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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Father’s Day sucks. Walgreen’s sucks more. Cancer sucks most of all.

Diddy,

How is it possible that two whole weeks have elapsed since I last wrote you? I guess so many things have been unfolding in my life, that the days continued to pass by without me really knowing which end was up. Despite the buzz of activity, the ache of your absence has not dulled – not even a little bit. You are the first person I think of before my eyes open each morning, and the last person I think of before I fade into a semi-slumber each night. I think of you at least one hundred times in between sunrise and sunset as well.

The end of the school year has arrived; in turn, summer has officially commenced. It makes my throat tighten when I spend too much time thinking about how we should be spending summer. Can you imagine how super-duper excited we’d have been to be together every moment of every day? No work for Momma. No day care for Diddy. The Dynamic Duo would have spent our days ruling the world. Even though you are not here physically, you are with me wherever I go.  I have always heard that having children makes you see the world in a whole new way.  Nothing could be more true. My entire universe was altered when you came into my life, and made me a Momma. I view the world in a far different way than I knew possible. I have slowed down to better absorb my environment; I pay attention to the wonder around me; I notice little things, and ignore big things.  Most of the time, I think about how you would interpret what I see, hear, and smell. I picture you smiling at passer-bys, waving at puppies, pointing at airplanes. I see you running through grassy fields, and tiptoeing through warm sand. I imagine your raw excitement and genuine curiosity in new surroundings. I revel at the notion of your innocence in everything you touch and everything you do. Wherever I go, I carry you with me Paxton.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Like most ‘holidays’, or notable days, in my head I remove the word “Happy”. It was not a “Happy Father’s Day”. Let’s be real and call it what it is: “Father’s Day sucks ass when your only child is gone.” Maybe I should embark on creating a new line of greeting cards for bereaved parents? Every time I see a card for the “Happy” holidays, I want to tear them in half and stick a piece of chewed gum inside. Our little family should have been together celebrating the absolute honor and sheer joy of Daddyhood.  Alas, we were not.

I spent a big part of the non-happy day replaying and rehashing Father’s Day last year. We were discharged that morning. As with all “discharge days”, equal parts excitement and anxiety filled my bones.  You were wearing your Ado(red), red, onesie from the Gap, and you were extra smiley. It was as if you knew that it would be your first and last Father’s Day with your Daddy, and you made sure to turn on all your charm.  In hindsight, it makes perfect sense: that is quintessential you – the ‘Peace Bringer’.  Father’s Day marked the last time we would leave the hospital with you in our arms. Father’s Day also began the stretch of time that Walgreen’s pharmacy began to further torture you. Because they are the biggest asshole fuckwads of all time, they filled a prescription which they had no business, and no knowledge, in filling. They did so merely to do what they do best: make money through preying on consumers who are in dire need of their of over-priced, inaccurate, ill-preppared prescriptions. (Don’t believe me? Do some research.) Going into detail will only further incite me, and make my stomach turn inside out and come up my throat. Just know this, I still haven’t stepped a pinkie toe into one of their establishments.  Despite their Monopoly build-a-store-on-every-major-street-corner-in-America business approach, I swear to you, I never will again. I still do my fake spit…twice….every God damn time I see a Walgreen’s – which is a lot because as I said, they’re on every blasted corner in America. I get the most satisfaction, however, when I run down Oklahoma and do an actual spit onto the driveway of the very Walgreen’s that royally screwed up your prescription. In fact, I start to save up all my spit once I pass under 794…as soon as I hit the property line of that wretched place, I hock the biggest, gooey, wad of runner’s spit right onto their punk ass driveway. I hate them.

I digress, last year on Father’s Day, Erin and Dan helped you and I set up a surprise for your Daddy. They stashed a cooler full of Bloody Mary mix, vodka, hella fixings, a 12-pack of beer, and snacks to boot. In hindsight, my behavior was glaringly unacceptable. We were enjoying a Bloody Mary – and cancer was raging throughout your tiny body. When I think of how oblivious I was, I want to throw my head against a wall until I’m unconscious. I will never forgive myself, Sweet Boy. Never in one million years. I can’t imagine the pain you endured every single hour of every single day. I cannot fathom the agony that filled your little bones and tiny limbs. You couldn’t say, “Momma, my head is pounding. My tummy is sick.” or, “Don’t hold me that way, it makes my arm hurt. This way makes makes me dizzy.” All you could do was whimper and cry…and let Momma fumble all around trying to guess what you were so desperately trying to tell me. I’m sorry I guessed wrong sometimes. I’m sorry I made you eat when you were nauseous. I’m sorry I covered your eye with that patch. I’m sorry I put Biotine in your mouth, and made it hurt worse when it didn’t help at all. I’m sorry for all of this Paxton.

I will never stop asking, “How?” “Why?” “When?” “What if?” I just will not. I don’t care what anyone says. I won’t “get over” losing you.  How could I? I am your Momma.  Protecting you was my job. I failed miserably.  Nonetheless, I am intent on hunting down your killer – and taking it to task. The good news is, I recently acquired a partner in crime. I met her through cancer and this blog. She is a bad ass, and she says the F word even more than I do. (Promise.) Two Mommas are more powerful than one; especially us two. Together, she and I are going to change the world of childhood cancer. You wait and see little boy.

Thank you for being my son. Thank you for coming to me. Thank you for letting me know you are, in fact, still with me wherever I go. You are the best little boy in all the world.

I miss you. I love you.

shot through the heart.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

the weekends are slow. your momma is fast. let’s move to france.

Little One,

“Tu me manqués”.  In French, that translates to “You are missing from me.”  I love that – as it is far more accurate than to simply say, “I miss you”.  (Although, also true.) Today is June 2nd…as of today, you have been missing from me for eleven months. You will be missing from me, every single day, for the rest of my life.

“Tu me manqués.” The French are brilliant.  The French are sexy. The French are in love with love. The French also love bread. Best of all, the French drink wine…all the time.  My friend, Lisa, in Los Angeles may be onto something in telling me to take my broken heart to France.

This weekend was not an easy one. Most of them aren’t. For the first time in my life, I am NOT a fan of the weekend.  (Don’t ask me how I intend to get through summer….which is, in essence, one never-ending-torturous weekend.)  The weekends go extremely slow. Each day is impossibly long – and the nights, well, those are even longer.  As usual, I spent most of the weekend alone. My company basically consisted of my thoughts.  Well, my thoughts and a Milwaukee County Sheriff who introduced himself after pulling me over on Saturday.  “Hi. Not nice to meet you sir. Yes. I know why you pulled me over. You want to make my day shittier than it is naturally.” I was flying, Paxton. But, it was not entirely my fault. There wasn’t another soul on the road…the sun was out…and JT was on the radio. Further, I was driving Nana’s brand new whip. Given it is far sassier than Momma’s car, I couldn’t even tell I was moving – much less that I was going 80 mph. (Yes, I know…a tad excessive.) In addition to accidentally speeding, there was no ‘proof of insurance’ in Nana’s car. So, the friendly Sheriff gave me a ticket for that too.  Truth be told, the Sheriff actually was quite friendly – but only because he found me to be quite amusing.  Ultimately, he felt badly enough that he “gave me a discount”…and only charged me for 19 mph over, instead of 25 mph, which apparently significantly reduces the price of the ticket.  But I’m still mad at him.  Needless to say, despite the fact that Mr. Sheriff and I got along swimmingly, Momma is still out a million hundred dollars, 4 points, and a squeaky clean driving record. To salt the wound, I was racing around town to get to the store to buy food to make a “dish to pass”…for a party I ended up not being able to attend. Quite an expensive dish to pass right into my garbage. But, I did anyway – because, I could care less.

I wonder if they have speed limits in France? I bet they don’t…at least not for moms who’ve lost their only child – especially when she’s en route to a party, which marks the first real plan she’s had in three weeks.  If the Municipale accidentally pulled me over, for accidentally speeding, I bet un policier would’ve given me a hug, a baguette, and a bottle of wine. He probably would’ve told me to screw the appetizer – and advised me to head directly to the party, as fast as I damn well pleased.

So another day, another weekend, another month without you has come and gone. Life without you is so abundantly sad and wholly empty that words will never suffice to explain it.  I know in the very, very depths of my bones that this was not your destiny. You were not supposed to get sick. You certainly were not supposed to die at the age 20 weeks and 1 day.  You were bound for greatness, Paxton. I am your Momma, so by default – I know things about you that no one else in the world could ever know. It’s not their fault that they don’t know; they are not your Momma. Being your Momma is my job, and my job alone.  Part of that job is to follow my instincts….the same instincts that kept telling me something was very wrong with you.  My intuition also tells me that there is something very wrong with many things which have occurred in my life. I don’t care what anyone tries to riddle me in efforts to help make sense of complete nonsense.  I know I am right when I say…all of these “events” are entirely wrong.

lock bridge. paris.

This is a photo of the Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris – more commonly known as the “Locks of Love” bridge. This breath-taking attraction allures visitors from across the globe. Two people, who love each other, inscribe their names on a padlock, attach the lock to the fence on the bridge, and throw the key in the river. Legend has it, that this act solidifies their love as one which will last forever.  Momma needs to get to this bridge. I will get an extra fabulous padlock.  I will write “Momma & Paxton” on one side, and “Danna & Diddy” on the other.  I will lock up our love. I will throw away the key.  It will last forever…and ever…because France says so.

I miss you. I love you.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

you made me a momma. i will stay forever yours.

My~My,

As the sun stirred me awake, I did my best to resist its presence and bury my head underneath my stack of pillows. I intended to deep six myself until Monday. Today is your 15 month birthday; today is the 1 year shit-o-versary of the day you started chemo; today is also Mother’s Day. A power packed, heartache trifecta for one day.

Before I could come up with a plan on how to best avoid the day, my phone buzzed. It was a text wishing me a ‘good as can be, Mother’s Day’. A mix of happy and sad tears spontaneously fell from my eyes, rolled down my cheeks, and dropped on top of Giraffey’s soft little head. (Poor Giraffey.) Seeing the word “Mother” directed at me, made my heart smile. I wasn’t quite sure if anyone considers me a Mom anymore. I know that you do – and that I do…but, the rest of this crazy daisy, mixed-up world seems to be all sorts of messed up lately. The most beautiful part of the text, however, was not the contents of the message – rather from whom it was sent: the only other person in this universe who truly understands the depth and breadth of my love for you.

With two pieces of my heart put a little closer together, I got out of bed and almost skipped down the hall to your bedroom. I will always start and end my days in there. Even if I move far, far away – and live in 12 different houses, you will always have a bedroom…and it will always be my sacred garden. I hope you make Momma’s heart and soul your sacred garden. As I gazed out your window, I said aloud at least a dozen times, “Thank you for making me your Momma.” This was not how I was supposed to parent you, Paxton. Not even close. But it is how I must. So I will continue to do my very best to keep you alive, present, and vibrant as you would be if you were here.

After my run – which went shockingly well, I headed out to finish shopping for Dafne. Remember our little Princess Warrior? Her birthday was on May 7th. She thought it was quite special that your “D-day” was one day after her birthday. So, Momma made a promise not to forget her special day. Dr. Mortland and I still conspire ways to kick the shit outta cancer; I always knew we’d be friends on the “outside”. I desperately wish I could bring you to see her, or show her updated pictures as I told her stories aplenty about her “Lil’ Bud”. Nonetheless, she told me that Dafne is checking into the HOT Unit on Thursday…for 30 days. I still don’t have the courage to ask about her diagnosis, or her prognosis. It’s none of my business; and it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she gets better. I bought Dafne all things, pink, sparkly, and completely radical. I probably went overboard – but, I couldn’t help myself. It is therapeutic to shop for pink things. In this case, it’s especially therapeutic because I am doing something to defy cancer’s punk ass. Further, I can make someone happy, without making myself want to puke because I should be buying it all for you. Please know, as my son, you would’ve been secure and smooth enough to wear pink (and looked totally fly, I may add). But, you wouldn’t have wanted purses, lip gloss, hats, boas, bows, sparkles, wands, and Hello Kitty.

Apparently, that adventure used up all my energy for today, because I wasn’t able to fake my way through much more. I tried to have lunch with Nana, but the food just wouldn’t go down. I thought about getting my nails done – but it seemed so artificial and unimportant. I considered meeting an old friend for drinks, but my heart wasn’t in it. Instead, I went to sleep. When I woke up, nighttime was here. I am relieved this day is almost done. Tomorrow won’t be any different…every day is just another day. But, today was a little over the top challenging – even for a girl pretending to be the bravest Warrior Momma of all-time.

Thank you for making me your Momma. I hope against all hope, I am doing you justice. I watch for your signs; I listen for your whispers. Every single moment, of every single day, I wish with all of my weary might that you are still with me. Today was not happy…not even close. But, it was Mother’s Day – and, I am so very happy that I am Paxton Bowe Andrews’ Momma.

You & Me, Diddy

I love you. I miss you.

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox

Momma

next time a stranger comes a callin’…hang up.

Diddy,

As one of the worst ‘anniversary’ dates closes in on me – the air becomes increasingly heavier by the day. The closer Wednesday gets, the less oxygen Momma seems to be able to find. I was prepared for this week to be challenging. However, I was not prepared for the challenge to exponentially implode. The bomb that was dropped on me this weekend has officially made the first week of May the worst week of all time – ever. Times infinity. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this unexpected blow; history sure has a funny way of repeating itself. Yet I am surprised…but not as much as I am horrified.

I have always lived by the adage that “knowledge is power”. However, I am not sure I agree with that any longer. Maybe there is such a thing as too much knowledge. Maybe ignorantly floating through life, even one riddled with deceit, would prove to be the ‘wiser’ existence after all.

Unfortunately, you only find your limit of how much ‘knowledge’ you can handle after you’ve already learned far too much. You find it in the call that should have been left unreturned, or the meeting that should have been left unattended. You find it in a story that twists your tummy into tiny, nauseating knots – and leaves you with a dry heave you honestly may never shake. You hear this story in its entirety. A story that can’t possibly be real: from the very beginning, throughout the twisted middle, right down to the bitter end. Not even two hundred and twelve Sazeracs could have dulled the blow. You walk away absolutely empty. All you can feel are the shards of a heart that used to beat in your chest. The contents of this story, the “knowledge”, causes those shards to methodically slice away at your insides. You cross into an entirely new plane of suffering – which seems impossible given you’ve already been treading water in a life seemingly determined to drown you in heartache.

Paxton, you were taken from me without my permission. Our little family began to crumble without my permission. The shards of what used to be my heart rake through my soul without my permission.

But learning the intricate details of the most unconscionable story of all time was my decision. I returned that call. I agreed to that meeting. I listened to that story. I choked back the lump in my throat as more and more unimaginable information was divulged. Now, here I sit – with an abundance of “knowledge” I wish I could unlearn. I replay the words in my head over and again. I am unable to bear this load. So maybe, just maybe, knowledge isn’t all so powerful after all. I really don’t know anymore.

Here is what I do know: Losing you shattered my heart into slivers of a whole. Gaining knowledge of a premeditated and soulless betrayal used those slivers to cut the rest of me into pieces. I also know that I will never be okay again. It is simply no longer possible.

Puke my heart out.

I miss you desperately. I want you back. I am so sorry you got sick.

Please stay with me, Sweet Boy. (I need you now more than ever.)

xoox,

Momma

No~Thank You, May.

Paxton,

May is here. I cannot do May.

I said those words tonight. I said them over and over. I am sorry if you heard them…if you heard my voice grow weaker with each, “No, no, no,”. I am sorry if you saw the pain in my eyes, the hot tears that ran down my cheeks. When my “no’s” fell silent, I blindly stared out your bedroom window. My sweaty palms slipped off your changing table, and wrung themselves tightly together. In my head, I begged no one in particular, “Please make May go away. Please bring him back. Please. I cannot do May”.

May is when you stopped eating. May is when you couldn’t sleep some days. May is when you couldn’t stay awake other days. May is when you were admitted into the ER. May is when you became a patient on the H.O.T Unit. May is when Room 582 became home. May is when you were assigned the largest team of doctors in the history of pediatric Oncology patients at CHW. May is when you had three (out of five) surgeries. May is when you were diagnosed with Neuroblastoma…then with Leukemia….finally with Sarcoma. May is when you started chemo…on Mother’s Day. May is when you had, and ultimately ended, your 10-day “smile-drought”. May is when the end began.

For the next seven days, I will recount every hour we spent together before we crossed the one-way bridge into the barbaric world of Childhood Cancer. I will recall the endless trips to Target to buy ‘another’ new bottle, three different nipples, Vick’s Vapor Rub plug-ins, a medicine dropper, and Pedialyte. I will read, and re-read the Gold Binder of “Paxton’s Day” logs in which I insisted Nana, Papa and Kim Lueder record detailed notes of your eating and sleeping patterns. I will think about the night I gave you a bath – and suddenly realized that the water may be a little too warm; I will then feel my heart sink as I picture you simply staring back at me with a look of quiet exasperation. I will remember watching my miracle boy in his peaceful slumber for “…just one more minute” – before waking you on Thursday morning. I will see the vision of you intently watching Nemo on the computer at the gym through weary and tired eyes. I will remember you and I fumbling our way to Urgent Care Sunday afternoon, as I did all I could to appease you as we waited for over an hour, only to have some inattentive, arrogant doctor tell me you had “Hand Foot Mouth Disease”. I will remember you waking up every few hours throughout the night on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday….not to eat…just to be held. I will swear at myself over and over as I wonder how I didn’t figure out how very sick you were. I will ask myself a hundred more times how I possibly missed all the signs. I will regret not staying awake all day…and all night…not giving up one moment with you. I will call in every favor I have to just in case this can still be one huge misunderstanding. I will give everything I own to be stirred awake tomorrow morning by the sound of your “Whoo.Who.”

Achhhk. May. Spit.

But tonight it is still April. I will hold onto April until the sun steals it from me. I will thank April for giving me a myriad of “Non-Childhood Cancer” memories. We did so many special things in April; we embarked on so many secret adventures: just me and my American Express Baby. “…I’ll never leave home without you!” Do you remember when I said that to you as I strapped you into your car seat to set out on yet another one of our outings? You pulled your smile back so big; your eyes filled with laughter and your arms circled with excitment.  You’re reaction made Momma let out a shot-gun laugh and drop her head onto your little tummy. That is such a great memory. I replay it in my head more often than you know.

Yes, it’s true. Momma has a fierce storm brewing inside her bones. May started it. But hasn’t let up since. When the storm will rise to the surface of my skin is no one’s guess – and everyone’s fear. All I know is it will not be tonight. Tonight I am going to close my eyes and play back all the bliss of April. As I do, I will imagine you sleeping in your bassinet – right by my side, breathing the same air, feeling the same breeze, hearing the same sounds, sharing the most sacred times, stealing the same love…which saturated our home.

As Dave would say, tonight I will “sleep to dream (you).” If we do not find each other in Momma’s dreams tonight, you need not be afraid: “space between” us does not exist. I am always holding your hand, and forever carrying your heart.

Trust me, My-My. You and me…we are gonna be okay. Momma’s got this.Trust.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox

Momma

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

14 months. numbness. and (involuntary) survival.

Little Diddy,

It has been too long since I’ve written. There is no excuse – other than the fact that this numbness thing has made stringing multiple sentences together an elusive feat. Everyone who knows me could attest that I express the contents of my heart best through the written word. I realize that talking proves to be the most efficient and effective form of communication for most people. Apparently, I am not most people; at least not when I’m expected to express emotions by talking. So much of what I want to say remains unvoiced when I have to rely on my mouth to keep up with my brain. (Momma is a quick thinker. But when matters of the heart are at play, the right words don’t always catch up with my speedy brain…much less find their way out of my mouth. Ironically, in situations that it’d behoove me to be at a loss for words – thoughts fly out of my mouth all too quickly. It’s gotten me into trouble every now and again. Largely because the things that fall out of my mouth, when not speaking with my heart, happen to include the “F” word…usually more than once. And also because most people don’t appreciate the versatility of the word as much as I do.)

In hindsight, writing to you proved to be a helpful way for me to process my grief. I guess it took me until January to begin writing because that’s when my grief-induced numbness started to wear off. Each time I wrote, little pieces of my heart grew closer together. Uniting my scattered, yet most sacred, thoughts into a coherent and heart-felt voice allowed a tiny sliver of my soul to come back to life. Given I had lost my beloved child, to a gruesome and horrific disease – just six months prior, I don’t think my emotional paralysis was uncommon or unacceptable. As it turns out, others thought differently.

Two months ago a deep-freeze-Novocain-shot-to-the-heart-type-numbness returned. This round being induced by a choice, not a disease, feels entirely different…yet strangely familiar. Apparently, numbness is how I spare myself from pain so profound that, if absorbed, it would kill me. I never understood how Aron Ralston, the hiker who got trapped under a boulder for 127 hours in the mountains of Utah, managed to severe off his arm to dislodge himself and save his life. Now it makes perfect sense. Mr. Ralston cut off his arm; I cut off my feelings. Survival: I guess it is an involuntary reflex after all.

I am glad I survived until today, because today you would have turned 14 months. Before I even opened my eyes this morning, I knew it was the 12th. I knew it was 14 months. Instead of letting my eyes give way to the tears which all too often push their way past my lids and down my cheeks, I closed them a little tighter. As I did, I was met with a vision of you so vivid that if I’d reached inside my eyes, I could’ve grabbed onto you. You held onto the railing of your crib as you bounced just high enough to make me nervous…but too excited to make you stop. Across your sweet face spread your trademark, semi-lopsided, contagious smile which was so fierce that it pushed your cheeks against the bottoms of your baby-blue eyes. You had on fuzzy pj’s – – through which your diaper, being extra squishy, made your dupa stick out a little further than the rest of you. The babble you uttered was purposeful in nature – – as you were luring Momma to your room to swoop you into my arms for a good-morning kiss and love-packed squeeze.

I could have watched you all morning. But just as quickly as you came – you were gone. When that happens, especially in a semi-sleep state, I am still not sure if you actually came to visit, or if I simply conjured up a desired reality. Either way, I feel as close to you as I can possibly get – which makes my heart smile.

I eventually willed myself out of bed. I forced myself into the shower. I put one foot in front of the other. I set out to execute the motions of the day. But I held that vision of you so steady in my eyes that I can’t say for sure I ever saw the road as I drove through the dark, rainy morning. I was snapped out of my trance by a message from someone I thought I may never hear from again. The gesture alone was beyond what I could have asked for…especially today…especially in that very moment. I am certain you were behind that too, Sweet Boy. You always find a way to remind me that we are together in this shit storm of life.

For now, Momma has to go to sleep. As always, I will look for you in my dreams. Wherever you are, and wherever you roam, I hope you can feel my love – – from the top of your precious little head all the way down to your tippy-tippy toes.

...the giving tree.

I am so sorry you got sick. I am so sorry I couldn’t protect you. I am so, so sorry for all of this.

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

xoox,

Momma

February 12th.

My Sweetest Paxton Bowe,

One year ago today, you were born. It is a known fact that you completed our family. Everyone feels that way. Ask them; I promise they’ll agree. You are the link that was missing from our entire family for far too many years. You are, most certainly, what was missing from Momma’s life. My entire life, I have felt a little lost, a little incomplete. I would never have been able to put my finger on the feeling – that is, until I held you in my arms. To sweeten the pot, you turned out to be the VERY best version of me that I could never have dreamt to be, and the very best version of Daddy that he could ever have hoped to be.

I can remember every single detail about February 12th, 2012, so vividly, that the harsh reality that I can’t rewind time, and have it back remains impossible to accept. I watched the clock all day long today, starting when Daddy inadvertently woke me from of a non-sleep. He rolled over, wrapped his strong arms around me, and let out a soft whimper. I’m sure he was as dreaming of you again. He cries in his sleep too often since you have been gone. And, he can only fall asleep if he holds onto a pillow like a life saver in rough waters. As long as I have known him, he’s never done either of those things. I decided to open my eyes to see how many hours I’d been lying in bed; the clock read 2:12. (Promise.) I had my first contraction at 3:06 a.m., so I patiently watched for the numbers to read 3:06. I then watched for them to read 4:15, which was when I finally went to stir Daddy who had fallen asleep on the couch. Next, I waited for 6:55 a.m., which was the precise time we checked into the hospital – Room 4. I reeled through the snapshots in my memory and saw the arrival of Nana, Grammie, and Lala. I heard the rattle of the hospital bed as my ‘shakes’ became worse and worse. I could almost taste the the ice chips Daddy placed in my mouth, hear the songs which played softly in the background, and feel Daddy’s warm hand rub my forehead or my back…depending on what I needed in that very moment. I waited for the clock to turn 3:43 – the time I began to push. Daddy recounted all the crazy-daisy things Lala told me to do, and how they worked like a charm. He reminded me how the leg he was holding was cranked almost past my ear, while Lala held my other leg just above my tummy. (He was a fish outta water, Diddy. It would’ve been funny; had it been funny. But, it wasn’t…it was just sweetly annoying.) And, of course Daddy and I both watched for the clock to read 4:21 – the exact time you were born. I wondered if either of us would exhale as the clock changed to 4:22.

In between watching the clock, Daddy and I read all of the beautiful, heart-felt, creative notes and wishes that most all of your guests brought to your 1st birthday non-party on Saturday. I asked everyone to bring a note or letter recounting their favorite memory with you, or a wish for you in the year ahead. It was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had – even Daddy said so; and he doesn’t hand out false accolades. We also received an array of cards, letters, and gifts from many earth angels throughout the week – which we saved for today to read to you. Reading through the stack of cards, letters, and notes brought back some very, very loving memories. I hadn’t forgotten one of them, but it had been awhile since I called some of them into my active memory. It also gave us a deeper appreciation of the profound impact you have on so many peoples’ lives. And although we already knew as much, the myriad of letters served as tangible proof that you are, in fact, a miracle.

Long before you were placed in my arms, you and I had a symbiotic existence. It is so unbelievably strange to not have you here with me. I literally feel as though someone cut out half of my soul. In essence, that is what happened when I lost you. I have come to realize this feeling will never go away. The more time which passes, the more I miss you. Nobody tells you that part about being childless mother. Time does not make anything easier; in fact, it makes things harder because I keep getting further and further away from the last time I was able to kiss you, hold you, watch you, hear you, smell you. The pain of missing you grows stronger everyday, Paxton. I wonder if you miss me just as much? I wonder if you can see me? I wonder if you can hear the things I tell you? I wonder if you can feel the unceasing love I hold for you? I wonder if you ache to be held in my arms? Sometimes, I imagine you above me, trying to reach down to me with your long, beautiful fingers, and tiny perfect hands, but you can never quite get to me. The thought of this makes me sad. So very sad.

One year ago today, you were born. Without a word, and without warning, you proved to me that dreams really do come true. I will love you forever and ever…and then a little bit longer. I will always be so very proud of you, and infinitely remain your biggest fan. As I told you within moments of your arrival, and many times there after, “I am so glad you are you.” That will forever and always remain my truth. The reasons my love for you is so deep and so profound are limitless, sweet boy. However, the greatest reason of all is, simply put, because – you are you.

Family Completed

On your first birthday, my wish for you is this: May you be happy always.

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

Stay with me, sweet boy.

xoox,

Momma