Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 1996

It’s funny.  I don’t remember many small details from my childhood. I have a terrible memory.  My younger sisters will come up with the craziest of stories and it baffles me how they remember them.  They often have me laughing with tears in my eyes because they have truly awesome memories and because I wished I remembered them on the spot too.  If it wasn’t for them reminding me, I often think I wouldn’t exist.

However, there is one tragic memory that I remember almost every second of. And it was on this day, 15 years ago.

It was 3 days before my 13th birthday and I was preparing to start the 8th grade the following week.  My oldest siblings, especially my oldest sister, were ruling the roost because my parents were very far from home. They had travelled to Holland for their 25th wedding anniversary – their first time to my father’s birth town and to visit his relatives. It was a much deserved vacation for my parents and technically their first honeymoon.  They had not been given the time to honeymoon following their wedding since my Mom’s mother was bed ridden and ultimately passed away two days later. They deserved this.

My oldest sister had her work cut out for her with my youngest brother being only 3 ½. I’m sure she had a list of instructions and rules, but I was too young to pay too much attention to them.  I do remember being told to help out with meals, etc, but I’ll never forget the cardinal rule – no going to friend’s houses.  I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now. My parents wanted us all home together, safe, and easy for my older siblings to keep track of.

It was Sunday and we went to 10am mass, as usual.  After mass, my cousin asked me to come over to her house to hang out and my sister and Aunt decided it would be okay. After all, they were family and my parents were due to be home in a week. The rest of my family went home.  My brother, his girlfriend, and their beautiful little girl, baby M, were in their own little home – built just adjacent from the family house on the farm.

I remember that day pretty vividly...

My Aunt being on the phone with my sister. My Aunt telling me to sit down. My Aunt telling me that baby M had passed away, but not knowing how. Hugging each other and bawling and feeling so weak that I couldn’t hold myself up. Driving home to the farm. My second youngest brother running to the car to greet me and to tell me that M was dead (such an innocent little boy who didn’t understand). Hearing that baby M was sleeping in her swing at the time of tragedy. Hearing stories of my brothers girlfriend screaming for her baby. Hearing that my oldest brother did CPR. Hearing that the ambulance had come to take them to the hospital. Hearing that my other brother had sped off behind them in the old blue farm truck. Still not knowing what happened.

I was not there to witness it. I wasn’t even on the farm. There’s still a part of me that thinks that I should have been there when it happened. We all have our stories of that day of where we were and how it affected us.  I can only imagine how it affected my older siblings who were much more involved. I often wonder how my brother and his girlfriend survived so much pain and how they were able to move on with their life.  I often wonder how it affected my oldest brother who was called to perform CPR.  I often wonder how deeply it affected my parents losing their very first grandchild.

I remember that week like it was yesterday...

My parents cutting their short trip and catching the quickest flight home. My youngest sister asking my Mom why she wasn’t crying and my Mom telling her that she cried for the whole plane ride and she had no more tears left in her eyes. Baby M looking like a perfect little china doll in her baby casket, wearing the beautiful white gown that my Mom made out of her wedding gown and that we all wore at our baptisms. Walking to a bead store in between the wakes to make a tiny bracelet for baby M to wear. Finding out that the doctors were ruling baby M’s death as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

It was the first time someone so close to me was taken away.  It was the first time my heart ached.  I'll never quite understand it.  I'll never quite come to terms with it.  

We only had 4 months and 8 days to enjoy her.  Every year on her birthday and on this day of her death I think about her full head of dark hair, her sweet little smile, dancing with her to my Dance Mix 92 CD, and the way she always held onto the side bar of her baby swing with one hand. All of the sad memories will stay with me, but these happy ones are the ones that I try to focus on the most.

Thinking about you today and always, sweet little baby angel.


  1. Alicia, this is heartbreaking! I can't think of anything more tragic! It's very good of you to share Baby M's story.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story, and for showing the importance of remembering the ones we've lost. I am in tears reading this.
    (by the way, how many brothers and sisters do you have!?)

  3. Just catching up on your blog, Alicia...this is such a sad story. My heart goes out to you and your brother. Thanks for telling must go hug my own :).

  4. So sad. :( I can see why you'd remember that day so vividly.