Cherie Muller

My son, Paul, was always telling me, "Mom, don't worry! Nothing will happen to me!" How many times as parents do we here them say that? How many times as a mother did I think of all the things that could happen to him? How many times as a medical professional did I personally counsel grieving parents and thank God that I was not them and wonder how they could handle the death of their child?

Paul was our first child. We were very young and it took 4 years before we decided to have another. Much to our suprise my second pregnancy produced twins! Paul told me not to bring the baby home if it was a girl. We called him from the hospital and told him it was "two girls". He graciously allowed me to bring them home. Two years later we gave Paul his baby brother.

Life goes on and the kids were growing like weeds. Paul was a good athelete. He was not so good in school, learning disability they told us. I told myself that if Tom Cruise could do that well for himself it was ok for Paul. We'll deal with it. Besides, Paul had already decided he was going to play hockey in the NHL for a living. I believe he would have some day. He could always find the puck and get it in the net!

New Years Eve, 1994- My husband and I never go out, but the kids are getting a little older and it does get boring watching Dick Clark every year. We agreed to go to a friend's house. Paul could come with us and the girls and their little brother will stay with the daughters of another couple that will be attending the party. Paul was only twelve, but the other two couples have boys that were twelve and thirteen and the boys had their own plans for celebrating in the basement family room. They did nothing unusual for boys of their age. They played video games, computer games and watched VCR tapes. Around 12:30a we were all ready to go home.

Paul said he did not feel well. He had a history of migraines and was complaining about a headache. I had let him have one tiny sip of champagne at midnight and I assumed that that gave him the headache. By the time we got home he was nauseated. I decided it was the flu. He did not argue with me. He got up once during the night, complaining about his head and feeling sick. I was there for him. He told me he loved me and went back to sleep.

Something woke me up early that morning. I rushed up to see how Paul was feeling. He was unconscious and unresponsive but breathing. Being a nurse I know that everything medically was done for my son. He had the best of care. The career that I live by could not save my son. He was brain dead and living on machines. I learned later that the boys had been wrestling in the basement and Paul had struck his head. He never told me. His friends were devastated. So were we.

The doctor talked to us about organ donation. "Yes, oh yes!" we felt that at least some good might come from this horrible ordeal. Our days were lived in a fog. Those with clearer heads helped us make arrangements. We buried our son on a day that saw the biggest snowfall of that year. The road crew lined up in honor and escorted us to the cemetary. The people of our small community banded together and helped us with our every desire, every desire except one. That desire only faith could give us. We needed to find some peace. We needed to come to terms with the death of our beautiful baby boy.

Now on the eve of the second anniversary of his death, I can say that I have found some peace. I continue the search. I would have never thought it possible, but many good things have come from the loss of our son. My marriage is stronger than ever. Our family is much closer than ever. We have discovered that our faith is anchor that has kept us grounded and yet, always looking to the future.

This page is in honor of all of the friends and loved ones who have gotten us this far. Paul's friends are doing fairly well and recently they wrote a song about him. I think it is the most beautiful song I have ever heard. Please remember, friends and family are very important when disaster strikes but in the end you must rely on your anchor to get you through.


You can send email to Cherie at [email protected]
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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW