By Monica Green
Survival in the world we live in is a challenge for anyone. We each have our own journey to live. How we choose to live that journey sets us apart. My journey drastically changed when my 11-year-old son, Mason, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. My survival seemed impossible when Mason died 11 months later. Surviving the loss of a child, in my opinion, is the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking experience one can survive.
When Mason was diagnosed, I knew the odds were against him but held on to the hope that he would be the one to survive. I prayed the treatment would rid his body of cancer and ultimately, God would heal him. God did heal Mason, only not in the way I prayed. God healed Mason in heaven instead of here with me. I held Mason in my arms as his last breath left his body, and his heart stopped beating. This happened six times over a three-hour period. This is brain cancer. I watched the pink color in his angelic face fade to blue and eventually white. I watched as the nurse placed a rolled up white towel under his chin to keep his mouth closed. I watched as the nurse prepared his beautiful blue eyes for donation, finally taping them closed to keep them moist. I gave him his last bath and rubbed lotion on his cold body. I sat with him, holding his hand, and played his favorite songs. I tried to drink in his smell, memorize his face, and feel how his hand felt in mine. I kissed him for the last time. I whispered I loved him to the moon and back and round and round and back again, and I would see him again someday. I walked out of the hospital without him. My world and my life would never be the same.
My heart was shattered and forever changed. I found that there is no greater pain or suffering than the loss of a child. The pain is all consuming as it crushes my heart and fills my lungs. How could I live without Mason? How could the world continue without Mason? I didn’t have the answers.I begged God to give me the strength and show me the way. Even though I don’t have the ability to understand God’s plan, I still must trust Him and know that His plan is more perfect than any I could have. Without my faith and God’s promise of eternal life, I would be lost. His promise that I will see Mason again is my driving force. I am grateful to God for healing Mason. I know that he is free from suffering and only knows love and joy. I try to keep that my focus, but some moments my broken heart needs a release. I allow myself to cry and feel the pain of missing Mason. I know that a piece of me died when Mason died, and I will never be the same, but I have also discovered that it’s okay for me not to be the same. How could I be after losing my child? Two things are for sure, my spirit is not broken and my faith is not lost. My life may be divided into before Mason died and after, but love, not grief, is the connection between the two.
I don’t want grief to define me just as I won’t let cancer define Mason. He was so much more than cancer, and I want people to remember him for who he was, not what happened to him, especially his brother and sister. Mason was about love and life. Cancer may have taken his brain, but it could never take his kind heart and beautiful soul. There is too much love for that. Love is how we survive. My love for Mason, his love for me, and our love for God is what keeps us connected between the sides of the veil. God will reunite us someday, and each day I survive is one day closer to Mason. So until that day, I will continue to love for Mason and show others that even through the grief of losing him, I found the light because of my love for him. The light in his heart will shine through mine.
Along with my faith, my family and friends have carried my heart. My husband, Jeff, has been by my side every step of the way. My children, Spencer and Olivia, have experienced things no child should ever have to live through. They lost their brother as well as the parents they knew before Mason died. We are all forever changed, but I refuse to let them think that I stopped being their momma when Mason died. They deserve more. I want them to know how much they are loved every single day. I want them to know even though they are sad and miss Mason, they can honor and remember Mason by continuing his legacy of love. My friends, old and new, have loved and supported me more than I could ever ask. They are there to listen without offering advice. They are there to advise when I ask.
Through this process I have also found a support network through books and blogs. It’s a huge comfort to hear how others have coped with their losses and have survived. I am so very thankful for these hearts that have shared their deepest grief and heartbreak with the rest of the world. I hope that through my story, I can help pull one person to the light and give them hope in their darkest despair.
Monica Green is a wife to Jeff and mom to three beautiful children, Spencer and Olivia here with her and to her angel, Mason, in heaven. She loves spending time with my family, watching KU basketball, Starbucks, and Mexican food. Her passion is raising awareness for pediatric cancer, especially brain cancer. You can follow her story on CaringBridge, Facebook, or on Instagram.