A year without you (after losing you to childhood cancer)

by Deena on April 6, 2013

In my dreams you are 5 years old, you hair is the color of summer wheat and your eyes sparkle green in the light. You are laughing and running from me… looking over your shoulder waiting for me to catch you. I chase you but not too quickly, I love seeing your smile and how pleased you are with yourself that you are outrunning me. But eventually I catch up to you. I pull you up into my arms and swing you around laughing. You lean back and stretch your arms out towards the sky in pure joy as we twirl… then you look back at me, reaching and I bring you in close. I breathe in your scent. And for a moment time stands still and I think how lucky I am and how perfect the day is….

But then slowly something starts pulling at the edge of my consciousness. There is an unsettling, a whisper that I can’t quite hear. I feel myself grow tense. My heart starts to race. I am confused and become anxious. I hold you tighter trying to protect you. While my mind searches, trying to make sense.

Then the images start to filter in. Each like an individual photograph that has been captured in time.

And I am no longer holding you… you are no longer 5 years old. You are standing in front of me…. older but your age becomes undefinable.

I start to back away, angry. The images of your life become sharper, as I begin to remember the details.

“What is this?” I say.

You say “Mom, it’s me.”

NO“, I say. “Where is your scar?” “You have a scar that travels the length of your arm.”

My mind starts to fight for consciousness, I do not want to be here.

“You had cancer” I say to him

And he just watches me now. His eyes patient. His mouth is a quiet smile.

His eyes just search mine.. waiting.

My mind screams out. Suddenly, I am awake. Tears streaming down my face. I’m crying so hard that I can’t breathe. I’m shaking uncontrollably. I stare up at the ceiling and silently beg God, the universe, to just make it stop. I want to let out scream but there is no sound that could match the pain.

You died. YOU LEFT ME.

It’s been a year since I watched you take your last breath. Everyone says the pain will get easier… I think “everyone” hasn’t lost a child.

I want to tell you that I’m sorry… That I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you and keep you safe. That I’m sorry I lied when I said “you would be ok”. And in the end, I’m sorry that I lied when I said “I would be ok”.


I asked your brothers how they thought we should honor you today… They said we should spend the day having fun and being silly because that’s what you would want. So that’s what we’ll do… because we can’t be with you.











And tonight we will light a candle and blow it out at 10:15PM as we remember how much we have lost in losing you…


I love you, Owen.





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kaytee April 22, 2014 at 12:27 am

The story of your son has touched me. I can see his point of view that the game is An escape from reality. I us it as my escape my my crohns. I’m glad he got his wish, and I love the addition they made in game. 🙂 I am going to pray for you and your family!

admin June 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Kaytee thank you for your sweet message. Hugs to you!

April Zambetti September 23, 2013 at 9:27 am

I just read this post, and I am heartbroken for you. My best friend lost her little boy four years ago, and she held him and sang to him as he passed on. It was an experience that forever and ever altered the who that I am. I am so sorry. I now that is the dumbest thing to say, but I am so so sorry. There should not be a world in which a parent outlives a child. I wish you peace.
April Zambetti

admin November 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear about your best friend’s son. Just remember the greatest gift you can give her is to remind her that you remember him. Warm regards, Deena

Renate May 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I just stumbled on your site looking for a review fo Tracy anderson and saw your letter- I have 2 boys myself and was not expecting to find this – I am heart sick for your loss and cannot imagine the emptiness and devestation of losing a child. I am so soryy for your loss.

Christi April 7, 2013 at 12:05 am

Oh, Deena. I wanted to reach out to you but, I find myself struggling to find the appropriate words. I think that you are doing the best that you can, just as you always have for yourself, Owen and your entire family. I don’t believe that anyone can truly understand what you are going through even if they have experienced such a loss because each person’s journey is personal and individual. You are an amazing person! Please don’t even forget that. I don’t think you could ever bring yourself to be dishonest with anyone. It’s just not who you are. I think that you told Owen and yourself what you needed to hear and what you and everyone else wished to happen. It wasn’t a lie, it was hope and it was right. I cannot believe that it has been a year. It just seems unfair that life goes on like it does. But, I truly believe that your magnificent child would want you to keep living your life to the fullest and keep loving without restraint. I always think about you. You are always in my heart. Just keep doing whatever it is that you are doing that is more than enough.

admin April 9, 2013 at 8:28 am

Thanks Christi,
And you are right the best way to honor his life is to stay presence and live fully. So we will do that one moment at a time.

Julie April 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm

One year is so hard when one day and one week feels impossible. But one year, so long and yet really, it just happened. I’m so sorry you have been a whole year without your Owen. Love to you and your family xoxo

admin April 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

Thank you Julie. And yes it is incomprehensible that it has been a year already since i last kissed him goodbye.

Kat April 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I can not even begin to comprehend what you are attempting to cope with on a daily basis. Your letter to Owen is so eloquently written. Raw and heartfelt. It makes me weep. I think of Owen frequently. I never met him, but I know parts of your family, so I feel like I knew him. I will always mourn your loss. It is unimaginable. I’d like to think Owen sent us today’s beautiful weather. Celebrating with laughter with your family today is a beautiful tribute to Owen. My family and I are celebrating with you. Here’s to you, Owen!

admin April 9, 2013 at 8:32 am

Thank you Kat for your sweet note. For celebrating his life on Saturday and remembering the rest of us. I know your friendship and support meant a lot to my family.

michele brown April 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

My heart goes out to you today. I never met Owen but I weep for him and your other boys today.
I know it wont easier and you will never forget, but hopefully it will get easier to focus on the good, the fun, the way you were a shelter for him. Maybe some relief in knowing you did your best for him..what an example to your other other boys for them too see how much you can love them and how you were there for their brother. Celebrate his life and I will be praying.

admin April 9, 2013 at 8:40 am

Thank you Michele and you are right I am so blessed to have the other 2 boys… they keep me anchored in the present and remind me that life is beautiful and full of joy.

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