly the kick in the ass I need to carry the fuck on. Or so I thought, but it didn’t save me during my weekend of death.

Back to my Dr. JoRo session. It was long. Grueling. We made a plan because I cannot have another weekend like last weekend. My plan does not include any sort of hospitalization. Sorry to all of you out there, who think you know best. You don’t have a fucking clue. I know you mean well, I know you care, but please don’t act like you truly knows what this feels like for me so therefor, you know what is best for me. Because you don’t And I hope to RO, that you never do. I do not need to be in an institution. That is not the answer. What would that solve? My safety? No. A hospital cannot save me. Dr. Jo cannot save me. My husband cannot save me. My living children, cannot save me. Only, I, myself, or the self I have left, can save me. ME. ME. ME. ME. Not you. Not my friends. Ronan? Yes. Of course, Ronan. Can you bring him back to me? That is the only thing that would 100% guarantee that I will be able to survive this life. I know I have to keep going, but sometimes I just want a break from all of this pain, this life, these tears, this heartbreak. I have to find that break, without breaking myself and everyone around me. I am thinking of trying out for a fucking roller derby team. I’m thinking I had my little break over the weekend and it was the wake up call I needed. I think I need to figure a lot of things out, so I can start to put myself back together again. I think I need to start letting my husband back in a little more and stop pushing him away so much. I think I cannot do this alone, like I have tried so hard to do. I think this life is totally fucked but it is my life to live now. I think I’d better start figuring out how to do that, sooner, rather than later.

Dr. JoRo is checking in with me everyday. Your Daddy and I went to her support group last night. Together. It was the first time we have done something like that, the two of us. I tried to tell him he didn’t need to come, that I could do it alone. He insisted. I am so glad he did. I arrived first. I sat down, in my chair and immediately felt myself retreating into my dark, alone place that I often tend to go when put into a new group setting. The room soon filled with other parents, all there for the same reason as me. Because we all belong to the same fucking club. The club I like to call My kid fucking died and I don’t want to be here anymore club. The worst club to be a part of in life. Dr. Jo was leading the group which is the only reason I went. She arrived and things got started. Everyone took turns going around to tell their story. It was almost my turn to talk about you. Your Daddy walked into the room, late and sat down next to me but not before kissing my lips. I just looked at him and buried my head into his chest. I couldn’t talk last night so he talked for me. He told a little piece of our story, to this room full of sad strangers. I hid my face in the side of his neck. Dr. Jo asked if I wanted to say something. I told her No. I couldn’t stop crying. I told her I didn’t want to be there. She said she knew. I stayed though. We stayed. Together. For as bad as it felt, it felt good too. The group lasted 2 hours. It was full of so many different people. Young, old, black, white, Believers and Non Believers…. once again I am reminded that death does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone. Everyone is at risk of losing a child. No matter what choices you make in life. Good or bad. It doesn’t fucking matter. After the group broke up, we talked with Dr. Jo for a bit. I was so glad to introduce your Daddy to her, and vise versa. It was like watching 2 parts of my soul, connect. It was magical. Your Daddy talked to some other parents. I sat with Dr. JoRo and watched him. She looked at me and goes, “He has quite a presence, doesn’t he.” I looked at her and told her I knew. He’s always been that way. I am so fucking lucky to have him. I am so fucking lucky and thankful that he loves me so much, that he is willing to put up with me and all of my craziness. That when push comes to shove, he’s not leaving. Ever. And how I love to push buttons. I think it was Sunday night that your Daddy grabbed me and told me enough was enough. That I needed to stop because no matter what I did or what hurtful things I said, he’s not going to walk out on me, the way that my dad did. That when he married me, it was forever so the self-destruction that I am engaging in, needs to stop because he’s not going anywhere. His words slapped me hard. His words shook me to the core. Sometimes I need to shut the fuck up and just listen to him. I did on Sunday. I need to do it more often. The truth of the matter is, we are in this, together. Forever. He lost you too. He can’t lose me as well. I won’t do that to him. You loved him too much. I love him too much. My grief often blinds me of this. I needed the little wake up call I had over the weekend. It had to happen for me to realize a lot of things that I have been forgetting.

After our support group last night, your Daddy and I had a late dinner out. It was the first time, in so long, that we have went out, just the two of us. We sat at Hillstone, in a cozy booth, and tried to act like the normal couple that we no longer are. The normal couple that I would give anything to be again. The normal couple that we used to be that felt so blessed and thankful and proud of the life we had created which revolved around us and the three of you. We shared the artichoke dip and a burger. We talked quietly but I was soon distracted by the early 40 something couple who was sitting in front of us, making out and feeding each other apple pie. I started stabbing my burger with my very sharp knife, over and over again. “Really people. WTF. Who is THAT happy? At 40? They are either having an affair, or they are having an affair. Nobody is that happy. I think I am going to throw this burger, across the room at their table.” Your daddy looked panicked as he now thinks I am so out of my mind, that I may actually do it. He grabbed my hand. “Stop stabbing your burger. Calm down.” But I didn’t want to calm down. I wanted to really chuck my burger across the table at them. And I wanted to tell them how I used to be that happy, until you died. But I think it is gross to make out in public and that they needed to get a room. And feed each other apple pie, elsewhere so I didn’t have to stab their eyes out with my knife. Your Daddy and I got up and left there, holding hands, as it was the best we could do. We are doing the best we can do, which at this point only seems to be surviving. But surviving together.

I started writing to you last night. I couldn’t finish it. I was so tired that I fell into a deep sleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. Your Daddy asked for time with me. For me to put the computer away. I snapped at him and instantly felt guilty. I should have explained to him about the anxiety I was feeling, from not writing to you, for a few days. How I want him to understand and respect that although you are not here, I still need my time to take care of you and now, that comes in the form of writing to you. Without this, I don’t know how I would cope at all. How important this is to me, to still nurture the relationship between a mother and a child. My dead child. How guilty I feel, during the times that I don’t write to you and how that guilt builds up because I feel like I am betraying you. Like you will think I have forgotten to tuck you in at night. My writing is my version of tucking you in, bathing you, kissing you, feeding you, holding you, wiping your tears, fixing your ouchies, and loving you. It is so important to me to continue this, for you. And for me. So, I started this last night, but should have listened to your Daddy because the fight I tried to put up, insisting that I needed to write to you, didn’t even pan out because I was that tired. Without the Ambien. You know what I’ve found is a natural remedy for sleep? Tears. Lots of tears. Endless amounts of tears that never stop so that when the night comes now, I am so tired that sleep is just begging for me. Such a far cry from the insomnia that consumed me for a good year.

I woke up today with a fuck ton to do. I woke up late. 8:00. I was so tired I felt like I could have slept for days. I took your brothers to school and got ready for someone to come over to the house from AZ Central to take my picture. Weird. It was actually fine. But something that I’m obviously not used to in my regular mama/cancer mama/bereaved mama life. I threw on a wrap dress that I have had forever. I took the time to blow dry my hair and throw on some red, spicy MAC lipgloss that I love. Because I heart red lips for everything. Red lips make everything better. As soon as the photographer got here, we settled into an easy chit chat. He was super sweet and I told him to make this picture thing as painless as possible. He laughed and said no problem. I also told him I really wanted to wear my purple TuTu and my Fuck You Cancer shirt, but I was thinking that the Arizona Republic would not embrace that. He laughed and said I should have, but I was probably right. Can’t win em’ all but it was the thought that counted, right? He took some pics outside. I tried to smile but I told him how hard that is for me now. He said he was sorry told me that I didn’t have to. So I didn’t. I didn’t feel like faking it today. I didn’t have the energy to force a smile. No big deal, yo. Just another day in the life of being here. Or just being.

After the AZ Republic guy left, I wrote a little, and tried to get a handle on the overflowing mounds of laundry that I have been avoiding. It is all clean, but has just been sitting in our laundry room, piling up to be folded. UGH. I had an interview with Arizona Foothills Magazine at noon so I was trying to chill before that. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no idea of the major AWESOMENESS that was in store. My friend, Heather, came over for to hang out for the interview. She knows Michael Dee well, and is really good about breaking the ice and bringing about a positive, crazy energy. She also brought me Starbucks which I was in desperate need for as my weekend of death hangover still seems to be looming about. We hung out and soon Michael Dee and his communications director and amazingly talented photographer, Sarah Love, arrived. As soon as I opened the door, I let out a sigh of relief. I felt the love and connection, instantly. Good people. These are really good people who are here to hear our story because they truly care and want to help. I gave them a little tour of our house. I joked with them about the mounds of laundry and asked if they knew how to fold. They laughed and said they would do it in a heartbeat. I didn’t think they meant it. It turns out they did because that is how our amazingly almost 3 hour interview/therapy/crying/laughing/feeling you everywhere, ended. With the 4 of us, folding my laundry. Our house for 3 blissful hours, was filled with an amazing raw and organic energy as I talked about you and this crazy painful adventure that is beginning. Michael asked how I feel about being an inspiration to others. I told him I honestly didn’t think about it because all I see is you, inspiring me. And if that turns into inspiring others, than that is such a beautiful thing. If others are ready to embark on this ride with us, I hope they are prepared to hold on tight. Because it is going to no doubt be bumpy, rough, scary, and at sometimes, it is going to feel like death. But I know the end result is going to be something out of this world. Something so different, special, and strong…. just like you. Something that is unlike anything this world has seen. Because never was there a boy, as beautiful as you, Ro. The beauty of your physical self and soul combined was so powerful and I as your mama, know this. Guess who else is figuring this out? The whole wide world. The whole wide world who wants to be a part of this change. Not only in the world of childhood cancer, but in the bigger scheme of things as well. They all know, because of you, that there is more to life, than just THIS.

Ro baby. I am so tired. I miss you so much. I know I don’t have a choice. I HAVE to do this. Thanks for reminding me of this.

To my Arizona Foothills Family- Michael Dee and Sarah LOVE. I love you. Thank you for loving me. For loving, Ro without even knowing us. Until now. After today, you will forever be a part of our hearts and souls. I cannot wait for our monthly laundry folding therapy sessions. GO BIG OR GO FUCKING HOME! You are now, family forever.

xoxo

Meet Dr. JoRo

Dear Lovelies,

I am blessed. In many ways even after all of this. It’s hard for me to remember sometimes, because I have a lot of anger, sadness, guilt, and Inferno Fuckwad Bob that seems to consume me. I try to remember all the things I do have, things that so many people don’t like an amazing husband, my beautiful twins, family, friends, a house, food, and love. And I had the privilege of being Ronan’s mama. This does not make up for losing my Ronan, to Cancer. Living this life without him is Hell. Even with all the blessings I mentioned above. I’m not sure why I’m still here. It would have been so easy to take the easy way out and just end my life. I think about it a lot. But that’s the thing; I think about it. I think about what that would do to the lives of all my blessings above. It would also mean that I didn’t do the job that I promised Ronan I would do. I cannot let him down. I won’t let him down, no matter how hard this life is now.

I spent the first few months after losing Ro, in a hole. We went to the beach to get away from things but the funny thing is, you cannot escape death, no matter how hard you try. Especially when it is your child. I was convinced I was going to die. I don’t know if you can overdose on Ambien… but there were many nights that I could have cared less if I did. I would fall asleep and pray that I never woke up. I’m sure that I will have nights like this, here and there, for the rest of my life, but I hope they become less and less.

I came back to Phoenix, worse off than when I left. I remember just being in a fog. One day, I was in bed. The boys were at school. I remember making a plan about how I was going to end my life. I didn’t care about anyone or anything. I sat with my plan. It was a good one. I had a moment of clarity wash over me and I remember thinking that nobody could help me, that nobody could save me and it clicked that I really didn’t want to die. I thought of Woody. Liam. Quinn. And Ronan. I googled something, because I knew I needed help. Serious help because things were not going well. I have never felt so helpless in my life. Surely someone must be out there, who can help me. I googled a bunch of random stuff about losing a child. In one of my searches, the MISS Foundation popped up. I thought to myself, I think I remember a couple of people talking about the MISS Foundation….. let’s see what kind of bullshit this is. I clicked on it. Dr. Jo’s face popped up. She’s pretty, I thought to myself. I didn’t read a thing about her. I found her email and sent her something that I’m sure didn’t even make much sense. I think I said something like, “My name is Maya Thompson. I’m not sure if I have an appointment with you, because everyone else is running around, trying to save me. My 3-year-old son just died of Cancer. I need help.”

Within a couple of hours, Dr. Jo responded back that I did not have an appointment with her, but she would see me. And that she was so sorry about Ronan.

We arranged a time to meet. I drove out to see her about a week later. I didn’t have much hope, that anyone could help me at this point, but I was willing to take a chance. I don’t really remember much about our time together, except that it was really, really long. I think around 3 hours long. I cried a lot. I’m sure a lot of what I said, didn’t make much sense. She wrote down a lot of notes. I got up, after our session ended and she walked me out to the lobby. I pulled out my credit card. I was expecting to pay a hefty chuck of change. Dr. Jo told me that they didn’t accept payments, that they ran solely off of donations. It took me a minute to process this. I told her I felt awful about leaving there without paying her anything. She just smiled and said that they were a Non-Profit 501 (C)3. I left there feeling so guilty about not paying this lady who just spent 3 hours with me.

I went home and talked to Woody about making a donation to her Foundation. Of course we would he said. I saw Dr. Jo that next week. By the second session with her, I started to have a little hope again. Hope that somebody might actually understand kind of what I am going through. Hope that somebody could actually help me, save myself. I settled into a consistent routine of seeing Dr. Joanne. I started to think that maybe, I wasn’t really crazy. I started to think that maybe, I was just a mom who had just lost the most precious thing on earth to her and all the acts of “insanity,” were justifiable. Dr. Jo accepted me and was one of few people in my life who trusted me from the beginning. She was able to explain things to me, that nobody else could. She had the research to back it up. But the thing that I loved the most, is that she took me, broken, shattered me… and slowly started to put me back together. She knows I will never be whole again. But she believes in me and the love that I have for Ronan. She never tells me things like, “Please don’t do anything crazy.” “It’s time to get over this.” “You have other children, you have to live for them.”

She yells with anger for me when I can’t. She tells me that this is the most fucked up thing on earth, losing a child. That there is NO reason for it. She tells me she knows I wish it would have been me that died, therefore she does too. She is real. She is honest. She is unbelievably smart. She is soulful. She is kind. She is tortured. She is deep. She is funny. She is humble. She is saving my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. If not for her, that little plan of mine may have happened. She is not Dr. Cacciatore anymore. You know the funny thing is, she never really was. I had the urge to call her Dr. Jo from the beginning. You’ll love this. The JoRo nickname that I gave her…. well she texted me the other day to tell me that her middle name is Rose. Joanne Rose. Jo Ro. Are you fucking kidding me. Talk about a sign. A sign from Ronan. I know it was him that led me to her. I know this from the deepest part of my soul. He knew she was going to be the one to help me. She is the one helping me. She is the one, saving me by helping me save myself. Here is a little more about Dr. Jo, below……
Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is the founder of the MISS Foundation and she is currently a professor at Arizona State University. Her area of expertise is traumatic death, specifically child death, and she is an acclaimed public speaker on this topic.

Dr. Cacciatore also specializes in counseling those affected by traumatic death and she is a Diplomate in the American Psychotherapy Association. Her therapeutic interventions include Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Logotherapy, and various other therapies, such as Repeated Exposure Therapy, to manage Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As an advocate of “green” mental health care after a traumatic experience, she is a member of the American Psychotherapy Association, the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the National Center for Crisis Management. She spearheaded and directs the graduate Certificate in Trauma and Bereavement program at ASU.

Her research has been published in peer reviewed journals such as The Lancet, Birth, Death Studies, Omega Journal of Death and Dying, Social Work, Social Work and Healthcare, and Families in Society.

Dr. Cacciatore received her Doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Masters degree and Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Arizona State University. Her work has been featured in major media sources such as People and Newsweek magazines, the New York Times, Boston Globe, CNN, National Public Radio, and the Los Angeles Times.

She received the prestigious Hon Kachina Award in 2007.

Her greatest accomplishment, however, is that she is a mother to five children, now mostly grown. She notes “four who walk and one who soars”.

On a personal note, she has been a vegetarian since 1976 and enjoys barefoot hiking, reading, surfing, and rock climbing.

Her life changed profoundly in 1994 when her daughter, Cheyenne, died.

Here is where you all come in. The MISS Foundation is growing rapidly. Which is sad because it means kids die. Yup. I know first hand. They do, it can happen to anyone of you(although I pray to RO that it never does), and it’s time that people start to stop hiding it like a dirty little secret. They die. Parents need help to get through this. Nobody should be expected to survive this on their own, the way Dr. Jo was. The MISS Foundation, understands this, like nobody else. Dr. Jo understands this, like nobody else. The MISS Foundation, needs help from a lot of you lovely blog readers, who so desprately want to help me. You can help me, by helping Dr. Jo. Kathy Sandler, the Director of MISS sent me a list of all the ways they need help. See below.

Board and or Task Force Needs:

  • Bankers/Investment Professionals – with contacts in the financial community and know individuals who are looking for a meaningful place to put their donation dollars
    • Also to help design a MISS Foundation Endowment Program
  • Business/Corporate – leaders in the community who are also well connected in the community and wish to link their business in mission driven causes
  • Fundraising/Development – individuals who have experience in fundraising and can help with devising our fundraising plan on either short term basis, or someone for the Board who would be willing to lead the Fund Development Committee and manage this
  • Government or legislative official – for board and task force who can help with all of our legislative initiatives
  • Healthcare & Hospital Executives (Either Administration or Dr/Nurse) – would be able to facilitate formal collaborative care relationships so that MISS would be reimbursed for the referrals received from these institutions
  • Insurance Professionals/Executives – to facilitate relationships with Insurance companies in order to provide grief/bereavement support as a standard
  • Marketing/Public Relations Professionals – individuals for board & task force and also individuals to help on a day to day basis with social marketing, press releases, overall marketing and branding
  • Philanthropists – socially conscious individuals who would again
  • IT – individual connected in the technology community
  • Volunteers – need a Receptionist/Exec Assistant 5 days a week – 8am – 4pm
Kathy Sandler, MSW
Executive Director
MISS Foundation
office: 602-279-MISS (6477)
Thank you, lovelies, for anything you can do. If you are looking to start working on making yourself a better person, because you feel like something is missing…. I can guarantee this is a great start. This is something that I believe in with my heart in soul. I know Ronan does too.
Sweet dreams. Love you all.
xoxo
Dr. JoRo. LOVE.LOVE.LOVE.