Five Years

5 years later

A couple of weekends ago I was driving all three kids home from an over-night stay at their great grandpa’s with their cousins. They conked out about five minutes after getting on the freeway, exhaused from staying up late and suffering from excessive sugar hang overs.

I was somewhere between Cerritos and Buena Park on the 91 East when it hit me, hard, like a punch in the gut from late-80s Mike Tyson. Jax has been gone longer than he was here.

That’s fucked. Lonliness filled me with despair. For whatever reason, a quiet car has been a magnet of super shitty thoughts for me since Jax died. In that moment, all those feelings came rushing back. It only lasted for 10 minutes, but it left its mark. Then, as I do, I crammed those feelings way down deep. And now, here we are. Five years that I last rubbed my fingers through his hair, heard his voice, made him smile and gazed in to his gorgeous eyes.

Saturday, the day of the remembrance, was rough. It was the hardest remembrance for me emotionally since the first year. The lack of booze didn’t help. At least at the Angel games I can numb myself up some. Disney’s El Capitan Theater offered no such relief. I didn’t want to be in my own skin. Acting natural felt forced, and I had trouble relaxing and just being.

Kristina missed most of the movie as Phoenix, who was missing his nap time, didn’t want to sit quietly. She was having a hard time Saturday, too, and this didn’t help.

The movie experience itself was terrific. Jax would’ve loved this so much. El Capitan is beatiful and the preshow, which I can only describe as a 13-year-old’s idea of a fun day on acid, was pretty cool. And the movie, Cars 3, was a fitting end to the franchise. Garvey, who is slightly older than Jax, said it was the best movie in the trilogy. I think Jax might’ve agreed, especially with the emergence of namesake Jackson Storm. It was an apt way to honor our missed little boy.

After the movie we gathered in the lobby, trying to catch up and say hello to those that joined us. At one point I looked out to the front on Hollywood Blvd, and what do you know, a fire truck inched its way along traffic. That’s our boy for us. Much needed. A few minutes went by and I couldn’t hold my emotions in check any further. Hugs made my eyes swell and at some point I lost it, breaking out in a hard, loud, ugly cry. The climax of my awkwardness.

I’m pretty sure we held the El Capitan crew up from opening doors for the next show time, but they never asked us to leave and were very courteous. We headed back to the parking structure and began our voyage out of Los Angeles, stuck in 101 traffic. We ate lunch with friends at an Island’s in Long Beach and then went home.

Kristina crashed on the couch. She didn’t sleep well the night before, with the day looming. Gray pulled out his Cars toys to play with, so we raced together while he recreated the movie on our living room floor. At night, my mother-in-law picked up balloons and we wrote notes to Jax and released them.

Then Kristina and I headed back to the theaters to catch a 10:30 PM showing of Cars 3. We weren’t the only ones in the theater, but it was pretty bare. No baby to hold or kids to rush to the bathroom, so Kristina could an enjoy an uninterruped viewing. I tagged along mainly for security. I didn’t feel great about her going to the movies late by herself. When we walked out back to our cars after midnight, I asked her thoughts, and she said it was cute. And agreed Jax would’ve loved it.

Saturday is a reminder that none of this gets easier. Some days are just shitty. And it’s normal, even after a string of non-shitty days, no matter how many years after the fact.

Thank you to those that joined us Saturday and those that couldn’t, who continue to honor our missed little boy and support our family with love and kindness. Sometimes, because of my own shit, I’m not able to express it. But it does mean so, so much to us. We love you.

CHOC Walk 2017 – How to Register

REMINDER! The CHOC Walk is August 27 this year. 

Two goals with this post:

  • Remind everyone that the timeline for the CHOC Walk was pushed up by two months this year. Remember to register if you plan on joining. And if you can’t join us but would like to make a donation to team Iron Jax, you’re more than welcome to do that as well.
  • Assist those with the registration process. CHOC has decided to use another new platform this year, which means another new way to register. Hopefully the instructions below are easy enough to get you signed up and fundraising in a jiffy.

How to Register

1. Go to CHOC’s registration page here.

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2. Sign up for a new account by entering your name and email address and creating a password, or click the Sign Up with Facebook button.

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3. If you’re signing up as a Walker, click the bear on the left.

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4. Fill out your Account Information (name, address, fundraising goal, t-shirt size, etc.).

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5. To join team Iron Jax, enter “Iron Jax” at the very bottom where it asks for Team Name. From there, it should switch your options of create or join team to JUST join team. Then click Next.

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6. The next page confirms your information, and then click Continue.

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7. After choosing to add a donation under your name, you’ll be taken to the Complete Registration page. Sign your rights away and then Complete Registration.

Bam, you’re now signed up for team Iron Jax. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help.

Thank you for joining us in this very meaningful experience for our family. Whether you’re Walking or Donating, it means more to us than you’ll ever know.

Thank you.

Happy 9th Birthday, Jax

Jax turns 9 today. Last week I tossed grounders and pop-ups and threw batting practice to kids between 6 and 12 in our Little League for evaluations. It wasn’t lost on me when the 9-year-olds came up that Jax was missing.

On Wednesday night, as a Board member and Minors player agent of the league, I ran the draft for the 9 and 10-year-olds (and some 11s). It was at the house of the league’s president, who just happens to be the father of a boy in Jax’s first preschool class that he adored. One of the managers in the division is the mother of a player on Jax’s t-ball team.

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I haven’t been able to stop fantasizing about what Jax would look like physically, and what kind of baseball player he’d be. The few 9-year-olds that I recognized at evals looked so grown up, and different, really. If I didn’t know their names, I wouldn’t have recognized them. Would I recognize Jax if I crossed paths with him?

It’s been a hard week, emotionally. The longing for him, the missing him. I mean, it always is leading up to his birthday. But throw evals and the draft on top of that, and I’m really having a hard time this week. Jax should be out there, too. It isn’t fair to leave him out of it. It’s B.S.

Today we’ll drive out to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and celebrate Jax at one of his favorite places, then meet up with family at Ruby’s in Orange at the train station for what should be a beautiful night. It’s our tradition for our boy, and the only way we know how to celebrate his birthday at this point.

And the fantasies return. What would Jax want for his 9th birthday? What would he play with? Would he like riding bikes and scooters? Create Nerf battles with his brother and sister? I have no idea what 9-year-old boys do. Lego?

But I’m confident he’d still love baseball. As my uncle Bob posted a comment in a past birthday post “it’s in our blood.”

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Happy Birthday, Jax. My love for you knows no limits. My heart aches beyond comprehension. And my soul longs to be with you again.

Love you,

Dad

OC Family Published My Story – Check It Out

UPDATE 1:58 PM 12/29/16: Direct link is up, which you can find HERE. 

UPDATE 3:25 PM 12/27/16: Apparently viewing the web version is not mobile friendly. But the good news is a direct link will be posted within the next week or so. Once I get that link I’ll update this post with it. 

Just a quick note for those not following me on Facebook or Instagram.

OC Family today published an essay I wrote for them for their January edition, which can be found throughout Orange County starting today, or online at ocfamily.com. I wrote about Jax, dealing with grief and our New Hope (to borrow the Star Wars idea – Phoenix). On the top right click on the January digital magazine, go to page 60 and you’ll find it.

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Just a reminder you can always follow me on Instagram @sethtearz or Facebook here.

CHOC Walk 2016 THIS SUNDAY – Team Iron Jax

***This is for Walkers and non-Walkers!!!

Just a reminder that team Iron Jax is participating in the 2016 CHOC Walk to help raise funds for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. THERE’S STILL TIME TO DONATE to the team! $1, $5, $7000 – give whatever you can/would like and help us honor Jax as we raise funds for a very special place. You can donate here.

I tried writing a post entitled Why We Support CHOC to explain the importance giving back in Jax’s honor is to us. It started like this:

Jaxson died at 9:26 p.m. at Children’s Hospital of Orange County on June 24, 2012. He wasn’t born a preemie or cured for cancer at the hospital, much like many of the participants for Sunday’s CHOC Walk 2013. For about three hours, the hospital staff did everything they could to save our boy. But it was after he left us that the CHOC staff’s grace, compassion and solace left an overwhelming mark on my wife and I. We lost our boy, but it was if they lost him with us.

The rest of it is deeply intimate and I decided against posting it. I tried to figure out a way to make it less intimate, but to me, it loses the impact. Just know that for us, it’s a very meaningful cause that honors Jax’s very special spirit.

FOR THE WALKERS ON SUNDAY

We’re meeting at the lockers at the left in front of the Disneyland entrance. It’s the same place we met last year. The event starts at 6:15, we’re meeting at 6, but I urge everyone to try to be there earlier. Traffic is going to succcccccckkkkkkkkkkk. Here’s a link to helpful information about that day (parking, strollers, wheelchairs, etc, THE PARKING TRAM DOES NOT RUN!).

Please wear your Iron Jax shirts with capes (or red if you don’t have one). IF YOU NEED A CAPE LET US KNOW SO WE CAN BRING IT. 

Thanks again to EVERYONE. We love you all, and we feel your love in return. And it means so much to us.

Visit my Iron Jax CHOC Walk page here.

 

CHOC Walk 2016 – Team Iron Jax

The CHOC Walk 2016 has two major changes this year:

  1. It’s been pushed back in October to the last Sunday of the month – 10/30/16.
  2. The minimum amount to raise per Walker has increased to $85 (from $65).

With that being said, let’s get team Iron Jax rolling! Kristina has created our team and I’ve signed myself and the twins up. Undecided if you want to come walk with us? Phoenix will be there, so come see him!

Why do we do the CHOC Walk? Jax passed away at CHOC’s pediatric intensive care unit. The entire staff was so compassionate to us and treated us with so much respect that this is our little way to give back to the hospital and the community in memory of our little hero. I wrote this pretty detailed, gut-wrenching post that explains it more, but we decided not to post it. It’s very personal. Maybe if Kristina gets enough texts, emails, Facebook messages and courier pigeons requesting the post, she’ll give the OK to post.

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What is the CHOC Walk?

The Children’s Hospital of Orange County annually raises funds to support the care, services, research and education that CHOC provides children.  Since its start in 1990, the CHOC Walk in the Park has raised over $24 million, with funds supporting education, research, and adoption and utilization of the latest technologies to advance the health and well-being of children. It’s a 5k walk (crawl) through Disneyland and California Adventure.

You do not receive entrance into the parks after the Walk, however, as in the past, walkers have the chance to buy discounted tickets on the day of the event. Park Hopper tickets (which allows you to hop between Disneyland and California Adventure) are $83, while Disneyland-only tickets are $55. A maximum of 5 tickets can be purchased per wristband. The tickets expire 11/30/16 and you cannot go between 11/19-11/23.

How to Register

Go here and click on Search for a Team and enter Iron Jax as the team name. This pulls up Iron Jax in the search results. Click on the name. At the right of the team page you’ll see the active roster and a “Join Team” button. Click it.

You can sign up as Fundraising Bear (no fee required but you’ll need to raise $85 minimum) or as a Busy Bear, which just means you’ll pay an extra $10 to have your t-shirt and wristband (required to participate) mailed to you.

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Sponsor a Walker 

If you’d like to simply make a donation as a non-team member, click here. Full disclosure, that takes you to my personal page. Click the “Donate Now” button to proceed. If you want to donate to a specific person on Iron Jax, go to the Iron Jax main page, click on the Walker you want to donate in the name of and go from there. Please keep in mind to walk, a Walker needs to have raised a minimum of $85. Children ages 3 and up are required to be Walkers, while ages 2 and under are free.

Must Read

CHOC created two pages worth reading before the event. Please refer to these pages for any questions that you may have:

Frequently Asked Questions

Event Information

Matching Gift Program

Prizes

As an incentive, CHOC has laid out a prize structure which is found here.

Thank you for helping us keep Jax’s memory alive. It means so much to our family to give back to the community, and we couldn’t do it without your help.

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Jax Remembrance 2016 Details

Next Friday is the Jax Remembrance. For those that have attended in the past, the details are similar. For those that haven’t, let’s fill you in.

My family will be in the Angel Stadium parking lot, closest to the Orangewood entrance, by 5 p.m. The spot has worked out very well for us in previous years. We’ll get there early and I encourage anyone else that joins us to help build a perimeter with your vehicles to help carve out a safe spot for our kids to play and the rest of us to play catch or stroll around and visit. Feel free to bring some food, coolers, chairs – anything to make the experience enjoyable. Really, we just want to hang out with you all.

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Around 6:30, maybe a little later, we’ll start heading over to the area between the two large Angel helmets in front of the stadium. If you didn’t meet up with us in the parking lot, you can meet up with us there. GAME TIME IS 7:05.

Tickets! Let’s talk about getting your tickets. We will bring them to the stadium with us. If you want to pick them up before hand, let Kristina or I know so that can be arranged. Tickets are $21 each.

Payments! Let’s talk about the Benjamins. If you haven’t paid, you can bring money to the game (check is preferred, otherwise I’ll blow it on beers and Rally Monkeys). If you have PayPal, you can send it to me at austin5377@aol.com. If you want to mail a check and need our address, let me know. I also have Venmo.

Questions? Let me know.

Thank you for continuing to remember our boy.