Impossibly BRAVE: The Day my Son Died
Trigger Warning - This isn’t for the faint of heart. This is an in depth account of my experience the day my son died. Read at your own discretion.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Some say this is a story I don't need to tell. That these are thoughts and experiences that I should just leave buried in the past. I’ve learned a lot over the last four years though and am finally able to ignore the opinions and expectations of others.
I’m here, standing grounded and naked in my truth despite what anyone else thinks; taking off my armour piece by piece.
This is my experience. My truth. My life. My story to tell. And I hope by sharing it I can help others feel less alone.
It is in sharing our stories that we can begin to heal and begin again too.
It was the day after Braedon’s surgery.
The one we hoped would be the answer to our prayers.
After multiple attempts, taking him back to surgery again and again in efforts to stop internal bleeding, doctors called all of us into a meeting room just off the ICU at the QE2 in Halifax Nova Scotia.
Boxes of tissues had already been strategically placed around a large otherwise empty & desolate conference table.
We nervously gathered and settled into our seats desperately waiting for good news with our hope still intact. Braedon’s doctor walked in through the door and swiftly crushed it though as he impetuously but with total certainty told us, “Braedon will die today, there is no question about that; there is nothing left we can do for him!”
He spoke strictly in fact without an inkling of emotion, as if he was describing the weather that day and not telling us that our baby, my son, was going to die on that very day. At any given moment.
The blood drained from my head and my vision blurred. It didn’t feel real. Suddenly I felt like a stranger inside my own body. Like I was somehow just watching a movie unfold right before my eyes and had no control over anything that was happening.
The back of my throat began to water and I thought I might be sick.
Almost instantaneously it felt like the air was being sucked out of the room & ripped from my very lungs. The floor crumbled beneath my feet and the world crashed into me like the waves of a tsunami.
An eerie numbness, a numbness that would soon become very familiar washed over me all at once and I couldn't feel my legs.
He was a living miracle, this couldn’t be true; I tried to rationalize in my head. He still has so much light to share with the world; he’ll pull through; I tried to convince myself.
Yes, he’ll pull through and we’ll go see that funny superhero movie with Ryan Reynolds
and eat popcorn with peanut butter m&m’s until our bellies hurt. We’ll travel to Toronto to see Bruno Mars like we talked about and we’ll get his youtube channel off the ground. And what about Europe? We have to walk the ruins, eat gelato and explore castles together.
There was still so much for him to do, see and experience in this world; this couldn't be the end. This couldn’t be his fate or mine.
I sat at his bedside desperately praying over and over, again and again, continuing to beg and plead with God for another miracle. I’m not an overly religious person. To be completely honest I’m not too sure where I stand anymore. I believe in a higher power but it’s something I usually refer to as the Universe but I guess I also believe in some sort of God too though I can’t really define it.
In those moments I could have been convinced of anything if I thought it would have saved him. I was spiralling out of control on the inside and the shock of what was happening had me grasping at anything at all.
I pressed my lips to his forehead giving him a gentle kiss as I ran my fingers through his baby soft hair. His skin was cold and it sent shivers up my spine. I wiped away what looked like a teardrop from his left eye with a tissue clenched tightly in my right hand.
That tear, well at least I thought it was a tear and feared it was a tear. The doctors assured us that he wasn’t in any pain though. Still, that tear haunted my dreams and stole my joy for so long. That tear lived inside my head rent free and led me to some very dark places in the early days, weeks and months of his passing.
Even though he was bleeding internally uncontrollably, his organs were shutting down, and he needed a machine to breathe for him; I worried that he was all alone; trapped inside his body knowing what was happening but not able to cry out.
I worried that he was aware that he was dying and that nearly ripped a hole through me.
I was afraid that maybe while I was there sitting at his bedside begging God, the universe or whoever was listening to save him, maybe he too, from somehow in some way was also pleading with God to let him live.
Those thoughts horrified me. They gutted me from the inside out. Even now four years after he’s passed I am overwhelmed typing these words. It’s getting harder for me to breathe and an ocean of emotion is spilling down my reddened soggy cheeks. That tear still haunts my dreams.
He needed his Mama
I carefully wrapped my arm around his swollen body fearing I’d cause him any kind of pain. I laid my head on his bed near his shoulder. I wanted to be as close to him as possible; I am his mama. He needed his mama, I thought to myself.
Every part of me wanted to crawl in that bed with him, wrap myself around him and tell him everything was going to be ok. But everything wasn’t going to be ok. Nothing was going to be ok. I so desperately wanted him to wake up. I wanted to tell him everything he meant to me. He was so many important things, he was all of the very best parts of me.
My lips quivered and my heart broke a little more as I thought of all the things I’d never get to say to my sweet boy. Of course I told him I loved him nearly every single day but I’d never get to tell him just how much he impacted me or how simply knowing him transformed me into a better person.
I’d never get to tell him that I felt lost for most of life, “...like a plastic bag drifting through the wind…” I’d never get to tell him that he was my compass and that being his mama saved me from myself and helped me find my way home.
Those beautiful brown and sometimes greenish eyes, with lashes for days they were my home.
I was numb and raw and I could barely speak even though there were so many things I wanted to say I just couldn't find my voice in those moments. Every minute felt like an eternity and at the same time not long enough as I tried to memorize every curve of his face. I just told him I loved him over and over again though and I held his hand, and I continued to wipe that tear from his eye until he took his last breath.
His heart stopped beating and so the machines that had been helping to keep him alive were silenced an