Dear Empire State Building,
My name is Payton. I am fifteen, almost sixteen. I have never been in the hospital. I do not have cancer. None of the people close to me have cancer. Still, I am a pediatric cancer advocate. I read the blog of Maya Thompson after I heard Taylor Swift’s song Ronan. This soon led to multiple children on Facebook, who I look for on my newsfeed everyday. One of these children is Lilly Bumpus. She’s a beautiful toddler, in remission. She suffers from side effects of the 75% adult strength chemo she was given. Seizures and tics, with no explanation. She has night terrors, about people coming in and waking her up in the middle of the night to check her vital signs.
I’m writing this from a hospital bed, as my appendix was just removed. So I can understand how the nighttime checks could scare someone so young. What just happened to me is nothing. Nothing, compared to what so many children go through. They live with IV needles and ports and constant pain. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to leave a needle in your vein for a long time, but it sucks. These children go through surgery and chemo, radiation and clinical trials. While we, as people who understand how horrible this disease is, fight for awareness, these kids, teenagers, and babies fight for their lives. In the US, 7 of them lose everyday. 46 are signed up to fight. Families are forced into this battle, for their kids. I cannot even imagine life without my little sister. Some of those siblings, whose brothers and sisters you refuse to represent, know what that life is like.
Maya Thompson’s older sons learned that at 8 years old. When his 1 year old sister got a black eye in a baby tumble, one of these boys asked his mom if baby Poppy was going to die. An 11 year old. Because he watched as cancer took his 3 year old brother. No child should ever have to fight cancer, no parent should ever have to lose a child to cancer, no sibling should ever have to watch this disease take their brother or sister. You don’t need to know someone closely. You just have to look around and realize how wrong these kids’ situation is. You just have to want to help them. To tell everyone, “pediatric cancer is wrongly underfunded, and we need awareness, so we can save these kids.”
Some people are pulled into this fight for their loved ones,and to make sure it never happens to someone else’s, but I fight for all of them. For Ronan and Lilly, Paxton and Mateo, Ellie and Alyna. I want you to light up gold, so in the future, Babies like Alyna, toddlers like Ro, and teens like Talia won’t die. So Lilly and Kaitlin and so many others can stay in remission. And Mateo and Ellie and every other kid facing cancer can win. Childhood cance is wrong. You don’t have to experience that to know it’s true.
Get your glitter on! We’re kicking off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with a bang & a sparkle! Throughout September, we’re turning ourselves into spicy, gold human billboards for childhood cancer awareness and want YOU to join us! Welcome to the #BeBoldGoGold Challenge!
HOW IT WORKS:
-You deck yourself out in your gold bling or glitter—jewelry, clothes, facepaint, you name it, you rock it. You head out into a public place. Talk to at least one person about childhood cancer—tell them a fact, like that 46 are diagnosed with cancer every day. The goal is to raise awareness, so talk to as many people as you can & encourage them to take the #BeBoldGoGold Challenge
-Film/photograph your adventure, and tag us in it! We’re reposting submissions to our new #BeBoldGoGold Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When you post your video/photo, nominate 3 people to carry out the challenge by tagging them. They have 48 hours after being tagged to get their gold on! Make sure to hashtag #BeBoldGoGold and #RTF.
-At the end of September, we’re giving a prize to whoever goes all out and makes the biggest impact (aka raises the most awareness)! We’ll also have #BeBoldGoGold shirts available to purchase (link coming soon). If you would prefer to donate instead of (or in addition to) the challenge, visit: http://www.theronanthompsonfoundation.com/ & share the link.
Rockstar Ronan was nominated for “Battle of the Blogs” on Arizona Foothills. Thank you to the lovely person that nominated me. Also, thank you for being so patient with me while I work on this book. I promise you all it will be worth it!! Battle of the Blogs 2014 Rules & Regulations * Voting is unlimited * Voting runs until July 28, 2014 at 11:59 PM (MST). * The TOP 4 blogs with the most votes will be announced as the winners * Winners will be contacted by Arizona Foothills staff after July 30th. Prizes AZFoothills.com pages for one week, be featured in AZFoothills.com E-newsletters, get an editorial mention in Arizona Foothills Magazine, snag some super social media promotion, and be given a very special guest blog spot! – One full week as the static banner ad on all the pages of the website – Features in AZFoothills.com E-newsletters, which are sent to 75,000+ subscribers – An editorial mention in an issue of Arizona Foothills Magazine – Social media promotion on Arizona Foothills Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram handles – A guest blog spot on AZFoothills.com Vote if you can! Thank you so much! xx http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/battle-of-the-blogs/voting/2.html
Ronan. I did something a couple Saturdays ago that ended up being not all that smart. I was in a mood. It was a Saturday and the weekends around our house are still really hard on me. So much family time that I know you know I am thankful for, but weekends always seem to hurt so much more. We spent the morning at your brothers’ basketball games, a place where I am normally my happiest. On this particular day, not having you there to watch and cheer for your brothers was just too much missing you for me to handle. I did my usual put on my happy face while I did my loudest screaming my head off for your brothers as I watched them dominate on the court. After another victory (insert proud bragging rights here) we all went home and your brothers ended up getting invited to go swimming with some friends. I volunteered to take them as Poppy was getting ready to take her nap. I threw on my hiking gear as your daddy looked at me and said, “You’re going hiking? It’s the hottest part of the day and about 110 degrees outside. You shouldn’t go.” Your daddy knows me well enough though to know that his words were falling on deaf ears. I was on a mission and destroying Camelback Mountain during the hottest part of the day was what I was set on doing. There was no telling me otherwise. I packed my backpack full of a ton of cold waters, made sure my phone was totally charged as bounced out the door to drop your brothers so I could take my anger out on something… anything to get me through the day.
Hiking Camelback on a normal temperature day is not an easy feat. Throw in the scorching heat, not to mention my anger/sadness/grief and the inferno that day went to a whole different level of hell. I climbed as fast as I could, feeling the pain as my hands burned every time I would go to grab a boulder to pull myself up on. I could only let my hands touch them for a few seconds before I would end up pulling them away so they didn’t get burned too badly. Not many people were on the mountain that day, but yes, there were a few who were just as crazy as me. I found myself wondering if they too had dead kids or parents or lovers or friends. Was it possible that somebody up here hurt just as much as me? What in the world had they endured in this lifetime to make them climb up a mountain during such an intensely hot day?? I let all these thoughts fill my mind as I continued to climb. I had to stop quite a few times which I normally don’t do. After about 45 minutes, I knew I had enough and I made myself turn around even though I was still about 5 minutes from the top. I’ve never not made it to the top, so this was a first and I was not happy about it. But I also know my limits and just how to come really close to the edge of things in life without not totally falling the side of the cliff. I had just turned around when I noticed a guy in black shorts coming up as I had to move out-of-the-way so he could pass me. You always give the right away to the people coming up, at least on my mountain where I follow and respect all the rules that my veteran hikers have put into place. I didn’t think much of this person passing me, but I gave him a quick hello, made eye contact, and really wanted to say, “What is causing you so much pain to hike on a day like today?” I made my way down the mountain, slowly. I started to get really disoriented and dizzy from the heat. I have hiked that mountain no less than 300 times, so I was not worried about getting lost, but I was worried about passing out. I got to the part where you have to hold onto some rails to climb back down. I know I was delirious at this point because my head starting saying things that maybe used to fill my mind a lot, but do not very much anymore. I heard myself talking about death, dying, and was I dead?? Maybe I was really dead and this was really hell. Did I want to die? I was so out of it at that point that I couldn’t really answer my own question. I let my mind drift and wander to those morbid places for a couple different reasons. One being that I really wasn’t in control of the thoughts that were taking over my brain and two because sometimes I just have to go there… to the darkest of the dark places. I live in that place, but I don’t visit it very often anymore so when it’s time to take a little vacation to all things dark, I just allow myself to go and don’t really question it much. I cannot live in the constant sunshine every day of my life as it gets so exhausting to do so.
I ended up calling your daddy at some point and I don’t remember what I said, but I think I told him I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the bottom. He offered to come and get me and of course I said no. Don’t forget I have that whole ‘I’m not a princess and I don’t need saving’ thing still going on. I made it to the car where I blasted the A/C and sat for a bit as I recovered before I attempted to drive just a few minutes home. I came crawling through the door as your daddy handed me a big Gatorade and watched me sink down to the ground where I passed out for a few minutes on our cool tile floor. I opened my eyes just in time to see him hovering above me and heard him say, “Have you had enough self-torture for the day?” For the day, yes. For life, never. I rolled my eyes and went to our bedroom where I showered and passed out for a good hour or so only to wake up to a raging headache that was brought on by my stupidity. Do you think I learned my lesson and will never do that again? You know me better than that, Ronan. You know I’ll be back up that mountain in no time to do it all over again. I’ve been hiking it still, but going really late in the afternoon where the temps are in the low 100’s. Those temperatures are easy to hike in for me compared to the 110 in the middle of the day.
A couple of days after my Saturday inferno, I heard on the news that a hiker was missing on Camelback Mountain. I didn’t think much of it until they mentioned he had gone missing on Saturday, around the same time that I was on the trail. I googled the story and found it almost immediately. He was 23, from Washington State and his dad was pleading for his son’s life. I tried my best to remember if I had seen him on Saturday and my mind went back to the guy in the black shorts. Could that have been him? In my mind, I thought he looked much older than the person I was looking at on my computer screen before me, but still I couldn’t shake the thought of somebody missing on that mountain. My mountain of all places where I have hiked over 300 times and it’s one of the few places that I can count on in life to accept my grief, nurture my grief, love my grief and never judge my grief. My place of solitude and peace and now you’re telling me there is somebody missing up there? I couldn’t stop thinking about it and didn’t know how he hadn’t been found. It’s a big mountain, but not that big and the helicopters/search and rescue had already been looking for days. On Tuesday, I was restless and left the house after your daddy got home to go hike Camelback to see if I could maybe help look for this kid. It had been 3 days and I knew if he was up there and found, that it was not going to be good. Still, I asked whoever is in fucking control of this life, for a miracle. Just as I pulled in, I saw that the mountain was closed and a sign was posted saying a rescue was in progress. My stomach sank as I drove off to hike my little back up mountain as I watched the helicopters hover about. Please let him be alive. Please, please, please. I came home and checked the internet for the news. A few hours later the updated story was posted. A hiker was found dead about 200 feet from the top of the mountain, but they would not confirm that it was indeed the hiker that went missing on Saturday. The next day it was confirmed that it was the missing hiker from Washington State. My thoughts immediately went to his family as I could actually imagine what it was that they were feeling due to knowing what it is like to know your child is dead. The shock. The numbness. The pain that hurts so badly that it is almost indescribable to put into words. I know what all of that is like and I’m just sorry that those parents now do, too. It’s been over a week and I can’t stop thinking of this kid and what happened. I will never be able to hike that mountain again without thinking of him and his family. It’s just beyond sad.
I talked to some of the regular hikers after it happened. Eric’s body was found about 500 feet below the summit. They showed me where he was found as I wiped the tears away from my face. The cause of death has not been released, but I imagine it had to do with the heat and the fact that he was not familiar with the mountain which caused him to end of getting lost and disoriented. The whole thing just makes me incredibly sad and not that I need it but it is a reminder of how precious and short life really can be. And yes, it is also a reminder that I know I need to be careful up there because I do not really want to die. Sometimes I just want a break from all of this pain though. I maybe need to find a better way to help with that instead of hiking up a mountain during the hottest part of the day.
Your brothers turned 11 yesterday, Ronan. I cannot believe I have 11 year olds and more so I cannot believe I am lucky enough to have the amazing 11 year olds that I do. I could not be more proud of the little men they are becoming and I know without a doubt they are a big reason of why I have been able to survive the loss of you. They have saved me and someday, I will tell them this when they are a little older to understand exactly what that means. You were missed yesterday so very much.
I’m going to run now. It’s 4 in the morning here and I’m back to keeping the hours of a vampire. Up most of the night and functioning on just a few hours of sleep. It’s the only time I’m able to work on this book writing as Poppy takes up any other time that I have left. Dr. Sholler is actually going to be at our house in about an hour. She is here for the next few days and I’m taking her up Camelback for an early morning hike, before it gets too hot. No way I would ever take that precious cargo to the inferno. She has too many kiddos to save.
“Desert Runners” is supporting The Ronan Thompson Foundation during the month of June! The film follows ordinary people pushing themselves to extraordinary limits by competing in 4 ultra-marathons in the most treacherous deserts in the world.
Much like how RTF will never quit on funding for new treatments and defeating childhood cancer, these runners will never quit on their goals.
The film is available for download at http://buy.desertrunnersmovie.com/ Any amount of money you choose to spend over $9.99 will be donated to the Ronan Thompson Foundation for us to pursue our goals and fund cutting-edge childhood cancer research. Enter the code: RONAN at checkout and receive a 10% discount on the film!
If you spend over $11 you will unlock the SUPERFAN PACKAGE and get access to over 30 minutes of bonus content including interviews with the director, cinematographer, executive producer and the desert runner himself Ricky Paugh.
We are so very excited to be a part of this amazing adventure. Clink on the link below to watch and support RTF! Thank you, Desert Runners for choosing RTF as the charity to support!!
This has been in the works now for some time now, but we’ve just been being a little quiet about it. As a board, we decided RTF needed a new logo. It was hard for me to part with the baby seal, as it had sentimental value. Nobody really understood why we had a seal as our logo. It was because “Ronan” means “Little Seal” in Gaelic, but most people don’t know that therefore the seal was confusing. We were getting a lot of, “Are you trying to save the seals or what?” No dudes, we’re trying to save kids with cancer… how do you not get that from looking at a seal? (kidding. I know it is confusing if you don’t know the back story)
We met with some very talented and kind people at Fervor Creative for hours upon hours. I even had them revamp your seal logo before my board members told me they were just not feeling it anymore. So I took Tanya and Fernanda to have yet another meeting with them. We sat and talked about you and the things that came to mind when we thought of you. I had a picture in my mind of something really simple. A boy wearing a Fedora. With his head held high, like you alway had yours. We also talked about stars and the significance of those to us. I knew having Fernanda with me was vital to getting this done finally the right way. She has a way of expressing her thoughts about what you represent in such a beautiful way and sometimes I am too sad to do so.
We got some samples back and as soon as I saw them, I started to cry. What they came up with is beyond perfect and I am beyond in love with it. I sent it to your daddy and he had the same reaction. He said it reminded him of the book, “The Little Prince” which he loved to read to you. I knew from both of our reactions, that this was perfection.
So, here you go Ro and supporters of The Ronan Thompson Foundation. Makeover complete. Thank you to Fervor Creative for taking a bunch of rambling words full of such love and pain, and turning it into something as beautiful as this. You have hearts of gold for taking this on and not charging us a dime. We are forever thankful for what you have created for us and promise to continue to do good things in this world with the gift you have given us.
Ronan. May is officially here and I’m trying my best not to go into freak out mode. You know what is coming up and it never gets easier. May 9th will be 3 years without you and May 12th will be your 7th birthday. Not to mention Mother’s Day, the day we had your funeral, the day you were cremated, which also happens to be on your birthday. It’s all these fucked up dates that I wish didn’t exist, but they do and there is no escaping them. I will come up with some sort of plan to get through the days like I always do and luckily I know we will be with some of my most favorite people, so hopefully that will help ease the pain just a bit, but every part of me remembers the pain of these dates.
I don’t even know what has happened since the last time I have written. My days are filled with all things Poppy and that is about it. I have really taken a step back from everything in life because for the past year, I just really needed to get lost in her and that is exactly what I have been doing. She deserved that, Ronan and frankly, so did I. I needed to just take this time and soak up all of her innocence, sweetness, and truly get to know my baby girl. Poppy doesn’t have a lovie or a blanket that she is attached to when she sleeps like you did because you know what she uses instead? Me. I have not put her in her crib once to sleep, not even for a nap. I rock her, lay her down in bed with me and listen to her as she hums and plays with the necklace that sweet Mrs. Martin gave to me when Poppy was born. It’s just the letter, “P” and she falls asleep every day and every night by holding on to me and my necklace. That is how attached we have become and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I cannot imagine doing this life without you AND without her. I don’t know what I would have done had we had not had another baby. She brings about me a calmness that has been missing for so long.
It did happen the other day though. The thing I knew was going to happen sooner or later; I am just surprised it happened while she is so young. It was about a week after her first birthday and I was laying her down to change her on your bed. We have that huge picture of you hanging over your bed and as I was putting a new diaper on her she looked over at your picture, pointed and goes “Ro Ro.”
I almost fell over. I truly thought I was hearing things so I said, “What did you say?” She looked at me, pointed to the picture and goes, “Ro Ro. Brotha. Brotha Ro Ro Ro.” She motioned for me to pick her up and take her over to your picture so I did and she planted a big fat kiss on your little lips. The tears started pouring down my cheeks and I had such a mixed reaction of total euphoria and wanting to run kicking and screaming out of our house. It took me a few minutes to decide what it is that I was going to do. Was I going to run away or just take a deep breath and embrace this moment of pure fucking amazingness that can only be explained as Poppy knows things that are not from this world? She can’t even say Liam or Quinn’s name yet and the fact that she not only said your name, but knows who you are from a picture makes my heart go a million miles a minute. As soon as Quinn and Liam got home, I grabbed Poppy and took them into your room. I said, “Watch this. Poppy, who is that on the picture?” as I pointed to you. She goes, “Ro Ro.” Quinn started giggling uncontrollably and Liam didn’t quite know what to do. “She just said, Ro Ro! Mom! Did you hear that?!” Quinn was jumping around with such excitement.
It’s been non-stop since that started a few weeks ago. All day long all I hear, besides her barking like a dog is “Ro Ro Ro Ro. Brotha Ro Ro.” She is usually walking around carrying a picture of you, kisses it, and goes back to playing with something else. She also studies the picture frame you are in like crazy, trying her best to open it. It’s like she’s saying, “I know if I get this open, I can get him out and he can come and play with me.” I truly think that is what she thinks. Oh, how I wish this were true. I’m torn between loving all of this so much to sometimes it makes me sick. As I said to your Sparkly the other day, “I’m going to break Poppy’s heart one day when I have to explain to her where Ronan is and what happened to him. I don’t want to break her heart. How am I going to look my daughter in the eyes and have that conversation with her?” The thought of it makes me want to vomit all over the floor. Why the fuck can’t her first heartbreak be over some asshole guy she will date when she is 16? Not over her beautiful brother that would have loved her so much, taken such good care of her and beat up the fuckwad who broke her heart? I like that story much better than the one I’m going to have to tell her.
I think I have to go now, Ro. Much more to say as always but my eyes are burning and bed is calling my name. I’m forever sorry it is this way. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.
Ronan. I don’t live in a normal world anymore. I live in a world that I often feel very alone in, but I tend to do alright in this world. This world without you is so hard for me to live in, but I have done my best to make it bearable by living each day as fully as I am capable of because I know how precious each day truly is. You might say this new perspective has given me a clarity I never had before and I myself as a human being generally feel pretty fulfilled; minus the always absence of you in my life. I keep you tucked away as close to me as possible and carry you with me in everything I do which seems to get me through the toughest of times.
I was at lunch the other day and ending up sitting next to a table full of mom’s who were doing PTO stuff for their kids’ school. I knew a few of them so of course I waved, but I really wanted to just curl up and cry. I glanced their way every so often and could hear them talking so excitedly about the money they had raised and the upcoming fundraiser they were putting together. What it must be like to be able to live that life of a normal, no cancer has ever touched their kids, PTO mom. My mind wandered back and forth between “I wonder if this is what my life would have been like if cancer had not killed my baby” to “Please let Nela beat this cancer once again, Ronan, as her mom just told me she has relapsed.” You see, even when I try to do normal not cancer mom things, it’s almost impossible for my mind to just let go of the swirling thoughts I have about you, you getting cancer, you dying, all the other kids that I know are being diagnosed, the ones who are not doing well, etc… I have come to accept the fact that I cannot do it all and I’m just no longer cut out to be the PTO mom because that life as I maybe would have known it, flew out the window a long time ago and I don’t see it coming back anytime soon.
I have a 23-year-old best friend. A 37-year-old best friend. And a 68-year-old best friend. The three of them all entered my life because of you. My relationships with them are each so different, so unique and so special. Not only do we have one common denominator in our lives, which is you; but we also have another one which is this fucked up world of childhood cancer. My 23-year-old best friend sleeps in your bed a lot. She pretty much should just move in with us at this point and if I did indeed have a guest house, I would totally let her live in it. We do a lot of silly things together which mostly consists of drinking too many Kale drinks in one day and having ridiculous dance parties to really bad rap music with Poppy. We also do a lot of quiet things together, too. We hike a lot while we ponder stupid things like, “If you could come back as a boy or a girl in your next life, what would you be?” We do a lot of intense things like cry on the phone and kick and scream and cuss about things that are so fucked up but are not my things to talk about on here. She sends me poetry in the middle of the night or things she is reading out of books and I do the same for her if something really strikes me as so painfully beautiful, that only she would understand. I am watching her in the world as she walks through it and I swear sometimes I see you holding her hand. She is all things magic and beauty and makes my heart sometimes skip a beat. I thank you for her every night in my head. She is my little renege side kick in life and I am so lucky to have found her, because of you.
I also have your New York Miss Macy who you actually did know and love to pieces. She is my sounding board for everything in life and the one I probably cry the most to. She is also the one I laugh with the most. Without Macy, I’m not sure where I would be in this life without you, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be in the place I am now. She keeps me grounded and reminds me that it is o.k. to be sad with someone other then myself. She is flying in this weekend to celebrate your Poppy sister and also because I got us kick ass tickets to the Lana Del Rae concert who is my musical soul mate in life. I cannot wait to have her here and I know Poppy is so excited about seeing her other mom:)
Last but not least is your Sparkly who I can say without a doubt, saved my life. I could write a novel about him but I’ll just talk about yesterday instead. Yesterday was Poppy’s birthday. Her first birthday. Can you believe that, Ronan? I don’t know how she is one already. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be feeling yesterday, so I didn’t make any big plans. I woke up to the sweetest messages from so many people wishing her a Happy Birthday which was so nice, so thank you all. We had a quiet morning at the house just the two of us and ran down to see your Sparkly so he could see his god-daughter on her special day. We brought him a coffee, just like you used to always want to do for him. We sat and talked while your Poppy sister crawled around between the two of us while I opened up the little gift and card he got for her. I was trying my hardest not to cry and I know he could tell I was getting sad.
“Are you going to be o.k. today?” he asked me while I did my best to look him in the eyes as I answered his question.
“Yeah. I’ll be o.k. I just wish Ronan could be here.”
He responded with, “I know you do. I do, too. I’m sorry he’s not, but today is her day and I know he would want her to be celebrated the way she deserves to be, so please go and do that for her.”
Your Sparkly has such a way of being able to recognize my sadness, but can also put things into perspective for me in a way that doesn’t piss me off. He’s is pretty much the only one in my life that is capable of doing that.
I told him I would celebrate your sister and so of course I kept my word. Of course Poppy should be celebrated, but I live in this world where the most beautiful things are also so very bittersweet. I had to sing your sister Happy Birthday last night and you were not there to do something naughty like smash her cupcake all over the floor. I just don’t think I’ll ever get used to that or I won’t ever be sad about that, but I could not let my sadness take away from her day at all. That would not have been fair to her and I know it’s not what you would have wanted.
I ran and picked up Brianna from ASU. We took Poppy to Toys R Us to get her some gifts. I got home and wanted so badly to just throw in the towel and order a pizza instead of cooking the spaghetti dinner that Quinn had requested. I kept hearing your Sparkly’s words in my head. I cooked dinner and we spent the evening outside playing basketball and watching Poppy have a dance party because that is her favorite thing to do in life. Kassie and Brianna stayed the night and we gathered around to sing your sister while a purple star balloon floated behind her, just to remind us all that you are always here. Always. It was a very sweet and simple day as that is all I think any of us could handle.
Today is 35 months without you and today was not a good day at all. I cried a lot. Your daddy cried a lot. I felt extra lost without you today and I don’t know how next month is our hell month of May already and 3 years since you’ve been gone as well as your 7th birthday. God, what I would give to see you as the beautiful 7-year-old that I know you would be. We are going away for May because being in Arizona is never a place that I want to be on the day you died and your birthday. We all need a little time out together so we are going to the Hamptons for a bit where we will see some dear friends, but also be together as a family.
I have to say goodnight now, Ro baby. I’m tired and need to try to get some sleep as I am beyond ready for today to be over.
I miss you so much. I love you. I hope you are safe.
Ronan. Every year since you left when Mr. Sparkly Eyes’ birthday rolls around, I always give him a card that I’ve made for him through my iPhoto with a picture of you on it. A few nights ago I was at my office working on my book, but I needed to take a little time out so I started to go through my pictures of you to make his card. It’s never an easy thing for me to do, but I feel like it would be important to you, so I carefully pick out a picture that reminds me of how happy you were while you were here on this earth. I usually just write really some simple words and I always sign it from the both of us. Ring, ring went my phone as I was doing this little project and I saw the word “Lover” popped up on my screen which is really Macy. Of course I picked up because I always do when she calls. She started chatting away about something and as I listened, I buried my head in my hands. I went to answer the question she had asked me, but she knew from the tone in my voice that something was wrong.
“Oh babe. What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Everything. I’m sitting here trying to make Mr. Sparkly Eyes’ birthday card and is it weird that I’m putting another picture of my dead kid on it like I do every year for him? I’m going through these pictures and I cannot believe he’s not here with me to give him this birthday card himself.” Insert more sobbing here.
I listened as Macy told me that it was not weird at all and we continued to chat for another half an hour or so until I stopped crying. She ended up making me laugh after she listened to my blabbing away and crying while she did her best to talk me through what it was that I was feeling at that moment. I didn’t finish the card that night, but ended up finishing it a few days ago instead. I have learned when something just isn’t feeling right, not to force it and I knew if I forced your card, it was going to be crap. I take my card making very seriously, especially when you are involved. I got the card in the mail the other day and of course, it is perfection and I know it will make him smile as I tell him the story behind that little picture of you and your happy face.
Things here are still really busy and there is not a lot of down time between Poppy and your brothers. I am trying my best to keep my head above water and have been making sure I get some form of exercise in almost everyday. Mostly it’s been consisting of hiking up Camelback Mountain a.k.a my church as they just opened back up the hard side (Echo Canyon) again. I have so much anger inside of me still and it seems the best place to take it out on is the mountain, otherwise I will just internalize it all and end up exploding one day. Sometimes I hike by myself, but I have also been going with Tricia again which has been really great. You know, going through what we went through with you was really hard on our friendship. I made some mistakes, had a lot of expectations, felt let down and at times, was really judgmental about some situations that I had no right to be judgmental about. I never meant to hurt her as everything I said was always just coming from a place of love, but I also know that place of love was a little harsh. She being your Godmother, had a really hard time with all of this and somehow we ended up getting off track a bit. Slowly we’ve started to fix some things and the beauty of this is we know that our friendship is always going to be here; even when it’s been a little quiet at times. We’ve had some really harsh talks, some really good talks, and we’ve both apologized as we know our friendship is worth saving. She is family and at the end of the day I know where her heart is and it has always been with you and it will always remain there. I didn’t go to her wedding which you know I am sad about, but it wasn’t for any reason other than it was in Mexico and I wasn’t willing to take Poppy with me and leaving her behind was not an option, either. I did give her something blue to tuck into her bouquet though which was a tiny piece of your blanket. It was hard for me to take the scissors and actually cut off a piece, but I needed something of you and us to be there with her. I wish it could have been the two of us there together and knowing the should have been’s of her special day will forever haunt me and make me sad; but the look of happiness on her face from the pictures I saw do take away some of that sting.
So, Poppy’s first birthday is right around the corner. April 8th to be exact. I don’t know how your baby sister is almost a year already as the time went by so fast. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for her birthday, but the fact of the matter is I’m feeling overwhelmed about it. Do we just do something quiet at home or have a full on party? I keep going back to what would Poppy want us to do? In Poppy’s perfect world, I’ll bet she would want to just have a day with just a few people and about 100 dogs. She is dog OBSESSED! I told your daddy I’m starting a campaign called, “Poppy needs a puppy,” but he’s just not having it. Anytime she sees a dog, she starts barking and gets so excited that her little body just shakes and she usually ends up waving her arms so fast that she falls over. All day long she goes around our house, walking on her hands and feet, in a dog position and sticking out her tongue and panting like a dog. We don’t even own a dog so the fact that she is doing this from the memory of the dogs that she has seen, makes it even funnier. She is such a little character and loves to entertain us all of the time with her constant babbling, dancing to her favorite song which is “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk or any type of rap music. Shorty’s got game and seems to be developing quite the spicy little personality. I’ll get her birthday figured out soon, but something tells me it’s going to end up being very low key and sweet.
I’ve got to run little man. I’ll write more soon, but I have to get back to this book business. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.