There’s a part of me that, especially in the beginning, was so much more bitter than I ever thought I could be. I was really just pissed. I was mad at everyone. The only people I didn’t blame, ironically, were the people that worked in this hospital because there was nothing to blame them for. They did everything, and they were pulling stuff out of their butts to try to save this kid.
It hits like a ton of bricks
I remember Wednesday night. Our baby came down with a little bit of a fever. I was rocking her in the chair up in her bedroom and she coughed. I remember the cough being very full with a lot of phlegm. I immediately just started crying and my husband’s looking at me like “What’s the matter with you?” I mouthed the words because my son was right there. I said “She’s really sick. This is something more serious than just congestion. She’s really sick.” I remember rocking her in her bedroom and I was crying. For almost two hours I rocked her in there staring at the crib, thinking to myself, “This crib’s going to be empty, she’s going to die.” The next morning sure enough we started going to the ER and everything happened so quickly. I don’t know what in the cough just kind of prepared me. I don’t know what it was.
I got kicked in the teeth
Everything was a shock. I was there and I got kicked in the teeth. You didn’t want to think it was real.
Mad at my wife
You wind up being mad at a lot of people. I was mad at my wife, I was mad at my family, her family, just snapping off, unfortunately. I guess you have to be able to work through it and come back to some kind of “Why you are here.” You go through a lot of “Why wasn’t it somebody else?”
It totally tests your parenting in ways that you’re so unprepared for. It tests your marriage in ways that you’re unprepared for. It basically tests every relationship you have because the way other people relate to him affects how I relate to those people. People who don’t want to talk about it, or if I bring him up they change the subject. That changes the way that I discuss him.
I wanted to break something
You learn to adjust and to go with it, and I think that I would have realized that sooner if I had allowed myself to feel what I felt. When I was mad, I would say to my husband “I just want to break something”; he’s like, “well break something.” I think that I probably would have gotten to a better place quicker if I had just broken some stuff. That sounds dumb but you know, I’m mad, and I want to kick something. In some ways you feel like a little kid because that’s how little kids are. I’m mad and I want to hit someone.
Wanting to get in a fight
My husband said to me, “I just want to go out and get in a fight,” I’m like “Alright, can you call one of your friends down, maybe fight with them? I don’t want to be called that you’re in jail.” To just feel what it is, is so much better than trying to say “I’m going to carry the weight.” I think moms do that. People think dads do that, and maybe they do, but moms want to protect everyone so when you can’t, that is a huge mind boggling thing. What do you mean I can’t fix it? It’s a boo boo, I put a Band Aid on it, I kiss it, it’s better. You have to realize that that isn’t the case, even though you know, but you don’t. There are so many things that seem so like “DUH” but you don’t really realize it.
Emptiness inside myself
Well, the day that Andy passed, I don’t even know how I felt. It was just a blankness. It was a feeling that I honestly can’t describe. An emptiness. And leaving the hospital for the last time I didn’t look back.
Afterwards, I became frantic, having really bad anxiety attacks. I was just really angry and overwhelmed with pain. It’s really indescribable. Then I became just sad. I couldn’t do anything. I lost 15 pounds. I wasn’t eating for days. I just lay in bed and went days without bathing. I couldn’t do anything but cry.
Then I went through trying to have some acceptance, and I remember going through two weeks without crying. Then I was questioning myself about forgetting him, and I wasn’t, I was thinking about him every day all day long. I was afraid that I was going to forget him, because I wasn’t crying every day, and I was feeling a little better, and I was starting to get out of the bed. I wasn’t eating, but I was starting to get out of the bed, I was starting to bathe.
Then it hit me again, this overwhelming pain, so what I found out is that it’s not a straight road. It’s an emotional roller coaster, and that I’m going to go through different feelings at different times or different phases. Honestly, at one point I was outside of myself, I don’t know how you explain it, but I was outside of myself, feeling like I was living somebody else’s life, like this wasn’t my life.
There’s so much that I wasn’t expecting
No one’s going to tell you all the things that happen until you’re a member of the club. I think that’s true about the death of a child. There’s so much that I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting the physical aspect of it, you know, that lingers. I wasn’t expecting to be sick to my stomach all the time. I wasn’t expecting for it to be a physical ache.
I remember someone said to me one time that “When you lose a child, it will knock you to your knees.” And I remember thinking that has to be just an expression. Until the many times when I would find myself crying, on my knees, on my bathroom floor. And I had no real memory of getting there. It’s like everything else, you can choose to stay there, or you can choose not to. At some point you have to get up. And I think for us, with four other kids, it’s hard to say “I’m just going to wallow in this forever.” At some point you have to move through it, and that’s the only thing you can do or you’re going to miserable your whole life.
Unfortunately we’re a club. We’re kind of like a club that people say no one wants to be a member of. But you’re in this club, and as much as people are very well meaning and you have friends, they can’t get it. They have living children that have never even been sick, some of them beyond maybe a minor thing. The only ones who really can speak the language are the ones who speak the language.
It’s sort of like Alcoholics Anonymous, it’s people who are alcoholics helping alcoholics. It’s very similar. You really have to have contact, well it’s helpful too, because you automatically speak the language. You may not have other things in common, you may not end up being good friends and hanging out with these people, but you know they get it and you can say anything to them usually and no one is going to judge you and you’re not going to judge one another. That’s really helpful.
Wanting more out of life
I’m very sad that he didn’t get the life that he wanted. He was a typical young person wanting to do all the exciting things and not wanting to miss out on what young people want for excitement and you know a girlfriend, a good college life, a career, marriage, a good life. He wanted to fight for that and get as much as he could out of his life.