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Liam Webb was a normal, happy 3 year old boy. He loved playing with his sisters, eating pizza and jumping away in bounce houses. He was in perfect health and I had no reason to think that anything might be wrong with my child. During Spring break of 2013, my mom noticed that Liam was leaning his head to the side. I brushed it off and continued on with life. About a week later, my mother in law flew in to town and noticed that his head was tilted as well. I decided to take him to his pediatrician to have it looked at. The doctor believed it was an injury, and sent us home with orders to give him ibuprofen for the swelling and to come back in 2 weeks if his neck was not better.
Two weeks passed and Liam’s neck was still tilted. I posted pictures of him online to ask family and friends if this had ever happened to their kids. I researched online and found explanations that ranged from torticollis to brain tumors. I actually laughed at the brain tumor explanation. “No” I laughed. “It is definitely not that serious!” I decided to call the doctor back to see what he suggested. He referred Liam to see a physical therapist and I called them right away. They were unable to see Liam until June which was still 3 months away! It was then that mother instinct kicked in, and I decided to take him to the emergency room. After a long wait, the doctor finally saw us and suggested an MRI. I thought that was a bit much because they would have to put him under anesthesia. Instead, we opted for the much faster CT scan. I knew nothing would show up. Nothing ever does, right? After another long wait, the doctor returned to our room and asked us to please turn down the Tinkerbelle movie that Liam was watching. It was then that I knew something was very wrong. “Unfortunately, there is a large mass located in your son’s brain.” That was all I heard. My head started spinning and my world was shattered.
On April 11, 2013, Liam was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It would later be diagnosed as a very rare and aggressive tumor called AT/RT. Despite the diagnosis, Liam was doing so well! He made it through 3 brain surgeries, meningitis and a horrible staph infection that hospitalized him for 4 weeks, 6 weeks of intensive radiation to his brain and 3 bone marrow transplants! After his third and final round of chemotherapy, Liam became ill with RSV which turned into pneumonia. After being hospitalized for a week, he finally began to improve! His fever was gone, he was talking again and was about to be moved from the ICU floor. Unfortunately, and without any warning, Liam passed away on November 23. It was not the cancer that killed him, but the treatments that lowered his immune system so that it was unable to fight infection.
Even though it was Liam’s funeral, it was also a celebration of Liam’s short, yet meaningful life. Saying goodbye to his earthly body was so hard for me. I knew once I said goodbye, they would close the casket forever. I’d never get to see him in person for as long as I lived. That realization is too difficult to process for me. I watched the slide show, and thought “he was JUST here! He was fine! He was trick or treating, running, laughing!” I half expect to just go to the hospital to pick him back up any day now. He just can’t be gone for good! That would hurt too much. And yet, I know it is true. The service was so beautiful. There were laughs as memories were shared, tears shed as lullabies were sung and teary smiles as we watched his short life shown in pictures and videos. After the service, we drove in the police escorted motorcade to the cemetery. I could not help but think how much Liam would have loved that. I could see him smiling and pointing at the police motorcycles as they sounded their sirens. I hope he was looking down thinking “This is all for me! “Driving into the cemetery, it was not hard to see where we were headed. Hundreds of red balloons were awaiting our arrival, and it was a beautiful site to see. Liam would have just squealed in delight seeing all of those balloons just for him! As we were about to release them, a small airplane flew just above our heads and we waited for it to pass. “Oh, hi Liam.” I thought. “Glad you could be here to watch this. It’s all for you!”
We all mourn differently in my family, but we are all still very much mourning. My daughter cries for him every night. My husband remembers Liam saying how much he wanted to play soccer, and that is no longer a possibility.
I ache to feel his hugs and cuddles. The cards and letters have now stopped. The calls as well. It’s to be expected. The world can’t mourn with us forever. We need to find a way to continue on without our only son. I’m not in a deep hole. I don’t need medication. I just miss him!
I WILL ALWAYS LONG FOR MY COMEDIAN. MY ENTERTAINER. MY DANCER. MY SINGER. MY GIGGLER. MY SNUGGLE BUG. MY JUMPING BEAN. MY HELPER. MY JOY. MY LIFE. MY HERO. MY SON.