Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A great quote....

"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering to fly."
Thank you to all our friends and family for being there for us. We may be a bit frazzled and not get back to you right away, but we love you for your phone calls, e-mails and cards. They remind us to keep flying.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A wonderful celebration of Mason's life

On Saturday, we drove back to DC. In the afternoon, we had Mason's Celebration of Life service. We shared stories about Mason, read letters from Mom and Dad and Francisca, shared the slide show of his life, ate his favorite foods, filled in stars that told what we were going to do in honor of Mason's life and planted an oak tree.

The service was so beautiful and the kids brought so much to it. Sean and Ciara, friends of Mason, read two books. Mason's soccer coaches shared their thoughts about him, and our friends from overseas did as well.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and crisp. With the leaves changing it was really beautiful. After the service, the kids played soccer and released a lot of energy. It was wonderful.

We went to the DC United game afterward with family and friends.

We will post the video from the service if we can, and some photos as well. The pictures really do tell a wonderful story of how much Mason was loved.

Mateo last night said to Mom "So many people have helped us" I said "yes that's right we are really lucky to have such good friends" He said- "yes we are."

Thank you to everyone who came, who helped, who organized, who spoke - so many of you.

Many people have asked how are we even able to stand and function. It is our friends and family who are holding us up with their love and support. We could not be functioning without all of you caring for us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saying Goodbye...

On Friday, we laid Mason's body to rest at West Point. It was a rainy cloudy day. Tears from heaven, I guess. I know we had prepared for this moment in our hearts and minds but living it is another story. So many people came to the service. It made the nightmare of this moment bearable in some way. People were holding us up in their love and support.

He was brought in the chapel by the West Point Honor Guard. A fitting tribute to a little boy who fought so hard to stay with us.
We shared a montage of photos of Mason's life. We had lovely readings and wonderful music. Mason and Mateo's cousins sat on either side of Mateo and held him through the service. We will post the program for those who could not be with us and we will try to share the montage, but the file was so huge iI am not sure we can do it.

As we began to lay flowers at the gravesite, there was a thunder clap and the rain started to really pour down. Our sorrow was reflected in the weather. But I also believe he let us know he was up there making some noise! It was comforting to know he was laid to rest with Kirk's dad and at West Point. It is such a honorable place full of tradition, strength and valor. The right place for Mason to be laid to rest.

Thank you for so many coming to share our grief and love us and hug us when there were no words.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The journey begins

We brought Mason's body to New York today. We decided to take him ourselves- as Kirk appropriately said- it is our son and we will take him the whole way on his journey, not a stranger. We all went to the funeral home together and saw him again. Mateo was with us and he wanted the soccer shirts to go in with Mason. He helped guide Mason's casket to the car- and helped lift it in. We had originally planned for Mateo to go in the other car but he emphatically wanted to come with us. He put his ear to the casket and said he heard Mason trying to get out. On the trip, he laid his hand on top of the casket that was next to him and fell asleep lying next to his brother. It is these moments that bring us to our knees. But we have let Mateo show us his way- and his way is a beautiful sweet, loving one for his brother. He gets angry once in awhile and has some insights that are a bit left field, but we validate them and help him through this as best we can.

Again, I think we learn alot from the kids and their example of just being in the moment and sharing and living it to the fullest. We are preparing for the service tomm. I think it will the hardest for us and we will lay to rest his physical body. So final- the end of his body's journey.

Thank you to all who are helping with the service Saturday. We are ready to celebrate the good times and his sweet laughter. This is the right way to do this for us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Some help for the service needed Saturday....

The wonderful friends who are organizing the service for us have asked friends and family to provide little stories about Mason to share during the service. If you want to share something, please e-mail mybigbrain@yahoo.com Also I am sure they could use any extra hands.

Everyone has been so wonderful and it has really helped us to get all your e-mails and hugs to get through this tough first week without Mason. It may take us awhile to respond but we do appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The viewing

Thanks to the many, many folks who came to see Mason for the last time. He looked wonderful, at peace. Your support is overwhelming. Folks from as far as Vermont and Florida, and some folks very special to Kirk who he hadn't seen for 20 years.

Thanks especially to the little ones for making such beautiful drawings for Mason. We are glad all his little friends had a chance to say goodbye.

Remembrances of Mason

Mason's Kindergarden teacher, David Henderson, has set up a site where folks can write their remembrances of Mason: http://masonleachinourlives.blogspot.com/

If you are so inclined, feel free to leave your memories and thoughts about Mason there.

More info re Saturday's Celebration of Mason's Life

Please dress casually, and if you have a soccer jersey (of any kind), please wear it. If you don't have a soccer jersey, please wear a sports jersey if you have one, to remember Mason's love for sports in general. Thanks.

More info re West Point service on Friday

As mentioned, the service at West Point is scheduled for 10 AM. There are two ways to enter West Point:

1. We will be carrying Mason in our vehicle, with Military Police escort, starting from the parking lot of Hogan's Funeral Home at 135 Main Street, Highland Falls, at 9:30. You are welcome to follow. Have picture ID ready.

2. If you choose to enter West Point on your own, just be sure to have picture ID, and tell them you are going to a funeral at West Point Cemetery. You won't have any problem, just be sure to leave enough time. You can ask the guards for directions.

There will be a reception after the service at the West Point Club, in the Grand Ballroom. Please join us.

Today's Washington Post

Mason's death notice ran in today's Washington Post. In the sports section, there was an article about former UVA basketball star re-signing with the Washington Wizards. The headline was: Mason's Heart Is Where His Home Is

DC United raffle results

Clare Kelly of Children's National Medical Center won the DC United tickets, and other DC United items signed by Bobby Boswell. Clare has decided to offer the items she won to a family with soccer-loving children undergoing treatment at the hospital. Bravo to Clare!

Many thanks to our friends who put the raffle together and the many, many folks who bought tickets. Once again, your support is overwhelming!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Services for Mason are set

ALL are welcome to any of these events.

Receiving of Friends and Viewing
(please note: children are very welcome, but it will likely be an open casket. We just wanted to let you know in case anyone has any concerns about that)
Murphy Funeral Home
4510 Wilson Blvd. (Near N. Glebe)
Arlington, VA
6-8 PM on Tuesday, October 16th

Funeral Service and Burial
Old Cadet Chapel
United States Military Academy
West Point, NY
10:00 AM
Friday, October 19th

Celebration of Mason's Life
Key School Auditorium
2300 Key Boulevard
Arlington, VA
3:30 PM
Saturday, October 20th

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some info re the first service this week

Here is the death notice that will be in the newspaper. There is information about the viewing on Tuesday at Murphy Funeral Home.

Mason R. Leach
On Saturday, October 13th, 2007 at his residence in Arlington , VA , after a long, courageous battle with brain cancer. Cherished son of Danielle and Kirk Leach. Loving brother of Mateo Leach. Survived by a host of other relatives, friends, and his “segunda mama”, Francisca. “Hero” to all who knew him. In his short five-year life he lived in four countries: Bolivia , Honduras , Ecuador , and the United States. He spoke Spanish fluently, and loved to play soccer, sing, and paint. The family will receive friends at Murphy Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd. , Arlington from 6-8 PM on Tuesday, October 16th. Later in the week, Mason will be buried with his grandfather at West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY , and there will be a celebration of his life at a site to be determined in Arlington . More information about these two services will be at www.masonleach.blogspot.com as it becomes available. In lieu of flowers, please help Mason do something special for the pediatric oncology floor at Children’s Hospital by donating to: Mason Leach’s Super Star Fund, c/o Children’s National Medical Center, attn: Volunteer and Consumer Support Services, 111 Michigan Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20010.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mason passed

Mason passed away tonight, very peacefully, a little before 11PM, surrounded by family, ending his 15 month battle with brain cancer. He was visited all day long by a stready stream of friends and family who loved him. We think he waited for Mateo to get home from the DC United game, as he had lasted longer than expected, and then passed shortly after Mateo got home. He was strong as a rock to the end - anyone who knew him would not be surprised.

Earlier in the day, Mateo packed all of Mason's soccer jerseys, socks, some cleats, trophies, soccer stickers and a ball, for Mason's journey. He told Mason that he was the "best brother in the world."

Two waiting children will be the recipients of Mason's corneas and heart valves, so he will continue to live on, in a way, in this world.

There will be two services for Mason. He will be buried, most likely in the middle of this week, along with Kirk's father at the West Point Cemetery at the United State Military Academy. We expect to have a memorial service in Arlington on Friday or Saturday. Mason touched so many lives, and so many touched his life. We look forward to celebrating his life with friends and family. All are welcome, and we will send along details of time, place and day shortly in an email as well as post them here. Thanks to all the medical personnel who did their best to save Mason. Thank you everyone for your thoughts, prayers, and support during the last 15 months. They were extremely important to us. We love you all.

An Irish Blessing

Deep Peace of the Running Wave to You
Deep Peace of the Flowing Air to You
Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth to You
Deep Peace of the Shining Stars to You
Deep Peace of the Gentle Night to You

May The Sun, Moon and Stars Pour Their Healing Light onto You
May there be Deep Peace from the Light of the World to You.

Death Is Nothing
Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be the household word it always was.Let it be spoken without effort.
Life means all that it ever meant.It is the same as it ever was;there is absolutely unbroken continuity.Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near just around the corner...All is well. Nothing is past, nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before,
only better, infinitely happier
and forever we will be one together.

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

Early Saturday morning

Mason has begun the process of passing from this world. He is not in pain, and can understand at least some of what we say to him. The hospice nurse is here to help us make sure he is not in any pain. She estimates that this process will take 1 to 48 hours. We are telling him funny stories about his life.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


As we expected, given Mason's symptoms, the MRI results were bad. Dr. Rood (who has been incredible) and his team indicated that the best guess is that Mason has about 2-3 weeks to live. We will make the best of that time, and he will not be in any pain. The tumor has grown around his brain stem and the spots on his spine and tumor at the base of the spine have grown as well. We reviewed some of what may happen and discussed some options to keep him comfortable and at home until he passes if we can. We are working with hospice as well.

As you can imagine we are reeling from the news. We ask that you hold us in your hearts as we pass through this time and pray for a quiet, peaceful transition for Mason into the next phase of his existence.

We will post sometime tomm how people can help as we make plans and get ready for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


We are sad to let you know that Mason has declined markedly over the last week, and particularly over the past couple days. He is sleeping more and more (12-13 hours a night), has lost a great deal of his balance, and is slowly losing his ability to focus his eyes and chew food. Through it all, he is still a trooper. As his soccer coach wrote to us tonight, "Mason is the strongest person I have ever had the honor and privilege of knowing." We couldn't agree more.

As we put together a slideshow of Mason's life tonight, we realized that 99% of the pictures on the blog are of Mason when he has been sick. We were getting a little tired of that, so here are some photos of him in happier, healthier days:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Questions of faith

This was posted on the medulloblastoma listserve


I found it really helpful to process my questions about God and the nature of evil and bad things happening to people and the world. Any way to look at it- it still does not make sense that Mason has to suffer- but this helps process it in some way for me - a lapsed doubtful Catholic raised girl.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Some photos and video from the RV trip this weekend

Mason hanging in the RV

Hiking in style

At Six Flags with Mateo

ColorWonder - his favorite coloring

With his cousin Anna

Despite the challenges of cancer, still fighting to win!

Are we coming to the end of the road?

We have begun to see some of the changes they warned us about. His pupils are uneven, his balance is off, he is weakening. The pain seems to be under control. He is back on the chemo for now, but it does not appear to be having any effect on his cancer in a positive way that we can tell outwardly. We will have an MRI later this week. We both cried a bit this weekend watching him try to play baseball and falling over after a big swing. We rage at the heavens above wondering what kind of universe exists in which a little boy can lose so much in his little lifetime. We try to stay positive and hope, but the changes are coming very fast now. Even being away for four days with him we saw a drop in his strength and balance. One side of his face seems to have dropped,and one eye cannot open as much. We can only hope that we can keep him comfortable and playing and loving him as much as we can while he is still with us. Every hour seems precious at the moment. We check to see if he is breathing at night like we did when he was firstborn. There is a French poem that my dad had read at my mother's funeral that said "it is raining in my heart" Today our hearts are raining for our little guy and his brother. No child needs to learn life is unfair at such an early age. That things don't always work out, that all the prayers in the world may not save someone from suffering and dying. No child needs to learn that.

Hospice comes tomm to talk with us more and establish more services with us and him. We will utilize all they have to help this transition be as peaceful and loving as we can.

We continue to ask for prayers and a miracle.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The raffle continues for the Fund

Our friends are raffling off DC United Tickets to raise money for the Celebration of Life Fund.DC United was very generous in donating 4 ticktes to the OCt 20 game and they will be giving some other item to the winner.

If you would like more information or want to help, please call Laurel Hockey at (703) 516-4458 or Caitlin Palacios at (703) 351-9239. You may also email Caitlin Palacios at mailto:palaciosac@aol.com (please put Mason Robert Leach on the subject line).

A special thank you to our friends as they have really put a lot of time and effort in making this happen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

We are back on chemo

The platelet counts are back and he will continue with the SAHA at a reduced dose. We will have to hope it does not drop his platelets at this dose. He will be off the trial if that happens. So we bite our nails and wait.

He continues to be on pain meds for his legs 24hrs a day. But he went to school twice this week and had a good time. He has loved the e-cards everyone has bee sending. So thanks for making him smile.

He has also discovered that the Java Shack- a local coffee house has great pumpkin muffins and good coffee in big cups that he likes to share with Mom. It helps when he is tired to perk him up a bit. He said to me today" I know why you drink this stuff Mommy, it wakes you up!"

We will go on our RV trip this weekend and go to Six Flags. Kirk's sister and her kids will come down and join us.

On the sibling side- Mateo could use some e-cards too. He has been a bit down lately and could use some cheering up. I think he is realizing how Mason is declining as he does not ask him to play soccer in the backyard as much and is cautious arond him for the most part. He watches everything and processes it so we have to be careful what we say in any conversations around him.

Both boys are excited for Halloween. We will decorate this weekend. They got these horrible masks that they call screaming bleeding that have blood that pours down the face. They have begged me to get them since they saw them in CVS a couple of weeks ago. I have been trying to convince them to be something alittle less horrible, but to no avail. Some battles are just too silly to fight.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mason scores a goal

Video of Mason scoring a goal this past Saturday.

A fun time

Riding in style with his buds
This weekend we went to the DC United game in the limo and went to a race for Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation on Sunday.He loved the limo and having soda in the car with his friends. He has learned to party in style early. We will put up some video of him later this week.

He also scored a goal at his soccer game on Saturday. He proceeded to try and take his shirt off to celebrate in true soccer style. We will put up some video of his celebration.

On Sunday we did the race. He fell down at the start of the race but ran it again after we cleaned up his knee. He was determined to run on his own and win. A true testament to his personality!Thank you to all our friends who came out to support us.