This is the most difficult thank you letter I will ever write. No matter how long I reflect, how often I rewrite, how many times I revise – words can only fall short. I will never be able to adequately express my profound gratitude for the unwavering support that has been bestowed upon us. I remain humbly grateful, and infinitely indebted, for the outpouring of love and innumerable acts of humanity we have received.
After hearing the stunning news of Paxton’s diagnosis – countless members of our community swiftly & readily enlisted in what would soon be quipped, Paxton’s “Army of Love”. Among them – a vast array of: family, friends, co-workers, former classmates, clients, students, doctors, nurses, pastors, “friends of friends”, and complete strangers. Although they did not know one another, a common thread instantly tethered them: the desire to fight cancer alongside our precious, Peaceful Warrior. They joined hands, stood hip to hip, and formed a frontline. Without uttering a single word they confidently proclaimed, “We are ready.”
Our new reality rendered us disoriented from a haze of limitless fear, suffocated by unparalleled anguish, and immobilized in unprecedented grief. However, we remained keenly aware that a steady current of love was enveloping around us. We received cards, text messages, emails, phone calls offering love and support throughout each day, and every night. We were given notes, written on scraps of paper and left at the front desk of Children’s Hospital, when visitation could not be granted. An online calendar was made, shared, and monitored to ensure we had a dinner each evening. Multiple gift cards, goodie bags, groceries, and home good supplies were purchased. While inpatient, home repair projects were finished, yard work done, our home cleaned, laundry washed & folded. Children across Wisconsin had lemonade stands and proudly gifted their proceeds. A freezer chest magically appeared in our garage to provide a place to store the compiling dinners. Blessed blankets, stuffed animals, “snap-in-front” outfits, children’s books, and a necklace with a charm containing a picture of my sweet baby arrived. Numerous donations to Paxton’s Angel Network were made; personal checks written and sent. Several fundraisers, a silent auction, and an honorary blood drive were held. Wristbands were created, purchased, and donned. Dearly committed family members shared shifts through frightening, heart wrenching, sleepless nights. Endless trips between our home and the hospital were made to gather forgotten items…and then made again. Sick leaves were drained. Vacation days were used. Mileage was compiled. Our adored dog, Lucas, was lovingly adopted – whether we rushed off to the ER – in the middle of the day, the middle of the night – or the middle of a sentence. Or when we embarked on what would become an 18-night / 19-day solitude in the HOT Unit. A beautiful song, “Learn to Fly”, was written & recorded. Prayer chains were started. Candles, at congregations around the globe, were lit. Individual prayers – in homes across the land – were said…every single night. My nephews and niece were gladly “taken in” as to grant my devoted sister some undistracted time with her beloved nephew. Yellow fast became everyone’s new favorite color. Angels were compiled – a statue, garden ornament, figurines, pins, and coins. Assistance with sorting through, interpreting, and tracking endless medical statements was provided. Heartwarming landscaping met us on our front lawn. All of it made a difference. Every. Single. Thing. No one deed superseded another – for, it was the ‘whole’ that afforded us the most priceless gift. The abundant selflessness at play allowed us to focus every second of the day, every ounce of emotional energy, where it was most needed…most deserved: on our sweet Paxton.
I remain completely and wholly devastated by the loss of my precious baby boy. In losing Paxton, I have lost my only child, my miracle baby, my beloved, perfect, beautiful son; I have lost my yesterday, my today, my tomorrow…my entire future. For now, it is impossible to separate the grief of losing Paxton – from the love of having Paxton. Grief and love: the two most powerful, yet paradoxical, emotions – have declared war in my soul.
I will walk this dark walk. It is sure to be the darkest walk of my life. But I will not stop searching for light. When I need it most, I sincerely believe Paxton will provide that light. I will see the life-spark of his contagious smile reflecting in your eyes. I will feel the peacefulness of his tender soul through your warm embrace. I will hear the gentleness of his beautiful heart as you speak his name – and speak it again. I will sense the courage of his brave spirit from the march of your “Army of Love”. I will continue to look for my Sweet Boy, and I will find his light all around.