songs. signs. and a very silent storm.

Paxton Bowe,

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the morning driving through the city, soaking in the beauty of newfound surroundings, getting lost and then getting found. Normally, the times I was lost would have frustrated me and (inadvertently) lead me to swear at idiots who cut in front of me, and whip-off even bigger idiots who insisted on driving slow in the left lane. (Right after conquering cancer, I’m coming after slow-left-lane drivers.) However, you and your Busha keep me both comforted and amused. Calmed into in a blissful haze, I continued to explore. In the confines of four hours, on several different radio stations, I heard: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “What a Wonderful World”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, and “Yellow”. Each time another song came on I called your Lala. With each call, she broke into her trademark, barely audible giggle. Through a tear-crackled voice she’d proudly proclaim, “He’s such a good boy, DD.” Yes. Yes, you are Diddy.

Knowing Lala was in the loop, you made sure to include her in the fun. Just when I thought you were done for the day, Lala called to tell me “Brown Eyed Girl” just came on the radio in her car all the way over in Milwaukee!

However, the most profound “musical moment” happened as I was finishing up my evening run. A song titled, “Storm”, by Lifehouse came onto my iPhone. I don’t know how it popped into my queue; I am certain I’ve never heard it before. In fact, I really don’t recall ever adding any songs by Lifehouse onto my iTunes. As the lyrics played, the world around me came to a standstill: my body paralyzed: my insides numb. The only thing that seemed to have any movement were the chills that rose to the surface of my skin, and the tears that streamed down my face.

You sent me a perfect compilation of songs, baby love.  Now that I know music is  one way you tell me you are with me, the melodies filled my broken heart with remnants of you. Like most things which involve having to parent you from so far away, receiving the songs made Momma equal parts happy and sad. Happy you are sending me signs, even more happy you are with me. Sad because you shouldn’t have to ‘send me signs’ to let me know you’re near. You should amble over to me, outstretch your little arms, and hop right up into my lap. Nonetheless, I enjoyed our day filled with secret messages. I think I smiled more during that four hour excursion than I have in the last four days combined. However, the song by Lifehouse has rested heavy inside of my heart. How it got on my iPod and came into rotation – on all days – seemed too serendipitous to be merely a coincidence. I believe it was to provide me with a vehicle to reciprocate your beautiful efforts, and send you a song.

If art were ever to imitate life, mine is reflected most perfectly by this song. Much like having you, and subsequently losing you – this song is one of the most painfully beautiful things I’ve ever heard.

This is your lullaby tonight. May the lyrics fill your heart with reassurance that there is nothing I would rather do than be exactly where you are. Nothing I rather have than you wrapped in my arms. Nothing I would rather hear than your squeaky voice. Nothing I would rather see than your adorable face. Close those baby blues and fade into a peaceful slumber – Momma is right here.

I miss you. I love you. Sleep tight.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox

Momma

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the world is insane. i’m just mad.

Paxton,
I am currently donning my pink (PINK!) hoodie…complete with hood up, and tied so tightly that the only thing exposed are my swollen, tired eyes. Only your Momma would be freezing cold on April 21st. I guess I will always be the biggest freeze baby in all the land. I still think you were “coldie” more often than not too – even when others would argue you were fine…I’m pretty sure you had your Momma’s blood. (I apologize for the few times I accidentally made you super-sweaty on those walks when I snuggled you with one too many blankets. I was just making sure.)

I am sitting in your bedroom, in our glider, with your little teal pillow propped underneath the computer. The ‘just right’ pillow positioning is both traumatizing and comforting. I can remember exactly the way you and I needed to be ‘situated’ both here in our glider, as well as on the couch with your boppy – leopard pillow – red pillow combo. Of course, it all makes perfect sense now why it hurt your tiny little body so much anytime Momma made even the slightest move. I can’t talk about it in detail…because doing so would make me puke. All the little signs continue to fall into place. Just when I think I’ve thought of them all, another one pops up: like tonight, as I instinctively resumed the “glider teal pillow arrangement”. I will never forgive myself for allowing anyone to talk me out of my gut instinct. I’d do anything to rewind time and be a stronger-willed Momma. I would force someone to listen to me…not simply hear me. If I needed to, I would scream at the top of my lungs, “No…I am not a neurotic, hyper-sensitive, first time mom. No…I am not going to keep a god damn journal to document on paper what I am telling you right now. No…I am not going to bring him back tomorrow if he doesn’t ‘turn the corner’. What I am going to do is stay right here, holding my son against my chest ,while you figure out what the fuck is wrong.” I am so sorry it took me too long to say all of those things.

On top of being cold, and sad, I have officially decided the world is insane. This weekend sealed the deal, Diddy. The more people I encounter, and the more knowledge I acquire…the more convinced I am that the entire universe…at least my corner of the world…well, minimally my street…is completely twisted.

Go away - except Diddy.

One year ago tomorrow marks my first day back to work after my 13 weeks of bed-rest + 10 weeks of maternity leave…totaling 50 weeks and 1 day of completely unseparated time with you. Dream come true.

I remember how phenomenally scared I was to be away from you for ‘an entire day’. Grammie slept over to make the transition smoother for Momma. But it didn’t work. I did not sleep the night before. I could not make myself leave when it was time to go. Just as I headed for the door, I was compelled to write you a letter. Even though she was anxious to have you to herself, Grammie let me write in silence. Knowing it’d make me even later, I insisted I take the letter up to your room and put it on your dresser. I asked Grammie to read it to you when I was gone, so you would’t go too long without “hearing” from me. And she did…that Grammie of yours is a spoiler. I did not do a single, meaningful thing at work that day. I did not concentrate for two consecutive seconds. I did not make it more than one hour without calling home to check on you. I thought about you every.single.second. Above all, I missed you terribly.

Nothing about tomorrow will be different while I am at work. Everything else will be; starting with the fact that I can no longer rush home, scoop you into my arms, breathe in your sweet smell, and whisper in your ear how very much I love you…and everything else thereafter too.

I miss you so much it hurts my tummy. I hope you are warm enough.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

two precious, miracle, blue-eyed boys…together forever.

Sweet Boy,

Tonight I am short on words, but not on tears.

When Bradan’s Daddy contacted me with the news of his baby boy’s passing, I was instantaneously transported back to July. I remember those days with such pristine precision, it seems as if it were yesterday: the suffocating grief, the overwhelming fear, and the pure and unrelenting love…which was all around. At the same time, given how drastically life has changed since you left, July feels like it must have been a million years ago.

Upon Bradan’s arrival, I see you reaching out for his hand. I imagine you holding it tightly and assuring him that he need not be afraid. I believe this because even in the ‘highest layer’, I know you are the bravest litte warrior – with the kindest heart, and most inviting smile.

Both of you precious, miracle, baby boys – with eyes as blue as the sky – belong here with your Mommas and Daddies. I have no doubt every angel would agree that children are meant to outlive their parents. Period. Because we cannot be together, I need you to remember this part of our forever-and-ever-pact: hold onto your angel (the one with the biggest wings) until Momma comes for you. Hold onto Bradan and to the other boys and girls who cross your path too. Most of all, please hold onto my love. And always, always know that you are not alone.

Close your beautiful blue eyes and sleep peacefully tonight, my love; Momma is right here.

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

Stay with me sweet boy.
xoox,
Momma

Be Peaceful.

Sweetest Diddy,

An early morning trip to Target proved to be far more significant than Momma’s run-of-the-mill trips to Target. With only a few things to pick up, and a surplus of time to spare, I began to amble mindlessly through a store which, once upon a time, was as familiar to me as our backyard. Ultimately, I found myself in the middle of the “happy home” isle. I almost screamed out loud, (but didn’t – so don’t be embarrassed) when I found the candle I have been searching high and low for since last April. To the rest of the free world, it would seem there is nothing extraordinary about this candle. It is a typical Target something-or-other-brand aromatherapy candle. The name however, a bit more special, ‘Be Peaceful’…which is what compelled me to initially buy it. I found it on my first “away from home” trial in very early March. I wonder if it were exactly one year ago today? At any rate, I remember your Daddy making me leave the house without you in tow. He said I could go wherever I wanted, but that I had to be gone a minimum of twenty minutes. Prior to you becoming a part of my life, a twenty minute errand was nearly laughable, given my trademark ability to turn a five minute errand into a two hour escapade. Nonetheless, I took the challenge.

In lightening speed, I secured formula, a double pack of Dr. Brown’s bottles, and a tube of “Butt Paste” (recommended by Dr. D.). I turned to head home, but realized I had been gone about 7 minutes. I anxiously made a quick right turn down the “happy home” isle….where I spotted the ‘Be Peaceful’ candle. I instinctively, and giddily, added it to the must-haves-for-Paxton basket. Unwilling to suppress my angst of being away from you, away from my family, a minute longer – I headed to the Express checkout, paid for our stuff, and drove home…without stopping to look both ways. I burned that candle, almost daily, until approximately the middle of April. When I noticed it was almost gone, I began my search for another one. I checked multiple Target locations, Target online, and eBay; but was unable to find another one anywhere. Knowing it was ‘running’ low – and with no replacement in sight, I began to burn it more sparingly. Then May happened.

Finding the ‘Be Peaceful’ candle today, initially, seemed so very serendipitous. It is, after all, March 2nd. Today marks 8 months since I rubbed my lips across your perfect head and silky hair, held you against my chest as we slowly breathed in tandem, and felt the warmth of your gentle – but steadfast – fingers circled around my thumb. To my surprise, the more aroma that fills the room, the more sadness fills my heart. Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any other of the five senses. The recognition of smell is immediate. While other senses (touch and taste) must travel through the body via neurons and the spinal cord before reaching the brain: our olfactory response is immediate, extending directly to the brain. The emotional connections and the memories attached to a smell are always deeply personal; it seems a familiar smell is oft intrinsically enmeshed with the individual experience.

As the scent of the candle replaces the air in the room, I can almost teleport myself back to last year on this very day. Although smell is the strongest of the five sense, I can remember them all. I hear college basketball steadily as a fixture on our t.v. – but not too loud – because we were listening for the coo of your voice. I see you contently asleep, while swaddled (extra tight, like a cigar) in my arms, or in your bassinet – which we moved upstairs and downstairs depending on where “camp” was determined to be for the next several hours. I taste the sweet flavor of your formula, as I test a drop from my wrist to make sure it is just the right temperature. I feel the unabridged happiness, unexplainable contentment, (no doubt the newborn induced sleep deprivation); most importantly I feel the good, sweet love that filled every last inch of our home.

Needless to say, since ‘Be Peaceful’ has permeated throughout our home, the scent has evoked an unanticipated array of emotions. The sadness and yearning which have flooded my heart are not only due solely over the loss of you – but also over the loss the family who lived here – just last year. It does not seem plausible that the only thing that remains the same about our little family, about our quaint home, about our happily-ever-after … is the familiar scent of a candle.

Sweet boy, I do not know how all of this has happened. What I do know is that if I could fix even one part of it, I would…in a heartbeat, I would.

Momma. Alone.

I hope you are safe. I hope you are peaceful. Please be happy, little one.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox
Momma

A sign. A sigh. And I just miss you.

Sweet Boy,

Thank you so very much for the sign you gifted me the other night. It was one of the most special, endearing, and distinct ones you have so graciously sent to date. (It was no baby giraffe drinking from a bottle…but, it was pretty damn close.)  And, of course, I so appreciate that you made sure to save it for a time when I needed it so very, very much. Not only are you good, kind, brave and funny…turns out you also happen to be quite bright to boot.

Each time I come to the edge of all the light I have, you find a way to reassure me that I am not alone. You find a way to let me know that you are, in fact, right by my side. Diddy, with the dawn of each new day, I draw a bit of strength, fight, hope and grace from you. Though it pales in comparison, I will continue to conduct myself in a way I hope makes you proud to call me your Momma. I will continue to carry you in my heart, my bones, my blood, and my soul through all of eternity.  I will continue to believe in you…I will continue to believe in us…I will continue to believe in our indomitable bond.

Littlest Warrior

I miss you. That is all. I miss you.

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox,

Momma

Two hundred and twelve steps back. And the other shoe dropped too.

Diddy,

I think I have taken 212 steps back. I knew your birthday would be a force to contend with; needless to say, it far surpassed my expectations. Yesterday and today, however… well, I guess it could all be nicely summarized by saying, “the other shoe has dropped”.

Despite the fact it felt like someone cut my eyes open and rubbed lemons on them, and my head ached from an entire day & night of a “hard-cry” hangover, I got out of bed yesterday morning. I did so because I had every intention to resume going through the motions of life without you. (I continue to do this, hoping that if you are watching, I just may make you proud every so often.) I repeated the mantra I said over & over throughout those first several weeks I returned to work. “Your pain is nothing compared to his. Your pain is nothing compared to his.” As I silently chanted my battle-cry, I used all my insides to put one foot infront of the other and make my way to your room. I simultaneously concentrated on containing the tears pressing against the back of my eyes, and holding down the vomit rising from my tummy up to my throat. I made it to your changing table to say good-morning…but somehow I ended up across the room in our glider. In an instant, I came undone. I couldn’t breathe, much less move. I truly didn’t feel this panic attack coming – which scared me a bit. As you know, at this point, it is somewhat of a challenge to rattle Momma. I tried all my well-versed tricks to regain some semblance of control, but it was too late. Ultimately, I gave in…and unleashed a primal shit show.

I’m still not sure how, or when, I finally managed to bring myself around. Maybe a text message came in from Daddy – inadvertently providing a sense of saftey? Or, perhaps Lucas came into your room to stand by my side? (Although, he never comes in when Momma or Daddy are in your room. It is the strangest, yet most endearing, phenomena. He knows exactly what has happened; he misses you too. Lucas visits your room on his own, and even sleeps in front of your changing table every so often.) By the time I was semi-functional again, I realized I simply would not be able to get myself to work on time. So I called in ‘sick’ again…this time, for a half day. I wonder if they’d consider adding the option of calling in ‘broken-hearted’ to my queue? Those good and kind kids of Momma’s were so relieved to see me. When they saw I had returned for the afternoon, a few of my most ‘belove-lies’ charged into my room and pounced on top of me and hugged me but good. One of my favorite, sassiest, girls planted a kiss right on top of my head. They knew why I was gone; better yet, they knew not to talk about it. It makes me sad to know they worry about me. I love them all so dearly. You would too, Paxton…and they’d have protected you to the end’s of this earth. Momma’s crazy-daisy kids: thank goodness for each of them.

Today is the day we brought you home from the hospital last year. I remember thinking, “There will never be another Valentine’s Day that can top this one.” Little did I know how very true that statement would prove. I keep picturing you in the beautiful outfit Nana made for your “coming home” extravaganza. Given we all operated under the guise that you would be born early, Nana made each part of your outfit smaller than those she had made for your cousins. Nonetheless, you still were drowing in it. Daddy was so irritated that I had you wear it anyway; I couldn’t be swayed – you were just too dang cute in it. Your toes barely passed where your knees should have hit – and I had to cuff the sleeves on your sweater, not once, but twice. My favorite part, however, was the way the hat kept falling down – nearly covering your sweet little face. Oh, Diddy-Diddy, how did this all happen?

Momma? Are you there?

It’s not that I shouldn’t be missing your itty-bitty newborn days; every mom misses those days. After all, they are the very moments we have patiently, yet anxiously anticipated for the previous 9 months. Sweeter yet, they afford the unique opportunity to fall in love 100 times a day, with the same little person. The sleep deprivation, hormone fluctuation, and punch-drunk love state, result in a blissful blur of some of life’s finest moments…which, in hindsight, slip away before you’ve even had a chance to realize they were real. Yes, I should be missing those days. I should be missing those days as I watch you across the room and marvel at how you’ve transformed before my eyes into a one-year old baby, with plump cheeks and locks of blonde hair. I should be missing those days as I gently clean the lint and baby food out from the crevices of your chubby fingers, which match your Michelan-baby body so perfectly that it looks like someone screwed your hands onto the ends of your arms. I should be missing those days as I shriek in excitement because you just took two, maybe three, steps on your own before teetering over right onto your dupa. I should not be missing your itty-bitty newborn days, along with everything else about you. I know I say it all the time, but I just want you back. It is that simple: I want you back.

For some reason, earlier today I recalled one of the songs I sang to you on our first night at home together. We were tucked away in Momma & Daddy’s room as the lyrics started to stream from my mouth…seemingly on instinct. I had never sung them out loud before that moment. I can still feel how very petite and fragile you felt in my arms. I can still feel my cheek brush along yours – which was so soft that it felt like it was made of clouds. Truth be told, I still remember every nook and every cranny of you, sweet boy. My memories of you are so detailed and so plentiful that I have to remind myself more often than I should, that no matter how intricate and abundant my visions remain, I will never be able to reach out and scoop you up into my arms – where you belong.

Alas, in honor of our first night at home together, and the very best Valentine’s Day there ever will be…here is your lullaby tonight, Paxton.

Stay with me sweet boy.

xoox,

Momma

Tomorrow, after tomorrow…and maybe I should take Ambien.

Paxton,

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.

non-birthday. non-balloons.

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

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox

Momma

There’s nothing lucky about Seven.

Hi Diddy,

Today is the 2nd…which translates to one more month since I last kissed your sweet cheeks, and held your small hands in my own.

Margaret, our very underpaid therapist, continues to work with me on recognizing the fact that “…every day is really just another day”… “don’t allow the numbers, the observed holidays, the celebrations of those (still in your old world) make you believe that any particular day holds more or less meaning than the last – or the next. Margaret has not lost a child. She mostly certainly did not lose her only, beloved, perfect, miracle son. Moreover, she did not lose you. Yet she is one of the most brilliant, insightful, grounded, saucy women I have ever met. So I nod, as I sort of, semi-try to let her words past my mind and into my heart. To date, I remain unsuccessful. The truth is, there are days that are worse than others. Today is one of those days.

This morning, per my usual routine, I forced myself out of bed, walked directly into your room, and laid my grief-stricken forehead on your changing table. I guess this is my new-wave form of prayer. After wiping the left-over tear streaks from my face, I decided it was my motherly duty to try to create a little ‘happy’ in your room – – just in case you’d be able to stop home today. I tied your curtains back, and pulled your blinds half way up. It was particularly sunny and bright outside. The gentle snow falling from the sky made the view outside your window almost surreal. Without any forethought, I began to gather your most special stuffed animals, your cow mirror, and your different-color balls rattle. I methodically arranged them in your changing table. I put Giraffe (not Giraffey – Giraffe) at the helm – where he belongs. And, Sophie was safely placed in the middle, because she is the smallest, and the only girl. I put Owl, from Daddy, at the top – to keep a watchful eye out for any perpetrators. The rest of your guys were put in all the right positions as well. I had a system; it was just right. Diddy, if there is any credence behind the anthropomorphic nature of stuffed animals, as depicted in Toy Story, I am confident your “besties” were relieved to spend today together. I have just decided I will let them have a sleep-over too. I will cover them in your snuggly blanket from Nana. It will be the perfect ending to their not-so-happy day. (And, given the psychological damage my psychosis is bound to be afflicting on them – I’ll take them with us to Margaret next week. Ok? They’ll be fine.)

On an authentically happy note, I got my ring yesterday. Daddy began designing it for me in September. His intent was to have it done by my birthday. But, true to form, Momma completely changed her mind on the design mid-stream of the original project. Your understanding and patient Daddy did not mind (he’s used to Momma); our jeweler, Chris, probably wanted to choke me. I could not be swayed by his inconvenience; it needed to be perfect in every way. Needless to say, the long wait, the countless trips to Racine, the myriad of email exchanges, the uncomfortable requests for Chris to ‘change this’ & ‘refine that’ were all very well worth it. Hands down…Momma’s ring is the most beautiful, special, timeless piece of art I will ever own. Given it is a creative arrangement of your monogrammed initials – I am not surprised. I will not remove it for as long as I live.

Paxton, I would give anything in the whole world to gently kiss you on your warm little head tonight. I would give even more to trade places with you. You should be here today…you should be here tomorrow…you should be happy, healthy, and safe – in your crib – with all of your favorite stuffed animals, having a sleepover.

Like any mother whose child has been murdered, I do not believe my soul can or will rest until justice is served. I need to find a way to get the right people to listen. I need to find a way to get the right people to think differently. I need to find a way to get the right people to unite – and then refuse to be told “no”. Childhood cancer can no longer be allowed to slip past the radar of the ‘eye for an eye’ mentality. Fuck you, Childhood cancer. You have taken one too many shots, you little bitch. You have crossed the path of the wrong Momma. I am coming for you; and I gots a hell of a gold ring to pound right into your ugly, smug face.

I love you, my Peaceful Warrior. You, and you alone, are enough. You will always be enough. You will always be my baby. I will always be your Momma. Thank you, infinitely, for being my son.

seven

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox,

Momma

Hail. Hell. And a good-night song.

Paxton,

Momma is so very tired. I haven’t been sleeping well again…for many reasons. One of which being that I long to be near you so badly that the pain in my bones and the ache in my soul keep me awake. In one million years, it could never rival the pain you endured, little warrior; but it hurts all the same.

The weather has also been obstructing me from sleep. Sunday night we had a hail storm. (Are you processing this, Paxton? A HAIL storm, in Wisconsin, at the tail end of January. I rest my case. The world is a hot ass mess.) The hail came down, so heavy and so fast, that I was sure the west side of our house was going to give way to the beating and collapse. Daddy & Lucas had relocated to the other bedroom earlier in the night, so it was just Giraffey, me, and the hail. As if on cue, my tears began to pour down too; not because I was scared the house would collapse – in that moment, I would have welcomed it. My reaction was most certainly primal in nature. I was crying because I wanted to be stirred awake by the hail…but, remained in the ‘mom-stealing-sleep’ state of awake, as I waited for your cry. I wanted to have to will myself, against exhaustion, out of bed. I wanted to amble down to your room – without even needing to fully open my eyes. I wanted to reach into your crib, wrap you into my arms, and hold you until your sobs subsided. I wanted to comfort you from the storm. I wanted to tell you it was going to be okay, and know for sure, that it was true. Times like these are when the silence of your absence is most deafening. I will never quite be able to explain the sheer torture which accompanies being your Momma from so far away. To make matters worse the chap your ass cold, which has followed the hail storm, hasn’t aided in the sleep department either. Cold has a way of heightening my (chronic) fear that you are not warm enough. I realize this fear is somewhat (heavily) rooted in my own issues with never being quite warm enough. Regardless – I worry you, too, are cold.

As the days draw closer to your birthday, I am drawn closer to Hell. The memories of last year at this time have been flooding my consciousness. I have been recounting snap-shots of the final weeks of my pregnancy with vivid precision, which has been bittersweet. On one hand, I have caught myself smiling – yes, smiling. I have smiled on the outside (like using my facial muscles and all), as moments come back into my mind. On the other hand, I feel like the walls are getting a little bit closer, and the air a little bit heavier with each passing day. The bottom line, I am so completely dreading February 12th, that when I forget to concentrate, I almost throw up. In fact, I had a very close call in Follo’s office today. I didn’t even realize it happened until the look on his face registered in my very, slow processing brain. When he asked ‘what the hell was wrong with me’ – I couldn’t come up with a lie quickly enough. So, without really intending to, I flatly admitted, “I almost puked. I’m sorry. Don’t worry, I’m okay now.” He sat frazzled for a few counts, before suggesting I go get some pretzels. So I did. (Poor guy. I am sure by now he has asked for a stipend to deal with me on a day to day basis.)

Last year at this time, I was almost 38 weeks pregnant. During the final two weeks, one of the things you and I spent a lot of time doing was picking out the songs for Baby’s Birthday Playlist. It was the compilation of songs we played at the hospital while you and I were in labor. I spent hours and hours searching the internet, iTunes, Daddy’s iPod. You spent hours and hours giving me thumbs up or thumbs down on each song….via kicks and jabs – serious ones – not ‘flutter’ ones. In the end, our hard work payed off. We came up with the most perfect list.

Speaking of music, and of you, here is your lullaby for tonight. It is by One EskimO. As you know, they are the group who sings “Amazing”, which was the song playing when you arrived, and were placed safely in my arms. That being said, I am hopeful you will like this song too. The animation is so stinking adorable. But, listen to the words, sweet boy; they do a beautiful job conveying all I am feeling tonight.

You’re in every little thing I touch.

I miss you more…today…than ever before. And, I love you even more than I miss you.

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox

Momma

Holding Me Down

Sweetest Diddy,

Tonight, I cannot bear my pain. Tonight, I want to give up.

Nights like tonight, I find myself playing, this song over and over again. It rocks me to my very core. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Gabriel Kelley was a bereaved mother in his past life. (There is no other explanation for him taking the words out of my mouth and creating one of the most beautiful songs ever written.) Despite the darkness expressed within the lyrics, the song itself brings Momma a sense of peace. As it plays, I don’t even have to close my eyes to envision you tucked in my arms on that warm, afternoon in late June. It was one of the most painstaking, yet endearing, days we endured together. I am not brave enough to recount the extent of your discomfort ; nor is it necessary. Alas, after 24 – 36 grueling hours of unrelenting agony, you and I found temporary refuge in your bedroom. I am not sure why, and fear you may have simply grown weary from sobbing and/or from the unwavering aches and pains, but you found comfort enough to let your cries temporarily subside. So there we stayed, rocking as one, for five beautiful, unabridged, unforgettable hours.

We covered a lot of topics that day. We shared secrets, dreams, fears and wishes. We listened to music on my iPhone, and sang other songs I made up on the cuff. I vividly recall the view outside your bedroom window of the summer sun disappearing behind the horizon. I remember pleading with the sun, through tear-filled eyes, to find a cure for you before coming back in morning. As the bittersweet afternoon morphed into evening, I mindlessly scrolled through my phone, while simultaneously rocking you. I came across a link your Uncle Stephen posted on his Facebook page. Accompanying the link, a brief statement explaining that while at Gabriel Kelley’s live show, (the song) “…brought me to my knees”. Your uncle is one of the most brilliant, introspective, kind, and gentle souls I know. When he speaks, there is bound to be meaning in his message.

This incidence afforded no exception. Without uttering a single word, Uncle Stephen (and Mr. Kelley’s genius talent), unknowingly relayed the most life-altering news. The anger, the fire, the smoke, the heartache – – the reason it was hard for me to breathe – – could no longer be denied.

I hope you remember that day with even the smallest bit of fondness. It would be selfish for me to ask for it back; as you were in far too much pain. Yet, I would give anything to hold you in my arms, feel your skin against mine, and listen to you breathe.

I wish you didn’t get sick. I don’t know why this all happened. I will never, ever forgive myself. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

I miss you. I love you. I hope you are warm enough.

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox

Momma