Kyle Matthews

10

Yesterday would have been Ezra’s 10th birthday.

We’re supposed to have three boys. We’re supposed to have a ten year old, and two 8 year olds.

We have an 8 year old.

Charley would have loved having brothers. He’s such a social kid. Robyn said it’s one of the many things that breaks her heart often still – that Charley was robbed of what would have been his best friends growing up.

He’s growing up an only child.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. For Ezra’s birthday, I’d love if you donate $1 a month through https://dollaramonth.club. Our friends at Team Parker for Life are donating $20 to Beat Nb for every person that joins – up to $50,000. And I mean… it’s $1. That’s no big deal.

I’ve been spending all my past couple weeks getting ready for our big gala, a week from today. Sat, Sept 8. There’s nearly a dozen families coming whose kids have had (or have) cancer. Half of those have lost their child. It weighs on me.

And we ARE making a difference. What we are doing to stop this from happening IS working. Our research chair, Dr Giselle Sholler, will also be at the event next week, sharing more of how it’s happening. Beating cancer today never changes the brokenness Robyn and I carry, but it adds joy.

Beauty peppered with tragedy is where we live.

Happy belated birthday, Ezra. We miss you.

I miss you.

I thank you for your courage

“Despite everything, I thank you for your courage, and wish you children of your own someday. So you’ll know what it’s like to want to save them from the world.”

I don’t know if you’ve been watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, but it’s intense, and you should. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s not for kids necessarily (maybe teens?). It’s a very real look at the harshness of bullying, coming of age, depression, and finding our place in the world.

I finished up the second season on a plane this weekend coming back from San Diego, and the line above (that image is the scene it’s said in) hit me hard.

I was in San Diego to attend a fundraiser the Shaw family puts on. Their son, Parker, has beat neuroblastoma, in part through the DFMO trial we’re helping to fund. His family is helping too – they’ve donated over $125,000 to Beat Nb already, through their nonprofit Team Parker for Life. Much of that was matched, so the impact is even higher.

Over dinner, I watched Parker play with his two younger sisters, and listened to him chat confidently about lacrosse (he plays), hockey, and all sorts of things.

The night before, the Sherman family drove a couple hours from La Quinta to share a meal and a walk on the Del Mar beach with myself and the Mikulak family. Each of us had lost a child to neuroblastoma. Kristin and Rick (the Shermans) lost their daughter Riley Rose just this year. Andy and Mel (the Mikulaks) lost their son Max 5 minutes before Ezra, my son, was born. 5 minutes. And we lost Ezra 800 days later.

We shared our stories again, as we’ve each done hundreds of times. We talked about hospitals, and funerals, and how we learned to hook our kids up to catheters and syringes and feeding tubes and count meds and watch our kids break as we broke too.

And I thought about our courage.

How it drives us to want to save kids from the world. In our case, specifically from neuroblastoma.

Google “courage,” and it returns a definition of “strength in the face of pain or grief.” And isn’t that us? Isn’t that this ragtag group we’re building? A bunch of broken parents, falling apart at the same time as saying it out loud holds us together, screaming and weeping and standing mountain tall against this happening to someone else.

In the scene from the picture at the top of the post, that man’s daughter had been raped. And the teen he was speaking to had seen it happen, and was telling the police. He had much to lose by telling, because it would implicate himself in other things. But it was tearing him up not to do something about it, because he could, even though it would hurt. So he did.

I cried on the plane when the dad said that to him, remembering the Shermans, the Mikulaks, the Shaws, and all the families I interact with on a daily basis who are strong through pain and grief, choosing to pour their lives into beating neuroblastoma. It is working. We are seeing more stories like Parker’s, where yes, cancer is terrible and scary and we walk around with PTSD, but our kids are BEATING cancer where hope used to be absent.

Ask these parents, and they’ll say they’re not strong. We’ll say it hurts all the time, and we’re broken, and we feel the pull to just curl up in bed sometimes… that it’s not easy. But we ARE strong. Strength isn’t ease, it is endurance. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt, it’s that we choose to continue nonetheless. Brokenness is often close with strength. The one breeds the other. Muscles must be broken to build, fire tempers steel, and adversity builds character. Weakness teaches us humility, and to depend on each other. Community lessens anxiety, and increases ability, strength. WE are strong.

So to every parent who stands with us at Beat Nb, and all the other groups who’ve dedicated themselves to being God’s hands against a wrong in this world, I thank you for your courage.

mothering

this was a submission to a blog post asking about “mothering outside of the margins.” it wasn’t accepted for publication, but hey, it’s the internet, anyone can publish. 

The act of becoming a mother, which involves nearly a year of wonderful discomfort, capped with certainly the most common great physical pain our bodies can know, is simple compared to mothering.

———-

My wife Robyn and I spent a year or two trying to figure out how to answer the question “how many kids do you have?”

What normal people call polite conversation, the blandest of exploratory “oh, we’re talking to each other now” material, is explosive depth for us. Here’s how it goes, almost every time…

“Hello, good to meet you. You from Tampa?”

“We grew up in Seattle, but we’ve been here 12 years now, [insert cheesy joke about Florida being hot, Seattle being cooler, and us now being used to it.]”

“Ha. Married?”

“Yeah, 12 years. I’m one of the ones who actually thinks marriage is amazing, but of course is also work.”

“Kids?”

And that’s where it always gets weird.

Eventually, we settled on “we’ve had three, we’ve lost two.” Six words that beg for explanation, yet give people the grace to step out if they have to (depending which person you are, you may be surprised at how many prefer to back out at that point with a feigned “oh, sorry to hear it.”)

It started rather picturesque, I suppose. My wife (the subject of this essay, which is about mothering, after all) came into a cell phone store I was working at, needing a phone. She was stuck in her contract, and I couldn’t get her a deal, but thought she was beautiful, so I offered to bring one of my “personal stock” to her work later that week. This was an obvious ploy to find out where she worked, and a week later we had our first date.

She was impressed that I tipped well. Robyn’s mom had been a waitress for several years after her dad died of cancer when she was 9 – teaching her from an early age the value of hard work, intimacy with grief, and life insurance. I somehow convinced her (and – with a little bit more difficulty – got her mother’s blessing) to move to Florida with me, where my family had moved the year before. After a year of living in Florida, we got married. We rented an apartment near some water, started getting used to the new place, and then Robyn was pregnant.

He was beautiful, Ezra was, and born absolutely healthy. Who Robyn was changed the moment she first held him, and I suspect the moment she first knew he was growing inside her. She has said often, “I was never sure what I wanted to be, and motherhood felt perfect.” Hilarious, sarcastic, witty, and with a unique ability to find people’s intention buried in their words, she had never felt quite fulfilled until she saw Ezra’s face. Held his hand. A year later, when they told us he had neuroblastoma cancer, the fierceness of her motherhood grew again.

That first year with Ezra, before we’d ever heard the word neuroblastoma, seems dreamy in my memories, almost like someone else lived it. I worked from home, and had no set hours. We’d stay up late with Ezra, wake up at 10 or 11 in the morning, and marveled the same as any parent as he discovered ants, our dog, dancing, and laughter. We refreshed our view of the world through his eyes, surrounded by friends, young and brilliantly naïve and happy in a way I hope everyone gets a chance to feel. Robyn had Ezra on a great schedule quickly, breastfed without any significant issues, and spent hours exploring the world with him, teaching him joy and curiosity. I felt honored to witness it, like when you haven’t really seen the stars for a long while, and finally get to a place where the city light’s don’t blot them out, and you say “oh – that’s what that should look like. Wow.”

Robyn took a pregnancy test the day Ezra started chemo. Our friend Lindsay brought it to her – I have no idea how she separated pregnancy signs from the shock of your firstborn being diagnosed with cancer and starting chemo, but she did, and she was right.

A few weeks later we found out it was twins.

Watching Robyn mother Ezra is one of the marvels I have witnessed. I am not (I hope) one of those bumbling fathers who can’t figure it out and simply leaves the children to the mom to raise. But I often felt like one while watching Robyn’s constant confidence, even while exhausted, even while they told us our son had a 60% chance at life, even while she carried two more sons as they told her this. I know, from many conversations with her, that she felt broken, scared, and weak as often as I did, but watching her mother Ezra you’d never have known this. She got him.

When they put her on hospitalized bed rest at 24 weeks with the twins, I could see how crushing it was for her. Ezra was getting radiation at the time, so I’d bring him to one hospital early in the morning, he’d get anesthesia and radiation, and when we finished I’d drive him over to another hospital, where Robyn was on bed rest. This lasted two weeks. The twins were born via emergency C-section at 26 weeks – Robyn’s second C-section, our 2nd and 3rd sons.

The smaller of the two, Price Nicholas, lived one week in the NICU before the complications of being born so early meant he was the first son we lost. Written on both her and mine arms is his birth weight; 1lb130z. I sang a song at his funeral, which Robyn helped me pick out.

Charley Adin, with many of the same issues, would spend 7 months in the NICU. The first time our family was all in the same building was at All Children’s Hospital in St Pete, FL. Charley, on the 6th floor in the NICU, Ezra on the 7th in the HemOnc (hematology oncology) unit getting stem cell transplant. We’d split our time between floors – between kids.

Robyn’s heart was full with Ezra. She knew him. I’ve seen lots of moms, and many who are great. Maybe everyone thinks their partner is a great mom… I don’t know, this isn’t about everyone. What I know is Robyn is a dragon mom – she is fierce. She is fire and strength. She loved Ezra fully, and just after he turned 2, when he died, a part of Robyn did too.

They told us in the NICU one visit, about Charley, “he’s going to come home soon, and that’s when it will really get hard.” That person had no idea our whole story, and Robyn simply broke into tears. He did come home, a month and a half before Ezra died, but we had already left to try and get Ezra on a clinical trial in Orlando. Charley’s first couple months of life were without us – Robyn’s mom Vivian lived in our Tampa home for that whole time, while Robyn and I fought for Ezra’s life 70 miles away. We were not victorious.

Although she eventually loved him first, it was hard for either of us to connect to Charley. I guess I’m not saying that right – we loved him, in the way of knowing he was ours and we must protect him and strive to connect to him… but neither of us could connect to him. Carrying our freshly gaping wound of losing Ezra, of 13 months of war against cancer, of failing, of crushing loss, Charley was more a collection of medical issues than a son. It took him months to smile. More months to laugh. While everyone else’s kids were learning to laugh, Charley was learning to breathe.

We had 24 hour nursing in the home for two years. Or somewhere toward the end of that it started lessening (18 hours… 12 hours…). Charley’s diagnosis is mild cerebral palsy – he’s also primarily fed through a G-tube, although now that he’s nearly 8, that’s starting to change. He has had a lifetime of checkups, syringes, surgeries, tubes and medications. And everywhere he goes, he hands out smiles to everyone who knows his name, which is everyone. Let’s be honest – he smiles at the ones who don’t know him too.

Mothering Charley was hard. It meant picking up grief and carrying it on her back, while knowing she felt very little of that same joy Ezra had brought toward Charley, yet also knowing it was there, and she had to push for it. Eventually, Robyn found that love for Charley. She found him. And she pulled me alongside, too, to find him.

Again, she is fierce, a dragon mom. Robyn has spent thousands of hours on phones, in offices, with doctors and therapists and educators and other advocates, pushing not only for Charley’s independence and understanding, but that of kids like him. She constantly makes sure I am active and included – part of her mothering being recognizing the value of close fathering.

I can see Robyn’s mothering in the way Charley approaches the world – confident of his timing (which is slower than many people’s), curious, and caring. He’ll have a 20 minute conversation about whether we should help the man we drove by who is homeless, full of insight grown adults don’t have about how we should help when we can. But if we walk by that person, he’ll spend that same amount of time sitting with them. He’ll introduce himself, ask questions, and share about himself. He is equally intrigued by a “typical” woman working security at the hospital as he is by the 13 year old in the wheelchair in the waiting room with him.

In Charley’s approach to life, Robyn’s mothering is tangible. She always says he’s magic, and years ago said “I can’t force him to my time. I have to slow down to his time, and be there in each moment.” She has taught me so much, and she is raising a boy who will become a man you’d like to know.

We have had three sons, and we have lost two. Robyn is, to this day, mother to each of them.

the weight

This is one of those weeks I’m feeling the weight of neuroblastoma.

A little guy named Miles died recently. More from his treatment than his cancer.

Kenna, a young lady we’ve been following nearly since she was diagnosed, is having a rough go right now, and needs all prayers on deck.

Every week I meet families who are walking through cancer with their kids like Robyn and I did with Ezra. I heard a song called “Heavy” which says “leave what’s heavy, what’s heavy behind.” In my job, what’s heavy is always here. The urgency, the weight, the gravitas… it is constant. It is inherent in what we are doing.

We put together events. We share photos which make you smile, and photos which make you cry, and try to gauge which gets people connected most. Of course there’s bunches of great needs, but it’s frustrating to know cute pics of puppies generally get more donations than a family fighting cancer alongside their kid. It’s not the same.

And it’s hard to pay attention to the other ambitions of life in these weeks, where the weight is so close I feel like the guy in a Facebook ad for one of those weighted blankets. But it’s not comforting – it’s exhausting. In these weeks, when you tell a joke my smile is slower. I find myself quieter in social situations.

I know the sadness isn’t where we live. What we DO is beat neuroblastoma (and other cancers now). We are part of a team of doctors, parents, scientists, and advocates who are literally curing cancer. We are standing at the place where kids used to die, sweating and shouting and working hard, and we are changing that reality. Where survival rates were ~60% when Ezra was diagnosed, kids on our trials see 85%+ survival. Where relapse rates were single digits, they’ve increased nearly tenfold on trials we’re helping make happen.

But kids still die. When I fell short with previous companies, we’d miss a deadline, or someone would have a lame experience buying something. Where we fall short today, families live with sons and daughters gone. Kids die.

The entire research consortium we’ve helped to build can run with $2.5m a year. The PEOPLE in this community are the ones who do things. Who you might not have heard of, because they’re heads down beating cancer. They’re the ones you’d never hear say “I don’t know, I’ve been looking for something with more purpose.”

I’m feeling the weight this week. Or maybe this month. It’s a tightness in my shoulders, or a “huh?” when you were talking to me a little bit and I missed it. It’s my brows furrowing as a resting state. Sometimes the urgency is energizing, but in this little moment, it’s just heavy.

grief

Grief from loss.

It is a terrible warm blanket, seducing you to set things aside, settle in, and relax in the comfort of sadness. Grief dulls passion, and blurs the clarity of a sun-lit ideascape.

Grief is noticing over and again the permanent absence of something which was beautiful, and each time newly feeling the ache of knowing that can even happen. Grief is those moments when your mouth smiles, but your eyes do not.

You don’t move past deep grief from loss. It is not a chapter; it is a thread of the story’s fabric. Grief is the color of the ink on the page – less content, more substance. Grief is a gentle sadness unfairly wed to joy through memory, sometimes raging from its quiet confidence into debilitating largeness.

Living with grief necessitates sunlight. Perhaps not the literal rays of the sun, although that too, but clarity of vision toward the achy strangeness of loss. A vocalization of your place in it at this moment, and permission for God and your people to be in it with you.

Grief brings brokenness, but brokenness does not carry the weakness we ascribe to it. There is humility in brokenness, and that humility brings a shift in perspective. A deeper searching, a greater desire for meaningful relationship, a stronger attention toward those of us who carry brokenness. I also feel a pull in this brokenness, toward tranquility and wisdom over ambition and vogue. I fail at this, and second-guess myself, but undeservingly rest in grace and keep after it.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 9:17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Maybe grief has no will, and should not be given the hat-tip of personification. Maybe grief is only the discovering of a truth which is not easy: that loss is a natural destination of possession, of nearness. That life is fragile, and not promised. That “fair” is fable, or more likely simply isn’t what our immature minds told us it meant; what our comfort begs us to wish it means.

I am told we will see our children again. I wish this gave me more peace. It gives me some. It’s hard to visualize what it means. Still – whatever Heaven is like, it is not the same as here, and we have lost them here. We have lost that beautiful moment of decades exploring this odd and magical world together, of crying and laughing and learning and falling apart. We cannot have those things back, and my God, how I long for them.

father’s day

I miss Ezra every day.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It was a good day for me. It was also a heavy one. I woke up yesterday to find out Tessa had died – this young lady battling neuroblastoma who I’d met only once, but whose approach to life moves me. I saw in her something I knew in Ezra – a zesty snap toward smiling, and a wisdom she shouldn’t need to have yet. To all the fathers who have holes in their heart, and today especially to Bobby Prothero, I am with you.

And we are here. Still. Insensibly, we bumble on while everything else does. I know, logically, it matters that we work to change what we can. That Beat Nb is working to stop kids from dying. That the dinners and phone calls and laughter in my own home work to prove there is love within loss. “Pain and joy can coexist.”

I know it’s been this way forever. I’m not naive enough to posture any of our current struggle (“our” me or “our” all of us) as unique. Still, it’s not right, and it weighs on me. In a broken world, we are broken people.

We make a difference. It can never, WILL never be fast enough. I don’t know how to wrap my head around that. It is war, and the enemy is cancer. The “cost” we pay to one day (I hope sooner than we think) beat cancer is too high. It is my son, Ezra. It is Tessa. It is Brooke. Max. Emma. Melina. Ronan. Alex. Lola. Among the many, many names I will never forget.

And more and more names of kids BEATING cancer. Sofia. Rea. Parker. Lily-Mae. Isaiah. Anthony. John. Cannon. Not just lists of names – all of these kids are stories I know and can tell well. This reality of so many beating cancer just wasn’t the case when Ezra was diagnosed. Oh sure, it happened often enough. But not with the frequency it does now. Sweet evidence we are beating neuroblastoma.

I’ll never be ok with how much it has cost.

my son, Ezra

My son, Ezra.
——
I know life isn’t fair. I’m a grown up now, and I get it. Things happen, and sometimes they are with reason, and sometimes they are without. My son, Ezra, died seven years ago after fighting neuroblastoma cancer for 13 months. When I watch this video, I am broken over and again by the smallness of the moment, the casual magnificence. Oh, for another moment like that with him…

I carry that soul-screaming loss every day. I am a hopeful man, and for years after Ezra died I struggled to hold that hope. It wandered from me, tether-snapped back, and hid in the cracks in my bones left by the pain of loss. But I am a hopeful man.

Grief isn’t a season. Grief is a separate and simultaneous piece of your heart. It will not – should not – go away, and we simply continue. It is easy, and in some sad way comforting, to let grief overcome hope. I’m not sure if I’m saying that right… maybe to… rest in grief? Every moment I have a decision to carry or to be consumed by it. Not in an “unhealthy” way of not “moving through” something… I guess I’m saying simply this: you can not forget the child you’ve lost, and must still choose how to approach the world.

But I am a hopeful man. And I am surrounded by many hopeful people – who’ve known this icy clenched hand around their heart, who’ve stayed up crying for their sons and daughters, who’ve lost, who’ve fought, who’ve beaten cancer.

We may occasionally complain, but if we do it is because we choose to change this truth of childhood cancer. We may take days off because the closeness and weight of it all is too overwhelming that day. But usually – mostly – we are beating neuroblastoma.

Life is not fair. And terrible things sometimes happen for no reason. But WE choose to take tragedy as tempering. WE choose to stand when the shaking is furious, and to build practical and effective hope. We do this through research and clinical trials, understanding intimately the very thing which ripped our children from us, a terrible respect for cancer’s maliciousness.

600 kids. 30 hospitals. 19 clinical trials. 10 years. And so very many families who know a different truth than the one of loss my family (and many others) have, because of our work. I speak with depth of emotion because you cannot tell these stories without it.

Thank you for being a part of curing cancer for kids. #WEWillBeatNb

Because of Ezra…

A lot of emotion today in people’s posts. Yesterday was hard, but not because of the election. It was hard because it marked 6 years since we lost Ezra. This morning I thought of his funeral, and the table of notecards we set out asking people to complete the sentence “Because of Ezra…”

We kept all those notecards. They are in a wooden box in our home. This morning, as everyone was sharing anger, fear, hope, happiness, silence, and many other things, I took that box out and looked through it. I was struck and honored by the impact our Ezra’s short 2 years of life had.

So I put a bunch of the quotes up on a website at http://ezramatthews.com/. Maybe take a peek if you’re stuck trying to make sense of something difficult, and if you’re feeling hopeful too. Everything each of us does has impact. Inspire good. Know that no one else decides how you care for those around you except yourself.

tomorrow is Karaoke for the Kure (video inside!)

Every time I see a kid like Sofia, beating neuroblastoma because of work we’re doing, my heart breaks in so many ways – good too. 6 years after Ezra died, I’m now friends with many people whose kids had or are beating neuroblastoma. And lots have lost kids, like Robyn and I. But the stories of kids beating neuroblastoma ARE becoming more normal. In just 6 years, we are seeing a difference.

I’ve said before – it’s too slow. The stakes are too high. I know too many kids who aren’t here anymore, and the huge smiles we have with each success are coupled with sad eyes knowing so many kids who weren’t saved. Still, we push forward because that’s not good enough. And it IS changing.

Robyn and I are just two people of the passionate and EFFECTIVE group we’re surrounded by in beating this cancer. I could mention 50 people right now who are either DOING the actual research, whose kids are on our trials, who are helping to fund research, raising awareness, or all of the above. We are strengthened and encouraged by the group we are a part of.

Please come to Karaoke for the Kure – Tampa tomorrow. I know it’s yet another event, and it costs money, and there’s other stuff going on, and blah blah blah. But I say this with full confidence: kids are alive today because of Beat Nb and the NMTRC’s work. So come celebrate what we’re doing, and be a part of the change we’re affecting. There’s work left to do.

https://beatnb.org/k/tampa/ for tickets.

I’ve still got a few tickets left which are sponsored (read: free for you), and some discount codes if the price is an issue. But it’s a charity event – full price is just as appreciated. 😉 Regardless, I’d love to see you.

the day I became a dad

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I was 26 years old when we had our first son. Facebook is terribly wonderful for me, as we can look back with such detail. At 5:25am, we were at the hospital, for what wound up being a false alarm. At 12:42pm, we were timing contractions. By 1:52pm, we were back at the hospital. And at 11:10pm, less than an hour before September 1st, Ezra was born.

The next day, I posted this:

I’ve cried every time I read those words while writing this post this morning.

August 31st is always a strange day for me. Our friends Andy and Melissa Mikulak, who are now part of Beat Nb with us, lost their son Max to neuroblastoma less than 2.5 hours before Ezra was born. We love you guys.

The day before Ezra’s second birthday is when we found out Ezra had relapsed. And of course, September 1st marks the beginning of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. So, all the feels right now, every year.

I remember singing at church one day not too long after Ezra was born, and sharing a realization I’ve heard from many new fathers since then. The way a father loves a son. The depth that feeling carries. Watching it change my relationship with God. You can explain in words the ache to see your child thrive, the joy in watching them do even the most absolutely normal things, more fully than ever understanding what love is, finding this “I’ll protect you at all costs” feeling which seems as much a part of you as the blood in your veins. But it doesn’t do it justice. You cannot grasp the feeling of being a parent without having a kid. It’s wonderfully exhausting.

You watch your child, and see how innocent, how curious, how amazed they are by the simplest things. A piece of you which may have been jaded as you’ve come to know the world’s ways brightens and flourishes again. My dad said it this way:

You know, I never had a chance to teach him to shoot a free throw. Never had a chance to teach him to throw a curveball. Never taught him to read the grain on a 14 foot putt, but I can’t do that anyway, so…

But he taught me. He taught me to love again, he taught me to live again, he taught me to focus on the amazing little things in life. Like a stick whipping into a pile of leaves or an ant in the crack of a sidewalk. Or watermelon. Vanilla ice cream. He taught me to laugh again, get back in touch with the humanity that I had begun to miss in my life.

And then to have it ripped away.

It is constant, still, my pain of loss. Sometimes a deep ache, sometimes sharply fresh.

I realize I echo similar thoughts every year on Ezra’s birthday, and I was thinking over this post as I was writing it, wondering if I should be trying to frame it all some other way, or deliver some poignant new point, a sound bite or a quotable moment. An “aha.”

But no, these are my feelings. This is the reflection that hits me every year on August 31st, Ezra’s birthday. Robyn and I don’t have a tradition. We’ve tried lots of things – champagne at his grave, happy days, reflective days, sad days. Nothing feels right. And that’s probably fine – it’s not right. We’ve never shied away from recognizing and embracing the pain we carry, understanding it’s a part of us, not the whole. But it is a deep and integral part of us. Sometimes, a thing just hurts. And “that’s the thing about pain – it demands to be felt”.

So happy birthday, Ezra. Your mommy said it right – you’re our little life changer.