My friends like to joke that I go into hibernation in the winter. They aren’t that far off. I ran into one of my neighbors at the grocery store the other day and she really seemed shocked to see me. Almost like she hadn’t seen me all winter! But the truth of the matter is, I do the bare minimum in the winter. I don’t like being cold….I hate it! I don’t have a thyroid so when I feel cold, it is multiplied by 1000. I have the gift of feeling obnoxiously freezing all of the time. So I actually stay inside most of the winter. As a result of all of these factors, winter becomes my most dreaded and isolating time of year. Then there is the fact that winter stirs up all the emotions of when I lost my boy. I am not sure I will ever feel kindly towards that season. Read More
“What? This old thing?” Steve has teased me many times that this is my answer to everything when it comes to new clothes. I guess I need to own my issues. So I am fessing up to an extreme part of my grieving process. I shop like crazy, to fill the void that grief has carved. Steve had a major “intervention” with me today. With an undeserved empathy that kind of surprised me, he explained that he understood what I was doing because he “fills the void” in his own way too. Although he was understanding, he explained that shopping is understandably not his preferred method of therapy for me. Because of this, something has to give, I guess. Read More
I remember as a child sitting next to my dad on the couch and watching the Miss America pageant. I was fascinated. The women were beautiful, dressed in sparkly gowns, they were incredibly talented and on top of all of that, they were smart. I am sure he could see the amazement in my eyes and my dad asked me if I wanted to be Miss America. I responded with a shrug and my dad answered the shrug by looking me in the eyes and telling me I could be Miss America if I wanted. He followed it up with, “You can be the president if the United States if you want. There is nothing you can’t do.” He believed it…I had no doubt he believed it, but what I didn’t say out loud was that I doubted both…I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t pretty enough and I definitely wasn’t talented enough. I was probably 6 years old and I didn’t feel enough.
When our oldest, Bo was 2 years old, I remember him getting a whole bunch of hand me down clothes from his older cousins. We were poor college students so getting “new” clothes was really exciting. In the bag of clothes was a pair of toddler, khaki cargo shorts. Perfect fit for my buddy. I vividly remember him reaching his chubby little fingers into the pocket of those pants and discovering a little boy treasure. He pulled out the teeniest, little 1/4 inch monkey figurine from his pocket and beamed with pride as he studied it. I laughed that something so tiny had survived the trip….like a baton pass that Bo was accepting.
I knew that little guy was going to be lost in no time. How could something so small survive? Especially when we lose large toys on the hour. Well, throughout the years, through many moves, from different states, houses and children, that little monkey mascot continues to pop up. Just yesterday as I was cleaning out the toy box I found that little guy for the thousandth time. I took a picture of him, sent it to Steve and threw him right back into the pit of toys to get lost for another few years. That monkey continues to surprise me. When I saw that little figurine, it got me thinking.
As I head into a new year, I obviously do a lot of reflecting as I am sure most people do. I try to set goals, but, the new year to a grieving mother means another year of missing her child. And I do miss Hayes so so much! It doesn’t get easier and it hasn’t gotten less painful. The hard moments have become less frequent, but when they hit, they are more intense than ever before. Did I mention that I miss him?! So how do I push for any goals when I am consumed by missing my boy?
I was reading an article written by another cancer mom. She is in the heart of her child’s battle and she angrily expressed that she was not going to advocate for the government to fund “More than 4” because it doesn’t work. She was extremely bitter, and part of me totally relates to that. But another part of me realizes that I can’t let bitterness win. I have a lot to be angry about, but I have so much to be grateful for. I also am not in the heat of the battle of childhood cancer so I can view the fight with renewed strength and determination. From a new perspective of someone that has been there.
I have lost a child. I can choose to collapse and never stand up again or I can declare war on the enemy that took my child…CANCER. Because of my new perspective, I can be their voice. The voice of thousands of mothers and fathers that can’t leave their child’s hospital room for fear of something happening if they leave the room to go and get a bite to eat. The voice of the thousands of parents that have the secret, never uttered fear of “what if’s” that could happen to their child running through their head. The voice of parents that don’t want their spouses or children to see them cry so they save their silent tears for the hospital shower. And the voice of thousands of parents that are told they are so strong but they feel shattered and broken inside. I will be their voice!
So, with all of that being said, what is my New Years resolution and what does that random, tiny little monkey have to do with anything? I am an advocate. I am a soldier. I have no other choice now because this is what helps me feel that Hayes did not pass in vain. Will signing that petition for “More than 4” make a difference? Will flying to DC and talking to members of congress change anything? Honestly, I don’t know, but I have to try, because I am the voice of those thousands! And more than anything, I am the voice of my angel warrior Hayes. I refuse to allow him to be silenced! For all of them, this year is for you and probably next year and the year after that until all of this changes. I will not be stopped. I hope I continue to surprise people. Like that little guy, I may be one small person, but I am not going anywhere.