Editor’s Note: The following letter was written by Danna Andrews, Paxton’s momma. Her letter was read aloud at Paxton’s beautiful memorial service that was held on July 7, 2012.
July 7th, 2012
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of you. All who know me can attest I have always, always wanted a little boy: a son to call my own. (A girl would have been delightful, I am sure; but a girl is not a boy.) Despite the less than 11 % chance Daddy & I had to have a baby, you defied the odds – and saw to it that my dream was – at last – fulfilled.
I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on you. It was in a grainy, “lava-lampesque” ultra sound at the fertility clinic. Nonetheless – I saw your heartbeat. It was faint, but steady: as if you were a light tower in the distance, saying, “Here I am, Momma.” “Here I am”. In that moment, I fell hopelessly in love with you. As you know, my adoration of you grew exponentially as we navigated the rest our very eventful pregnancy. Despite twelve weeks of bed-rest, premature labor at 28 weeks, various doctors’ warnings that you would not surpass 32 weeks gestation – you prevailed yet again – – holding out one day past your due date. By then, it was apparent, not only were you a fighter; you were also a miracle.
As the dawn of February 12th unfolded, and your arrival became imminent, I shivered uncontrollably with fear one moment, excitement the next. On one hand, I wanted to freeze time; I was petrified by feelings of inadequacy – – could I be a good enough Mommy? On the other hand, I wanted to push time forward like a stack of dominoes – I couldn’t hold and kiss you soon enough. Just past 4:21 p.m., I finally had you safely in my arms. Within seconds… my world was permanently altered. Chambers of my heart – I never knew existed – spontaneously unlocked and flooded with pure joy and abundant love. Simultaneously, the world around us became more alive … more vibrant…and oddly enough, more peaceful. It was as if the entire universe rejoiced – – – “Paxton Bowe Andrews has arrived!”
As the days passed, my heart continued to undergo a revolution. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love you more, you would gaze so intently at me that your eyes penetrated my heart, grab my necklaces for a sheathe of security as I laid you down to change your diaper, splash so contently and playfully as I gave you a bath, raise your hand instinctively into the air as you slept (despite my attempts to tuck it back into your blankie), smile adoringly for me as I sang to you – even if it was way too loud – – and for way too long. Simply put; I could not get enough of you. Every move you made was so perfectly faultless that each passing moment rendered me more in love with you.
As I begrudgingly – and I admit, over-protectively, took you from the safety of home to attend obligatory doctor appointments, meet adoring family & friends, visit my eager (and patient) BCHS family – I began to note a trend. Everybody, Paxton – everybody – – who met you echoed the same sentiments, “He is SO alert and aware of his surroundings; he is such a happy boy; he has a gentleness about him; a lightness.” (They also commented on how you were simply adorable and perfectly beautiful – but given you look like Daddy, that goes without saying.) I knew you were special – but I never anticipated you would so effortlessly gain such a dedicated fan base. Although there were a few times your grandparents and aunties were successful in luring you to their homes for short, but coveted visits, I always liked it best when it was just you, Daddy, & me…at home. I am certain you liked it there best too; after all, it is where you got your most peaceful sleep – – – – on Daddy’s bare chest wrapped within his protective arms, where he held you for hours on end.
Not being able to kiss you gently on your round cheeks, hold you in my arms as you soundly sleep, breathe in your distinct sweetest scent, whisper secrets meant only for you into your ear, rub your “Cinnabun” belly button, stylishly comb your soft hair, sweep your beautiful long eyelashes, and – of course – entwine your gorgeous fingers between my own, is so unbearably painful, that if breathing weren’t an involuntary act – I am certain I would cease doing it. Please know that there is nowhere, nowhere I would rather be than lying with you – – – cheek to cheek, in Momma & Daddy’s bed – breathing in tandem, dreaming of our plans to conquer the world.
I am your Momma; thus, by default, I am supposed to have answers to questions – – easy ones, hard ones, ones you ask 12 times in a row. I am so very sorry, sweet boy; I have no answers. I do not know how you got cancer. I do not know why you got cancer. I do not know why the medications did not work. Most of all, sweet love, I do not know why you had to suffer.
Paxton, the truth is, I do not know much of anything right now. Most of all, I do not know how I will manage to live without you. But, I am going to try forge ahead. I am going to try to let the many people who love you help hold me up. I am going to try to believe that somehow I will get stronger. I am going to try to find peace within my heart again. I am going to do these things – – – because I will not let your life be in vain. I refuse to let you be forgotten. That much,I do know.
I also know a few other things…of which, because I am your mother, you must listen to closely and accept to be irrevocably true. While you are at it – – – please etch them into your heart:
You are special.
You are perfect.
You are enough.
You are loved.
You are brave.
You are gentle.
You are strong.
You are my baby.
You are my heart.
You are my soul.
You are my greatest accomplishment.
You are my dream come true.
My work as your Momma will never end. I promise to carry you in my heart for always. And even though my heart is broken, there will be a forever be a part that remains whole – as it is where you reside. I promise to conduct myself in a way that makes you proud to call me your Momma, even when it would be far, far easier to be angry and spiteful. I promise to NOT allow you to be remembered for your premature death, or for your courageous battle: rather for your bountiful life, your peaceful soul, your beautiful spirit. I promise to love you from now until the end of time…and then a little bit longer.
Thank you, Paxton, for being my son…my dream come true.
Now fly, sweet angel – – fly to the highest layer.
Always your Momma