Take a Breath….

Have you been at the doctor’s office before they give you a shot and they say to you “take a breath” and then they stick you? That is how I feel right now. This weekend marks the weekend where everything started to spin for Justin and I. This is the weekend a year ago we were walking through Walmart when we noticed his leg was swollen and went to the ER. I wish I could take a breath and wake up after all of these “firsts” were over. This weekend last year our lives changed forever…cancer became part of our lives.

This picture sums up everything. Love it

Last year this time we were planning a weekend away that turned into a week-long hospital stay. This year Justin is gone and it is Brock and I here….something I never imagined possible! I never thought he would die. Sometimes I think I must have lived in a complete blur or disbelief  Justin had cancer…CANCER. People die from cancer. We buried him 6 months ago. Our son has lived more days without his father now then with him…he is 10 MONTHS OLD! Cancer pisses me off.  We had hope, so much hope. Hope is a good thing but it is also devastating.

Brock has had SO many milestones and seems to learn new “tricks” almost daily in between giving endless smiles to everyone. All of these milestones are so bittersweet. I wish Justin was here with us to experience them. He loved his children so very much. I know he is watching and sees Brock, he told me so in my dream. These milestones coming up…Justin’s milestones feel entirely different. They make me want to take a breath and just hold on. I always try to embrace whatever emotion I am feeling because they are all valid but I wish these I could skip. These are scary. I can remember the uncertainty from this weekend last year…it was almost like we entered the twilight zone. I remember every detail from that hospital stay and every one after that. Things I will never forget.

Brock and I went back to the same location and had pictures taken that Justin and I did last year. We took his shirt he wore in the original pictures with us. It was something that I had been wanting to do but up until now I couldn’t. We got some of the pictures back and I LOVE them. They capture what I had hoped they would…my happy littlest love with some of his father in them.

I miss Justin so much but I look forward to the future. There is so much more life and happiness to be had, I have to believe that. I want that. I believe that Justin and I were brought together exactly when we were suppose too because we needed each other. I will say it a thousand times over…I am SO glad I was the one by his side, that he chose me for this journey with him.  Brock is here as a living vision of the love we shared that will forever live in my heart. So I take a breath and hold on until the next chapter starts and to get through these “firsts” without completely loosing my mind. Let’s be honest…my mind is gone by this point but I wouldn’t have it any other way.



BIOPSY….that one word can say and scare you so very much! Before Justin abnormal cells, biopsies and cancer had never been in my vocabulary. They now are ingrained into my knowledge and heart forever. Any of those words scare me to my core being. Staying positive and not diving into an abyss of depression is an everyday battle. I know Justin would not want me to do anything but continue to live my life and move forward which I am trying to do.


Last week I had to go back to the gyn for a check-up. I could not go back to my regular doctor for a few reasons one being that there are too many memories there. I couldn’t see the chairs we sat in while we waited for our doctors visits together or the room where we first saw that little flicker of a heartbeat. I just couldn’t do it. The new doctor I saw got it…he was sympathetic to the situation. Files transferred over, easy fix. Sitting in the waiting room gave me such anxiety. I SO want to be those other women who look like they are in different stages of bliss. I didn’t know that bliss with Brock’s pregnancy. Cancer took that away. Pregnancy is supposed to be such a happy time. Mine was full of biopsies and scans for Justin. Trying to hold things together while all the time holding my growing pregnant belly worrying. Cancer did that.


I have abnormal cells on my cervix. While he went over the different types of cells his voice began to fade into the background. All I could think of were my children. I cannot leave them, they need me. Justin’s children needed him too though??? My sweet babies…they need me!

After going over the different stages of abnormal cells the doctor told me this is like someone sitting in the waiting room with a bomb. We don’t know when the bomb will go off and become cancerous cells so we are not going to let it get that far. He said…your children need you. He gets it.


Next week I am having a biopsy of my cervix. Yes, I know chances are things will be fine but I am scared. Justin was given a 95% curability rate. We buried him last spring, less than 5 months later. You cannot have lived the last year of my life and not be scared. Unimaginable things happen against odds. I do not have the luxury of living with the comfort of being 95% sure that these abnormal cells are nothing…my son does not have a living Daddy even with those odds. Cancer has taken so much already…too much!

9 months check-up

These milestones are so bittersweet. Sitting at the doctors office I always sit in the waiting room with my back to everyone else. I cannot look at the happy families that are there together. Especially the infant waiting area. These appointments I have always been alone at or without Justin. I hate it. Too see the other Dads interacting with their children, it breaks my heart and makes me so jealous.

It is just not fair dammit!

I sit there trying to keep myself composed and not completely go into a panic attack. My happy little guy has no idea. It makes me so sad for him that he will never have those happy moments with his wonderful, smart Daddy. I can take this mountain on by why my child? There are so many questions but no answers.


Another Note on Mother’s Day Out….


Filling out all of Brock’s forms for his new school there obviously was a place for his parents information….his parents as in plural. It was the first time I came across this for him. What do I put for Justin? They know at his school his Daddy passed away. I sat at stared at the black line for Father…..


Then I realized this really isn’t that difficult. For Father I put Justin Phillips, Brock’s Daddy. In the place for phone number I put he lives in our hearts and not in our home.


It is important for Brock to have his Father’s name where ever he is I feel. Brock has a Daddy…a wonderful, smart, funny loving Father. It is what would have been there if Justin was here on earth with us. Anywhere I can put Justin’s name I will. Without Justin I wouldn’t have my sweet baby boy. 🙂


Mother’s Day Out…

Last week my sweet baby boy started going to Mother’s Day Out twice a week…we call it his “school.”  I remember leaving Liz and Garrett around the same age and it being hard but Brock is just different. Everything about that sweet boy is different. I would do anything to protect all of my children but for him it can go to almost an irrational place very quickly. He has been dealt enough in life already in his young few months, mess with him and I will hurt you…not joking in the least.



Driving to drop him off I feel so anxious, what if something happens why he is there? Will he be scared and wonder where all his regular people are? What if he gets hungry? Hurt? I know that he will be taken care of but the irrational side of me knows that bad things happen to innocent good people. Again, I will hurt you if you mess with him. So..back to the drive, in my head I am asking to Justin please be with me and our son. Help me get through this…something I am sure I will ask countless times over the rest of my life. We arrive and I take my always happy boy out of his car seat, my hands are shaking. I have to leave him. If I do not leave him today there will be another time I will have to leave him with “strangers” and I wont want to do it then either. We walk in and I hand over one of my most prize possessions. He is completely unaware and starts to play. Always his happy self. 🙂

There is my sweet boys name! 🙂

Walking back to the car I have a sense of I DID IT! So silly but such a huge thing  in itself also. He is special, he is different, he is mine and I am his. I am his only living parent…we are each others, other. I arrive back to my car and turn it on….the song came on. The SONG came on! Anytime I have asked Justin to please help me through something this song comes on. I cry like a baby in the car…I am not alone! I love that man so much.


Everything is so hard and emotionally exhausting. Packing Brock’s diaper bad the night before I completely cleaned it out…everything. I saw the cough drop wrappers in the side pocket where Justin had placed them. It used to aggravate me that he would drop them off everywhere and anywhere. Now when I find them they make me smile. I took all the wrappers out of the diaper bag. I want to save them. Irrational I know but anything related to Justin is so precious, even cough drop wrappers! I finished packing his diaper bag including placing one of the wrappers back into it. It gave me comfort that part of his Daddy would be going to school with him.


Sometimes I wonder how in the world did I get here…where a cough drop wrapper is so valuable and holds so much significance. This is my world, my reality of trying to survive daily. This wasnt the plan. 

Not the best picture, it was dark in the room still. 🙂

Picking Brock up that first day he was all smiles and came crawling up to me saying “momma momma momma” like he always does when he is tired. He had a good day. Love that boy! 🙂

Cancer Clothes…


Do you have clothes that you can remember playing a pivotal moment in your life? I can remember what I wore on the way to the hospital to have Elizabeth and Garrett and what I wore home. I still have them. I also have what I call the “cancer dress” in my closet. I was wearing it that Sunday when I walked back into Justin’s hospital room after the oncologist left.  It is THE dress I was wearing while he cried that he was going to die. I knew it was still in the closet but couldn’t ever bring myself to wear it again, it was just too painful. It has HIS tears on it…a part of HIM. I wore it this past Thursday and touched where I imagined his head was placed against my chest that night many times. HE is still there. I love and miss him so dearly. I am so glad he knew that…that I loved him.


There are other clothes I have that remind me of days and/or events of the past year. I had the “diagnosis” dress when we got the official diagnosis last November. I havent worn it since there either. I have the pants and green shirt I wore that was stretched over my huge belly covering our sweet baby boy in my womb. That was the outfit I wore to his first surgery and eventually what I would wear weeks later to give birth to our son. I also remember exactly what I was wearing when he died…pink shirt, white undershirt and grey pants. I wear this all the time…it makes me feel close to him. We kissed “goodbye” in this.


When I think of him and his clothes I think of the shirt he wore in our pictures and the “quits” I bought him to wear through all of surgeries and treatments and his Ironman shirt.


There is also the dress that Justin called “his dress”…he just liked it he said.


Sometimes I think I will never be normal or think normally again. I wont. Cancer has changed all of that. The kids have a cough make me think of Justin and how we thought he JUST had a cough. His lungs were dying. I cannot watch Brock cry without being irrational and almost frantic and wanting to fix whatever is wrong, he has been dealt enough in life already. ENOUGH!


Today while Brock and I were out he was getting all kinds of attention like usual…I mean look at him, who couldn’t love him??? This one older lady was talking about how big he is. I said yes, he is a big guy. His Daddy was a big guy. We parted ways and went on shopping. Later she approached us again and I figured she wanted another toothless grin from Brock. Instead she told me “It doesn’t get easier” you just learn to live with the loss.

His quote on his foot marker starts off with “It doesn’t get easier”…..


I asked her how did she know??? She said because I referred to Justin in the past tense. I told her had passed away a little over 4 months ago. It caught me off guard and I had to hold back tears. It scares me to live the rest of my life with this heartache. Don’t get me wrong I am SO thankful for the happiness Justin showed me, we showed each other but scared of how much it hurts now at times. I do not know how to process it most days, it is overwhelming, sucks the breath out of me and cuts to the core of my being.


I had another dream about Justin which thrills me…I wish he would visit every night. Maybe he does and I just do not remember??? In this dream I was changing Brock’s diaper and he was laying on my bed watching me. He leaned over to look my Brock’s bottom and commented on how his rash is much better. (We have been fighting a little diaper rash lately) He smiled and then I woke up. It seemed so real I could almost touch him…almost. FLML



Justin’s Marker

It feels so final now…I am glad it is finally in place.

As the quote says…It doesn’t get easier Justin, you not being here does not get easier. This quote was on his Road ID bracelet that he wore when cycling.