I’d totally let you be Hanky the Christmas Poo for Halloween. Actually, I’d let you be Hanky everyday if that is what you wanted, if you were still here.

Ronan. Holy Fucking Fall Break. Day One, down. I remember, when you were still alive, how I thought it was crazy that schools had a Fall Break. Didn’t your brothers, just start back to school? What is this Fall Break madness? I remember feeling the pressure of wondering how I would keep all 3 of you, entertained, for a whole week. What I wouldn’t give to have that worry back now. It was not a worry at all. How did I even think that it was? What was wrong with me? How did I think that something like that, was an actual problem? It’s because I lived in the make-believe problem/worry world before all of this. In a world that was so simple and perfect, that I had to make things up, to complain about. Like the Arizona heat, like not getting enough sleep, like missing a workout, like not having enough time to myself. Blah, Blah, Blah. Those are not problems. Those are blessings. If I only knew then, what I know now. I would have never complained about a thing.
I spent the day with your brothers. Doing a lot of errands. I took them for haircuts, to Costco, etc…. We spent about 4 hours, running around today. They saw one of those big Halloween Costume places. They asked if we could go in. I put on a smile and told them, of course when it was secretly killing me that I had to walk in there, without you. Our first Halloween without you. We spent a good hour in that store today. They ran all around. We tried on silly costumes. They pointed out some things they thought I should be. They played with fake swords, knives, guns, blood, and all things Halloween. They both want to be characters from South Park. Remember how you used to love that show? How once you got cancer, all of life’s rules, just kind of flew out of the window? Crap. Before all of this, I would have never let my kids watch South Park. But then you got Cancer and one night, we were trying to make you laugh. To forget that you were sick. Your Daddy put on the Hanky the Poo, South Park episode. Laugher galore in a house full of cancer and sadness. Fuck what is appropriate. Because once your child gets cancer, you no longer view the world the same. And things that seem important and appropriate, are not. All that mattered is that we were all together and we were all laughing. So Kenny and Cartman they wan to be. If you were still here, I’d let you be Hanky the Christmas Poo. I wouldn’t think twice about it. You loved to sing that song so much. I have a feeling trying to find costumes to fit 8-year-old boys, after an adult Cartoon show, may be a little difficult. I’ll make them if I have to.  I wanted so badly, to buy your costume today. I don’t know how I am going to get through this Halloween without you, Ro.

I spent all day, entertaining your brothers. It was work. It was hard. It was exhausting. And normally, it would not have been. It would have just been fun. It would have been crazy. We would have spent the day with friends. At a pumpkin patch. At the Train Park. At the Zoo. Or any other big adventure as long as it meant you 3 were busy, having fun, getting messy, dirty, and just being boys. Your Daddy came home around 4 and I was about to break. He let me lay in bed for a while, but the whole time, Quinn was by my side. I needed some space and your Daddy knew this. He took your brothers to play basketball and they went to dinner afterwords. I stayed home, curled up in bed, and as soon as it became dark, I headed out for my run. It’s the only place, where I can clear my head just a bit. It’s the only place where I can seem to find just a bit of clarity; whatever that means now. I ran 6 miles. I turned around at 3 and ran back home so I didn’t end up somewhere crazy, like last night.

I came home, showered, and spent the rest of the night with Quinn attached to my hip. I watched Liam  play Chess. He is getting really good. I tried to spend some alone time with Liam, but Quinn is just not having it. I had to have a talk with Quinn tonight about “my world now.” I had to say things to him that were tough and made him cry. I was in his bed, trying to get him to sleep, laying with him like I do every night. He started talking about the trip I am going on this weekend. He has obsessed about it for a month now. His little brain, cannot comprehend it or understand it. Not to sound harsh, but he has been riding my ass about it for 2 weeks straight. He is making me feel really guilty for leaving. I have so much that I feel guilty for, so you’d think that this little thing would just be another little thing to throw into the pile. Add it to the list, no big deal. It’s becoming a big deal so tonight I kind of just broke. I raised my voice, which you know I don’t do often because I don’t really ever have a reason to. It’s happening more and more. I’ve explained this trip to Quinn, no less than 10 times.

I wish I could say I was going on a Girls Trip. I wish I could say, “Oh, all of my children are alive, and mommy needs a break so I’m going to Napa.” I wish I could say I was going somewhere with my husband because we are so overdue for the one week-long trip we used to take every year, together. Without kids. I wish I could say I was going somewhere cool to “find myself.” Nope. Natta. Not happening. Will never be the case again. I’m going on a Grief Retreat. Alone. A trip I would not wish on anyone. A trip I wish I never had to take. A trip I do not want to go on, but I have decided it is something that I have to do. Because I don’t know what else to do and if I don’t do something, I will crack. And much more than I already am. It’s in Sedona. I’m going up on a Friday night and coming home on Sunday. The seminar is all day Saturday and it is put on by Dr. J and a couple of other people. I’m really only going because it is something that she is involved in and I believe in her. I don’t know if this will help me and I am going without any expectations. I will be proud of myself if I can manage to be present for even part of the day. I know I am asking a lot of myself at this point in my life, but I am willing to try because I have to. Because what I am doing now is not working and if somebody can clue me in, even the slightest bit…. then I am willing to take a chance. Even if it is to tell me that the seminar is too much and I just need to crawl back in my hotel bed, for the day, pull the blinds and not worry about anyone or anything, then that is good enough reason for me to go.

Back to your brother. Your brother that spent 20 minutes, in his bed with me, grilling me about Sedona. I was trying so hard to be extra sensitive to his questions. I was really patient, sweet, compassionate and was doing really well with explaining everything to him. He would just NOT let up. I get that he has a reason to worry but after sweetly talking with him for 20 minutes about this trip….. crack. The mama, spawn of the devil, took over.

“Quinn! I am sorry! I don’t know what else to tell you. I am sorry I have to go on this trip, because your brother died. I’m sorry you don’t understand because you are 8 years old, and you are not supposed to. But I need to take a little time, to take care of myself, because if I don’t, I cannot be the best mommy that I want to be to you. Because I am so sad about your brother dying that I need help. That’s why I go talk to Dr. J, that’s why I am going to this. Because all I really want to do is lock myself in a room for a month and cry, scream, yell and punch things. But I can’t do that, because I have to take care of you and Liam. So you need to cut me some slack! You need to trust that I am coming back and I am not going to leave you! But I need a break, Buddy, and if I don’t take some time to do some things to help me, then we are all going to be in big trouble. So please. Try to understand a little, Quinn. You are not a Daddy. You are 8. You don’t know what it feels like to lose your own child. It is very hard to be a mommy and have your 3-year-old child die, Quinn. Please just give me a break. This is not a fun trip that I am going on. It is a sad trip but I need to take some time to go on this sad trip and just be really, really, sad. And listen to some other teachers, that can maybe help me a little!”

I’m laying with Quinn as I’m saying this. He says he is sorry and tears pour down his cheeks. Stamp my forehead with WORST MOM EVER, please. I kiss him, tell him I’m sorry you died, and that I love him. I don’ know what else to say or do. He falls asleep while I rub his back. I woke him up a few minutes ago to tell him how much I loved him. How much you love him. How he was your best friend. How special he is. I don’t know if he’ll remember tomorrow. Maybe you can visit him tonight and play with him in his dreams. I know he’d like that.

That’s all for tonight, little man. I’m beat. But not really. You know how this goes. I love you. I miss you. I hope you are safe. Sweet dreams, Ro baby.

xoxo

I found Liam reading in my bathtub. I think I’ll just wear a really funny mask for Halloween so nobody has to see my tears.

Rain from Ro

Ronan. So many people made today, not an awful day. Friends, family, strangers and even you. As much as I was dreading today…. too many things happened for it to be anything, but beautiful. For as awful as I was feeling inside, there were too many things in the Universe, spinning around, not in my hands… making today bearable. I survived today and even made it though the day with a smile. Something I don’t do very often anymore. Something I miss doing so very much.

The day started off normally. Well, kind of. I was tired from not falling asleep until early morning. I heard Quinn come into my room around 6 a.m., saying he had a bad dream. I had just fallen asleep a few hours earlier. I wrapped my arms around him and we both fell back asleep. It was 8 before we woke up and I thought about just staying in bed and keeping your brothers home with me today. I knew if I did this, that it would not be a good day. I would have ended up hiding in bed, and not coming out. That is something your brothers do not need to see and I do not need to do. It only makes me feel worse. I got up, got Quinn up and we rushed to get out of the house before school started. We barely made it. I dropped your brothers off and went to Hava Java to meet N and Fernanda for coffee. I found a table outside, which never happens; as that place is always packed. Fernanda showed up and N soon after. I just happened to get a table right next to Susan Levine. She came to visit us when you were there. Gosh, she is beautiful. She knows, N and said Hello. I went up to her and gave her a hug and I thought I was going to have to remind her who I was, but I didn’t. She remembered. Even in my running shorts, no make-up, baseball hat self. She still recognized me as your Mom. I tried not to cry and thanked her for her amazing Ryan House. It was strange seeing her today, on your 4 months, but it felt like it was supposed to happen. Like it was meant to be.

I sat outside with N and Fernanda. We talked and caught up. N had to leave after a short amount of time due to a work call. It felt nice just to see her face. After N left, I sat with Fernanda and we talked about how I want to go back to NYC…. to have a few words with Kushner. We both know it will not do any good, as we are sure he is not capable of dealing with an emotional, angry mother. I don’t care if I don’t get though to him at all. I just want that man to look me in the eyes and tell me he is sorry. How he promised things that he should not have, and that when he couldn’t deliver, he abandoned us. He owes that to you, Ronan. I need closure. It is something that I cannot do without. It is part of my healing process. It may seem stupid and trivial, but it is important to me.

As Fernanda and I were sitting outside, we weren’t really talking, we were just being. I do this with her a lot. As we were both just being, we looked up at the sky. It started to rain. Rain in September. Rain from Ro. The sky opened up and I swear it was just over Hava Java as the clouds were nowhere else to be seen. Fernanda and I both looked at each other and just sat, held hands across the table and cried. We both know the rain was from you. You know how happy rain makes me. It is one of my favorite things in the world. I felt the little drips of the rain, on my lips and the tip of my nose. Kisses from you. It was such a perfect moment. So simple and filled me with a bit of joy. The fact that I had this moment while Fernanda sat across from me, made it even better. I know you saw the two of us today. You wanted us to know that you are still around and that you are taking care of us now. I really believe this to be true. We sat with the rain and it stopped after a few minutes. I didn’t want to leave but had to get on with the day. Inferno Hiking was waiting. It wasn’t much of an Inferno Hike today. You out of towners are going to laugh when I tell you how “Cool,” the temperature was. It was only 101 today so the Inferno did not exist. I cannot believe I am even saying that. Anywhere else, and 101 would be boiling. Not here. It felt chilly today as I climbed the mountain in that degree of heat and not the 115 that I have been hiking it in. I got to the top and sat down on my bench. I actually laid down and cried my eyes out all while watching the most amazing clouds roll in and the wind thrash back and forth. It was really windy up there today. I listened for you. I talked to you and told you I love you. I hope you heard me. I stayed up top for a good 30 minutes and ran all the way back down. Right as I was ending my run, The Bravery song that I played for you last night, came on. So funny. So fitting. So you.

I came home, showered and the doorbell rang. I went to answer it and it was a delivery guy with the most gorgeous purple flowers. A card was attached, and said something about making this day brighter, but no name was signed. So, I have no idea whom these flowers came from today but I am going to say Thank You, anyway. So thoughtful, sweet, and made me smile. They are gorgeous. What’s even more gorgeous is the fact that somebody out there sent me these flowers, without needing me to know who they are. I love deeds such as this. That says so much about a person. So, lovely stranger or friend. Thank you for your kindness today. I love that no recognition was needed. But I’m still dying to know who sent them! If you want to tell, feel free to send me a little message;) If not, that’s o.k. too. I totally understand.

I headed over to see Katie at her boutique. I brought her a Green Tea from Starbucks and a slew of bracelets. She said her phone had been ringing off the hook all day and her email was flooded with requests for your bracelets. I could not believe it. I am still in awe of the support and love that is coming from all of this. I sat at the counter, while she rang up customers. I am surprised at how much at home I feel in Katie’s store and with her. I hardly know this girl, yet her store feels like a second home to me. So strange. I feel like I’ve known her my entire life even though I only met her last week. I am such a skeptic of people too and their intentions. I feel only good vibes when I am with Katie. I know she is helping me because she is just a good-hearted person; not because she wants anything from all of this. She has nothing to gain, she has no reason to put herself out there to gain anything. Her intentions are so true and pure. I love this. As I was sitting at her counter, while she was gift wrapping something for a customer, guess what came on while I was sitting there? Stevie Nicks, “Landslide.” I just looked at Katie and gave her a hard time about putting that song on, on purpose. We both laughed and then the tears started to well up in my eyes. We just kept staring back and forth at each other, both getting teary eyed, while trying to keep our composure in front of her customer. Katie yelled out, “O.K. I can’t even look at you right now.” I just smiled and wiped my tears away. It was such a funny moment. I left there shortly after to grab your brother and cousins from school.

I had a crazy house full of boys. Wild, funny, happy boys. I had 4 of your cousins over to play. 2 of them are staying the night. It’s been a really great night. I love nothing more than being surrounded by kids. It’s my happiness. I took your brothers and cousins to basketball practice. Your daddy is coaching their team again. I watched my two little hoopsters and what amazing players they have become. You would be so proud of them. After practice, your Daddy went to the ASU football game. I took the 4 boys and we decided to try a restaurant, “Beckett’s Table,” for dinner. We have wanted to try this place out for months now. I was so excited to go somewhere new, with my date of 4 boys all under the age of 8. All the boys were really excited too. We sat outside in this amazing weather and had the best service. A really sweet server came out after we had been there for about 30 minutes. We were the only one’s on the patio, eating, but she came out to say Hello and to tell me that she reads this blog. I was surprised, as I guess I kind of forget that I’ve put myself out there in such a way that strangers recognize me. I gave her a big hug and told her thank you. She asked if I Inferno Hiked today and I told her yes. She than said something about how she felt so voyeuristic about knowing all of this stuff about me and asked me if it felt weird. I told her I honestly didn’t think about it at all and I still think that I am really only writing to you, and that nobody really reads what I write. I told her how much I appreciated her coming up to me and saying hello, because I do. So many people won’t and that just sucks. I would rather have someone tell me they are sorry than say nothing at all. As I was gathering up the 4 best dates in the world, we walked out of the restaurant and I smiled and said thank you to the people who were standing by the kitchen. One of the managers chased me out to tell me that our dinner, was on them tonight. I tried to put up a fight but she just was not having it. I wanted to cry but I put on my brave face and told her thank you so much. The kindness of this big city, is really something remarkable. The chocolate covered bacon was amazing. Actually, everything was amazing. Thank you, Beckett’s Table tonight. It was truly one of the best dinners out that I have had in a VERY long time. We’ll be back, for sure:)

I missed you today and tonight, Ro. In everything I did. Even driving in the car. I looked in my rear view mirror today, at the place where you used to sit, behind me. It was empty and felt so wrong. I almost had to pull the car over to throw up. I can’t believe I don’t have you behind me anymore, throwing things at my head, squeezing toothpaste that you had found, all over yourself and smearing it on the windows. This is so fucking wrong. So unfair. So permanent. I still can’t believe that you are never coming back. I still feel like your Daddy is going to come bouncing through the doors with you. I still feel like I made you up in my head, because the pain of knowing that you were here, and are now gone, is just too much. People say this gets easier over time. I’m here to tell you, it does not. 4 months later, and the pain is worse. Your Daddy agrees too. Time does not heal wounds. If you survive something like this, you just learn to live with the pain. You learn to fill the holes here and there, but there will always be a big chunk of your heart missing. That is a fact. It does not get easier, you never forget, the pain does not become less over time. It stays with you, every second of the day until you just becomes used to it. It is just a part of the person you are. Pretty soon, you are so used to the pain of all of this, that you don’t remember what it felt like before. It is as if you have felt this way your entire life. Well, this is my experience anyway. To each his own.

Time to go baby. I love you to the moon and back. I hope you are safe. Sweet dreams, baby doll. I love you so very much.

Goodnight my lovelies. Thank you to everyone who texted me super early this morning to say they were thinking of me, for all the phone calls, FB messages, emails. smiles, hugs, random flowers and a really sweet dinner. I am in awe of all the love that surrounds us thanks to Ronan. Love you all.

xoxo

Fake it till you Make it

Ronan. Hi baby doll. So, last night…. not so much fun. I fell asleep from 11-1. Was up from 1-4:00. Slept from 4-6:00. Rise and shine, adrenaline pumping. I could not sleep last night to save my life. I wandered around the house, looking for you. I went into your room and wrote. I sat and cried. I took more Melatonin. It didn’t really work. I know why. It’s because today is Esther’s 4 months since she passed away. I was worried about Doriet. I called her this morning, after I took your brothers to school and had some time before I went to see Dr. Joanne. I needed to hear her voice and to let her know I was thinking of her. It felt good to talk to her and tell her I love her. I do. I told her I would come and see her. I really want to. I really need to. I will.

I saw Dr. Joanne today. I took your “GiGi,” blanket with me and wore my locket full of your ashes. We went over the worksheet today that she had me do. I started to cry as soon as we started going over it. She said I was really feeling it today. I was. We talked a lot about you. We talked a lot about me. I told her about the strong desire I have to still take care of you. How taking care of you, now comes in the form of taking care of me. I told her that I feel like I have to hit rock bottom, how I have to walk through Hell and back, to get through this. I told her how you are worth every amount of blood, sweat and tears that I have in my body. We talked a lot about expectations. She is glad that I am strong enough to stick up for myself and go through this the way I need to. Not the way anybody else thinks I should. I love her. She is such a powerful soul. She told me today that she can tell I feel like I have one foot in the world of the living, and one foot in the world of the dead. She gets it. She was exactly right. Nobody can understand the true pain of losing a child, unless you are a bereaved mother yourself. This journey is mine and mine alone. Nobody else’s. I am o.k. with that. I prefer it like that. The session was good.

We were about to end on a pretty good note, but then I had to pull out the journal that I found while cleaning out my desk a few days ago. I guess deep down, I’ve always been a writer. I’ve written for as long as I can remember. Never anything I was serious about, but I’ve always loved it. My words have always been hauntingly honest and insightful, but I never bothered to share them with anyone but myself. I never thought I was any good at it. Never had a reason to be. I found some really disturbing words written down, 2 days after your diagnoses. Call them my insightful ways. UGH. She sat with my words for a while and seemed taken aback. She was going to give me some homework, but decided we are going to take my words, and have me sit with them and to talk to you about the things I had written. To listen to what I would hear you say, back to me. I can do this. I can do anything for you.

I came home from Dr. Joanne and changed my clothes. I went and checked some things off of my “Shit List.” I went Inferno Hiking. I had a conversation in my head with the pretend paramedic who I was going to need to save me from that Pink Rattlesnake I’ve been dreaming about. I told the pretend paramedic that I was not afraid to die from the poisonous venom of a rattlesnake. That if my time was up, than my time was up. I told him how I had you waiting for me and if we were meant to be reunited, my life, would be ending in exactly the way that it was supposed to. I told him how you must miss me so much, that you are ready to have me back taking care of you again. I told him how I was not scared at all and I said all of this with a smile on my face. I have conversations in my head all day long with people I don’t even know. I have conversations with you a lot. “Landslide,” played on my iPod. I looked behind me when Stevie Nicks sang,

“I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down.”

I turned around and looked for you. I couldn’t see you. I cried as I ran as fast as I could up the mountain today. I screamed for you. I whispered for you. I listened for you. I pretended to see you, running up the hill behind me. I wished for death. It didn’t happen. I ran as fast as I could back down the mountain, hoping to fall and break my arm. Anything to feel a break from this pain of living without you. I made it to the bottom, soaking wet, but safe and sound. Guess today was not my day to walk with you again. To hold you sweet, soft hand and kiss your perfectly plump lips. It’s days like today, that I almost cannot take being without you. I tried to eat lunch. That went over really well. I threw it all up.

I picked up your brothers. They were so happy and excited to tell me all about their day. The good grades they got on their spelling tests, math test, AR Reading points…… They are happy. They are coming to terms with the fact that you are gone and are not coming back. They are so full of hope that the fact that it is not infectious to me makes me think that I am seriously disturbed. NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPY. NOTHING. Try swallowing the guilt that comes from that. I hope someday that I will be happy again. But I am not going to walk around and pretend that I am. Fake it till you make it. As Dr. Joanne said, I sure do put on a good game face. The best I told her.

I took your brothers to Sauce for an after school snack. I sat and watched as they gobbled up pizza and engaged with them, smiled for them, laughed with them. It was fucking exhausting. Also, I’m sure the fact that I had almost no sleep last night, didn’t help. We came home, emptied out their backpacks and lunch boxes and went over their homework. I told them they could have a break, some down time. I crawled under the covers. Your Daddy came home soon after that. I fell asleep for about a half an hour. I woke up to your Daddy, telling me he was going to take your brothers to play basketball. He asked if I wanted to go. I quietly told him, “No,” as the tears slid down my cheek. I felt like I had been run over by a bus. Soon the house was quiet and empty. I got up, unloaded the dishwasher and did all the good mommy/wife things that I am supposed to be doing. I called your Nana, whom I never talk to anymore. I felt guilty as she picked up and I could hear the excitement in her voice. We talked for a few minutes. She told me she is worried about me not eating. She told me she doesn’t want me to end up in the hospital. I told her, “Who cares.” She tried to gently scold me, all while telling me she wasn’t judging me. I told her I knew that. I know she does not. She is a good mom. I promise to call her more often.

I’m going to go now baby doll. I miss you so much. I love you to the moon and back. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

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Inferno Fuckwad Bob

Ro baby. So, remember how I told you I was going to stop cold turkey, taking my Zoloft…. mainly because everyone told me not to. That I needed to slowly come off from it. I didn’t listen. I stopped taking it over two weeks ago. I did it, all by myself and I’m still here. I didn’t have any side effects. I just feel better. One less medication that I am on. I do not want to live my life with the help of Zoloft. Not that there is anything wrong with it. I just want to find another way to get through this pain and I don’t want any help from a pill. I tried this last night with the Ristoral I am taking to help me sleep. I tried not to take it. It was awful. I tossed and turned for a few hours, while lying next to your Daddy. I dozed off, here and there but the screaming in my head was too much to take. The dreams were too mean and vivid. I got up, around 12:30, and paced the house; looking for you. I took 2 of my sleepy meds and ate a bowl of cereal. I had not eaten all day long. I crawled up into Liam’s top bunk bed and fell asleep until 7 a.m. I woke up groggy, and felt hung over. Your Daddy looked worried as he could see the glazed over look in my eyes. He decided to take Liam and Quinn to school for me. It was a good thing, because I mentally was a wreck today. I don’t remember what happened next, but before I knew it, I was laying my head on the kitchen table, sobbing into your blanket, with your Urn in front of me. I went and grabbed the locket that Macy got me, that does not have a picture of you in it yet. I got out the scissors and cut open the plastic holder that keeps your ashes sealed. I found some glue, rubbed it on the inside of the locket, took my hands and picked up some of your ashes. I felt them for the first time. I kissed them and I took a little of them and sprinkled them to the inside of the locket filled with glue. Fernanda called. I ignored her phone call. I sat and sobbed with you instead. She called, again, about 20 minutes later. I picked up this time. “What are you doing?” she said. I couldn’t talk, so I didn’t say anything; I just sat and cried into the phone. “Where are you?!” she asked in her beautiful English, Spanish, and Italian accent. “Home,” I said. She said,”I’ll be there in 2 minutes.” And she was. She pulled up and I opened up the door, my face black from my mascara. I really need to freaking invest in some waterproof mascara at this point in my life. She grabbed me and let me cry all over her all white blouse. My angel.

We sat at the table for a bit. I told her what I had just done with some of your ashes. I said to her, what if these had been your beautiful blue eyes. She told me they were not. Your eyes, left long before you were cremated. I agree. She put her head down on the table with me and we sat and cried and talked. I told her I needed to get coffee if I was going to function at all today. We ran to Safeway and sat on the couch at the Starbucks. A woman came and sat down next to us. She overheard some of our conversation. We started talking to her. Turns out, she had a 2-year-old who had died, and she had lost a baby from a miscarriage as well. She told me how lucky I was to have a friend, like Fernanda… as she had nobody. All I wanted to do was take this woman home and love her. She does not have a Liam and Quinn to keep her going. She does not have a reason to get up in the morning. But she has found one…. whatever it may be. That is true strength. I told her about your website, and I gave her one of the MISS Foundation cards. I told her about them. She said she didn’t even know something like that existed. I told her to call them. I hope she will. I wish I could have done more for this woman today; but I did all I could do.

The rest of the day was a blur. Quinn went to Dr. Beth. He is so needing her now. As well as your brothers are doing in school…. which from what I can tell, they are excelling….. I know this outside help is so important for them now. I know in the long run, it will make a difference. We are choosing to face this head on, not bury it down in the ground. Their therapy is a big part of this so I plan on continuing it for as long as we need…. even if it is for the rest of their lives. I hope it won’t be, as I want them to be able to go on and live normal, happy lives. But to get them to that point, this is so necessary.

I went to see Dr. Joanne. It was a really long, intense session. I ended up being able to write out that grief worksheet before I saw her. I wrote it out this morning, in a really random, public place. I have struggled with the finding the words to fill it out all week. I have carried that worksheet all over with me, and when I sat with it today, the words to the questions just came pouring out. It took me only a few minutes to answer the 5 or 6 questions. One of the things I had to answer was, if I had to Name my grief; him/her, I’d call him/her…… ??? What???? I had to come up with a name for my grief. The name, Inferno Fuckwad Bob, just flew out of my head. That is what I wrote. I named my grief, INFERNO FUCKWAD BOB. I have no idea where in the world this name came from, but it is perfect. Dr. J sat with my sheet of paper and asked if I thought I could read it out loud to her. I told her No. She asked if she could read it out loud. I said yes. So she did. I think I cried while she was reading my words. I think I bawled pretty much the entire time I sat and talked with her today. When she got to the name of your grief part, hearing her say that out loud, made me laugh. She giggled a bit too, and told me she had heard some interesting names for Grief in her time, but this may have been the most interesting. It was at that point, that I knew that there was no other name in the world for my pain, my hurt, my grief. Inferno Fuckwad Bob, it is. I hope he is not always so present in my life, but for now he is; and I cannot ignore him.

After our session, I came home, threw on my hiking clothes and drove to The Inferno. I ran my butt off up the mountain. I saw Mountain Mike again, which was strange because I was there much later in the day than I usually am. He was coming down as I was running up. I took out my headphones to say Hello. We chatted for a minute, then he said for me to keep going as he didn’t want to keep me. As I got to the top of the mountain, I took my time to talk to you. I didn’t see the Eagles today, but that was o.k. I did some stretching and breathing. I put my headphones on full blast and got ready to run as fast as I could down the mountain. Just as I was getting ready to run, I got this text from Dr. Joanne.

Goosebumps ran down my spine. I had gone into the bathroom, after I left her office. I just needed to wipe down my face and dry my eyes. I was in the bathroom for maybe 30 seconds. I am always intentionally leaving your bracelets places…. on my hikes, random restaurants, grocery stores, etc….. It never even crossed my mind to leave one in the bathroom of her office building today. But she found one, in the sink. I asked her if it was the naughty or nice version. It was the naughty. I thought I was totally out of all of those, but apparently one found it’s way to Dr. Joanne. So random. So something you would do. I have hesitated about giving her one…. just not wanting to overstep my boundaries as I know not everyone is comfortable with the F word. I guess you had other ideas and know she is deserving of wearing it. Because she is a badass:) I am so glad, baby. I thought so too, but you made it happen. Thank you for that and for making me smile so big after seeing that text from Dr. J.

As soon as I turned my headphones up as loud as they would go, and starting running as fast as my legs could possibly carry me, without falling on my face, another little thing happened. I have decided one of the ways you are communicating with me, is through music. I had my iPod blaring, and you had decided what my playlist was going to be. From the time I started running, until I stopped at my car, these are the songs that came on, in this order. Pearl Jam, Given to Fly. Coldplay, Fix You. Band of Horses, No One’s Gonna Love You, and it ended with Katy Perry, Firework. I mean really, Ro. That was so sweet of you. It made me smile, cry, smile, laugh and blow kisses up into the sky. I love you so much, baby. I miss you so much.

The rest of the evening was spent at home with your brothers, Daddy, Danielle and Dave stopped by with their new puppy; Bash. We sat outside and played with him. Such a sweet, simple night. I often feel you around when Danielle is with me. She is one of the people in my life that makes me feel peaceful. I needed that tonight. Thanks, D. Love you.

Alright, my “not spicy, little monkey boy. I’m going to try to get some sleep. Really want to do boot camp in the a.m. but have not been succeeding in waking up for my 5 a.m. booty, boot camp call. Maybe tomorrow. I love you to the moon and back. I hope you are safe. G’night my love.

xoxo

You are my God, my Heaven, and someday, my Peace

 

 

 

Ro baby. Hi. I’m still here. I’m going to say, unfortunately, because that’s what I’m feeling at this time. As much as I talk to you and ask you to take me with you…. I don’t think you are going to. You want me here, on this earth, and I have to do my time. I feel like I’m trapped in a prison cell and nobody is ever coming to free me. And I know you know why. It’s because nobody can save me, but myself. I have to learn how to set my soul free, to be reborn again because of now, I still feel like I am walking around dead. I cannot go on like this forever which is why I am forcing myself to do things that I really don’t want to do, but I know if I don’t, everybody loses. Even you. And that is not acceptable in my book because I have so much making up to you to do. I will tell you I’m sorry everyday, 20 times a day, for the rest of my life. I’m sorry for so many things. But most of all, for not being able to save you, when I promised you I would. I will carry the guilt of that around for the rest of my life.

I’ve tried to do a lot this week. Physically and mentally. I have to start trying to fix myself, bit by bit.  I’ll never be fully repaired, but I hope to find pieces of myself here and there and put them back together. My pieces will never fit perfectly again, so I’m going to have to relearn how to live with them, as shattered, cracked, bruised and battered as they may be. I have to learn how to live with this pain now, if I am going to stay on this earth.

This week is almost over. I’ve done a lot. A lot of therapy. A lot of mommy things. A lot of being productive. I want to say fuck it all and not do any of this. But I have this fire that lives inside of me now that refuses to let me be quiet and give up. I am pissed at the world and have too much passion from the pain of losing you. I’m not giving up. No matter how many doors I have slammed in my face. I deserve answers, I deserve to hear I’m sorry from the fucking medical world that failed us, I deserve to create changes in this fucked up world of childhood cancer. I deserve to help others. It is what you would want. You would want me to find a reason to go on. You would want me to break down every fucking door to get there. I will make you proud of me. I know how much you loved me. I know you loved me more than anything or anyone. I know you will always be proud of me, which is why I refuse to give in to this hell that is now my life. And FYI….. Fuck this Zoloft. I’m done with it. I’m not taking it anymore. I know I’m going to be told to wean myself off of it, but too bad. I’m stopping it cold turkey. Is that dangerous? Maybe. Is it going to kill me? I doubt it. I’ve made my mind up about this and you know how I am once I make my mind up about something. I don’t want to be on a medication because my feelings about losing you are too intense. I needed this medication during your treatment, when you were still here with me, because I took care of you, 24/7. You are gone now. And I am done with this crap. I don’t want to live a life of being on meds. I want to be cleansed. I want to get back in touch with my reality, without being medicated. I’m strong enough to do this. And if I’m not, I will reevaluate the situation. I’m not ready to give up my sleepy meds yet. The Ristoral that I have taking makes me less insane. I’m sleeping a little better. I’m not saying crazy things in the middle of the night to your daddy like I was before. That drug is hardcore and really messed with my mind. I don’t like to feel out of control and that is how I felt when I was on it. I’ll admit for a while, it felt kind of good because it was an easy escape and I didn’t have to be responsible for the way I acted. I could just blame it on the Ambien. I don’t want to have to blame things for my behavior. I want to be able to blame myself, not some drug that is effecting my sleep and my life, so deeply. I still need the Ristoral though. I’m not even close to being at peace with anything and I know that trying to sleep on my own is torture. The lack of sleep that comes with all of this is something that I cannot handle at this point. I need sleep. I need a break from everything and sleeping is the only break I’m going to get.

At this point in my life, I feel like I’m on autopilot. I think I’m back in shock again. I talked to you after my run tonight and I didn’t even cry. It was strange as I am always able to cry about you. Not tonight. I sat there, in the dark, on a bench, and talked to you but no tears came out. I feel numb. I feel like I don’t want to feel anything so I am going to just shut all of my feelings down. This is when I decided to screw the Zolfoft. I think this may be part of the problem. I want to feel and not feeling anything tonight, scared the shit out of me. I don’t have normal feelings at all. Happiness, excitement, and hope are not part of my world anymore. Feeling love from others feels foreign to me as if I’m not worthy of it. I feel nothing. Today, I was able to put on my FUCK CANCER game face and put together a plan of attack. I was able to figure out what steps I need to take in the right direction to make a difference. Baby steps, but I have somewhat of a plan. I have an idea for a plan of one of the many things I want to do. I have to do because I am so angry about the lack of knowledge we were given when you were diagnosed. It is unacceptable and cruel. And fucking bullshit. I know that things take time and baby steps are necessary. Baby steps are a start in the right direction and I know they will lead to bigger and better things. Good thing I am a patient person by nature. Patient but passionate. I think those things will both work in my favor.

I have so much more to tell you. About the amazing lady I saw from the MISS foundation this week. For the first time since losing you, I felt like maybe, just maybe, I can survive this. I can change things. I felt this way because Dr. Joanne may be one of the most incredible souls I’ve ever come into contact with. Instant connection not to mention she is brilliant. And compassionate. She’s taken her pain, educated herself on grief, and turned it into an amazing organization. She inspires me. I need to be inspired right now. I need to see that great things can come out of something so tragic and awful from losing a child. I need to know that I can become a better person through all of this and make a big mark in this world by helping to find a cure, by helping other families, by giving all I have to give. I am going to take everything I used to save you, and throw it into helping other people. I know I’m not ready for this just quite yet, as I have some things I have to work on myself. I have to make sure your brothers are o.k. as they need me more than ever. I cannot let them down. I have to do this for you. They deserve to have the best life possible. I have to be a part of making that happen. I cannot just check out, Ro. It’s a lot of pressure but I think I can do it. I promise to try my hardest.

I’ve worked out everyday this week. Hiking in the heat, boot camp, running. It all feels good. It makes me feel alive for about an hour which is better than nothing. It makes me smile when I feel the sweat stinging my eyes. It makes me realize for a small moment in time, I can feel again. It’s not always good, but it’s better than being numb. I don’t want to walk around this life like a robot. I want you back more than anything but I know that is not going to happen. But I also know that I will see you again. We will meet up in our next life together and it will be even more amazing than this one. I truly believe that. Our bond and connection is too strong for that not to happen, my love.

That is all for tonight. I love you to the moon and back, baby boy. I hope you are safe. Please watch over all the beautiful souls that love you so much. Please visit them in their dreams. You are not ready to visit me yet, as I am too consumed by my pain. You will know when you are ready to see me again, to let me know you are safe. Please keep your brothers safe. Thank you for keeping Fernanda safe. I know that was you. I know you are part of her soul. I’m not thanking God for anything anymore, Ro. I’m thanking you. You are my God. You are my heaven. And someday you will be my peace. I love you so much. I miss you every second of the day. I promise I won’t let you down.

Sweet dreams my little devil.

xoxo

 

To live with ghosts requires solitude

Ronan. Is the world ending? I have never in my life had a year full of so many awful things happening around me. 2 deaths on Coronado a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know much about what went on, as I don’t watch the news or read the paper anymore. I only heard the whispers of others around me. I heard that the little boy passed away a few days ago. It made me cry. It made me sad. It made me angry for this fucked up life that his parents will now have to go on living, without their little boy. After an awful night of sleep last night, even with my Ambien, I woke up to very sad news. A girl that I had never met, but we had talked via email many times, lost her battle with cancer.  A young girl, around my age. She was married and she wrote an amazing blog about her life, her passion, her strength and her determination to beat it. Her name was Jen and I followed her blog. I don’t follow anyone’s blog, but I stumbled on hers a couple of months after you were diagnosed. I reached out to her, to tell her how inspiring she was, how much she inspired me to keep fighting for you and to never give up. She emailed me back and it went from there. I fell in love with her and her fighting spirit. I told her I was convinced that the two of you, would beat the odds. We tried to meet up in New York City the last time I was there with you, but it just didn’t work out. She was sick and you were sick. She so wanted to meet you and I so wanted you to meet her. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and give her the hug that she deserved. She recently went all the way to Switzerland with hopes that this new trial would make her better. It didn’t work. This is all so unfair. I hope now you get the chance to meet her. I hope you will look after one another. Her service is tomorrow. She loved life so much and wanted her leaving of this world to be celebrated. She wants a dance party for tomorrow. This is what was posted today:

As you are all aware, Jen’s funeral is tomorrow and we wanted to give you some insight into Jen’s last wishes regarding honoring her memory. Jen believed “life was for the living.” She wanted her funeral and any other memorials to be as much of a celebration of her life as possible. In fact, she even wrote of possibly wanting a “dance party!” In that vein, please feel free to smile and laugh as you recall special memories of Jen and please dress however you like. Jen would have loved there to be some color in the room and not have everyone dressed in all black! 
As much as Jen wanted her memorial to be upbeat, she was respectful, however, that everyone mourns in their own way and that there was no “right” way to do so. Please help us honor Jen and her legacy in whatever way you see fit. 
We have cherished reading the tributes written here and on Facebook. Please continue to contribute memories, thoughts and wishes. Those who love Jen have already taken great comfort in your kind words.
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ SOME OF HER STORIES. HER LINK IS ON THE SIDE OF MY BLOG, UNDER MY OTHER HERO. OR GO TO WWW.YOUFEARLESS.COM
LET’S HELP HER CONTINUE HER FIGHT AND HER VISION. SHE NEEDS EVERYONE NOW MORE THAN EVER TO KEEP HER DREAM ALIVE. I LOVE YOU, JEN. TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY BABY.
Although I didn’t know Jen, she inspired me throughout your journey, Ro. She was all about living a life without fear. She felt, if you took fear out of the equation, you could accomplish anything. I am absolutely sold on what she believed. Fear is for the weak. Fear is for the ignorant. Fear can ruin your life. If there was ever a time that I was feeling defeated, frustrated, mad, or just plain tired, I would often time read Jen’s blog and email her to tell her thank you and how much I believed in the two of you. You two should have both survived this. You two should have both beaten the odds. My heart breaks for everyone who knew her, but how lucky they were. I hope you two have the biggest dance party tomorrow together. She would have fit right in with us and our love for dance parties, Ro. I know you two will take good care of each other. In honor of her tomorrow, I am going to make another music video just for Jen. Get ready for another youtube hit:)

I also found out that one of  our good friends’ brothers, Eric, passed away from cancer yesterday. I spent a summer in Newport with your daddy and Eric when your dad and I first started dating. He was such a gentle soul and I always felt as his eyes were smiling. My heart is beyond broken for his family. I called your daddy tonight and we talked about him going to the services on Saturday. I told him I really think that he should. We both won’t feel right if he doesn’t go. Mark has been a very good friend to us. Your daddy should be there for him. Eric leaves behind a wife and two little boys. I just want to know what the fuck is going on in the world. Two amazing people, just gone. It’s as the world is opening up and swallowing all of these beautiful souls up, one by one. It is beyond unfair. Hey world. I have an idea. Why don’t you take the freaking Casey Anthony‘s of the world instead and leave all of the amazingly good people alone. You are about to royally piss me off and I am on the verge of doing something crazy just to see if I can fucking cheat death and survive the odds. Fuck you world. You can piss off.

I went to Yoga this morning. Yay me! I have been saying I was going to go all summer, but I just haven’t gotten myself to do it. No Yoga fail this morning. Liz picked me up and we headed off to do a class. I was afraid to go this morning. I have been avoiding it. The last time I went to Yoga, was while you were in the hospital. I went and ended up crying pretty much the entire time. It seems to open up a lot of emotions for me. Today, I was o.k. I tried to focus all of my energy on you, Jen and Eric. I tried to stay positive. At the end of the session, our instructor asked us to close our eyes, and to be thankful for the life we had. I had to restrain myself from standing up and screaming at the top of my lungs that I was not thankful for life, because you are gone. I am mad today, sad today, lost today. I don’t know who I am without you. I don’t want to be anybody. I am trying to take these thoughts and make them motivate me. Motivate me to do something amazing for you. I will, because if I don’t, then who the fuck will? Nobody. I have to take these lessons that I have learned and turn them into something good. For the sake of you, and all of the other people in the world who are affected by cancer. Nobody is safe. This can happen to anyone. I still wish this were me and not you. I would still trade places with you in a heartbeat.

So, after I finished Yoga, Liz and I walked to Starbucks. We got a coffee and talked about everything from UFO’s (duh, they totally exist) to my sparkly nail polish that I am obsessed with. Oh, don’t worry….. it was just a nice peaceful stroll back to The Shores when we saw the smoke pouring out of one of the units. Not only was smoke pouring out, but flames as well. And not just any flames, but huge flames, out of the sliding glass doors and out to the balcony. One of the units had caught on fire. It was a big fire and everyone sat outside and watched, took pictures, and video taped it. The firefighters showed up but it seemed to take them forever. Liz and I just looked at each other and both asked what in the world is going on and that is when we decided that the world must be coming to an end. Bring it on. I’m totally fine with that.

Ronan. Somebody told me he thought you were too pure and good for this evil world. I sat with that for a while and I think I kind of agree. I don’t think such an ugly would like this would have known what to do with all of your wisdom, beauty, love, courage, strength, fearlessness, and the brains that you possessed. The world decided that you were too perfect so it had to take you back. I have schemed up so many theories about you and your life. It’s what I do at night while I sit her and think about you. Do I need a higher dose of this Ambien shit? I took it two hours ago and it’s almost 2 in the morning and nothing. Well, I hope it doesn’t have to do with the fact that I am drinking a COKE right now. My only vice in life really.

Not sleeping, mind is still racing. I don’t mind though. As long as your brothers are asleep, and my music is playing, cold Coke nearby, and you are here….. this is my heaven. Thanks for my perfect playlist on Pandora tonight. You have been playing the best songs. Everyone reminds me of you and some of them were our favorites. I hope you can still hear music. You loved it so much. I always play it twice as loud for you when I am running in hopes that you can hear it too.

Alright my little bug. Think I will cozy up with your brothers and try to get some sleep. I love you to the moon and back, Ro. Just you and me. Forever. Sweet dreams. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

 

New York Miss Macy and the Candy Store Girl

Ronan. Hi my baby. Nighttime is here. The stars are out. Everyone is asleep. Slumber party in my bed. I hate the time between now, and when I actually fall asleep. It’s too quiet, too calm, too still,  and too lonely without you. It’s the time when my heart feels the heaviest and my mind is so restless. Thoughts of you being gone fill my head and cannot be stopped. It’s as if my mind is screaming that you are gone, but my heart refuses to believe it. I cannot fully accept what is the truth, as true as it is. The magnitude of life without you is too much to take. This is a big part of why I write to you. I write until I can take no more, until I am so tired, that my mind and body finally give in and sleep comes to me. I have no idea how I am getting through this thing called life, especially with the lack of sleep that now consumes me. Somehow, I just keep on going, trying to do my best to ignore everything that is telling me to stop. I want so badly to stop being strong. I would give anything to have you back and to float through life, without knowing this pain. Who the fuck decided this was my lot in life? I want a refund.

All I can say is thank god for New York Miss Macy. I was this close to jumping off our balcony today. Ok…. not really, but she could not have come at a better time. Your brothers and I need a distraction and some laughs. She provided both of those things today. As soon as she arrived, there were hugs all around. We got her settled in and decided to walk to go and get some lunch. We took her to Burger Lounge, where and we all had lunch. Afterwords, we stopped at the candy store to get some treats. The same candy store that has toy pistols and rifles handing on the walls. All I wanted was for you to be with me so I could buy you one. I imagined you running down the street with us, shooting everyone. I stared at them for a minute and caught myself starting to get choked up. I am so glad for what happened next as it has kept me giggling all night. I watched this scene play out like a movie. Let’s call it: “New York Miss Macy and the Candy Store Girl.” Ready……scene….. ACTION!

– Maya goes to the register to pay for her candy and the grouchy teenaged girl working, gives her the total bill with a scowl on her face. Maya watches as New York Miss Macy is standing next to her and takes a couple of pieces of candy out of her bag, before paying, and starts to eat them. Maya watches as the Candy Store girls eyes glance over to New York Miss Macy and a look of annoyance comes over her face. Maya thinks to herself, “Is the Candy Store girl really getting mad because Macy is eating a few pieces of her bulk candy before she pays??” She decides it is only her imagination as isn’t it a given that you munch on a few pieces of candy before you pay when you go into a  bulk candy store?? Not 3 seconds later, the Candy Store girl looks at Macy and goes, “I’m going to actually need you to PAY for that candy, BEFORE you eat it.” Macy, whom is clueless as to what she was even doing because it is just second nature, looks up and goes, “Um…. what?? Yeah, o.k.” Maya is trying to hide her laugher. Macy pays and we scurried out of the store. As soon as we exited, we burst into laughter. Macy goes, “Wait, did I really just get reprimanded for eating a few pieces of my candy by a 15-year-old girl? What is she, the candy police???” This is so something that would only happen to Macy. It made for a lot of laughs tonight.

After our candy store incident, we continued on our walk back to our condo. As we were all 4 walking back, we were looking out at the ocean. Dolphins appeared. We stopped to watch and ended up climbing down some rocks to sit on the beach for a while. We watched the dolphins and played in the sand and water. We ended up having a sand and water fight because sometimes in life, it just makes sense to do silly things like that. It made perfect sense tonight. You would have loved every second of it. At one point, Liam and Quinn were in the distance, playing, just the two of them. It was surreal to watch and I felt as though I was having an out-of-body experience. I will never get used to it just being the two of them, without you injected in the middle. Nothing is right anymore and nothing makes sense. As we were walking back, I got a text from Danielle. It was if she had read my mind from a few minutes earlier as her wording was almost eerie. Something along the lines of how she wants you back so badly for me that it hurts. How you are the light, the finishing touch, the pistol that keeps me alive. She then ended it with, “Fuck. I hate life.” Danielle is one of those people in my life who just gets it. She gets everything. She has a lifeline to my soul and to yours. Her words brought me comfort, for as sad as they may be; they are always true and real. She takes the time to really sit and think about all of this that we are going through and when we do talk about it, I feel as if she is living inside my mind because she says everything that I am thinking. We have a very strong spiritual connection. Thanks, D. Miss you much.

Now that Macy is here, I was able to get in my run tonight. I was totally unmotivated and dreading it. I almost didn’t go. The little voice in the back of my head would not have shut up if I didn’t. I knew this so I headed out the door and ran a fast 6 miles. It actually ended up being a really good run. I’ve missed the pain and release of running these past few days. I broke my record on my NIKE iPhone app for my fastest 10k. Guess I was feeling it after all. I returned feeling better and hopped in the shower before we started movie night. The boys and I decided that we would introduce Macy to one of our favorite movies, Ro. “Zombieland.” She had never seen it and it had her laughing within seconds of turning it on. The more I watch that movie, the more I love it. Seriously, Top 10 favorite movies of all time for me. She loved it too. I knew that during all that laugher, one thing was going to get to her. That one line that will forever cut like a knife. “Take away a man’s son, and you’ve truly given him nothing left to lose.” I watched her wipe the tears from her eyes. I’ve decided that I would like to live in Zombieland because this normal life without you is for the birds. If I have to live without you, I would rather do it by being a badass and killing Zombies than living in this painful life that now exists. At least I would have a lot of things to take my anger out on, besides myself and the nobody who answers to me. The nobody that is to blame, the invisible being that took you away. Somebody should have to answer to me and to explain why. I hate that nobody can give me a reason for this because there should be a reason. If you had to be taken away, I want to know why. And I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to figure out why this happened to you, but I don’t know how I can ever come to peace with any of this unless I have somewhat of an answer. Gee, fuckwad. Thanks for the fucking journey that I now get to figure out in life. Thanks for taking my beautiful life and smashing it into a million pieces. I HATE YOU.

But I love you, Ro. I love you to the moon and back. I am still here, despite my pleas to you. I’ll stay here for as long as you want me to be. I know I have to help change the way of this disease for you. Everything I do in my life will be for you. Everything I have done in my life since the birth of you and your brothers, has always been done by putting you all first. I was so happy to do this. It brought me such happiness. Now, I have to go on and continue to do what I have been doing for so long, which is being a mom; without you. I will continue to do this but I will never stop feeling like I have a limb missing. As well as a big chunk of my heart. This is permanent. These scars are not going anywhere. I don’t know how people say they fade either. If anything, I think they just get worse. They are for me anyway. To each his own.

I love you baby. I love you so, so much. I miss you every second of the day. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

                             Family Forever

New York Miss Macy, Quinny, Mama Maya, and Li Li