It is times like this very moment that I feel like am I truly having an out of body experience. If I couldn’t feel my fingers hitting the keyboard, I would remain convinced I was watching myself in a movie. Is it really possible that just one year ago, I was lying on this very couch – wearing this very USC hoodie – ironically enough, talking to you…despite the fact that I could not see you, or touch you? Is it possible this past year is NOT a movie? How much longer can I possibly go on feeling so nauseous that I can’t fully inhale? Why do I have to reach for a computer to talk to my son? I want to scream so loud, and for so long, that I turn my insane into sane.
I have been running to and fro – changing, rearranging, sizing up, paring down every detail for your birthday non-party tomorrow. As usual, I have made it far more work and far more stress than necessary. This time my neuroses are paying off. First and foremost, being able to do something tangible for you helps give me a sense of purpose (be it very small) in days otherwise spent aimlessly floating through hours which drag on for days. Moreover, the further I bury myself in senseless obsessions over minutia such as: the precise size and shade of ribbon looks best on your candle and wish box, what font – on which size place cards – is most suitable, which songs to cut from the playlist, and which must stay – affords my brain the exhaustion it so desperately needs for me to have a chance at securing a few hours of sleep. I have considered, but have not caved, breaking into my stock-pile of Ambien again. Ambien. It’s a son-of-a-bitch; but I sure do like it.
Now that tomorrow is upon us, and my “To Do” list has dwindled, my familiar friend Panic has been resurfacing. In just a few short hours, it will be tomorrow. Some of your most special earth angels will gather together to send you a collective beam of love – in hopes it will reach you faster, and stronger than when we individually send you love-beams. It will be a beautiful, completely fucked up, afternoon. Some of your guests will stay for a brief time, others will stay longer…and a few will even linger a little while thereafter. Ultimately, however, each will leave and dutifully, and happily return to their lives. They will put their children to bed; they will kiss them – probably more than once; they will rub their backs, and they will feel their little bones rise and fall as they inhale and exhale. They will silently think, as they reflect on the day at your non-party, “Thank God it wasn’t you…”. They will walk through their homes – which even if messy, dirty, chaotic, or under a complete make-over – are not make-shift museums of untouched toys, baby baths, swings, bouncy chairs, play mats, boppies, bottles, and formula. On Sunday, they may meet friends for Bloody’s, run errands, work out, attend practices, games, or lessons – or have a quiet family day. They will prepare meals for the week. They will fold loads and loads of laundry. Essentially, they will live normal lives, in a normal world. I do not fault or judge any of these good and lovely people; after all, they are our most beloved of friends. But, I do resent them. Strangely enough, I concurrently miss them. I miss everything about our old lives. Everything. You far surpass any and all of those things combined, sweet boy.
I now exist in a parallel universe – where I shall always remain. Not because I choose to, rather because the reality of my life has brought me here. This world will never be the same as the ‘other’ world. I still love my friends. I still love my family. I still love, adore, and cherish my nephews and niece. I still do some of the same things, and have many of the same interests. I still swear a little more than necessary, and I still rub my eyebrow when I’m nervous – or trying to concentrate. But, I am not the same person. How could I be the same person when a part of me died with you?
No parent should outlive their child…at any age…for any reason…ever. It is unacceptable and unbearable. The fact that I lost you inside of the dark, ruthless, frightening world of cancer makes it all the more torturous. Worst of all, we entered that grim world together – we did not let go of each other – not for one minute. Yet, only one of us came out on the other side. Why it had to be me, I will never understand. If someone would ask me, “How has cancer changed your life?” It would be easier, and more accurate, for me to implore, “How has it not changed my life?”
So here Momma sits … not stressing over the lingering last-last minute tasks I have to complete; because that would make sense. Instead, I am in a complete panic over the unavoidable fact that tomorrow is almost over. What kind of 30-something year old, educated, relatively normal – yet sassy woman even formulates such a sentence? “...tomorrow is almost over.” I guess one whose beloved son was ripped from her loving arms by cancer; and now sits facing his 1st birthday non-party square in the eyes. The truth is, it scares me to acknowledge that after tomorrow I will not have a list of tasks – however neurotic – to complete for you. I will not have a day, (or even three hours) where for once, everyone in the room is thinking about the same thing as I – which of course, is you. Worst of all…I still will not have you.
This is most certainly not how your 1st birthday was supposed to be, Paxton. Not one, single thing about this is right. Actually, everything about it is entirely wrong. However, I could not – would not – fail to recognize your your special day. As heart-breaking as tomorrow will be, I have a feeling it will prove similar to every other thing about you. When all is said and done…because it involved you, tomorrow will bring me far more happy than it will sad.
As always, I will look for you in my dreams. I hope you can stop by soon; it has been so very long.
I love you. I miss you. I hope you are safe.
Stay with me, sweet boy.