Forty-six years ago this very morning (it is 6:30am) I, a weary yet proud young mother of three children in diapers, waken to the realization that our son is not beside our conjugal bed as he’d been since his birth three months earlier.
While my husband and I strain to make life comfortable for our children, we are young parents with big dreams for our wee ones, with very little means. We are deeply honored to have this little boy.
The evening prior we lovingly put our son to bed in his own freshly decorated nursery, after a family candlelight dinner. My husband, coming in from a recently acquired job in his brand new suit looking so handsome ~ our young girls are giggling from their baths and in “fancy dresses” for our family dinner to commemorate their little brother’s move into his very own room. The girls have their own nursery and share their Uncle Tim’s vintage crib.
It is a joyous raucous dinner with lots of babbling, squealing, and laughter. We are thrilled and excited to have our Little Ricky, named after his father, and sharing the same exact birthday!
Fatigued beyond measure, I laughingly join in the teasing of our daughters by their adoring father. Kirsten (three years-old) and Katrine (one year-old) shriek long-pitched joyful sounds aimed to entertain their little brother, seated in his infant-seat at the head of the table beside his father. Their father beams as he kisses each child before seating himself to serve dinner ~ the same way my dear father, Papa, used to serve meals. This memory makes me smile.
At the end of dinner we gather all the little ones and head for the new nursery. We each kiss Little Ricky as his father lays him in his crib for his first night away from our bed. Then we kiss the girls and tuck them into their shared crib in their nursery, The Girls’ Dorm.
Exhausted, we clean up the kitchen and fall into bed after checking on each child. It is a good peace we feel.
What seems only a few hours later I feel the sunlight on my face. Confused, I bolt out of the bed and run toward my son’s room. I can hear the girls’ crib squeaking with their excited jumping for someone to come pick them up. My heart sinks as I realize I have not heard any sound from my son as I rush to his crib.
He is still. I lunge to pick him up. His body is cold and his face has the look of a child pressed against a window pane. The blood is pushed away from his face where he had lain. He is stiff.
I cannot breathe yet I cover his mouth with mine and pray to God that I am dreaming, that it is the middle of the night. I blow into his mouth, gently at first. Then, with no response I blow harder.
Distressed animal screams echo through the house. Over and over, the screams tear at my heart. It is my own voice.
I round the doorway into the master bedroom with Little Ricky, cold and discolored tightly wrapped in my arms. My husband’s look tells me this is not a dream. He tries to take our son into his arms.
I do not let go.
Medics arrive. They try to take him from me.
I do not let go.
Forcefully, they peel my arms from around his little body. I am not ready to give him up. No one understands. I need more time with him, to tell him goodbye.
I am told to gather the girls and go.