I was going to start this post by trying to explain what it’s like to have a happy, healthy baby one second, only to check on that baby a short while later to find them blue and lifeless - but you know what, I don’t think I can explain it. If you’ve been there, you already know, and if you haven’t been there, my words couldn’t even come close. It’s unbelievable to me still, and I’ve been there. It’s unnatural. It’s surreal, and for a long time I felt absolutely removed from myself… For days I would just look at my empty hands and feel that all of their purpose had been ripped away from them. And no matter how much I wanted WITH EVERY SINGLE THING I HAD IN ME for that to be different and for things to be back to the way they were the minutes before I found my son dead, it never would be.
Take a second now, and just think about how simple it is to breathe. Think about it…you’re doing it right now as you’re reading this - and probably before I mentioned it, you didn’t even pay much notice to it, did you?… It just comes natural to us…it’s just what our bodies are meant to do, it just feels simple…
But there I was, staring at my son’s small, lifeless body, screaming for him to please DO THAT SIMPLE THING. To just breathe…IN… OUT… IN… OUT…
A request that would ultimately go unfulfilled.
The paramedics arrive. My husband and I would then be led to follow behind the ambulance that carried my son as they transported him to the hospital. We screamed repeatedly in the car, at the officer driving us to please hurry, that our baby was in there, all while holding on to a shred of hope that this all might not be real.
But it was real.
I remember a desperate thought running through my head… “This can’t be right. He can’t be gone. He has a doctor’s appointment in two weeks, they can figure out what is wrong with him then.”
A split second after that, I’m remembering the tiny scab he had on his nose from where he had scratched himself by accident a couple of days before. The idea that I would never get to see it heal because his body had failed him was suddenly too painful for me to bear.
I lost it.
In the dark, wrapped in a blanket between the cold walls of a hospital room, I held my son for the last time. I remember not wanting to touch his skin... I was scared of what it felt like without life in it. How ridiculous of me, but at the time I didn't know what to do and I was scared beyond scared. But I held him, and I just kept asking WHY.
WHY HIM, WHY NOW, WHY NOT ME?
I didn't know how to say goodbye to him. I just wasn't prepared.
Despite not wanting any part of it, they medicated me to help me calm down. I felt like I was in a coma with my eyes open.
In the days after his death I had to make decisions I never thought I would ever have make in my life. From deciding if we wanted to donate any of his organs to different organizations, to going through all of the paperwork required for the obituary to run in the paper. Here I wanted nothing more than to just hold my son… to feel his skin and for it to be warm, but instead I was walking a cemetery, looking at different plots and trying to decide where to lay our son’s body to rest for eternity. I remember sitting with a lady in a dimly lit room at the funeral home. There were different samples of headstones hanging on the walls and in front of us, next to the box of tissues, was a catalog. She flipped through page upon page of little icons and pictures that we could choose to put on his gravestone... to decorate it. “We could choose 3”, she said. – I remember thinking… I can hardly breathe, so how can I make this decision right now? I don’t want to make this decision right now, or ever for that matter. I just wanted to scream at the top of my lungs for everything around me to just STOP, but I didn’t have the energy.
I felt like a zombie.
I knew I was alive, because I had to be, but I didn’t feel alive anymore. At that point, if a bus came screeching into the building, tearing away at the walls and taking me with it, I would have been just fine with it. I may have even wished for it. My will to live was about to get buried 6 feet under, right next to a little boy named Ethan.
I’m just going to say it, anybody who has lost a child and is still here and able to get out of bed every day is a survivor. Seriously. It takes so much to find good in this world again after experiencing such a loss, but I am so glad that I fought that fight to get to where I am now. I could have never done it alone.
I owe my sanity to my amazing husband Jason, my Mom (only God knows how much I love her, and I mean it), my Pop for holding me that night in his arms, my Aunt Lala for just hugging me so tight for so long, my amazing sisters and brother who despite feeling the pain right along with me, pulled me onto their shoulders and helped to carry me through some of the darkest days (talking about you too Tine), My MIL and FIL for opening their arms and doors to us, my cousins, nieces and nephews for all of their unconditional love and for giving me a reason to smile again,… so many others (you know who you are). And of course, Carrie, for finding me and for being the support I needed to continue forward on that difficult, but worthwhile road to brighter days…
This has been hard to write. I realize that I didn’t have to share this, but I wanted to. In order to see how far I’ve come in my journey, you’ve got to see where I started.