Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Little Things in Life


The Little Things in Life







 






Months after Maia. We are still trying to piece our lives back together. I started working part time. Rizza is thinking about work sometime after the new year. Marcus is steady in school and excelling at Taekwondo.


As we all miss Maia, every second of everyday, I have been finding it hard to focus. I luckily have the best bosses ever. Before I started working Maia had just passed away and my old co-workers contacted me through Facebook. They wanted me to come and work with them again. So after talking with them, then with Rizza and Marcus, we all agreed for me to go back to work. My start date was not yet determined but it was kind of penciled in. Shortly after, my mom was hospitalized. She was like Maia fighting to stay coherent, to stay alive. Rizza and I started our new journey driving to a new hospital in Santa Rosa just about everyday. During her last few days it was just me as we had to figure out how to let Marcus know what was happening and what was going to happen. Rizza did the normal things with Marcus, school, taekwondo, church school and just have fun. My mom was hurting, she was dying and was ready to become a grandma angel. After my mom passed away Rizza and I thought of ways to tell Marcus. So we thought we'd wait till the weekend was over and then let him know since it was going to be a busy weekend with family and we wanted to keep his spirits up. As Rizza was walking Marcus to school she started to go over with Marcus how Grandma is in the hospital and she is really sick. Marcus said “yes I know, she died.” Rizza was in shock that he knew. It had just happened the night before and we discussed our plan after he was asleep. We’re still trying to figure out how he knew, whether it was by reading our body language, by Maia and Marissa coming to him and telling him, or if he thinks you're really sick and in the hospital you die. All things we need to figure out as time goes on. He took it well and went to school.





I worry about my wife Rizza. As a man I do not and will never know how it is to have a baby grow inside me, feel kicks from the inside and to go through birthing a child. You are so strong, you are so beautiful, and I am so proud and honored to call you my wife and to be able to share the rest of our lives together. You have been through so much and I will never leave your side. One thing about going back to work is I LOVE your phone voice. I have always told you this and will continue to.
I worry about do you want another child, do you want to go through carrying a baby inside of you, are you thinking if we have another baby, it could be the outcome that we have gone through and become an angel and join our daughters. I know we talk and I know I listen but, I also know these things are inside of you and you will tell me when it is time, when you are ready. I love you…




Marcus;
The holidays have been hard on all of us, especially on Marcus. In November I was working and he went from me being with him everyday, picking up and or dropping him off at school, to going to Taekwondo, being around for breakfast and dinner, to now only taking him to school on Fridays, to me sometimes showing up at Taekwondo, to having dinner with mom and not dad most days. Thanksgiving was hard for all of us. At first, while working I could not figure it out but I was feeling odd, not right, not 100% at work and I figured it out after a day or so, we spent every holiday for a year at the hospital with Maia and I was feeling sad. I wanted to figure out what Marcus was thinking or feeling. As I watched him, I was able to sense that Marcus was feeling the same I was feeling. The week before Thanksgiving his nino Russell (Jig jig, Balbas = beard) was here with his girlfriend Laurel (hopefully soon to be fiance). Then on Thanksgiving week his nino Rommel (dada) had his girlfriend, Grace, here. The last time we were together was at Maia’s Life Celebration.  All this family time and the beginning of the holiday season started getting to Marcus. He was feeling sad just like all of us. We miss Maia, we miss all the wonderful people at the hospital. Thanksgiving morning we had our 15th annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl football game with the Mendoza clan and some of the little cousins were there, cheering on their dads and moms, the teams, the family. Marcus got to play with them and watch over them and even get irritated by them, like if his sisters were there with him.  His cousin in a previous post Ely, is the age of Marissa (Ely was born the night before Marissa). Seeing her sometimes is hard on all of us. Rizza and Ely’s mom Bel were texting each other when they were both in labor. You heard of don’t text and drive but they were giving birth and texting... lol... Watching over Marcus, seeing his cousins had an impact on his day as his shoulders were a little slumped and his normal happy self was not as happy. Dinner came later that day and during dinner he ate a few bites and said he was full and went to his room. I followed and talked to him and he told me he missed Maia and that he remembers last year we were at the hospital with her and he wished she was here. I am so glad he can communicate and let us know somewhat of what he is feeling. The rest of the evening went good and we all kinda left him do what he wanted and kept his thoughts and emotions in mind. As time has gone by and we entered December, Christmas trees and lights are going up and we're seeing more and more everyday. We were in the city one day and one thing Rizza and Marcus did last year to take our minds off of things, was to count the Christmas trees in people's windows as we drove to and from the hospital. As Christmas gets closer, Marcus has been acting out at home more and cries easily. Rizza, Rommel and I have been discussing Marcus' feelings and also include Marcus by asking "what are you thinking and what are you feeling?" Marcus has been good about answering but doesn't always know how to express his grief. We have realized that he acts out during or after seeing his little cousins, This makes sense since its been hard for us too, but seeing his boy cousins and all the little girls dressed up looking so cute, some still having baby rolls, running around, and so excited to see Marcus and to copy what he does, is so precious. Marcus will always be a big cousin (Kuya) for his generation.. Such a great responsibility without even knowing it yet. We have been teaching him and using his sisters as an example and that may be hard on him. I tell him that he is the protector of all his little cousins, to make sure they are doing good and not bad,to keep them safe, teach them as they grow just as you would have with your sisters. Give him examples that he would understand that clarify his title. He has a better grasp on it but finds it hard and we told him he still is a Kuya to his angel sisters, which does help. We emailed Marcus' teacher and briefly talked to her and he is doing good in school with no abnormal behavior. Marcus and his school did get a rain day last Thursday, yes a rain day. He was happy and wanted Friday to become another rain day. lol.
At my mom's memorial service he did okay. During the mass he wanted to go outside and we ended up in the car talking. To be back so soon for another death in the family must be so hard on him. I told him that grandma is now an angel grandma. I told him I bet she is doing like his other grandmas (lolas), chasing the little cousins around and she is chasing Marissa and Maia around in heaven. That seemed to relax him and it made him laugh to think about how funny it is sometimes when the lolas are chasing his cousins around a room, chairs and tables. We then went back into the church just as the pastor was telling a story. No one knew except my dad that the story was about myself. Marcus got through the rest of the mass and was ready to play, ready to take his mind off the hurt and celebrate life. With everything going on in Marcus life he continues to wish as we all wish for Maia and Marissa to be here. We know we have payed attention to him, watched him and explained everything to him so he understand and he knows how to communicate. As I wrote before he does not always know how to explain things, but recently he has said he is really sad, and he has been grieving. We did start to get him counseling as we need more help to make sure he is okay, mentally, emotionally and physically. We love Marcus so much and we will always be by your side, like we were by Maia's.
Marcus has also been doing great in Taekwondo, earning his red white belt.


video




Marcus also was asked to come in and take pics with the three World Series Trophies. Thank you Gail. Memories he will have for the rest of his life and memories that are helping mold him into the person he will be.

 




With all that is going on emotionally with me and with Marcus, I took some time off of work.
Thank you Lee, Brian and Candy. Thank you to my co workers for understanding and I know you will all handle the work while I am gone. I took some time off since it has been very hard for me to focus at work with all that is going on. I thought about it this weekend on our long drive to dad's house up north to Willits, CA and back home as Marcus and Rizza did their normal thing and slept. I was thinking that Marissa was still in my head and not settled when Maia was born, until I got my tattoo of Marissa's name, birthdate and death date. That seemed to make it official. Again, thank you Abraham Ortega at Death before Dishonor Tattoo in San Jose. When I started working it was just a couple of weeks after my mom had passed away. I had to work since we have/had no money. I needed to work for me to get my mind off of what was going on in my life. It was my getaway. Shortly before I started, one employee had left, and after I started one got let go and his two friends left, and another employee went on paternity leave. It was time to sink or swim. I did swim... with weights on me, mentally, emotionally and physically. Things my mom and Maia taught me is to never give up and to do the best I can. The owner came down one day and popped his head in my office and said “how are you doing Gordon?” I told him it's sink or swim and “I am swimming!!” Thank you all again for letting me take this time off. Time to get my head, and heart straight.  

As in previous post we have been going to Philz Coffee for years now I thinks sense late 2008, and spent the last year going just about everyday on our way to the UCSF.  Today I went to the grand opening of the Philz Coffee San Mateo. I saw a familiar face, Phil Jaber. As I wrote before he was my first introduction to the cup of love.  Congratulations Phil, and to Philz Coffee for the new addition to your ever growing cups of love. I do have to say it was a little hard to see Phil as it brought up memories of our talks and the kindness he and the 24th Philz had extended.  I told him my home store will always be the 24th store and I will see him Saturday as we are going to UCSF Benioff to drop off some toys for there toy drive. Congratulations again and our family always wishes you the best. 

We have been reading all the post on Facebook, Instagram, emails and texts. We are truly touched by all the positive comments and so happy that Maia touched so many hearts. Today I read a post on FB & IG from Sarah, thank  you it was a great start for my morning to hear that Maia Knows Heart touched so many hearts.. 



This post is dedicated to my mom…


 
 


This weekend we drove up to my dad's church for my moms Life Celebration / memorial. We celebrated my mom's birthday and death on the same day 12-13-14.. 
Judith Jean Mead, lived a wonderful 72 years, and became an angel grandma after being married to my dad for years. After they got married they had a baby boy, Eddie, that died soon after birth. Like me, my parents experienced the death of a child and never got to raise their child.
She moved on and as her story goes, God came to her and told her to adopt. My parents did just that and adopted from all over the world, kids with disabilities and from battered homes. She loved us all as her own and raised us all as best as she could. She worked with the schools and the county,to get the assistance and help needed to make sure that all the of us had the tools we needed in life to grow up. This also paved the way for other families that followed. Talking to her one day, she said that the school district back then did not want to do anything to assist kids with disabilities. It took her fighting and her never quitting, to get them to do what now is what is part of the Disabilities Act.  She never got in front of Congress or marched, but she fought. Please remember this is back in the late 70's and early 80's. In the 70's we went to a Catholic school, which is weird because any time I drove by this place in my adult life I had a bad feeling. Then I find out 35 years later, we were told our family was kicked out because one of our family members is black... Discrimination, racism and stereotypes was something we all grew up with, including my parents. I think back about what my white parents went through. What did family members, neighbors, friends and people on the street think of them? But at the end of the day, who cares, it's God that mom and dad answers to.

At my mom's celebration of life, Pastor Steve Thrift called it her promotion to heaven. One of the stories that he told was how one of her kids got in trouble in junior high and she got a call to come to the school. As she was about to drive over, she discovered that someone siphoned her gas (gas shortage back then) and she had a flat tire and had to call our wonderful neighbor, Mrs. Shern (it was great to see you this weekend). All things I didn't know until now. The things she went through to come to my school just to find out that her son got into another fight. This was on the second or third day of school and I ended up getting suspended for a week and had to attend an alternate school, TAPs. Mom, what I never told you was that I was protecting my friend Stanley as he was being called a "nip" and "chink" and being pushed around. I am sorry to have caused you so much grief but I was doing what you taught us, to stand up for who I am and to help and protect others around me.
My mom and dad had two biological kids, Julie and Karen. They adopted a total of 10 kids, Me (Gordon) Steve, Clay, Luke, Matt, Ben, Peter, Angie, Paulette, and Rachel. Two of my brothers, Matt and Ben, have passed away and I know they welcomed mom into heaven. I love you all. Mom, you will never be missed because we are all a part of you, and you will always be celebrated for the life you gave all of us. I love you, continue to be a mom to my brothers, a sister to my uncles, a daughter to my grandparents, and take care of my babies Marissa and Maia as you are their angel grandma.

The little things in life matter. The hellos, goodbyes, the thank yous, the eye contact and being kind and welcoming to one another.  All the things we did and continue to do, all the things that the world should be doing. For all of us, Maia taught everyone to do all the little things as they do matter.  Thank you everyone for continuing to follow our journey and giving us support. Your gestures of kindness are appreciated and it has helped us get through our journey. I hope that we have done the same and helped you get through the little things in your life, and I hope you share that so each person you come in contact with pays it forward and passes on the inspiration that Maia gave us all. Love life for every second of everyday. We never know how long our life will be but we know we will live it to the fullest.

Happy Holidays,

Gordon Mead

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life Without Maia...

It's been over a month now since Maia passed away. Although life goes on, thoughts and memories of Maia continue to find their way into everyday life... sometimes they bring us sadness, and sometimes they bring us happiness. At the end of the day, we all know that life without Maia is just something we need to learn how to live with.



When asked the question "how are you?" or "how are you doing?" I can honestly say with a smile that things are good. There are enough things in our everyday life that keep us busy. Things that were neglected when Maia was at the hospital. I truly believe having Marissa prepared us for Maia. Having lost Marissa didn't make things easier for us when we lost Maia, but for some reason, I felt more at peace after Maia passed away. I find it hard to explain, but there was sort of an added comfort that wasn't there when Marissa passed away. Don't get me wrong, everything isn't exactly fine and dandy now... it's just different. I'm glad she fought her hardest, but sad she can't be with us. But I try not to dwell on the sadness (I'm not good at it anyway!). Instead I try and put my energy toward things that make me happy, including the many memories we have of Maia. Sometimes though, looking at her pictures gets overwhelming and I end up with tears in my eyes as the flashbacks start rushing in, almost coming to life. At times I almost feel guilty for having happy times without Maia... but I realize that the definition of happy is different now... it seems to always change depending on the life circumstances surrounding me. My happy moments are starting to add up now, and I give a lot of credit to both our lil angels, for teaching us to be grateful and make the most of every moment we're blessed with. I still cry, but I cry less now, compared to the times after Marissa passed away. I think it's because we only had 43 minutes with Marissa and with Maia we had a full year, and we made the most out of every day. These days, although I could be sad, I choose to be happy. I choose to be happy for myself, and also for Gordon, and for Marcus. I wouldn't be the person I am without them in my life... I don't know where I'd be without these two. Gordon keeps me inspired about life and the future, while Marcus keeps me grounded and helps put things in perspective. 




Our focus now shifts to Marcus, not that he wasn't a priority before, but now we want to make sure he's ok, after having to endure such life changing experiences in the past few years. He continues to excel in school and Taekwondo, and hasn't lost his love for learning (anything)! But he misses Maia terribly... who doesn't?! We asked him to pick a few of Maia's stuffed animals that he could keep for himself. After he was done, he chose about 20 of them! We were so happy to be able to donate many of Maia's baby clothes, gear, toys, blankets, etc. As a mom, it was bittersweet to let go of some of her things, but knowing they would go to those in need made the experience better. Marcus on the other hand, hated seeing her things go to other people, even if some items were going to friends and family. He says they're Maia's souvenirs and he can't understand why we're giving them away. So we explained that we can keep some things, but those items that we can't use and other people need them, we should give it to them. He understands, but it doesn't make him any less upset.


A few of Maia's friends Marcus wanted to keep!



















Marcus and I were fortunate to get baseball tickets to this year's NLDS between the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals (Thank you Gail!) It was our first playoff game ever and we had a blast at AT&T Park! We think Maia was there too because an orange and black butterfly landed on my head. Not sure why I think of past loved ones whenever I see butterflies, but I do! Marcus tried to trap it and keep it with his baseball cap but it flew away. Then Marcus had his own reminder of Maia. He said in such a sad voice "I just saw a pink Giants cap and thought of Maia." I told him that thinking about Maia is normal so it's ok when it happens, and that he could talk about her anytime. About a week after Maia passed away, he asked me if we could have a "Maia crying session" on an upcoming Thursday night, where we could talk and cry about Maia... it was both cute and heartbreaking to see him try to schedule something like that. So I again reminded him that he can talk or think about Maia at anytime, no appointment needed. I really feel for him because he's such a good, caring, and protective big brother, and now that Maia's gone, he seems to feel like he doesn't really fit that title anymore. But that big brother side comes out when he's around his little cousins, especially the little girls. It's nice to see but also makes me sad that he's not able to share these experiences with his little sisters.


Marcus and his cousin Lexi... giving her a
taste and of his strawberry milkshake!
Marcus has also asked me "when are we going to have a real baby?... one that we can take home and will grow and grow and grow." At the time he asked, it had only been a few days since Maia had died, so everything was very raw and fresh for us. He was crying and very upset. All I could do was give him a hug. Every few weeks he'll talk about having another baby. He says it's in his plans for the next year! He says all I have to do is hold my breath, and let my breath transfer to the umbilical cord and into the baby that's in my tummy. That will get the baby to start growing! From there we let it grow until the baby is ready to come out!... After all that, I was in shock and didn't really know what to say. It sounded so simple! I'm actually surprised that Marcus would feel excited at the thought of another baby, or even want another baby after everything that's happened... or that he would somehow associate having babies (for us) as something negative. He sounds so determined and seems to have it all planned out. If only it were that easy. As for me, I've been saying "I think I'm done." I use the word "think" because I've learned to "never say never!" and that anything can happen. We've been that "1" out of (fill in the blank number) too many times the last few years, so whether the odds are against us or for us, we seem to be very lucky! I also know that I will always want another baby, just because we don't physically have one. It's a feeling that will probably never go away. It's a similar feeling to wanting Maia here with us. It's one of those things that I'll need to learn how to live with... and it's hard, very hard. Everyday we all come across people and situations that make us think about what could be.... At Marcus' taekwondo class, we see such cute little girls all the time, and they are so good. Sometimes we talk to other parents and realize that they had their kid(s) at the age we are now, so age isn't really an issue. I think our history and experience, and where we are in life now plays a bigger part.... and the thoughts start creeping into my head about how we can still do it, we can have another baby. But like I mentioned before, it's not that simple... it will never be that simple. It's not right to think selfishly about something that affects more than one person. Plus, we have different priorities right now, some of which include rejoining the workforce and finding a place of our own (sooner rather than later). Even though it's possible to have another baby, it doesn't necessarily mean we should. So I guess I can expect all these thoughts to continue and do battle in my head until the time comes when I really cannot have anymore children!



Since October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, it was very fitting that we finally got the chance to take a trip up to Lake Tahoe (where we were married) and released some of Marissa's and Maia's ashes. For a long time, these plans were tentative, but finally became a reality this past weekend (Thank you Jimenez Family)! Gordon's mom had been very sick and we were driving back and forth almost every day to be with her in the hospital. When she passed away on the night of October 6, we were undecided about taking our trip. It wasn't until a few days before, that we decided to go. We were only going to change our plans if there was going to be a memorial service in the upcoming days. So as part of our last minute plans, we invited Maia's godparents. Although some had to work, and a couple were with us in spirit, we all made it happen. It turned out to be a nice, relaxing weekend, filled with laughter, tears, good food and beer! On that Sunday we gathered by the Lake's shoreline to say a little prayer... then Gordon, Marcus, and my brother Dada, went further into the Lake and released the ashes. It was an emotional moment, but also a funny one. As I watched from afar with Maia's godparents, we heard Marcus' voice "ahhhh!!! Marissa and Maia went in my eye!!" He also added that he wants to come back next year to go swimming in the Lake with his sisters! He is too funny! We spent the rest of the weekend sharing memories, stories, outlooks on life and the future, and just enjoyed each other's company... not to mention a little bit of gambling! The guys spent a couple of hours at the casino, while us girls stayed in, playing hours after hours of gin rummy! We started playing after 5pm. I only know this because the Giants game started at 5pm... and by the time we stopped playing and went to bed, it was 5am!!! We only took a break for a quick dinner and bathroom breaks when it wasn't our turn to shuffle and deal! It was crazy fun! By the time we left Lake Tahoe the following day, we were all pretty much happily exhausted.







So as we all celebrate our baby angels in Heaven during this month of October, please remember it's just a dedicated month for the families who have lost a baby... for us directly affected, we live, mourn, and celebrate our loss every single day. So remind yourselves to fight hard and play hard every day, all while enjoying every moment... that's how Maia lived, and that's how I imagine her living up in Heaven!





Monday, September 29, 2014

I Miss you Maia

Maia I miss you

Once again the computer had some kind of glitch and the blog that I started did not save and I had to start over.  I have been trying to writing for a month as it has been real busy for us.  Sorry this blog is all over the place and written in no order and I wanted to post it today so Rizza did not have time to edit. Today is Maia's "Angelversary" 1 month since she passed away.

I miss you Maia. I turn on my computer, your picture is my wallpaper, the one where you have 2 pigtails and the yellow rose headband on. (Sorry hard drive is getting fixed so cant post pic)  Your bottom teeth were coming in and you're slobbering a little bit. You're sitting up and with your cute little nose and your big cheeks are right in my face and your eyes and eyebrows are telling me...  " Dad, I am here not too long and not to short. Just right, right when God wants me to enter the gates of heaven and join my sister Marissa. For you dad "I will be with you the rest of your life, as you were there for my whole life." Maia I miss YOU... Your pic is on the refrigerator door, every time I open it or I am in the kitchen I see you and miss you more, but I can not take it down. I do not need a picture to see you because I always do. Maia, I miss listening to your heartbeat, kissing you, feeling your scars, holding your hands, playing with your fingers and toes. Your hair was growing so long it was half way down your back. I miss how wild it could be, how cute, beautiful, curly, straight, Coolio braided out, how sticky it was after the head scan. I miss coming in the morning and smelling your hair after the night nurses, Denise, would give you a spa treatment.
I miss your eyes so inquisitive, strong, happy, loving, thankful. I miss all your facial expressions to for each person that would come to your room and to your bedside, your regulars and the new people. I miss you Maia. I see little kids with their parents and it makes me smile.. Yes, I wish that could be us, but it was not our plan in life, and I know things happen for a reason but it does put a smile on my face, even more when it is a little girl like you, people do not know how blessed they are. Maia you taught me to love more, to stay positive and to keep faith. I did get you
tattoo'd on my left arm. Maia Grace, 8291314 for the day you were born and the day you got your angel wings, under that I get CCCLXV, in Roman numerals is 365, that was the days that we were so blessed with your presence. My tattoo will be with me for the rest of my life just as you will be Maia.
                                                                  
Thank you my brother, Abraham Ortega at
Death Before Dishonor Tattoo in San Jose.


I love you Maia you and your sister Marissa will always
be with me everywhere I go even till the day I die.






Marcus...

This boy amazes me and makes me so proud. The day after Maia got her wings we went to In and Out. His nino Rommel played a joke on him, told Marcus that they were all out of strawberry shakes, and Marcus broke down in tears of sorrow. I took him for a piggy back ride down the street and when he settled down a little we talked, well I asked yes and no questions and he responded. Marcus, are you sad, yes, are you sad because Maia is gone, yes, are you happy she became an angel and is playing with Marissa, yes, do you want to go back to In and Out now, no, want me to keep walking, yes, do you want to walk, no, Marcus we all love Maia and we all miss her, yes daddy me too. Did you like her in the hospital, no, did you like her at home, yes, do you love all the nurses at the hospital, yes. We kept walking and after about a 1/4 mile he was better and then we turned around and I continued to carry him back, asking more questions and talking to him about all the good that happened and all the love that we have for Marissa, Maia and him. He sunk his cheek into my shoulder as we got closer to to In and Out and he told me I love you daddy. After a couple days I thought about what happened and came up with the conclusion that Marcus did not cry because there was no strawberry shakes, which was a joke and he did get one. He cried because the joke was to early after Maia got her wings. What I was thinking is that they ran out of strawberry shakes like Maia ran out of life. I really do not know what he was thinking and we will talk later but we have been cautious on how and what we say and do. Marcus is coming around and talking more. One night when he was about to turn on the shower, he started crying and told Rizza when can I have a little sister, one we can bring home, one we can watch grow. On Thursday at 7:45 pm before bed he wanted to talk about Maia and have a cry session. We did and Marcus felt so much better afterwards. We see have seen it in the past couple days to in his behavior. I did ask him if he sees Marissa and Maia still and he said yes, but changed the subject, so we can talk later as this is going to take us all time to not have so much hurt in our hearts.
We have got a few calls from Marcus school. One we from principal Brady to give her condolences, thank you that was so thoughtful. The next one was to tell us that there was an incident. As parents we have worried about his emotional state and prayed and hoped and have been teaching Marcus the right things in life. Ms. Brady told us that some boys were trying to get Marcus to join there group and he kept saying no, they chased him and kept insisting that he joins the group and continued to say no. Then the boys started to get physical and one of them tried to twist his arm and Marcus tried to get away and then the kid punched Marcus in his eye, and Marcus then slugged the boy in the chest. Principal Brady said that it was not Marcus fault he as trying to do the right thing. We taught Marcus to ask nicely and tell someone to stop, then tell them with a stern voice, then leave the area, all stuff he tried to do. After talking to Marcus his story was the same, he did right, maybe he should of not struck the kid but he did say he only used 30% power. We asked him about this group and what it was and why did you not want to join. He said they meet everyday and he has other friends he wants to play with. Then a few days later we get a call come to find out there was another incident Marcus was in. This time a couple kids from his kindergarten class were rough housing and they were mean about it and Marcus did not want to play anymore and asked them to stop and then told them. His other friend Brady saw what was happening and saw Marcus was getting mad. He said he went over and told the kids to leave Marcus alone and to let him go. When the did not listen he ended up pushing them so they would let go of  Marcus. Brady also said that he was in fear for the kids as if Marcus gets mad he may hurt these kids with his martial arts and then Marcus would be in trouble, thank you Brady for helping your friend and thinking of him in such a big boy way. Sense then all has been good and they all still play together and still have fun. He just went on a play date last week with Brady and those to are good friends. Thank you Heesun for always welcoming Marcus.
Marcus says he misses going to the hospital, not just for bingo. He misses all the nurses and staff, his favorite nurse, the cute one, the one who teaches him the most, tickle monster, and glasses/smooth. The video below is for you glasses/smooth, you know who you are.. lol.

video


Marcus has always been a SF Giants fan. He has been to many games and now can't wait for the 7th inning stretch so he can sing.


1st Game at 1 1/2


To the AWESOME BIG BROTHER

Thank you SF Giant organization and to
Gail 

Thank you Buster Posey #28

We're going to South Lake Tahoe, thanks to the Miller- Jimenez family. Back with Marissa, Rizza, and I always have wanted to say our peace where we got married. We have been trying for the past couple years to go but, life had other priorities. We have been wanting to go to the spot where we said "I do." We still had Marissa on our minds the first year Marcus started transitional kindergarten, and I was finishing the school semester. I then started work and Rizza worked full-time in San Francisco. Credit cards were all paid off, we started buying new furniture, we actually talked about moving out. Yes, out. Out from under my in-laws' roof that the door has been so kindly open for so long. Moving back from the Central Valley at the time we did was difficult for everyone, businesses, corporations, for the Mead family of three. After recovering from those years, then Marissa, then Maia and the whole time I have been thankful for each day. We are all so ready to go. To get away,  Tahoe, the fresh air, the lake, the trees, we saw hospital walls for so long we need this. To spend time together away from the city. We hope the fires are out or at least the air quality is good when were there. 

Rizza and I are doing good. She will write in the blog soon. I am doing pretty good. Going through all Maia's stuff has not been as hard as I thought it would be, partly because I did not know how much stuff Maia had, all her newborn to 3 months all her 3-6 months, clothes she never got to wear. We did have our favorite clothes Maia wore, and all her headbands we are keeping.  We are giving all her stuff away, to friends and family that have kids that will fit and then we donated the rest of her stuff, and all the stuff she would of used, highchair, car seats, clothes, and toys. She would want us to and we of course want to. Were getting ready to start working again but clearing up a few things before. We both want to work and get our lives back together, our own place. We ended up deciding after watching the news to give all everything to the community of Weed, CA that lost over 100 homes in the fire.

The weekend of the 20th car was all packed with Maia's clothes and stuff she never got to wear or use and a few more bags that were donated during the week (thank you Gosia and family). Then we stared out morning early and drove to French Camp (thank you Jenn)  then Sacramento (thank you Debbie) where we picked up more donations along the way. Onward we made our way to Chico, CA to Anika Burke, http://www.anikaburke.com/  where they have been collecting donations for the people in Weed, CA as they lost over 100 homes. After meeting the owner we found out she was affected directly as she has family members that live in Weed. It was a beautiful day and drive. While looking for parking we saw a farmers market and she suggested, actually recommended we go to the pie cart. We made our way to the cart before getting back on the road for the final part of our trip to Willits, CA.  Okay these pies were the best we ever had in our lives and we have been thinking of a reason to drive back to Chico just to get a whole pie. After leaving and headed out and on our way to Willits.

We made it Willits and mom is real sick so we went on Sunday after church to  the house and visited her. At the Agape Church we met all the wonderful congregation, all the people that joined the Mighty Maia Fight Team and have been praying for us and helping in any way they can. It was nice to finally meet people in person Susanne Pope and everyone. Marcus has been wanting to get up in front of the church and thank everyone. So he thought of what he wanted to say and when it was time I picked him up and he spoke into the mic. (sorry did not get a recording). He thanked everyone and thanked all the kids in VBS.
It turns out mom was so sick, she has now been in the hospital for a week and we have been driving up to Santa Rosa to see her and to cheer her on in her fight for life just as we did with Maia.  Hospitals are nothing new but after being at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital for a year we got spoiled. As we wrote in many other post they are the best of the best not just in care but in kindness, in professionalism, and the way the hospital is run. The nurses and Dr.s truly care and truly do what they do because they care. Mom has been fighting and slowly getting better, baby steps that is. Sometimes were asked don't you guys ever get a break. I just say it's life and we will be stronger as we grow from all of this. I mean this for everyone, Rizza, Marcus and I and everyone that reads our blog and that we know or have met. That is one of our goals is to show people to always look at the positive. As of today mom is doing better she is out of the ICU and they are talking that she may go home soon. But like Maia baby steps and I know my dad if its a day or a year he will be by her side just as we are..


Something that happened months ago, and one of the reasons I did the Faith video. (go to top and click video link to find videos)
Satan came to me on one of my sleepless nights. He asked me why do you pray, why do you thank, why do you have faith in God, when if he is the all powerful all mighty why doesn't he heal your daughter Maia. I laughed at him and told him to bring it on. I will never stop praying, thanking and I will never loose my faith in God. I said that Marissa is up in heaven and if God chooses to make Maia an angel too then I am honored just as I am honored that he gave us his son, Jesus.

So I was stuck and could not write for a bit. I would sit down, look at the screen and draw a blank. Tonight I am all alone, Marcus is sleeping, Rizza is in Yosemite with her brother, aunt and uncles. I wanted to write and still nothing, then I looked on Facebook and saw this adorable picture of my two nieces,  Lexi and Ely, and I started flowing. (again I added to what I started and the post is all over the place) I started to think that Marissa and Maia are playing in heaven. What I thought about when I saw this pic was Maia will not get to meet these two cuties, not be able to just lay down and read a book with them, not be able to share cousin girl talk, they will never get to go out together. Seeing this pic also makes me so happy and fills my heart with warmth as I know Maia and Marissa are watching over these two, and all their cousins, making sure they are all safe.


Lexi and Ely

I want to also thank Rhea at Le Reve Salon Le Reve Salon for the mommy make over.

Every thing we think, do, try to do, things that work out and things that do not we learn from. We are trying to be the best parents in this situation and any situation we are in weather it is good or bad. We learn from our mistakes so we can do better, we have no ego and we love life. Thank you for following our blog and being on the Mighty Maia Fight Team as we all have a fights in lives, no matter what it may be, as long as we have fun and try our best we know that we are living the best life possible.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Our Newest Angel...

This post was created by both mom and dad over the past few days, in the middle of all the craziness, stress, and inconceivable moments.... 

~ Thoughts from Mom ~
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This was the day of what would be our last family meeting. We had normally been meeting on Friday mornings, but since Friday was Maia's birthday, we decided to reschedule it. We knew it was going to be a busy day since it was also Marcus' first day of school... we now are the proud parents of a 1st grader!!! So after dropping him off at school, we headed straight to the hospital. Maia had a somewhat uneventful night and although she was relaxed and calm, her Dr. put her back on blood pressure medication, dopamine and epinephrine to help her maintain a higher blood pressure, which Maia seems to prefer. We were also hoping this would get more oxygenated blood to her kidneys, to get them to work more effectively and help her get rid of more fluid. For the past few days, her urine output had been slowly decreasing. They were unable to increase her diuretics due to her kidney levels being already elevated. They also added nitric oxide back to the mix to help open up the blood vessels in her lungs. Her sedation medication, dex, was decreased to give her some more awake time... something we didn't mind at all. Despite Maia being stable for the day, our family meeting reconfirmed what we had discussed at our last meeting. This week, the ICU attending was Dr. Sarah Tabbutt. She's always been very passionate with Maia's care and on that day, she mentioned that Maia was a completely different baby from when she last saw her about 3 weeks ago. She has gotten so much worse and we're all not sure exactly why. She told us that there were a few more minor things she'd like to try and check out regarding Maia's care... one of which was to put her back on the full dose of steroids. Of course this comes with no guarantee that something positive would come out of it, but for her own personal reasons, she wanted to make sure that if Maia wasn't going to survive, she wanted to know that she really did do everything for Maia. But just like all the other Drs on Maia's team, Dr. Sarah also wanted us to be prepared because Maia didn't look good and it was only a matter of time. 


 















 One thing Dr. Sarah did not want to happen, was for Maia to pass in the middle of the night, without us there. She said it has happened before and it's such a heartbreaking experience to see a baby take their last breath without the people that love them most around. She did not want that to happen to Maia. So she said if we want to have a more prepared setting, so that we could all be with her, they would accommodate us in any way they can... and we can do things our way. Or we could always continue the fight just as we've always done, and hope and pray that if anything happens, we would be there. She also discussed with us the palliative team, who was also present at the family meeting, regarding the transition to comfort care. Dr. Sarah had talked to me previously about them and said she's worked with them many times before and they are great with pain management situations, like with cancer patients. But she felt Maia's situation was different. She really didn't feel the need to transition or bring in any more people. She left it up to us to determine what we would like or need from the palliative care team. Dr. Sarah felt that in her entire life, Maia was taken care of by her 7 East family and they knew her best. She felt it was better that they continue Maia's care until the very end, because they've been there from the start and they knew how to best make Maia happy and comfortable... and we completely agreed. 




So Gordon and I went to lunch and talked it over. We both agreed that Maia has not looked good this past week and that it hurts us to see her so mad and unhappy. All she wants is to remove all the tubes, wires, and IVs connect to her. If she could do it herself, she would, and she's tried many times before. One thing I knew for sure, is that I wanted Maia to celebrate her 1st birthday with us. When Marissa was born, we said hello & goodbye all within the same day... in some weird way, I wanted the same thing for Maia, to be able to celebrate her birthday and "angelversary" on the same day. So when we got back to the hospital, we told Maia's nurse, Angela, that we were leaning towards comfort care but that we had a few questions as to how the process would be and what can we expect. 




Angela described the process as being pretty much customized for the best comfort level for Maia. Dr. Sarah added that in Maia's condition, it would be best to do everything quickly, so there's less chance of her going into cardiac arrest... we could not bear to see that happen, so that would be the plan. The only other thing that we requested was to be able to celebrate Maia's birthday. If everyone, all the Drs, nurses, and RTs, could help her make it to 2:45am, her official birthday, we would be happy. Of course, just like always, if Maia decides otherwise, we'll just go with the flow and let her lead the way. For the rest of the day, Maia was comfortable and happy, mainly because she was proned (on her tummy), her favorite position. Unfortunately, this made her face and chest extremely puffy from the swelling that was gradually starting to increase more and more... this also meant her urine output was also decreasing.


Maia's Birthday Eve ~ Thursday, August 28, 2014
 
















Later that night, we sat in our room at home, talking about how we can improve our home life. Going back and forth to the hospital each day had taken a toll on things like our bedroom... it was a mess! We literally used it as a place to sleep and change our clothes. Then around 1:30am we received a phone call from Dr. Duncan Henry, the PCICU attending who was working the night shift. Maia was not responding well to a position change and had dropped her oxygen sats once again. They were having a hard time bringing them back up and wanted us to come down and be with Maia, in case something happened. Everyone was aware that Maia dying and that she could go at any time, so they wanted to make sure we were notified. We thanked Dr. Duncan and headed over to the hospital. 

The drive to UCSF brought us back to the time we drove to the hospital when I was in labor. It was also a Thursday early morning drive and we decided to take the exact same route! However, this time, we were both crying, we were both scared. We didn't know what was going to happen. When we arrived, both Gordon and I had settled ourselves down. We just wanted to see Maia. We got to her room and she was stable... which of course meant that she had calmed down, her numbers weren't great, but she was still alive. Her sats were in the 50's but she was relaxed and in prone position. I decided to stay with her, and Gordon went back home to get some sleep. As Maia slept comfortably, the only thing her nurse, Angie, was worried about was when it was time to change position again around 6:00am. At 6:30am she was flipped over and she once again was not happy. It took her awhile, but she eventually settled down. 




Later that night, I spent the night with Maia. I was prepared for her moments of desaturation along with a long sleepless night for me. To my surprise, Maia had such a calm and peaceful night. It was uneventful as she slept through the entire night. Her nurse that night was Katie, who was also prepared for anything. Around midnight, Katie asked me if I was ok with having her diuretics stopped. She hadn't peed in almost 2 days, so she thought the less fluid that Maia's body took in, might help reduce her swelling. When she checked to see if it was ok with the Dr. she was told not to do anything, especially if Maia was stable... he was told that Maia needed to make it to her birthday, at least til 2:45am, her true birthday. So since Maia was stable and doing fine, they wouldn't change anything. It was so quiet that several times I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of falling birthday cards that hit the ground. The next morning, I woke up crying because everything had seemed too calm and peaceful... like it was a sign that Maia might be ready... ready to join her sister.

Maia's 1st Birthday, August 29, 2014




I got up around 6:00am. I changed into my Fight Your Heart Out shirt and freshened up before the craziness of the day started. We scheduled a Happy Birthday sing-a-long on Ustream to air around 10:00am, however, traffic was horrible that morning, making Gordon, Marcus, and my brother, all late to the hospital. Nurse Angela and I tried to set things up as much as we could before people started arriving. We moved around chairs and tables to help set up the camera and laptop that would air our birthday celebration. We also changed Maia into her birthday outfit... a pink and white tutu dress, with matching pink and white socks with flowers (a gift from Nurse Helen and her daughter Jackie). Marcus' gift, a pink flower headband, completed the look. I knew Maia would have IVs on her arms so I figured one of the easiest things to put on was something strapless. The body of the dress was was crocheted elastic, which made accommodating her swollen body much easier. It fit her perfectly! The night before, the staff had arranged it so that Maia was the only patient in the front area of the unit. We're glad they did because everyone slowly trickled in... and before we knew it, the front area of the unit was filled with with people waiting to celebrate. Hospital staff from different units and departments all came by to wish Maia a Happy Birthday, along with some of the nurses that were off that day. It was a good thing no other patients were in the front area with us because it did get loud and crowded. 




Although Maia had been weaned off her sedation meds so that she could be more awake for her birthday, she seemed tired. She was awake and alert whenever Marcus talked to her, but for the most part, she wasn't as active as she normally was. But she also wasn't mad like she usually was, she was nice and calm... which in some ways, confirmed to me that once again, she was ready, ready to be with her sister.




Those that couldn't stay for very long personally greeted Maia with both tears of joy and tears of sadness. It was an emotional sight to see, as many of Maia's nurses and Drs came by to wish her a Happy Birthday. We all knew she wasn't doing very well, so there were both tears of joy and tears of sadness, as we celebrated her first birthday.




The sing-a-long got started around 10:30am. We were joined by Oliver Jacobson, the musical therapist, who was gracious enought to accompany us in our Happy Birthday serenade to Maia. Afterwords, Marcus entertained us all with his renditions of "Counting Stars" and "Let It Go." 




We then gave Maia some birthday treats! We took her oral care sponge on a stick and dipped it into some whipped cream, then some cronut custard, then some chocolate... and she sucked the sponge dry each time! Marcus was so excited for Maia to try some sweets that he quickly gave her more! It was a beautiful sight.... Maia also got a pedicure from her ninas!




A few moments later, we were joined by one of Maia's uncle and godfather. My brother had flown out from New York and made it just in time to see Maia. He had previously done the same thing back when Marissa was born, but unfortunately, she passed away before his plane had landed. So we were all so happy he was able to be here for Maia's birthday celebration. 




As the party whined down, Dr. Sarah checked in with us to see if we were ready, if everyone we wanted to be present was there. So after a few minutes, we privately gathered everyone into Maia's room. Dr. Sarah, Angela, and Robin, her RT, made sure everything was ready. At this time, Gordon and I sat down on the couch and Maia was placed into my arms. She was extremely heavy and so swollen, it made me so sad to see her that way. She was normally so happy and vibrant, so to see her so still and barely moving, with her eyes closed, was very hard... just confirmation that we knew it was her time. Dr. Sarah first gave her some sedation meds, then took her off of her blood pressure meds. Next to go was the tape on her face... the tape that she tried to take off herself so many times. Then last to go was her breathing tube, the tube she hated so much. Her face was once again free. Dr. Sarah quietly left the room as we kissed her cheeks and told her how much we loved her. It was heartbreaking to have to say goodbye. But she was surrounded by so much love. It was almost as if she had fallen asleep in my arms. She didn't struggle, she didn't suffer... we couldn't let her, she didn't deserve it. She left us peacefully at 1:55pm. Dr. Sarah came in to let us know and quietly whispered her time of death to us, as only she was able to see it since they had turned off the monitor in Maia's room. She was now gone. Gone to be with God and her big sister, Marissa. 




Maia, you are loved... you are missed.


~ Thoughts from Dad ~


Happy Birthday to our newest angel 





Dad Gordon

4 weeks ago. 
Maia gave us all a scare on that day, Saturday August 2nd or was it a sign? (If you do not know what happened that day please go back and read my last post.)   Since that day I have listened to Maia's breath, her right lung, left lung, upper lung,
lower lung, on the side or from the back depending on how she is laying down. As the weeks went by there has been no real change in sound. At one time, Maia's lungs sounded like a faint sonar ping, sometimes when feeling her chest it felt like the same sticky feeling of having gum on the bottom of your shoe.

Maia received  X-rays every morning, they almost always looked like hazy headlights when they should just look see through and be black and see bones. Maia, did you fight to make it to your birthday so your mom's heart was filled with joy? You tried your hardest, you gave it everything you had to give, we stood by your side, thought out of the box ideas to help you heal, cried for you, and we did not give up, we held you until you took your last breath. We, I love you Maia. 

I have been in so much more pain thinking about what Marcus must be going through. He can't fully express himself, tell us how feels, what he is thinking, why his eyes look sad. Why can he fall down, scrape his arm and get right up, but when he hears, no, stop, don't, he cries. Marcus has been playing, running around, laughing, farting, picking his nose, scratching his balls (private area) all the normal things a 6-1/2 year old boy does. This would be hard for any kid to comprehend, how to act, how to talk to people in his situation. It is darn hard for people I know and love talk to me, so it has to be hard for Marcus. 


 

During the birthday celebration in Maia's room as most of us all saw, Marcus climbed up into Maia's bed and sang happy birthday and many other songs to her. (video posted below) But before Marcus climbed into her bed he knew something was going on things were not normal. With all Maia's godparents there and some family members, then with around 40 plus staff members from UCSF. I took Marcus into a room across the hall as the front unit was empty for Maia's birthday celebration. 
I asked him "you know Maia is real sick?", 
Marcus "yes dad I do"
Me "How sick"
Marcus was quiet and his eyes dropped and looked at my heart. The Saturday before this I asked him the same questions and Marcus told me "Maia is so sick she can die."
Me: Marcus, what do you think if Maia became an angel, and was able to play with Marissa?
Marcus; with a sad face "I would be happy"
Me: Happy because she is not all hooked up to the machines and cannot move?
Marcus: Yes
Me: you know daddy, mommy, ninos , your ninas, everyone would be sad


Wife I am Sorry. 

I have lost pretty much all my worldly possessions. We lost our home and everything in it, had to sell my Harley, I almost had to sell my baby my down hill mountain bike, luckily its worth more to me than any one would pay. That all does not matter to me. I almost lost myself. I would never do what Robin Williams did. What I mean is I almost lost myself and got so selfish I was thinking about leaving my wife Rizza in OUR  journey. The woman I love. The woman that puts up with my farts, with my morning breath, bad and good days. My soulmate that loves my humor, laughs with me, laughs at me, that will stay by my side in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, through having our girls become angels. I love you Rizza. I am sorry for when I was being mean, when I was scared, when I did not know what to do or say, how to hold you. I do my best to be the best person, husband, dad, buddy guy, friend, man of the house, I do my best. But I failed myself through our journey, but I did not lose, I did not lose faith, I did not abandon your side. I let evil enter my life, but it only won for that moment of weakness. I could never bear losing you and having to spend every other week or weekends seeing Marcus. Living apart from you and only hearing your beautiful voice on the phone, hearing you laugh without me and seeing you hand in hand with someone else... I almost lost what I really care about, you and Marcus. I did learn that I will be a better man, father, dad, buddy guy, a better husband and most of all that evil will never win, our faith and love for each other was sealed when we kissed at the alter. I love you.... 

Marcus has been pretty good through this weekend. He did have a couple times when he started crying so emotionally. His nino Dada and uncle Barry both pulled a prank on him and it set off an already fragile kid's tearful waterfall. Normally this kid would've been laughing and ready to think about what prank he was going to do in retaliation. As I was present for both pranks and thought about it, Marcus was expecting something normal to happen and when that did not happen he broke down. Much like being by Maia's side, her normal was the best thing ever for this big brother, but when Maia was not normal she closed her eyes and never woke up. It disrupted the flow that he had. He got over it and he played again as both times I took him for a piggy back walk and sat down with him, held him, listened to him in his cry talk, and reassured him that we are all sad, we all miss Maia, we all wish Maia was still here and at home and that we all have cried. During his cry talk he answered questions and said what he wanted to say, I am glad I have come to understand cry talk.. The whole rest of the weekend Marcus was pretty normal, even though I can see him hurting and needing extra attention, whether it was from us, his ninos, TV, legos or just time with himself.  Marcus is the best son ever, he is my buddy, my homie, my dude, Marcus is my everything mixed between Rizza and my genes and we see it all.  Marcus is the best big brother to his two angels, an inspiration to so many, a leader and teacher to all of us about love for your siblings, most of all Marcus is my HERO... I love you son, I love you Marcus.