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Ponies, Boas and Beads

It's been nearly four years since my younger son died of brain cancer. Since then, his room has remained exactly as it was: the bed made, clothes still in the drawers, the toys holding vigil. I couldn't bear to even step into that room at times. It was crushing, suffocating. It took my breath away.


But my older son, whose bedroom is connected via a bathroom, has said several times

he found the room depressing . So it's time. Time to clear out that room and push forward a little bit more. After all, those things are not Nicky, but they helped define his very distinct personality.


So it's time to sort through what I'm going to keep and what's going to be donated. Some kid is going to get a wicked assortment of stuffed animals (dozens of unicorns), Nerf guns and toy light sabers from which to choose. There's also a respectable book collection. I'm keeping the most beloved of those....The Polar Express, Splat the Cat, Skippyjohn Jones, and some book about a farting dog. That last one was very popular with both boys, naturally!


Nicky was a "brony," which is the term for a boy who likes all things My Little Pony. I came away with two large shopping bags of ponies...big plush ones, tiny plastic ones and everything in between. He knew the names of them all. I also found dozens of Mardi Gras beads, several feather boas, a few wigs and a jester's hat. There was a unicorn collection, a pig collection and a slipper collection. In Nicky's world, the weirder, the better. His room was a dedication to fun.


I invited Nicky's little girlfriend, Eva, to choose whatever she wanted from the room. She and Nicky were cut from the same cloth in nearly every way. Extroverted, happy, adventurous, wild and mischievous. They met in the childcare room of the gym when they were three or four years old and became fast friends, devoted to one another until the very end. I feel as if I can still touch him a little through her. She chose a few stuffed animals, a deck of cards and a unicorn horn, which she wore all throughout lunch, of course.


I had already kept Nicky's

most prized possessions, which included his cowboy boots and stuffed lambs. A lot of these other things were gifted to him while he was dying. He cherished every one of them, often crying when he received something. Nicky was empathic and felt emotions very deeply. The charity and generosity of others moved him immensely. His heart grew every day as people showered him with gifts, words of encouragement, cards, letters and posters.


He died knowing he was loved beyond measure.


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