Monday, 7 September 2015

His last flight

Here, in seat 19B aboard an American Airlines Airbus, is Dominic Rooney.

He's between his mom and I, seatbelted in, quiet as can be. The perfect child.

Trish put his blanket overtop of him to keep him warm. Just like she held his hand for hours after he died because that was the only way it wouldn't be cold.

I thought I'd be more affected by the plastic box they gave us at the funeral home this morning. It is, after all, all that's physically left of my boy. It represents all the things I'll never get to do with him, all the pain of loss, a wish trip only half-finished.

But it's also just a thing. The memories are more valuable now, and there are so many ways to keep that fire burning.

Others are doing it with us at the moment, releasing balloons for the second time in a week during halftime of the CFL football game in Calgary Monday. When we switched planes in Dallas we got to see video and photos of it; it was wonderful.

The #dominicstrong T-shirts are more popular than expected, closing in on 200 sold. And the donations to the Alberta Children's Hospital through my Extra Life page topped US$10,000, ensuring Trish will cut a foot of hair off at the mini golf fundraiser Sept. 12. A shaved head (US$20,000 before Nov. 7) seems almost a certainty now.

The memorial service is closer to official too, with the 750-seat Esplanade theatre in Medicine Hat booked for Monday, Sept. 14. I think it's 2 p.m. but check this blog later in case I find out otherwise. Family have booked hotel rooms; there's a Facebook event where I've asked folks to help us know how many people to expect.

We've started talking about the service and want it to be a mixture of emotion. No way can he be remembered without some laughs and smiles, thumbs-up's and high fives. But the death of a child is also exponentially sad, and that deserves to be present as well.

Trish said she wouldn't cry today. I told her that was a ridiculous idea. She got through the funeral home OK, with another round of apologies finally concluded with handing over the "travel urn" that's safest and least conspicuous to fly with. She got through check-in, where the lady at the counter turned out to also work at Give Kids the World where we stayed for the wish trip before things went bad.

But when an American Airlines staffer in Dallas told us how he can't imagine what we're going through, she couldn't help but tear up. And I was glad, because today is a day to cry (and drink wine).

Once the airline heard about our story on Twitter, they bent over backwards to try and help. It was nice but honestly we didn't need it. I think the toughest part of grieving will happen long after this wave of support, like on his birthday, or Christmas, or a random Sunday morning at home when we listen and don't hear his infectious laugh.

In the same way we had to learn to say yes and thank you when folks wanted to help after his diagnosis, we are glad for the extra help today. We may not realize how much we need it.


  1. You have such a power with words!
    We are here for you when you need all that help.
    So many are here for you.
    Welcome home Dominic.

  2. Sean and Trish, you are incredibly strong. This is a side to f$%^'n cancer that many never see. Your courage in sharing your raw emotions will help many, many people.

    There will be lots of emotions over the next while. There is no set plan for grief. It is unique to every individual. Take it one moment at a time.

    the two of you have a very special way of honouring your son and the impact he has had on the world. That won't be forgotten.

    Take care, sleep and breathe. You've earned some rest. and tears. And you've earned wine and rum, too.

  3. Glad you have him with you. Hope you got home ok. Continued prayers!

  4. It is good hear you've made it home. How difficult it must be. Thinking of you both.
    I brought my young boys to the balloon release yesterday. What a special moment for which we were honored to participate. So many of your amazing friends and family celebrating Dominic's life and bidding farewell to your incredible son.
    Continued love and prayers for you,

  5. So well put. You absolutely have a way with words, that is so inspiring to so many. Dom's spirit will live on, and continue to touch lives. Happy to hear you have made it home safely, and have received such immense support.

  6. welcome home. i'm sure your friends and family are eager to surround you with their love and support. your sweet little boy is never far from my thoughts. i'm glad his journey home was a peaceful one and that people you encountered continued to show you the kindness and compassion that you deserve.

  7. Im so sorry to hear the news, Doms spirit and love will live on within your hearts. Thinking of both you and your wife.

  8. Will there be any way to watch the Memorial from Calgary? Can it be streamed online or anything? Either way, our thought from Calgary will be with you that day

  9. I've been thinking about you and Trish all week. I can't imagine what it has been like returning to Calgary and then Medicine Hat without that precious boy, but I hope you can draw support and eventually feel some comfort from the love that surrounds your family.
    I wish I could be at the memorial for Dominic but unfortunately cannot be there. I will be thinking of you and Trish on Monday. I hope the memorial goes as well as it possibly can and gives you a chance to celebrate and remember your lovely Dominic. He will be forever missed and remembered by all of us.