I was cleaning out my basement and organizing the clutter into “keep” or “trash” piles. I had made my way into Mia’s room and the trash pile was getting larger and larger. I added a few notebooks to the pile when I noticed a green “H” sticker on the outside. So I opened it up to find a “Dear Hayes” notebook! I had almost thrown this away. But, in my defense, Mia has a very bad habit of keeping everything she has ever been given, including candy wrappers. She is a hoarder through and through, bless her heart.
Anyway, I opened up her notebook and found myself lost in her words. Page upon page of letters to Hayes and of course, I began to cry at the sweetness of messages like, “What do you eat? How many friends do you have? Are you crawling?” Question after question of all the things her 9 year old mind was curious about. But what really pushed me over the edge was an entry where she said, “Will you visit Bo and Mom tonight please, they need some love?”
I can genuinely say, I don’t know how I got so lucky. I truly don’t think I can take one ounce of credit for the success and kindness of my children because honestly, this is a reflection of their souls. They were born this way.
It made me realize, one of the biggest reasons I have been able to make it through these past few years is because my kids have been lifting me up. They have been through the unimaginable pain of losing their sibling and as a result, they are some of the most empathetic people I know. They have had to live in the dark shadow of cancer and have done it all with grace.
I continually worry in my mind that I overexpose my kids to childhood cancer. Running the HayesTough Foundation, my sweet kids still see so much heartbreak and loss. But it is in quiet moments of “unknowingly” reading Mia’s journal 🤦🏻♀️ or driving Bo to his activities that I get insight into their thoughts. Just a few days ago, Bo asked me if he could run the foundation when he gets older. He told me how special it has been for him to help so many kids. He said, “I don’t ever want us to stop.” I was floored by his request and so proud of him.
My kids have truly learned to live outside of themselves. They are my hidden angels lifting me up. Praying for me and hoping for me everyday. All this time I had given myself much of the credit that we were keeping our heads afloat because Steve and I have stayed strong….but my kids have quietly been my life jackets in this ocean of grief. What a beautiful realization.