I often told Ollie he has my heart, and today my heart is gone, shattered into a million pieces. John Oliver died a little after 9 pm yesterday. His father and I were lying next to him, and many other family and loved ones were with us. He started the dying process in the early hours of the day, struggling to breath and became unresponsive. It seems like it happened so fast – he and I were talking, and then he just began to leave. Most of the time was peaceful, with the exception of the two most horrific and traumatic hours of my life when we ran out of morphine and had to await a delivery while he cried out and struggled to breath. I’ve never felt pain like that, and I am sure it will haunt me always. Once the morphine delivery arrived, we kept him heavily medicated – he had stopped responding anyway, so it was our primary goal to stop his pain and keep it away.
I spent most of the time lying next to him, my head nuzzled near his ear so I could talk and sing to him. I tried to tell him all the ways he made my life better, and how proud I am to be his mom, but of course that list is endless. Mostly I just wanted him to know how much I love him, although I do not think I could ever put that fully into words. He was most proud and happy when he was helping people, so I focused on all the ways he had helped me and specific things he did to make me happy. His breathing was very labored, and then it just stopped. He had no more heartbeat, and we knew he was gone. I continued to hold him for several hours – it was so comforting. It has been months since I could hold him due to his pain, and as I breathed, it felt like he was breathing with me, our bodies in a peaceful synchronicity. I sat in the glider I would rock him in as a baby and just held him. We’ve spent so many precious hours just like that.
Now it feels as if the world should stop. It is certainly a darker, colder place without him. I can feel my sorrow and ache in every inch of my body. I miss him and want him to be back here with me. I have no idea how to ease the pain and live in a world without him. I am angry and confused – why did this happen to him?
Today we visited him at a crematorium, and will pick up his ashes on Monday. He looked so sweet and peaceful wearing a shirt that said, “Ollie the brave.” We are still figuring out plans for a memorial. For those interested in honoring Ollie, his brave fight, and our passion to cure neuroblastoma in order to save our friends still in the fight and protect more families from this horrific disease, please considering making a donation to the following organizations in lieu of flowers. Almost 250 children die from cancer each day. Yesterday as we experienced an incomprehensible pain and anger for the loss of our beautiful baby, so many other families were going through the same thing. I can’t even wrap my mind around this – the cruelty of it seems too much for so many to suffer through. Please consider joining the fight.
Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (http://www.cncfhope.org).
St. Baldrick’s (http://www.stbaldricks.org).
The Sierra Ryan Foundation (http://www.sierrarayn.org).
We are grateful for the months and months of love and support from so many. And I am grateful that despite a much too short life, legions of people recognized how special my boy is and shared that love with him. A few days ago Ollie asked his dad, “Do you still have faith I am going to get better?” Anthony told him yes, and Ollie said, “Faith is good to have. It keeps me going.” I have faith his legacy and impact on this world will continue to make it a better place for years and years. I have faith we will find a cure.