Our Quinn is eleven today.

Birthdays have become so bittersweet for me.

I remember on the night I came home from Sloan after I was told I was metastatic, I came home in a shock. Rob and I snuggled Quinn as we tucked him in bed as tears came down my face with the silent scream look, praying to see him turn nine.

The statistics were in my head, and the “Only 20% make it five years” kept playing in my head, along with the words the oncologist had just said of only weeks or months, maybe a year or two.

“But I have children….”

I thought about writing letters for every birthday for my kids, their graduations, their weddings, when they have children. But I chose to not go down that path, believing instead that I will be a statistic of one, and that somehow science and Jesus will pull through for me.

Quinn’s childhood memories will always be of mommy having cancer. Kids have vague memories of before seven years old. My hope is that he simply remembers mom took a lot of pills, drank some herbs, wore some cool Wigs, and was a great mom. That instead of the enormous grief I’ve carried, he remembers the enduring love I’ve shown.

I know I am biased, but he really is the greatest kid. He is a gentle soul, follows rules, and loves his sisters and dog. He isn’t a rough and tumble boy, so no football or lacrosse teams, which seem to be the way most kids find their friends for hangouts. But this year he found tennis, he loves golf, and by the generosity of some amazing moms, he learned to sail. Tennis, golf and sailing are sports he can do his whole life, and my greatest hope is to see him teach these skills to his own children.

He loves to read now, and the only thing he asked for from our latest trip away was books from a bookstore. God bless his teachers, as they have loved him fiercely through the past few years, being a mom to him and a teacher. I knew I had the best backup with my staff at my school. Everyone looked out for him, and on hospital days for me, he got extra love from other staff. He is going to the next step up school, and the staff there will love him just as well.

My sister invited us up to her cabin on a lake, which will be a different post another day. But it was magical. I took Quinn out on the canoe with me and we just breathed and held hands. We told each other how much we love each other, and I cried quietly as I paddled him around. I love my children so much it actually hurts sometimes.

He still loves to snuggle, and can somehow tell when I am going to get a hot flash. There is a buzzing energy around around me, he says, “Mom, you’re going to get a hot flash”, and then suddenly I’m shallow breathing and sweating. He will move away for a minute, then come back.

He always comes back for more.

There a saying somewhere that children will break your heart by the simple act of growing up. It’s so true.

Yet I know how blessed I am as there are families who have lost that by their children passing away too young. I have come to know several families in the past few years, and I cant imagine that grief. I think we are all in a similar place, at times wishing to go back to the past when all was well and everyone was happy and healthy. I know that ache. I send them all love every day.

Quinn became a Boy Scout this year, and has blossomed. He took his first communion in the woods at Camp Yawgoog, and I didnt mind at all. Quinn will always remember that moment, and I know Jesus was with him. He went to church a lot at Boy Scout camp, probably more so for the extra patch, but I’m soProud he went.

He slept at my parents house last night. I am up and getting ready for the hospital, as today is port flush, labs, possible injection and oncologist visit. My doctor will see the picture of me jumping off a rock in pirates cove and think I’m nuts, but in a good way. I’m praying the tumor markers drop drastically, as it was very little last time, and this will depend on when the next pet scan will be. Regular people mark their life by years with birthdays… I mark it in three month intervals lately.

This is the second time my parents had my kids for one of their birthdays. Morgan’s birthday almost three years ago was when I was at Sloan getting the spinal biopsy that told us it was stage four. Today I am missing waking up Quinn on his eleventh birthday. I missed Morgan’s eleventh birthday wake up snuggles as well.

But I keep telling myself I’ll be here for many more snuggles for years to come.

So, happy birthday, my sweet Quinn.

We are so proud of the young man you are becoming. Always stay kind, follow the rules and stand up for what’s right, and if rules are wrong, change them. Know we always love you, as does Jesus.

You’re never alone. Ever.

A piece of my heart is with you always.

Being mom to you and your sisters is my greatest joy.

I will keep doing whatever I need to to be here for all of this great beautiful love I have for you and your sisters that is endless.

May today’s visits and procedures go smoothly and I get a gift on your birthday of good news.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy.

Mommy loves you to the moon and back a million times, and more than all the grains of sand in the world.

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