Friday, June 03, 2011

Today is Montie's Birthday

Montie would be 13.

Instead he's celebrating in Heaven in his ageless, perfect body. I can't help but imagine him full-out RUNNING around with our dog, Addie, up there-- maybe whooping it up a little with other angel boys? Maybe with his own brother & sister?? 

Montie was such a smily guy right from the get-go. Can you believe this little kid was wearing hard contacts in these pictures?

And some of you may remember his affinity for Oreo cookies? That's the messiness in the picture below...

He wore this back brace from about 6mo of age thru almost 5 years (well, he'd get a new one once he grew of course.) By then one of his spinal curves had reached 88 degrees, which as you can imagine put a little squash-effect on his poor lungs, and he'd had to have titanium rods implanted (and then seven subsequent surgeries to lengthen those rods.) 

Because of his low muscle tone, Montie didn't walk until he was 3 years old. Before that he got around by scooching everywhere on his butt: legs thrown forward & using his hands to propel himself. Though his body was weak, his determination was great. He wore holes in the tiny hiney of his overalls quite frequently! 
(he's helping Daddy mulch here)
Otherwise, one of us would give him "a lift". As you can see, the extra cuddling we got to do while "lifting" was of great comfort to both of us <3
And for Daddy too...

 Yes, Mont loved Blues Clues, dressed up for Halloween & then wore the costume for months-- sorry, Montie, it was YEARS before we realized Blue was a girl!! 

The picture below of the five of us was taken on Thanksgiving. Montie was almost 18 months old (making Morgan about 4 & Maegan about 8) and gearing up for surgery in early December. He became the youngest person at that time to have a valve-sparing aortic root graft. It was one of the scariest times of our lives as parents to know no one younger had had this done before, but I'm happy to say the age has dropped since. 

During surgery which was scheduled to take most of the day,  Montie was put on a heart/lung machine, and his body was cooled to slow circulation. His heart literally had to be stopped while they worked on it. And after midnight when everyone else had left the Johns Hopkins waiting room hours ago, and there was no receptionist from whom to get updates from the OR, Montie's surgeon came out to say he was stabilized BUT they'd had trouble & thought they had lost him. They'd done the root graft, warmed up his little body, and gotten his heart started again, only to lose pressures & realize something was terribly wrong: a minute leak in one of the sutures. 

Can you imagine how terribly tired this doctor had to have been, literally in surgery all day & into the next day? But still... the surgical team pressed on, cooled Montie's body again, put him back on the heart/lung machine, and repaired the leak, then went through the whole process of getting him off the machine & stabilized. 

In our frantic naive youth, the magnificence of this continued to land deeper as time went on.
 And Montie thrived... left Johns Hopkins on Day 5 after surgery with scared parents & eager sisters.
I've always prayed over my kids' relationships with each other & felt blessed till heart-bursting that they were each other's best friends.
 And while challenged physically, other than being virtually blind for months before we knew how bad his vision had gotten on two different occasions, and the obvious set-backs due to missing vast amounts of school, Montie was smart & funny & witty & oh-so-goofy. 

He also had definite things he was into. I was ECSTATIC when he became a Star Wars fan!! I wanted to marry Luke Skywalker when the first of the movies came out!!!! My brother & I had the 3" Star Wars characters & various hover ships we played with when we were kids. To revisit all this with Montie was terrific fun. 
We played a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles too...

 Montie was mischievous ...
...loved his sweet desserts...
 ...loved hangin' with his family...
...LOVED his motorized red scooter (man he was the shiznit at school!!)
...loved legos (Star Wars ship) with his Dad...

...loved his pets (Dino on the left, Lucky the guinea in the back, and Addie on the right)
 Montie's 10th Birthday
(pan cookie)
Don't ask...
 Mont also LOVED playing army. He had night vision goggles, tiny army men & vehicles, medium sized army guys & vehicles and up to extra large sized of these things, army sheets/blankets, posters, games, etc... pretty much obsessed with anything military.
Montie's last Christmas with us & his Man Robe. haha He practically lived in it!! In fact, Montie is still wearing his Man Robe :)
 Below is the last picture of Montie taken at home, and I find it just a little funny that he took it himself. In fact, perhaps you saw the awesome pencil drawing one of his best friend's had done for us?? I posted it several months ago. It's done from this picture. He looks so grown up here...
My little man... 
Montie had had 13 surgeries in his 10 years. Do I think about the fact that his 13th surgery was performed on Friday the 13th? I'll admit I do even though I'm not superstitious. 

Montie came home from this 13th surgery on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. As I was getting his favorite red snowman pjs on to leave the hospital & go home, he was in terrible pain, and it was slow going. But in the midst of it he stopped me & kissed my left cheek. I don't remember him ever doing this before- he was much more a hugger. He was so happy to be going home.

I sometimes wonder, too, what might have happened if we'd stayed an extra day in the hospital. We were often allowed to take Montie home earlier than may have normally been allowed because they viewed us as "caring & experienced". 

What if....

I try not to go there. I try to focus on how pain free Montie became in the early morning of March 19th.

 But I'll admit sometimes that's hard. Sometimes I'm just a selfish Mommy who wants to hold her boy on her lap while I call every store within a 50 mile radius to find a place that has THAT ONE video game he's been saving for... or to snuggle in bed listening to him ask for the millionth time "How many subjects are we doing today?" once we'd started homeschooling... or to listen to him proudly reading a mystery chapter book ... giving him a lift up the stairs & hearing his sneakers attached to his long, lanky legs gently knocking on the stairs... listening to him playing & bantering with his friends on PS3...

Montie was seriously THE HAPPIEST, most well-adjusted human being I've ever known. Not perfect mind you... but a best friend to his sisters, a sushi-eating companion for his Dad, a Star Wars & Indian Jones movie watcher with his Mom. We miss his happiness, his inquisitiveness,

Happy Birthday Montie!


  1. I never had the pleasure of meeting or getting to know Montie but, your beautiful post certainly shows what a blessing he was to everyone who knew him. I am so sorry for your loss but so happy you know that he is dancing in Heaven with Jesus. And someday you will see him and hug him again. God bless you and your family!

  2. Thank you for sharing Montie with everyone. His short life was incredibly special and filled with endless love. I'm sending you and your family loving thoughts and a huge Happy Birthday to Montie. I love the picture of Montie and his sisters. You can feel their love shining through and I can feel your love in every word you write. Thank you!