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 2014: Iron Jax Details

Registration for the 2014 CHOC Walk in the Park is and team Iron Jax has been created. This year’s Walk will be Sunday, October 12 at 6:30 a.m. It will kick off at Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A.

For those that don’t know, 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.

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

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. Last year more than 15,000 participants raise $2.1 million from the event, which was presented by Disneyland Resort.

Gray and I.

Gray and I.

The Walk is a 5k stroll through Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. You do not receive entrance into the parks after the Walk, however, walkers have the chance to buy discounted tickets on the day of the event:

1-Day Park Hopper® ticket for $78 or a 1-Day 1-Park Ticket for $50 for use on this or your next trip to Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park!  A maximum of 5 tickets may be purchased per wristband. Offer valid on 10/12/2014 and tickets expire 11/7/2014.

How to Register

Go here and click on “Join an Existing Team” on the right-hand menu. Scroll down and enter “Iron Jax” as the team name. It takes you a page to verify this is the Iron Jax that you are looking for (Kristina is listed as the captain) and then click on Iron Jax. 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 an individual walker (no fee required but you’ll need to raise $50 minimum) or as a sleeping bear, which allows you to raise funds in your name, for Iron Jax, and take part in prizes. But you aren’t able to walk.

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 $50. Children ages 3 and up are required to be Walkers. Two and under are free.

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Iron Jax T-Shirts

We will order t-shirts again depending on the demand. So if you want one, let us know. Otherwise we’ll assume most everyone has one by now and won’t place an order.

Must Read

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

Event Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Prizes

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

Thank you in advance for those that choose to take part in this event as a walker, fund raiser or donor. It means so much to our family to give back to the community in Jax’s memory.

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Remembrance Photos & Thank You

When people ask me how Tuesday I went, my answer is “As well as we could’ve hoped for.” It’s not a great night or a fun night because of why we’re all gathering. But the entire day went as well as possible, considering.

Below you’ll find some photos taken before, at and after the game along with a slide show courtesy of our good friend Heather. But first…

Thank you. Thank you to everyone that came. It means so much to us to have so many people come to honor and remember Jax and support our family.

Thank you to those that continue to pray for us, think of us, try to shoot positive energy towards us. Keep doing it. We need it.

And thank you to those of you that speak his name. That talk about him, share stories, share memories and wonder, along with us, what he’d be like today. It means more than you can imagine.

Next week I’ll shoot out an update about CHOC Walk 2014. CHOC sent registration emails Tuesday (ironically) I believe (I didn’t get one. WTH CHOC?!). I think we need to set up team Iron Jax before you start to register, so I’ll update you on that.

Enjoy the photos.

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Two Years Later

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It’s been just over a million minutes since I last saw Jax smile. Two years today. He still hasn’t walked out of his room, like I keep hoping. Maybe someday I’ll stop.

We only visited two grieving parents support meetings. They said the second year is harder. So did a lot of things I read online. Having finished the second year, I can definitely see that. It’s been a lonely year. Two miscarriages. More loss. More pain. And more dreams crushed like the spider in my bathroom. It’s easy for me to hate. To withdraw. To say fuck it about everything. It’s harder to climb out of that sand trap.

Jax should be wrapping up All-Stars in baseball. Starting first grade in August. Bossing around the twins, who ache for a big brother, to be the villains to his Iron Man. This is all fucked.

Thank you to everyone that is coming out tonight to remember Jax at Angel Stadium. It mean so much to us that we continue to receive your support. When I bought the tickets I told the group sales guy I expected around 50 people. Instead, we’ll have about 160. And thank you to others that can’t make it tonight but continue to think of us, pray for us, cry with us. Just because it’s two years later doesn’t mean it gets easier. Or that we can ever start to move on. Some days the pain is just as deep as it was two years ago. We need your love, your support, your prayers.

And thank you for helping us to keep Jax alive in all of our hearts. Whether it’s the Iron Jax shirt you wear on a random Tuesday, $20 you donated at the CHOC Walk for team Iron Jax or just mentioning his name to us in a funny story or cute memory you have of him, it’s all very meaningful to us.

I’ll leave you with a link and a video. But first…

We will always remember you, Jax. 

Always.

Last year’s Remembrance.

Video montage of Jax, thanks to Uncle Tommy.

Jax Remembrance 2014 Details

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis year’s Remembrance for Jax will be at an Angel game on Tuesday, June 24. The Angels host the Minnesota Twins, tickets are $14 and you get a nifty vintage baseball hat thrown in.

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If you’d like to join us in remembering our boy, his love for baseball and the Angels, and being together as a community to cry and laugh and hug, let us know. We will buy group tickets so we can all sit together.

Some other ideas we’re kicking around:

– If you have an Iron Jax t-shirt, wear it.

– Tailgate before the game. If you have the time, join us for some pregame community. If we have enough people, maybe we can carve out a portion of the Angel Stadium parking lot to play catch, let some of the little kids take some swings and munch on snacks or a meal, whatever you wish.

– We can meet in front of Angel Stadium at Jax’s brick. It’s hard to find alone, but together, we can accomplish anything. Maybe we’ll even find that missing Malaysian airliner. AS A GROUP WE’RE INVINCIBLE.

– Scoreboard message. We’ll get a message up on the scoreboard so we can cheer, snap pics and celebrate Jax.

– Any other ideas? We’re open to ideas. Pitch ‘em to us.

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If you want a ticket, please let me know immediately. We should buy tickets within the next 10-14 days. But please don’t wait that long to tell us. If you’re on the fence, let us know that too. You can comment below, reply on Facebook, email me, text me, email or text Kristina, give us a call like in the old-fashioned days, stripper gram (females only, please)….carrier pigeon. Just let us know. Once we get an idea of how many tickets to buy, we’ll finalize the details of where to meet, how to pay for the ticket, etc. Right now we just need a head count.

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We hope you can all join us in remembering, honoring and celebrating our little hero.

What: Jax Remembrance

When: Tuesday, June 24 meeting between 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Where: Angel Stadium, either in the parking lot to tailgate or in front of Angel Stadium, between the hats.

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A Day at the Museum

Ellie and Gray spreading love at the Natural History Museum of L.A.

Ellie and Gray spreading love at the Natural History Museum of L.A.

Every night as they’re tucked in to bed, Gray and Ellie ask where they’re going the next day. It’s become a routine. Target? Aunt Karis’s house? Anywhere? So they woke up on January 29, Jax’s sixth birthday, knowing we were going to the museum to see dinosaur bones. My wife made cupcakes the night before. Like last year, she planned on delivering them to Jax’s preschool teacher, so they can have a little party for Jax. I didn’t go last year. I couldn’t deal with it. This year, though, I was going. So when the twins’ heads hit their pillow, they knew the next day we were going to Jax’s school and to the museum.

On the morning of the 29th, Gray confirmed our plans with me from his crib.

“Jax will be at his school for his party,?” he asked innocently.

“No, buddy,” I replied, with what’s left of my heart breaking into more pieces. “Jax is in heaven, remember?” Gray wants to see his big brother again so badly. He thought he’d see him on Christmas Eve at my parents. He was convinced. And now, I mean how could Jax NOT be here for his birthday?

“Okay, so after his school we’ll go to heaven?,” Gray asked.

I wish, I thought to myself. I wish.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The kids grubbed on breakfast, my wife packed up and in a feat in and of itself, we were out of the house on time. It rarely happens. On our way to the preschool, which I haven’t visited in 18 months. It was a good start to a long day.

We passed a fire truck that parked in front of a residence on our route to the preschool. I nudged my wife. We both knew. He was with us.

We entered the preschool and were welcomed by the school’s director. She hugged us and said that they received a donation earlier that day for Jaxson’s scholarship, which they started to aid families with the cost of attending the preschool. In fact they were able to offer four families assistance in December, she informed us. I started to cry. I was a mess. My wife teared up. We went upstairs to Jax’s old class and visited with his teacher. She was wearing the same shirt she wore on the last day of school in June of 2012. The last day she saw him. My tears wouldn’t stop.

She visited with us for about 10 minutes as her class patiently waited on the carpet in a circle as the confetti cupcakes topped with a green jack (like the game, jacks) teased their taste buds. It was so good to see her. She was so good to Jax and loved him so much. A photo of Jax and my wife was posted above her desk and a rectangular wooden sign with his name and 6-24-12 hung on the wall. Gray and Ellie didn’t want to leave. They were all set to hang out the rest of the day. We don’t have to worry about them crying on their first day of school in August.

This was a perfect way to start the day. The amount of love everyone at that school has for Jax and our family is astounding. I walked back out to our minivan with a little more peace. It made facing the day a little easier. And I’m grateful for that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The night before I tried to get Gray pumped about dinosaurs. We got him some plastic ones for Christmas, so he and I played on the floor for a bit with them. He asked all of their names, and I struggled to read the bellies of the creatures to confirm. The triceratops is his favorite. When we were done he placed it by the front door so he’d remember to bring it with him to the museum the next day. The T-Rex, Jax’s favorite, also came along.

At the center of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, once you’ve entered, is a display of a tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops. Orange lights illuminated the brown fossils. I’ve always thought it was beautiful. But during our last two visits, my chest tightens, my belly aches and I hold my breath. Those bones, that room; they remind me of our day with Jax.

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Gray was interested in the fossils for about five minutes. He and Ellie were more interested in exploring the halls of the museum. They asked where every door led to. For some reason, as we walked back through the fossil exhibits we already paroozed, Gray had me carry him. The bones scared him. The hell? Little man, you were fine the first time. Weirdo.

photo 1bI couldn’t get Jax off my mind. Where did he stand? What did he say? I wish he was standing next to me.

We went upstairs and looked at the specimen that proved my “Jax is a huge dinosaur nerd” statement. I told my wife the story. In short, Jax saw the bones and named the specimen. I told him I thought it was something else (I don’t remember the name, but it started with the letter P). Both had a funky bone on the skull that looked kind of like a fin. He was convinced he was right. I was convinced I was, but I didn’t let him know that. As we walked by I read the name. Corythosaurus. He was right. Of course. Why’d I ever even doubt him? Mind blown. My little paleontologist.

I snapped a pic of the fossils, but the glare off of the glass is pretty hideous. Here’s an illustration I stole off the ‘net.

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For the most part the kids were well-behaved. They got excited and would run or yell, but that was it. At one point Colin Farrell walked by, all L.A-ed out with tight jeans, white t-shirt, boots and some weird wrap thing in his hair. He told his son, this little sandy-blond kid, that he already had enough toys at home. It was definitely Colin Farrell. Have you SEEN those caterpillar eyebrows?

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We spent about four hours at the museum. We picked out a totally nerdy dinosaur book for Jax and let the kids get a souvenir. Gray grabbed a T-Rex stuffed animal he named Cracker. Ellie took a monkey, but she’s not original to come up with a name. At first she said Ellie, then Gray Gray, then Cracker (stealing Gray’s brilliant name). Meanwhile, I fell in love with a $500 robotic dinosaur named Pleo.

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After suffering through traffic in downtown L.A. we met up with our family at Red Lobster. It was comforting for me to be with everyone. It’s a safe place and we could all share our own sadness on this day together. As it should be. Not alone, separated. I downed two Maker’s Marks on the rocks and a Bud Light to help ease my anxiety and numb the pain. Gray desperately wanted to try lobster for the first time. He took bite from my fork and quickly washed it down with his water. I don’t think he even took a bite. Just swallowed it whole.

We ended dinner and sang Happy Birthday to Jax with our candle-lit cupcakes that my wife made. I felt peace this year. The experience at the preschool, sharing a fun day with the twins and my wife, together, and being with family (and maybe the drinks?) made the day bearable. It’s a day Jax would’ve enjoyed. Part of me likes to think he did enjoy being with us all day. But then the angry, bitter, pessimistic part tells me not to be such a pansy. I can’t reach over and hold his hand. It’s not the same.

Back at home we watched slide shows and videos of Jax as we cuddled on couches together. Then Ellie puked all over my wife. Really. She warned us when we left Red Lobster.

As good as could be expected. That’s how I described the day when asked. Sadly, that’s about as good as it gets for me now, especially on holidays, a birthday or remembrance. As good as could be expected. My new, unwanted measure.

Happy 6th Birthday, Jax

Jax turns 6 today. We’re celebrating the same way we did last year. And the year before, his last birthday he shared with us. When he turned 4, my wife and I took him to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to check out its fantastic dinosaur exhibit. The prehistoric lizards fascinated him. He knew all of their names. And I’m not just talking about the basic four or five. He knew the nerdy shit that no 4-year-old should know. Or would want to know. Or cared. So we took him there, because we knew he’d love it. And he did. And we left the twins with my mother-in-law, because we knew he’d feel loved, having us all to himself. And he did.

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Jax also dug trains. After the museum we met our family at Ruby’s Diner in Orange. We sat on the back patio to watch the metro and freight trains roll by. He loved that, too.

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So last year, as we celebrated his fifth birthday without him, we took the twins back to the museum. I held back tears as we shuffled the twins through exhibits. And I shed tears as our family sang happy birthday to him in the middle of Red Lobster, perhaps his favorite restaurant at the time of his death. After he completed his first year of preschool, he chose Red Lobster as the restaurant to celebrate.

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Now he’s six. And it breaks my heart to say, but I don’t know what he’d be in to. Would it still be dinosaurs? I know he’d be in to super heroes still. It’d better be baseball. But what else? Would it be something I can’t even fathom?  So again, we decided to return to the dinosaurs. To relive one of his happiest days without him. And to spend this very sad day with our family, eating at his favorite place, and crying together.

I may have posted this before, but I’m doing it again. It’s the first post from my first blog. It illustrates Jax’s arrival was to us.

Sixteen weeks of joy, bliss and walking on cotton candy clouds crashed to a screeching halt. The Boobs called me at work after a check up with the obgyn. He couldn’t find a heart beat. He sent her to the hospital for an ultrasound which confirmed there wasn’t a heart beat. Our baby died. A couple of days later The Boobs underwent a D&C at a Los Angeles clinic. We elected for the sex to be determined and tests run to determine cause of death. It was a girl, but no dice on the cause of death. The clinic was kind enough to send us home with footprints of the fetus the doctor extracted while performing the procedure.

We cried a lot over the next few weeks. I mean, a whole lot. It was the summer, and I eventually ramped up by social calendar to get my mind off of things. The Boobs, however, dealt differently. There were nights where I’d find her crying on the floor of the bathroom. Our souls ached.

Eventually the fertility doc allowed us to start trying again. This process was like ripping open a healing wound, peeing inside of it and then punching it for good measure. Month after month our hopes of another pregnancy were dashed by an early period, too many produced eggs at once or cysts cock-blocking our chance for conception.

On my birthday, over one year from the time that our lost baby girl was conceived and one final attempt before in vitro would be thrust upon us, the goodoo magic worked again.Throughout the pregnancy our joy, bliss and sugar-plum thoughts were tempered by fear of losing another child. If it happened again, could we ever recover?

Nine months later, after 26 hours of labor, The Boobs popped out a healthy, beautiful…

“Holy crap it’s a boy,” I exclaimed a mere 1.2 seconds after the doctor tugged the little sucker out of my wife. We decided to be surprised on the sex of the baby. The Boobs, a nurse, said that for some reason, infertility leads to a girl more often than a boy. Being an odds guy, I was fully expecting a little chica. But it was a boy. There’s something hypermasculine about having your first-born be a boy. Maybe I’ve watched too many mafia movies.

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

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Jax turns 1.

Jax turns 1.

For his second birthday, we themed it Jax Bowl. That's why I'm wearing the referee shirt. My dad and my grandpa. Four generations.

For his second birthday, we themed it Jax Bowl. That’s why I’m wearing the referee shirt. My dad and my grandpa. Four generations.

Jax's third birthday.

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