Death of a Superhero

A Family's Story about Courage, Bravery and the Defining Moments of LOVE

Our sweet, lil' baby love lost his battle to AML Leukemia on March 8, 2010. We fought long, hard and very aggressively for 2.5 years, only to have his cancer come back for the fourth time to finally take his life. He was only 3 years old.

This entire blog is about Hunter's amazing journey. It's about his life and his love......his determination and his courage.......his absolutely, brilliant personality, and the affect he's had on people all over the world.

He's left an unimaginable footprint on this earth and has changed the lives of thousands of individuals. People who didn't realize how precious life was, now live it with extreme gratefulness. People who took every minute they get to spend with their children for granted, now savor every last second. And people who weren't quite sure what love is all about, now love deeper, love stronger and love with every ounce of their soul.

People all around the world have shared their love, their well wishes, their prayers and their inspiration, and we could have NEVER achieved as much as we did without them. We are humbled by their generosity & their true friendships & are forever grateful for every last person that has come into our lives through our experience with Hunter. He was our precious baby love who we loved and cherished with all our hearts and we are forever crushed and terribly, broken-hearted.

Dance in the clouds baby cakes. Mom & dad are watching proudly & you will remain so very close to our hearts for all of eternity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rainy Days of Sunshine

Hunter’s death is killing me.

The extremely painful and heartfelt emotions that have overtaken my body are beyond human tolerance. These last 3 weeks have been pretty unbearable and quite surreal and I’m so, so devastated, and just can’t seem to find any peace yet in our tragic ending. I hate it. I hate that he’s gone. I hate that I can’t touch his soft skin and smother him with love and sunshine all day long. I have all this love that used to go to Hunter and now it’s just building up in my body causing an immeasurable amount of pain because he’s not here to give it to…………he’s so far away from me. I feel like he’s out there all alone………wondering where mom and dad are. Wondering why we are not by is side, right next to him – where we’ve always been. Wondering why he’s been taken from us, when he did nothing wrong, in fact he did everything right. We’re supposed to be together, living this life out the way we had all imagined. We were supposed to be rewarded for all of our hard work and dedication. That’s how it works. You give it your all, play from your heart, fight with everything you’ve got…….and you accomplish great things. Our victory has been brutally taken from us and we are laying here defeated with our mouths agape……….wondering why this happened to us. Wondering why this happened to Hunter. Life used to be a little easier. And granted we were dealt a tough hand………but we were making it. We had Hunter, we had him with us, we were keeping him alive……….and that’s truly ALL that mattered. That’s all we cared about. Life, all of a sudden, has become overwhelmingly sad and extremely more difficult to live.

Hunter’s love was truly magnificent. I crave it every morning I open my eyes. I lay in our bed for what seems like hours just hoping and wishing he was still there laying next to us. We absolutely adored him. He was a true delight in every sense of the word and his vibrant energy is so terribly missed. Our house is sad and lonely and his presence, strangely enough, is felt everywhere…….yet he’s no where to be found. He’s unreachable. He’s only been gone three weeks and I feel as if it’s been a lifetime since I’ve held him and giggled with him and cuddled with him, sharing sweet and precious moments; moments that have now been stopped dead in their tracks.

This is one of my favorite videos of Hunter. He was so full of life this day. It was my birthday and he was just so tickled to help me blow out the candles. We did it over and over and over. I can't watch this video yet without getting extremely sad and angry for what we've lost. He's our sweet baby love and deserved a much better life than the one he was given.

More loving memories

Below are a couple of shots of Hunter's last amazing day. We were certain that he was healing because he was just so happy and active and enjoyed his day at the beach so very much. He struck a fever the day we got home and we were admitted into the hospital and 2 days later.......we were told that his cancer had returned for the fourth and final time. Complete shock and devastation. Just didn't seem possible.

I feel as if my whole being right now is made up of glass and at any moment, with the right dreadful combination of thoughts, I could shatter into a million pieces and I won’t have the strength or desire to put myself back together. I won’t even know where all the pieces go since my heart and mind are so tangled and torn up inside. I feel as if I am constantly running from the memories of Hunter’s last three days alive because they are so painful to remember as a mother and every time I think of them – a terrible, terrible heartache and sadness take over my whole body and I start to drown in my deepest, darkest fears. Fears that are now my reality. Because of this, I can’t be left alone too long with my own thoughts. They take me over and get a pretty powerful grasp on me………one that only Zen has been able to pull me out of.

I remember thinking and feeling and hoping that truly someday – everything was going to be alright. Now I know for sure that all of our days ahead will never truly be “alright”. We will never be “completely” happy knowing what was taken from us, knowing what we are missing out on……….knowing what Hunter went through just to be granted the chance to live. And then death comes along and just rips his life right out of our hands as if all of our efforts were for nothing.

I just can’t believe that this in now the life we’ve been left to live.

This video rips my heart out. It's Hunter's last video, Hunter's last words and Hunter's last wiggle. This is the day he died. When we woke that morning, he was basically suffocating and was unable to breath on his own. The leukemia had invaded his lungs and was taking over his entire body. We immediately hooked him up to his oxygen mask and pleaded for him to hang on. The doctors told us, based on his breathing pattern and the fact that he wasn't responding to anything, that his last breaths could possibly be sooner than later. We talked to him for hours as we held him close and tight in our arms, begging for him not to go, even though we knew it was clearly time. All of a sudden he woke and gave us his one last wiggle and one last smile. We got to hear his sweet voice say mom and dad one last time, he showed us his cars, asked for some juice and his cozy blanket.............and then he went to sleep.......and never woke up.


Hunter’s cancer actually showed it’s face in my dream the other night. It’s the first time it’s made an appearance and the first time I was actually able to recognize it. I’ve seen shadows of it before……but never it’s face. I was terrified. It was creeping around a crowded room……unexpected and uninvited. Possibly looking for me to wickedly laugh in my face, possibly looking for me to just let me know we’ve lost and to boast it’s victory. Possibly looking for me to let me know that once it gets it’s hands on something……….it’s not letting go until it gets it. My dreams are usually very vivid and real and I always wake up remembering them. I use to think that was a good thing when my dreams used to be joyful. However, I could have done without that one and the many others that now seem to haunt my nights. In my dreams now, Hunter is always dead or passing and I am unable do anything except sit there and hopelessly and helplessly watch it…………...not strong enough to kill what’s attacking him. Not powerful enough to take it down to it’s knees. Not ferocious enough to let it know that what’s mine is mine and I will guard it with my life. But unfortunately, in this terrible dream, my hands went numb, my legs went limp and I was unable to move……….paralyzed with fear, knowing it’s going to take and take and take from me what is not rightfully his.

I am looking forward to when dreams like this stop. It’s tough enough to deal with what I have to deal with when my eyes are open. Please let me get some sort of peaceful rest when my eyes are shut. I’m exhausted and feel as if I haven’t slept for the last 2 ½ years. I want the nightmares to go away. I want to see Hunter in my dreams alive and well………happy, smiling, giggling………enjoying the life he was supposed to live. That’s all I have left now……are my dreams.

The pendant I now wear every day I wake. It's got a little piece of Hunter's soul and an over abundance of love from the bond the 3 of us created. I wear it close to my heart
and will forever keep him with me.

Zen and I are in constant pain and some days just seem like a thick and murky fog. Even when the sun is shining……it feels like it’s raining. And on days when it seems like we are not crying on the outside……we are crying on the inside. It’s a mental battle like one we’ve never fought. Some days we feel like we are winning……..other days we are clearly losing.

So here we are again – having to rise above yet another challenge that’s basically been harshly thrown in our face…….unwanted, undeserving……and now having to combat it with one less warrior. It’s amazing how deep we have to continue to dig just to survive in this life. It looks as if our true colors are going to have to shine again, and Zen and I will, once again, see what we are made of.

I guess this is where Hunter will deliver us strength and courage and determination. I guess this is where we look adversity in the face with a smile and let it know we won’t go down easy, just as Hunter did. I guess this is where we do our best to survive……..the only way we know how. ….with love and compassion and an understanding that life has dealt us a blow beyond belief…….a brutal and horrific blow which will beat us down and last our entire life. We’ve now been burdened with the sadness of grief. We’ve now been burdened with the sadness of losing our only child. We’ve now been burdened with a lost love………that can never ever, ever be replaced or forgotten. And now we have to survive. We not only have to find a way to live without Hunter, but we have to find a way to live WITH Hunter. We have to find a way to live with his memories and his laughter and the joy he brought us. We have to find a way to cherish his being in a very positive and productive manner, even though what happened to him is so terribly tragic and will deliver a forever sadness that we’ll never be able to shake. We have to lock up those memories of his last 3 days and not ignore them, but only access them when we feel the strength and power to do so. We can’t allow those 3 days to consume all of our precious memories. Amazing memories that we'll hold close in our hearts and minds every waking moment.

A wonderful photo montage created by a dear friend.

Zen and I are closer now then we’ve ever been. He’s truly my best and most cherished friend. Our love has only gotten deeper and now exists on so many more levels. The intensity I feel when he embraces me is sometimes overpowering. I truly feel Hunter between us and it’s when I feel his presence the strongest. His brilliant smile and effervescent energy lit up our life and that’s what we are allowing to carry us through our darkest days. We created Hunter and we are now living this life walking the same path…..without him, with him, loving him, embracing him, cherishing him and remembering him for the wondrous soul he was.

We will continue to carry on Hunter’s legacy. We will continue to place his footprints on the hearts of all who hear about him. We will continue to change the lives of many more people walking this earth who weren’t quite sure what life and love are all about. He’s changed the lives of many. He’s made people better parents. He’s opened up the doors of love to so many children. He’s made people appreciate and embrace being alive.

We are now 5 months pregnant with our next son and are torn between anxiously awaiting his arrival and making sure enough time passes for us to truly have laid Hunter to rest. We’ll think of him every day for the rest of our existence. It would be impossible not to. He’s our inspiration, he’s our love, he’s our brightest star that is now shining on us every moment he’s in our thoughts. Our weakness and vulnerability will soon turn into strength. Our sadness and heartache will soon turn into courage and our pain and suffering will soon turn into the utmost determination to continue to live our life to the fullest, realizing how truly blessed we were to have Hunter in our life. He’s taught us and several others how to love stronger, love deeper and love with every ounce of your soul. It delivers an unimaginable beauty that will enhance us for the rest of our lives.

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes that was posted recently,

”Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy that it happened”.

A beautiful video tribute created by another amazing friend

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Death of a Superhero

Our world as we know it has caved in..........caved in deep.......we are in a tunnel of darkness and it seems as if the healing white light is way out of our reach. In fact, it seems as if we'll never reach's going to be a slow motion chase that feels as if it will last forever. Our everlasting sorrow over these last few days has led us to believe that the days ahead of us look extremely painful, overwhelmingly fragile and completely unlivable.

It wasn't supposed to happen this fast. We've clearly been blind sided by an evil that wasn't supposed to return. His life wasn't supposed to be taken in such a short amount of time. We knew the end was near.........but we didn't think it was breathing down our necks. We thought we'd have 1 to 6 months...........we were only given 3 weeks.

I am not quite sure how or where to begin.........I don't know what is going to be too harsh to post. I don't how how much everyone can handle. It will truly damage your heart, it will definitely stick a dagger in your soul and it will forever change the way love and heartache rests in your minds.

We witnessed our child dying.

We saw and heard Hunter's last breaths.

He was in our arms when his body went limp and his life force was taken. We've lost our little love..........forever.

We begged and pleaded for him to hang on. I kept begging Zen to keep putting the oxygen mask back on his face. But he was already gone. I just kept thinking "c'mon baby, just breathe, c'mon love.........just a couple more breaths before you leave us........we just want one more smile, or one more giggle, just open your eyes......we just want to hear your last time. Please don't go yet.......please don't go...".

And all of a sudden - our time was up.

Zen and I have seen things in the last 6 days that no parent should ever have to lay their eyes upon. Brutal images are burned into our heads and our wonderful memories with Hunter now seem to be sprinkled with the devils dust. What happened to Hunter was very cruel. It's twisted, it's gut wrenching and it's truly just to unbearable to face.

Hunter was taken by the angels at 11:25 pm on Monday, March 8th. They spread their wings, swooped down, lifted him up and carried him off. His beautiful soul was gone, his amazing and contagious giggle was no longer heard, his sweet and innocent being was no longer present and his heart that was so full of love and graciousness..........was no longer beating.

The coroner was ready to take him as soon as he passed - but we weren't quite ready to let him go just yet. We had a few more things to say to him, we had a few more snuggles to get in and we had lots more smooches to lay upon his precious little body.

We laid with him, we whispered wonderful and encouraging and extremely thankful blessings into his ear. We let him know what an amazing child he was and that mom and dad are standing proudly by his side, cheering him on, wishing him the best and most deserved journey that he was so unfairly cheated out of here on this earth.

We bathed his lifeless body and dressed him in his Iron Hunter Tee. We rocked him and comforted him and let him know that he will do nothing but rise above and put on stellar performances in his next life...........where his body will be healthy, vibrant and free and clear of all horrid diseases.

The coroner arrived at 5:30am to take him away. The moment we had feared so intensely the last two 1/2 years of our life had finally arrived. We still weren't ready to have him depart from our life. It was amazing how I still wanted to fight for the right to keep him with us.......I didn't want to accept that the fight was over. We lost. And we are now another set of parents that are leaving the children's hospital, after a battle that lasted years.............without their child.

We were slowly escorted out, along with security, as we carried his body outside to be laid on the stretcher. Our hearts and minds couldn't really take in the reality that was playing out right before our eyes. We were about to lay our precious love into a body bag.

It's an image that we will never forget.

It's an image that I can't shake and it's a memory I didn't ever want. To carry the weight of that visual seems to bury me in a mound of sand until I am paralyzed and then it suffocates me to where I am constantly trying to catch my breath...........wanting so desperately to forget it. Our reality right now is truly devastating and it hurts so bad.

On the walk back to the empty hospital room - my legs wouldn't take any more steps and my body just gave in...........Zen caught me on my way down and we sobbed our most painful and hurtful tears and then he held me tight all the way back to the room. I vomited, we sobbed some more, we packed up our things and we left the room where our little love died.

We laid Hunter to rest on Thursday, March 11th. Once again, we felt the need to see him one more time and let him know how much he was loved. Zen and I have never felt a love so fierce and so amazingly rewarding in our entire lives. We've never fought so hard for a love that should have survived.

Hunter was a true fighter. He embraced life every day as if there was nothing to lose and nothing to fear. He had no idea what was coming. He had no idea that death was waiting at the doorstep. We are forever grateful for that. He was such a sweet soul. He was so kind and so funny and so loving. He didn't deserve to live his last days afraid. And we feel extremely fortunate that he didn't. Such a brave and courageous little soul.

Zen and I never knew how amazing love could be until we experienced the love of our child. Our hearts were consumed and full to the rim with love for Hunter. And now it's as if our hearts have died. We are standing here left by ourselves to scrape these badly beaten hearts off the ground and give them new life. And it seems impossible since our strongest life force is no longer with us.

Hunter was the single greatest experience of our lives. We have no regrets. Not one. And despite the brutal challenges and despite the overwhelming amounts of pain and suffering........we graciously and gratefully lived our life for him........and we couldn't have asked for a better king.

Hunter.......our dear, sweet, precious love.......may you rest in peace with an over abundance of love, light and smiles. Know that you've changed the lives of many and have left the most wonderful and inspiring footprint that could have ever been imagined. Mom and dad will never do anything except embrace your wonderful being and carry you with us for all of eternity. You've enhanced our life, you've enhanced our love, you've enhanced our spirits. You've made us whole and you will live on in us forever. With so much love and tenderness, mom and dad.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Our little love is dying........

and it's happening right before our very eyes.

It's the most horrific torture we've ever had to face and we feel as if we are in a very, very sad hell right now. I, personally, can't seem to get a grasp on the pain. It's so completely unbearable and it's cutting so deep right now........every waking moment I am hurting and aching and in just plain agony. It's like constantly being punched in the stomach with steel fists. Our heads feel as if they've been slammed with a wrecking ball for the last 21 days. And our hearts are being stomped on with absolutely no mercy. I am so, so sad for Hunter. I am devastated and crushed that his beautiful life is brutally ending like this...........I honestly believed he was going to make it. I truly, truly did. I didn't think for a second that he wasn't going to champion his way through this and come out on top with an amazing victory. I am in shock. I am stunned. I am completely numb and I can't seem to think straight on most days. I sit on the floor in the shower and sob and just let the water wash away all my tears. I cry when I am pouring coffee, I cry when I look at his beautiful face, I cry before we go to sleep, and I cry when we wake up. Our life is so sad right now and I don't see how we are expected to recover from this. I feel as if we will be spiritually and emotionally wrecked for years to come, if not for the rest of our life.

We are not sleeping too well. Between handling Hunter's needs, battling our daily sadness and continuing to try to enjoy every moment that he is awake.........sleep doesn't seem to come into play. Whenever we do fall asleep.........Hunter enters all of our dreams. Sometimes he's healthy, most times he's sick. The other night in my sleep, we somehow had his precious little body and soul tucked away tight in one of his Lightning Mcqueen suitcases that he always carries around. We dropped it off a bridge into a beautiful waterfall and the immediate silence was deafening. I screamed and cried and fell to my knees and wanted him back so desperately. It was so completely horrifying and final..........amazingly unbearable and so terribly, terribly tragic.

Hunter, due to round the clock pain meds and just plain being exhausted, seems to sleep a good bit these days, which is what leaves us plenty of time for crying. This last week, he seemed to take a turn for the worse and we've just found out today that he has a pretty severe pneumonia . We've been pumping his body up with herbs and fresh vegetable juices in addition to all his other meds trying desperately to keep his cancer at bay. But it's just too strong. We've managed to get the cancerous cells that have invaded his blood stream down a little - but his body is clearly under attack. He feels his body deteriorating and gets extremely upset when he tries to get up or walk or play. The cancer has taken so much from's taken so much from US.

Many people who have been through losing a child with cancer have told us to brace ourselves. It's an unbelievable journey and something that we'll carry with us for all of our days to come. The suffering will never be forgotten and the pain will never subside. Zen and I are holding on to each other with everything we've got and are too afraid to let one another go........fearing one of us will fall.........and never get back up.

Many other amazing people have offered to take some of our pain away - if it was at all possible........and I swear to god....I wish they could. Some days the pain and heartache are so incredibly heavy.....I feel as if I can't breathe, let alone get up and try to put one foot in front of the other. My feet feel like bricks.

Hunter is our sunshine. He is our beautiful shining star that beams and brightens every single one of our days. He's our little love that we have held on a pedestal now for 3 years and we are so proud of him and how he's handled what he's had to endure. We're not ready to let go...........we won't ever be.........we don't want to and we are holding on to him right now with all of our might. Sadly enough, whoever it is - is going to have to forcefully, yet gracefully, pry him out of our arms when that dreadful moment comes.

We love you baby.