On April 28, 1994, I dropped my three-year-old daughter, Nicole, and 10 ? week old son, Matthew, off at daycare. This was my first week back to work from maternity leave. I remember the incredible smile Matthew gave me as I left the daycare. At 12:30pm, I received a phone call from my husband. I knew something was wrong. He told me I had to come home right away, because something was wrong with Matthew. I insisted he tell me what was wrong. He choked the words, "He died." Nothing can prepare a parent for those words. Nothing can prepare a parent for the incredible pain and deep sorrow that follows the death of a child. As nothing can prepare you for it to happen once, the odds of finding your way through it a second time are unimaginable.
On March 9, 1998, our fourth child, Benjamin, entered this world. Nicole was now seven years old, and we had a healthy son, Connor, who was three. Our world had begun to heal with the birth of Connor, but just three months before Ben was born, it fell apart again. We learned he would be born with a heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. He basically had ? a heart. We were given the choice to do take Ben home and love him as much as we could, knowing he would die within a month, or sign him up for a heart transplant, or subject him to a series of three very complicated surgeries. The choice was difficult, but we chose the surgeries. Although Ben had three open-heart surgeries before he was six months old, one of which was unexpected, he somehow thrived and found his way into our lives. For the next 19 months, he continued to grow and blossom into an incredible little soul. He was doing well, and our constant fear of losing him had subsided.
Then, just as suddenly as we had lost Matthew, our precious Benjamin left us, too. He died suddenly from a blood clot that became lodged in his heart. He was 25-months-old, when he died on my 33rd birthday.
Life has been beyond description. Nothing in the human vocabulary had appropriately describe the pain, agony, loneliness and pure hell we have gone through. But the key is?we have gone through it. There have been times when I wanted to quit, just end it all, but something kept me from doing so. Perhaps it was my two angels.
No one ever told me how much a child would change my life. Magically, they worked their way into my life and heart and became the focus of my daily living. Likewise, when they suddenly and unexpectedly departed, no one could have warned me how my world would tumble and twist out of control, like a top sent twirling into unknown directions. Spinning at dizzying speeds, never knowing what direction or when or where it might stop. My top, my life, continues to spin, at a slower pace than it has since my sons died, but it spins, none-the-less. Only with time and love and a trust in God have I continued on. My boys will be a part of my life forever. With their deaths, I have come to appreciate what matters in this life. Family and God are my priorities. In my work life, however, I have given up a 12 year career as a financial analyst and gone back to school. I?m currently working on my Master?s in Marriage and Family Therapy, and hope to someday offer a place of comfort for other?s who are grieving the death of a loved one, to come and share and be heard, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As I?ve learned, grief does not keep 9-5 hours, nor does it take the summer off, just because the kids are out of school. The resources are out there, but not at the times and places people always need them.
To other grieving parents, please hang onto hope. There is hope, and there is help. Please know other parents have been through this and are here if you ever need to talk. May God be with you.
www.bensheart.com www.members.tripod.com/mattsids www.members.tripod.com/balloonsforheaven
All the darkness in the world can never put out the light of one small candle.