When I met Laurel, Myles mom, it was at a Barbeque for Circle of Champs at our YMCA. I remember being overwhelmed at that party, it was only a few months after we lost Madeline, and I didn’t know what Circle of Champs was and how we would fit in. I met Laurel and her son Myles as they were dancing and talking to others. Myles had DIPG and was a bright happy boy all dressed in orange. Laurel was a force, an energy, a bold spirit and I instantly knew I loved her. I remember hugging her and telling her I was there for her. I told her Maddie’s Mark could set up a ‘best day ever’ for Myles and help them in that way. She hugged me and said “I’ll need you on the other side”. Soon after that event we set up a kids reptile party for Myles and his neighborhood friends. He enjoyed this day and his gifts and it was great to meet Laurel and her crew. They made it easy to fit in. She was a lot like me, she wanted her son to ‘live’ and enjoy and share and smile and be himself- for as long as he could be Myles. She filled his days with fun adventures, normal playtime and visits, his dream vacations and all the best stuff. Myles had a great life, every part of it, even when it was hard.
The other side.
The ‘other side’ came not long after Myles ‘best day ever’ from Maddie’s Mark. He passed away peacefully on his own time… it was another perfect and sad and peaceful and painful passing. The other side came right then… I worked as hard as I could to help Laurel and her crew create Myle’s orange celebration of life. She wanted bright, happy, full of remembering, full of Myle’s spirit. It was perfect. I tried to help her with all of her needs and goals for that day… from ideas, glass candy bar containers, donations and food. It was perfect and orange and blessed and happy. That was the start of the ‘other side’. Since that time the ‘other side’ has kept me and Laurel alive. This bond we have, these similar values, the things we have learned and shared… the life that we get. She is often the most logical and experienced person, she stands back and sees things from a little different perspective. She helps me do the same. She needs to vent and I listen. She needs to calm down or my thoughts on a situation and I am there. She is so brave and real and genuine. There is no fake in her. I love it. In the problems and changes this life has handed me, she has stood by and let me cry, yell and wonder… and then will tell me to ‘stay in my own lane’ and let other people, including Matt, to sort out their stuff. I need that reminder often- to stay in my car with my stuff and in my lane… I can only work on me. I love when we get together… it is a freeing and easy time for me. I love seeing Marcelle and how he quietly loves my girls. I love that Laurel brings such sparkle and shine to my girls… they love her. I think that Myles and Maddie worked this out for us… I really do. I think they helped us find each other and that they knew we would need each other on the ‘other side’. I can’t imagine the ‘other side’ without Laurel.
How is the ‘other side’ different?
I can’t find many similarities today… it is so different. My car has only 2 car seats and I have yet to be the tooth fairy or really shop at Justice. I hang out with a lot of people who have children who are gone, and I am not scared to meet them. I know lots more than I did about Childhood Cancer. I love to write about grief and death and missing… those topics I really relate to. I have a much stronger faith. My girls hang out with sick kids, families who lost children and know more about hard than most. I miss Madeline all the time. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am going to be divorced… that there will be no Matt and Erin, and no more growing up with each other in the way I thought we would. I have lost a lot of people from my house… 2/5 in less than two years. I have lots of crazy that wasn’t there before… thank goodness for the ones who help me sort it. The ‘other side’ is never normal feeling… a bit of happy or real will dissipate and be gone quickly, followed by the crazy and confusing ‘where is my home, where is my normal feeling?’. The ‘other side’ is somewhere I never thought I would be. I am glad that this ‘other side’ has so many blessings, kind people, memories and carriers. I am thankful for my crazy partner on this ‘other side.