you can’t stop her. you can only hope to contain her.

Diddy,

You stole your Auntie Kupa’s heart long before you two ever met. I recall precisely the day I realized “it was written”.  In November I was admitted to the hospital and placed on medical bedrest to prevent very premature labor. All eyes were on you. But, Kupa wan’t satisfied. She needed to see for herself that her Baby Blue was in good hands. (We didn’t officially know you were “boy” anything. But, your crazy Kupa insisted she did.) Fielding phone calls was challenging. Providing anyone with an update of any type was impossible; our condition changed like the impending winter wind. So, Kupa did what she does best: took matters into her own hands. She set out on an impromptu trek across the state. The roads were icy, the sky dark, the air bitter. Kupa cared not. She was on a mission. Donning her trademark combat boots, head band, and black leather jacket – Kupa made her grand entrance at WAWM Hospital. With a flash of her smile and a wink of her eye, she managed to sweet talk her way past the Nurse station, right into my “No-Visitors Allowed” corner-suite room. That part isn’t surprising in the least. If there are rules (or laws) to be broken, Kupa is there to do so. Usually with a sly tilt of her head and a mannerly, “Thank you very much, mother fucker.” But that’s besides the point.

Prior to coming to the hospital, Kupa made a quick pit stop to pick up some (unnecessary) gifts for you. Among the lot of items: an array of outfits. In the event you came early, she wanted to be sure you had “…fly shit to wear”. My favorite of the bunch was one you ultimately wore so very often: a green and white stripped, fuzzy, snap up pajamas with froggie eyes where your toes went, and a froggie face atop of your tiny dupa. Following in a close second: a black onesie with a plaid patterned skull on it – complete with matching socks and two different bibs…each with a variant skull and bones.

I didn’t get to spend time with Kupa that day. Moments after her unexpected arrival, Momma was whisked off to a room, which resembled NASA headquarters, for observations. A very long ultra sound, as well as a slew of other tests – all which involved pokes, prods, gels, head lamps, and heat lamps ensued. After an eternity of conferring, questioning, and talking in coded doctor lingo, each member of our ‘High Risk Maternal Fetal Pregnancy’ team concurred “…that is one happy, healthy baby…who is perfect in every way. Our biggest hurdle will be keeping mom pregnant.” (The time the entire world was most concerned about your viability was precisely when you were the safest you’d ever be. The irony of it all now makes me vomit.) Alas, hearing the words “…happy and healthy baby” caused me to spontaneously burst into tears of sheer relief. I knew in my heart there was simply no way I would deliver you early. I refused to let my body fail you.

Before leaving the NASA-like procedure room, I was hooked back up to bells, whistles, buzzers and a computer monitor which tracked your every move. My tummy was lubed and strapped tightly with two heart monitors: one for me, one for you. I’m pretty sure they hooked us up directly to the red-line at the Oval Office too. When we were ready to roll, a small brigade of dear nurses wheeled us back to my room. Lying in the middle of my bed, propped on my pillows, was the most frightening zombie, voodoo, gangsta doll-esque creature I’ve ever seen. The sight of this ghastly thing caused Momma to burst out in shot-gun laughter: a hearty, deep-from-the-soul laughter – which should’ve thrown me directly into labor. Your Kupa is one sick, twisted chic. A sick, twisted chic who has a heart gold once she decides she loves someone. Although we quickly agreed your “Kupa Dolly” was the most beautifully misunderstood doll-esque critter in the world, we tucked it safely away in your closet…just for good measure. Your Daddy said you could have it when you were two. I said when you were 19.

Your Kupa checked on you a few times a week for the next 13 long, nerve-wrecking weeks we remained on strict bed-rest. Naturally, she came to see you many times after you were born…both before you were sick and a host of times thereafter; whether we were in the H.O.T. unit or at home for what always proved to be far too short of a stay. In hindsight, it is so very clear. From the very beginning, nothing could keep Kupa away from her beloved Baby Blue: an unfriendly work schedule, hectic wedding planning, four dogs and a home to tend to, sparse money, temperate weather, a beautiful fiancé, long distance treks, least of all – mother fucking cancer. Paxton, your Auntie Kupa would have given her life to spare yours…her heart to spare your Momma’s. I hope you know by now, you are one of the most cherished loves of her life. Kupa would do anything, anything in this world to protect you, your name, your honor, your spirit.  Simply put, when it comes to her Baby Blue, all bets are off.

Kupa knows of Zombies, ganstas, and tattoos.  She knows of bats, chains, swords, and guns. Truth be told, she knows of all things badass. Kupa knows bad mamma jammas who are so bad, and so jamma that when they dare come into public – she never uses their real names. Coincidentally enough, Kupa also knows her way to Indiana.

Your Kupa tells me she’s heading to a small town in Indiana to tend to some business regarding her Baby Blue. Word on the (underground) street is – she ain’t rolling alone.

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

Stay with me Sweet Boy,

xoox

Momma

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home is where your lala is.

Paxton,

It’s official. Lala and Uncle Stephen have moved to town! It is hard to process all they’ve done, and undone, in the past four months. Besides the obvious upheaval moving one’s family across the state entails, your Lala is severely allergic to change. All who know her know this to be an undeniable fact. For example, Lala has still not been able to ‘part’ with her sticker collection. She’s been hauling around albums upon albums of stickers for 30 years…yes, 30. She has, however, finally parted ways with her straw-wrapper collection. You heard me Diddy; your crazy daisy Lala used to save the wrappers to the straws she drank her milk with at lunch in 6th grade. (Promise. Ask Nana and Papa.)

Alas, when the shit-of-all-shit hit the fan, Lala could be kept at bay no longer. Without further contemplation, she and Uncle Stephen listed their house in spring. It sold in four days. Without further ado, they began their search for a new home in the Milwaukee area. They found just the perfect one, in just the perfect neighborhood. In turn, your cousins are the new kids on the block, and they will be the new kids at school this fall. Lala will quit a job she loves, and will eventually take one she may or may not like at all. For now, she is living with a friend in Madison, and coming home on the weekends. Uncle Stephen is manning the three kids, two puppy pups – one who cannot walk, and a house in half-moved-in, full-court chaos. (Just another example of Uncle Stephen’s heart of gold…and patience of steel.)

After three sticky, icky days of packing the Madison house and then the most enormous U-haul truck known to man, the Siodlarz family set out on the final leg in their relocation to Milwaukee. Your uncle drove the U-haul, which was pulling another U-haul trailer. (A last minute, “Oh shit. Our stuff isn’t going to fit!” required an impromptu additional trailer rental.) Your Lala was driving the kids and puppy pups in the chocked full mini-van…which, for visualization purposes, was also outfitted with a very stuffed car-top carrier. (Because apparently they still make those?!?) As she made her way from the Beltline in Madison to I-94 towards Milwaukee, an unmistakable message from you emerged high in the sky. In a state of giddy disbelief Lala reached for her phone and called me. She said, “DD….guess what is staring me right in the eyes?!? The most beautiful, vibrant rainbow I’ve ever seen! I don’t know about you, but where I live, not a single drop of rain has fallen in weeks!” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise because Lala was hyperventilating in a half-laugh, half-cry. It didn’t matter. Nothing more needed to be said. We both knew it was you thanking Lala for coming to get your Momma.

A relocation of such nature would be a huge undertaking for any family. But for Lala, it is unprecedented. The realization that Lala and Uncle Stephen uprooted their family, their home, their children and their careers largely in efforts to live closer to Momma is astonishing…and humbling. The love and support they’ve provided throughout the past few years has been unwavering and steadfast. This, however, supersedes my wildest imagination…even from Lala the Wonderful.

Over the past six weeks, I travelled to places both old and new. I set out on that journey in search of peace. To be honest with you, I did not find the peace I was so desperately seeking. However, I’ve come closer to accepting that given all I’ve lost in the past year – my soul may simply never be quite the same. Perhaps the peace I’ve been seeking, the kind that once lived deep inside of me, is not meant to ever live there again. I can’t begin to imagine what the future holds, nor I’m I interested in trying to guess. For now I am channeling my energy into staying “present in the present”. In this moment, I can feel pieces of my broken heart shifting closer together. Your Lala and Uncle Stephen’s unbelievable demonstration of support is the synergy behind this shift. Even if the pieces don’t ever completely converge, I am grateful beyond measure that five very big pieces of my heart are now merely a 15-minute drive away.

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Close those baby blues. Sleep sound. Worry not. We are going to be okay. You and me together…we can do anything, baby.

Here is your lullaby for tonight. It’s in honor of your “One”; your Lala.

I miss you. I love you.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

silence is a sound. you are really gone. and cancer is still a giant asshole.

Hi Diddy,

I made it back to Wisconsin.

Coming home threw a giant curve ball my way. In my absence, somehow the house has grown exponentially larger, quieter, and lonelier. In hindsight, maybe a part of me was half expecting to come in the back door and find a house filled with all things baby boy: trucks, Legos, puzzles, and books spattered about the downstairs; plastic dishes, rubber spoons, and sippy cups in the sink; the iconic sweet sent of Burt’s Bees Buttermilk lotion in the air. I was snapped out of my trance by the time I reached the bottom of the upstairs staircase. By then I knew even if I ran to the top and lunged into your room – I wouldn’t find you happily kicking about and ‘whoo-whoo-ing’ in your crib.

Every so often, I still have fleeting moments when I forget you are really gone. When they happen, my breath is sucked right out of my lungs, and I swear the world stands still: for.just.a.split.second. Each time they happen, I am positive it will be the last time. I’m always surprised and somewhat embarrassed by them. They also scare me a bit because I feel like I truly may be going crazy after-all. But, then I get pissed and realize I am not the crazy one. Cancer is the crazy one. I think about how very unfair and unacceptable it is that you were cheated from a life which held such promise – and that the world was cheated from a soul which held pure goodness.

I wonder if the day will ever come when I whole-heartedly believe, in the very core of my being, that all of this actually happened. I had a son. He was a miracle. He was beautiful. He was perfect. He was funny. He was brave. He was everything I dreamed of…and more. He was the part of me which had been missing my entire life. Then, just like that – he got cancer and died. No matter how long I wait, or how much I beg, plea and bargain – he is never, ever coming back. I honestly don’t know if my subconscious will ever allow my conscious state to fully digest the gruesomeness of my reality. It defies all logic, reason, science and what is right and fair in the universe. Above all else, it is simply too god damn hard. Anyone who thinks I should simply “…accept my reality” and “move on” – as though losing my son, and then the rest of my entire world (in the span of seven months), is merely an unfortunate kink in plans akin to an unforeseen head-wind on a magic carpet ride to Disneyland – can fuck off. Or they can choose which one of their children they will watch get slowly tortured and brutally murdered by cancer…and ultimately die in their arms. In fact, they can do both. Then we can meet for tea and eat crumpets while they tell me all about how beautifully they’re accepting what life threw their way. And I can apologize for telling them to fuck off.

Despite the echoes I hear as I walk to and fro our rooms, accompanied only by the silence swimming through the air, a part of me feels relieved to be home. I am still comforted by being in your room, among your things. I know you are with me wherever I go. I know your things are merely things. I know your room is simply a floor, with four walls, which not too long ago was filled with hope, dreams, and promise. Yet, I also know memories of you and I are more vivid in that sacred space. Whenever I’m feeling especially far away from you – I retreat to your room, if only for a minute, and I feel just a tiny bit closer to you.

One of the thousands of things we didn’t get to do together nearly enough is read bedtimes stories. I read to you every now and again…sometimes in the middle of the day, sometimes when I get home from work, sometimes right before bed – whenever it is I am able muster the ever-elusive grace to choose a book from your shelves and say the words out loud. When I don’t have the composure to use my voice, I sit in the glider and quietly turn the pages as I imagine you there with me. Alas, some of the most special people in your life gave you the same book for your (non) shower gift. They picked it for you because it was one of their favorites. So, I tend to choose it more often than others. I’m a quite certain it is one of your favorites too. Goodnight Moon is on deck again tonight; it’s been far too long.

Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight, ‘silence’ everywhere.

Goodnight, Diddy. I’ll look for you in my dreams.

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Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

Baby, you’re my firework.

Sweet Boy,

As I suspected, the rest of my stay with Britta was wonderful. We crammed a whole lotta fun into what was far too short of time together. Among the high-light reel was an excursion to Napa Valley. Given my love affair with wine, I know you can appreciate how much your Momma enjoyed her stay in Napa. We also had a surprise visit from LC, who flew up to the Bay for a day trip. And, we spent time with brother Eric too. In honor of our 20 year anniversary – we had a throw back night. It was complete with throw back drinks: Captain & Coke for Britta, Tanquery & Tonic for Momma. (I don’t need to do that part again for another 20 years.) In between the notable events we shopped, swam, dined, danced, talked, planned, and laughed…and then, laughed some more.

On the 4th of July, Britta and I went to her friends’ pool. Ironically, they were on vacation in Wisconsin. So we had the whole (huge ass) house, guest house, and pool to ourselves. At one point Britta got Momma laughing so hard, I almost went under. I would have been okay with it; but knowing Britta would’ve insisted on reviving me, I flailed all about to get to the side, hoisted myself up, and continued to laugh even harder. Britta is one of the funniest people I know. She says her quick wit is both her blessing and her curse. I only see the blessing part. She says, “Tell my mom that…she always tells me my smart mouth is what’ll ruin me.” Just when I was positive all my laugh was used up, Britta did a running, off-the-diving-board, full on, cannonball. To seal it with a crazy stamp she screamed, “Cannonball!” as.loud.as.she.could. Sometimes I think Britta does crazy shit just to make my laugh come out. And it works. It always works.

After a beautiful day at the pool, we went back to Britta’s house. While she made dinner, a far more serious conversation ensued. It was the kind of conversation I don’t have with anyone anymore. There are very few people, and even fewer times, I allow myself to talk about the things that travel about the chambers my heart and through the valleys of my soul. I just cannot do it anymore. Talking about those things, makes me fall to pieces. When I fall to pieces, it takes a whole lot of time and even more energy to put those pieces back together. In turn, I stay “apart”…for far too long. So it works better if I just keep those things inside and carefully step around them as attempt to execute my day to day activities as I pretend to be a functioning member of society. Alas, Britta got me to tell her just enough, about just enough, to release a tiny bit of pain from my pent up, pressure-cooker soul.

Just when I was going to say something about the “other” anxiety which had been churning inside my tummy from the moment the sun came up, Britta seemingly read my mind and matter-of-factly said, “I know you don’t want to watch the fireworks tonight. We aren’t going to. I would never make you do such a thing. Besides, the only reason I ever liked fireworks is because you love them so much. Everytime I see fireworks, I think, “Danna would really loooove these fireworks.” But, I know you can’t watch them. In fact, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to watch them again. And, I don’t blame you – not at all.” Just like that, Momma exhaled for the first time all day.

Everyone who knows me, knows that the 4th of July is my second favorite holiday. It falls just a hint behind, but damn near parallel with, Christmas. One of the main reasons I love the 4th of July is because of the fireworks. Momma has loved fireworks her whole, entire, super long life. In fact, I love fireworks just as much as I love white Christmas lights. The sight of both of these magical wonders make my heart swell with so much happy that my body fills with chill-bumps – my eyes, with tears.

I was dreading the fireworks, Paxton. I was dreading them because…I just was. I can’t begin to explain it all, and I don’t need to – because I know you get it too. After dinner, Britta closed up her house tighter than a drum and turned off all the lights. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and sat in tandem in her safe, secure, firework-free home. In lieu of firework fanfare, and the visceral reaction it would have invoked in your Momma’s sad and lonely soul – we watched “Pitch Perfect” and drank champagne.

As I said, Britta & I embarked on many adventures in our short time together. In doing so, we created a host of new memories and recounted 20 years of “stories of old” to boot. The most special thing, however, was what we didn’t do. Being spared from fireworks without having to utter a single word…moreso, free from judgment or attempts to sway my feelings on the matter…was truly the greatest thing I didn’t do the entire month.

Britta may be right. I may never be able to watch fireworks again. But if I ever do, I promise I’ll call out the best ones especially for you. I will say, “Diddy, here comes a good one…this is yours!” I will imagine you and I sitting together on a blanket, under a tree that is “just right’, our heads titled into the sky in anticipation. I will picture you pointing to the magical array of colors as they decorate the backdrop of the night’s sky. I will envision the wonder in your eyes and imagine the excitement in your voice. When the vibrations of the BOOMS! resonate through your tiny bones, I will know you are not afraid…for your precious head will be propped soundly against my chest and your little dupa tucked safely on top of my lap.

I miss you, I love you. Baby, you’re my firework.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

Fuck you cancer. I miss fireworks too.

xoox,

Momma

She’s got a way….each and everyone of them.

Hi Sweet Diddy,

I arrived at Britta’s yesterday morning. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever been more relieved to be with one of my most special lovelies. Britta moved to Northern California almost one year ago. In fact, her move – her new job – her trip to India – were all delayed because she stayed in Milwaukee to be by my side after July 2nd happened. Despite all the new wave, unspoken expectations which come with the territory of a woman determined to climb her way to the top of a male-dominated business world – Britta adamantly refused to allow the pressures of a new, big time, high-profile job to call her back to California. In hindsight, Britta’s commitment to us, when we needed her most, is not unusual at all. Her priorities have always been family and friends. Her heart is as giant as it is genuine. So, Britta stayed. She stayed and helped Lala make a slide show and a playlist for your memorial late into the night. She took me, in a catatonic state, and held my hand as I ambled through Mayfair to find a dress for your memorial. (I didn’t end up wearing the one we got that stupid day, because the “most perfect one ever” arrived moments before the very last second. But only after first being trapped in the Colorado hellfire’s. Despite my zombie-like state, irony of such nature was not even lost on me.) The morning of your memorial, Britta came to our house. She sat me in our downstairs bathroom and did my make up and then my hair. When it didn’t seem possible she could do more, Britta executed the greatest challenge of all time. She readily agreed to read the letter I wrote you at your memorial. And, she did so bravely and beautifully…just like you.

In the past year, Britta has taken yet ANOTHER big, fancy, baller, shot-caller job – and moved again. One day, this girl will run the world; or marry Luda and have babies a plenty. Whichever she decides on first. Needless to say, I haven’t had the energy or the courage to make the trip out here sooner. She & I decided it was imperative, however, that I work in a pit stop while on my nation-wide tour for peace. In the planning, we realized this summer marked 20 years of being friends. (Yeph. Britta is old, huh?!?) As you know, Britta inherently possesses the synergy to generate fun wherever she goes. With the realization of our 20 year anniversary added to the mix, I have a feeling this visit is about to be ah-mazing. Britta has plans galore in the works. All of which I’m sure will prove to be a mother load of fun. And I will do my very best to allow the “happy” to seep through. But as you know, sometimes I get so tired and so sad – I feel happiest just sitting quietly in the company of someone with whom I feel safe (i.e. Britta).

I haven’t seen much of the city yet. But I can say with confidence it’s hands-down my favorite of the four places she’s lived since she moved to California five years ago. Upon my arrival, I was met with a package which was delivered to Britta’s house. It was waiting for me on my bed. (Fresh flowers and bottled water were also at my bedside.) I digress. I was mystified because in my grief-stricken + heart-broken haze, I didn’t even know her address – much less figure anyone else would. For some reason, I wasn’t surprised to find the package was from Grace. Knowing my plan to arrive at Britta’s on July 3rd, Grace contacted Britta and arranged for a special delivery. Along with a beautiful card, which I will keep forever and ever, was a “July 2nd shouldn’t be July 2nd” gift: healing-bead bracelets…giraffe patterned, with an angel wing charm to boot. I love the bracelets. I love Grace too.

I love all my special lovelies, Paxton. I’ve always said I have the very best friends on all the planet. But, the past year has proven this to be less of an opinion and more an undeniable fact. Without my most special lovelies, I would not have made it through July 2nd. I would not have made it through May 8th….or February – all of fucking fuck February. I would not have made it through March, April, May or June either. I wouldn’t have made it through many dark days and endless, terrifying nights in the confines of the last year.

Maybe each of my girls was strategically placed into Momma’s life along the way? Perhaps someone far, far wiser than I has know all along that there would come a time when I ‘d simply be unable to push through one more day without the borrowed strength and bestowed grace of these brave souls? Not one time, did the love and support of these girls waiver. In fact, they did not as much flinch.

Paxton, Momma’s girls share a sisterhood so sacred it is almost unspeakable. They know what I need, and what I don’t need, without me having to say a single word. These girls are the truest form of unconditional love. This is why after the shit storm of my life, I still feel lucky and blessed. So very blessed. Was it is you who placed each of these girls in my life’s path? After all, our souls have known each other before this life….and we will know each other long after this life. Isn’t that right? Yes. In fact, as I write this it makes perfect sense; it was you. Thank you so much. I don’t know what I would do without each and every one of them.

Most of all, thank you for being my son.

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Here is your lullaby for tonight. It will forever remind me of the special lovelies you’ve sent me along the way.

Sweet dreams, My-My.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are happy.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

Three hundred and sixty five days. I still just want you back.

Paxton,

July 2nd happened. It was hard. It was painful. It was scary. It was sad. I did not die. I wanted to. But I didn’t. In fact I spent most of July 1st pleading – to no one in particular – to please let me die before morning. Alas, July 2nd came. And I had no choice but to face the one year anniversary of the last day I kissed your beautiful face and held your tiny, sweet hands in my own. To make matters more difficult – it was sunny, warm, and bright outside. It was as if the atmosphere took happy steroids and some invisible force catapulted me into a vibrant backdrop fit for a post card. Surrounded by quiet air, blue skies, green trees and wide open spaces – I couldn’t have felt more vulnerable if I had tried.

What I had been busying trying to do was shift my paradigm of thinking about July 2nd. For months, I spent a good deal of time and energy convincing myself that pieces of July 2nd hold a silver lining. After all, it is the day you ended your brave and gallant battle. It is the day you stopped feeling pain. I told myself time and time again, July 2nd was your very own personal day of liberation. I did my best to prevent July 2nd from simply being “the day my son died”. To help ensure the focus was not solely on the sadness in losing you – but also on carrying on your fight – I even declared July 2nd as National FU Cancer Day. My family, friends, co-workers, and many other special members of your adoring ‘fan club’ joined my pseudo movement. Despite Momma’s very good intentions, July 2nd proved more heart-wrenching than I could have ever anticipated.

I intentionally spent much of the day entirely alone. There is simply no one left in my life who knows exactly what happened in those final days…and final moments with you. I didn’t feel like faking it with my well-intended and kind-hearted friends and family. Maybe I should have. But, I didn’t. I ran away. I ran away to a place I’ve never been, where I knew absolutely no one. And there I stayed for precisely two and a half (2 1/2) days. I spent nearly the entire time searching for you…and, also searching for slivers of peace and slices of resilience. There were moments when I felt you with me: absolutely undeniably with me. And others when I felt like you were millions of miles away.

Back in Milwaukee, my very best lovelies and some of my closest family threw an epic “Celebration of Paxton”. To no surprise, they went over the top, bonkers to put together a celebration fit for a prince. (You are most certainly worthy of an affair of such nature.) Their ultimate goal: to send you love in such abundance, that you couldn’t miss if you tried. Rainbows and love served as the theme of the celebration. Each of those lovelies painted their nails a certain color to reflect the colors of the rainbow. (Broph even did hers as clouds!) They also made sure to paint their middle fingers gold…extra, sparkly-gold just for you. The extra-sparkly-gold middle fingers were used to send cancer a whole-hearted, united, resounding “FUCK YOU”. They sent that off at the part of the day they were feeling spiciest. The kids painted signs – outfitted with giraffes, balloons, rainbows and most prominent of all: your name. The adults recounted stories of your smile, your wonder, your innocence, your bravery. Music played, libations flowed, laughs echoed, tears fell. At the end of the night, when the moon illuminated the warm, summer sky, each one of those good people sent a wish lantern, full of good, sweet love, up into the sky for you. (***Lala’s was so chocked full of kisses, she wasn’t sure it would get off the ground.) I imagine you watching it all. I picture you smiling when they pulled out their inner-gangsta and gave cancer their gold-sparkly-middle fingers. I hope you felt all of their love, Diddy. Most important of all, I hope you know their love exists for you EVERY day. Not just on the day that marks the anniversary of the day you decided to end your fight.

Towards late afternoon, Momma met up with a new friend. She and I have had plans to unite for months. We met through childhood cancer; which we hate. But, we decided to be friends on our own; which we love. She lost her beloved son to cancer 26 months ago – just before he turned four years old. His name is Ronan. His mommy’s name is Maya. A few months ago, Ms. Maya was kind and gracious enough to invite me to her childhood home to spend some time with her on what she quipped as “…that horrible, awful day”. She explained how she and her family run away on Ronan’s “Death Day” too. The first year, she wanted to get as far away from the place Ronan died as possible. So her family headed to Boston. However, when they got to Boston Ms. Maya had a very difficult time. It turned out her tummy didn’t feel right in Boston. In fact, “…she fucking hated it.” She asked her strong and kind husband, Daddy Woo, to take her to Maine instead. So he did. It was reassuring to learn I wasn’t the only Momma who needed to run far away from the place I was on the day you were taken away from me.

In fact, so much about being with Ronan’s mommy was helpful in getting through the day. She knew all the things I was thinking before I could even get the words to come up my throat and out of my mouth. She talked softly, and slowly. She was thoughtful with her words, and compassionate with her eyes. Ms. Maya took me to a beautiful restaurant which held special meaning to her. When I couldn’t eat, she was unfazed. She simply placed her hand atop mine and said, “It’s okay, Momma. You tried.” After my non-meal, we went to a magical place tucked deep in the heart of the city. We spent nearly three hours there. We walked all about the grounds: sometimes talking, sometimes thinking…sometimes crying, sometimes smiling. The entire time each of us staring far off into space. Although we didn’t say as much, it was obvious what we were scanning the skies for: our “Lost Boys”. It was at this magical place where I especially felt you with me, Diddy. Did you see me? Was that you? (I’ll never stop hating that I have to ask these questions.)

When we parted ways, Ms. Maya and I ended our visit, the same way we started it: by hugging…and sobbing. Hating what brought us together…but, grateful we were brought together. I gather there is a secret society amongst we unfortunate mothers who know first hand the gruesomeness and helplessness – which magnifies the enormity of the loss – of watching your child wage a war against cancer. In each other, we found someone who shares the same rage over the lack of awareness about childhood cancer, and also the same passion in bringing about real change to the world of childhood cancer. We also found a slew of other things we have in common – which are more light-hearted and girlie. But, for now, those are secrets for only Ms. Maya and I to hold. Late in the night, Ms. Maya called to check on me. Among other things, she said, “I’m sorry we are going to have to be friends forever because of this. But we are. I love you.” Thank you for sending her to me, Paxton. (You always send me the best ones.)

So there it is, Diddy. July 2, 2013. It was nothing like I wanted it to be, nor like I imagined it would be. If I had control of any of the major changes in my life – I’d have switched so many things about the day. However, as irony would have it…I found a sliver of peace and a slice of resilience by running off to an unfamiliar place, to spend the scariest day of my life alone, and the rest of the time with a girl, who was once but just a stranger.

I miss you. I love you. I ache for you in every cell in my being.

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Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox

Momma