Dear Empire State Building, Part 7

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Dear Empire State Building,
My name is Sabrina Houara and I just finished my first classes at Arizona State University, where I’m majoring in health sciences pre-professional, hoping to finish in 3 years instead of four. That’s me: over-achiever, future doctor, overall nerd, and voice for kids with cancer.
I know with every part of me that I was meant to be a pediatric oncologist, but I may have never found this path if it hand’t been for Maya and Ronan and their inspiring love for each other. Like so many others I first heard Ronan’s story when Taylor Swift first sang her song Ronan, based on Maya’s blog. I looked up the story and spent the next few weeks reading and bawling.

 
It seemed unimaginable to me that this beautiful little boy could have been ripped from the world so soon, and that so many kids are taken by this awful disease known as childhood cancer. I’m still baffled by the statistics. I knew after just a few posts in that I had to do whatever I possible could to help change this, but I still wasn’t sure how. Then a few days later I approached my parents with an idea: I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist, and they were completely on board. I quickly began forming this idea of what kind of doctor I would be, but I already knew. I would be the kind of doctor I would want for myself, for my own children whenever I have them. I want to be the type of doctor to fight for each and every patient with everything I have, because this is life or death for them. When I tell people that I’ve decided to go into this field I’m usually met with some form of the phrase, “Oh that will be so sad, I could never do that.” But if I can save the life of just one child, it will be worth it to me. These kids will be dying whether or not I’m right there on the front lines, so I will do everything I can as a doctor to help change this for them.

 
The thing is, it won’t matter how good of a doctor I am (and I plan on being a flipping good one) if we can’t get more funding for childhood cancer. The more funding we can get, the more experimental trials we can fund, and that brings us one step closer to finally finding a cure for this horrible disease that is taking the lives of so many children. The key to getting more funding is to raise awareness, to get people to realize that childhood cancer is a real problem, and that it takes the lives of 7 children every day in the US alone. Those who survive are left with side effects from treatment that will affect them for the rest of their lives. We need for more people to see this, to want to help.
This is where you would come in. Lighting the Empire State Building gold for one day in September would bring heaps of awareness. Many families were seriously hurt when you denied their requests, it felt like you were saying their child didn’t matter. I don’t know any of this firsthand, but it’s easy to tell from the social media campaign that came soon after two non-profits filled out your application and were denied.
You can still make this right. Please find it in your heart to change your mind, for these kids. For Ronan and far too many others. Help us make it so that no parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or cousin has to watch their loved one slowly die as a result of childhood cancer. Help us make it so that no child knows the pain of having their little body invaded by cancer and the horrific treatments that go with it. Help us raise awareness for childhood cancer so we can find a cure and no child will ever die from this killer again. Again I say, you can still make this right.

 
Sincerely,

 
Sabrina Houara
Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate and Future Pediatric Oncologist

Dear Empire State Building, Part 6

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Dear Empire State Building,
My name is Jennifer Garcia and I am a 24 year college student from California. I have been to New York once and I remember feeling like it was the most magical of places, the place where anything could happen. I always aspired to go back one day and I hope when I get the chance that I can know that for one day in September the top of the Empire State Building sparkled gold for our kids. I say ‘our’ kids because it shows how much of a tight knit group of people we are, us activists for childhood cancer awareness.

You think that we are pushy, mean and threatening? We are passionate, angry, devastated and some broken beyond repair by the loss that we face everyday. The loss of a child whether it was our own child, a friends child, a little brother or sister or a beautiful boy with the most sparkling blue eyes that you only know through photographs and the words of a mom who will never stop fighting for him. I was aware that kids get cancer, I saw the St. Jude commercials and I would frown for a moment and then the program I was watching would come back on and I was sucked back into the happy state of ignorance. All that changed when I watched Taylor Swift sing at the Stand Up To Cancer telethon. Before she even finished the song I was sobbing uncontrollably. When i was finally able to compose myself I raced to my laptop and typed “Ronan” into Google. My world changed that day I could no longer just shake my head and think how sad when I saw the St. Jude commercials or the collection jars at the supermarket. I started doing research and was horrified when i found out how underfunded pediatric cancer research is. All the times I donated to American Cancer Society only 1 cent for every dollar went to pediatrics. Our kids are getting swept under the rug like a dirty secret. It seems like the world is whispering, “Shhh, If we don’t talk about it maybe no one will notice.”

Well, we have noticed, it is all around us, the world is full of scary things and we want to protect our children any way we can. Unfortunately, we can’t protect them from this we can kiss away their tears and try to make them smile but this isn’t just a scraped knee or them teased at school. This is the biggest bully they can face and no matter how much we whisper to them “It’ll be okay” we know this is one thing we can’t promise to save them from. There is nothing worse then knowing you can’t protect them. When I read that Maya was trying to get you guys to go gold for ONE day in September, sadly my first thought wasn’t this should be easy. My first thought was this is going to take some work to get noticed. What kind of world are we living in where we have to shout and send out petitions and trend worldwide on twitter to raise awareness for childhood cancer. You light up different colors for the dog shows and the Ninja Turtles movie premier. Are dogs and ninja turtles more important than our kids? In a way that is what it sounds like your saying.

I read the message that you don’t take requests from individuals just organizations. The Ronan Thompson Foundation is an organization and they along with thousands of others are begging, yes begging, you to change your mind and do what is right. Restore our faith in humanity and turn gold for one day. We are not a picky bunch, you choose the day in September. Just please light up gold. I am not one to beg or plead but I want to have kids one day and I don’t want to bring them into this world knowing that Cancer is a possibility for them. I want them to have endless possibilities for happiness and success. I want them to live spicy sparkly lives and I want to know that the possibility is there for all kids. We can’t save them all but we can try. We can try extra hard for those kids that didn’t get to reach their full potential. The one’s that we only saw fleeting glimpses of the outstanding things they were going to do. Help us make their lights continue to glow gold.
Be Bold Go Gold,
Jennifer

Announcing our 3rd Annual Gold Party! Buy your tickets before they sell out!!

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That time I went Inferno hiking and almost didn’t make it down the mountain, because sometimes I’m an idiot who does stupid things.

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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.

I miss you.  I love you. I hope you are safe.

Bye, little man.

xoxo

I have something new to share…

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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.

 

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The treadmill made me do it.

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Ronan. So, this happened tonight. The usual running around like mad, Poppy is into everything, I’m trying to get something on the table for your brothers to eat before they come home. I have so much nervous energy today that I haven’t slowed down once.  I know as soon as your daddy and brothers walk through the door I will be handing over Poppy to them so I can go and work out because if I don’t, bad things will happen.  At least that is what I tell myself in my head.  I go to my little class where I find myself in a room full of people that I have no interest in talking to, half are doing weights/floor exercises and the other half are on the treadmills while we are getting instructed on what we need to be doing.  I am of course on the treadmill, happily running away while staring at myself in a mirror. My reflection looks sad but determined.

We take turns running at our base pace which for me is a 6.7 speed and 3 incline.  We are told to step it up for 90 second all outs so of course I push myself to the max.  5 incline, 8.0 speed.  I start to run as hard as I can and my heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest, but of course I don’t stop.  All of a sudden, I really can’t breathe or catch my breath for what feels like minutes.  Then it happens.

Is this how Ronan felt, right before he died? 

He couldn’t breathe, he ran out of air, oxygen, and probably felt just like this right before he died. 

How could you have let this happen? How could you not have saved him after you promised him that you would? You are the worst human being on the planet. You let your child die and now you just get to continue on with life while he does not? How is that at alright? You should be dead, not him. 

Fuck you. You don’t get to stop and sit here and think about how hard this is and how you want slow down and stop. You keep going because you are not the little boy who got cancer and died.  You get to be here and do this and you don’t get to stop. Ever. 

I stare up at the screen which is monitoring my heart rate and beg for it to come down because if it does not soon, I know I will pass out.  I continue with the torture of beating myself up on the treadmill while flashes of you dying and taking your last breaths fill my mind.  The person leading the class is now keeping a watchful eye on me as I think he has caught on to the fact that I might be over doing it just a tad.  An hour later and I am finished and I somehow make it to my car only to drive home to a house that doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. I head straight for the shower and try my hardest to scrub the images of you not being here out of my head, but it doesn’t work.  I then throw myself in my bed, where I cry the tears for you that I haven’t had for a few days.

Your daddy comes in, asking me what happened.  I ignore him and continue to cry into our mattress. When I finally come up for air, I snap at him that nothing has to happen, for something to be wrong. That I just want to be fucking sad for the one thing that I will be sad about for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to be hovered over.  I don’t want anyone to wipe away my tears. I just want to be left alone.

This is all I can say for tonight. I’ll let my friend, Tyler Knott say the rest.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

Typewriter Series #690 by Tyler Knott Gregson

There will come a time, a day, a moment when words are not enough.
When the letters hooking to other letters and tying themselves
to each other, the trains of vowels and consonants chasing each other
out of my mouth just won’t do justice to the avalanche that you’re
struggling through.
If this is that day, if these are those moments I will not speak,
but I have no choice but to leave you with these attempts, as futile
as they might be, for words are all I have to offer
and the only currency I believe in:

This is not, and never will be, a goodbye. You should not, and never can
hold onto the should haves or could haves or why didn’t I’s.
The time will come, I promise you, for us all to stop wearing these bodies
atop these souls.  The time of taking one long, full and deep breath
in through these lungs only to exhale it out through brand new lips.
The last light we will ever see through these perfect and beautiful eyes
will be the first light, the exact same and blindingly gorgeous first
light that filters through new irises and shocks our tiny pupils
before we blink. What a gift every single day in between has always been.
What a hauntingly painful and sublimely joyous gift to live, truly live
every single day in between these firsts and yes, these lasts.
Do not carry the weight of all you did not say, the times you did not make
the time or the excuses you made, because there is a secret you must know:
Those that leave us, never do. They see us how we never could and how we
were always so scared to. When they go, bravely stepping into the first day
of their new lives, all they pack into the bags they choose to carry,
are the memories that soothe their longing and and settle their aching bones.
It is we, always we that carries the luggage of regret and burdens of doubt
Somewhere, right this very second, they are beginning their journey back
into love. Somewhere, right this very instant, the first wobbly steps in their
search has begun again.  Somewhere, the only person that truly makes sense to
them, the only person to ever exist and exist exactly for them, is waiting. 

You will hurt.  You will cry and you will be scared. You will miss and long
and ache and look for their fingerprints on the life you’re going to lead
without them.  You will swear you heard, if only for an instant, the sound
of their laughter or the timbre of their voice.  This is ok, and more than
that, this is beautiful.  Hold onto the sadness you feel like a trophy.
Hoist it high above your head and shout to the photo that is not being taken
of you that you loved them, you will always love them and you are proud
of the tears that roll down your face. They live inside the memories that give
shape to those tears and you must never apologize for your sorrow, nor your
joy when it too returns to your days. 

These are the words for those that remain; for all of us and all of you that
are left scrambling and shaking and weeping tears of compassion and joy and
confusion.  These are words when words are not enough.  I say them because I
must say them, because words are all I have to offer besides my shoulder and
my hands and my belief that this is not and never will be goodbye.
Today is and always has been such a perfect day to say goodbye,
and to once again, say Hello.

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

 

 

 

A quick little check in because I miss you oh so very much.

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Ronan. Oh, how I miss this little blog so very much.  It makes me so sad not to be writing on here like I used to.  This will always be my first home, my first comfort after a hard day, and where I found my love for writing.  It’s hard to be away from this space that I used to find so much solace in. I cannot seem to keep up with life let alone a blog these days, not to mention this book I’m working on.  And holy shitballs, I totally have forgotten how much work it is to have a new baby.  Things are so freaking busy around here that I feel like my head is going to fly off and just explode.  Oh, and my grief.  I miss being with my grief a.k.a Inferno Fuckwad Bob, so very much. It’s not good for me to not have the time to nurture and sit with my grief the way Dr. Jo has taught me to do.  I promise that I will make some time for it soon.

I can try to sum up what has been going on, but I have no way of remembering everything.  Macy came into town for about a week and it was of course the most beautiful happy/sad/ time.  She was in for work so she got to spend two weekends with us which is always so good for my soul.  We laughed a lot and cried a lot as well.  On one particularly hard Sunday, I found myself curled up in her arms on your bed where I just sobbed for you as the missing you part of all of this never gets easier.  It still sends me into a whirlwind of complete and utter devastation at the drop of a hat.  My time with Macy wasn’t all tears.  We had the BEST time playing with your Poppy Roo and making up ridiculous songs to her like, “My two moms” which was all about the fact that Poppy does indeed, have two moms because if I wasn’t married to your daddy, I would totally marry her;) She is the best wife ever and one of my other little soul mates floating around on this earth.

Poppy came down with a little fever while she was here and we wound up in the waiting room at our pediatricians office where we know we really did look like Poppy’s two mom’s as we were resting each others heads on one another’s while Macy sat and rubbed my arm.  I pretty much wanted to curl up and die when I saw Dr. Campbell exam Poppy and Macy’s eyes fill with tears as she did her routine exam which included the pressing down hard on her belly to make sure there was nothing out of the ordinary there.  Macy knew why she was doing that and there was no stopping her tears from falling.  I just gave her a weak smile as I watched her wipe them away.  We talked about it afterwards and how hard it often is for me to walk back into our pediatricians office without you. Well, it’s always really hard for me to walk back in anywhere we used to go, without you.  Macy watched as I had to fill out the new patient forms updating our family info such as kids’ names, ages, etc… I looked over at Mace and said, “I’m writing Ronan down, too. He is still my child.” Macy just looked at me and said, “Of course you should,” as she gave my hand a little squeeze.

My weeks have been filled with pretty much everything Poppy and just trying to keep up with her.  I truly had forgotten what it is like to have a baby and now a very active baby.  How 10 months already flew by, I do not know.  She is the happiest little thing and it is so beautiful to see.  She is my constant reminder that no matter how hard of a time I truly think I am having, because there still are times that those voices creep into my head and tell me that everything I am doing is wrong… Poppy is proof that I am actually doing alright.  I don’t think she would be such a happy girl if I really were doing as shitty as I sometimes think I am.  I know the weeks that are hardest for me seem to be the weeks that I am not sleeping well.  It’s when my insomnia kicks in that the screaming in my head seems to always be the loudest.  This past week has been alright and I am so thankful for that because if I would have checked in with you last week, I would have told you I had my bags packed to check into an insane asylum.

Your brothers and their never ending sports have been keeping me busy as well, although I give pretty much all of the credit to your daddy who is the one who really keeps them on track with all if it with his coaching of their baseball team, helping out with baseball, and flag football. He is the most amazing basketball coach and has your brothers team ranked #2 in all of Arizona for a fourth grade team.  I know you would be so proud of that and basketball truly seems to have been such a saving grace to your brothers.  It has kept them focused, on track, and it’s almost like a form of therapy for them.  I could not be more proud of their dedication, will and determination.

I’ve been hiking, running, and doing my little Orange Theory Workouts like crazy.  Exercise is still one of the main things that quiets the screaming in my head and gives me just enough of a break to stay sane.  My time at the top of Camelback is always my favorite as it really is the time I feel quietest and closest to you.  The other day while I was sitting on a rock, thinking about you, I had a little hummingbird fly right up to my face.  I grabbed my iPhone thinking there was no way it was going to stay right there long enough for me to get a picture, but it did and I was able to snap the most amazing photo.  It was a moment that I still have not been able to find the words for.  I absolutely know that it was a little sign from you telling me that you are always with me.  On Saturday morning I hiked Camelback with Tricia and Marisa- my two oldest besties from my previous life when you were still here, alive and well.  It has been so long since I have been with the two of them and I cannot tell you how nice it felt.  We had breakfast for Marisa’s birthday and then decided to brave it up Camelback Mountain in the middle of our little Arizona rainy day.  Once we were at the top and had been sitting for a while,   that little hummingbird flew right up to me again.  It gave me goosebumps and chills all at the same time.  I think it was your way of telling me that you were so happy to see me spending time again with my old friends, as you know they are so good for me.  It’s taken me a lot time to be able to get to a place again where I can truly connect with the ones who knew you, loved you, and hurt so badly from losing you.  For a long time the pain of being around them was just too much, but now I feel like I am at a place where I am ready and able to come back.  I am just so thankful that they have both just been standing by for my return.  I have missed them so much and Saturday ended up being the most perfect day.  As soon as we were finishing up our hike, it started pouring down rain.  Marisa said she knew that you made it rain at that perfect time because had it been raining like that as we were climbing down Camelback, one of us would have surly fallen and broken our necks as that mountain is beyond slippery and dangerous when it’s wet.

I am trying to make myself do things that I know make me feel somewhat good because I know the shit storm of May is fast approaching.  Things like buying tickets to upcoming concerts like Lorde and Lana Del Rae, both whom I am so freaking excited for.  Also things like spending time with the ones who I know are best for my soul like our dear Kassie who I spent all of Saturday with watching “Girls” episodes while eating Nutella straight out of the jar. Ummm… excuse me…. but where has this thing called Nutella been all of my life?! It’s like crack in a jar and I might have a problem especially during my nights of insomnia where I always find myself with a spoonful of it in my mouth. It’s the simple things that make me the happiest and I have learned that finding people who truly feed your soul is the best medicine around.  I am very blessed to have the friends that I do, I know this. Your Sparkly was inquiring about my weekend and I told him I had spent Saturday night, cuddled up with my 23-year-old best friend.  He said something like, “How come you love to spend so much time with people who are so much younger than you?” I just laughed and told him I like to hang out with people based on who they are as human beings and age is not a factor.  I like to spend my time with the people who make me think about things, who push me to do better and be better, and who actually somewhat get me – himself included.  I often feel like people get too caught up in this whole age thing in life.  You should just be with the people that make you happiest and Kassie truly makes my heart sing.  I wish so badly you could be here to know her, Ronan.  Sometimes when I’m watching her with your Poppy sister, I close my eyes and pretend it’s you that she is bonding with, kissing on, and loving.  I know that in a way it is and sometimes that even makes me smile.

Alright little man.  I promise to write more later.  So much more I need to tell you/fill you in on but this is all I have time for as of now.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

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Read. Listen. And never say these words to someone who has lost a child. I’ve heard them all way too many times.

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http://stillstandingmag.com/2014/01/6-things-never-say-bereaved-parent/

What birthday?? Let’s run a marathon instead, fucker.

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Ronan.  Today didn’t start out extra hard, but that is how it has ended up.  So much has been going on.  Too much, I suppose.  I made it through my birthday as best I could.  It it any surprise that I didn’t feel like celebrating?  I just wanted the day and night to be over as quickly and painlessly as possible.  I didn’t even let your daddy buy me a birthday gift and he is still talking about it, today.  He’s begged me over and over to please let him buy me some pretty earrings.  He knows if he goes out does it himself, I’ll just return them.  Pretty earrings won’t bring you back and that is still all I want.  NEWSFLASH PEOPLE, I STILL WANT MY DEAD SON BACK AND TIME HAS NOT MADE THE YEARNING FOR HIM GO AWAY.  I still beg for him every single day.  So sorry to disappoint some of you who seem to think because of this thing called time, that my wanting my son back will just disappear.  That because Poppy is here, she magically makes all my pain and sadness something of the past.  She doesn’t.  Yes, she brings back such wholesome goodness into our lives, but my pain is still here and just as present as before.  I sat with your Sparkly for a while on my birthday because it’s a tradition of mine now, 4 years in the making.  I sat across from him as he said, “What did I say, to make you cry on your birthday?” as he watched me wipe my eyes from behind my glasses. I told him that it wasn’t anything that he had said, that I just missed you so much and my birthday seemed to make me miss you that much more. He said he knew and how sorry he was and did his usual, I wish he were here, too. I came home and threw myself into bed for a few hours in the middle of the day and woke up to a pillow soaked with tears that I don’t remember crying, but the black mascara was evidence enough that they had been there.  I survived my birthday but birthdays to me will never be the same again as they just make me very, very sad.

After my very unbirthday, I’m not celebrating a thing, I had to get ready for that bitch of a marathon that I said I was running.  I didn’t really train at all except if you count going for some runs here and there, training. In my mind, I train for a mother fucking marathon everyday by just doing life.  I talked our Bri Bri into doing it with me as well.  She didn’t train at all either but I told her at 19 years old, you can do anything in the world, including running 26.2.  We got up that morning in preparation for the day.  I made us a little food, and we whispered in the dark about how excited we were to run this thing.  I took out a Sharpie and did my usual writing of your name everywhere I could.  I told Bri I was going to do her arms and she could do mine for a little extra running motivation.  I wrote, “Ronan” down one arm and of course “F U CANCER” down the other.  I handed her the Sharpie and told her to do my arms next.  I looked down at my arms after she was done.

RONAN was written perfectly on my right arm and I looked down at my left arm to see the word, “FUCKER” written in huge, black letters on my left arm.

“BRI! You wrote “Fucker” on my arm!” My whispers were no longer whispers.

“I know!” she said.  “I thought that’s what you wrote on my arm!”

“No! I wrote F U CANCER!”

We both were doubled over, laughing hysterically for a good five minutes before we could compose ourselves.  There was nothing I could do about it as the sharpie was not coming off and the car that was picking us up to drop us off, had arrived.  I decided just to roll with the word FUCKER down my arm and to see what added fun it might bring to the day.  Besides, cancer is the biggest fucker anyway.

We got downtown to meet up with my dear childhood friend, Laura who came into to town to run the marathon as she actually trained.  I had a sweatshirt on but told her the fucker story anyway to stop her from crying.  It is an emotional thing to do a marathon for the first time, and on top of that add the reason that you are doing it is for your childhood besties, dead son… well, game over.  Laura was officially a wreck but the fucker story definitely made her laugh and I think she had an even better time, calling me fucker throughout the marathon.  So did the spectators on the street.  The entire marathon I heard, “GO FUCKER, GO!!!” or “F U CANCER” or “GO RONAN!” as that is what we had on on the back of our shirts.  I got asked who you were and I always said, “My son.” I didn’t say, “My son who died of cancer,” because to me that is not who you are and I won’t let that define you.  I was doing pretty well in the marathon until about mile 17 and that was pretty much it.  I hit that invisible wall that you hear people in the marathon world, talk about.  I started walking, grabbed a gatorade that a lady was handing out on the side of the wall and chugged that thing like it was the last drink I was ever going to have.  I waited for my friend, Katie to catch up to me where we walked/jogged/begged for the finish line.  Bri met back up with me at mile 21 and somehow, we crossed the marathon line together, holding hands.  I’ve never been more proud of my sissy in my life.  She is such a little badass in training and I am so honored to be showing her the ropes.

I wanted to also take a second on here to thank all of you who supported me in the marathon by donating, volunteering, cheering or running yourselves.  It wasn’t just Ronan I thought about while doing this, but you all as well.  You kept me going when all I wanted to do was take the short cut, call it a day, and run back to my house.  I love you all so much for never giving up on me and for pushing me to do really hard things, just so I can remind myself that I am capable of overcoming all of the odds even on the days were I still do just want to crumble up and die.  You remind me to get back up and fight harder than I ever have before.  So thank you, from the bottom of my heart for keeping me going as I try my hardest to change this for these other kids who deserve so much better than what they are getting tossed their way.

Oh, back to today and how it was a really, really, really fucking hard day.  So hard, that I am too tired to write about it now, Ro baby.  It was just one of those days where I really felt like I had the wind knocked out of me because I just miss you so very much.  I have to get back to this book writing now.  I’ll try to check in with you in a few days.

I miss you.  I love you.  I hope you are safe.  Sweet dreams, baby boy.

xoxo

Your song for the night. Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve done one, Ro baby.

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Obsessed with this song.  It may make me bawl like a baby, but it is so beautiful. Plus, Poppy loves it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2U0Ivkn2Ds