There’s nothing like muddy boots on a rainy day

Ronan. I don’t know what happy feels like anymore. But being back here, is the closest thing to happy I’ve felt since losing you. It’s no secret. I’m a Washington girl at heart. I love everything about the Pacific Northwest. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I really needed to get out of Arizona and the forever bright, sunny skies and fake plastic trees. I needed some rain, gloom, and mud. I needed some down time without feeling the never-ending pressure of being busy and on the go. I needed to get away from the sociopathic “friend,” that I cannot seem to escape. I needed room to breathe. I miss it here. I’ve been hiding out though. Spending time with just your brothers, Nana, and Papa Jim. Normally, I would make time to see all the old familiar faces that I miss so much. But I’ve been too scared. I know what I look like and it’s not pretty. It’s sad and painful. I would rather keep sad and painful to myself. I’ve haven’t really left your Nana and Papa’s house. Except to run the lake. This has been my only escape. The rain has been constant, just the way I like it. I’m going to be sad to leave and get back to the sun that constantly seems to be blinding me. I am glad we came and I am glad we had the best time possible. We all missed you though. That never goes away no matter where we go.

Tonight, your brothers and I went to dinner with Nana and Papa. I’m trying to keep my meal down but I don’t think it’s going to happen. We stopped at the lake after dinner. I told your brothers how when I ran the lake today, I stopped and swung on the swings. I asked if they wanted to swing tonight in the cold, dark, rainy weather. They said they did so we had Papa Jim pull over and let us out of the truck. We ran around on the playground together. They were so excited as the playground equipment is all new and it had lots of fun things to play on. I dared Quinn to go down the big slide even though it was soaking wet. He did. Liam followed and ran around shouting how he was “The King of the WORLD!!!!!!!” as he climbed to some tall tower. We all talked about how much you would have gone crazy on this playground. I was able to put my sadness for you, away in my little back pocket for the 15 minutes that we played. I chased your brothers. I pushed them on the swings. I ran around with them. It reminded me of how much I love them. I mean, I know this Ronan. But when going through something like this, pain overshadows everything and it makes it hard to feel like you are able to feel love again. It might be the protection mode I have gone into as well. There was nobody closer than the two of us and then you got sick and died. I have put up a wall as it seems to be instinctual to me, to protect myself from getting hurt again. This wall was invisible tonight. It disappeared. I watched your brothers and seeing how happy they were, running around late at night, with just me, made everything else disappear. It was a good reminder that I have done such a good job with them so far, and I don’t want to fuck that up anymore than I already have. I want to be a better mama to them. I want to not be so sad all the time. I want to be thankful that I have them. They are everything to me. They deserve to have a mom who has fun with them. It’s been on this trip that I have found that part of myself again. Being here, changes everything. I just hope I don’t lose it again when we head back to AZ. Being here reminds me of how the simple things in life, really are the best. Childhood should not be about watching sports on T.V. and playing video games. It should be about jumping in mud puddles, getting dirty and not caring. It should be about going on trail walks, awesome playgrounds, shooting guns, playing in tree houses, learning about nature, spending time with your grandparents and a little girl named BriBri who is like my little sister. Who I have known since she was 5 and she is now 17. I was so scared to see her. She loved you so much, Ro and you loved her even more. I didn’t even try to hide it. As soon as I saw her, I jumped on her and fell into her arms. I held her and got teary eyed. She didn’t have to say anything…. I know she is broken into a million pieces too. It was hard for me to see. I was always her older sister who was going to protect her from everything in the world. And now this. She has to watch me, go through the worst thing possible. I’m so sorry for that. Our sisterly time together was always spent talking about boys, colleges, high school, make-up, movies, and everything we did revolved around you 3 boys. Now it’s just 2 and it is so wrong that we don’t know what to do. I tried my best to ask her things about her life that are going on. I used to be able to give her the best sisterly advice. Now, I know nothing because there are no guarantees in life, except for death. I am not about to sit and talk to my innocent 17-year-old sissy about that. I used to be so much fun. I used to be “cool” to her. Now I’m just the sad mom who lost the most beautiful boy in the world. I’m the sad mom who fought for 8 months taking care of her cancer baby. I’m changed. I’m different. But the bond between us two girls will always be there. Once you love someone with all of your heart, nothing can stand in the way of that. We will find our place back together again. Baby steps. It’s just so hard because I know deep down, all we want to do is curl up together and cry. And that might have to happen at some point to just get it out there and acknowledge what has happened. The most awful thing in the world that makes people so uncomfortable and sad, that they would rather just not talk about it. I get it. I love you Boo. I will forever think of you as my little sister. I will promise to try to take care of you like I used to. I won’t let this too much reality, come between us. And you are 17 now! So crazy! You are so young, beautiful, and have your whole life in front of you. I know you are going to do amazing things. I hope I can guide you the best I am capable of. I miss that so much.

And today. 12.29.2011, it’s been 10 years. 10 years since I married my best friend. A relationship that started off on a crazy night. A relationship that I knew on our first date, that I was going to marry him. We bonded over late night dance parties to his juke box. Playing Zelda for sometimes weeks when we had off breaks from school. We were both night owls and loved to sleep in late. Our love for concerts and music. His, Pearl Jam. Mine, Prince. But I ended up converting over to Pearl Jam and became just as crazy for them as he was. We were two young kids, who were crazy for each other from the beginning. Here we are 10 years later. It seems like just yesterday that I married my Woo. We had such big plans for our 10 year. Tomorrow, I’ll be in an airport coming home late at night to him. Tomorrow, will just be another day. So it is tonight that I will tell him some things. And I know I don’t talk about him a lot on here and that is mostly because this is about my adventure with Ronan and my pain and sadness. Some things are too sacred to me still….. such as him. I also know that my husband is my best kept secret and I’d like to keep him that way. Could you imagine all the hussies that would try to go after him if they knew how amazing he really is??? I am not up for dealing with skanky bitches at the moment. Because if word got out, that a real life prince charming existed, I would be screwed. But he does. It is him. I married him. He is the best thing that has ever been mine. I’m not going to lie….. this has been super hard on both of us, individually. As a couple, we are still doing o.k. Not great, but that’s just because we are always so sad. But he still opens my car doors, he still kisses me goodnight, he still tells me I’m beautiful and he loves me. I’m the asshole. I’m the asshole who pushes away as I don’t think I’m worthy of feeling his love because I feel like everything is my fault. And he is the last person in the world who deserved any of this. I have a lot of guilt and anger that I am dealing with and sometimes I take it out on my easiest target, which is the person who loves me most. HIM. He is a saint. He is a gem. He is the truest, most honest, thoughtful, caring, brilliant, charming, and witty man on the planet. I sometimes take him for granted because I get stuck in my head that I can’t feel any of the things he so badly wants to give me again because you died, Ro. I hate that I have to admit all of this shit to you all. I wish I could tell you I am just as amazing as him, but I’m not. Not even close. I’m the asshole. And I’m so sorry Woody. I’m crazy about you. I love you so much. I am so sorry we had to lose our little boy. I’ll never stop telling you I’m sorry. But I’ll never stop telling you I love you either. I know we are fine. But fine is not good enough. I know we can get back to a somewhat happy life again because we started this together, crazy in love, and that’s never changed. Not even after going through something as awful as this.

O.k. Stopping now. I don’t want to completely mortify my husband who prefers to keep things a little more quiet and private. I’m an open book and I am so glad he is o.k. with that. He must really love me to put up with me and the shit I write on here:) I don’t think many husbands would tolerate that. So thank you Wood. For after 10 years of marriage, you still make me want to be a better person. Everyday. That’s how I knew you were the one for me when we first starting dating. You made me want to be the best version of myself that I could be. That is powerful stuff right there. You know it’s true when the other person can inspire such greatness in you. I love you to the moon and back. Again, I am so very sorry. I know how much you miss him too. I would give anything to bring him back to you. We are going to be o.k. I promise to try to not be such an asshole. I promise to try to start living the way Ronan would have wanted me to. But I know when the sadness comes, you will be there to hold my hand. I will try not to push you away so much. I love you Woo. I love you Ro. We both hope you are safe. We are both sorry. You were perfect to us. You were our everything to this entire family. We are trying, baby. The stakes are high, this waters rough, but this love is ours.

G’nite my spicy monkey boy. I love you.

xoxo

The Saddest Hour

Ronan. The night is finally creeping in. Another day done without you here. The days still drag on and on without you, no matter how busy I keep myself. We all woke up this morning and I walked into town. Your brother, Liam, has swimmers ear so I had to pick up his prescription. When I returned back to the condo, your brothers were all ready to hit up the beach. We packed up our things and headed down to the beach. We took a big bag of your little Star Wars guys with us and decided that we would build them a fort for you. Liam was in charge of the “bad guys,” area and Quinn and I were in charge of the “good guys.” It was so hard for me to keep it together for your brothers while we did this today. You would have loved it so much. I took pictures for you so you could see how it turned out. We had fun doing this together in your honor today. Or as much fun as we could without you being here with us.

After the beach, we headed to the pool. It was really nice out today so we played in the pool and the hot tub for a couple of hours. Your brothers are missing you so much. They get so board with each other and without having you around to play with. My entertainment pales in comparison to the way you would have entertained them for hours. I did my best, but they were soon ready to come back up and they were tired from the sun. The rest of our day slowly went by and Mimi and Papa called to see if they could take your brothers to the movies. They both wanted to go and this was a good chance for me to have some quality time with your Daddy. Your brothers left with Mimi and Papa and your Daddy and I went out for our date. We sat at a little restaurant in Coronado for their Happy Hour. So much for that. Happy Hour should have been called  the Saddest Hour because that’s what it turned into. I sat with your Daddy, and pretty much cried the entire dinner. We talked about you the whole time, went over again and again, what we could have done differently. I told your Daddy how much I worry about you and I can’t stop thinking about where you are. The whole time I kept thinking in my head, how I was your mommy and I couldn’t save you. I was supposed to protect you and I will always feel like I failed you. I was supposed to keep you safe, baby. But there was nothing I could do and I’ll never understand how that wasn’t enough. How our love for each other wasn’t enough. Wasn’t anybody listening? Couldn’t they see how much we loved each other and deserved to be together for the rest of our lives? Who would be so cruel to take that away? The love we had for each other was so powerful I was sure it was going to save you. The love you had for me was the same….. something beyond this earth even, Ro. Where are you?!?!?!?! Why did you have to go?!?!?!?!? I will never stop questioning everything, Ro. I will beg for you to come back for the rest of my fucking life.

I didn’t eat much at dinner, but instead I sat and watched how sad your Daddy is too. At one point, the waitress came up to us while my tears were pouring. She quickly walked away. I wondered what she thought I was crying about. I am pretty sure she thought something like a failed marriage, an affair, one of us losing a job. I’ll bet you in a million years she would have never guessed my tears were for you. My tears were because our beautiful boy just died of cancer. Our reality is just too awful to be reality. I still can’t believe all of this and I swear I am still waiting to wake up from this nightmare.

After dinner, we came back to our place but it was so nice out we decided to go on a walk. We walked to The Hotel Del and then down to the beach. We climbed up on some rocks together and looked at all the crabs crawling about. Your Daddy was looking out to the ocean and all of a sudden, a fin appeared. The next thing we knew we were watching a bunch of dolphins jump about. One of your little signs, baby?? I’ll take it, but it still doesn’t make me miss you any less. I grabbed your Daddy from behind and wrapped my arms around him as we stood for a long time together and watched them play about. It was peaceful and I wished so badly that we could just be that normal, happy, couple that we used to be. Back when you were here and we had nothing to be sad about. Now, we will be branded for life as the couple who lost a child. Sadness will always be a part of our togetherness. All innocence we once had will never be again and therefore, we as a couple will never be the same. Will we come out of this stronger? I don’t think we have a choice. We have to as we have too much to lose if we do not. But the sadness that now exists in our world hurts so much, Ro. Nights like tonight though are important to the both of us. Grieving about you, together is something I haven’t been ready to do yet but I can slowly feel myself coming around. I can’t do this all alone and I feel like I can heal better by letting my guard down a bit. As much as I want this wall up, keeping everyone out…. that isn’t going to do anyone any good and I really need to stop just thinking of myself as there are other people hurting just as badly as I am. Your Daddy being one of them. The bottom line is, he needs me and I need him. I need to be better about remembering that as it is very easy to get wrapped up in my own little world where nobody else exists except me and my pain for you. Sometimes I prefer it that way, but this is not healthy. I will try harder for you, baby. For our family.

After our date, we came back to our condo and I slipped out for my run. UGH. I was so not feeling it tonight but I pushed through my 6 miles at a sluggish pace of a 9 minute mile. What the heck is that?? I’ve been pretty consistent with my 8:23 minute mile. Tonight was brutal. At one point, I wanted to stop and walk but I heard you in my head so I refused to stop. Thanks for that extra push tonight when I needed it most. The rest of the evening was spent playing with your brothers and Daddy. We played PS3 together… something I don’t do very often but it ended up being pretty fun. We played Call of Duty: Black Ops. I was on a team with Quinn and we beat your Dad and Liam. There was a lot of laughing and I think your brothers were surprised at my mad shooting skills. Never underestimate the power of your mama… video games and all.

This is all for tonight my love. Until we meet again, hopefully in my dreams tonight. I love you, Ronan. Forever and Ever. Just you and me, baby. I hope you are safe.

xoxo

Just you and me

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

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

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

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

Post-traumatic stress disorder

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

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

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

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

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

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

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

Symptoms

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

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories:

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

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

2. Avoidance

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

3. Arousal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo

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