Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter.

Today is a day that brings us HOPE.

"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."  -- John 11:25

Easter is the hope that we will be together again. We're missing Wyatt so, so very much, but I can't wait to spend eternity with him in Heaven. Until then, we wait with hope and believe.

Happy Easter!
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Our Angel in the Outfield.

Throughout Wyatt's life we've been blessed to meet and become friends with some truly kind and wonderful people. Along the way we've also had the unfortunate experience to meet a few of the opposite kind, as well. But, truly, the good has always outweighed the bad.

Back in the spring of 2011 we had a pretty ugly run in with a tai kwan do instructor whose ignorance was loudly present as he spoke about our son not being welcome in his class. He declared it in front of the entire gymnasium of children and their families. Pointing out Wyatt's illness, his limitations and his insecurities for all to see just as the class was beginning. Wyatt was different, he had tubes, and we were told that was not OK or welcome in this man's classroom. I still get worked up about it today. I won't forget the things he said to me or about my son that day. I can only hope my words or my son being there changed this one man's heart or opened his mind to see the possibilities in all children, even those with tubes and limitations. Though, I realize that sometimes we can't reach (or teach) everyone, no matter how hard we may try. But this experience led us all to much better things. Following this event, Wyatt went on to be included in his first little league team: the Padres. We shopped for a glove, cleats and uniform pants the afternoon before the first practice game. He was so excited! As we prepared, I laughed at ourselves when remembering his ophthalmologist instructing us to avoid all sports that involved a ball flying at his head. (Oops!) I didn't think he'd hit a ball pitched to him that day. To be honest, I was just hoping he'd see it enough to not get hit! But I was wrong - he hit the first ball thrown to him! Following and after being given the 'game ball' of his first game, I asked him "What did you think?" He responded, with a smile as big as it could be, "This was the best day EVER!" 

Last weekend, April 12th, 2014, was the OALL opening day. One of the most fun days of the baseball season. The four of us were there. We walked up the grass hill to the baseball field that is referred to as "the lower field." We watched as all the boys and girls ran onto the grass circling the bases as their teams were announced through the speakers, just as they do every year.

 {Opening day 2011}

This year, as the kids in uniform were lined around the field, with their families standing along the bordering fence, the four of us stood on the dirt in front of the dugout. Wyatt's coach, "Coach K," stood in front of us holding the microphone as he spoke to the crowd about our boy. He recalled how Wyatt became part of the team, watching him hit his first ball, how his tubes all twisted and tangled when he ran and the smile that he always had as he reached the next base. His coach remembered and shared a piece of Wyatt's life with everyone on Saturday morning. It meant so much to us to hear it all.

As Coach K finished speaking, two teams were asked to part in the outfield as a banner along the fence was revealed. It's hanging just below the score board and in honor of our boy. It reads "Our Angel in the Outfield Wyatt DeStephano" with his signature superhero logo in the middle. It's perfect! I imagine Wyatt was smiling so big that day. He would have felt so honored. It was quite an emotional morning for us to be there for opening day again. But it felt so good to remember Wyatt and the joy that baseball had given him the last few years.

Thank you for being there for Wyatt and our family, OALL (and Coach K)!

The last opening day ceremony that Wyatt attended:

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Who's up for a vigilante road trip with me?

So, this year as we were preparing to do our taxes Bryan was procrastinating. Well, a little of that and he just couldn't find the time to sit down to devote to it, but knowing this is the last year that he will claim three children as dependents was also a grey cloud hovering over us. The loss of our child is everywhere and can be associated with nearly everything. Those reminders permeate our entire lives as we navigate through all the 'firsts' without him, even something as routine as taxes.

Bryan finally sat down to complete them last weekend and as he submitted ours electronically the IRS quickly rejected the return. We were informed someone had already claimed one of our dependents on their tax forms this year. Wrongfully, but, very likely, purposefully.  Death records are public record, within those records is Wyatt's social security number. We strongly suspect someone had taken his social security number and filed their tax return before we did, claiming him as their own dependent. We're not alone in having this happen. It's a known crime in this country, apparently.

Why am I sharing this? Well, simply, because it's wrong, because it happens and because it's appalling!

I'm angry at this person -- I want to know who it is. I want to find them myself to tell them of the boy who they are claiming as their own this year. I want them to know him as a person, as a child. I want them to know he was a real boy with a real family...that they are now violating! I want them to know his life and all he went through before his death. If they want to claim him as their own, I want them to know what it feels like to love him so fiercely and then lose him. I really want to show them the face and the life of who they are doing this to. It disgusts me.  

If we have to change the way we file our taxes because of them, eventually needing to "prove" he is our son and to "win" a dispute that shouldn't need to be filed in the first place, they should have to know what this life feels like. What it feels like to love a child, care for him every minute of every day and guide him through his death. They should have to know what it feels like if they want to claim him as their own for the little extra that may come in their tax return this year. 

They should have to know! 

It's all so frustrating. Even if we "win" the dispute, like the person at the tax office put it, I can't help but feel there is little "winning" in this for us. It may be that little would change their greedy hearts, but I still think they should know. Truly knowing and feeling what we have experienced could possibly be worse than any size fine or prison sentence.

This makes me want to go on some vigilante road trip to hunt down the people who do this!

Who's in?! 

I say that more in jest, but there is a part of me that would be all for it. Maybe the most severe punishment for this crime should be to sit with a grieving mother for days. To be made to listen as she remembers her child through stories and their possessions, to look and be surrounded by all the pictures and videos that she goes to when she needs to see and hear her child. 

Just saying, but it's an option I could support!

If they would investigate further to find the person who decided taking Wyatt's social security number was such a great plan, he/she may be sorry. I have 11 years of stories and hundreds of thousands of pictures and video that I would love to share. I could talk about MY boy and his life for days and days. Enough that they very possibly might start to wish they would have had a hefty fine or a prison sentence instead! ;) 
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