Perspective is Everything

Payton taught me many life lessons without even knowing he was doing so. He taught me not to take ANYTHING for granted. He also taught me to enjoy life’s little moments. I think the biggest lesson in life that he taught me is “perspective is everything”.
At times, people tend to “walk on eggshells” around me, or feel guilty for something they said in front of me or to me. Sometimes I hate it when people say “you’re so strong”, but I realize that I really am strong in some ways because I can handle it. I can handle people saying things that others in my position might be offended by.
Maybe losing your dog was indeed the “worst thing ever”, to YOU. Maybe “everything happens for a reason” still applies to your life. It’s possible that you are “grieving” when your child goes off to college. When you say “I wish my baby would stop growing up”, I realize it’s because your perspective hasn’t seen the alternative and you really just want to soak up them being little (which you should!). Perhaps losing your 98 year old grandparent was the worst day of your life. I remember when I was 12 and my great grandma died. It was (to that date) the worst thing that had ever happened in my life- that was my perspective then. It’s okay to complain that your son or daughter is driving you insane, I was once there too. It’s okay to say “life is what you make it”. That actually used to be my favorite quote (and still is in some situations), but it doesn’t apply to everything and I know this now. It’s okay to say “Payton died”, because he did! You don’t have to beat around the bush and say “he passed” or “you lost him”. It’s okay to say the real words. I won’t be offended. It’s okay to tell me your child is dealing with something difficult. I get it, and your “difficult” may not be the same “difficult” as we have been dealt, but it is YOUR perspective and nobody else’s. If 2020 was the worst year of your life, I will probably consider you blessed, but I won’t be offended.
I guess my point is, please don’t censor yourself to me. I AM strong enough to realize we may not have the same perspectives on life, and I wouldn’t want anyone to ever need to know this perspective. It’s taken me a bit to fully get to this point, but I just want REAL, that is all.


I never realized how cooking dinner every night for my family was a big part of my life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there have been MANY nights I haven’t felt like cooking and we eat out or order pizza in, and I never cook on Fridays. Dinner is the time where the whole family gathers (some days it’s the ONLY time in the day they gather). No phones, no distractions, just us.
After Payton died, there was this empty chair that seemed to stare me down every night as I placed everyone’s meals on the table. It was a bit different cooking for 5. I struggled with it many days.
Fast forward a year and we have an 18 year old who may or may not be at the table, you just never know. Some mornings you get up and check the microwave only to throw the food away you had saved them that they never came home to eat. He ends up moving out and you’re now cooking for 4. This makes a big difference because the 18 year old ate large portions. For a few weeks you’re throwing out food left and right until you finally come to the realization you need to learn to cook differently, for less mouths.
Fast forward another 2 years and you have another 18 year old. By this time, you figure it out more quickly and stop cooking for them altogether, but it’s sad. Stupid? Maybe, but nonetheless sad.
Eventually you have 1 child left at the dinner table. The table is quiet compared to before. You miss the integrated conversations between the entire family.
In just a few years there will only be Jason and I at the table and that is a tough realization for me. I love my husband, I do, but there’s nothing like a good ol’ family dinner. I never noticed how special that was to me until it was nearly gone. It was something I am proud to do for my family. I love cooking and I love my family. Cooking dinner seems like such an insignificant thing, until you see the big picture.
Childloss is hard. It’s hard on everyone. Pair that with raising teens and you have yourself a cocktail of emotional disaster.
Hold your babies close. Let them be babies as long as they will. Don’t push them to grow up. Make time for family, because once they grow up and start their own lives, nothing will be the same. Prepare yourself for change so it doesn’t smack you in the face like it did me.
Change can be difficult, I know that from experience. Some days change can feel unbearable to deal with. Change is the only constant in life and we have to work hard toward adaption to changes. Thomas Rhett says in his song “Life Changes”, “You never know what’s gonna happen. You make your plans and you hear god laughing”. It’s true. You can have a life plan, but things don’t always go as you thought they would.
Materialistic changes are easy and sometimes fun. Change the curtains, cool. Change the color of your hair, fun (or maybe you hate it, and call your hairdresser mom crying- but that’s a story for another day). Change the song on the radio, no problem. Change your clothing style, rock on! Easy. Life changes are not always easy or fun though. My world has been rocked, more than once. I have to learn to adapt better. I have to learn to use my positivity about life as a weapon to embrace changes.

In My Dreams

My baby came to see me in my dreams last night. When I first saw him it startled me so much I woke up. I was so sad that I only got to see him for a second but when I went back to sleep he was there again. I was getting him ready for school. I wish I could remember more of it, but when I dropped him off I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again for a long time. I love and hate dreams like this but mostly love them because I get to see him again.

Being a Mom

As a mother, we always worry about our children. We are (the majority of us) naturally programmed to care about them, to nurture them, to teach them, help them grow, and to love them. When they are sick or hurting, we give them medication and ice packs, plenty of water, and tell them to rest.

I’ve always nurtured my kids, but nurturing after childloss becomes something very different. The moment your child says they have a headache, your mind goes straight to “possible brain tumor”. If they’re constipated, you think “perforated bowel”. If your kids have a fever you assume it’s the flu.

Last year, Jordan got sick with the flu. He went to the doctor and got medicine to help him. He seemed to feel pretty good for someone who in my mind had the worst sickness in existence. I was so scared and worried about him. He was 16 years old, but still one of my babies and I just wanted him better. I asked him every few hours how he was feeling and if he had taken his medicine.

Tonight Maddi came down with a fever and cough. So here I am waiting until 1am to wake her up to give her some ibuprofen…I would have never done this 3 years ago. Back then I would have let her sleep through until morning.

Administrating medication is a whole different thing that goes along with this fear. You read the pill bottle 7 times to make sure you’re giving the proper does. You look it up online to make sure it won’t interact with other medicines you gave them. You read the pill bottle again. You debate whether it’s bern long enough between doses or not. It’s an agonizing process.

After you’ve lost a child, nurturing turns into somewhat of a “survival mode” nurturing. It is not a negative mind or negative thinking that causes you to feel this way. It’s just grief and fear.

Still Counting

First you count the seconds. You’re actually counting so you can try to calm yourself. You have to literally remember to breathe.

Then you count the minutes. Each minute hurts more, and you’re crumbling apart. Breathing hurts. You’d rather be with your child and not have to breathe at all without them.

You start counting the hours. You can’t believe it’s true. They are gone. It can’t be real. You keep breathing, but now take huge gasps when you forget to breathe.

You’re now counting days. You’re wondering how many more days you have to live this way. The gasps of air still creep in and out…a lot. Breathing is hard work and consists of almost every other breath being a huge sigh.

Then you count the weeks. You can’t believe how fast the weeks go by. Reality sets in. You must learn to live without a piece of your heart, but how? You want to stop breathing.

Counting months is exhausting. The more months that go by, the further away from them you feel. It’s been too long since you kissed their forehead or heard their voice. Breathing is becoming part of your involuntary body mechanics, until you cry. When you cry breathing becomes impossible until you let out a loud belt of heartwrenching pain from your lungs, which are connected to your heart. You begin to realize how these body parts truly work together.

Years. Years. You have to say it twice, because it’s nearly unbelievable. It still feels like seconds at times. You aren’t sure whether you are closer to your child, or further away. You hope you are closer. You don’t have to think about breathing, but sometimes, out of the blue, something hits you and the gasp of air comes back. You try to avoid these moments. You try to avoid thinking of the worst moments, but your mind doesn’t always cooperate. You become afraid you’ll forget things about them, such as their voice or their favorite food, or special moments. Anger comes in strong. Yearning for your child for years is draining, but you must go on.

I tell myself I will be with him again, and that every second, minute, hour, month, and year has been worth being able to have him for 7 years, rather than never at all

Double Digits

He should be turning 10 today, double digits. I vaguely remember turning 10 myself, and the excitement behind those 2 digits in my age instead of 1. I remember feeling older and cooler in a sense. I wonder if Payton would have felt that way too. In fact, I am left to wonder a lot of things about Payton. I wonder how tall he would be now. Based on the average growth of children, he would be 50 inches tall now, and weigh around 60lbs (measuring from pre-DIPG body). I don’t know though, maybe his appetite would have gotten bigger and maybe he would be bigger. It still angers me that I have to guess what he would look like now, what kinds of foods would be his favorites now, if he would be excited for school to start back, if he would be playing football this year, if he would still like snuggling with me, and if he would still like any of the toys that sit in his room barely touched now unless we have kids over. I don’t often allow myself to really think deeply about all of this, because it just makes me cry uncontrollably and makes me feel physically sick. I am already forced to relive his death in my mind every single day due to PTSD, so when I choose to actually think deeply about him, I try to only think about the positive moments. It really does me no good to wonder, but I still do at times, especially on a day like today- his birthday. Another birthday passing by without him. I’m taking the day off to prepare for a party at our house, being surrounded by our favorite people to celebrate Payton and have 1 last summer party before the leaves change colors. Happy heavenly birthday my sweet boy. I miss you every second and I love you so much.

Time Does Not Heal

It is often said that time heals. Over 2 years later, I am still waiting to be healed. The only thing that brings me peace is knowing that my baby is healed, and no longer in pain. The pain we have been left with is excruciating though. As parents, we would do absolutely anything for our children, so I try to tell myself “We are living with this pain so he doesn’t have to”. We have learned to live without a piece of our hearts intact. We have taught ourselves to block it out. We try to keep busy to suffocate the pain, yet it remains. I’ve realized that no matter how many bandaids you put on a deep infected wound, it will not heal. You’ll need an antibiotic. In our situation, I believe the only antibiotic available is God. When we meet him, we will be healed from this pain. I honestly hope we get to meet Payton first. That would be healing enough for me.

We are coming up on another new school year next month, and it is really difficult to think about. Our 2 middle kids and I ran into Wal Mart tonight and I told them to grab a few of the school supplies they may need for the new school year. It felt like the colored pencils, glue, and cartoon folders were taunting me. It crossed my mind to just buy a bunch of the shit anyways, even though I don’t have any kids who would use them. Maybe my nephews and niece could use them if I bought them, but I didn’t. I should have a 4th grader this year, but I don’t.

I wish Payton was here. I’d trade him a foot rub for a back scratching. We would have had so much fun together this summer. Sometimes I feel like he’s missing out on all of the good stuff; going on the boat, camping, and swimming in our new pool, but in reality we are missing out on doing these things with him present. Time does not heal, you only learn how to survive the pain that you once thought would kill you.


I’m sitting here eating breakfast with my dog, Bailey, yes…my dog. All of the kids stayed at friend’s houses last night. I finish eating and I glance down and there is a mini Jenga game sitting there. “Awe cool, I wish Bailey could play, I’d totally ask her to play a quick game with me”, I think to myself. My mind keeps going “What I really wish is that Payton was here to play it with me. He would love that, and so would I”.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and although I have 3 children who I love very much, and I know they love me back, I can’t help but have deep feelings of loneliness, missing my sweet boy. It doesn’t help that our kids are getting older and they are either gone a lot or don’t care to be around us much when they are home. It is just LONELY. I am beginning to feel less and less of a mother as life goes on. Payton would have kept me busy as can be for the next few years with his high energy levels. He kept me on my toes. Life is definitely very grey at times since he left us.

Speaking of grey, this is the color of the brain cancer awareness ribbon. May is brain cancer awareness month. Please keep spreading awareness and raising funds for brain cancer research when you can, so other families don’t have to feel this loneliness I am feeling right now.

I am in serious need of some child interaction, so I am very excited to have my nephews come stay ths night with me tonight. They bring a bit of brightness into my life and I am so thankful to have them💛

Dear Payton

Our letter to Payton written 2 years ago. I read this at his celebration of life:
Dear Payton,
On August 23rd, 2009, the day we were blessed with your precious soul, we had no idea what an imprint you would leave on this earth, in the hearts of so many.
The memories you gave us will forever be embedded in our hearts and minds. Anytime we see someone with big beautiful brown eyes, we will think of you. Anytime we see or hear of someone being kind, you will cross our minds. We will feel sad, empty, and we will feel like giving up sometimes. But we will not give up. We will live our lives to the fullest we can, and we will do it for you. We promise you we will do things in your memory. We will go camping for you, and tell stories about you around the fire. We will go to baseball games, and remember how fast you were. We promise you we will not forget how to laugh and be silly.
Although our home will feel so empty without you, we will carry on your funny personality and jokester ways. You taught us so many things, like how to be strong, even when you feel the weakest. You taught us how to love, not just any kind of love, but the deepest, kindest, most gentle kind of love. You had the biggest heart of any 7 year old we’ve ever known.
Over the past 6 months so many have told us that we were so strong. The truth is, you were our strength.
You’ve made people hold their children tighter. You have shown people not to take life for granted. We hope you and papa are having the time of your lives. We know how much you missed him. Now you are the lucky one. You are free from your pain in the most beautiful place in the whole world.
Payton Michael Dennis, you will always be a superhero to so many, Daddy’s best buddy, Mommy’s sweet boy, and the best brother in the whole world. You are now forever 7 in Heaven baby boy. We will miss you every day, until wee meet again and you can show us how amazing Heaven is. We love you more. Love. Daddy & Mommy

Photo: The reality of Payton being gone had not yet set in.

2 Tough Years

2 years. 2 years that feel like a day, yet feel like they have pushed us further from our baby. We got home from vacation early this morning. Vacation was great, it helped take our minds off things a little bit. However, Payton’s presence was very missed. As I watched the other kids play, swim, argue, run on the beach, sleep, and eat, I couldn’t help but wonder where Payton would have fit in the mix. It’s not hard to figure out what he would have been doing in each moment. There is a missing link in our family. It won’t ever be replaced, and has changed our family completely. We spread some of Payton’s ashes in the Gulf of Mexico. I know he was there, because he sent a huge wave crashing up onto us right after we sent him off. Then my mom found a dolphin necklace in the sand, which was significant on this trip, after seeing many dolphins in front of our condo every day. There were also 2 monarch butterflies playing around our patio. The signs are there if we look for them, and it brings a bit of peace, but doesn’t bring our boy back. I really thought at this point I would be able to say it has gotten easier. It hasn’t. We have just learned to cope the best we can.

The gaping hole in our hearts say “He should be here with us”. We miss our boy every single minute, and many days we still cry out hearts out. It has become part of who we are. Stronger? Not sure. I think we are all, as humans, just stronger than we think we are in the first place. It’s when your strength is ever put to the test, that you find out how strong you really were all along. It can make you or break you and I feel we are somewhere in between some days, and some days it “makes us”.
Missing you more today. Payton Michael Dennis 8/23/2009-3/26/2017
I can’t wait to be with you again.

2 Peter 3:8
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.