One year ago today we held our son in our arms as he died.
It was the second time we’d done so that year.
It feels like it just happened, but it also just as often feels like decades ago. We visited Ezra’s grave today, with a few close friends. I was surprised I didn’t feel more emotional while sitting there… the sun was warm, and whoever is buried next to Ezra (Trudy McAdoo – hey hey, McAdoos), was kind enough to make her headstone a bench, so I sat there soaking in the sun thinking about the day we buried Ezra. While I was thinking of that, three deer were grazing a bit away from us at the edge of the cemetery and the forest. There was a slight breeze, although it felt a bit too hot.
Mostly I just felt peaceful.
We don’t feel peace every day. Robyn spent most of her (sure, young) life wondering what she wanted to do. She often tells me when Ezra was born she felt so complete – she simply… knew him, and was the happiest I’d ever seen her – rolling around on the floor with him singing, playing, and being an incredible mother. The video at the top of this post was every day with Robyn and Ezra, usually even when he was sick (although he was sometimes less energetic those days). The day we lost him she was broken in a way I hadn’t anticipated (we were both, and still are, broken in many, many ways). She had lost that deep, self-validating, purpose-infusing connection she had with Ezra. Something nothing else in life had quite given her. The bond a mother who truly adores her son feels.
Robyn is an incredible mother.
I swear she and Ezra could talk to each other telepathically, ha. Ezra knew I was fun, but he knew mom would bring comfort. He could be covered in tears, and 3 seconds in her arms would calm him down. She fought for him like a lioness, and she loved him with depth and honesty. I could hear their laughter from any place in the house when she tickled him and they screamed with happiness. Robyn had notebooks full of research material, and bunches of tabs open in her web browser at any time reading up and asking questions about neuroblastoma and how we could fight more.
Robyn is an incredible mother.
Ezra would sleep on my chest a lot in the hospitals. Beds are in scarce supply, and couches and chairs are appreciated but not exactly comfort-filled. Robyn has dozens of pictures on her iPhone of Ezra and I fast asleep in some hospital chair or sofa. I always thought it was funny she took those, but they’re some of my favorite pictures of he and I now. I miss my son.
An anniversary of a death is a weird thing. There are no “traditional” things you do. We wondered if we should feel sad, or think through Ezra’s life more… really, it didn’t feel different than any other day without Ezra.
Not a day goes by – not one hour – that I don’t picture Ezra. To you perhaps he was a story; maybe you met him. Maybe you spent quite a bit of time with him. I hope his small life continues to make people change for the better. I don’t care how, really – I don’t care if you smile more; if you decide to fight against things like this that take our children; if you let your love be freer and more vocal; if you look for joy in every God-granted moment because you know so many miss it. Every story affects everyone different. But I hope Ezra’s affects you. Somehow. For good.
I’m happy often. I really am. Sometimes I lose all my energy and get overwhelmed by the weight of the loss. There’s no “fixing” grief; it becomes a part of who you are – you take it, you learn from it, you adapt to having it as an occasional companion. Loss doesn’t define me; grief isn’t who we are. I do not think it’s anything that ever completely leaves though – and I wouldn’t want it to. How much more we understand the looks we see in broken people’s eyes now. How real the truth we have to help.
Charley is coming along slowly but surely – he makes his own pace in life, and he’s a stubborn little man who is completely ok with this. I’ll write an update on him next week, and get you all some updated photos. He’s learning to crawl, and is stronger every day.
It’s November now, and the cold is coming in. Well, the Florida cold. We wrap up in an extra blanket at night, and put our jackets on when we leave the house. The crisp air is invigorating.
At Ezra’s service, someone asked people to write on cards “Because of Ezra,” and a brief sentence of how he’d affected them. Robyn and I read through the hundreds of cards today. Thank you, everyone.
Because of Ezra… we are better.