End of school is tough on me. The relaxed nature of the kids having fun with their classmates. The feel of summer with kids biking to school, wearing shorts and staying up later than they should. Madox always loved the last few weeks of school, but in elementary, they just had field trips, movies and games. Who wouldn’t love the end of school? Madox shouldn’t be in elementary anymore, he should be finishing up grade 8. Sadly he is forever stuck in grade 3. My mind is a fog.
Last week his classmates all went on the school trip to Quebec. I viewed all the parents posting photos of their kids at the airport; group photos of students pre boarding; then photos the kids sent to their parents during the trip. One by one those photos ripped my heart apart. I was still happy for my friends, for Madox’s friends, to get this amazing experience. I just feel robbed. Where was my excitement standing at the airport with Madox? Where was my fear letting him go onto that airplane without me? Where were my texts and photos of historic sites he has seen? It was taken from us, and I still can’t accept that.
Now today is graduation day for the grade 8 class, Madox’s class. He never made it to this new school, so there is no connection there. The connection is his old classmates and friends. Of Madox not moving onto high school with them all. The missed experience of new things, like writing exams, managing life as the young kids of the school, or trying new sports. That won’t be happening for him, for us. Instead I sit at my computer with tears in my eyes, and a lump in my throat wishing I was at the school right now clapping for each new grad. Laughing at the kids all acting goofy with each other. Listening to the kids figure out who will be in each others classes. Standing with other moms and dads sharing fears and worries about the next year. We don’t get that because Madox died.
Some people act as if life can move on no problem. That we should be able to accept his death by now. He was only 9 years old when he was taken from us. 9 years old! No life experiences were done by 9. Life still continues after 9. How are we as parents suppose to feel when all his friends start to drive? Start to date? Get their first job? Graduate high school and move on to university? We will never accept his death, because there will be too many reminders, too many wonders, and what if’s. My mind is a fog and my heart aches.
I will continue to be happy for all his friends moving into the new waters of life. I will be proud of them, like I would be proud of Madox. I just hope some of his old friends remember him and miss him at grad.
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.
Father’s day doesn’t seem to hold as much importance as Mother’s day. You get the idea from people that you HAVE to go over board for mom. I totally understand why people think this. Mom’s are usually the ones who stayed home with you when you were ill. Who kissed your boo boo’s all better when you fell off your bike. Who you would go to when you were sad about a break up. I kinda think that’s an old way of thinking though. Previous generations, mom were home while dads worked outside the home, sometimes with two jobs. This generation you see very involved fathers, while the mom’s are working hard outside the home as well. Both parents share work, family and house duties.
Father’s day is so important, especially to those who no longer have their dad to visit with. Those middle of a project calls, asking how to fix an error you made. Sitting at dinner listening to some terrible dad jokes. And my favourite, listening to old stories when he was young. Those times you no longer have with your dad rings louder on days that should honour him, like Father’s day.
There is those other men who feel Father’s day is important but difficult to navigate through. Those are dads whose children have died too soon. The dads who wish they had more time with their child. More time to teach them everything that is important to learn. How to shave. How to drive. Something as simple as using a drill. These missed moments scream loudly on days that fathers should be enjoying with their children. All their children. Instead, some dads, like Marco, sit at their child’s plot thinking about what the present would be like if their child was alive. No laughter in that moment. Just heaviness and sadness of missing their child.
Madox and Valin have a great dad. He ensures he is always available and present for his boys. When they were babies, he would make me pump milk so he could feed them by the bottle. He would happily change their diapers, back to back, even if they both had poop-filled-bums. He would set up a lego day while I slept after a night shift, and the entire living room was covered in lego. It was literally unwalkable! When Madox was sick in the hospital, Marco would switch nights with me and did everything he could to help the nurses with his care. Even though he didn’t know what to do initially. He would give Madox a bed bath; help suction his mouth; and kept Madox calm during scary moments during radiation. Although those were tough days, Marco never faltered. Now Marco helps Valin with his homework; coached him in soccer; and stays present in his life. Marco even learned how to play the video game Fortnite so he can play with Valin and understand what he was talking about. Haahaa THAT was a tough one for him.
To those papa’s missing a little body by your side, I’m sorry. Wishing it was different for you all.
Another Mother’s day has come and gone. It is always tough to understand emotions that become so present and prominent in one specific moment. Those moments have me realize that I’m just pieces of who I use to be. Fighting to keep those parts around, for myself and those around me. Living in ones tangled state of mind.
No matter how I feel on one specific day, I try to live in the moment with Valin and Marco. They deserve it. I deserve it. On Mother’s day, we woke to enjoy a nice long walk together at Birds Hill Park. Something we’ve never really done. We have always had a nice family bike ride, ending at the beach with a picnic. I wanted to bring something of Madox’s so I could feel him with us. I immediately grabbed his medical alert bracelet. The only item he never took off, well until he was diagnosed. I kept it in my pocket, holding it, gently rubbing the inscription. It made me feel he was walking alongside us.
We then headed to where Madox was laid to rest. There was no discussion about it as it has just become a tradition we adopted. The last place we ever got to see his sweet soft face. The last place we could hold his hand. The last place I never want to be on Mother’s day. Our new home away from home. People say I shouldn’t go to his plot. They say it just reopens wounds. Sorry, but these wounds will never heal. They are still wide open and gaping. How would you feel if you were standing in my shoes? You would do what you feel is right, in the moment. What you feel is necessary for your heart. What you feel you need to get through another day.
So we sit where our son is buried. Think about past memories, sharing happy stories and sing a song for him. I laid two cookies for him made by two wonderful friends. An older friend who was lucky to have met Madox, and helped me through some very hard days when Madox was ill. And a newer friend who never met Madox, but he was the reason we met. He brought us together, creating a friendship that may not have happened. So I sit by his plate, tears raining down. This pain hasn’t faltered. At times I may seem crazy. That’s okay. I would have given up my life for him. I would have sold my soul. That’s not crazy I realized. That’s just called mom. I clearly didn’t get to choose either of those options. Instead we continue to sit here. Wishing everything was different for this mom on Mother’s day.
Madox’s last Easter with us, was bittersweet. He was finally feeling better after returning home from a stint in the ICU and radiation was complete. Yet a nagging feeling stayed with him knowing this would be our last Easter together. I want to share my journal entry from that day. April 20, 2014
I am so happy we can spend this holiday together. At one point when Madox was intubated, I didn’t think we would spend any more holidays together. Yet here we are, and he is smiling.
Valin really wanted to wake up with Madox Easter morning to hunt for eggs with him. So Valin and Madox slept in our bed, while Marco and I slept on the floor next to them— we can all wake up together. <3 Well guess who was the first to wake up? You guessed it, Madox! And at 5:15am to boot. He woke up energized asking if he can hunt for eggs. We said nothing till 6am so he laid back down and fell asleep until 6:30am where he proceeded to wake Valin up. Valin first ran out to the hallway and grabbed both their baskets. They both sat on the ground looking at all the items left for them by the bunny. Madox began to scooch himself to the hallway and saw the 2 rows of chocolate eggs leading down the stairs. This was a little tradition we had. Madox had told us before that this was his favourite part of hunting, was gathering his own line of eggs all the way down to the basement. So the boys each picked a line and started filling their baskets. Valin was already down the first set of stairs when Madox just made the top of the staircase. We got to the stairs and Madox was able to slowly guide himself down a step or two but needed help from me for the rest. I was so excited for him to be able to do even that! He seemed a little sad I needed to carry him down. He had mentioned he had wished to wake up on Easter able to walk. That broke my heart knowing how disappointed he was.
They started their hunt on the main floor. Madox used his walker for a few eggs, scooched for a few, and had dad carry him for a few. At one point I was filming Valin and looked down at Madox. He had gotten himself up on his hands and knees to crawl. HE WAS CRAWLING! When I said “oh Madox, I didn’t know you can do that”, he just responded “either did I”. So awesome! Then he kneeled at the breakfast table chair and pulled himself up. We were so excited we started hooting, hollering and clapping for him. You’d think he just won a marathon, which truthfully, this was harder. He had such a big smile on his face.
We had breakfast then Madox needed a nap. His left arm and shoulder were tired as he was trying to use it more than he was use to, so we massaged it while he fell asleep. As I massaged him I would just stare at his face with tears in my eyes. My active, full of life son was depleted after a 10 minute egg hunt. Never did he ever need a nap, and now he was heavily sleeping and fatigued for crawling in the house. Life just isn’t fair nor does it make sense. I wish I could have traded places with him, to avoid him of any pain and discomfort. 🙁
Afer his nap, we got dressed to go to his Nonni’s house. Madox wanted to dress nicely for nonna, so Marco and Valin followed suit. Nonna made all of Madox’s favourite foods, and he really enjoyed himself. He managed to stay awake to watch ‘Hop’ but we needed to leave soon after as his energy was getting low. Madox had a good Easter, and we definitely loved being able to enjoy Madox on this holiday.
Today we continue the traditions we had with Madox, but it will never be the same. Valin really needed his brothers help to find some eggs. Someone to wake early with while checking out their basket full of treats. His best friend to get a tummy ache from too many chocolates. Dad needed his second son when he and Valin wrestled after breakfast. I needed my baby boy to snuggle with as we played video games after lunch. We continue on with our lives, but it will never be the same. It will never be how it was, no matter how hard we try. Our hearts are too scarred. Happy Easter my sweet boy