Remembering Jax and CHOC Walk 2024

Twelve years feels like a liftetime ago. It might as well be 100. Life is so different. I am so different. But not for the better.

Memories fade and we hang onto what we can to remember everything we can about Jax. Video, like the one below, helps. What I wouldn’t give to have him in my arms one more time.

Tonight our family will go watch the Angels battle the Oakland A’s to determine the worst team in the American League. What happens on the field is an afterthought. Instead, we will focus on our missed boy. His love for baseball. His smile. His voice. His kindness and his love. Jax is the star at the stadium tonight for us.

Enjoy the video below and remember our sweet boy with us today.

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CHOC’s Walk in the Park returns July 21. Whether it’s Disneyland or CHOC’s own determination, the cost to qualify as a walker has shot up astronomically over the years, so we’ve scrapped trying to get a full team going.

However, our family continues to walk in Jax’s memory. If you would like to donate to our team as we aim to raise hospital funds in his memory, click here. Click on the dollar sign for the member you want to donate to.

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.

Thank you for remembering our sweet boy today and in July with team Iron Jax.

We love you all.


Happy 15th Birthday, Jax

The wife text me the image below this morning. I bawled immediately. The hurt rushed back to my heart and my throat swelled. It wasn’t long enough.

We celebrated Jax’s 15th birthday yesterday. Phoenix, who rarely watches anything other than Minecraft content on YouTube, chose Iron Man 3 to watch in the morning. Jax loved Iron Man as a super hero, and his baseball jersey was 3, so it seemed like a good fit and I loved his decision to honor Jax.

As we do, we visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, where we learned that California has a state dinosaur. Who knew?!? It’s the Augustynolophus, which is a 10-foot tall omnivore with a duck-shaped bill and lived during the same period as the tyrannosaurus and triceratops. The state signed a bill in 2017 awarding Auggie (my nickname for it) the state’s official dinosaur. And despite annual visits to the dinosaur hall at the museum, this is the first I’m hearing about it.

Later we met up with family at Red Lobster for dinner, which is where we celebrated Jax’s fourth and last birthday with him on earth. We sang and blew out candles.

This year there were no signs, like in previous years. No incredible stories or happenstances. It was a day filled with missing our boy, celebrating those four years that we had with him and aching for more.

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

Skylar Brown 1985-2023

We missed you, Skylar. Thank you for the enormous love you showed Jax and all of our children.

Jax Remembrance June 24 – Angel Stadium

It’s been a long time since we have been able to all get together to remember Jax. Let’s change that.

The Angels host the Seattle Mariners on June 24 for their Christmas in June promotion (Shohei Ohtani snow globe giveaway!). We’re aiming to buy tickets in the $20-$25 range and we will send an update once the final cost is finalized.

At this point, we need to know who would like to come so we can secure a range of seats all together. Please let myself or Kristina know if you’d like to join us.

Thank you for your continued love and support of our family as we remember Jaxson forever.

Happy 14th Birthday, Jax

We’re back, baby.

After spending last year circling the grounds of Exposition Park in the rain and munching on Red Lobster takeout at home, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has re-opened, and we’ll be back there today to celebrate Jaxson’s birthday. After, we will head over to Ruby’s Diner in Orange at the train station and meet up with family to bring our tradition full Circle (city of Orange joke).

Aside from his obsession of dinosaurs and love of trains, Jax was intrigued by Ghost Face, the villain from the Scream movies. He drew a picture of Ghost Face, which is tattooed on my wrist.

When he was 3 I let him watch the beginning of Scream, up until the part that the killer knifes Drew Barrymore in the back. He played the Scre4m mobile game on my iPad (in which one basically plays as Ghost Face and hunt down teens while avoiding the police). He begged to dress ups as Ghost Face for Halloween, but we said he had to be 8. When he asked how old he had to be to watch the rest of the movie, I told him 13. But deep down, I knew I’d let him watch it at 10. Questionable parenting aside, I couldn’t wait to watch horror movies with him.

So tonight, after we chug down some shakes for dinner and drop the kids off at home with grandma, the wife and I will head to the movies to watch the new Scream movie (Scream 5? I don’t even know), which came out earlier this month and has received good reviews. In my fantasy of an alternate universe where Jax didn’t die, we would have taken him opening night, or maybe with a few of his friends as part of his birthday celebration. That’s if he wasn’t too cool at 14 to hang out with his parents.

If you want to celebrate Jax with us this weekend, put together a puzzle. Watch Jurassic Park. Ride a train. Go see Scream. Smile. And maybe cry. Because I will.

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

Happy 13th Birthday, Jax

Signs signs

Everywhere there’s signs…

— Five Man Electrical Band, 1971

This describes my wife’s last week. As Jaxson’s birthday approached, she’s been hit with sign after sign.

Last week, on their way home from preschool, Phoenix grilled my wife with questions about Jax. How did he die? Where is his body? My wife was having a particularly hard week emotionally. She gave him simple answers. Our family talks about and includes Jax constantly and both little boys talk like they know him. But the topic of his death just doesn’t come up, so for Phoenix to ask a week before his birthday was curious.

A day or two later, a co-worker of my wife approached her at the end of her shift at the hospital. The co-worker told my wife that she dreamt of her and Jax. Now, understand that this coworker doesn’t know a lot about Jax nor our home. She explained her dream to my wife. My wife was sitting in a barstool and Jax was standing next to her, trying to get her attention. But my wife was distracted by our twins asking about hand gel. The co-worker said that she sensed Jax trying to sit in my wife’s lap. But he’s no longer 4-years-old. The co-worker described Jax as 12 or 13. Again, the co-worker doesn’t know that Jax was 12 at the time of the dream or that we have bar stools at a counter in our home. She explained to my wife that Jax wants her to know that he is constantly around. And to us, he always seems give her signs when she needs to see them the most.

Over the weekend my wife was shopping at a flooring store. She said that in her time there, two different families were shouting “Jax” or “Jackson” to each of their boys. My wife said that the boys were 4 or 5-years-old.

Yesterday, things ramped up. My wife saw a firetruck, Jax’s signature sign to her. She took all the kids to In N Out to grab lunch while I worked. At the window, she was given five kids stickers, without the In N Out employee asking if she wanted any. We have four children alive, with Jax being the fifth. Last I noticed one of our children placed the stickers next to Moo and PD, his favorite stuffed animals.

Finally, my wife was in line at the grocery store to pick up cupcakes to take to Phoenix’s preschool. Phoenix has the same teacher Jax had and every year we bring cupcakes to her class so they can celebrate Jax’s birthday. In front of my wife was a person with two blue balloons that read “Birthday Boy.” Right behind her a woman held a red and black balloon, the same color balloons that my mother-in-law buys for us to release on his birthday.

Our birthday plans for Jax are slightly different this year. I’ll drop Phoenix off at preschool with cupcakes, plates and napkins and his class will sing to Jax. After we pick him up we’ll head out to Los Angeles. While the Natural History Museum of LA is closed, we’ll walk around the property, likely in the rain, yearning for a sense of normalcy to honor our missed boy. Later, we’ll pick up some take out from Ruby’s Diner or Red Lobster – two of his favorite restaurants – and sing Happy Birthday to him.

Today, keep an eye out for fire trucks, black and red balloons or anything that reminds you of Jax. Everywhere there’s signs.

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

Happy 12th Birthday, Jax

Sunday was a mother fucker.

Phoenix hit day three of a cough that progressively worsened over the weekend, and now had light fever. It was my wife’s first time seeing him, as she just got home from her shift at the hospital. His breathing labored. I just thought it was from a runny nose. She knew better. When he breathed, sometimes it was through pursed lips. Other times he appeared barrel chested. My wife was coming in the middle of a brutal work schedule, and needed to grab sleep as she had to get back to the hospital Sunday night. She asked me to wake her if he didn’t feel better in a couple of hours, and we’d take him to urgent care.

I took the kids over to DICK’S Sporting Goods to look at softball and baseball bats, as there was a weekend sale for the local recreation leagues. Phoenix is starting tee ball, and Ellie is back at it in softball. Gray found a mini UCLA football, and hoped that he’d find a West Point football, as he’s a fan of the military academy. So we were on the hunt. That’s when my phone buzzed, and I glanced at the TMZ notification.

I had to read the headline a few times before it made sense. It took my breath away. I’m sure I cursed, prompting the twins to ask what happened. I tried to keep my composure, and gathered them up as I pushed Hendrix in his stroller to leave. I text some friends. The news spread fast, and it was all unbelievable.

We grabbed some lunch on the way home and ate while KTLA covered the tragedy. Meanwhile, Phoenix’s condition was deteriorating. His cough was worse and more often. His eyes watered. He looked miserable. Reluctantly, I went upstairs and woke the wife up. I let her know that Phoenix wasn’t going well, and we should take him to urgent care. I gave her a couple of minutes to gather herself before I told her.

“Kobe died today,” I said softly.


“He died in a helicopter crash.” I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. “His daughter was on board, too,” I added, agains, softly.

I went downstairs to check on the kids as she woke up. We found the closest urgent care our insurance would cover, and decided that I’d take Phoenix so that she could go back to sleep when Hendrix napped, as she needed to rest for the night’s shift.

As I drove, I figured the doctor would check Phoenix out, give him a breathing in treatment, a prescription and we’d be on our way. Phoenix wailed from his car seat as the radio aired Los Angeles’s mourning in the background. He was coughing every 10 seconds, often uncontrollably. He was beyond miserable. And then we waited two-and-a-half hours to see a doctor.

After finally getting in to a waiting room and running through breathing treatments, I noticed they wanted to keep checking Phoenix’s pulse. They were concerned about the heart rate, so now I was concerned. It was up to 153 beats per minute before he even started the breathing treatment, which was only going to increase it more. The doctor tested P for the flu, strep throat and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV). The nurse commented about how much of a champ Phoenix handled the nose swab, throat swab and breathing treatment.

Then the doctor returned. She said Phoenix tested positive for RSV, the breathing treatment didn’t have enough of an effect on him and she was recommending us to the ER at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. I text the wife with the update. She was  now awake and getting the kids ready to be dropped off at a friend’s so that she could get to work. I asked the doctor if I had time to run home two minutes before driving out to the ER, which was another 30 minutes away. Phoenix puked on me during our wait after a coughing fit, and I wanted to clean us both up before an anticipated four-hour ER wait.

She said I needed to go straight to the ER. Then came my wife’s texts. Her panic leaped out of the phone. And it all became very serious.

At this point, Phoenix just wanted to go home. As we pulled out of the urgent care parking lot, I started to tell him we weren’t going home. But I couldn’t get the words out. I was trying not to cry. The weight of the day felt heavier, and it was jammed in my throat.

Through the tears, I told him about the ER. I expected an outburst. He was tired, he didn’t feel good and he just wanted to be home. Of course he did. But that’s not what happened.

“Dad, you need to calm down,” he said in a parental tone. Comfort was in his voice. “I’m going to be okay. I feel better.”

A friend of the family happened to be the charge nurse at the children’s ER. I text her, she was on shift, and she either pulled some rank to provide us with immediate care, or the RSV was that serious to them, too.

A return to CHOC’s ER is not something my wife and I ever wanted to experience again. Jax died here. My wife was now getting off of work to meet us. The thought of returning to CHOC is one reason my wife sobbed as she dropped the other kids off at our friend’s.

In 2013, I drafted a post about why we participate in the CHOC Walk. It was extremely detailed and vulnerable, and my wife and I decided not to post it. Below is a snippet.

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.

After two-and-a-half hours of breathing treatments, vacuuming mucus from Phoenix’s nose, steroids and cuddling with mom in his bed, Phoenix was released. His chest sounded much better and his breathing improved. The respiratory distress was gone. The CHOC staff was amazing at treating and releasing our boy in the same time it took for us just to get in to a room at the urgent care.

I left the ER early to go pick up the kids and get them to bed. I showered and cleaned up. As my wife drove home, Phoenix asleep in the back of the van, a fire truck pulled out of a driveway within a half mile of our house. It was after 10 P.M., and sirens and lights were not activated. It was as if Jax wanted her to know he was with us today, keeping his brother safe and comforting him – and us.

While the two are very different in so many ways, Phoenix reminds me the most of Jax, mainly due to similar hair color and texture, the chubby cheeks and goofy, eye-rolling faces they make. There are times that it hurts, a gut punch of pain reminding me what is lost when Phoenix flashes a Jax memory. But then there is today, when their strength and love and compassion shine. And I’m so honored to be their dad.

Today we will celebrate Jax’s 12th birthday the same way we have since he left us – delivering cupcakes to his preschool teacher for her class to celebrate, a trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and meeting family for dinner at Ruby’s Diner.

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,