8/31/2009

Strange

Today I'm taking off work to just "be" on this first anniversary of Max's passing. I won't fool you, I have nothing profound to say today. No magical insight. No message of hope and better days ahead. The process of grieving is unique to each of us, but it all follows somewhat similar paths.

Since joining this "most exclusive club that no one wants to belong to" 365 days ago, I've become a sort of connoisseur of other angel parent's blogs that are either ahead or behind me in the grieving process. For lack of something to say here myself, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite entries/efforts here. Check them out if you can. Or save them for viewing later. They all hold inspiration, truth and hope in their words and pictures.

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The very personal (and moving) story surrounding the death and cremation of their child, Lucas, who passed away from neuroblastoma on 10/16/07.

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Coming from Leigh Saxon, who along with her husband Terrill and brothers Jack and Whit, lost their Paul to neuroblastoma on 7/14/07, what it's like to continue to function "normally" while dealing with the loss of a child.

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The Dolling family lost their Spencer on 5/21/08. More than any other family I've known (even if only virtually), they epitomize Living Life to the Max. Here is the blog post they wrote a few weeks before Spencer died. And here is their latest adventure.

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Erin passed away less than six months ago on 4/9/09. Erin's mom Vickie Buenger, who raised probably one of the female gender's best hopes for President of the United States, introduced a US Congressman and friend of Erin's at a recent town hall meeting on health care. This is what she said.

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So many other NB angel parents remain in the fight, but perhaps aren't the most wordy of bloggers like myself. But I want to take a moment on this day, the day before Childhood Cancer Awareness month begins, to acknowledge them and their efforts. It would be easy for them and for Melissa and me, to just walk away from the whole dang thing and simply live. To be honest, some may think that we are simply grieving by continuing to fight for a cure.... that this is therapeutic for us. I wish it were that simple. Believe me, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. There are only 24 hours in a day. Most all angel parents are still parents to other kids that need time, attention, love, and a roof over their head. This work takes away from hobbies, vacations, and families. It is not without reward, but it is not without costs either. To these angel parents, I say simply, "thank you."


There are many other foundations run by many exceptional angel parents and I do not mean to imply that their work is less important or otherwise not worthy of mention by their lack of inclusion in my list. Those above are merely the ones where I am personally familiar with the parents involved.

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So many of our days feel strange because Max is not with us. No matter what we're doing - whether we're having fun (we do), or feeling melancholy (we do) - the feeling is there. Something's missing. It's that one-armed thing that Leigh writes about. Today, we are just hanging out. Hannah starts 5th grade today at a new school (5-6 only), and we will be dropping her off together as a family. She is somewhat nervous but mostly about homework. Max would have been starting 3rd grade. So many "I wonders" around this missed milestone: I wonder who his teacher would have been; I wonder which kids would have been in his class; I wonder how he'd be doing in math, and what he would be writing about. It will feel strange not to show up at Solana Highlands on this first day of school.

Because our summer update post was thin on pictures, here are some highlights from this summer with a few of Max thrown in just for fun.

Starting out with Max's 7th birthday...






We got him a Wii. We made him open the games first, as he didn't know/expect a Wii. So he got a bunch of games but to him, they were for the "wrong game system."



Finally, when he opened the big box, it all made sense to him and he laughed so hard, and of course was very excited too!





This summer we've made it to the beach a lot in the past few weeks. Before August, it's been quite frankly, not very nice beach weather. The past two weeks have been pretty, pretty good however, with the water temp around 70 and the air at least that warm if not warmer.



Nic and Hannah are slowly learning to play together, well, Hannah is learning to tolerate playing with Nic so that Nic has someone to play with until we can scare him up some friends.

This summer, we also...



Did the 4th of July bike parade thing...



Hung out around cool airplanes...



Went to the park after Pizza Port dinner...



Explored the trails below our house a bit more...



Saw Hannah off to two weeks (non-consecutive) of sleep-away camp...



Stumbled across some dinosaurs at the Wild Animal Park...



And missed...



Our Max everyday...



Thank you all for your messages today. We feel your love for us and Max. We know he remains strong in your memories, as he is in ours.

Andy & Melis

15 comments:

Shannon said...

Thought about you all today and wondered what you were up to...thank you for keeping us up to date with this blog. As you know, our daily lives have us busy but doesn't mean we aren't thinking of you and Max. xo.

Kevin Seidel said...

Sending much love your way guys.

Anonymous said...

SImply there are no words....I have been thinking of Max and all of you all day. You are as always in my prayers.

With Hope
Abra McKean

BreezieGirl said...

In my thoughts and prayers...

Deqlan said...

Always in our thoughts and prayers, always. I wanted to do something for childhood cancer awareness month and want to honor all the heroes by doing a post on our blog each day - would you mind if i did one on Max? God Bless, prayers always, Samm mom to Deqlan www.deqlanhiggins.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all the photos... Sorry is so inadequate, but I'm sorry for all your pain and the other angel parents, too. xo lisa
PS Max's teacher would have been me! :)

Anonymous said...

So sorry...my friend lost her son in an accident about 6 years ago and it took her awhile to feel somewhat stable. But eventually she was able to use her grief to help others. I hope the same for you. Take care of ourselves. Angela (friend of the Hutchinson's)

Anonymous said...

A beautiful blog, Andy. Thanks for sharing the pictures. They are, as always, beautiful and bring that bit of brightness into our lives.
You are all in our thoughts and prayers everyday.
Much love, Nana

Anonymous said...

The members of this club are the most incredible people one can ever know.

I can't tell you how often I think of Max. I am always touched by your heartfelt postings, and so it is not so odd that I have so much affection for a little boy I have never met. Because you've shared so much, I know he is so very loved and missed every moment of every day. While knowing that nothing can ever take away the pain, I hope your memories of Max bring some measure of peace and comfort....

Shirley
NJ

Leigh William said...

Andy & Melissa,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a difficult day with us all. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers daily, and my door will always be open for hugs.

Much love for you all-
Leigh

Bree said...

No words of wisdom or anything really great to say, just wanted to let you guys know that I am thinking of you.
Hugs,
Bree

Grandma Blanche said...

To max's wonderful family,your in my thoughts and prayers.I loved the pictures of all the kids Max and Hanna and big little nick.We miss our Max Dearly!He was a fireball!Always will remember him.
Love Blanche

Anonymous said...

Andy I always talk to Missy, but I was just reading your post from Monday and wanted you to know we love you and think of you too!
Jenee :)

Anonymous said...

It was this time last year we took our first (and, so far, only) trip without Lucas. We flew to San Diego for a house hunting trip. I woke up that morning and checked my email before we met with the realtor. I sat there as my heart sank and tears blurred the words on the screen - Max had passed and Melissa was still lying with him. The realtor picked me up and I started to tell her about Max. Tears streamed down her cheeks also.

This past Monday was a horribly difficult day for me with uncontrollable crying. I look back and wonder if I subconsciously knew it was that exact day that Max passed compounded by missing Lucas. Though I never had a chance to meet your beautiful son, I fell in love with him all the same.

The arches on my wall that separates the living room and dining room are painted flame orange and evertime I look at them, I smile thinking of Max(there are 3 along that wall and if you step back and imagine - it looks like a lower case "m").

Kira started second grade last week. Max came to mind - he was in second grade and maybe he could have given Kira some advice to alleviate her anxiety of moving up a grade.

I'm so sorry.

Warm hugs,
t

Leigh said...

Andy & Melissa,

Thanks so much for continuing to fight this nasty disease called Neuroblastoma. You're right: it would be so easy to walk away. I'm so glad that you have chosen to continue, even though I'm sure there are days when you'd like to quit.

I really enjoyed Melissa's post on the 23rd. I could relate to what you said about Max being the missing bridge. Paul was also our bridge. So much is interrupted when a child dies.

Did you know that Ring of Fire is on the new Guitar Hero? We don't own it yet, but we will soon. And you know what will be the very first song we'll play?... And think of Max...

Together,
Leigh

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