There is no question that in the moment Hayes took his last breath, a part of me changed. It felt like a part of me died, and they had forgotten to bury me. To be honest, so much of grief is just surviving. Day to day, hour to hour, Minute to minute and moment to moment. I have a lot of moments left to survive in my life.
This past week I was listening to a podcast. There was a story about an old Chinese proverb. It told the story that when a mother loses a child, the child does not die. The child goes on living in the heart of his mother because she created him and her love keeps him alive. That child goes on living in the heart of his mother until she takes her last breath, where they pass away together. My heart immediately drew to this beautiful interpretation of a mothers love and I realized, it was the perfect account of the unexplainable feelings of grief I have in my soul. Hayes is the most beautiful thing I keep inside my heart and I will never let him go.
I feel so much yearning to keep Hayes’ legacy alive, through the foundation, through childhood cancer awareness, and through simply talking about him. Begging the world not to forget. Begging the world to be just as outraged as I am with childhood cancer. But, what I have to remind myself continually is that the only reflection of Hayes living that matters, is us, my little party of 8. I have to let go of those fears that he will be forgotten because that is impossible…I will never forget. I recently read a Maya Angelou quote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I will never let Hayes’ story go untold.
Lately, I have been overcome with guilt. To be honest, the cancer journey for a parent is ridden with guilt. Each milestone you feel awful. When a scan comes back negative, you feel guilty for not catching the symptoms earlier. When your child rings the chemo bell, you feel guilty because your child is having “success” against a monster that so many don’t. If your child goes into remission, you feel guilty for your happiness. I feel guilty now for feeling jealous of that very success and happiness of others. When your child takes his last breath in your arms, you feel guilty that you couldn’t save his sweet, perfect body from the pain. My days are filled with muttering the same words over and over inside my head, “Hayesey, I am SO sorry I couldn’t save you!”
But, I will continue to fight. I fight for Hayes and I fight for every warrior, survivor and angel. His story is still being told, still unfolding before my eyes because he lives inside of me. I guess in a way, I have saved him, because he lives inside of my heart still. Always.