A Time for Recovery

Up here in the Northeast we were brutally hit by hurricane Sandy.  Our own home was fortunately not damaged, however we, like many others, were without power for 2 weeks.  I learned over that time, that I would not be good at camping.  I don’t consider myself high maintenance, but I need to be able to do laundry, take warm showers, and fulfill the basic needs of my 2 ½ year old, who does not understand the meaning of “we have no power”.  Luckily for us, my husband is an electrician, and our home ran on generator during the power outage.  Getting the gasoline to run the generator was quite a challenge, with 4 hour waiting lines to get just 10 gallons of gas, but it was worth it to keep the house warm, so we waited.  Still, I have friends who’s entire houses are gone.  GONE as in washed out to sea.  GONE as in nothing left, no furniture, no cars, no front door.  GONE as in everything they owned was destroyed.  I look at these friends, (who we are eager to help rebuild starting next weekend!) and think… wow, how do they do it?  They have small children, they are living with family, their home is completely destroyed, and they won’t be back in it for likely months!  I ask what I can do to help them, and their response:  “Melissa, thank you for offering to help us, but don’t you understand, what we lost, it’s just stuff.  We learned this from you, from Tanner.  We will be ok!”  Wow.  There’s perspective, and there’s perspective, but it’s amazing how in the face of some of the worst adversity ever, some people just get it.  These aren’t even close friends, I believe they met Tanner once, yet they get it.  Thank goodness for compassionate people in this world… we all need to hold each other up.

Today is one of those days that I need holding up.  Today is Tanner’s 5th birthday.  Sometimes I just don’t understand how it is possible that my son, my baby, the baby I gave birth to just 5 years ago, on the happiest day of my life, is not here.  He is not in my arms, I do not get to wake him up with a birthday hug and balloons, and we do not have birthday cake.  I don’t know what kind of party he would have wanted.  I don’t get to see him open his presents, wild with excitement as he gets one great gift after the next, from so many people who love him.  There won’t be any candles, and there will be no wish.  The only wish I have is one that cannot be fulfilled.  I wish for a life with Tanner back in it.  Now, all I can look forward to is someday, seeing him again.  Today on his birthday, we went to the cemetery, placed flowers, a birthday sign, some new toys and beads and we sat there – a Momma, Daddy and 2 ½ year old baby brother, singing happy birthday to a gravestone.  We wanted to send balloons to heaven, but there was no helium left at the party store.

I know Tanner is in my heart.  I know he watches over us.  I know Chase sees him.  I know these things because Tanner is the very best at sending signs.  This morning Chase woke up singing “Old MacDonald”, Tanner & Daddy’s favorite song, and when we turned on the television, Stanley was celebrating a birthday.  When I came downstairs, Chase was playing with his fire truck, (Tanner was an honorary fire chief at Elmont Engine #3 FD), and Chase wanted to wear his Thomas shirt today “like Tanner”.  I am so lucky to get so many signs, and we are so acutely aware of them, but it doesn’t change the pain in my heart, the longing to hold my baby.

The victims of hurricane Sandy suffered a great loss, and we are so very sensitive to their needs.  My husband and I drove down to Long Beach, where my mother lives, to make sure she was safe, and to distribute things like blankets and clothes and water.  We help others in any way we can because that is the right thing to do.  However, what I want to shout from the rooftops is: you will recover.  It will take time, months, years even, but you will recover.  You lost homes, and property and it is absolutely devastating.  But in a few years time, when you look back and remember how devastating hurricane Sandy was, think of the bereaved parents who have lost their children to cancer.  I will never have him back, and it maybe selfish, but I can’t think of any greater loss.  I will never again be able to celebrate my son’s birthday with him, the way it should be, in this home, or in any other home.  I will never hear his sweet voice call me momma again.

Now, let’s all help each other, because childhood cancer isn’t something that comes in, and then is rebuilt.  It is a never-ending hurricane, and it takes our children from us every single day.  It is never-ending, under-funded and under publicized.  For two weeks we have watched the devastation of Sandy on the news.  Imagine the awareness it would bring to watch two weeks of coverage of the millions of children with pediatric cancer?  Imagine if Tanner, and so many of his friends, were shown on the news, fighting this monster of a disease?  Maybe then there would be worldwide awareness and better funding.  We can make it happen, we just need everyone to have a little perspective.

And please always remember, for us grieving parents, there is no time long enough to recover.  We are forever wounded.

Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven my sweet angel Tanner Jayden, you are loved and missed beyond any words I could possibly say.

Tanner’s Momma

P.S.  for Tanner’s birthday, we ask that if you are able to, a donation in any amount be made to The Lexiebean Foundation.  The more money we can raise, the more children we can help.  Tanner watches over his cancer warrior friends, I know it.  He would have wanted to help them over any presents, anyday.  Thankyou, it is appreciated more than you may know.   lexiebean.wpengine.com

Tanner’s 3rd and last birthday with us.

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  1. Melissa, this is so beautifully written. Happy Birthday to your sweet boy!

    Comment by Megan on November 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm

  2. thank you megan!

    Comment by Tanner's Momma on November 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm

  3. You have brought tears to my eyes. I feel selfish complaining about Bethany’s problems when compared to losing a child.

    Comment by Sylvia on November 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm

  4. a mom of a special needs child has every right to complain… you are in no way selfish!! you should be a proud momma though, because I believe that all of her accomplishments are directly related to the wonderful parenting and love you show her. <3 xo

    Comment by Tanner's Momma on November 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm

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