It started this day last year. The feeling in my gut set in and it never left. A year ago today, I knew. We were losing Landon and time was running out.
As he waited for breakfast on this morning last year, Landon’s body momentarily failed him. The part of his brain that controlled autonomic responses had a brief and sudden lapse. And those 30 seconds set my mental tone for what would be the last nine months of his life. Something inside of me knew that his body was telling us “I’m tired.” It was losing control over the most basic functions. It was only a glimmer, a flash, but it was enough to ignite something in me that stayed with me.
I began planning. I would put the boys to bed at night and find myself looking at urns, listening to songs, and searching for passages that would best memorialize my child. I talked with my family and close friends about the fear I couldn’t shake. He spent much of the winter sick, first with hand foot and mouth, then strep throat, ear infections, and then a horrible rash caused by mono which he battled with for two months. And I spent much of the winter trying unsuccessfully trying to silence the voice.
I felt guilty. I was carrying negative thoughts and doing morbid things. I was making plans for a child that even by sanfilippo standards, was still considered healthy. I felt like I was giving up on my son. my family and my friends all tried their best to reassure me….time was on our side.
And then the summer came and things seemed better. All of sudden, he was Landon again. The seizures had stopped, he wasn’t sick, and he was more “Landon” than he had been in quite sometime. And the voice in my head quieted some. We took a road trip to Mount Rushmore to get together with other families and had an amazing time, we had a big 9th birthday celebration on the 4th of July, complete with a trip to the water park, a backyard barbeque with family, and fireworks. He was happy and healthy, and for the first time all year, so was I.
The school year started and I had high hopes it would be one his best yet. He was doing so well, he was my Landon again. And still…I was planning. I was in a better place emotionally, but still I planned.
In August, Landon and I had a perfect mommy/ son day. We spent the afternoon on the playground at his school, went to lunch and ate ourselves silly, went shopping and bought anything he threw in the cart, and laid in his bed in his dorm room and cuddled and watched movies. It was beautiful and would be the last the day the two of us would spend alone together. And that night, I sat down with my parents and talked about wanting to start looking at funeral homes. Despite things seeming to be better, I still felt an almost obsessive need to plan and try to be ready.
August turned into September and we had so many fun things planned. The weekend after memorial day would be spent with my best friend and her family, and the weekend after that would be Gabriel’s second birthday party.
And then….it happened. And even in all my months of preparation, of premonition….I was blind sided. I was drinking my morning coffee and texting back and forth with my mom about some beautiful glass ash memorials I had seen online. In fact, the last text I sent before my phone rang and my life changed forever, read “I hope this company is still in business when the time comes.”
The truth is, I was anything but ready. And I don’t think a day would ever have come when I would have been. It is not natural to have to plan to say goodbye to your child. But I am glad I did plan. Landon’s memorial services (there were two) were personal, they were heartfelt, and they were everything I hoped they would be. They highlighted his life and his essence in the most beautiful way.
Next time will be different. When “that feeling” sets in with Blake, I will still plan. But I will not spend time worrying about it. I will not feed the fear. Because the worrying didn’t change the end result. The worrying only took precious time and energy that could have been better spent enjoying the moment. Blake’s fate is sealed, as was Landon’s, but this time, instead of worrying when the feeling comes, I’m going to throw myself into making the most of the time as it runs out. Because when it’s gone, it’s gone. You can never have that time back. And that’s probably the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn.
And as I look back now, even though I felt it coming, and even though the first half of Landon’s last year had some bumps and stumbles, he truly left this life on a beautiful note. We made so many memories in that last year, he had so many wonderful experiences. The only regret I have is not seeing all that truth in the moment.
Landon taught me so much throughout his life. And even in death, he continues to teach me and show me who I am. And next time will be different. And I again have Landon to thank for that.