I’m that paranoid, worrywart mom. I’ll get out of bed every hour to make sure my congested child is still breathing during the night. I secretly fear every little case of the sniffles is going to turn into pneumonia and that every bump on the head is really a traumatic brain injury.
I’m a worrier and the fact that my kids are healthy doesn’t stop me from imagining the worst.
Because my children are the center of my universe and losing them is the absolute worst thing life could throw at me.
Because I know that sometimes, the worst does happen.
Every time I learn about a mother losing a child, I feel like someone has punched me in the stomach. Most moms can probably relate to this, paranoid or not. We are not supposed to outlive our children. It defies the natural order of things and there’s just something so desperately tragic about a child leaving this world before they’ve had a chance to realize their potential and become who they will become.
But Tracey Blackmore of Carmel, Indiana, looked at things a little bit differently.
In June 2015, Tracey’s son Brooks was diagnosed with two astrocytomas, cancerous tumors of the brain, at the age of 6. The stage 4 tumors were inoperable so Brooks underwent several bouts of radiation. In March 2016, another tumor developed and Brooks died in May, less than a year after the initial diagnosis.
Brooks would have been 7 this month. His birthday is December 20th.
“I just miss his laugh and the joy he would bring to our lives,” Tracey told ABC News. “He was such a silly boy always making little fart jokes or butt jokes. He has younger siblings. They are now 3 years old. They’re boy-girl twins and I miss the love that he would share with them.”
In addition to his fondness for fart and butt jokes, (I have two 6-year-olds, so I definitely get that) Brooks loved Hot Wheels. When he was home and sick, he’d always ask to go out and get a Hot Wheel. He remembered every Hot Wheel he had and knew when he got it and where. Tracey estimates they went out to get a Hot Wheel about four to five times a week while Brooks was undergoing treatment.
I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child. Actually, I kind of can imagine it and the idea is so gut-wrenchingly painful that it makes me cry. How does a mom get over that? The answer is that she doesn’t, but how does she march on, live life, and get through holidays and birthdays and ordinary days?
Tracey Blackmore has found a way to honor her son’s memory and to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Her family has assembled little bags containing Brooks’ story, statistics on childhood cancer, a link to Brooks’ St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraising page, and a packaged Hot Wheels car donated by Mattel (by the way, you rock for this, Mattel). The bags are labeled “Finders Keepers, #BeBrooksBrave.” These bags have been scattered in some of Brooks’ favorite places: his old preschool, Target, Chick-fil-A, and Panera Bread.
Picture a little boy or girl finding a bag with a Hot Wheels car and being excited because they just scored a cool new toy. Now picture that child’s mom or dad reading Brooks’ story. Maybe they make a donation. Maybe they make the donation that will pay for the research to find a cure. Maybe it will inspire an act of kindness or maybe it will just help them appreciate the good things in their own life. Maybe it will prompt them to speak a little more sweetly to their spouse, or to remember to call their mom, or to give their kids an extra hug.
“We had no idea our little act of kindness in honor of Brooks would be so overwhelmingly well-received,” Tracey told Babble. “Thank you for helping us carry on this message and his memory.”
There won’t be a 7th birthday for this little angel, but Brooks’ life is being celebrated. I’m sure his story affects everyone differently. For me, it’s a reminder that life is precious and fleeting and that I should try to worry less and love more, and that there are few things more powerful than kindness. I needed to read this message today.
Happy Birthday, buddy. I think we would have liked each other a lot. You really can’t go wrong with Chick-fil-A and a good fart joke.
If you want to read more about the #BeBrooksBrave movement, you can follow their Facebook page.
h/t: ABC News