He Changed My Soul

3 years.  How is it possible? I have gotten out of bed and continued breathing for 1,095 days without my son here on this earth.  April 25th, 2011 the world stopped turning and our lives and hearts were shattered as Tanner took his last breaths, snuggled in between Andrew and myself, holding our hands.  How do you live even one single second after watching your baby take his last breaths?  I’m not sure.  I don’t remember doing it… I don’t remember 3 years rushing by… laying in that bed with Tanner feels like yesterday, and it feels like a lifetime ago.  How can I even explain that?

Having children changes you.  It’s like taking on a new career, one that demands your utmost attention, every.  single.  minute.  Even if you get away from this “work”, thoughts of it are in your head (did he brush his teeth this morning?  did I pack him a snack?  I hope he isn’t getting an ear infection… and a long laundry list of other “worries” play over in my head while Chase is at school and I am at work).  Having a child with cancer changes all of those worries… (why is he nauseous, is it the meds or the tumor?  why is he having trouble walking today?  did he take all his meds?  why is he sleeping so much?  is his eyelid drooping?  he hasn’t been gaining any weight.  how are his counts (bloodwork)?  Does he have a cold or is this tumor progression?… this laundry list could go on for pages in my head when Tanner was sick…).

Losing your child to cancer changes your very soul.  It changes who you are.  You are a bereaved parent from that day until the day you meet your child again…

We have been avoiding Easter for the last couple of years.  Tanner passed away on Easter Monday of 2011, and the thought of celebrating a holiday that he died on is painful.  All holidays without your child are painful, but Easter is especially difficult.  In 2010, when treatment was going well, Tanner ran around our front lawn collecting plastic Easter eggs filled with “monies” (he loved filling his piggy bank).  He opened the first egg, saw the coins, and then didn’t even care about the others… he was happy with the first egg he found.  This  year, Chase asked us about the Easter bunny (and made sure he told me that he was hoping the Easter bunny would bring him a new bike!), so I dug out all the Easter decor and we celebrated Easter, with a full egg hunt in the backyard.  It’s a difficult feeling to describe, the “joyous pain” that is in my heart watching my little boy collect his eggs, knowing that I should be watching two little boys running around.  Celebrating holidays is always a reminder of Tanner’s absence.

Now, with Tanner’s “angelversary” coming up, I am constantly thinking about those last breaths.  I sometimes even slow my own breathing down to mimic them.  I often wish they were my last breaths instead of his.  It’s just not right, not fair, for your life to be cut off at the age of 3 1/2.  He was just the most amazing little boy, with such a beautiful heart.  And just like that, he was here three years, and now gone three years.  How and why does that happen?

Tanner kept the first Easter egg he found, satisfied with his prize.  I know that I, as a bereaved Mother, must do the same.  There is no “what if”, and as much as I wish I cannot go back in time and change what we were given.  I have said it before and I’ll say it a million times: I would rather have had 3 1/2 years with Tanner, than none at all.  I was given the most beautiful gift in the world, when I had Tanner.  My life changed because I became a parent.  But my soul changed because I was Tanner’s Momma.  In three years he taught me more than anyone else on this planet could offer me in a lifetime.  Because of Tanner, I am me.

And even though my heart aches and misses him and my soul is always crying, I wouldn’t change who I am for anything.

He is forever in my heart, I am forever broken-hearted.  His last breaths are in every breath I take, every single day.

Love Always,

Forever, Tanner’s Momma

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Tanner getting ready for an Easter Egg Hunt, 2010

This year, on Tanner’s angelversary, April 25th, 2014, we will be celebrating his life with The Lexiebean Foundation’s 4th annual Wish Upon A Star Gala, raising money to help children with cancer and their families.  We have dedicated our broken hearts to this amazing foundation, and will continue to do so, in Tanner’s memory, for as long as we live.  Any donations made to the foundation in Tanner’s honor on his angelversary are very much appreciated, and we are very grateful to all of you who continue to support us.

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