The day my life changed was June 3, 1995. We had been at my parents’ house and my son Johnathon was getting fussy, so I decided to head home so I could feed him and let him sleep in his crib. We kissed my parents' goodbye, I put my son in the car, and we headed home. One thing I always did with my son was to keep him awake in the car. I wanted him to stay awake so as he got older, and we wanted to go on road trip, he would enjoy seeing the sights instead of sleeping the entire time. While driving home I would put my hand on the side of his car seat, so he knew I was there, and he would always grab one of my fingers and hold on to it until we got out of the car.
Once we arrived home, we went up to our apartment. I took him out of his seat, nursed him, changed his diaper and clothes, and laid him in his crib for a nap. I went to take a shower (I could see his crib from the shower). A few minutes into my shower my husband at the time came in and told me I needed to see the baby and that there was something wrong with him. I grabbed a towel and went to his crib. Looking down on him I could see his lips were blue. I picked him up, laid him on the floor and started CPR as my husband (at the time) called 911. It seemed like forever for help to get there. Once they arrived, they took over CPR, and I was questioned about the events of the day leading up to now. As the police questioned me, they transported my son to the hospital where they worked on him.
I was given a ride by the officer at my apartment. As I sat in the waiting room (I was on one side and my husband, and his family was on the other side) a nurse walked out and asked for Baby Todd’s mom. When I identified myself as his mother she walked over and as cold hearted as I remember she said: “your son is dead” as she turned and walked away. I was shocked and called to her that I wanted to see my son. She stated that she would have to talk to the doctors first and that someone would be out shortly. All the while, I was left to tell my husband and his family my son was gone. As I sat in shock, I started making calls to my parents to let them know that their only grandchild had passed away. My parents rushed to the hospital and by this time, a doctor came to talk to me about my son. He said it was ok for me to go back and see my son, but I needed to know that he had IVs in his leg and his head to make sure that I did not pull them out.
I walked into the ER room and saw my son lying on a gurney in his diaper, and he looked like he was sleeping. I walked over to him and touched him, waiting for him to turn and smile at me. I do not think anything hit me about my son passing away yet. I asked if I could hold my son. I was told yes but again watch all the IV’s. I picked up my son, so limp and lifeless, and sat in a rocking chair a nurse brought in. I sat there and just held him and talked to him like I always did, still waiting to see that infectious smile. But still nothing. I sat there for about an hour when Great Gran came in and asked if she could hold Little Man. She sat and rocked him like I was doing and was in shock. She only wanted to hold him for a short time. She gave my son back to me and I sat back down in the rocking chair and rocked and talked to my son until my POP came in to tell me that we should call my grandparents and let them know. There was a phone in the room, so I called and told my grandpa (who I am so close to) that my son was gone. He asked what do you mean gone? I told him Little Man had passed away. I heard my grandpa hit the floor as he had his first heart attack. I now have two major events going on.
The doctor came in to talk to me about leaving. I told him I was not leaving my son, so I sat holding him for almost three hours until the coroner arrived. When they came to take my son, I told them I would carry him out to their van and walk to the van and lay my son down. I watched the door close and watched them drive away with my son. Standing there watching the van that was carrying my son disappear down the street was heart breaking.
I then asked if I could walk back to my apartment as the hospital was only a block away. I was told no as far as the doctors were concerned; I was going to hurt myself. I was dropped off by an Officer. When I went upstairs, I went into the bedroom where my son had been napping and threw anything I could put my hands on all over the room.
The next few days were a blur and all I remember is going to the mortuary and cemetery, trying to find clothes for my son’s viewing and writing his obituary. I remember telling the mortuary that I wanted to dress my son, they told me that was not something they recommended doing. I told them he is my son, and he will look the way I want him to. They finally agreed.
The night of the viewing I had to get there early as I was dressing him and placing him in his casket. They brought me into a room, and there again was my son lying there looking like he was asleep. I walked over to touch him, and he was stiff and cold. It caught me off guard, as did seeing him after they did his autopsy and taking his organs as I donated what I could. To see my son that way was an image I will never forget, and a feeling that I will never forget. I began trying to dress him, but he was stiff and to my surprise his outfit did not fit. My son was twenty-six pounds when he passed away (hence the nick name Little Man) so his outfit that was supposed to be pants were now shorts. After getting him dressed I had to put on a hat because of the incision that was made. I laid him in his little blue casket and put all his favorite items with him. He was now ready for everyone to see him.
I sat next to him for 4-hours straight, hoping I was having a bad dream and that I would wake up. After the viewing was over and we had to leave, it hit me a little more that I was not taking him home with me. The next day at his funeral, walking to the mortuary and seeing him lying there was a shock to me. I sat there looking at him still waiting to wake up from this bad dream. I got up and spoke and I even tried to sing my son’s favorite song. All I remember next is going to the cemetery and releasing balloons and listening to “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” After the family left, I stayed to watch them bury my son again still waiting to wake up from the bad dream. I watched as they threw dirt on my son’s casket, shovel after shovel full. Once his casket was covered, I left.
The days following are all a blur except me going to his grave and sitting there for the entire day, day after day after day, for months, even a year.
In the days to come I remember getting into an argument with the lady at vital records as I went to pick up his birth certificate and I also needed his death certificate. She came out and handed me his birth certificate and it was stamped deceased across it. I told her that I wanted two separate certificates, one being his birth and one his death certificate. She told me that it could not be the way I requested. I told her to get a supervisor. I needed two certificates because my son did not pass at birth, he lived three months therefore there should be a birth certificate and a separate death certificate. After a long debate, she walked out with a birth and death certificate.
When my son passed, I said I never wanted to have any more children because I could not go through all this again. A few days after my son passed away, I found out I was pregnant again. The first time my daughter moved inside me I was sitting at Johnathon’s grave and was talking to him about his new brother or sister. I now have two daughters and another son.
I fear losing my other children as I lost my first-born son. Yes, I became an over-protective mom to my other children, but they grew up healthy and strong. My oldest daughter is twenty-three, my son is twenty-two and the youngest daughter is nineteen, and Johnathon would be twenty-four. My two daughters currently serve as board members for the foundation.
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