Stories–Gratitude Day 30

Creating stories is my life. I have always been enthralled by the written word and there is nothing better than falling into a book and completely forgetting the world as I explored the one I was in.

Nick was always and forever will be my biggest fan. He was there for my first book publication, went to all my book signings, and had a huge impact on my second book. He is the main topic of my fourth book, The Puzzle Quests, Shimmer’s Eggs.

He also was a creative writer and loved to read as much as I did–probably more. An avid lover of the library, Nick always wanted to share his love of books.


When he passed, I longed to hear any story someone wanted to share about Nick. There were so many, and as it warmed my heart, it also broke it. He had so much to give, and I couldn’t understand why his life would be cut short.

After nine years, it’s hard to imagine there would still be stories that I hadn’t heard from when he was with us. Recently, I was in our bank talking to the manager. She wanted to help with Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation. I was very happy to hear that and looked forward to working together.

Then she shared a story. When Nick was in middle school, he volunteered to be a book buddy for his elementary school. Sharing his love of stories and reading to other kids was the perfect way to help others.

Her son, who is also named Nick was involved in this Book Buddy program. My Nick was his mentor and buddy. Nick also brought him some fun items to encourage reading. He and his mother never forgot it as the connection impacted them both.

Stories are precious. They connect people, they heal, entertain, and help us remember those who have gone before us.

I am grateful that she and so many others have shared their Nick stories with me. It reminds me that he is always here.

Sunflowers and Nick–Gratitude Day 26


I am grateful for sunflowers. Nine years ago I lost my boy. In my life, there has been no greater pain.

As sunflowers arrived at my door, I thought of Nick. Their upright and sturdy stems speak to strong bonds and loyalty. Nick was loyal to his family and friends. He stood for what he believed in, not worrying about any cost to himself. The strong bonds he held with people continue to this day, because his roots and values ran deep and he loved with all his heart.

1998 Fall3

The color of sunflowers are as vibrant as Nick’s smile.

Nick and Marisa at twins' bday

He always smiled. Oh yes, he had his moments, but sunshine and love lit through him. He brought laughter, joy, and had the ability to make others smile.


Pictures of Nick–always have a smile or smirk.


Sunflowers provide nourishment, hope for continuing life. Nick physically isn’t here, but his spirit, his strength, his determination feeds my soul when days like today are so hard. The work we do in his name provides hope and emotional nourishment for other children who face cancer.

As the sunflower blooms it turns toward the sun. It rises to each new day–faces the positive, conveys warmth, and happiness. That is how I remember Nick. Always positive, seeing the good, sharing his arm personality, and being such a happy boy.

I strive to be like him in these ways. When I miss him, I raise my face and my heart to the sun. I feel his warmth and energy. He’s always with me, and I’m grateful he chose me as his mom.

1998 xmas

For everyone who thinks of Nick and remembers him today, I hope your day is filled with love and sunflowers.


Sometimes We Need a Guide

Stephen with Poppa and Nick at birth2
My Dad and my sons, Nick (age 2) and Stephen (just born)

I dreamt of my immediate and extended family last night. We were all together under one massive roof, playing cards, going through boxes, swimming outside, and preparing food. My cousin, Christine, popped in all dressed and ready to go shopping with her hair piled high on her head, her eyes sparkling with green eyeshadow. She told me that everything will be OK and smiled her radiant grin.

Many times my dreams are my guide, but sometimes our guides are those right around us in waking life. They are a mirror that truly reflects what we have in us, but are afraid to reveal.

When a person is going through an illness, loss, or some type of adversity, we notice how strong they are or are amazed by their positive attitude. We see in them what we wish we had in ourselves.

Their bravery peels away a layer of self-doubt in us, and we wonder what would happen if we were that brave and removed all the layers. It’s as if that person is giving us permission to be our true self.

Often if we have never been in this kind of situation, we look around us for examples to emulate. When my son, Nick, became ill at 12 years old, he didn’t have a guide. He was innately brave, strong, and compassionate. He behaved very much like his Poppa who battled cancer two times, then passed away after his third battle, when Nick was two.

Nick became my guide on how I wanted to live my life, although living without him is extremely hard. He did teach me, however, that I don’t have to be strong all the time, and it’s important to let others know that and allow help. But he also taught me how to give back, to have compassion, to lead the way through devastation to a road where anything is possible.

Nick’s most powerful lesson was to be myself no matter what the world thought of me. He already knew what I have been trying to learn my entire life.

Live authentically and you are your own guide.

Be enthusiastic about what or who you love, and you will receive love back. 

Never give up, but live on your own terms, your own path. 

Know that as much as you learn from other’s guidance, you know the way. It’s already in you, and eventually you will be true to yourself.

Who are your guides and what are they showing you about yourself and about your path? How can you turn your awareness inward to find what you need to live authentically through your own guidance?