Mother’s Day. A day of pure joy and pride. A day surrounded by love, kisses and hugs. A day of homemade cards and gifts. The life before cancer. Mother’s day now has a new meaning to me, as a bereaved mom.
Although I am proud of the amazing humans that call me mom, there will be forever sadness without both my boys by my side. As the years pass, the pain and ache is not as sharp and debilitating. The pain has dulled but still in the fore front of my everyday life. Holidays like mothers day still takes the wind out of me. I still can’t believe my arms lay waiting for that second hug, my cheeks without that kiss and the unknown of that missing card not made. It hurts. I hurt. I have recently been able to get through these holidays by appreciating the 9 years I had with Madox. Although short, I can remember his growth and the love he exuded.
I admire the young man Valin is becoming. I can step back and see how Valin has climbed through his loneliness and sadness for his brother. I see and feel his empathy to others. And he’s funny. Gawd he makes me laugh! Utmost awe and pride I feel when I sit back and think of everything Valin has accomplished. His kindness and heart living through a significant loss and set back. I can’t help but smile at the human he’s developed into. Naturally my mind reverts to Madox and who he would be. I know he would be as kind and empathetic as he was before cancer stole him from us, but I still wonder. Hard not thinking of these things on a day like Mother’s day.
Not all woman are lucky enough to have someone call them mom, which makes me sad for their yearning. Not all woman deserve the name mom, and I am angry at them for not adoring the life in front of them. Mom is a special, almost sacred word and should not be taken lightly. Some moms self blame for things they did or didn’t do for their children. I always thought I was a bad mom because I didn’t have more patience; I had high expectations of them; or that I yelled too much. Then I look at photos, reminisce certain memories, watch home videos and think about all the special happy moments together. I see their smiles and happinesss. I felt their love and hugs and heard ” I love you mommy” all too often. We mom’s tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else can. We need to remember to be gentle on ourselves. I am still learning to do this but I am trying.
To all the mothers in the world, wishing you all a happy Mother’s Day. To the momma’s whose hearts are no longer complete after burying your child, I am so sorry and hope you are able to smile and remember the wonderful moments you had with your baby.
Madox was born at the end of March. He was suppose to be an April baby but he was just too eager to join our family. He was tiny but full of life. He clung to me right from the beginning. We didn’t know it at the time, but we needed those 2 1/2 extra weeks to enjoy him a little more.
Madox should have turned 14 years old this year. It has been 5 years since we last celebrated a birthday with him. That doesn’t even sound right. 5 years? It’s a lifetime ago. 5 missed celebrations. 5 missed blowing out the candles. 5 missed notches on the height board. Five. Really hard to grasp. We will forever wonder what gifts he would have requested. What cake he would have asked me to bake. Where he wanted to go for dinner. Things we all take for granted and don’t think twice about. These simple things we dismiss in life, I now yearn for. It keeps me up at night wondering. Wishing. Longing.
Instead we continue traditions we started after Madox died. We go out for a pancake breakfast on his birthday, to keep happy memories alive. Pancakes were Madox’s goto when we went out for breakfast. Looking across the table and not seeing Madox is always difficult to swallow. We try to treat a family to breakfast who are in the restaurant, in honour of Madox. Valin usually helps choose which family we treat, but this year my eyes stayed focused on two littles sitting near us. I think they are twins, enjoying the morning with their mom, dad and extended family. I smile at the sweet little girl sitting by her daddy, walking around in her socks. Then my eyes focus on the little boy. He was wearing a superhero shirt and piling up the creamers into a stack. That instantly brought me back to many days watching Madox and Valin do the same thing when we were at a restaurant. I knew instantly this would be the family this year. This small gesture of buying a family breakfast makes me smile, yet so important. It helps me honour Madox, even if it is small. My only hope for the family we choose in turn, appreciates their kids, their life just a little more. Sometimes we lose that with how busy we all get with our lives and the world.
The other tradition we continue to do is meet at Madox’s plot with family. We all solemnly sing happy birthday, eat birthday cake, and release blue balloons. This always pulls at my heart watching the balloons fade away, up up up into the sky. I hate this tradition but need it to feel we have celebrated Madox. My emotions are everywhere.
We have been doing this for 5 years. How can it be 5 years already? Wasn’t he just diagnosed? Weren’t we just living in the hospital by his bedside? Wasn’t it just yesterday we were begging the world to take us instead of him? 5 years. Looking back, I don’t know how we survived these 5 years. It has been a difficult road. Many tears shed, sleepless nights, and silent screams. Sadly, we have many more years to celebrate Madox without him. Something we can never change. Something we will continue to do, as long as I live.
Wishing our sweet Madox a happy birthday. You are the light that completed our family. You are truly missed. We love you forever.
Today at work, my coworker I haven’t seen in a while, walked up to me and gave me a big hug “So sorry. Diagnosis day.” I was taken aback, as most people try not to mention days that are or can be difficult for me. I normally don’t show emotion at work (put on that happy face and all) and not much of a hugger. Yet I caught myself molding into her and really feeling her emotion toward me of how significant that day is. I truly appreciated her words and action. I began thinking about the people that surround me, that surround my family. I realized I allowed my fog and depression to blind me. I was completely aware and appreciative of everything people have done for us, but I don’t think the full depth of it really sunk in.
The friend who listened quietly while I sobbed on the phone after Madox’s diagnosis. I barely said anything. She quietly stayed on the line allowing me to cry.
My old coworkers organizing a food drive during Madox’s battle so we didn’t have to worry about cooking.
My friend showing up at midnight without me asking, to help me suction Madox as I was panicking I couldn’t get his secretions clear.
Our friend bringing a basket of food to the ICU for us, to ensure we had something on hand to snack on so we didn’t need to leave Madox.
My in-laws who were feeling helpless and broken, cooking for us and tending to Valin so Marco and I could concentrate on Madox’s care.
Blankets and pillows made from photos of our family.
Artwork of our boys, to hang proudly on our wall.
A breast cancer fighter and her husband rallying with us to bring awareness and raise funds for DIPG, all while she was fighting her own cancer battle.
A momma fighting leukemia and a bone marrow transplant but found the strength and time to join our events and even tried baking for our bake sale.
My group of friends who continually invite me to outings, and never get annoyed or angry with me when I cancel last minute.
Masters at Tactical TaeKwondo presenting Madox with a black belt for bravery during his battle.
Neighbour donating her commissions of her small business to Madox’s Warriors every September.
The many moms of children who were in Madox’s grade/class I never knew until after he died. I feel the love and connection from this amazing group, which saddens me I didn’t get to know them when I was my original self. They surround us with unwavering support.
Children we know and don’t know, donating their birthday money to Madox’s Warriors. Feeling the connection to want to help our cause.
The family who we connected with due to both our children battling brain cancer at the same time. They don’t shy away from saying Madox’s name, for fighting for our cause, and sending me uplifting messages when they know I am having a difficult time.
The repeat participants at many of our events. The list goes on and on and on.
I have always seen you, but I finally fully see you. I always thought we were alone in Madox’s fight. Now I see I secluded myself into thinking we were in this alone. I lost myself, broken and angry. I did not recognize myself, so it was difficult for me to recognize the love around us. I am feeling everyones embrace. Thank you for standing by us, and sharing your light.
5 years today. 5 years ago today we heard those words no parent wants to hear. 5 years ago we met a murderer, and it was attacking our son.
No length of time will soften the hurt. We will forever remember that day, that specific moment. That walk down the bright hospital hallway. The look on the doctors faces. The dread in my heart. The words…. oh those devastating words.
The day of diagnosis will always hang over our heads. The memories. The life changing word. The immediate loss felt.
Some will say 5 years is a long time. A parent who has buried their child will say it’s too long. Time changes very little. It certainly does not heal all wounds.
My heart is very heavy with all the memories flashing in and out of my mind. I wish I could have prevented this. I wish I could have saved you.
Another holiday season is upon us. While many are going through traditions, and family time, the bereaved are trying to navigate through it all. Many contemplate how to celebrate this holiday, if at all. The first year after a loved one has passed is always the most difficult. The loneliness felt throughout the family. As a parent, the loneliness is screaming. Unpacking ornaments that hold significant memories and meaning is an explosion of emotions. Looking at the empty chair where a little body should sit for family dinner. Gifts under the tree without a certain name on the label. Initially it is very difficult to want to celebrate anything, whether you’ve been grieving the first year or a long time.
As time passes, the holidays become easier to bear. The old traditions either stay or change enough that the hurt is not in the forefront as before. Parents choose how and when to join in the festivities, trying to prevent added anguish. Christmas cards may not be sent. Avoidance of holiday parties. Spending Christmas day with only your spouse and surviving children. Whatever is needed to cope, it is correct for you. Sometimes we need to hide away from everyone and have a cry to let the pain out.
Many try to celebrate as best to tribute their missing loved one. Some spend time at the plot (as we do), while others bring the urn to family gatherings. Continue to remember your loved one. Share stories, laughter and memories with each other. Go skating, watch a movie or play board games, if that’s what your love would have liked to do. Travel, to get away from it all. Some call it running away. I think of it as an escape from all the past holiday memories that can bring hurt and pain along with it. Whatever you do, know that it is right for you and your family. Do what you know will help you get through a difficult season. Everyone is different and no one has a right to judge. Just take time for yourself. We all grieve different and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Be kind to yourself, because we still have our journey on this rock.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and all happy
holidays in the new year.