Four years ago today, our family's life light dimmed forever. But though the shadows became deeper and darker, our eyes became finer tuned at looking into those dark places and finding new ways to light them up. Max's death tore a hole in our hearts that will never be fully closed or repaired. But in attempting to mend that hole, great things have happened. Of course, we would trade all those great things in a second to have Max back in our arms. Still, his legacy lives on in many ways and it's what keeps us going, every day.
Even though this picture is technically very poor, it's one of my favorites. On one of our last nights of a not-so-perfect August trip to Disneyland before Max died, Melis took Hannah and Nicky to a show that evening in the park. Max was not up for much so he and I hung back at the hotel. Max's legs were hurting and he used the wheelchair frequently. It was hot and fairly humid that week in Anaheim, but Max wore a sweatshirt most of the time anyway. Max wanted to go to the Lego store in Downtown Disney so I said sure, and we walked there by his choice. The walking was tough, you could tell every step was intentional. But he did it with a few rest stops. When we got to the Lego store, he was in his preferred mode and quite happy. He picked out a spider droid since he had just seen The Clone Wars movie. On the walk back to our hotel, Max proclaimed, "this is the happiest day in my life!" in the super-squeaky high voice that he had. His statement tore me up quick - I knew there might not be many more opportunities, if any, to hear him say something like that. While at the same time, I was in my own reality-distortion-field trying to avoid acknowledging the inevitable, I didn't think at the time he'd be gone in less than a month.
Touch A Truck and MaxRun
Max inspired Melissa to create Touch A Truck. Since 2009, it has become one of the biggest events of its kind in the country - over 8,000 are expected this Sept. 29 at Qualcomm Stadium. In the course of producing, promoting and holding the event, tens of thousands of people have been exposed to the message that childhood cancer kills, and that its up to us parents - not the government, not academia, not the press - to keep driving towards a cure. Awareness > funding > research > cure. It's that simple.
Melissa has really pulled an amazing thing off this year (with a lot of help from amazing people such as a cast of neighbors, friends, supporters and good 'ol-fashioned volunteers that just want to help). Here's just some of the cool stuff happening at Touch A Truck - it's gonna definitely be bigger and better (and clearly louder) than last year!
- Robosaurus will be doing 2-3 LIVE shows. Max would love this (is loving this).
- 15+ food trucks will be serving a ton of food.
- 2 stages featuring live music.
- Car-themed activities (slot cars, pinewood derby races, etc)
We always and continually need your support, here's how you can help!
Picture Your Life After Cancer
A New York Times/American Cancer Society book "Picture Your Life After Cancer" is coming out October. Check out the photo on the top row, third from the right. That's Hannah and Nicky, during our first photo shoot without Max. Building awareness and making sure that the story gets told that "kids get cancer; kids die from cancer." It's not just bald smiling kids...
I should be so happy with this photo, but I'm not. It's a kick in the face every time we get a beautiful sunset shot from our beautiful bluff a stone's throw away from our front door, with our
three two beautiful kids.... oh, did I say three kids? Oh, wait, that's the problem now isn't it?
Why can't this picture be perfect? Why instead of seeing two happy, awesome kids that get along with each other overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean sunset, do I instead see what's missing?
To the unknowing eye, we're quite possibly living the dream. To us and other parents out there who've lost a child to cancer, we know that every memory*, everything good* since 8/31/08 has an asterisk next to it.
We love you Max. We miss you everyday. We have faith that we will see you again.