My sweet, angel-faced boy,

A year.  365 days.  I can’t believe its been a year since I held your hand in mine as the doctors and your nurse, Irl, moved you out of your room in the PICU to take you to donation surgery.  As I sit here and try to recall every detail of our last moments together, the strongest image is one of your hand, so pale and still warm, in mine.  Then, my mind skips ahead to see your bed being gently rolled down the hallway, which seems to get longer as you go, like one of those scenes from a horror movie.  The ride home from the hospital is a blur of headlights, street lamps and neon signs, viewed from the passenger seat.

In the year since you left, many things have changed.  Nothing is as it used to be. Even the things that didn’t change aren’t the same anymore.  Life is just not as bright without you in it. I used to tell you that I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning if I didn’t have you.  I’ve managed to do it most days, but it is a half-hearted effort and one that I’m never eager or excited about.  Each time I wake up, my first thought is of you and my second thought is one that wonders why I’m being forced to face another day without you.

All I’m left with are memories.

Like the time, when you were about 2 1/2 and you were obsessed with a Santa ornament on the Christmas tree.  I would find that ornament all over the house, I’d put it back on the tree only to find it again in another place.  Finally, I brought you over to the tree to rehang it.  You put it on backwards, so I told you to turn it around.  You put it on the floor, turned yourself in a circle, then rehung the ornament – still backwards – on the tree.  All with a huge smile on your face, so proud that you were helping.

Or the time we went shopping with Aunt Janet, Taryn, Aunt Jennifer and Sophie.  I guess you were about 4.  We were at The Children’s Place and  had all 3 of you in the same big dressing room.  You thought it was hilarious that you were in your underwear, although Taryn was horrified at the idea.  That is when The Dressing Room Dance was created.  As she covered her eyes in embarrassment, you shook your booty from side to side and twirled your arms in the air, while making a siren like noise.  From then on, The Dressing Room Dance became a standing joke between the two of you.

Then there was our trip to Colorado where you learned how to ski.  You looked so adorable in your red ski pants, jacket and helmet.  Even your skis were red.  At first, you were nervous to go by yourself.  You were supposed to go with Jayden, but he had gotten sick the day before.  After a few minutes though, you were excited and ready to tackle the mountain.  You took off with your instructor with hardly a look back to me.  After a couple of hours, I took the lift up the mountain and was able to watch you.  In that short time, you’d learned how to do so much and were having a blast with the other kids.  I was so very proud of you for being so brave.

And there are the camping trips we took with Cub Scouts.  You learned how to set up a tent and how important it was to keep the screens closed.  You learned how to start a fire and how to make s’mores. We hiked Enchanted Rock and I accidentally made you drink water from a puddle that you had collected in your water bottle.  It was so hot and I was worried that you were going to get dehydrated.  You never said a word until a few hours later, but you were no worse for wear and we both laughed about it.  I was so proud of you on your last Cub Scout camp out where you slept in a small tent all by yourself.

In 7th grade you had a girlfriend and went on a couple of “dates.”  I chaperoned you to the movies, we met her family for dinner and I drove you to a dance at school.  When I picked you both up, you got into the back seat and almost immediately said, “Mom, guess what – I kissed her – TWICE!”  You both had giant Chesire cat grins and I could only keep my mouth shut while my brain was freaking out.  When we got to her house, you walked her to the door and were gone for what seemed like an eternity.  When you got back in the car, you said you had told her uncle too!  You were so proud of yourself, and, to be honest, I was too.

You were my all time favorite travel buddy – Washington D.C, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington state, Louisiana and places all over Texas.  We were both lovers of back roads and small towns, although you spent most of your car time on your DS, cell phone or Kindle.  You never hesitated to explore with me, from finding the Cathedral of Junk to the Freemont Troll.  The world was full of wonder and you couldn’t wait to see it all.

There are so many more memories – some that are cemented in my mind and others that pop in and out in flashes.  So many times, I’m brought to a halt when something reminds me of you.  But, I’m trying to hang on to every single memory, knowing that they’re all that I have.

My wonderful, silly, quirky, Dr. Who – loving, cat fanatic, boy — I miss you with every ounce of my soul and I love you more than the moon and the squirrels.

Love forever and always,