Monday 13th of September 2010

Today is a very emotional day for me because today is Cristian’s birthday. If he were here, we’d be blowing out eight candles on his cake together and I would watch him open the newest Thomas the Tank Engine DVD I bought him to celebrate. But unfortunately, that’s not how things happened. Today, he is celebrating his eighth birthday with all of the other DIPG kids who earned their wings and went to Heaven.

This is now the second time I have had to spend Cristian’s birthday without him. Last year, his sister Brittnee and I spent the day doing some of the things that Cristian loved. We went to his favorite restaurant in City Island. We went horseback riding. We went on the yacht that Cristian had driven, and then went jet skiing with the owner of that yacht. After all that, Brittnee and I went to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and to the Apple store to get Brittnee a touch-screen iPod.

This year, I’m going to a restaurant that Cristian and I loved to go to, and then I’m going to go home and watch Thomas the Tank Engine. I signed Cristian’s guestbook at exactly 12 am today, then lit a candle and prayed. I kissed Cristian’s urn and I spent some time in his room. I could see him sitting there, playing with his trains, as we did so often. I miss him bossing me around and ordering me to change the engines on his electric trains. We had three sets of tracks and Cristian would interchange engines between the three tracks, as well as the cargo trains. He could have played with them for hours, and then we would end the night watching DVDs while I massaged his back, feet and underarms.

While today I can only wish him a happy birthday in my prayers and in my dreams, I know on one very special day we will be together again and he won’t waste much time bossing me around. But it will be in a place free of illness and pain.

That’s why it’s very fitting that today is also National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. This is a day when we call attention to the pediatric cancers that affect young children like Cristian. It reminds me that while I miss Cristian very much, the long journey we went through together made me strong and made me believe that I can make a difference in the fight against Pontine Glioma. So today I remember Cristian and all the children who have passed away, as well as the children who will be saved when we find a cure.

John “Gungie” Rivera
Forever Cristian’s Daddy