We lost our precious lil' love to AML Leukemia on March 8, 2010. As an incredibly strong family unit, we fought this horrid disease for 2 1/2 years........only for it to come back a fourth time to finally claim Hunter's life. Zen and I are truly devastated and the beautiful light that used to brighten our days and enhance our souls, no longer exists. Our hearts are truly and forever broken. We have a long journey ahead of us, but we are committed and devoted to surviving and living our life embracing Hunter's amazing spirit. With tremendous honor, we will carry on his legacy of love, his legacy of courage and his remarkable ambition to live strong, live fearlessly and live with passion.

You will remain forever in our hearts baby love. We carry you with us every moment of every hour of every day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Life.......as we know it

I started writing this blog and it immediately started with thoughts in my head about Hunter. I, just now, decided to tell you about Ryder first. I don't want Hunter's absence to overshadow the amazing feelings of pure joy that Ryder has brought into our life.

Ryder is a rockstar. He lights up every single one of our days and happily carries us through to the next one. He's finally passed the stage of the "blank look" and throws down smiles constantly, especially when we get super close to his face and smile back. Which, believe me, we are in his face OFTEN, (I'm sure we look like big bobble heads to him that are endlessly craving his attention). But I don't think he's on overload yet, and so far, he doesn't seem to mind. He's a fantastic eater, in fact he eats and eats and eats and eats. I feed him and then smile, feed him and smile. We play with toys, he swings in his swing, bounces in his bouncer and we read books - usually Dr. Seuss - mostly because they make me happy and take me away to a special imaginary place. Hunter and I also read a lot of Dr. Seuss together. So good feelings all the way around.

I sing to Ryder often. This one gets sung to him a lot.......he always smiles.

"You are my sunshine.....my only sunshine,
You make me happy, when skies are gray,
You'll never know dear.....how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away".

I mean every word of it.

He's a super happy baby and thank goodness for that - I honestly was a bit concerned being as sad as I was while he was in my belly. I feel like when Hunter was in my belly he heard nothing but laughter and good times and wonderful events going on in the outside world. Ryder, on the other hand, heard lots of tears and lots of silence. I did a lot of crying or thinking or writing............big difference.

When we first started introducing "big boy" toys to him, I was very careful. I didn't want to influence his choices by presenting Lightning McQueen to him first. Soooooooo, I put Lightning in front of him, as well as Elmo, so that he could make his own decision as to which one he preferred most. I am VERY thrilled to report that he went for Lightning McQueen. So SaaaaaaaWEET. That brought a HUGE smile to my face that day and made me think that Hunter would be very proud of his lil' brothers choice in toys.

He also seems to enjoy Lightning and Mater on the big screen. He gets a dose or two of these cool guys while I'm cooking.

Ryder is his own lil' being......but he does seem to have a few "Hunterisms". He's extremely observant and notices everything - especially what's in my hands. That's a HUGE reminder of Hunter. Whenever ANYONE came into the room, Hunter ALWAYS checked out what you came in with........he would check for medicine, needles, nose hoses.....he was no dummy and always made sure he knew what you were about to do. Like Hunter, Ryder also looks you in the eye with what seems like a very old soul. He seems so grown up and he's only 4 months old. He's got Hunter's nose and Hunter's voluptuous lips - which I just absolutely LOVE. And he sits and sleeps often with his arm behind his head and his legs crossed, which is just FANTASTIC. Hunter ALWAYS had his arms behind his head and his legs crossed. Two Mr. Coolios for sure.



Ryder is much more pale skinned that Hunter was - but then Hunter also got darker with the addition of chemo, chemo, radiation, chemo and more chemo. But initially, he was still more of a golden color........Ryder is as pale as a ghost.

Oh and he loooooooooves his "Hunter" blankets. We never went ANYWHERE without a few of these for Hunter. It was his special kind of blanket and it always brought him so much comfort. We now use them all the time for Ryder and he seems to love them just as much.



I know that when Ryder was first born, Zen and I both, honestly wanted to see Hunter come popping back out........we were so hoping that he somehow got back into my belly and was going to have a chance to come out in a brand new body with absolutely perfect blood. We obviously knew that this truly was not going to be the case - but we so desperately wanted to see Hunter again and let him have another chance at life. It's amazing how much we want him back home......safe and sound......away from all evils.

Hunter at 6 months. Healthy as can be........

So all in all, regarding our mental and emotional state of mind - it basically still hurts like hell and has affected us deeper than we ever imagined. We still get hit pretty hard, on a daily basis, with what continues to be our reality.

When we see videos or photos of Hunter, which is often............wow - the sadness that beats us down is pretty much indescribable. So many emotions at once. Intense heartache. An overwhelming feeling of loss. Love........deep, pure love. Happiness, enjoyment and appreciation for what he was......and the wonderful way in which he always carried himself. Sadness. A very powerful and heavy burden of sadness. It always ends in sadness. We miss our lil' love like crazy.

Usually I find myself needing to hear his voice or wanting to remember his cute lil' personality. We have videos upon videos upon videos. So it's quite easy for me to get very lost in my Hunter world. As soon as his face hits the screen and his wonderful lil' words come out of his mouth.........it's all over. It basically becomes a torture session. It is so incredibly painful to see him and hear him and not be able to touch him or hold him. I am so damn tired of gently touching his cheeks on my cold, flat computer screen.........just trying so desperately to remember the softness of his skin. I want to smooch his lil' face and grab his lil' body and snuggle with it beyond belief. My heart just aches.........painfully aches to the point of wanting to vomit. It's completely surreal. It's the biggest struggle for me to piece together what really happened and what we've lost. I just can't believe that something so amazing and so important to me and so REAL and full of love and beautiful energy.......is just gone. Disappeared into the clear blue skies. My first child.......my lil' bundle of love.......my best lil' buddy......is dead. wow. Just doesn't seem possible for this to really be my life.

It's now been 9 months since we lost him and it seems as if the pain, that we thought was going to become easier, has only intensified. The horrible reality of his death is sinking in more and more every month that passes. We've fully realized what we've lost and it's painfully crushing and so terribly heart breaking. Zen and I were talking after one of our Hunter crying sessions and I had mentioned that losing a child is the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone in their lifetime. He basically made me take that back. He said he doesn't like to think of it that way and we should try to think of it a bit differently. It makes him feel as if there is no recovery..........and that "that's it".......once something like that happens you should just throw in the towel and call it quits because you will never resurface from such devastation. I agreed with him......and would want nothing more than a different outlook on our tragedy. And I definitely don't want to feel as if we are doomed for the rest of our life. However, we are now two totally different people with many, many layers......and the bottom layer of both of our souls is a very thick layer of sadness. We now carry it with us wherever we go. It's there. Sometimes it's possible to hide it behind other emotions and laughter.......but at the end of the day - it's the layer of sadness that we take to bed with us.

Here is a very artistic shot of our tear tissues. This was our collection after watching about 30 minutes of Hunter videos. Each one was used MULTIPLE times. We now keep a handy roll of toilet paper accessible at every main area of the house.

Sooooooo I will now end this posting with the things that I am grateful for............I am grateful for another child, I am grateful for his health. I am grateful for my husband and I am grateful for his love. I am grateful for the 3 1/2 years that we got to spend with Hunter......and I am grateful for his life. I am grateful that we are able to get up and out of bed every morning........and continue living. I am grateful that our hearts still seem to beat........even though they are still terribly broken.

Zen and Ryder in Hollywood


  1. i love you and your sweet sweet family. you are in my thoughts and prayers. and i'm so sorry you are in so much pain. i'm holding you in my heat. love anna.

  2. Always sending you healing energy and light and plenty of love. XO,
    MaryKay, Matthew, Luke & Amelia

  3. Lenore & Zen,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. THANK YOU For letting us in. Your post took my breath away. I am so very happy that Ryder is suck a kick ass little dude. He is so beautiful, just like his big brother. If you don't mind me saying - I want to bite Ryder in the cheeks.. Just bite bite bite. I love that he has some of Hunters habits, that is pretty sweet. As ususal your words on hunter took my breath away and made my heart ache. As I have mentioned before - I am all the way in NJ and you are all the way in Oregon, we have never met and our paths are likely not to cross but my heart aches for your lose. I pray every night that Hunter visits you in your dreams and when he first passed I spent days crying for the lose. I also don't find it fair and it angers me very much. My little cousin was 9 when she passed away 5 years ago and I am still sad but I am still very much more angry then sad.. SO angry from ALL the amazing things she will never experience. Your son has brought so many smiles to so many people and he truly has made so many moms/dads see life very differently! I play Hunter's Jam Session for my 18 month old son very often and yup he dances with Hunter!

    Peace will come and know that so many people have your family in their thoughts - DAILY!!!

    All my love

  4. Your posts are a reflection on what is truly important in life. Bless you guys.

  5. Zen Todd
    Love you baby. We'll get through this. And yeah - Ryder is awesome. Thank you for giving me another cool son.

  6. Shannon Boothe Ruiz
    Hi Lenore. Just read your recent blog and wanted to stop and say, "hey." I've thought a lot about all those mommies who are without their babies during the holiday. Wishing I could bring you Hunter for Christmas but you'll have to settle for a few prayers, lot of thoughts and a hug or two. Take care, friend.

  7. Linda Fernandes Bryce
    thanx for sharing your sorrows as well as your joys lenore! i love reading about where life is taking the "four" of you! i am so thankful for your new little love and how he sweetens your dayz! :)

  8. Monica Raber Miyashita
    beautiful photos and words....you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. Liza van Arsdale
    Your strength, your bravery and the eloquent beauty of your story continues to inspire me all the way over here on the Florida coast. I hope you will always find inspiration in those who are here to lift you up whenever you need an extra hand. I have two, by the way, that are available whenever you need them. Hugs from chilly Florida! ~ Liza

  10. Nicola Kosciuk-Galassi
    love you guys. every day. xoxo

  11. Laura Glass Felix
    Thank you for sharing your raw emotions. I think about you often.

  12. Priscilla Tallman
    so beautiful, lenore. what a balance you must have to strike every day. amazing wisdom and an amazing mama and soul :) i learn from you every time i read your posts.

  13. Sarah Helmes Traffie
    So beautifully honest. I am so sad at what you have lost, but grateful for the joy that Ryder has brought to your lives. You are never far from my heart. Prayers that you will be able to make new happy memories this holiday season ♥

  14. Amanda Holley Jones
    Sending prayers and positive energy your way. You are my virtual superhero :)

  15. Your Ryder is absolutely beautiful. He looks SO MUCH like his brother - it is almost striking. Aside from the difference in skin tone, they could be twins. It is neat, though, that they have their distinct differences. Of course he is not a replacement for Hunter, but it is wonderful that you see glimmers of Hunter in him.... God bless you all. You are such an inspiration...

  16. Ryder is such a beautiful, beautiful baby! Thank you for sharing him with us.

  17. as always since hearing your story.. you are in my thoughts an prayers.. Thank you for sharing what you do.. as a mother of 4.. I struggle to even imagine what you have gone through.. in part because I dont ever want to go through the same thing.. and yet I feel as though I need to in part share you loss as a mother and wonder if I could handle such a loss as gracefully as you have.. Your words echo in my mind and my heart.. I didnt know Hunter.. I barely know you.. but I am thankful to know your story.. and that you share it with a grace that I know I would never have.. Much love to you all..

  18. I know exactly what you mean about the videos. I am so so thankful I have them...but they aren't the comfort they used to be. Which makes it even worse. Seeing our children moving and living, it's not supposed to hurt so much. but then, they aren't supposed to be gone before us.